Thursday, 18 October 2012

Public Inquiry? - long overdue


Pleased to see that, further to the Week In Week Out programme, Plaid AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas is calling for a public inquiry into Carmarthenshire's planning department. Like Mr Thomas, I have also been contacted by countless residents who have been on the receiving end of inconsistent decisions (allegedly) from the department. Many contacted me yesterday.

Numerous calls were made to the previous Minister in charge of planning, Jane Davidson, three years ago, particularly after she promised to intervene 'wherever it was evident that the public had lost faith in the planning system'. She never did and readers may also remember 'rooftop campaigner' pensioner Iori Jones starving himself outside the Senedd, whilst the Minister was inside, refusing to meet with him. I also accompanied Iori to court a couple of years ago where a jury found him not guilty of criminal damage to the roof of the Council offices in Llandeilo. Despite several hours of video evidence showing Iori carefully removing the slates - the jury decided he had 'Lawful Excuse' due to his treatment by Carmarthenshire's planning department going back thirty years.

How will the Ministers for Local Government and Environment (planning), Carl Sargeant and John Griffiths react to Mr Thomas' request? Mr Sargeant repeatedly states his reluctance to 'micro-manage' councils, particularly Carmarthenshire it seems, but intervening where there is a lack of faith, spearheaded by an Assembly Member is not 'micro-managing'.

Press release from Plaid Cymru;

Rhodri Glyn Thomas said:

“The television programme has shown beyond any doubt the difficulties my constituents have faced over the past few years with next to no support from the local authority. The Ombudsman himself has stated the local authority has failed to carry out its duties properly.

“Unfortunately, but characteristically Carmarthenshire County Council has now questioned the integrity of the Ombudsman.

“Having met with the Ombudsman last week, and having received a catalogue of representations from constituents regarding planning matters in the county, I have this week written to the Welsh Government Ministers for Local Government and Sustainable Development to request a public inquiry on this case.

“The conclusions of the Ombudsman, the evidence shown in the television programme and the local authority’s decision to question the integrity and impartiality of the Ombudsman present a clear need for a full public inquiry”.

The Leader of the Plaid Cymru Councillor Group on Carmarthenshire County Council, Councillor Peter Hughes Griffiths added:

“As the Leader of the 28-strong opposition party in the County Council I cannot express the level of disappointment we have in the leadership of the authority regarding this case.

“Despite the Ombudsman’s report being published at the start of July, Councillors have yet to be provided with either a copy of the report or an opportunity to discuss the findings openly in the council chamber. This lack of discussion is a direct contravention of the Ombudsman’s recommendation.

“What is clear from the Ombudsman’s comments is that the authority lost all objectivity in this case and subsequently failed Carmarthenshire residents.

“The leadership of this authority must do better and never allow such an injustice to happen again. I expect the Leader of the Council to present the Ombudsman’s full report at the next meeting of the Council.”

1 comment:

StClearsTimes said...

Still trying in St Clears. Let's be honest, it isn't matters of national security being discussed here. What we have here is a generation of people who just cannot use technology so fear the new. We do have plenty of hairdressers and beauticians in St. Clears to paste over the cracks if you catch my drift. When I lectured on this subject to journalists they could not believe what I was showing them. They jokingly asked if I was living in China! I should have answered 'YES' Liangshan Po and I am Lin Chung