LALC ENews 17th April 2023

For training details – check out our website for the latest availability or our new monthly training bulletin.

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Current vacancies


Closing date

Snitterby Parish Council


10th February

Ingoldmells Parish Council


No closing date

Legbourne Parish Council


10th February

Bilsby & Farlesthorpe Parish Council


1st February

Osgodby Parish Council


10th February

Metheringham, Sots Hole and Tanvats Parish Council


19th February

Market Rasen Town Council


22nd March

Potterhanworth Parish Council

Temporary Clerk

31st March

Louth Town Council

Town Clerk’s Assistant

17th April

North Kyme Parish Council


15th April

Brookenby Parish Council


28th April

If we are advertising your vacancy in the eNews and on our website, please let us know when the vacancy has been filled, so that we can remove it. 

If you need your vacancy advertising and do not have a pre-prepared advert to send us, please complete our Vacancy Template, which can be found in the Members Portal under Document Templates.

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LALC Summer Conference – Save the date!

The LALC Summer Conference will be held on Wednesday 19th July at the Bentley Hotel, South Hykeham. This year will be a celebration of LALC’s 50th anniversary and we will also be running our Shining Stars Awards again. Look out for the criteria and nomination forms we’ll be publishing soon.

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NALC meets with Barclays to highlight poor banking services

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) met with Barclays last week to highlight the ongoing poor banking services local (parish and town) councils are experiencing, especially in rural areas.

NALC and other colleagues from the sector met with Barclays Bank Know Your Customer team. The issues of mandates, signatories, transition to online banking, rurality, business continuity and lack of a single telephone banking contact point were highlighted.

Cllr Keith Stevens, NALC chair, has engaged further with trade body for banks, UK Finance, and other representative bodies in the voluntary sector.

This issue was raised in parliament by Andrew Griffith MP, economic secretary to the Treasury, who said UK Finance was working with “sector representatives to identify any changes banks can make to simplify processes like changing signatories on accounts and to produce guidance aimed at helping charities and community groups access and understand banking.”

LALC have been involved in these discussions on behalf of its membership.

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Annual Return for 2022-23

Councils/parish meetings should by now have received communication from PKF Littlejohn regarding the 2022-23 Annual Governance & Accountability Return (AGAR).

Instructions and documents can be found of their website:*1q5oivw*_up*MQ..*_ga*NzY0NTI1ODkzLjE2ODAxNjE5MTQ.*_ga_52BX7Y73ZM*MTY4MDE2MTkxMy4xLjAuMTY4MDE2MTkxMy4wLjAuMA..

The default deadline for submission of AGAR forms or Exemption Certificates this year is Monday 3 July 2023. If you need to extend your deadline due to exceptional reasons (absolute latest is 31 July 2023) then contact PKF to arrange, otherwise you will be liable for fees for chaser letters.

PKF Littlejohn can be contacted on: or +44 (0)20 7516 2200.

East Lindsey councils: Some councils were paid the incorrect precept amount by ELDC last year.  For those councils affected, this amount still needs to be recorded as income in and then as expenditure when the rogue amount was recalled by ELDC.  Some councils will find that this has now taken you over the £25k threshold which means you will be subject to the external audit process and cannot claim an Exemption this year. Your internal auditor should be able to advise further.

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Freedom Of Information decision template 

A new template has been added to the portal – in Document Templates. The template can be used to share a decision following a Freedom of Information request to the council. 

Search by GDPR/FOI category or search for ‘Freedom of Information Decision Template’. An example completed template has also been uploaded.

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Recruitment Manual added to Knowledgebase and Document Templates

Questions and issues about recruitment are raised with LALC on a regular basis.  To make it an easier process we have now added chapters from our Recruitment Manual to our knowledgebase accessible through the portal that Chairs and Clerks can access.  The Recruitment Manual has been developed by NALC as part of the Civility & Respect project. To find the units in the Recruitment Manual go into Knowledgebase and click on the ‘Employment’ card and enter ‘recruitment’ in the search box.  

There are 15 units in the Recruitment Manual: 





Unit 1

Clerk Recruitment Process Action Plan

Unit 8

Recruitment information pack

Unit 2

Staffing Committee Terms of Reference

Unit 9

Shortlisting guidance

Unit 3

The post of Clerk to the Council

Unit 10

Selection Interviewing guidance

Unit 4

Preparing the job description

Unit 11

Selection Assessment guidance

Unit 5

Preparing the person specification

Unit 12

Appointment process

Unit 6

Advertising & media guidance

Unit 13


Unit 7

Use of application forms

Unit 14


There are appendices with templates you can use within the Knowledgebase articles.  The appendices have also been converted into Word templates and can be downloaded individually from Document Templates – choose category ‘employment’ and search for ‘recruitment’ to see the full list of templates. 

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Public emergency alerts

A siren-like alert will be sent to smartphone users across the UK next month to test a new government public warning system.

It allows the government and emergency services to send urgent messages warning the public of life-threatening situations like flooding or wildfires.

The test will place at 3:00pm on Sunday 23 April.

You can opt out of receiving these emergency alerts. 

Find out more at

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Scam emails/hacking

LALC have been made aware of some local councils who have recently fallen foul of scam emails. Scammers are increasingly devious in their methods. Please be careful and ensure that all staff and councillors are briefed on the potential impact of clicking on the wrong thing or opening a suspicious email.

Many of the local council insurance brokers provide guidance and advice on cyber security and offer cyber security cover.

The National Cyber Security Centre can also provide free advice and guidance:

Report a scam email to:

By February 2023 the NCSC has received over 18 million reported scams, which has resulted in 117,000 scams being removed across 214,700 urls.

Report a scam text: Forward to 7726

18,000 scam texts were removed as at February 2023 as part of the 7726 service. 

Report a scam phone call: Call 0300 123 2040 or visit 

Report a scam website:

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 Funding to purchase a portrait of the King

Government has announced funding for public organisations to apply for a portrait of His Majesty King Charles III:

Further details will be announced at a later date.

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Small Organisation Helper Service for users of domains

Conducting parish council business in a safe and secure manner, protecting ourselves and our constituents against cyber harm is a priority for all clerks. However, adopting modern IT with time, funding and resourcing constraints is not without its challenges. That’s why the Central Digital & Data Office (CDDO) is starting work on a new service to help parish councils successfully operate, and reap the benefits, of having a secure domain.

The first iteration of the Small Organisation Helper Service will be developed over the spring and summer of 2023 with the support of ten parish councils and their domain registrars. Being involved with the development process ensures that not only will parish councils have a service that will fit their unique needs but also have an opportunity to directly contribute to building greater cyber resilience at the foundational tier of our democracy.

Research and Pilot

CDDO are following a research and pilot based approach to developing the new service. The pilot will comprise of ten parish councils and their domain registrars – five that do not have a domain and five that do but are experiencing difficulties.

Over the course of the pilot, participants will take part in research that will both uncover barriers to adopting a domain and develop a picture of what effective support might look like. This insight will help CDDO develop the first iteration of the new Small Organisation Helper Service. Pilot participants will then trial the new service providing feedback via workshops and interviews to ensure continual improvement.

Future stages of this work – where CDDO will hone the service offering – will involve an increasing number of participants. In the first instance, it is expected that these will be drawn from the reserve list of interested parish councils who are not selected for the pilot.

Where are we now?

Member Services at SLCC and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) are currently working to identify a long-list of interested pilot participants. These will be reviewed by CDDO against a set of criteria to ensure that those selected to take part will – as far as is possible – represent the diversity of parish councils across England. CDDO will then contact successful participants and their domain registrars at the beginning of April with more information about their involvement and how the pilot will work. The first phase – user research – will commence shortly after. The insight gathered at this stage will help develop the first iteration of the Small Organisation Helper Service.

Finding out more about the pilot and domains

CDDO will be keeping SLCC and NALC up to date with progress across the pilot period via member services.

You can find out more about domains – how to navigate the adoption process and the benefits of ownership – via the CDDO website.

What is a domain?

  • It’s the Internet’s unique name for your organisation’s online digital identity

  • What your website and email is built on

  • It is a valuable digital asset

What are the benefits of a domain?

  • Shows your website and emails belong to an official UK public sector organisation

  • services are trusted and familiar

  • Confidence your domain is being constantly monitored so that problems and malicious intent are quickly spotted and resolved

  • Control access to official papers and correspondence; easily removing access when people leave

  • Handle Freedom of Information (FOI) or data requests more easily: you will not have to surrender private emails

  • Your domain will always be yours; it is has been provided under English law

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Weasingham Whinger’ whose complaints led entire parish council to quit 

A retired accountant who campaigned against his local council over many years, successfully persuaded the external auditors to investigate his complaints and has now had many of the issues he’d raised about the financial operation of the council, proven. All six members of the council and the clerk resigned as a result.

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NALC seeks panel members for the Local Council Award Scheme

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) seeks panel members for its Local Council Awards Scheme.

The Local Council Award Scheme is a national accreditation scheme open to all local (parish and town) councils in England. The scheme is designed to celebrate the successes of the best local councils and provide a framework to support all local councils to improve and develop to meet their full potential. It is one of NALC's most high-profile programmes, with over 700 local councils accredited or working towards accreditation. 

The scheme counts on a national panel of clerks and councillors who volunteer their time and expertise to assess applications. NALC is looking to expand the national panel's size to reflect the increased number of applications to the scheme. 

Are you looking for an opportunity to be part of a national initiative supporting local councils? Keen to hone your knowledge and experience of local council practice? Interested in seeing how other local councils operate and offering them feedback to help improve? Are you excited about working with other clerks and councillors from across the country? 

If so, check the panel member role responsibilities and requirements, and submit your interest by completing the form. Register your interest by 1 June 2023.

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APRIL 2023

Look at the Size of That Procedure!

Being an HR Professional my business life is full of procedures.  Everything from Sickness Management, Holidays, Grievance and Discipline, Redundancy, there’s a procedure for it.  

Twenty years ago when I started working with Town and Parish Councils it was not unusual to find some who had no policies and procedures at all, including an Employment Contract.

Thankfully, the situation has now changed.  However, for some Councils there is a danger that the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

Clerks and Councils now recognise that they have a legal obligation to have certain employment procedures.  The problem is then one of where do they get these procedures from.  Most Clerks and Elected Members are too busy to write procedures, and often look elsewhere for help.  There is a danger when adopting someone else’s procedure that it isn’t appropriate.  Every Council is different, and so are the requirements of its HR procedures.  Rather than taking this into consideration, a lot of Councils get their hands on something that another Council has used and assume it will work for them.

This can be particularly problematic if the other Council is a larger Principal Authority.  Larger Councils have more HR resources, and often draft their policies and procedures based around these resources and in consultation with Unions as part of their Collective Bargaining procedures.  This creates something that is right for them, but not always right for a Parish Council.

For example, Grievance and Discipline Procedures can include:

  • The right for an Employee to have a Union Representative with them at an informal disciplinary investigation.

  • The need for an Independent Note Taker.

  • Providing the Employee with 15 days prior notice of a Formal Hearing.

  • For all parties involved in managing the process to have no prior knowledge of the alleged indiscipline, or Employee’s grievance.

None of these are legal requirements, and such processes can be difficult, if not impossible, for a Town or Parish Council to follow.  They create unnecessary hurdles which the Council hasn’t got the resources to follow and can result in it failing to follow or missing parts of the process. 

At the same time, Grievance procedures from larger Councils probably don’t include a mechanism for addressing Code of Conduct complaints, which is a serious omission for a Town / Parish Council.

Town and Parish Councils are generally small organisations.  Many rarely employ 20 or more people, and 80% only have one.  ACAS procedures recognise the specific needs of small organisations.  Their policies and procedures often include a stand alone process for small organisations.  Their statutory Disciplinary Guidelines for small organisations are 3 pages long.  Their Grievance Process is one page and their Absence Management guidelines are a 6 page document. Size isn’t everything!

This doesn’t automatically mean that ACAS procedures are necessarily right for Town / Parish Councils.  However, what they do provide for Clerks, Councils and HR Committees is an insight into the level of simplicity that can be used when drafting their own procedures.

Focusing on the formal steps and not giving enough consideration to informal stages can be another mistake when drafting procedures. One important point that ACAS make in their procedures is the essential value of an informal mechanism, prior to getting into the formal stages.

Councils who have a culture of adherence to formal procedures can find that disciplinary issues and staff complaints are fed into the formal process too quickly.  This can result in an opportunity being lost. Worse still, the focus is shifted onto how the procedure is followed, rather than tackling the Employee’s problem and supporting them towards improving the situation.

Informal meetings that are conducted at the outset of any HR issue can provide a valuable opportunity for Managers to have an open and factual conversation with their Employee.  Most people are rational and have a modicum of intelligence.  Give them the opportunity to have a confidential meeting, with adequate time put aside for the process, and an opportunity to examine factual evidence, and they will usually reach a level of understanding.  This can apply to both parties.  

As a consequence, problems can be addressed quickly, at little cost to the Council, and to the benefit of all concerned.  Alternatively once the employment issue is fed into a formal procedure, the end result is that usually that someone has to win and someone has to lose, which simply exacerbates problems in the workplace.


Chris Moses LLM Chartered FCIPD is Managing Director of Personnel Advice & Solutions Ltd.  He is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has a Master’s Degree in Employment Law. If you have any questions regarding these issues please feel free to contact him on (01529) 305056 or email

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Elections, Quorums and New Councillors 

Notices of Validly Nominated Candidates will have been issued by the District Council Electoral Services after the nominations closed on 4th April.  

Councils will now be able to see if they are quorate or inquorate for May 9th.  

If you have sufficient candidates validly nominated but not more than the number of seats available they will be uncontested ‘Elected’ as councillors and will take up their seats on May 9th 2023 for the new term.  Current councillors remain councillors until May 9th 2023.  All Councils are required to hold their Annual Meeting of the new Council within 14 days of the new term of office starting by 25th May 2023 (as previously notified by NALC).  


The quorum for meetings of the full council is at least one-third of the number of total seats available (regardless of whether they are filled or not).  

Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 12 

12 … business shall be transacted at a meeting of a parish council unless at least one-third of the whole number of members of the council are present at the meeting; but, notwithstanding anything in that paragraph, in no case shall the quorum be less than three.

Number of seats


3 – 9


10 - 12


13 - 15


16 - 18


19 - 21


22 - 24



If a council is not quorate after these elections, it cannot conduct any business until the district council either holds new elections or appoints councillors to make the parish/town council quorate.  

Trying to hold a meeting when the Council is not quorate either because the Council has not filled the required number of seats or because not enough councillors are present at the appointed time of the meeting means that no lawful decisions can be taken.  

It is not possible to co-opt until the parish council is quorate.  The District Council will attempt to call another election to seek nominations 35 days after 4th May 2023 S.21 The Representation of the People’s Act.  


Insufficiency of candidates at an ordinary election 

7. Section 21 of the Representation of the People Act 1985 provides that where an insufficient number of candidates is validly nominated at an ordinary local council election to fill the vacancies on the council, those who have been validly nominated are automatically elected as councillors. Provided that those elected constitute at least a quorum (three or one third of the total number of councillors, whichever is the greater), the council (e.g. those elected unopposed) may co-opt any person or persons to fill the vacancies. If the power of co-option is not exercised within 35 days (in calculating which, Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Good Friday, a Bank Holiday and a day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning are excluded), the district/borough council may then exercise its powers to hold a further election or to take other appropriate action to fill the vacancies. A district/borough council has wide reserve powers to do anything necessary to constitute a council properly (section 39(4)(b) of the 1983 Act), including the temporary appointment of councillors pending a further election (section 91 of the Local Government Act 1972 (“the 1972 Act”). 

8. Before exercising the power of co-option, the council does not have to give public notice of the vacancy or vacancies, although it may do so if it wishes.  In practice, the giving of public notice is a sensible way to attract possible candidates for co-option.

Frequently Asked Questions

LALC are getting the following types of questions, and this is the guidance we can offer at this time:

1. If the council is not quorate can we hold our annual meeting of the parish council

No because you do not have enough councillors to hold a meeting.  Your district/borough council will need to use their powers to call another election and/or appoint their councillors.  

2. When does the term of the current council come to an end?  When does the new council take up their seats?

May 9th 2023

 3. When does the current Chair of the parish council step down?

They remain in their role until the first item of the annual meeting of the parish council even if they have not continued as a parish councillor.  

Local Government Act 1972 

S. 15 Chairman and vice-chairman of parish council or meeting.

(1)The chairman of a parish council shall be elected annually by the council from among the elected councillors.

(2)The election of a chairman shall be the first business transacted at the annual meeting of the parish council and if, apart from subsection (8) below, the person presiding at the meeting would have ceased to be a member of the parish council, he shall not be entitled to vote in the election except in accordance with subsection (3) below.

(3)In the case of an equality of votes in the election of a chairman the person presiding at the meeting shall give a casting vote in addition to any other vote he may have.

(4)The chairman shall, unless he resigns or becomes disqualified, continue in office until his successor becomes entitled to act as chairman.

4. Our parish council is quorate but has spare seats. Can we co-opt?

Yes you can co-opt to fill the spare seats.  The NALC Legal Topic Note 8 (above) recommends inviting people to step forward to be considered. The council will need to put an agenda item to co-opt.  (LALC provide a co-option application form and co-option policy template if required).  Co—options cannot take place before May 9th when the new council takes office.  They cannot take place until the annual meeting of the parish council has occurred when co-options can be an agenda item.

5. Our council is not quorate from May 9th because there have not been enough nominations.  What can we do to keep functioning?

Hold an extraordinary meeting in April under the current council to enact the following measures:

a) Set up direct debits and standing orders for regular payments such as pay, tax, pension, utilities in accordance with the adopted Financial Regulations (make sure any new financial year tax codes have been set up).  

b) Delegate as many functions/ decisions to the Clerk to operate in consultation with any elected councillors (S.101 Local Government Act 1972), for example, responding to planning consultations, approving payments as they arise, dealing with contractors /contracts, urgent renewals of contracts/insurances, etc.

c) Current bank signatories can continue to make payments and other transactions as long as the new council has approved those actions/transactions (until the council becomes quorate again). 

6. When can the councillors duly elected sign their Declaration of Acceptance of Office?  

You can obtain the Declarations of Acceptance of Office from councillors in accordance with S.83(4) Local Government Act 1972 

(4)A person elected to the office of chairman of a parish or community council or parish or community councillor shall—

(a) in the case of the chairman, at the meeting at which he is elected;

(b) in the case of a councillor, before or at the first meeting of the parish or community council after his election; or

(c) in either case if the council at that meeting so permit, before or at a later meeting fixed by the council;

make in the presence of a member of the council or of the proper officer of the council and deliver to the council a declaration of acceptance of office in a form prescribed by an order made by the Secretary of State, and if he fails to do so his office shall thereupon become vacant.

7. What should be on the agenda for the start of the annual meeting of the parish council?

1. Election of Chair of the Parish Council and signing of the Declaration of Acceptance of Office as Chair

2. Election of Vice Chair of the Parish Council (if applicable) 

3. Suspend the meeting to allow a period of public participation/forum (if applicable) and resume the parish council meeting after the public participation/forum.

4. Receipt of apologies 

5. Declarations of interest for items on the agenda

We recommend that the adopted standing orders are checked as they list what items may be put on the agenda for the annual meeting of the parish council. 

Declaration of Acceptance of Office Forms 

All Councils should have the prescribed Declaration Form but if you need a blank template this is available from the LALC portal in ‘Document Templates’.  The Councillors must sign this on taking office as a councillor at which point the Councillor Code of Conduct and other council policies apply to them and that Declaration of Acceptance of Office is retained until the end of their term.  The Chair of the Council is elected every May and must sign a new Declaration of Acceptance of Office each time they are elected as the Chair (even if the same person has just been re-elected and this is in addition to their Declaration of Acceptance of Office as a Councillor). 

As the legislation specifies the Declaration must be signed in person in the presence of either the Proper Officer (the Clerk) or in the presence of another Councillor who must also sign the Declaration at the same time.

  The completed Declarations of Acceptance of Office must be retained by the Proper Officer (Clerk) and be available for inspection by members of the public or auditors.  It is not necessary to send it to the District/ Borough Council. 

There is no requirement for a Vice Chair to sign a Declaration of Acceptance of Office (although some councils do ask the Vice Chair, on election, each year to do so). 

Questions do arrive at the LALC Office about the absence of a councillor or the elected Chair at the meeting they take up office and what to do if they cannot sign the Declaration of Acceptance of Office at the meeting.  The legislation permits the Council to resolve to allow the elected Chair or Councillor to sign the Declaration at a later specified meeting or before.  However, deliberate or continuing failure to sign the Declaration of Acceptance of Office will mean that the councillor seat becomes vacant and must be reported to the District/Borough Council’s Elections/Democratic Services team as a casual vacancy and in the case of non-acceptance by the elected Chair then the Council must elect another Chair at its next meeting once the Chair is vacant.