Friday, 24 January 2014

Cuts, closure and...oh, a PR revamp

As the final decisions on the council budget are fast approaching many residents are now realising that, as usual, the County Hall cuts steamroller fired up long ago.

One striking example is the apparently unstoppable closure of council run care homes in Ammanford and Llanelli - whilst local residents were busy expressing their views in the 'budget consultation' form on this very topic, the consultants, architects, planners and council executive have been busy locating sites and progressing with the private investors to develop new 'Extra Care Schemes' for our elderly. Planning permission for the facility in Ammanford has already been passed yet the budget is not finalised until the 19th February. (Also see my comment below)

As some have already mentioned, should anyone wish to challenge closures through a Judicial Review, the evidence that decisions were made before the consultation concluded will not be hard to find.

Another issue which has angered locals in this neck of the woods is the possible closure of the recycling site in Llangadog. The council appear to have decided not to renew the contract with AWS Ltd who run the site, The other four major sites in the county are run by Cwm Environmental Ltd which is owned by the council.

The site in Llangadog, as can be seen from this map, serves a huge area;

The closure of this facility will result in only one thing - fly-tipping throughout the forests and mountains of north Carmarthenshire. At the beginning of 2012 a report identified the necessity of this site, its high recycling rate, and even the possibility of creating another in the north of the county.

The Llangadog site is dependent on the £250,000 contract it has with the council and provides an essential and well organised civic amenity site covering at least 4524 households and hundreds of rural businesses.
It also has a small but highly efficient Aerobic Digester, installed in 2012.

The people of the area have seen their primary schools close; their secondary school in Llandovery close and and now it looks like they'll lose their recycling facilities too.

There have been public meetings and a petition and several articles in local papers but in the end it will be down to your county councillors to make a stand. They didn't make a murmur against the closure of Pantycelyn School and have been complicit by their silence over highly questionable spending decisions such as £20m to the Scarlets.

Don't you think its about time we heard one of our local county councillors put their office, and allowance, on the line and demand that local voices are heard? I have said often enough that this is an officer-led authority, which it is, and it will stay that way unless local residents put pressure on their county councillors to change things.

Sadly, we don't have a Cllr Caiach in north Carmarthenshire, I wish we did. Instead we have the Members for Llandovery, Llangadog, Cilycwm, Manordeilo & Salem and Cynwyl Gaeo - their contact details are on the council website though - so get lobbying!
And on the 19th February you will be able to see them 'speak for you' on the 'budget special' webcast.....

Update 26th Jan; Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards has issued a statement - 'Communities ignored by County Council', referring to north Carmarthenshire including the possible loss of the recycling facility;

“...But the wider issue here is that the people I represent believe their voices are ignored in county hall.  That is the clear opinion given to me when speaking with residents and businesses in the area...."


Meanwhile, as services for the elderly, the vulnerable and the young are 'reconfigured', 'realigned' and 'restructured'; County Hall and its extensive well-funded Department of Spin, as preoccupied with its reputation as ever, has given the PR section of the website a bit of a revamp.

Someone in County Hall must have grasped the concept of irony as it's been rebranded as 'The Newsroom'. There is still no actual news of course.
Of interest though is a new section called  'Setting it Straight', it contains the following paragraph;

Occasionally we may have to correct or clarify an article that has been published which contains inaccuracies, or does not reflect the facts. We work closely with media to resolve any issues, and most of the time corrections or clarifications are made quickly. However in rare circumstances we use this page to set the record straight and provide you with the correct information.

Which translates as;

"Sometimes the independent press, or an individual, might publish something we don't agree with or is vaguely critical of the Council. If we can't persuade them to remove or edit an article to our satisfaction through legal or financial threats, then we will highlight their subversive behaviour and endeavour to remove their credibility on our publicly funded website"


caebrwyn said...

I'm a bit puzzled, the Capital budget, which has yet to be finally approved, was specific in that funding for the new Llanelli Extra Care Scheme was not included anywhere in the five year programme.
The Executive Board, on the 18th November 2013 insisted that this programme was amended to reflect the fact that 'financing options were being explored'.
Fast forward to Wednesday and the Llanelli Star reports that 'Carmarthenshire Council is looking to invest £7m' with Cllr Kevin Madge announcing; "I am pleased that we have now been able to identify funds within our capital programme"
I'd like to know where they've suddenly managed to find £7m 'within' the programme. Petty cash? Wonga loan? Or is it a ruse to ensure that St Pauls and Caemaen Care Homes close their doors on budget day next month?

If anyone can enlighten me I'd be grateful.

Anonymous said... might interest you:

theARCproject said...

Personally, having worked for AWS I can understand why & am not surprised that the council are removing the contract from Hefin Roberts et al.

However, I also do not believe that relying solely on CWM Environmental (the 'arms-length trading company' of CCC) is a sustainable option!


Anonymous said...

"Having Worked"? - I see you don't hold a grudge about being Fired??? And it was over 7 years you worked there.

HIGHEST recycling figures in the COUNTY, OVER 1000 signatures in support. But most importantly its the ONLY recycling Facility in the East & North of the County. You need to read the blog again @thearcproject, its about a CCC ignore the needs and wants of the people in this County (actually it just seems to be this part of the County).