Report from Durham Standards Committee on members of West Rainton and Leamside Parish Council and the treatment of the Parish Clerk 22nd November 2010.

This report raises many key issues in the way that Parish Clerks may be unfairly treated by parish councillors. In this case the FTT (First Tier Tribunal) commented

"that whilst they were entitled to raise criticisms in the form of the agenda and accuracy of the minutes, their behaviour went beyond a legitimate challenge."

The FTT said it was not reasonable to persist in challenges to the Agenda, implicitly and expressly raising the competency of the Clerk after having been told at a meeting on 18 October 2007 that the Agenda followed the Local Association “Tool Kit” recommendations without ever articulating any basis for the continuing complaint.

The FTT found it was equally unfair, unreasonable and demeaning for Councillors at the meeting on 15 January 2009, in public session to raise the issue of referring the clerk to a disciplinary procedure. Such matters should have been referred to only in private session as should have been obvious to the Councillors.

The FTT found that it was clear from the evidence that the challenges to the Clerk were made without any consideration of the effect on her or the appropriateness of the context in which they were raised. Whilst the intention may not have been to belittle or demean her, that was the inevitable and entirely foreseeable consequence.

Durham Standards Committee West Rainton and Leamside Parish Council