Document reference:  ALC56v.1 (reviewed annually)
Ownership: SALC CEO
Last revised: March 2024 

How SALC membership works

SALC membership

Across Suffolk there are 372 town and parish councils and 56 parish meetings and the Suffolk Association of Local Councils (SALC) is a not-for-profit membership organisation representing their corporate interests.   

Every local council in the administrative county of Suffolk or any administrative areas incorporating part of Suffolk is eligible for membership.  Each member council pays SALC an annual subscription based on the current number of persons on the electoral roll of the parish.

A copy of the SALC Constitution is available to view using this link. 

Any local council wishing to enquire about joining SALC as a member should contact the administration team by email : admin@salc.org.uk.  Current membership levels are high - 97% of town and parish councils.

SALC opening times and visitor information

SALC services available Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4.30 pm.  Our offices are based in Claydon and routinely open Monday and Tuesdays as the team work flexibly either from home or as a hybrid model.  We can easily adapt to the needs of our members and therefore ask visitors to book an appointment through the administration team by email: admin@salc.org.uk.   Use this link to Google maps for directions.  

What members can expect from SALC

SALC membership includes the following: 

We are committed to improving standards and actively promote the Local Council Award Scheme, deliver the Certificate in Local Council Administration qualification (CiLCA) as a certified trainer and encourage councils to sign up to the Civility and Respect Pledge which is part of a national programme seeking to enable cultural changes in the sector.   

We hold a range of online forums in addition to our extensive training and development offer.  These provide an opportunity for us to help councils focus on seasonal issues such as end of year and audit, budget setting, policy reviews, annual meetings and elections.  Where there are significant changes such as the recent review of the model financial regulations, new clerk model contract or a recommendation by us of the adoption of the LGA Councillor Code of Conduct, we offer additional support and guidance often partnering with industry experts to ensure that Suffolk councils are well informed.

Wherever possible we are keen to forge partnerships as we understand how often the tiers of local government working together can not only be more cost-effective for the public purse but aid communication, understanding and many benefits such as a better understanding of respective roles and challenges as a result of a two-way conversation.   Our recent work with Suffolk County Council in this regard includes guidance on nationally strategic infrastructure projects for local councils (the first of its kind in the UK) and plans for a range of communication and engagement initiatives with Suffolk Highways.

A downloadable membership benefit leaflet is available using this link.

How SALC handles enquiries

The majority of requests for advice and guidance come from the clerk and received via the member portal (only clerks can raise enquiries in this way) but SALC also receives some by email or telephone.   The portal holds details of the response and records are linked to the council so that we have a framework for managing data and it helps business continuity and development.  SALC also receives enquiries from chairs but it is our policy not to deal with individual councillors because, in our experience, this can cause unnecessary complications.  It is important for our members to understand that our guidance is directed and belongs to the whole council.

Use this link to see details of how the SALC member portal works and how to request access.

Where matters involve personnel issues SALC makes it clear that they can only assist the council and not employees who are advised to seek independent support. 

For complex or specialist topics SALC uses a range of experts the majority of which are funded by SALC membership fees.  Where councils need one-to-one support some specialists will liaise direct with them for an agreed fee and where personal data is involved, Data Sharing Agreements set up. 

General legal opinion is available to members from NALC Legal but transactional matters specific to a council are not included in the national membership offer.  SALC has an agreement with East Anglian law firm, Birketts, which includes 20 minutes free telephone advice to allow for detailed instructions and estimate of costs to progress can be provided for the council to consider.  Pricing is based on very competitive rates for the public sector.  

The majority (95% +) of enquiries are handled by the SALC team and either answered or progressed within two working days.

How SALC handles motions

Motions can be raised at any time through area forums or in writing to SALC or through the AGM process but must be supported by clear evidence and supporting documentation to allow an open discussion on the issues raised and the remedies being sought.

SALC has a motion policy which is available to view using this link. 

How member councils can help SALC

It is important that we are kept fully up to date with any changes and we therefore expect our members to inform us immediately of these matters - such as a change in personnel.  

We also often rely on information on the Council's website and it is important this is also kept up to date and should, of course, be reviewed annually as part of the audit regulatory framework, comply with the appropriate Transparency Code and the Council's own publication scheme.

Whilst we are available Monday to Friday during office hours, when asking us for advice we do prefer to have a reasonable amount of lead-in time in order to provide the best service we can.  

We send weekly updates through to the Clerk of the Council and ask that this information is cascaded to all councillors to ensure they are kept informed not only on latest developments but opportunities especially where there is support or additional information available.

Some councils appoint a SALC representative and it would be helpful for us to know who this is so that we can communicate with them direct and provide updates to help make their job easier.

Our area and specialist forums and clerk networking events are an ideal opportunity to meet others to discuss issues of common interest or pick up tips and ideas.  We endeavour to get guest speakers and for clerk networking focus on seasonal topics, such as audit or annual meetings.  It is also a good way to raise concerns and ask other clerks for a view and in turn this also enables SALC to identify trends so that they can consider lobbying on your behalf or making changes to their own systems if they are not working as well as we had expected.

As a small organisation we also appreciate it when councils pay invoices for membership, payroll and internal audit services and training on time.  It saves us using our resources on chasing for payment which is very time consuming.

When we cascade information that is asking for support for either a local or national campaign - such as promoting volunteering week or the Suffolk Walking Festival, we ask that councils use local newsletters, social media etc., to help get the message out.  We always ask if there are posters available and where councils can get these from to save printing and administration costs.

We love to hear about the work local councils are doing so if you have a good news story, share it with us.  Our network helps us help others and with constant pressures on the public purse it is important we enable other councils to duplicate ideas rather than reinventing the wheel. 

The Suffolk Community Awards are a great way of celebrating the work of local community groups, organisations and individuals.  We would encourage all councils to consider entering in some form or another in these grass-roots based awards.

If your council is on social media - let us know.  Why not send us a direct message on X (previously known as Twitter) or Facebook. Our details are at the bottom of this page.  If you tag us into your posts we can like and share and help raise your profile and that of the sector generally.

How SALC communicates with members

SALC mainly communicates digitally through our website, our portal and online events.  Prior to COVID we held the majority of these in-person but consistently when asked our members prefer the convenience of online.  

In November 2023 we held our first conference since COVID and recorded main speakers for those who were unable to attend.  The event was a success but we also learnt some lessons for the future.  In 2025 SALC will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary and we are planning further in-person events to commemorate that.

Our digital e-magazine, The Local Councillor (TLC) is published quarterly and anyone can subscribe and as a result  it now regularly reaches up to 1k readers per quarter.  It features lots of information that showcases the width and depth of the local council sector.  We use this to help market what local councils do, to raise awareness of the important role you play and hopefully to encourage people to consider stepping up to become a councillor to join the profession as a clerk or officer.

Our weekly e-bulletins are themed, Monday's bulletin features important changes, opportunities and local and national updates include the NALC CEO weekly bulletin.  Councillors can also subscribe to the NALC CEO weekly bulletin direct if they wish to help them keep up to date with the work the national association is involved in.  Our other two bulletins on a Tuesday and Wednesday cover training and vacancies and by splitting our publications in this way it keeps the length of the newsletter down and easier to read. 

We also ask our members annually for input on our future workplan using a survey to ask them about what they see as their priorities for the next 12 months.  We test our knowledge and what we have established are trends and issues for the sector against a series of questions which in turn gives us confidence that we focus on the right priorities for our members. 

How SALC networks locally and nationally

SALC works with a number of organisations which we like to call partners.  This helps us shape local and national campaigns by providing a local council perspective using our knowledge and experience.  Our local networks include:

  • Collaborative Community Board (Suffolk)

  • Digital network (Suffolk)

  • Improvement and Development Board (National)

  • NALC National Assembly (National)

  • CiLCA Trainers Forum (National)

SALC governance arrangements

SALC has a Constitution and active councillors and clerks make up the SALC Board.   There is also a President and Vice Presidents who undertake a non-voting role and are elected on an annual basis.   Joining the SALC Board is a great way for a councillor or clerk to expand their experience and knowledge of the sector and we try to use the skills individuals bring as well as giving them opportunities to get involved in larger projects on behalf of SALC.

The role of the SALC Board is to maintain values, determine mission, direct and monitor the objectives set influenced by the needs of member councils. 

Details of the President, Vice Presidents and the SALC Board can be viewed using this link to our dedicated page. 

The Constitution can be viewed using this link.

The annual general meeting of SALC takes place during the month of July and is now routinely held online with a guest speaker - this is what our members tell us they prefer.   Once the date has been agreed with the SALC Board the administration team set out a timeline for notifying members in line with the Constitution and a dedicated page is set up on the SALC website.   The 2023 AGM information including a recording of the guest speaker can be viewed using this link.  


What is involved in being a SALC representative?

As a membership body, the professional team work hard to ensure there is balanced representation from across Suffolk on the Board but it is not the only way councillors and clerks can get involved in supporting our work.  We have a number of representative roles and details can be viewed using this link to our dedicated page. 

SALC employees

SALC is run by a small professional team who work hard to make sure service delivery is timely and available to local councils five days a week underpinned by a structure that ensures resilience and business continuity.  Use this link on our website to meet the team.

How SALC identifies its priorities and develop a workplan

SALC has a business plan which can be viewed using this link. 

It is reviewed annually by the professional team and the SALC Board working together to make sure priorities and initiatives align with the needs of local councils in Suffolk. 

SALC gathers intelligence about the issues that are relevant to the local councils they serve in a variety of ways.   This includes engagement at forums and networks, feedback from training, enquiries, results of internal audit, engagement with stakeholders in Suffolk, regulatory changes etc.  These trends are then tested through the annual member survey which asks local councils to rank from their perspective the importance of these trends.  There is also scope within the survey for local councils to add different perspectives or new topics into the mix and this all enables SALC to make sure it understands and does its best to meet the needs of the smallest through to the largest Council in Suffolk.

The 2024 member survey ended on 31st March 2024 and the results are available here - Annual Member Survey 2024 | SALC Website

SALC working groups

Occasionally SALC will set up a working group at the request of members.  The most recent group was in East Suffolk district and looked into issues raised by member councils in relation to planning matters.   It resulted in a number of recommendations and engagement with East Suffolk with ideas for improvements and representations made at their Scrutiny Committee.  We will be using our annual survey to see if things have improved over the last 12 months.

How SALC handles enquiries from members of the public

SALC is a membership-based organisation and provides local councils with support and guidance as a corporate body.  It cannot, therefore, deal with enquiries from members of the public which should be directed to the council itself. 

How SALC handles media and public relations

Details of how SALC handles such matters is contained in our media and public relations policy which is available to view using this link.

How SALC manages its records

SALC collects information in order to provide its services such as contact details for the Council, the name of the clerk and sometimes the name of the chair.   The SALC portal is open to all councillors and requires a name and email address.  Details of how we manage personal data is contained in our privacy notice - use this link to view

SALC financial management

SALC is funded by membership subscriptions which covers some but not all the running costs.  Grants from Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council alongside income from additional services such as training, payroll and internal audit subsidises the fees our members pay.  

The subscription fee is due on or before 31st May each year and includes membership of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).  The scale of the annual subscription is determined annually by the SALC Board.  The subscription applies for the year running from 1st April to 31st March and is non-refundable.  

SALC also pay to NALC on behalf of member councils in each financial year a sum that is fixed by NALC at their AGM.    

Full details of how our subscriptions are calculated is available on this website using this link to our dedicated page.

SALC debt policy

Details of how SALC manages collection, recovery, cancellation, refunds and bad debts is documented in their Debt Policy which can be viewed on this website using this link. 

Complaint handling

SALC is committed to providing a high-quality support service to all our member councils but recognises that sometimes things can go wrong.   Details of how SALC manages any concerns raised about levels of service is documented in their Complaints Policy which can be viewed on this website using this link

Compliments

It is great when we get unprompted positive feedback from our members, as a small team this means a lot as we all try to do the best we can to support local councils and it is great when this is noticed and recognised.    We record these and sometimes add them to our marketing materials.  

Equality and Diversity

SALC is committed to encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion amongst its workforce and in the services and support it provides to member councils and eliminating unlawful discrimination.  The aim is for our team to be truly representative of all sections of society and our customers, and for each employee to feel respected and able to give their best.  SALC is also committed against unlawful discrimination of member councils and the public.

Termination

Any member wishing to terminate membership of SALC may do so by forwarding its resignation in writing to the Chief Executive Officer - ceo@salc.org.uk providing reasons for this council decision.

Changes to this page

This page is deemed a controlled document and is the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer.  It is referenced ALC 56 version 1 and was created on 14th March 2024 and will be reviewed annually.