Friday, 8 May 2015

The lady vanishes...and next week's meetings

One person who will not be in the Chamber for next week's meetings is the "first female director" at Carmarthenshire County Council, Ms Chrisitna Harrhy, who has resigned after just three months in the job and gone to Caerphilly Council. So unique was the appointment of a woman back in January that the novelty required a headline in the welcoming council press release.

I'm sure Ms Harrhy left for entirely personal reasons but, as ever with these things, rumours abound and it was said that the council had been found wanting, a complete shambles, apparently..
Today's Carmarthenshire Herald describes her departure as an embarrassment for the authority and that 'it has been suggested that she found the task of tackling entrenched interests at County Hall a disillusioning experience"

The chief executive's statement on the quick departure was certainly brief and devoid of even a hint of the customary regret/tribute/well-wish at losing a valued colleague, or the first female Director for that matter. I doubt there'll be a second;

"The Director of Environment has resigned to take up a post at Caerphilly Council as Director of Education and Environment.

"We will be re-advertising the post."

Until the arrival of Ms Harrhy, the couple of senior roles taken up by women have been internal appointments and 'acting up' positions, although incidentally. the word 'acting' appears to have mysteriously vanished from the status of the head of law and Monitoring Officer, Linda Rees Jones.

It would appear that, as well as being male, an in-depth knowledge of, and an unquestioning loyalty to, 'how things are done in Carmarthenshire' is a prerequisite, 'Answering back' is the road to oblivion, for anyone.

Ms Harrhy's position took a couple of years to fill. One meeting back in 2013 to appoint a director was abandoned when it became apparent that the councillors on the Appointments Committee were not on course to appoint the, er, 'right' candidate and there was, allegedly, some highly unconstitutional 'unelected intervention'..

The post then morphed from Director of Technical Services into Director of Environment, now with a multitude of responsibilities from Planning to Democratic Services. It was all part of the management restructuring masterplan.

As an aside, at a recent Executive Board Member meeting, (the public, press and other councillors currently excluded), a revised version of the 2013 restructuring policy was approved.

We don't know what's in it, as neither the brief minutes nor the agenda (both published together, a week after the event) link to any documents. As per my last post, the governance working group see nothing wrong with the minutes of the council's meetings....

Anyway, it seems that one of the "key changes" of the revised policy was to change it's name from 'Organisational Change Policy and Procedure' to...'Restructuring Policy and Procedure'. Obviously an essential decision... though after Ms Harrhy's sudden departure it appears that a pointless name change is the least of their worries.

With the Labour group at Carmarthenshire Council in apparent disarray (see previous post), it's not entirely clear whether Mr Madge will survive challenges from within his own group next week and still be delivering his usual, er, statesman-like speeches as Leader next Wednesday.... Meryl (Ind) may well have the final say on who she could and couldn't possibly work with, if the coalition wants to continue in it's present form that is....

There's a notable omission from Monday's Executive Board meeting with that political hot-potato, the 'free parking in Llanelli' pilot (see April's meeting) failing to put in an appearance...maybe next month..or the month after that.

The agenda for Wednesday's council meeting includes the delights of yet another lengthy Power-Point presentation, this time it's about the Planning Bill which is currently wending its way, controversially, through the Senedd, A Google search is probably your best bet if you want to find out more, but the council's summary is here. (Warning; there are lots of Plans, Strategies and Frameworks..)

The raft of committee reports are again relegated to 'for info' only, (see previous posts) and instead we have just three paltry questions; one of which is directed at the health board and another to the Welsh Government and all three are from one councillor.

The format of the agenda is beginning to look like the one proposed by the chief executive back in October 2013, complete with corporate presentations. Those proposals which, along with other tactics to remove debate, prompted a request for the council to be put in special measures.
All that's left to remove now is executive decisions, perhaps they could be replaced with an hour or two of gospel songs and prayer?

With both managerial and political 'leadership', if you could call it that, in its usual disarray, the shambles continues for the foreseeable future.

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