Thursday, 11 August 2011

Plugging my Petitions

With another mention in today's South Wales Evening Post, the issue of filming council meetings (or Carmarthenshire's anyway) is still rumbling away - hopefully to re-materialise in various council debates throughout Wales after the summer. The deadline for signing my Welsh Assembly petition has been extended to the 19th September 2011 and will be considered at the Petitions Committee meeting on September 27th. I may ask if I can briefly address the committee on the subject, in person, (if that's possible)

Please don't forget my petition to require Councils' to publish spending details over £500 as well (also extended) - currently we are limited to the annual summer activity of physically attending County Hall and personally 'inspecting the council's accounts' not something most people would have either the time or the inclination to embark on - the publication of the details would enable all those who are interested, at any time, to act as 'armchair auditors'. The two should compliment each other. Carmarthenshire Council have yet to announce the inspection period - I shall be popping down for a browse of course.

The aim of both petitions is to raise the accountability and transparency of our local authorities - this could be an opportunity for the Assembly to take the lead - neither of these issues should be a matter of party politics, nor, this time, entirely a matter for individual councils as we are so often told. Don't forget, both recommendations (to webcast meetings and publish the spending details) are now becoming commonplace throughout English councils without the sky having fallen in. And even Mr Pickles noticed the strange goings-on in Carmarthenshire.
Assembly Members have already shown their support for filming and 'widening access' and I hope this transpires into positive action by those in the driving seat at Cardiff Bay.
As you will be aware, the filming petition also requires councils' to allow members of the public to film or record, and at the risk of endlessly repeating myself - this is an unarguable necessity in Carmarthenshire.

I have noticed that several English Councils who have set up webcasts of their meeting have also quietly dropped a clause into their Standing Orders barring 'other forms' of recording ie by members of the public.
This is unnecessary and wholly unacceptable and I will lobby Councillors to oppose such a step in Carmarthenshire.
The cost is of course an issue but as I have said before, it would be money well spent and would be a negligible percentage of the vast annual PR budget. Or I could do it for free.

The petitions are here;

Many previous posts (of course) on this whole issue including for one.


Photon said...

£19k? How much does that translate into per person? Let's see: 178,043 residents (Council's own cited data). About 80% will be adults, so 142,000 people.

A grand total of, ker-ching, 13 pence each.

As always, the impact of numbers depends on how you present them and what you care about.

Another way would be to equate £19k to a Chief Executive's pay, or a Councillor's allowance, or the amount paid on 'hospitality'.

Cerberus said...

Save your time and energy travelling to view Council accounts, there's no need. Contact them and request a FREE copy by email. It will probably be emailed in PDF format because of the file size. I'm in a different part of the UK but it worked for me! Council offered a hard copy of the accounts for a fee of £80+ for photocopying (so much for 'think before you print, save the trees' mantra). The option of emailing it to me was NOT offered by Council staff.