Monday, 30 September 2013

News round up; cuts, bulldozers and twitching curtains...

Details of the cuts of "biblical" proportions are beginning to emerge from County Hall. A report to today's (Monday) Executive Board meeting, held incidentally, and for reasons unknown, in the pleasant surroundings of the subsidised Botanical Gardens, outlines the 'Budget Outlook' until 2017.

The 'key points' of the suggested financial plan include savings to be made of £31m over the next three years, A 'worst case' scenario risk assessment put forward a possible £78m savings. The next few months will see various consultations, and as part of the process, the traditional 'Councillors' seminar' is still rumoured to be booked, ironically, at the even more heavily subsidised Parc Y Scarlets stadium.

Included in the options for the budget savings are the consideration of alternative service providers, ie privatisation; cessation in some areas to prioritise others, ie the closure of a day centre to continue to fund the council propaganda rag (no, not the other way round, not here!) and 'seeking early expressions of interest from officers in respect of the voluntary severance scheme' ie offering a quick exit to senior officers with a big payout.

In all seriousness, council leader Kev has got his work cut out. With the council appearing to be entering meltdown over tax-dodging pension scandals and unlawful payments even the usually sycophantic councillors may be shifting uneasily in their seats and be increasingly unwilling to put their names to 'difficult decisions' to follow the authority's line. Public consultation on the budget proposals is destined to begin in November, let's hope it's an improvement on the patronising twaddle churned out a couple of years ago.

It also seems that the council has a spare £100,000 to spend over the next two years towards the Dylan Thomas Centenary events. The council is part of a 'steering group' to mark the centenary of the literary man's birth. The project has the rather-less-than literary title of 'DT100' which sounds more like a type of branded ointment which the great man may have applied to his hemorrhoids. Whether the investment will leave any more of a 'lasting legacy' than already exists remains to be seen....

The Western Mail ran a 'Real Schools Guide' the other day using available data to produce a ranking table of secondary schools in Wales. Whatever your view of these league tables, the newspaper did at least make it clear how the list was compiled. Running down the list of 219 schools in Wales, what was the first Carmarthenshire school to appear (at number 44)? Llandovery's Pantycelyn of course! Making it the highest ranking school in Carmarthenshire.

The very same school which is now, thanks to the combined and unstinting efforts of Carmarthenshire Council and the Welsh Government, destined for the bulldozer..... (see previous posts)

Lastly, the Council's use of RIPA powers popped up at a recent Executive Board Member Meeting, these meetings you may recall, are held in private between one executive member and a couple of senior officers.

In this instance it is Cllr Pam Palmer who is the guardian of our rights and freedoms against the possibility of inappropriate surveillance. How comforting is that? A recommendation that 'Standard Operating Procedure for the covert use of Social Networking Sites to be included within Council RIPA procedural document' was up for Pam's rubber stamp.

After some considerable googling, as there are no further details in the published minutes, it seems this refers to the creation of an undercover online identity to infiltate/befriend suspected wrongdoers in the course of an investigation. For Councils I suspect this will largely relate to trading standards operations rather than questions of national security, but just in case, be warned and if you are suddenly followed by someone with a mysterious could be Pam...


Anonymous said...

In light of the many shenanigans going on in CCC, it is the public who need to increase surveillance!

Anonymous said...

Caebrwyn, in respect of snooping, have you read the discussion between Janet Finch Saunders and Lesley Griffiths (scroll down to 14:42). There is also a brief discussion about webcasting and of course the unlawful expenditure mentioned by Rhodri Glyn Thomas at 14:17.

caebrwyn said...

Anon 16.02
Thanks for providing the link - yes I did read this on The Record of Proceedings. Well done to both politicians for bringing these issues up - unfortunately the response from the Local Gov Minister was very non-committal.