CLERKS PLEASE FORWARD TO YOUR COUNCILLORS
Finally we end the week in sunshine with the promise of a bright bank holiday and start to half term, the posh patio at chez Woof is fully operational and barbecues, or braais where I come from, are in place and fully deployed! I hope you are all looking forward to a weekend with no special events to host or appear at, simply an opportunity to relax and top up your vitamin D.
The last 7 days have been frantically busy. BMKALC is not alone. Our national colleagues report an avalanche of questions and queries as do our legal partners. Many answers have been located in the council’s own standing orders and policies, however it has been 12 months since anyone bothered to refer to them and so they have been quietly gathering dust on physical and digital shelves up and down the country. These are critical documents, it is important to know them and use them as you conduct business around your councils.
Our first official training day for CiLCA 2023 took place on Thursday with 8 candidates signed up and committed to seeing the process through. Sadly due to circumstances beyond their control, some potential candidates were unable to sign up this year and given the pressures of the council diary I’m not sure we can afford to run more than one group a year. However if we were to have another cohort of at least 8 candidates I would consider it. There can be not doubt that for all but the smallest councils, a qualified clerk will make a significant difference to the council and its ambitions. I wonder how many employed clerks are out there having responded to their councils advert for a qualified clerk, only to find that the council haven’t got round to helping them achieve it? Perhaps a point to consider at your next appraisal?
Property Law training was brisk, full and brimming with good advice and cautionary tales. For those considering taking on community assets, sit up and take note, if you are being offered a full maintenance lease with less than 25 years to run, hand it back and ask them to think again. Sometimes it’s tempting to treat Parish Councils as a form a charitable service, we take on a battered asset, clean it up, turn it round, let our precept payers repay the loan and then we have to hand it back all before we’ve really started to enjoy the benefit our parish invested in. Take a moment, read the small print, take a longer term view.
We were delighted to hear that Chalfont St Giles Parish Council has achieved the Foundation Award in the National Quality Council Award Scheme. It takes commitment to get enough momentum going to achieve this and I shall be delighted to be awarding them their Certificate early next month. There are other councils in BMKALC who are working on achieving different levels in the scheme and I hope this achievement will spur them on too.
Every so often a question comes in and we recognise the answer would be of interest to multiple councils, this was true this week regarding a question on recovery of VAT on Expenses and Councillor Expenses. Steve Parkinson shared his knowledge and reminded us again how complex VAT can be if you try to second guess it, thank you Steve. Don’t forget to check out Steve’s financial courses which you can access through our website.
You’ll all see the Buckinghamshire Council Planning Enforcement Service note. Regrettably we do have ‘spontaneous’ developments which take place over bank holiday weekends. Consequently emergency cover is put in place but please only use this service for genuine emergencies, for normal breaches use the standard online form.
The first tranche of councils who have registered with us for the Employee Assistance Scheme will now be forwarded to Optima, we should receive the formal information from them next week. If you haven’t had chance to discus this with your council, don’t panic you will have an opportunity to register as you receive the resolution from your council.
Enough for one week, we wish you a fabulous weekend and look forward to speaking to you next week.