What has happened to the council’s town clerk?

It seems that Bude & Stratton has lost its town clerk, for there is currently a temporary one in position. Donna Bennett has made way for Keith Cornwell.

What is a little peculiar is that no one seems to know why. Well, obviously someone does, but no one is saying. The clerk is the council’s principal executive and adviser, an unelected officer, so not an insignificant position, and well paid at that.

She/he is an independent and unbiased employee of the council, keeping things procedurally correct and legal. The clerk is, among other things, responsible for implementing council policy, ensuring the council acts within the law, advising the council on all aspects of its work and may have delegated powers of decision-making, especially in urgent situations. So, it is a massively responsible role.

It is the clerk who prepares and posts notices, writes agendas and minutes, keeps the council’s records, deals with correspondence, arranges the council’s insurance and issues the precept. All in all a key role. In the interests of openness and transparency, it would, therefore, be interesting and appropriate to know what has happened in Bude-Stratton Town Council. I have asked the question.

 

5 Comments

  • John Gimson says:

    You say “What is a little peculiar is that no one seems to know why. Well, obviously someone does, but no one is saying.”
    In my view, not really surprising as some (many?) matters are personal and confidential – and should remain so.

    I’ve been told that Donna had resigned – though I didn’t probe as to why.

    I do know that since Donna became Town Clerk, some things have changed. One of them is that she got married. Another is that she had an accident of some sort (sorry, no details) that meant she was working from home. Home is in the Truro area; to me, that wouldn’t make it easy to get to grips with, and have a good understanding of, the quirks and foibles of this delightful area.
    As you say, the Town Clerk has some important responsibilities – but the overall power rests with the elected (or co-opted) Town Councillors.
    While I’ve lived in the area only 18 yrs, I’ve lived in other small towns where there has been unhelpful comment and rumour about the goings on in local parish and town councils. Over the past 10 yrs I’ve had dealings with both officers and councillors, and good discussions with people whose views don’t always match mine.

    My gut feeling is that Bude-Stratton is currently in as good a shape as it has been for some years. Keith Cornwell was acting proper officer when the Town Clerk was indisposed or when the position was vacant, and is now acting Town Clerk. I’ve had to have dealings with Keith several times since the beginning of the year in relation to my involvement with Bude Coastal Community Team, and his professionalism is impressive.

    Having had experience of being an elected town councillor, it can at times be a thankless task for anyone who volunteers to serve the local community. Anyone who is concerned about how the Town Council operates can put themselves forward as a candidate, though I’m not sure when the next election is.

    Your final comment raises a concern. It may be interesting to know, but who is to say if it is appropriate?

    • Hi John, thanks for your comment. I think it is easy enough for the Town Council to say that the Clerk has resigned, and use the all-encompassing ‘personal reasons’ if they apply. It is true that power lies with the Town Councillors, but the Clerk plays a very important role in advising them appropriately on financial and legal issues in which most are not expert. I am sure Keith is most impressive and doing a fine job. However, in my role, I note that people have contacted me asking what has happened because it is not clear to them, the electorate, and also why the last full council minutes are not on the website (though usually published quickly) when the next meeting is almost upon us. I have contacted Keith and hope he will be able to advise. I do feel that local people (who have raised these questions) obviously do deserve to know what is happening in the Town Council they fund. The Council hopefully is in fine shape, in which case, why would transparency and openness be an issue? Dawn

  • Lee Fashoda says:

    Follow the money!

  • John Gimson says:

    Dawn, Just to say that your B&B site invites people to add a Comment. That’s all I wanted to do. I have no wish to get involved in a discussion. I can’t imagine that it’s likely to be productive or helpful.

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