Friday 30 September 2011

In the Shadows of County Hall

I have, over time, whilst trawling through council documents and agendas noticed mysterious 'referrals' from the 'Business Management Group'. It sounded, by the title, to be like some sort of financial advisory team and I gave it little thought. A few weeks ago though it came to my attention that it is actually a rather select group of party leaders and senior officers of Carmarthenshire County Council who conduct regular meetings and make decisions and recommendations. There are, apparently, no minutes, just 'decision notes' and they report to the equally 'select' Executive Board.
Not only does this group appear to operate independently of full council but, as Cllr Sian Caiach points out, it is possibly discriminatory, not even representative of all the groups and Members. Neither does it appear in the Political, nor the Organisational Management Structure sections of the Constitution. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that yet again the undemocratic way this council is run is brought into question.

Cllr Caiach has made a complaint to the Monitoring Officer;

"I would like to make a complaint about the Business Management Group who appear to be a body which is not constituted as part of the Council. This group's composition appears to be officers of the council and the leaders and deputy leaders of the three large political groups and excludes my own small group and other unaffiliated independent members. I do not know how and when and by whom this group was formed but I have never been invited to a meeting or contacted for my opinion on the matters discussed.

I believe this group acts in a discriminatory fashion as it does not consist of representatives of the whole council body and makes recommendations and decisions without consulting or being answerable to the members outside the main groups.

I am told there are no minutes, only decision notes and the group reports to the executive board.
All participants in this group are supported by public funding.

Clearly there is always concern where political groups and officers meet in a manner which excludes other elected members. This disenfranchises not only the members concerned but also their electorate. It gives unfair advantage to the large political groups and does not consult beyond the membership of those groups.

You do not need to be reminded of human rights legislation as it applies to representative elected bodies. The Human Rights Act 1998 Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) is quite clear that there should be no discrimination against person or persons on the grounds of their politics or that they are a minority.

It appears to me that this group could be practising misfeasance in public office by limiting its membership in a discriminatory manner. Please investigate this complaint.
Leader, People First Group
cc Public Service Ombudsman (for information)
    District Auditor

Update; 5th October; 

1 comment:

marianne said...

The plot keeps thickening. Sounds like something out of a history book regarding the German Nazi propaganda and Reichstag. Look forward to what the monitoring officer has got to say; ohh forgot....they are not independent either!