Friday, 27 May 2011

Pantecelyn Closure - A Guest Post

The issues surrounding the closure of Pantecelyn secondary school and the effect this will have on the community of Llandovery do not, according to Carmarthenshire Council, appear to be a matter of debate, the decisions were made a long time ago. This 'guest post' is by somebody who understands exactly how things work in Carmarthenshire.

Pantycelyn - a community betrayed
The row over the proposed closure of Pantycelyn School in Llandovery is rapidly becoming a textbook example of how Carmarthenshire County Council shows its utter contempt for local democracy. This week's Carmarthen Journal contains two articles of interest to local people, the first being an interview with the town's county councillor, Cllr Ivor Jackson.
Cllr Jackson has just been made Chair of Council, a post which will give him an additional allowance of nearly £11,000 on top of his other allowances and expenses. Cllr Jackson says that the north of the county has been neglected by the county council, which seems to devote most of its attention to Carmarthen, but just in case anyone should interpret this as criticism, Cllr Jackson quickly adds that everything is going really well in his area, and he cites as examples a claim that the streets are looking cleaner and the success of last year's Sheep Festival.
Asked about Pantycelyn School, Cllr Jackson says that, what with the involvement of the Welsh Assembly Government, there is not much that one individual can do, but he would like to think he can make a difference to local issues.

This is pure 100% flannel. Worse than that, it is the absolute opposite of the truth. To find out where Cllr Jackson's loyalties really lie, you need to turn to another article in the same edition of the paper.

Under a headline announcing that Carmarthenshire has more empty school places than any other local authority in Wales, the big guns are brought out. Chief Executive Mark James warns that although there has been some reduction in empty school places, much more will have to be done. After that stark warning, and having ensured that readers have been softened up by the initial bombardment, Cllr Gwynne Wooldridge, the cabinet member responsible for education, says that the consultation over Pantycelyn is going very well. He praises Cllrs Jackson (Llandovery), Huw Morgan (Llangadog) and Tom Theophilus (Cilycwm), all from the so-called Independent group which controls the council, for "braving the storm for the sake of our youngsters" and for supporting us (us being the county council).

The military metaphors continue with the director of education, Robert Sully, adding that hearts and minds have been won. Mr Sully, it should be remembered, was parachuted into his current job despite his lack of expereinece in education by Mr Mark James who used his "special powers" to ensure that Mr Sully got the job without the tiresome need to ask elected councillors for their views or approval. As for the rest of the county, Mr James's message is clear. He will "invest" in more school closures and redundancies.

So there you have it. Cllr Jackson has had a massive pay rise, Cllr Morgan is now Chairman of the Planning Committee, Mr Sully shows his appreciation for being given his own top job, and Cllr Wooldridge confirms once again that the Carmarthenshire definition of consultation is, 'a tedious procedure which we have to go through by law before we bulldoze through what we had already decided.'

Let's hope that the electors in the wards represented by Cllrs Jackson, Morgan and Theophilus remember to show their appreciation for what their councillors have done at next year's elections
A few words about the generous remuneration for being Chair of Carmarthenshire Council; I imagine the next year will be a busy one for Cllr Jackson, being ferried about by the Council Chauffeur to various buffets and lunches, and as for having to chair roughly ten meetings of the county council, that works out at a little over £1000 a meeting. Poor soul.

1 comment:

William Williams said...

The author of this piece has missed something.

Yes, Cllr Jackson has landed the plum job of Council leader at around £11,000 p.a. on top of his existing allowances, etc.

Cllr Huw Morgan has also just been promoted to chair of the Planning Committee, which also brings him additional income of over £1,000 per meeting chaired.

Meanwhile, Cllr Theophilus, who is understood to be planning to stand down at the next election, has for some years been chair of the licensing committee, for which he too is paid around £11,000 per year.

Perhaps it really is just an unfortunate coincidence that three neighbouring councillors who have all supported the closure of Pantycelyn should have had their names plucked out of the hat for these very well-paid jobs.