Rebecca Evans MS, Minister for Finance and Local Government
In June 2021, I published a consultation on draft Regulations to be made under section 30(3) of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 (“the 2021 Act”). These Regulations specify the qualifications a clerk to a community council must hold in order to satisfy one of the three conditions for a council to resolve itself to become an eligible community council for the purpose of exercising the general power of competence. The other conditions a council has to meet to become an eligible community council are:
- At least two-thirds of the total number of members of the council have been declared to be elected, whether at an ordinary election or at a by-election;
- the council has received unqualified auditor’s opinions from the Auditor General for Wales, for two consecutive financial years. The latest unqualified auditor’s opinion must have been received during the 12 months preceding the day on which the council will resolve itself to become eligible.
I am grateful to all who took time to respond to the formal consultation. An analysis of consultation responses has been undertaken and a summary published on the Welsh Government website.
Following this formal consultation, I am pleased to inform Members that I have now laid the Eligible Community Councils (General Power of Competence) (Qualifications of Clerks) (Wales) Regulations 2021 before the Senedd, with a coming into force date of 5 May 2022.
The Regulations are unchanged from the draft issued for consultation. The majority of respondents agreed that the qualifications specified in the draft Regulations would give confidence that a clerk has the core knowledge, skills and understanding to support a community council in the exercise of the general power of competence. There is clear confidence, particularly from the main sector representative bodies, that the Certificate in Local Council Administration (CiLCA) provides the appropriate sector-specific certified training for clerks to enable them to support their council.
While some respondents to the consultation put forward alternative qualifications for consideration for inclusion in the regulations, there was no significant support for other qualifications. The extent to which the content of the other qualifications put forward by respondents would be applicable to the sector would vary. A number of respondents to the consultation also suggested that experience in a clerk role should be taken into account. While I acknowledge and value this experience, I am not persuaded that it can be objectively measured to provide assurance that a clerk is suitably equipped to support a council in exercising the general power of competence.
During the consultation we became aware of an issue regarding the Welsh medium provision for CiLCA. We had understood that there was full bilingual support for training and completion of the course in Wales. While this is not currently the case for all aspects of the CiLCA course, we are working with the Society for Local Council Clerks and partners to secure bilingual provision and ensure that the experience of a clerk undertaking CiLCA is the same whether they take the course through the medium of Welsh or English.