Sunday 30 November 2014

Cars, bins and mergers - news in brief

I'm sure everyone is now aware that the residents of Pembrokeshire have unwittingly been funding a £90,000 Porsche for their now departed chief executive, Bryn Parry Jones, to cruise luxuriously through the countryside. Another worrying fact is that it took a staggering eight months for the council to respond to the BBC Freedom of Information request to extract this information.

Quite what the executive motoring arrangements are in Carmarthenshire remain unclear, all we know is that there are definitely no battered old Fiestas lined up in front of County Hall. The reason given in Pembrokeshire for the delay in responding to the request was equally astonishing;

'it [Pembs council] had been unable to reveal details of the lease car while Mr Parry-Jones was still in his post, as the information was private and exempt from Freedom of Information requests.
"Because this vehicle is no longer in use, we are now in a position to disclose the details," council officials confirmed. (BBC Wales)

What a load of old flannel.

The only reason for the delay was that, as in Carmarthenshire, the decision whether or not to release information of that ilk is controlled directly by the highly sensitive chief executives themselves. Now Parry-Jones has gone, he's not there to stop it. A similar thing happened over the 'allowable expenses' request, after a whole year of various requests and appeals, the final disclosure wasn't forthcoming until Mark James had gone on forced gardening leave earlier this year. This was no coincidence.

It is also common knowledge that Mr James insisted that a local reporter withdraw a request for details of his expenses. It was also very clear from Mr James' witness statement from the libel case that he considered any request which encompassed anything to do with payments made to him as a public official to be nothing short of gross impertinence. I can't imagine what he thought of the Appointed Auditor poking his nose into matters unlawful...harassment I suppose.

In rubbish news, with the council's contract to deal with its waste and recycling needs heading for renewal in April next year it looks like there could be a problem. The current contractor is Cwm Environmental Ltd, the arms-length company wholly owned and much favoured by the council, (see previous posts).
The problem being that the contract must go out to a proper, legal tender. At a recent scrutiny meeting councillors were told that, true to form, legal advice was being sought, and that ultimately "CWM Environmental would not be treated any differently to other potential tenderers".
This will be an interesting one to watch.

Local government reorganisation is very much in the news at the moment with various Welsh councils deliberating whether or not to merge with their neighbours with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Minister Leighton Andrews is now the driving force behind the reorganisation which, at the moment could see Welsh councils reduced from twenty-two to anywhere between six and twelve.

Initially, Carmarthenshire council was left out of the equation but more recently Swansea has been eyeing up Llanelli and its surrounds and there are many in Llanelli who would rather be part of anywhere else other than Carmarthenshire. As reported by the BBC, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have now begun merger talks on this basis, roughly following the boundaries of the Swansea Bay City Region Board.

Talking of which, the new chair of the Board, Sir Terry Matthews held a meeting last week in the Cross Hands Food Park. There are signs that Cllr Meryl Gravell, who also sits on the Board, maybe changing her allegiances, describing Mr Matthews as 'inspirational and visionary', adjectives she used to keep exclusively reserved for dear Mark...

As for the rural parts of north east Carmarthenshire, many have long expressed a preference to be governed by Powys rather than 'those idiots' in Carmarthen (their words not mine).
Whether they're any less collectively idiotic in Powys remains to be seen. If Carmarthenshire withers away and Caebrwyn finds herself living in Powys, she will soon let you know...


Anonymous said...

Llanelli which has benefitted from the largess of Carmarthenshire will certainly under a Swansea Bay Council be the very poor relation of the 3 council areas North Carmarthenshire or the rump after farming out Llanelli would be better with Ceredigion than Powys So MRs T you will not be directing your enquiries to Llandrinod Wells As a Carmarthenshire born person I would rather stay with Carmarthenshire and not revert back to a full blown Dyfed or a half & half Dyfed

Anonymous said...

Llanelli has almost half of the county's population, and therefore stumps up (at least) half the county's council tax income - not to mention contributions made by industrial concerns.
Llanelli subsidises the rest of this county.