Wednesday 7 March 2012

Democracy was never a strong point...

Recent minutes of the Regeneration & Leisure Scrutiny Committee brought up a subject which some council officials would rather was forgotten. A couple of years ago the Council asked residents to vote for their favourite name for the new theatre being built in Llanelli from a shortlist of six. Votes were definitely invited as the article in the council rag at the time shows;

The new name was duly announced.
Shortly afterwards a FoI request revealed the embarrassing fact that the new name which was chosen had 37 votes less than the one which had recieved the highest number. I know democracy is not a strong point with this council but this was clearly ridiculous. But, true to form, instead of admitting failure, the Council tried to blather it's way out of the mess.

Here's how the Llanelli Star reported the story in April 2011;
"The council invited members of the public to express a preference from a shortlist of six names...
To quote a council press release at the time: "Wide ranging consultation was carried out to choose the name, and people were invited to vote for their favourite."
It was then announced that Y Ffwrnes/The Furnace was "the preferred choice", with the press release declaring, as reported in the Star: "The judging panel said the name was a clear favourite."
However a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the council has now shown that Canolfan y Stepni/The Stepney Centre received by far the most votes from members of the public, 88, compared with 51 for The Furnace.
John Tillman, the council's information and data protection officer, in responding to the FOI request appeared to try to point the finger at the Star saying: "The council did not commit to select the name with the highest level of public support.
"The wording in the Star, which refers to a judging panel, is therefore misleading, as there was no such panel selected for this process."
On being questioned over the apparent discrepancy, council spokeswoman Debbie Williams said: "There was extensive consultation with stakeholders and the public to suggest names for the new theatre and arts complex.
"From these suggestions the project team drew up a shortlist, which was then subject to further extensive consultation.
"The decision was not subject to a public vote, however the support given for each short listed suggestion was a consideration when the final name was chosen."
(Full story here)
Fast forward to the minutes of last month's meeting (Feb 2012) referred to at the start of this post, and;

Disappointment was expressed at the choice of the name, “Y Ffwrnes”, for the new theatre in Llanelli. It was asked if it could be changed to something that had a stronger historical link to the site. It was also felt that the public voice had been ignored in naming the theatre. The Head of Leisure & Sport said that the public had been asked for further suggestions and to comment on a short list of names. This process was never promoted as public vote.



Anonymous said...

feel like banging head against a wall with this lot (anon2)

Anonymous said...

The theatre, built with european money has been finnished in a Danish style and is now generally known in Llanelli as theatre LEGO, great advert for the toy bricks.
For a total budget of £14m they could have least have made it look like a real building!?? At least we don't need the faux name "FFwrnes" any more.