No-one’s volunteering to sign controversial ‘contract’

Volunteers at the Leighton-Linslade In Bloom launch outside the White House
Volunteers at the Leighton-Linslade In Bloom launch outside the White House

Volunteers working on behalf of Leighton-Linslade Town Council have baulked at plans for a ‘contract’ which sets out how they should “act appropriately”.

A council report which sets out the plans states that though LLTC “recognises the value” of its volunteers, the work “may on rare occasions be misplaced to the detriment of the town council they are serving”.

The proposed new policy would see ‘volunteering agreements’– which have been likened to contracts– put in place. The agreement, which would need to be signed by all volunteers, outlines the responsibilities of representatives and the expectations of the council. It states: “As a town council volunteer you will be a representative of the town council and we ask you to act appropriately.”

The council report states that those reluctant to sign the agreement will have “demonstrated they are not prepared to support the town council and its policy which is regrettable”.

The report also concedes that “some may argue that this is an extreme measure” but asserts that LLTC “takes its volunteering seriously hence its desire to have a robust policy.”

The proposal was discussed at a council meeting last Monday and will be put before LLTC’s partners for consultation before it returns to the table in an altered state.

Mike Bishop, an occasional volunteer for the council, told the LBO: “Several volunteers present at the meeting said they would stop volunteering if they had to sign what was virtually an employment contract. That would be a disaster for the town and I am pleased that the issue will be reviewed.

“I felt that, to a large extent, we were pushing against an open door. The councillors appreciated the points made by the volunteers and I trust that we will be included in discussions to achieve a policy that can be supported by everyone.”

Ian Haynes, LLTC head of grounds and environmental services, said that an agreement would create stronger links between the council and its volunteers.

He told the LBO: “The contribuition volunteers give the council is massive.

“The amount of service they provide is considerable and what we are trying to do is to bring the arrangements we have into the 21st century,

“It is about making sure that we know who their next of kin is, making sure we are safeguarding them, as well as updating our protocols.

“Some people will think that it is quite draconian but it is nothing of any great significance– we are just looking to modernise.”