Wednesday 9 January 2013

Pam and press freedom

Further to this post, Chief Executive censors debate on press freedom', that well known exponent of transparency, leader of the Independent Party, Cllr Pam Palmer has rushed to the defence of the Chief Executive in today's Carmarthen Journal.

She says " he has done nothing wrong" and was just following normal procedure, "The Plaid group are aware of the council's constitution and the responsibility placed on the chief executive....It's unfortunate that the leader of the group has chosen to attack the chief executive for doing his job in accordance with the constitutional duties placed on him by the council itself."

Remember, this Motion, which the Chief Executive refused to put on the agenda was to ask councillors to support a free press, coming after the exposure of the council's withdrawal of advertising from the South Wales Guardian after negative reports. This is a pattern of behaviour by County Hall which is affecting the entire county and there are fears that the only the defiant SW Guardian and a couple of blogs will remain free from local authority editorial control.

The Editor's opinion piece in today's SW Guardian has emphasised the real affect of the council's unofficial boycott; readers have been disenfranchised, the Christmas refuse collections were not advertised and nor was the planning application for the new 1200 pupil school destined for the swampland of Ffairfach.

So what is Pam Palmer saying? Which of the many variations of the Constitution has she been looking at? The officers' version, the councillors? or the one on the website? The one on the website says (my underlining);

12.7 Every motion shall be relevant to some matter in relation to which the authority have functions, or which affects the area of the authority, or part of it, or the inhabitants of that area, or some of them.

12.11 The Chief Executive shall in consultation with the Chair of Council refer, where appropriate Notices of Motions upon receipt to the Executive Board, Executive Board Member or the relevant Committee unless the content requires consideration by the Council.

The motion certainly fits 12.7, the crucial bit is 12.11 which raises the following points;

Has the Plaid Cymru Chair of the Council been consulted and happily agreed that this Motion should not be aired at full council? Could we have a statement?

Who has decided, and why, that it is not "appropriate" for this to be debated by full council?

Which Executive Board Member will it be referred to? None as far as I can see has the Portfolio for Press Censorship...will Pam Palmer discuss it with herself?

And who decided, and on what basis, that the content does not require consideration by the council?

Cllr Palmer says that Plaid are aware of the rules of the constitution, I'm sure she's right, in fact they, and the casual observer, seem to have a much better grip of it than Pam and the rest of them.

(See also 'Ad blackout' council accused of stifling free speech' from Hold the Front Page)


Cneifiwr said...

I hope the Chair will issue a statement too. As we know, the word "consultation" in Carmarthenshire means telling someone what you have already decided.

Tessa said...

Actually, I wonder if this will be the last straw for this megalomaniacal lot? Let's hope, eh?

Anonymous said...

Enough is enough! Calling all readers of this and Cneifiwr's blog or any other in favour! How many of you are prepared to come together as a group to raise awareness in Carmarthenshire of the complaints, disputes, etc. To be fair to Y Caebrwyn, Cneifiwr and the Guardian we would all be like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed with manure by CCC Executives, PR Officers and specific Councillors.

I am prepared to use my PC, hardware, electricity and give up my spare time freely to produce newsletters and deliver to residents in Carmarthenshire. All I would need is people to donate paper and ink cartridges and assist with deliveries. I would also be willing to hold the meetings at my home. A problem shared is a problem solved!

Any constructive comments, offers of support or alternative suggestions would be most welcome. It is time to up the ante!

caebrwyn said...

@Anon 13:34
Thank you for your comment. I am aware of others who have expressed similar sentiments to yourself and are prepared to assist. If you would like to email me; ( your contact details I can put you in touch.

Adam Jones said...

I also would like to lend my services to assist in the reaising of awareness of this farce of a county council, by othering to translate any documents/newsletters, contacting Welsh language media, posters, leaflets you name it Ill translate it or prepare Welsh versions for you, as it's important that we communicate with people in both languages.

My email is or twitter @adamjones416

caebrwyn said...

Many thanks Adam, am hoping Anon 13:34 gets back to me.

Anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget crowdfunding! Though I'm sure several blog readers would be happy to chip in and volunteer leafleting time.

Anonymous said...

A letter requesting a meeting with the Minister for local Government Carl Sargeant should be the next step. I'm sure there's enough disquiet in Carmarthenshire that he would/should not refuse.