The Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) has launched its new initiative, Local Council Clerk Week, which aims to raise the profile of local council clerks and recognise the wide-ranging and important work they carry out for their communities.
Taking place from 10 to 14 July 2023, SLCC are inviting all town, parish and community councils across England and Wales to join them in saying ‘thank you’ by engaging in a variety of activities to help promote the role of their clerk within their community – from displaying and sharing information posters, engaging with local schools and community organisations, to the use of social media platforms.
Clerks are celebrated in other countries, such as the United States of America, and SLCC wants to make sure that happens here too. Clerks are professionals, usually trained and qualified in community governance and council administration. With clerks serving around 10,000 local councils in England and Wales, with populations ranging from a few hundred residents in rural villages to several thousand in market and large towns, there is no one-size fits all approach to this profession. Clerks have to be adaptable and flexible, juggling a range of skills in what is an ever-changing environment.
Clerks help enrich their communities and make a difference. They are at the heart of everything their councils do, from the proficient management of council finances, insurance, personnel and other administrative duties to the management and maintenance of council-owned facilities such as parks and recreation grounds, playgrounds, village halls and youth centres, car parks, allotments, cemeteries, to mention but a few. In addition, clerks act as their councils’ advisors on a range of legal and statutory matters to make sure that their councils are not only acting in accordance with law but also prudently and in their community’s best interest, enhancing residents’ lives.
Clerks are collaborators, expert relationship builders and communicators. And although structures and processes vary between regions, in particular between England and Wales, they work closely with their principal councils from the reporting of potholes, overgrown verges or streetlight outages to taking on devolved responsibility of non-statutory services. They help implement traffic calming measures and foster close relationships with their elected area representatives at the principal level to help gather support and government funding for local projects and events (first-tier local councils have little direct access to government funding). They engage with their local planning authority on difficult planning matters and help raise awareness about environmental issues and climate change initiatives.
As was evident during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, clerks are also at the front line when it comes to dealing with a crisis or emergency, where they helped coordinate local efforts ensuring vulnerable people were being cared for and looked after and their communities kept informed and abreast of constantly changing Covid-19 guidelines and developments.
SLCC Chief Executive, Rob Smith, said:
“Clerks are the lynchpins to local councils in England and Wales. They manage and coordinate the services that we all notice the most in our neighbourhoods. Quite simply, they make things happen by empowering their councils and serving their local communities. But, disappointingly, they’re often not properly recognised for just how much they do. I think it’s time that we celebrated the amazing work they do.”