Thursday 2 October 2014

Next week's agenda, and the missing WLGA report

The agenda for next week's full council has just been published and one item is notable by it's absence. At the September meeting it was promised that the long awaited final WLGA governance review report, required following the damning audit reports, would be before council on the 8th October.

I made enquiries to the WLGA as to its mysterious whereabouts and was informed today (very quick response, thank you) that;

"The Review Team is currently finalising the report. Although it had originally been planned to present the report to Council on 8th October, the Review Team wished to test some key issues with members further and has organised a Workshop, open to all members, to receive feedback and test draft themes and proposals before the report is finalised. The workshop session has been scheduled for the afternoon of 8th October. 
Following this workshop, the Review Team will publish its final report later in October, which will be circulated to all councillors, interviewed partners and members of the public who submitted evidence. It will also be published on the WLGA website. The Council has previously indicated that the report would be considered by full Council, so I assume that this might occur at November’s meeting."

Ah, of course, there are still 'draft themes' to be tested...

As I, and others have said, for this council to become the open and democratic institution it is supposed to be, there needs to be change of culture, and that will only be achieved by the removal of the top brass at County Hall. After Tuesday's announcement, it looks like the main obstacle will soon be gone...without, it is hoped, any more public money, as Plaid AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas said in the Western Mail.

Back to the agenda and Kevin Madge appears to be trying to scrape the Carmarthenshire barrel of positive PR by proposing a motion to ban the sale of chinese lanterns from council premises. No doubt this is a worthy cause given the reported damage they can cause, but you may have thought that the leader of the council, teetering on the edge of the worst financial predicament for years, senior officers jumping ship, and governance 'not fit for purpose', he may have had more pressing thoughts.

Anyway, the agenda also contains some more councillor questions - you may remember the ridiculous fiasco at the last meeting when councillors were banned by Mark James and Linda Rees Jones from asking a follow up question. The resultant effect more or less was to give the Exec Board members and leader an opportunity to spout forth with no comebacks allowed.

Whether that thorny issue will be resolved for Wednesday's meeting we will have to wait and see.

All the questions can be viewed on the agenda here. They include one from Cllr Dole, leader of the Plaid Group; he asks for a full apology from the Dyfed Powys Police Commissioner Christopher Salmon for accusing the Chief Constable and local councillors of negotiating 'murky back room deals'. This follows Mr Salmon's remarks attacking the UK Labour party proposals to abolish his job.

At least it will be novel to hear the phrase 'murky back room deals' in the Chamber, even if it's in a different context.

Another question from a Plaid councillor asks;

In view of the Leader’s previous admission that over £28,000 was spent on legal advice to try to justify the “unlawful” expenditure on the Chief Executive’s tax avoidance scheme and his libel action indemnity, does the Leader think that this was taxpayers' money well spent – and if so, why? 

Can't wait for the answer to that one....
The QC's advice failed to justify anything of course...although I imagine it's especially difficult to defend illegal payments in public office (I'm sure there's a shorter word...begins with 'f', five letters, can't quite think of it...)


Anonymous said...

Can anyone please explain to the uninitiated how anyone who leaves a job of their own volition can expect severance pay.If you are made redundant that is a different matter and your job can not be filled for a period of two years.

caebrwyn said...

As I understand it, Mr James is taking advantage of the voluntary severance scheme introduced by the Executive Board last year as part of their so-called 'efficiency savings'. A business case has to be put forward for each application. The total cost so far is unknown but I'm sure Mr James' golden parachute will milk it for quite a few more £££££s, after all every efficiency saving has a silver lining...
At the moment it is not clear whether the post of chief executive will be as redundant as the man.

Redhead said...

I simply cannot understand why "some key issues" should be "tested" on councillors. I have never come across this - ever.

Either you produce an independent report or you don't - if you do, you give the truth as you see it, if you don't, you allow the people who commissioned it to change it and it is not independent.

So, which is it?

caebrwyn said...

I couldn't agree more.
No wonder Kevin Madge insisted that the WLGA lead the review. He is also a deputy chair of the organisation.

Teifion said...

People do realise the LGA Local Government association and the WLGA (the Welsh one) is only the senior council execs trade union so not exactly unbiased or beyond reproach themselves?