Legislation requires every parish council to appoint a proper officer to act on behalf of the council and to discharge all the council's statutory duties and responsibilities. In Wye, and indeed most other parish councils the Parish Clerk is the Proper Officer. In summary, the Clerk is responsible for ensuring that the council conducts its business lawfully. The Clerk also carries out the council's decisions and provides independent, objective and professional advice, information and administrative support to the council.
The earliest record of the appointment of a 'Toun Clerk' was in 1439, which pre-dates the founding of Wye College in 1447. This ancient job title related to the clerical origins of the post, at a time when few people other than priests had the ability to read or write. Although the job title has not changed over the centuries, the work of a parish clerk now covers an increasingly diverse range of tasks. These responsibilities include liaising with a wide range of organisations, managing staff, finances and resources, organising meetings, managing projects and problem solving.
The legal duties and responsibilities of this part-time role include maintaining an effective system of internal financial controls and governance, ensuring compliance with Accounts and Audit Regulations, and the management of risk across all areas of the Council's work. In more detail these responsibilities include the day-to-day management of assets and resources, the recording of all financial transactions, managing expenditure against the Council's budget, maintaining an audit trail for all transactions, preparing annual accounts for audit, and the annual return, reclaiming VAT, operating the payroll, managing grant applications and reporting to funders.
To support the professional development of parish clerks in their work, the National Training Strategy has developed a specialist qualification for the sector, the Certificate in Local Council Administration (CiLCA).