Thursday 22 November 2012

BBC Radio Wales and the public gallery - updated

Update; It seems that the Fire Officer has now told the council that their current arrangements are in breach of fire regulations, and have ordered them to open the Fire Exit. I am waiting for further details but this is very significant. It would mean that for the past 18 months, the council have been in breach of safety regs, despite their insistence that they weren't.
This will raise all sorts of questions, not least of all, what the council have been telling the Fire Officer for 18 months.
It also makes the council's statement today, attacking the two contributors to the radio show, even worse.


Typically, Carmarthenshire Council refused to take part in Jason Mohammed's programme this morning to discuss the entry procedures, the lock-in, and the accompanying fire risks for members of the public attending the public gallery.

Instead, they really excelled themselves this time and hid behind a statement accusing those who have contributed to the programme of 'spreading untruths' and of 'running a campaign' against the council. The contributors, Carmarthen residents Mrs Lesley Williams and town councillor Mr Wyn Thomas were horrified and completely taken aback at the council's allegations. They had merely given factual accounts of the whole bizarre procedure and the plain and simple fact that, if there's a fire, you cannot get out without assistance.

For the council to have accused a retired schoolteacher and a town councillor of lying, to an audience of thousands of listeners, not only beggars belief, but was extremely foolhardy to say the least.

The remainder of the council's statement was inaccurate and misleading and was written by someone who either has no knowledge of the facts, or is in complete denial over the entire sorry shambles. It certainly smacked of desperation.

Regular readers will know all about the entry ritual, the escorted trip to the gallery, the locked doors and the blocked Fire Exit. They will also be aware that the real problem is that the county council are putting the safety of the visiting public secondary to their determination to prevent anyone recording a meeting.

Carmarthenshire council have gone to such lengths to control and monitor who is observing public meetings, that not only are they actively deterring members of the public from attending, but treating those that do like criminal suspects and putting their safety at risk. This has been going on for eighteen months.

The BBC Radio Wales link is here, and the relevant section starts at 1.09.15 into the recording, the programme will remain online for seven days. Have a listen.


Anonymous said...

I caught the programme by chance and missed a bit of the segment about Carms. The chap semed genuinely upset at being accused of running a campaign and asked for evidence of this - of course no one had the balls to appear from CCC so it could not be tested.

There are so many things going on now with CCC. Individually they are minor but they add up to a problem.

As a lifelong Labour supporter I am disgusted with the party. They must know that to maintain power with the indies is tantamount to forming a coallition with the tory party - it is so bloody obvious its almost laughable. Laughable that is unless for example you are employed by the council and struggling on such a low wage that it can not even be described as a living wage.

Set this against the enormous salaries of some senior officers, and funding desisions which seem bizarre (Towy Church + sound equipment for a cinema owned by a multi national cinema chain)and I have come to realize that I am living in a parallel universe where the Labour Party exist to prop up the Pam and Meryl partnership.

Its bloody ridiculous - there must be some Labour councillor somewhere for god sake willing to kick up a fuss and make a stand for socialist principles !!

The living wage for council cleaners and other low paid staff should come before a cosmic (or whatever)bowling alley !!! Get real mun.

Anonymous said...

Complete PR incompetence. Defaming two individuals who seek transparency from their councillors.
Absolute cowardice on the Councils' part as Mrs Lesley Williams gives them an outline of the behaviour they should be presenting to the public attending these meetings. All the while Carmarthen has the most bloated PR departments?
I have attended BBC recordings and at no point do you get the feeling of being locked in, though I've never sought to leave a recording early, as Mrs Lesley Williams suggests, you have more confidence in the BBC procedures towards the welfare of their audiences than Carmarthen Council.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as if the Councillors might be too afraid to kick up a fuss!

Anonymous said...

Great news on the Update - hope it's brought to Jason Mohammeds' attention and he asks the Council if they stand by their accusations about these two private individuals

Anonymous said...

"The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRFSO) 2005, which came into force in October 2006, charges the responsible person(s) in control of non-domestic premises with the safety of everyone, whether employed in or visiting the building. Under Article 14 of the RRFSO, this duty of care includes ensuring that “routes to emergency exits from premises and the exits themselves are kept clear at all times” (14: 1) and that these “emergency routes and exits must lead as directly as possible to a place of safety” (14: 2: a). In other words, the entire escape route up to and including the final exit from a building must remain unobstructed at all times, while the distance people have to go to escape (the travel distance) must be as short as possible."

Anonymous said...

I do believe Carl Sargeant was informed of this proceedure and the fire risk, but deemed it not important enough for his intervention. All in the trough, so to speak!

caebrwyn said...

Anon 09.21 Yes, Carl Sargeant was aware of this.

Martin Milan said...

Interesting, and perhaps to some quite predictable, that the "council"'s first action would be to try to smear someone asking perfectly sensible questions...

Anonymous said...

Do the doors you speak of have an egress device? I hope for his sake Carl Sargeant asked to see a copy of the risk assessment before he dismissed this Health and Safety hazard as unimportant.

Anonymous said...

In view of Mrs Williams epilepsy,it would be wise of CCC and Mr Sargeant to familiarise themselves with the Public Sector Equality Duty that came into force on the 5th April 2011.

Anonymous said...

Come on Cardiff Bay stamp your authority!

Owen said...

I think it's worth pointing out that (IIRC) Carl Sargeant is a qualified fire fighter from his previous line of work. That makes this situation seem all the more ludicrous!

Anonymous said...

If the whole situation wasn't so serious it would be laughable.
I would be embarrassed now if I was a Carmarthenshire County Councillor. The Welsh Government has to step in soon surely! Hello is there anybody there?