SUPPORT FROM NPTS
Norfolk PTS provides a simple, low-cost support service for parish and town councils in Norfolk. The annual subscription-based service is intended to complement our training provision while meeting the support needs of councils.
SUPPORT AND ADVICE
Telephone and email support is available during office hours.
Direct access to a helpful, friendly and experienced Norfolk clerks, and access to subject experts when you need it.
ACCESS TO RESOURCES
Template/example documents and guidance on when to use them.
We also provide a news feed to help keep you and your council up-to-date and meet all your legal and internal
20% reduction on the cost of our training courses and on the cost of support and development of a new website.
Free networking mornings, facilitated by a fellow Norfolk clerk.
We understand that being a parish clerk often involves working alone, with no team or colleagues for support. Occasionally you need to check how best to tackle a challenge, get advice from others who've encountered an unusual situation, or just discuss your ideas, concerns and options with someone who understands. Norfolk PTS is first and foremost a network of Norfolk clerks. We have over 60 years of clerking experience between us, and we're here to help you or your clerk. One of our team can be reached by phone or email between 9 am - 5 pm Monday to Friday. We don't use ticketing, just access to a helpful, friendly and experienced Norfolk-based clerk when you need support.
Sometimes we all have questions, or need advice that requires the input from a specialist profession. We're experienced clerks, but not lawyers or accountants. That's why we've built relationships with people and companies that do have expertise in those areas. Through your subscription to Norfolk PTS you can gain access to specialists in web development, HR, planning, accounting and legal services. Our associates will give you initial advice and guidance, typically around 15 minutes' of their time for free (or we can obtain it on your behalf if you prefer), and - when it's needed - you can engage them further. Perhaps you are undertaking some conveyancing or setting up a new payroll or website. You might need some employment law advice or guidance on dealing with tricky staffing issues. In any of these areas we can connect you with specialists who can help - just make sure you talk to us first.
If you have all the policies and procedures you need in place already then great. But often councils need to add to or amend what they've got, and it can be hard to know where to start. One-size-fits-all model documents can be unwieldy and sometimes inappropriate for your council. Because we work with councils of all different sizes (and have been through the process ourselves more often than not!) we can provide you with template documents that will be appropriate for your council by giving you access to our extensive library of template documents. And we can guide you as to the process for amending and adopting them - helping you to fulfil your statutory and Transparency Code obligations. The topics we give our subscribers access to are:
Accounts and finance
Audit (internal and external audit)
Elections, co-options and electors' rights
New clerks' guidance
Footpaths, rights of way, hedges and trees
Grants and bursaries
Meetings, minutes and agendas
Policies and procedures
In an ever-changing local government world, we can also point you to the most up-to-date and authoritative news and information that you will need to do your job. But we won't inundate you with masses of information on topics that don't help you with your day-to-day job. We email a newsletter to our subscribers about once a month.
You can also benefit from subscribing to Norfolk PTS by getting discounts on other services we and our associates offer, such as:
20% discount on training courses that you book with us
20% discount on training and support to develop a new website for your council (see below)
free attendance at our regular clerks' networking mornings and networking for chairs/vice-chairs
How much does it cost?
A subscription to Norfolk PTS runs from 1st April to 31st March. The charge is calculated on the basis of 1% of the total value of your council's precept.So a council with a £4,000 precept will pay just £40 per year. For £8,000 it will be £80 per year, and so on. We have capped this figure at £500 for the largest councils, so those with a precept above £50,000 won't pay any more than £500. We also guarantee to charge less than Norfolk ALC - please get in touch if you'd like us to quote for you. For 2021-22 subscriptions, we have a minimum subscription fee of £40 (£30 for parish meetings).
What do we do with our Norfolk Parishes website?
A number of parishes in Norfolk still have Wordpress-based Norfolk Parishes websites, provided some years ago as part of an existing subscription to Norfolk ALC. When councils let their Norfolk ALC membership lapse, they are often quoted hundreds of pounds to retain their Norfolk Parishes website.
If this applies to you, or if you are looking to update your site anyway to something more modern and easier to maintain, we can help. Our associate, Steve Jackman, has assisted over 100 parish and town councils to build new sites using a freely-available platform with no ongoing costs and in a way that can be maintained easily by the clerk.
Steve offers training and support for creating a new website at a discounted rate for Norfolk PTS subscribers, so moving your site is quick and easy to do. Please email us to find out more or to be put in touch with Steve.
Can I apply for the Clerk's Bursary for one of your courses?
Yes! This bursary is offered all year round from the Society of Local Council Clerks' Norfolk branch. You'll need to check the rules on the application form and apply to the SLCC in Norfolk directly. We advise that you apply for a bursary as soon as you book a place with us.
What our subscribers say about us
We asked our subscribers for some feedback; here's what they said:
We have used NPTS as our ’go to’ team for a couple of years now. Their training, guidance and day-to-day advice has proved to be invaluable to our council and has paid for the subscription many times over. The team is so experienced but more importantly they know how to put that information across in the training room - fun, participative and the training sticks. We cannot recommend them highly enough.
Lua, Clerk to Wortwell Parish Council
NPTS provides an excellent level of service across the various aspects of its work and is in our view excellent value for money for our subscription. A brief look at our response to various services:
Training: We make use of NPTS frequently to meet our training needs. NPTS is flexible and so we have shared training with two other local PC’s (we all share the same clerk). This has several advantages - the additional number of people helps stimulate a wider response to any issue as well as sharing the cost. On some occasions we have a training session just focussed for our small council – 7 councillors plus Clerk.
Additionally we attend the large training sessions organised by NPTS at various venues around the county to meet our individual needs. Both the Clerk and the Chair attend regular updates and networking sessions held for Clerks and Chairs. All of these courses share common characteristics. They are well planned, well delivered by trainers who really do know their subject, they are flexible and able tom respond to issues as they arise, the paperwork is good, clear and accessible. The venues are invariably well-chosen and comfortable. Final point – the coffee and cakes are good too.
Policies: This is an area of almost constant change it seems and was not one of our strong points as a council. NPTS provide model documents, and are continuing to extend and develop the range. Again there are common characteristics in what they produce. Policies are clear and in plain English thus they are accessible and comprehensible. They are well rooted in whatever statutory regulations inform the topic and make what is statutory and what is best practice easy to follow. They are also easy to adapt to your local council. Another general point is the speed of response to requests whether for training or policies and whether made by e-mail or phone call is always excellent.
Support: While the Clerk is always one’s first port of call there are times when you need to call upon external support, wisdom, experience and knowledge. We have had to do this over the last year and as chair I have been immensely grateful for the advice offered. It gives me confidence when dealing with a difficult issue that I have the advice of the organisation behing me and am thus able to quote from relevant documentation/law to support our case ( or sometimes recognise we need to change what we do because it was in error).
So both for me as an individual councillor and Chair and for the Council as a whole I am certain that our work and service to the community is better because of the support that we collectively, including our Clerk are able to call upon from NPTS.
Colin Venes, Chair of Thornham Parish Council
Ask for a quotation
Your council may not currently subscribe to any support service, or perhaps you currently pay for a service from another provider. Because adding or changing support is a decision for the council, we can provide you with a quotation that introduces our service and tells you clearly what our fee will be. Contact us to find out more.