Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Is Meryl Gravell's reign finally over?

I have heard that the Plaid Cymru opposition in Carmarthenshire Council have planned to present a Vote of No Confidence in the Leader Cllr Meryl Gravell at the next meeting of full Council on the 8th February.

The question is, will she resign as Leader before she is pushed?

Of course, previous attempts to dislodge Meryl from the top job were thwarted when the constitution was suddenly tweaked to require seven signatures for such a motion rather than the usual two, despite protestations that this was highly undemocratic. Those recent attempts at a No Confidence vote, (see previous posts) were proposed by the two members of the People First Group - but this time, proposed by Plaid, with thirty Members, (and if it goes ahead), the outcome is by no means certain. With Meryl's recent unguarded comments still ringing in everyone's ears as well as the 'pulled' press release from a couple of weeks ago, (to give just two examples), the long reign may now be over.

It look to me like Plaid have abandoned any ambitions of forming a coalition with Meryl's Independents, should such an outcome look likely after the May election, and they have finally had enough.

There is already speculation, on the grapevine, as to who will be the most suitably loyal replacement, currently the odds are in favour of Cllr Steven James being selected.

Whatever happens, it looks like next Wednesday's meeting, for a variety of reasons, will be a very interesting one.

Update 2nd Feb;
The Agenda for next week's full council meeting has been published, complete with the wording of the No Confidence vote as below;

"In a video recorded speech at "Choose Life" centre, Llanelli on the 12th January 2012 Carmarthenshire County Council Leader Cllr Meryl Gravell, stated;

"We have 9000 employees in Carmarthen and if all of our 9000 employees worked as hard as Alan (the centre's manager) and were as enthusiastic as Alan is, my goodness, we would not have a problem at all in the council. But there we are, we are where we are"

Blaming the Authority's 9000 staff for all the County Council's problems, by implying that they are not hardworking and enthusiastic, is an offensive and unacceptable slur on staff and members of Carmarthenshire County Council.
In the same speech the Leader stated;

"I get so frustrated with some of the rabble that was outside today"

Her word 'rabble' refers to the 300 or more people gathered outside the centre in Copperworks Road, Llanelli, in a peaceful protest against the proposed closure of the A & E department at Prince Phillip hospital, during the arrival of First Minister Carwyn Jones AM
The Leader's remark was totally unjustified and unacceptable. It was an affront to all who attended the rally, and - by association - everyone who opposes the closure of the A & E Unit.

Such unjustified and contemtuous statements by the Leader reflect poorly on this Authority and shows a deplorable attitutde towards county council staff and the people of Carmarthenshire in general.
I move that a vote of no confidence in the Leader of the council be taken by Members"

I do not think it is just this incident which warrants the vote of no confidence, there are plenty more where that came from - but this is perhaps the catalyst to bring it forward. It will be interesting to see whether Meryl promises to resign as Leader in May in return for the withdrawal of this motion or whether she will risk the possibility of a shameful exit next Wednesday. Time will tell. I hope Plaid stick to their guns.
The Evening Post reports today on her attempt to fight back; http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Plans-oust-Carmarthenshire-Council-leader/story-15107076-detail/story.html


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that Plaid are trying to remove her, surely the controversies surrounding her are a godsend for Plaid in the council elections. They could end up having to fight against someone more popular.

Then again they did the same thing in the Assembly, ousting Alun Michael and then getting thrashed by his replacement Rhodri Morgan in the next election.

caebrwyn said...

The most important 'selection' criteria for a Leader in Carmarthenshire is that he or she is loyal to the officer-led administration, whatever the politics. We need a big change in the May elections.

I am also hearing that the phones have been very busy as Meryl's loyal followers attempt to bring any waverers back into the fold.

Cneifiwr said...

The vote could be very close indeed if Plaid, People First and the other non-aligned members all turn out and vote together. Labour has one councillor on long-term sickness leave, and another recently died. On paper, it could be a majority for Meryl of just one, assuming the Independents and Labour manage to to rally every one of their troops. Let's hope nobody goes down with the snuffles.

Anonymous said...

Latest rumour is that some independents and Labour councillors, possibly including front runner Cllr Steve James are begging Plaid to go for a secret ballot as they want her out but haven't the guts to be seen to vote against her. Could be quite a crowd in the gents when the item comes in!

On the other hand, a recorded vote will probably be a positive move for the brave as those who get rid of her will be more easily re-elected in May.

Meryl is easily the most unpopular councillor in the county .Even those who don't even know who their own councillors are blame her for the chronic mismanagement and disasterous policies of the council.

Anonymous said...

It really does seem to me that the entire council is tired and worn out. it is time for change and that change must come in the May elections.

Meryl has had a good run but over time she has "gone native". She is too close to the officers and has become too used to the trappings of power such as the prestige, power and cash (many thousands of pounds)

However - How certain can any of us be that the front runner Mr Steve James will be any better than Meryl-

what has he done in life ?
Has he ever had a job ?
Has he ever run a buissness ?
Has he ever worked in the public sector ?

What makes him think that he is qualified to lead a council ?

Cneifiwr said...

Some interesting questions about Stephen James. If I remember rightly, he has worked part-time in a pub, and he is registered as deputy chairman of Llanelli Conservative Club. Surely that qualifies him to run Carmarthenshire?