The clerk is normally the councils “proper officer” appointed by council to discharge its functions. Often but not always, the clerk is also the Responsible Finance Officer. A clerk’s duties are not expressed in law and therefore need to have a clear written contract.
A clerk is responsible for supporting the council in carrying out its functions. They have responsibility for ensuring these functions are carried out within local government law and in accordance with the councils policies and procedures for example health and safety or risk assessments.
The clerk should understand how a parish council operates, how meetings are conducted, how responsibilities are allocated and how to manage council activities and finances effectively, including preparation of the end of year accounts. They should also understand how the rights of the public and media to be kept informed are addressed.
Clerks should work as part of a team of councillors and the chairman to serve the community they represent. They should draw up and sign agendas for meetings giving the appropriate notice and ensure minutes of meetings are recorded accurately. The clerk should implement the decisions of the council and provide independent, objective and professional advice, information and administrative support to the council. Clerks are not answerable to any individual councillor or the chairman.
Parish council clerks’ positions are advertised in a number of ways depending on the size of the council:
- Locally on parish noticeboards
- By word of mouth
- Local libraries
- Local press
- Council websites
- Job Centre Plus
- CDALC website
A good clerk is an essential asset to every council. Having a good clerk usually means you have a good council. The Essential Clerk Booklet produced by the National Training Strategy gives you an insight and brief introduction to the work of a clerk and a council including roles and responsibilities, law, procedures and finance, planning and community action. Please access the document below for further details: