Sunday 27 March 2011

Grants, Loans and an Inappropriate '!'

A forthcoming report to the Council's Audit Committee illustrates the ineffectiveness of the Wales Audit Office and failings within the Council Resources department. The WAO has been highlighted serious failings in the Council's grant procedures since 2008 (previous posts 'Council Grant Process Deteriorates' and 'Failing to Follow the Rules' have now been removed)  and it appears the same issues, for example, non-compliance with tendering procedures, errors in claim forms, ineligible expenditure being claimed and insufficient documentation are still areas of concern in a report dated March 2011. The number of grant claims that have had to be amended puts Carmarthenshire Council well below the Wales average - not something they're likely to trumpet from the pages of the 'Community News'.

A recent meeting of the Environment Scrutiny committee finally saw the report dealing with the relationship between Carmarthenshire Council and it's 'wholly owned' company, Cwm Environmental Ltd, which handles the Council's recycling programme. A few concerns were raised, one of which was the lack of representation from the Council on the Board of Directors, apparently it was deemed perfectly acceptable that the only representative on the Board is an ex-official of the that's ok then...?
I have previously mentioned two loans made by the Council to this company in 2008 totalling £650,000 to further expand the recycling facilities (according to the report they were unable to raise it from the bank), it would then appear that the location of the facility will be long term, and one wonders whether the £4 million held in 'reserve' for 'reinstatement purposes' couldn't have been at least partly used, as one Councillor suggested, to plug the hole in the council's budget deficit? I seem to remember, from the meeting he was told "there was no money there".

Lastly, back to planning and I wonder whether there is ever an appropriate use of an exclamation mark in a planning officers report? Whatever the merits or otherwise of a planning application, the associated costs of the application can be substantial, particularly when an agent is employed and no matter how the planning officer feels about the application, the applicant should be able to expect an objective appraisal. The use of an exclamation mark in a report which is going in front of next week's Planning Committee meeting, says an awful lot more than the words and sends a definite and intentional message of ridicule to anyone who cares to read it. Need I add, it's recommended for refusal.
Very unprofessional.


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