Friday 18 January 2013

Secret meeting on press freedom - a new low for Carmarthenshire Council

If anyone was wondering what had happened to the Plaid group's Motion for press freedom, rejected for debate in the Chamber by the Chief Executive who referred it to a single Executive Board Member, well, now we know.

That Executive Board Member turned out to be none other than Cllr Pam Palmer, leader of the Independent Party, an outspoken critic of anything transparent, who had rushed to defend her Chief Executive in last week's Carmarthen Journal.

You may have missed the meeting as it was held yesterday and the Agenda was only published today.

The Agenda says it was to be held in Llanelli town Hall (Room 3) but the minutes say it was in Carmarthen...who knows, perhaps it was held in a layby somewhere between the two. It makes no difference, the public didn't know about it anyway.

The 'Decision Record' was also published today which shows that those present were; Cllr Palmer, Colin Davies (Democratic Services) and the press manager, Debbie Williams (author of the email sent erroneously to the SW Guardian).

You will be mightily reassured to know that Cllr Palmer gave the matter her consideration.
This meeting lasted a whole 25 minutes and as you may imagine, there were no issues worth troubling full council with, everything was just fine and the matter was closed.

The reason for the call for a full debate in the first place was to highlight and debate the well documented problems between the local press and the attitude of County Hall to negative reports, requests for information and the like, reported on both this and Cneifiwr's blog.

The recent publicity over the decision to withdraw advertising from the SW Guardian was a culmination of events, and it was the adverse national publicity, (which also included a slot in the 'big' Guardian), beyond the reach of County Hall, and nothing else, which led to the end of the 'boycott' last week.

It doesn't really bear thinking about how anyone could consider that a secret meeting between these three people was an appropriate and transparent way to address such an important issue.
Says it bloody all really.

Update; I have been reminded that, to make decision making even less transparent than it already is, the Constitution was amended last June to ban the public and press from Executive Board Member Decision meetings. Effectively to set up meetings to make decisions behind closed doors. Apparently Cllr Palmer spoke in favour of this little gem.
Other amendments over the last year have included the requirement for seven Members to second a motion, effectively silencing individuals or small groups.
For the record, I have kept track of these Decision meetings for well over three years and the agendas have always been published after the meeting.


Anonymous said...

I can only describe this as DISGUSTING.
It really is time that our Councillors staged a seious revolt against the controlling dictatorship.

nospin said...

they must wear bigger jackboots then hitler's mob.

Cneifiwr said...

This shows nothing but contempt for the public, the press and local democracy.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Cneifiwr and anon 14:04. That's the motion now what say we all make a commotion?

Anonymous said...

What I really don't understand is why Carmarthenshire County Council - officers and councillors - is at war with you and Cyneifwr. Well obviously you rock the boat big time, but any council worth its council tax ought to be much more able to smile,swallow the criticisms and sort out their p r disater nightmare.
I guess they can't do that because they have lost the plot completely. But then - Caerbrwyn and Cyneifiwr - that is your point too!

Brennig said...

I have nothing of real value to add, other than to say that I am enjoying the way you are documenting the ridiculous behaviour of a group of public servants. Keep up the good work.