Interviews

A Week in the Life of Hungerford Town Clerk Claire Barnes

Clerks to Parish and Town Councils are busy and important people in our community who keep the cogs of civic life turning, often behind the scenes. We asked Hungerford Town Clerk & CEO Claire Barnes to share with us what an average week in her job looks like:

Today I made a site visit to the play parks, War Memorial Avenue and recreation ground with our maintenance man to catch up on all the work he has done. Purchase of a pressure washer will see the benches spring cleaned once the weather improves.

Having met recently with the RSM of REME last week, I will ensure a rolling road closure is put in place so 150 soldiers can march through the town on Armed Forces Day. The RBL have offered their hall for refreshments and REME will hopefully be bringing an armoured vehicle for display in the High Street.

We have some exciting projects outstanding. I am chasing up the installation of new goal sockets on the Rec, so we can move our goal posts onto decent grass and install some nets so the kids can play 5 a side football.

We have been lucky to obtain a Parish Plan grant and I met with one of the sales reps to obtain some quotations for a toddler slide. This goes to committee this week to be finalized and all being well we should have this installed by spring.

I attended a ‘Friends of Hungerford Library’ meeting to see how the Town Council can work alongside anew charity group to continue to run the library within a ‘community building’.

I hope to hear from the Post Office with updates for new locations this week.

Met with our Chair of the Youth & Community Centre for an update on how it is running and improvement projects planned for the coming year. We are working on renewing the lease with West Berks Council so the youth group continue to have access to the outside court area where Y&C are installing new floodlights for all year-round use.

Pleased that Mr Henderson (Head of John O’Gaunt) will be able to attend our Annual Town Meeting to update us on the Academy status and progress of the school.

Just leaving to go home and had a phone call that Hurricane Doris has done some damage. Let’s hope that storm Ewan passes by without any problems.

Official Responsibilities of the Town Clerk

Besides organising annual Hungerford events including the Commonwealth Fly a Flag Ceremony, Annual Litter Pick, Freedom Awards Presentation, Switch on of Christmas Lights, Town’s Carol Service, Annual Town Meeting and Beacon Lighting, the Town Clerk has the following overall responsibilities:

Overall Responsibilities

The Clerk to the Council/Town Clerk 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 Clerk will be 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.

Specific Responsibilities

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

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

3. To ensure that the Register of Financial and other interests is maintained by the Council pursuant to the Code of Conduct and is up to date and any changes notified to the Monitoring Officer of the Responsible Authority.

4. To attend, produce and distribute minutes and agendas for 2/3 council or committee meetings per month to meet the statutory requirements.

5. To receive correspondence and log 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.

6 To work co-operatively with the RFO, Deputy Clerk and Admin Assistant to manage the Town Council office, ensuring it is adequately manned and efficiently run to provide a high level of service and responsiveness to the public and the councillors. To ensure the office complies with HASAW, security and fire regulations.

7. To maintain a simple and effective physical and electronic filing and mail distribution system accessible to councillors and where relevant the public.

8. 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 (particularly NALC, BALC, SLCC and WBC) and to produce reports for circulation and discussion by the Council.

9. 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.

10. To supervise any other members of staff as their line manager in keeping with the policies of the Council and to undertake all necessary activities in connection with conditions of employment and work of other staff.

11. To monitor the implemented policies of the Council to ensure they are achieving the desired result and where appropriate suggest modifications establishing good relations with the other major organisations in the town.

12. To act as the representative of the Council and proper officer as required.

13. 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.

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

15. To attend training courses or seminars on the work and role of the Clerk as required by the Council and organise regular training of all staff and councillors.

16. To have or work towards the achievement of the status of Qualified Clerk as a minimum requirement for effectiveness in the position of Clerk to the Council.

17. To review and bring forward to the Finance and General Purposes committee proposed amendments to the financial regulations and standing orders.

18. To oversee the maintenance and review historical Burial Records and update where necessary.

19. To provide updated information as required to the web site administrator and effect electronic back up procedures

20. To plan and implement a program of regular inspections of the towns physical assets with the RFO advising the council of any discrepancies.

21. To comply with requests made to the Council in respect of the obligations imposed by the Freedom of Information Act and to respond to requests from the public for information and guidance.

22. To ensure the website is kept updated and social media is used in the best interests of the council and Hungerford residents.

23. To ensure leases are renewed as necessary and put in place with regard to all property and land maintained by the council.

24. To cover for the RFO during short term absence or holidays.

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