The Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) is aware of the recent news concerning Handforth Parish Council and the zoom meeting, the video of which has gone viral. Regrettably, this behaviour affects a proportion of the 10,000 local councils in England and Wales and is by no means insignificant. Its consequence for the clerks and officers of those councils is often profound and traumatic. It is not, however, reflective of the consistently high standard of work and debate carried out by the majority of local councils throughout England and Wales.
Whilst it is not for the SLCC to offer comment on specifics of the meeting we must recognise that workplace bullying remains high on the list when it comes to our members seeking advice. Therefore as a professional, member-led organisation, the SLCC is working hard on improving professional standards in the sector working towards a single model code of conduct for all tiers of local government, developing a toolkit to support clerks and monitoring officers who are experiencing problems with standards and behaviour and aligning ourselves with partners in the sector who have influence and support our efforts to improve standards.
The SLCC recently commissioned a survey from Hoey Ainscough Associates, the high number of respondents reflects the largely negative impact that code of conduct issues have on the working lives of our members and the importance of the SLCC lobbying on their behalf for change.
The dedication and hard work of clerks across England and Wales largely goes unrecognised but throughout this pandemic it is the work of local councils with closest links to their communities who have been the backbone of efforts to keep their residents safe, secure and well-informed.
Any officers who have been affected by the issues raised by this incident can access advice and counselling services at the SLCC.