Friday 10 April 2015

Next week's agenda - the April meeting

With the election on the horizon our council has yet another perfect excuse to avoid controversial matters, of which there are many. This has led to a particularly thin agenda for next week's meeting of full council. No doubt the Labour leaders and the Plaid opposition will use the opportunity for some vote-catching but the purdah rules might at least stop the chief executive (and currently Returning Officer) from joining in for once.

There are a couple of Notices on Motion, firstly Plaid Leader Emlyn Dole wants Council to officially declare, to the Welsh Government, Carmarthenshire's wish to remain intact and 'stand-alone' in any future merger plans. The current proposed 'map' leaves Carmarthenshire as it is, but this could easily change over the next couple of years, and eventually I think it probably will.

The second Motion is from unaffiliated councillor John Jenkins. He is asking the Executive Board to consider a 6 month pilot of 2 hours free parking in council car parks in Llanelli Town Centre. Not a bad idea of course but any reduction in this lucrative source of income is unlikely to be entertained. If it is, and for it to be fair, it would have to extend to all council car parks in all town centres. Not just Llanelli...

There is one 'councillor question' and without a hint of irony it's from Independent Llandovery Councillor Ivor Jackson. Without having the backbone to join with the townsfolk and publicly oppose the closure of the town's greatest community asset, Pantycelyn secondary school a couple of years ago, he's now asking that the school buildings should not be demolished but retained for 'community use'.

Presumably, the whole Local Development Plan thing passed him by as the development brief for the site, which he voted to approve, is to demolish all but the sports hall and build 45 houses on the site.

Part two of the 'debate' over the local government reform consultation is also on the agenda which will presumably mean another death defying Power Point stint from interim assistant chief executive Wendy Walters. Part one was 'discussed' at the last meeting and it appeared that the Minister's dream of ending the 'old boy's club' culture will be vigorously opposed...

We then have the ever lengthening list of committees meetings, ten in fact, which are no longer allowed to be discussed, or even mentioned, thanks to Mr James.

Missing from the agenda is any mention of the £5m Carmarthen West Link road.
With almost breathless excitement the council's new Director of Environment announced last week that clearance work had started on the £5m link road for the Carmarthen West development. Incredibly, this is before the thorny matter of funding has gone to full council for approval.

The plan, recommended by the Executive Board, seems to be to dip into those 'precious' council reserves and 'other sources' (whatever they are) and hope they can get the money back through various 'agreements'. Despite the bulldozers moving in, the proposal has yet to be even "approved in principle".

In addition to the messy and vague funding arrangements, a report appeared last week (see 'Noxious fumes') designating the centre of Carmarthen as having high levels of pollution, Llanelli is also similarly affected. The council have provided and interesting statement;

"The declaration of the AQMA (Air Quality Management Area) by Carmarthenshire Council is a legal process and will include areas that are considered as being part of the solution, not just those areas affected."

Will building 1100 houses, with at least as many cars, be 'part of the solution'? The Carmarthen West development has been a 'brief' for several years and so has the monitoring of pollution levels...surely this AQMA report wasn't withheld until after the latest application for 250 houses was rushed through despite numerous objections..was it?


Sian Caiach said...

Well of course if there is a proposed merger I am advised that the affected councils' reserves will be frozen immediately. Perhaps the exec will spend as much of this as possible on their favorite projects before the axe falls?

caebrwyn said...

Sian Caiach,

Yes, so I've heard...possible contenders currently include an evangelical church or a lifesize bronze statue of Mark James to adorn the entrance to County Hall, Meryl is particularly keen on the latter... ;)

caebrwyn said...

Sian is running a survey to gather views on whether Carmarthenshire should merge and other issues. It can be accessed on her website here