Wednesday 16 April 2014

A Point of Order

During the lengthy preamble at the start of each meeting, a warning is given that the Minutes from various committees are to be 'received' only. The contents of the Minutes, and any decisions made, must not be discussed, only the accuracy. In practice, there is usually some matter brought up which is discussed.

It all depends on what the 'matter' is.

When the minutes of the Extraordinary meeting held on the 27th February were up for approval at the start of yesterday's meeting, Cllr Caiach asked whether the libel indemnity was still being provided to Mark James as the case was ongoing. (I believe the indemnity has actually been withdrawn, as it is unlawful of course).

Executive Board Member Cllr Pam Palmer immediately called a Point of Order as the question was not related to accuracy. The Chair hastily agreed and Cllr Caiach's query therefore remained unanswered and the meeting moved very swiftly on to less controversial topics.

During the approval of numerous other committee Minutes, assorted discussions arose relating to subjects within the various reports. Unrelated to accuracy.

Not once did Cllr Palmer call another Point of Order and stop anyone else from asking a question or prompting a discussion.

The meeting has been archived and is available to view here. The main event was the approval of the Welsh Language Census group report which Cneifiwr has covered in detail.

Unfortunately, soon after the announcement, a problem with the publicly funded Welsh language support organisation Menter Cwm Gwendraeth emerged.
The BBC reports that Chief Executive, Cathryn Ings (former editor of the Carmarthen Journal) and Chair, county councillor Sian Thomas have both resigned. Details are sketchy but the interim chief executive Nerys Burton confirms that there is "absolutely no financial worry". Let's hope that her reassurance is not a precursor to the arrival of the auditors...

Meanwhile, with the countdown to the European election underway it looks like there's no shifting Pembrokeshire's Bryn Parry Jones and Carmarthenshire's Mark James as Regional and Local Returning Officers respectively.

As we are aware, there is currently a police investigation ongoing in relation to unlawful payments made to both men and there have been calls for both to stand down from the roles (see previous posts). The Western Telegraph reports that Mr Parry Jones will receive £12,000 in fees (Mr James will receive roughly half that amount) and calls, which appear futile, have been made for his salary to be reduced to reflect the fee.

The appointment of Returning Officers is made by the UK government and the Cabinet Office gave another rather ambiguous statement, similar to that received by Jonathan Edwards MP in Carmarthenshire: “We are closely monitoring developments but it would not be appropriate to comment while a police investigation into this matter is ongoing.”

It would seem that only an Act of Parliament or divine intervention could have prised the two away from the job.

And, just to remind those following events in Caerphilly, the chief executive, Anthony O'Sullivan, and his deputy, Nigel Barnett will both be appearing at Bristol Magistrates court next week, on the 22nd April.

They have both been charged will alleged Misconduct in Public Office following a police investigation. The investigation, by an outside force, commenced after findings of unlawful payments were published by the Wales Audit Office.

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