Yorkshire Local Councils Associations
Sheena Spence, Chief Officer Yorkshire Local Councils Associations, has been invited to attend the meeting to provide details of the Association’s work in supporting parish councils to maintain good governance, and the training it offers to parish councillors.
Ms Sheena Spence, Chief Officer Yorkshire Local Councils Associations, had been invited to attend the meeting to provide details of the Association’s work in supporting parish councils to maintain good governance, and the training it offered to parish councillors.
The Chair stated that the committee very much valued the voice of parish councils and was delighted to welcome Ms Spence to the meeting.
Ms Spence tabled a paper detailing the benefits of membership of the Yorkshire Local Councils Associations [a copy of this paper is attached to the online agenda papers for this meeting]. Ms Spence stated that the way in which City of York Council had sought to involve parish councils in its arrangements for dealing with standards issues was very commendable.
Ms Spence gave details of the work carried out by YLCA, as outlined in the paper that had been tabled. The support included procedural, technical and legal advice, and training for parish councillors and clerks. They also issued regular newsletters and had a website which provided useful information and legal guidance notes.
Referring to the concerns that Members had expressed regarding the limited sanctions that were available to them when complaints were upheld, Ms Spence stated that an element of the YLCA membership fee affiliated councils to the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and that, among the issues on which NALC were lobbying the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), was the issue of sanctions.
Ms Spence drew Members’ attention to the funding that had been made available by DCLG to support parish councils in meeting the requirements of the Smaller Authorities Transparency Code where authorities had a turnover of less than £25,000. Members commented that a number of parish councils did not appear to have their Code of Conduct available on the parish council’s website. It was suggested that, where this was the case, parish councils could be made aware of the DCLG funding that was available if applicable.
Members questioned Ms Spence regarding the training that was on offer. She explained that the training was not mandatory but newly appointed parish councillors were generally receptive to the benefits of receiving training in carrying out their role. There was a fee for the training provided.
Ms Spence drew Members’ attention to the importance of the role of Clerk to the Parish Council and explained that there were a number of vacancies for this position and a high turnover of clerks. YLCA offered a Certificate in Local Council Administration, which was a level 4 qualification for clerks. Currently there were around three clerks in the York area that had attained this accreditation.
Members noted that the Yorkshire Local Councils Association made the arrangements for the appointment of parish council representatives to the Joint Standards Committee. Nominations were currently being sought to replace Mr Mark Waudby, following his resignation as a parish councillor.
Ms Spence was thanked for her attendance at the meeting and for her very informative contribution.
Resolved: That the information on the work of the Yorkshire Local Councils Associations be noted.
Reason: To ensure that the committee is aware of the support the Association provides to parish councils to maintain good governance.