Standards matter, be vigilant. Suzie Meets The King!

Dear Colleagues

Yesterday and the reason for a days delay in this update, Paul Hodson as chair of NALC’s larger councils and I, attended NALC’s first in person conference since the pandemic.  The title was Standards Matter.  It was a lively and energised group of councillors and officers who joined us to hear from a range of speakers.  Our first debate was, around tougher sanctions, leading onto matters of reputation, practicalities and the Local Council Award Scheme.  Unsurprisingly everyone there believes that we could and should be doing better, that further sanctions are only part of the solutions to improving standards and that we all have a responsibility in delivering the solution. There was a strong message, “if you witness poor behaviour, call it out at the time and whilst one might hope that a strong Chair of Council would be vigilant, don’t let the responsibility rest solely on their shoulders for doing so.” 

It is timely then that you will see the March 2023 Civility and Respect Newsletter attached from NALC.  The NALC  project team has made some significant progress over the last few months and we are delighted to share with you some of the resources which have been specifically developed to address the issues of civility and respect across our sector. 

The March newsletter includes articles on:

  • Councillors responsibilities as employers podcasts
  • Launch of civility and respect e-learning
  • Sector specific guidance on the LGA code of conduct
  • Second early day motion
  • Update on the Pledge
  • Training workshops still available

Visit the NALC and SLCC websites to find out more information on the project resources, to download the documents and for details of how your council can sign up to the Pledge and training.  Also BMKALC offer whole council training at your premises on this subject, for more details please contact our office.

New! Civility & Respect For Town, Parish & Community Councils – May 19th at 6.30pm – Online

You’ll notice also that I highlighted the Local Council Award Scheme,  I shall be giving you some statistics on how Bucks and MK are doing but I’d really like us to push hard on getting as many councils as we possibly can, on this journey.  For the Foundation status you don’t need two thirds of elected councillors and a qualified clerk, these criteria only kick in with Quality and Gold status.  With this fact under your belt, take a look at your council, I suspect that many of you could achieve Foundation status with just a small extra push.  It’s almost the start of a new democratic year, let’s see how many we can award in our area during the next twelve months.

It is also worth reminding ourselves and all of our colleagues that there is no such thing as parliamentary privilege attached to anything said by a Councillor during a meeting and all Councillors should be mindful of potential civil recourse.  The civil recourse would be against the individual Councillor and not the Council. 

For those councils falling in the BC area, I wanted to share some really exciting news, late 2022 they entered for two awards for the work they did Unifying the Fault Reporting Process Between Buckinghamshire and its Parish/Town Councils’ for Devolved Services through Fix My Street.  You may recall seeing Tracy Eaton, at our Conference where she was demonstrating the improved product.  The results are as follows…

Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise’ (iESE) Award 2023

Although your submission was not shortlisted as a finalist, due to the exemplary standard of the work demonstrated by your submission in the difficult climate of the past year, we would like to award Buckinghamshire Council & Society Works and your ‘Fix My Street Pro Service’ with an iESE Certificate of Excellence.  

LGC Awards 2023

The judges have cast their initial votes and I am delighted to inform you that your entry ‘Buckinghamshire Council & Society Works – Unifying the Fault Reporting Process Between Buckinghamshire and its Parish/Town Councils’ submitted by ‘Buckinghamshire C & Society Works’ has been shortlisted in the ‘Technology’ category.

As a former clerk I know how frustrating the out of the box “Fix my street” can be and Tracey and all her colleagues have worked hard to overcome many of the hurdles to bring our Bucks variation.  I know they continue to look at how to improve it and that we clerks value everything that makes our life easier when trying to identify who is responsible for what and providing intelligent status updates.  So if you have suggestions for the future let me know and I’ll feed them back to the team.

In the spirit of sharing the good things we do in our sector take a moment to check out a proud moment for Gt Linford PC.

Finally, I celebrated my first anniversary of being back with BMKALC on Wednesday 1st March.  It’s been full on, exhilarating, exhausting, at times frustrating and always a pleasure.  Thank you to the immediate team and to all the family of BMKALC for making it so.  Have a great weekend and we look forward to seeing you next week at our second Planning Responses session or Community Events Session or hearing from you on all the challenges you’re overcoming and do remember to keep checking our events for training dates.

Kind regards

Mel, Helen and Lorraine

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