Friday, 28 September 2012

Kev and the Sainsbury's row - latest

According to Plaid Cymru's press officer, the Plaid group on Carmarthenshire County Council have submitted a Motion calling on the Leader, Cllr Kevin Madge to withdraw his 'factually incorrect attack' on Jonathan Edwards MP and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM.

I have no further details as yet but as it has been submitted in plenty of time, it should be on the agenda for the next meeting of full council on the 10th October. It will be very interesting to see what happens. Cllr Madge also has a few days now to consider withdrawing his remarks prior to a major showdown in the Chamber.

This week's South Wales Guardian covered the story in some detail having already made their editorial views very clear a couple of weeks ago. By far the largest article though was a full page spread which again, like the council press article, appeared to be joint effort between Carmarthenshire Council and Sainsbury's

Kev takes up half the page going into great detail (on behalf of the council) about how vitally important the supermarket is for Carmarthenshire, how we should trust our Planning Committee and officers to make the right decisions on our behalf (no thanks Kev) and that his Labour colleague, the Minister in charge of planning in Cardiff should keep his nose out. Or words to that effect. The other half is taken up by Sainsbury's themselves with a 'fact sheet' putting their case forward. They're very lucky - usually if there is an objection to an application the applicant only has a hurried-up 5 minutes to respond in the Committee meeting, not the full page backing of Carmarthenshire council.

However, it all rather misses the point - we know there are opposing views on the proposals, personally I have no view either way. But we also now know that the objections, from the AM and MP were only regarding the Llandeilo store, and the reason for the call-in was that the planning authority had not given due consideration to retail policy. The subsequent row revolved around the use of the taxpayer funded website to launch a political attack on the MP and AM.
I hope a complaint is made about the latter, and incorporates the wider issue of taxpayer funded propaganda and press control which is such an overwhelming priority for this council.


The minutes from the last meeting of the Standards Committee were published today, and it looks like there was some confusion over the 'Complaints and Compliments' annual report. Different departments had wildly fluctuating figures. It is complete nonsense. For instance, complaints to the Education Department had decreased by a staggering 563%, yet complaints to Regeneration (planning) had increased by 79%, Social Care complaints had increased by 11% but cross-departmental complaints had fallen by 329%. The point was made that 'it would be interesting if the report provided further details to explain the fluctuations'. Quite so. It would appear that the corporate complaints department, or the 'recycling bin', as it's otherwise known, must have been using a faulty calculator.

The Ombudsman's Annual Report was also received by the Committee, it covers all of Wales, but it was interesting to note that it would "introduce a cap on the indemnity that Council's [I think it was meant to be plural] provide to their Members for legal costs associated with Standards Committee and Adjudication Panel Hearings"
We don't know of course how much has been spent on legal costs for these purposes, perhaps I'll ask.

You would think that after the council's abject failure to support whistleblower, Delyth Jenkins (Private Eye - In The Back) they would be maintaining a very close, analytical eye over their whistleblower policy. It would seem not, the Standards Committee considered a report on the policy, and eyebrows were clearly raised at it's vague conclusion; '“the policy seems to be working well” They felt this was difficult to quantify. Indeed, 'seems' isn't very helpful, it might not be working at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For instance, complaints to the Education Department had decreased by a staggering 563%

That's pretty impressive. Last year they has, say, 100 complaints, and this year they has minus 463 complaints.