Ok, I understand
Cookie Notice: This site uses cookies. For more information, please see our privacy policy.

Role of the Parish Clerk

Like Edward Orpin who was the Parish Clerk in the 18th Century Bradford on Avon, Parish Clerks are still highly skilled and dedicated members of the Parish Council.  However, one of the biggest differences between Edward Orpin's day and today, is that now the post is truely open to everyone, rather than the select few.

Becoming a Parish Clerk is one of the most rewarding jobs in a local community - a competent Clerk underpins a good Council.

The role of Clerk is to ensure that the Council as a whole conducts its business properly and to provide independent, objective and professional advice and support.

Being a Clerk puts you in the centre of things.

The County Council is responsible for strategic services such as highways, education, libraries, social services, strategic planning and refuse disposal.

The Parish councils in the county are often viewed as the part of government closest to the people. They are the only local government tier that represents residents at the parish level.

Importantly Parish Councils can "Precept" - raising a council tax each year to improve facilities and services for local people.

All Parish Council meetings are open to the public. They are led by the Council's Chairman and advised by the Parish Clerk who is there to see that business is conducted within the law.

Overall Responsibilities

The Clerk to the Council will be the Proper Officer of the Council and as such is under a statutory duty to carry out all the functions, and in particular to serve or issue all the notifications required by law of a Local Authority's Proper Officer.

The Parish Clerk will be totally responsible for ensuring that the instructions of the Council in connection with its function as a Local Authority are carried out.

The Clerk is expected to advise the Council on, and assist in the formation of, overall policies to be followed in respect of the Authority's activities and in particular to produce all the information required for making effective decisions and to implement constructively all decisions. The person appointed will be accountable to the Council for the effective management of all its resources and will report to them as and when required.

The Clerk will be the Responsible Financial Officer and responsible for all financial records of the Council and the careful administration of its finances.

Specific Responsibilities

To ensure that statutory and other provisions governing or affecting the running of the Council are observed.

To monitor and balance the Council's accounts and prepare records for audit purposes and VAT.

To ensure that the Council's obligations for Risk Assessment are properly met.

To prepare, in consultation with appropriate members, agendas for meetings of the Council and Committees. To attend such meetings and prepare minutes for approval.     

To attend all meetings of the Council and all meetings of its committees and sub-committees.

To receive correspondence and documents on behalf of the Council and to deal with the correspondence or documents or bring such items to the attention of the Council.  To issue correspondence as a result of instructions of, or the known policy of the Council.

To receive and report on invoices for goods and services to be paid for by the Council and to ensure such accounts are met. To issue invoices on behalf of the Council for goods and services and to ensure payment is received.

To study reports and other data on activities of the Council and on matters bearing on those activities. Where appropriate, to discuss such matters with administrators and specialists in particular fields and to produce reports for circulation and discussion by the Council.

To draw up both on his/her own initiative and as a result of suggestions by Councillors proposals for consideration by the Council and to advise on practicability and likely effects of specific courses of action.

To monitor the implemented policies of the Council to ensure they are achieving the desired result and where appropriate suggest modifications.

To act as the representative of the Council as required.

To issue notices and prepare agendas and minutes for the Parish Meeting: to attend the assemblies of the Parish Meeting and to implement the decisions made at the assemblies that are agreed by the Council.

To prepare, in consultation with the Chairman, press releases about the activities of, or decisions of, the Council.

To attend training courses or seminars on the work and role of the Clerk as required by the Council.

To continue to acquire the necessary professional knowledge required for the efficient management of the affairs of the Council:   Suggested is membership of your professional body The Society of Local Council Clerks.

To attend the Conference of the National Association of Local Councils, the Society of Local Council Clerk’s, and other relevant bodies, as a representative of the Council as required.

Pay and Conditions

It is very important to understand that being a Clerk to a Parish or Town Council is a job not a spare time activity.

Councils operate nationally recognised rates of pay and conditions. There is a clear job description, a contract of employment and pay in accordance with national rates for the size of council

Skills and attributes needed include a good deal of common sense, confidence to handle the administrative work, being a good organiser, IT literate and able to get on with most people. Underwriting these qualities is a sense of public duty - of wanting to help others in the community.

The job is no different from large to small councils. What is different however is the amount of time needed to deal with the volume of business. For small parishes, this need be only a few hours each week while for the larger councils it could be a full-time commitment and for some very busy parishes, there may be a full-time clerk and a part-time assistant clerk.

Most council meetings are held 'out of hours' so being a part-time clerk is not just a daytime activity.

Councils operate nationally recognised rates of pay and conditions. You should expect a clear job description, a contract of employment and pay in accordance with national rates for the size of council, which will be dependant on skill, experience and qualifications.

A Clerk can go on to complete the nationally recognised Certificate in Local Council Administration (CiLCA). Some councils may require that you obtain this qualification as a condition of employment, as does this parish. Further opportunities include structured training and study, leading, if they choose, to degree level qualification.

Skills and attributes needed include a good deal of common sense, confidence to handle the administrative work, being a good organiser, IT literate and able to get on with most people. Underwriting these qualities is a sense of public duty - of wanting to help others in the community.

CiLCA - Certificate in Local Council Administration

The National Training Strategy has developed a customised qualification for the sector, the Certificate in Local Council Administration (CiLCA).

For further information please visit the SLCC website.