Back to the public gallery this morning for the first instalment of the AGM. Back as well to the so-very-welcoming signing in ritual and the re-appearance of the wardens to herd the public (4 in total) to the gallery. There was momentary confusion and shuffling on the several flights of stairs that they realised they were out of official position, one then waited so as to bring up the rear, presumably to keep an eye on the rabble and ensure no one made a break for it.
With 30 new councillors I was expecting the chamber to look a little different, but rest assured still 'white male over-65' dominated, few women and the prime suspects, Meryl, Pam , Kevin etc still in the same seats as pre-election. The £1m collection of senior officers usually sat at the podium had been relegated to the side of the chamber, all a bit squashed, to leave the important seats for the fancy dress competition. Alongside the Chief Exec (who wasn't in fancy dress unfortunately) and Ivor, were sheriffs, lord lieutenants, and the usual white gloved civic pomp and pantomime which I'm amazed still continues, I'm not sure who they were as I was not formally introduced but one appeared to have a sword, just in case of trouble I suppose. Incidentally, whilst the 'guests' were present, there was a camera filming and an official photographer skipping around the chamber taking photos....
As there was no actual business on the agenda (you know, important decisions and all that) and there 'hasn't been since the beginning of March, (and won't be until sometime next month, so presumably all decisions at the moment are being made without the inconvenience of council 'debate') the next hour consisted of civic chain rattling as the Chair, vice-chair and wags and consorts swapped regalia. We were treated to a speech from Ivor recounting his year as Chair and how there had been some 'difficult meetings' (this theme cropped up a few times throughout the meeting. At one point I realised the translating equipment in the gallery wasn't working but thought I'd better not shout down in case this meeting also became 'difficult', anyway, apparently I didn't miss much).
Ivor was most exited to have 'met royalty' and especially Prince Charles (Llandovery's neighbour from hell) who was graciously passing on his wisdom to us all, aren't we lucky. He recounted a school visit to County Hall where he was bombarded with questions from inquisitive children, all too much for him he said so he'd cut that one short. He thanked the Chief Exec for pulling his strings for a year and he thanked his wife for dressing him in the mornings.
Leader on the Indies Pam Palmer was up next to thank Ivor for coping so well during a 'difficult year' and that she would have lost her temper many times over. Enough said. The Chief Executive also said a few words about the 'difficult year' and what Ivor had to 'put up with' - I suppose he was referring to democratic debate - something no self respecting important councillor or officer should have to tolerate of course.
Strangely there was no mention of Ivor's historic appearances in the national press, especially Private Eye, I would have thought his small part in the council's official recognition as a Rotten Borough would have been worthy of a standing ovation.....
After further tributes all round, (and Cllr Sian Thomas and Cllr Terry Davies installed as new Chair and Vice respectively), and further chain swapping nonsense; the Lords, Ladies and assorted hangers on left (presumably in a horse and carriage) and it was down to the business of electing a Leader. Kevin Madge's big moment, and big allowance was nearly upon him, fellow Labour councillors paid tribute, mentioning his endless rambling speeches and we were also told that his constituents in Garnant believe he can walk on water. Amazing.
The whole thing was slightly spoilt though by Plaid's insistence of nominating Peter Hughes Griffiths as Leader. There then followed a recorded vote. This was interesting, as it confirmed the presence of two unaffiliated councillors, John Jenkins and, (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) Cllr E Thomas newly elected in Llandeilo. They both abstained from voting with Cllr Jenkins adding a curse on all their houses for good measure.
It was all a bit of a formality as Cllr Madge was elected with over 40 votes.
The best moment of the day perhaps concerned my own representative in County Hall, Cllr Theophilus, known locally by some as 'good old Tom' who, you may of thought would also have abstained as an independent, or maybe, as he claimed to have the full support of of Plaid in his election leaflet voted for Peter Hughes Griffiths, but you'd be wrong, he voted for Labour's Cllr Madge. Still perhaps he's been promised chair of the Licensing committee again who knows. Or perhaps he's just politically confused, or perhaps just confused. Bless him.
Last mention goes to dear old Meryl who uttered not one word throughout. Sat there in a shocking pink two piece looking, as did Pam, like she'd sucked a lemon.
Anyway, if they thought last year was 'difficult', there's five more to come.
Look out for part two of the adjourned, AGM agenda next Friday, when the Executive Board members are announced and the rest of the lucrative sweeties are handed round.
Update 20th May; Have just noticed that the next part of the meeting has been put back another week until the 1st June which suggests there's some difficulty in deciding who's getting what in the way of Chairs and cabinet places - the Executive Board itself is due to meet on the 28th May so I assume that will also be put back until after the bank holidays.