Thursday 29 November 2012

Money trees, and a Motion on filming

This week's Carmarthen journal carries a two page spread featuring a lengthy statement (it's called an 'exclusive interview' but there don't appear to be any questions, which is the usual format I believe) from the Chief Executive as he reflects on the financial black cloud hanging over County Hall.

Despite some evidence to the contrary; including the £20,000 to the Odeon; the continuing taxpayer bailout of the Parc Y Scarlets stadium; £1.4m to the evangelical bowling alley; a 20 year, £5m deal for Eastgate office space to a Nottingham based company (+ £100,000 for the move + £100,000 to rent the car park); the expensive regurgitation of the Council propaganda sheet every two months and an overstuffed press office; a new executive motor for the Leader; twenty three senior managers earning between £85k and £155k plus the senior management team of seven pocketing a £1m between them etc etc, Mr James tells us that there is "no magic money tree".

There is a bigger picture of course, and over the next few weeks various scrutiny committees will chew over the details and go through the motions of 're-alignments' and 'restructuring', increased charges and even some outsourcing as the budget is finalised. Believe it or not, this is called a 'consultation' although it seems that the Chief Executive's 'interview' has set the scene which they will be expected to follow.

The agendas will appear online, and some already have, but unless you decide to co-ordinate your life with the various meetings and go and watch, you will not know whether your councillor is furiously fighting your community's corner or not.

Which brings me to another article in the Journal, a little further on, and the filming of council meetings.
As I reported, the Executive Board threw out the proposal for the public to film a couple of weeks ago (which would cost nothing) and the unsatisfactory pilot looks set for further delays to determine exact costs.

The article, which is not online, has a contribution from me and a reaction from the Plaid group leader, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths;

'...he said it was a disappointment that members of the public would not be able to film meetings themselves. "The Executive Board's negative approach to this matter does the council no favours at all. Allowing people to film and record meeting would not cost a penny, but would change, at a stroke, the public perception that County Hall is a 'closed shop'.

Other councils such as the City of Westminster already allow this to happen. Local government ministers at a UK and Welsh level have also indicated their wish that councils should allow the public to use 21st century technology to film meetings"

He said Plaid were considering placing a notice before the next full meeting of council calling for the public to be allowed to film all council and committee meetings.'

Cllr Hughes Griffiths has now submitted this;

"A Notice of Motion by Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths to be placed before the meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council on Wednesday December 12th 2012;

That Carmarthenshire County Council permits the public to film and record all council and committee meetings that are open to the public starting with the January 13th meetings"

The Motion was handed in on Monday the 26th November so will hopefully appear on the agenda, when it is published next week. I'll let you know.


Cneifiwr said...

The reaction of the dinosaurs will be fascinating when (if) this comes up, assuming that it is not vetoed by the chief executive.

Cneifiwr said...

And another thing. No wonder the "interview" (audience is probably the correct term) was conducted without questions - the journo might have asked who has been running the council for the last 11 years.

caebrwyn said...

@Cneifiwr Can't possibly imagine why this would be vetoed, fully expect to see it on the agenda.
And yes, a peculiar definition of an 'interview'.