The agenda for the adjourned AGM meeting has now been published which actually contains a few links. Firstly, is the disappointing 'Protocol for the Election of Chair' which some of us thought may be a radical move to actually elect someone who showed the necessary skills, sadly it merely reinforces the traditional 'take it in turns' method ie Plaid, Labour, Indie, Plaid, Labour, Indie etc etc - A reward for long and loyal (to the regime) service. The Council have gone to some trouble to publish the monthly string of civic buffets, lunches and limo trips that the Chair, Vice Chair and escorts must endure - still no sign though of a published register of interests, gifts, hospitality for either Members or officers, or spending details or anything else, for that matter, which may resemble transparency.
There is also a lengthy report on the Councillors allowances for the forthcoming year. As I have already mentioned the Independent Remuneration Panel Wales have set the limits this year - various big winners will now have a 'senior salary' or a 'Civic salary' instead of the Basic + Special Responsibility Allowance arrangement. The IRPW have also set the limit for the number of councillors claiming the new senior salaries to 18, and as you will see, if the 18 take the full whack it adds up to £486,480 pa, with the Council Chair and Vice Chair coining in £38,000 between them on top of that. Whether the esteemed senior Members will take a cut remains unknown until Friday. Of course all this pales into insignificance compared to the salaries for senior officers which show no signs of diminishing. The generous perks of the job for councillors no longer include 'subsistence' ie dinner, unless the councillor is 'out of county', so no more steak dinners for Cllr Theophilus and Co round the corner in the club. There is also a clause which enables mobile phones to be given to Exec Board members free of charge, (iPads all round?) Hopefully they will have some training as how to use them.
Each member of the council will now be required to produce an annual report of their achievements and activities, to be published on the website - I would imagine this will be (for some) an exercise in creative writing for the PR department.
The second half of the document is a lengthy and, in the main, cut and paste exercise of 'job profiles and personal specifications' for councillors - largely an aspirational document which states the obvious levels of ethical behaviour etc that you would expect from elected members, although from some (if they bother to read it) it may come as a bit of a shock. I couldn't find the word 'backscratching' anywhere, but part of the Executive Board 'person specification' includes the 'ability to persuade others' so perhaps it's covered.
The next link refers to the political carve up of the various committees seats, details yet to be announced. Of interest is the formation, as required by the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2011 of a Democratic Services Committee. Quite what this will cover is hard to determine, the Measure itself is unclear as to the function. I am sure we'll soon find out - promoting democracy, as we might understand the concept, doesn't seem to be part of the remit.
The first meeting for this committee will be on the 2oth June but we'll have to wait until September to behold the delights the new 'Community Scrutiny Committee'.
No one would argue that a basic allowance is necessary; without a level of financial support the post of councillor would remain open only to the relatively wealthy, the same argument holds of course for the payment to MPs, introduced in 1911 to try and prevent the post being an amusing pastime for the aristocracy, (although I'm not sure it's quite achieved it's aim). But if you've been wondering what all the intrigue, gossip and deal-making within the council since the election has been about, it was these extra sweeties which were the driving force....
Anyhow, once all this b******s is out of the way the real business of slashing funding to childrens' and disabled services, elderly care and assorted frontline services (remember the budget proposals?) will commence and, with a carefully crafted Executive Board, no doubt the evangelical bowling alley, the stadium, certain legal fees, and the remaining herd of white elephants will be protected for another five years.