Thursday 12 September 2013

Cllr Caiach's letter in the paper - and the Scarlets' pennies.

Cllr Sian Caiach's letter below was published in this week's South Wales Guardian, it is self explanatory. Regular readers will be aware of the background of the Parc Y Scarlets stadium which 'wouldn't cost the taxpayer a penny'. Whether the Llanelli Star also printed the letter I don't know.

As an update to Cllr Caiach's concerns about the 'allowable costs' and payments associated with the £850,000 land deal which, you may remember involved the development of a Marston's pub, her Freedom of Information request for a detailed breakdown was refused under 'commercial sensitivity', despite the arrangement involving public money. As per usual.

There is considerable speculation for the reason why representatives from Scarlets Regional Ltd will be at October's council meeting. The slashed interest on the council loan and the waiving of contributions to the maintenance (sinking) fund are up for a three year review, maybe it has something to do with that, we'll wait and see. Cllr Caiach is probably right though and its unlikely they'll be presenting a giant cheque to the taxpayers of Carmarthenshire.
Dear Editor 
As a  Carmarthenshire County Councillor I am concerned that we, as all councils do, face major cuts in our funding and this may well cause further cuts in our services including schools, care of the elderly, roads, parks, libraries , grants to charities, etc. 
I am not aware of any plans to consult the public as to where these cuts should fall. 
I am especially concerned, at the large amount of money we give to the Scarlets Rugby Club, year on year. after financing their new stadium. It was promised back in 2007 that the project would not cost the local council taxpayer a penny. Unfortunately, it apparently turned out to be hundreds of millions of pennies. 
Recently we sold an area of public land, a council owned car park leased to the Scarlets, for £850,000  I'm told, with the proceeds being shared between the council and the Scarlets. I'm informed by the Council's Finance department that I'm not allowed to know the figures as to who got what. I have made a Freedom of Information Act request but this too may be refused eventually, as have others related to the Scarlets. 
I am told that the Club will attend a  Carmarthenshire Council meeting in October with all Councillors present. I cannot find out the exact reason for their visit but suspect it is more likely to be with a begging bowl than a donation to our funds. 
I know that many supporters of the Club feel that the financial sacrifices made by the people of Carmarthenshire to build the stadium and give ongoing financial support were well worth it, Certainly, with the Club's published accounts showing a seriously poor financial position, we are unlikely to get anything back for the foreseeable future. According to the financial package from the council, I believe the Scarlets only pay any revenue back when and if the club makes a 7 figure annual profit. Until then they have free rental and in previous years did not even put the agreed £25,000 per year into a fund for stadium upkeep. 
Should our Council keep funding a private Rugby Club now, when every penny given to the Scarlets is one less for front line services. 
Elite Sports Clubs generally need very rich people to fund them, who can afford the likely financial losses. 
Surely the people of Carmarthenshire should have their say in whether or not we continue to subsidize this rugby region? 
Councillor Sian Caiach
People First
Hengoed Ward
(for further background to the issues mentioned in the letter please search the blog, google etc. As a footnote, the twitter feed of the small Ammanford based South Wales Guardian, @SWGuardian, has sprung into life and if for no other reason than their solid stance against pressure from County Hall last year, they deserve a follow) 


Anonymous said...

Why is it that every time Cllr Caiach raises her concerns the Chair is very curt and dismissive of her?

Anonymous said...

Because she has an annoying habit of being annoyingly right amongst a sea of annoyingly wrong.

Anonymous said...

County Councillors should not be kept in the dark about what's going on. They have a right to know.

Anonymous said...

If councillors feel they are in the dark they have only themselves to blame.Come on get together and stand up for democracy the lack of which is lamentable in Carmarthenshire.You know it everyone knows it.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 15:04 - I agree with much of what you say with the exception of "If councillors feel they are in the dark they have only themselves to blame." Note how those Cllrs who do speak up are treated in what appears to be a divide and rule culture! It could be argued that those outside of the ruling class are treated like mushrooms i.e. kept in the dark and fed manure without realising it until it is too late.

I urge the public to challenge poor decisions made, stand behind those who work for the electorate and stamp out what appears to be a blame and bully culture in the chamber.