Monday, 10 June 2013

We are the champions

After a meeting of Executive Board members last week, council leader Kevin Madge in the latest PR move, announced several new 'Champions' and 'Ambassadors' of 'key themes' from amongst the politburo. There's nothing like tarting up the outside privy with a fresh lick of paint. One also wonders if a tear or two was shed during the meeting over their loss of pay-setting powers for senior officers...perhaps they even burnt a small effigy of Rhodri Glyn Thomas.

'Champions' are nothing new and in the past some of us have wondered whether there's someone with a sense of humour in County Hall as Cllr Pam Palmer once grappled with the alien concept of  'Modernising Local Government', badly, and the Children's Champion was a councillor, who, in polite circles would be referred to as 'veteran'.

It appears that Pam has lost the Rural Affairs responsibility and gained 'sustainability' and biodiversity. Voles and moths, Pam. Of course this is a council which believes that buying a couple of 'eco' cars is good for PR, rather than good for the environment. Despite being a largely rural county, 'Rural Affairs' doesn't seem to crop up much so Cllr Jim Jones who takes over, will have little to concern himself. Cllr Palmer also becomes 'Youth Ambassador'. Words fail.

The 'Modernising Local Government' portfolio seems to have slipped off the radar altogether. Maybe Kev's fear of Twitter has something to do with it. Or perhaps, with the reluctant 12 month filming pilot, County Hall thinks enough's enough. Long way to go yet chaps. I'm still here.

Pam may have been quiet over her rural affairs but she's been busy rubber stamping the latest 'review' of Information Governance, or in plain speaking; Freedom of Information, email usage and monitoring, Data Protection, internet security and all that jazz. So like the freedom of the press, it appears that this whole area has fallen peculiarly into the hands of Pam Palmer, the propaganda portfolio if you wish. Mind you, it was only a half hour meeting, public and press excluded, as is now the rule. Currently unable to track any details on the website. It's snoop-proof.

Cllr Jane Tremlett, big in social care matters, will be championing the causes of carers and the disabled. Nothing wrong with that of course and emphasis will be given to those caring for family members with dementia. I expect they'll need all the help they can get as Cllr Tremlett also brought out the rubber stamp at another recent Executive Board Member meeting to approve an increase of nearly 10% in the Standard Charge for an Elderly Mentally Ill (EMI) bed in council care homes. Public and press again excluded.

We will have Eisteddfod and Welsh Language Champions in the form of Cllr Keith Davies and Cllr Mair Stephens respectively. Cllr Stephens will also be 'liaising' with the Town and Community Councils, and instructed to persuade them to take over all the public toilets, parks, luncheon clubs, youth clubs and libraries....
Meryl's still in charge of that old favourite of multi-national companies and elephant keepers; Regeneration, no one's taking that off her without a fight.

So, in an effort to refresh the paintwork, and to soften the blow that we've got four more years of Kev and Pam, this announcement was sent spinning straight to the press office for the final coat of gloss. Expect no more than increased fuel expenses as 'Approved Duties' flourish and thus provide further photo opportunities for the Carmarthenshire News.

Oh, and don't forget to tune in to Wednesday's webcast of the monthly full council meeting starting at 10am. This time, as it's not an AGM, the fancy dress and civic nonsense should be less apparent... It will be available on archive afterwards for your viewing pleasure. 

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