Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Three wheels on my wagon....

This week's South Wales Guardian (@SWGuardian) yet again dares to tread where others fear to go with another opinion piece on the 'unlawful' payments scandal, with an appropriate analogy;

South Wales Guardian Opinion 
Wednesday 20th November 2013 (Link here
No disrespect intended, but Amman Valley councillor Glynog Davies was – in the words of Basil Fawlty – “stating the bleedin’ obvious” when he opined that Carmarthenshire county council has been “damaged” by allegations of unlawful payments made in relation to their chief executive. 
Yes, this is a hot topic among county residents many of whom are watching events unfold at County Hall with a mixture of incredulity and mounting anger. 
No wonder Cllr Davies is “embarrassed” by the situation – judging by the glum expressions in the council chamber last week, he is not alone in his discomfiture. 
The few putting on a brave face increasingly resemble the hapless cowboys in ‘Three Wheels On My Wagon’ who, with Cherokees closing in, continue to limp along while re-assuring themselves that “...a mile up the road there’s a hidden cave and we can watch those Cherokees go galloping by...” 
Unfortunately for County Hall there’s no sign of a hidden cave, nor any indication that the Cherokees will abandon their pursuit. 
While some sort of compromise is likely, who’s to say the remaining wheels won’t come off? 
The Wales Audit Office will issue a public interest report shortly to which the local authority must respond within a month – regardless of the interminable Christmas break' 
Meanwhile, the charade goes on and the council has provided us with an online survey to cast our opinion on the proposed frontline budget cuts. Cuts to upper management have also been promised so, for example, it remains to be seen whether we still have two Assistant Chief Executives and a Deputy Chief Executive this time next year.

If you want to strongly agree, for instance, that lollipop ladies should be axed, or funded out of school funds (despite the promise to protect the education budget) you can. Likewise, if you think that ratcheting up car park charges will bring in extra income, despite a 7% drop in parking revenue last year, then go ahead.

You are also asked whether you think the precious council rag, the Carmarthenshire News should be cut from six to four editions per year, it doesn't ask if you think it should be consigned to history altogether.

Many are wondering if the paper is now the propaganda rag for Hywel Dda too with latest edition announcing that 'Hospital services improved' with regards to the A & E downgrade row at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli. This was a extremely controversial and strongly opposed decision and the subject of a 33,0000 name petition.

If nothing else the timing is particularly poor with the decision currently the subject of a Judicial Review application in the High Court. The legal challenge has also been extended to the Minister himself, Mark Drakeford.

Anyway, back to the survey and, as is usual with any Carmarthenshire consultation it doesn't really matter what you say, the decisions have already been made, hence the list. Its a curious fact that, for a Labour run council the first item on that list is to cut trade union facilitation time and support. The proposed rise in council tax is already 4.9%, and you will be duly warned that any objections will bump this up even higher, and it'll be all your fault...
Usefully, each section provides a comment box, and at the end of the survey you are invited to make your own suggestions, apparently they have to be "reasonable".

You may wish to suggest that a little more is taken out of council reserves, or maybe that the council reconsiders its expenditure on expert advice to defend unlawful payments. You may just wish to reflect on previous profligacy, or why the loan to the Scarlets wasn't called in last month but instead was extended on such favourable terms...

Or, on the assumption that no one's likely to bother to read it, let alone take note, you might wish to take this opportunity to say exactly what you think about this rotten borough....reasonably of course.


caebrwyn said...

As an aside, a recent Executive Board Member meeting for Regeneration, (ie Meryl and several officers, public and press excluded) decided as usual to spend tens of thousands in grant money on hot tubs, double glazing etc at various private properties to 'strengthen tourism'. Over £300k was also granted at the same meeting for redundant buildings and farm diversification applications.

What was disturbing was that an application from the Friends of Blaenau Children's Centre, a council owned respite home near Ammanford for children with learning difficulties, for a grant from the council-administered Welsh Church Fund was "regrettably refused in light of current consultation on the future provision, in Carmarthenshire, of services such as that provided by the Centre"

It would seem that to ensure its survival, the Centre should probably rebrand itself as a tourist destination and consider installing a hot tub.

Anonymous said...

3 wheels is an overestimate as far as I can see!

Anonymous said...

I never thought it possible that CCC could sink so low.I am commenting on the refusal of funds for the children's respite home.Perhaps there is a valid reason but it is dismissed so easily without any suggestion of an alternative.Talking about a future arrangement is not good enough.Usually when something is withdrawn it is lost forever.
Of course there is always the Towy church.

caebrwyn said...

Anon 10.17
The information in my comment above was taken directly from the published minutes.
Yes, to make a decision to refuse this grant, rather than defer it seems very 'final'.

Anonymous said...

Type " mercy ministries survivors" into Google and see what you come up with ...

Anonymous said...

It would appear that Xcel are springing up around the UK (e.g. Xcel project, Xcel leisure, Xcel men and Xcel group described below). Are they all linked?

"XCEL uses highly skilled and experienced Project Managers with over a decades experience in Managing Community Projects, ranging from local projects, to international development projects. We mainly work with Community Focussed Organisations such as Charities and Social Enterprises..."

Anonymous said...

oh, look - XCel seems to be another evangelising church with business interests:

caebrwyn said...

Anon 19.52 Thanks for that but I'm not sure the various Xcel organisations are connected.

Anonymous said...

Agree, but some very obviously are and it is something to be alert for!