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Parish council clerks in England have been offered the chance to become formally qualified. ...
Parish council clerks in England have been offered the chance to become formally qualified.

A certificate in local council administration will be awarded by the Countryside Agency and the National Association of Local Councils to clerks who complete a syllabus of core topics.

The agency, which oversees the work of parish councils, has stressed the certificate will be voluntary.

The move is part of Whitehall's attempts to bring parish councils under the umbrella of their reform agenda for local government.

This has seen parish councillors being subjected to the same code of conduct as councillors in local authorities, a move that has attracted criticism from the Conservatives.

This code was extended despite parish councils having little power in reality.

Conservative MPs have argued that opening up details such as a person's finances acts as a deterrent to those wanting to serve their communities through parish councils.

But rural affairs minister Alun Michael said the move was 'an important milestone' in helping to develop the potential of parish councils.

'The business of parish and town councils needs to be carried out smoothly and efficiently, recognising that the leaders of our most local level of democracy are at once volunteers, community leaders and elected representatives,' he said.

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