Wednesday 16 October 2013

Budget meeting - Cllr Caiach's letter

As Cneifiwr has already mentioned a 'Budget Seminar' for councillors and er, invited guests will be held at Y Ffwrnes theatre, Llanelli on the 21st October. Cneifiwr and I assume our invites must have got lost in the post.

Anyway, with the council leadership warning that we must 'brace ourselves' for the cuts to come, its clearly an important event. A couple of years ago, someone with a sense of irony decided it should be held at the Parc Y Scarlets stadium...clearly they haven't quite got the gall this year. After Monday's decision,  Scarlets Regional Ltd are not being asked to brace anything.

It will be held in a theatre though and one suspects that an event like this will have all the stage management of a production of the annual Christmas pantomime.

Cllr Caiach has voiced her concerns through the letters page of the South Wales Guardian;

"I am very concerned at the budget seminar planned for Carmarthenshire Councillors next Monday at Y Ffwrnes 9.15am - 1.15pm. 
It seems that the elected members will be given a list of possible cuts to be made after a pep talk on exactly how bad the economic situation is. In three hours those who wish to take part will have to decide on which of the cuts presented by officers they prefer.
I don't know what there cuts will be and how much we will be asked to cut. There does not appear to br any discussion on what budgets we should cut other than unseen, pre-prepared options. These are secret until the meeting and, in any case, if they were released now it would leave little time to consult our electorate. 
This is not fair or open, as Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Local Government, says she expects of the council in a recent letter to me. 
For instance, if there was a move again to close the Llanelli care homes at St Pauls and Caemaen, most of the 74 councillors at the meeting will be from outside Llanelli and may decide to sacrifice Llanelli care homes for something in their wards. 
There will be no deep discussion on each topic, there is no time. The deliberation is in small, supervised groups, only a few minutes to dicusss anything. I suspect it will be manipulated by the fact that the only cuts to be discussed are already chosen even before the official announcement of the money coming to Carmarthenshire this year. 
With around £14m - £16m per year servicing the council's over quarter of a billion debt already, will there be even more borrowing to build new buildings while jobs are cut? I doubt this will be discussed as new buildings seem to take priority over people's jobs. We never seem to pass over a grant even if we have to borrow millions to match it.
In an area highly dependent on public sector employment, every job cut has a knock on effect on the economy. There are very few well paid private sector jobs available. 
Will we really discuss the jobs issue? I doubt it. Why the rush to discuss issues without informing the public of the pros and cons? The budget is not finalised until next year. 
I urge council officers to openly discuss the options before putting councillors 'on the spot'. Cancel the meeting and publish the proposals first. How can we represent people by going to a meeting where we do not know the true agenda and cannot consult our residents beforehand? 
This is so important it should not be hurried and it is a fact that it is not only county councillors and civil servants who have good ideas on how to manage our money." 
Cllr Caiach
Hengoed Ward


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear Cllr Caiach!

Members of the public you haven't been given a voice but don't let that stop you from being heard.

Please be advised that Unison is planning to protest outside Y Ffwrnes Theatre.

Anonymous said...

Unison "call on this Labour Led council to make a stand, stand shoulder to shoulder with their hard working employees; launch a mass campaign alongside the trade unions and the people of Carmarthenshire to refuse to implement the cuts."