Tuesday 18 August 2015

The Key to the Presidential Toilet

Below is an open letter from Unison Carmarthenshire to Plaid Cymru's Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire Council published in this week's Herald. As you can see, they had to wait two months for a meeting. Perhaps Mr Dole was busy with his barn...

To add insult to injury, chief executive Mark James also decided to grace them with his presence. Unison said;

"Our disappointment was only added to at the meeting that took place in your room on July 22nd when to our surprise Mark James CEO was in attendance. We had not been informed prior to the meeting that Mark James would be present. 

It is our understanding that we requested a meeting with you alone as we wanted to speak with you regarding the future direction of the council led by your party. If we had wanted Mark James to be present we would have requested it"

Whether Mr James had insisted on being there to ensure Cllr Dole stuck to ze masterplan, or whether Cllr Dole didn't feel able to cope without holding his divine guiding hand is not clear. It's quite surprising that Pam and Meryl weren't there as well...

Unison wanted to discuss the political direction Plaid would be taking the council, with the council leader. The councillors are the employers after all and it is supposed to be they who run the show.

It goes to show that recent events, including the WLGA review have made not one jot of difference, the term 'officer-led' is alive and well and remains in the singular.

Unison raised several issues and challenges to Cllr Dole including introducing the Living Wage and opposing cuts, both of which Plaid had campaigned for when in opposition but the meeting produced no commitment from Cllr Dole, nor, for that matter, a firm stance against further outsourcing of services.

They reminded Cllr Dole of the Plaid alternative budget which proposed, a few short months ago, the use of some of the reserves to prevent cuts to services, the response from Cllr Dole was that they would act 'responsibly'; taken to mean that there would be no change of direction, the promises made in opposition have been 'sacrificed', and Plaid would be 'responsibly' implementing cuts.

Unison threw down the challenge to Plaid to protect vital services for the communities they serve but the outcome of the meeting was clearly disappointing; "It seemed to us from what you did and didn't say that Plaid have ditched very quickly any opposition to Tory cuts" 

No doubt Cllr Dole would have been warmly congratulated by Mr James, with a pat on the back, (and possibly the much coveted Key to the Presidential Toilet) for the way he 'dealt' with the meeting...and maybe there was even a congratulatory phone call from a delighted Meryl...

Click to enlarge

Carmarthenshire Herald on Facebook here


Cllr Alun Lenny said...

The bigger picture and a bit of background. For some years, Plaid Cymru has actively backed Unison’s campaign in Carmarthenshire for a fairer deal for poorly-paid council staff, many of whom depend on state benefits to survive. Following intense Plaid pressure the then Labour-led council agreed in 2013 to scrap the bottom two ‘pay points’ which gave those on the lowest pay scale a 5% rise. From this October, the lowest-paid workers will get £7.30 per hour, which is 10p more than the ‘National Living Wage’ being proposed by the UK Government. The Plaid leadership in Carmarthenshire appreciates that this still falls short of the hourly rate advocated by the Living Wage Foundation and will review the County Council’s salaries after it evaluates the National Pay Settlement.

It is striving to do this at a time of massive and increasing cuts in public spending imposed by the UK government, and passed on to county councils by the Welsh government. Neither the hopeless Labour opposition in London nor the feeble Labour government in Cardiff has shown any inclination to fight the cuts.

In January, Labour MPs supported the ConDems’ Charter For Budget Responsibility which will slash public spending by another £30 billion. Carmarthenshire’s Jonathan Edwards and the other two Plaid Cymru MPs voted against the Charter. Institute for Fiscal Studies experts described the cut as “colossal” and warned it would reduce public spending to 1930s levels.

Last month, the Tory Government’s Bill to slash £12 billion on Welfare was passed by a large majority after most Labour MPs, including Llanelli’s Nia Griffith, meekly obeyed party orders to abstain. Once again, Plaid voted against the Bill, because it will cause real suffering to the most vulnerable people in society, including children.

The Plaid-led Carmarthenshire County Council faces a damage limitation situation. We will do our utmost to protect our staff and citizens from the austerity policies formulated by the Tories and aided and abetted by the Labour Party, to which Unison contributed £500,000 before the General Election and helps maintain on a regular basis through the political levy. While valuing the good relationship we’ve had with Unison locally, it is regrettable that the union is failing to influence the pro-austerity Labour MPs in Westminster - the root of the present evil.

Anonymous said...

You have done a good job in trying to cloud the issues involved but it doesn't wash.

Plaid were vocal in their opposition to the Labour/Indies and went as far as trying to amend the budget at the final hour.

You obviously didn't expect to have power and now you are looking a bit silly by not implementing what you thought was vital just a few weeks ago.

This fits with the impression of still being in hock to the Indies - why did they get so many cabinet positions - why not go it alone.

Meryl Madge and the Chief Exec must be laughing their socks off at you.

Plaid will have the blame along with Labour and the perpetual term of office for the terrible twins continue.

The Union is right - if they want to speak to a political leader about the politics of a council this should not include any officers.

I thinks what Im saying is this. get off your knees, accept that with power comes responsibility and exercise that power along the lines of your politics. You have a duty to seek and accept professional advice but the politics is yours and yours alone.

It seems to me that it is business as normal at County Hall which is a big fat shame !!

Teifion said...

Couldn't we save loads of money by getting rid of the councillors? After all they appear to be mere puppets of the authority

Blodwen said...

Teifion, what you say makes a lot of sense. I doubt if we would notice any difference whatsoever if there were no councillors (half of them are asleep during meetings anyway). What we have at the moment is the worst of all worlds. We are supposed to think that the system is democratic because now and again we can vote in the local elections. We all know it's a sham - power lies elsewhere. We have to pay vast sums of money to watch councillors swanning around being totally ineffective because all - and I mean all - decisions are made by one particular paid employee.

I think everyone should refuse to vote in the next local elections in order to show the contempt in which we hold the system.

Anonymous said...

But it doesn't have to be like this.

Plaid can bleat all they want but at the end of the day they are hypocrites. They say one thing in opposition and another in power.

It isn't even as if the. An say that what they were advocating was months ago - it was a matter of a few weeks before they got into power.

No wonder they didn't do well in the general election.

Plaid have been a massive disappointment I have to say that. As someone who follows local politics I thought the may have a backbone and stir things up a bit but they have as they say laid down with dogs and now they they flees.

They must be a bit embarrassed about the union report of the meeting - it's a bit like having your dad at your first date !!!

Plaid - get off your knees, exercise power don't just be in power ! Cum on mun do something - anything. Let's have a modicum of socialist ideals coming through.