Friday, 12 October 2012

Open email to the Minister, Carl Sargeant

To: "" <>
Sent: Friday, 12 October 2012, 14:14
Subject: Carmarthenshire Council - Access to meetings

To; Mr Carl Sargeant AM
Minister for Local Government and Communities
National Assembly for Wales

Dear Minister

Further to your suggestion, via twitter that I contact you in the 'usual' way I am contacting you via an open email.

I know you are aware of the unwelcoming, undemocratic, and unlawful entry restrictions to Carmarthenshire Council's public gallery. Including the fact that visitors are escorted to, and locked into, the gallery. You have made your views clear in earlier correspondence that, despite being Minister with responsibilities for access to public meetings, you are content for this appalling practice to continue.

I note also that the Council's continuing actions fly in the face of your own guidance which was to encourage Local Authorities to welcome members of the public who wished to record meetings.

However, last Wednesday, for the second time I am aware of, a 15 year old child, accompanied by his mother was forced to sign the unlawful undertaking not to film or record the meeting, and give his address, before being allowed into the public gallery to observe the council meeting. As you are also aware, there is no clause within the Council's Constitution prohibiting the recording of meetings.

Whilst you are clearly, for whatever reason, reluctant to intervene and lift the restrictions for adults, I cannot believe that you are not outraged by this treatment of a child. Can you imagine what impression of local 'democracy' this leaves on a youngster? Never mind the myriad of human rights and Data Protection issues this raises?

Please do not advise me to make a complaint to Carmarthenshire Council. As you will be aware it was an 'operational decision' by senior officers to implement the measures in the first place, there was no democratic debate nor any decision by our elected representatives.

I cannot believe you are not appalled by this latest development involving a youngster and I trust you will agree with me, act within your remit, and bring this unlawful behaviour by Carmarthenshire Council to an end.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely
Jacqui Thompson

I have also sent this email to the Western Mail


Anonymous said...

Good luck.

jane said...

It was my fifteen year old son Jeno who had to sign the illegal undertaking last week. He is very interested in politics and wanted to attend the meeting because he was aware ( he follows a number of political blogs) that Jonathan Edwards MP and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM had recently described Carmarthenshire County Council as a "dictatorship" and this really interested him.

I am completely appalled that Jeno had no choice but to sign a completely illegal undertaking. There aren't many fifteen year olds who want to attend council meetings so surely he should have been welcomed rather than made to feel like a criminal suspect. Jeno is a member of Amnesty International so is very aware of human rights abuses in countries such as China or Russia. That was why he found the description of CCC as a dictatorship so interesting and why he wanted to come along and see for himself

In recent years Jeno has visited the Assembly (no illegal undertakings to sign)and spent a day in the public gallery , attended a talk by Nick Clegg (not impressed!) and been to hear Thomas Buergenthal ( a child survivor of Auschwitz and former International Court Judge in the Hague and specialist in International law and human rights ) talk at Hay Book Festival. Next month Jeno's off to hear Tony Benn talk about his political career and views on the modern Labour party. Mr Benn has stated that "what people really want is a chance to discuss issues that affect all our lives and to have that discussion in a sensible, uninterrupted and civilised manner"

That certainly wasn't what Jeno experienced last week at a Carmarthenshire Council meeting which he was only able to witness if he agreed not to record or film proceedings.Not surprisingly Jeno can see very clearly why the council is so determined to ensure that unedited footage of these meetings is not made available to the general public.


nospin said...

If Carwyn & Carl fail to grow Cojones, it may have to come down to mass public peaceful disobedience, ie withold council tax etc.

Your council cannot be allowed to carry on in such an undemocratic dictatorial manner, especially the planning and enforcement functions.

Anonymous said...

What a dreadful and shameful example these little men with oversized egos are giving to the younger generation. The biggest problem of all is, they have no shame and even less integrity. For gods sake, when is someone from our government going to put a stop to this and invoke an inquiry.

Tessa said...

God, I've LOVE to take part in some mass public peaceful disobedience. If anything should get organised - count me in!