Tuesday, 22 September 2015

September meeting...a footnote

The minutes, or what there are of them, have just been published for the last council meeting held on the 9th September. The meeting was memorable for the fact that, for the first time in ten years, there were questions from members of the public. I asked my question and was given a profoundly ridiculous response which I referred to in my post, here. My additional comment, that I didn't agree with the response, was not recorded in the minutes.

The decision, by the Chair Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths (Plaid) not to read out the other two questions was quite extraordinary, as he had been asked to do so by the questioners. His interpretation of the Constitution - that it 'assumed' the questioners would be present - was very misleading, and this is not referenced in the minutes either.

The webcast records that it was agreed that the written responses to the two questions would be published in the minutes...they're not.
I'm sure Mr James must have dictated/approved them by now...it didn't take him long to answer mine...

Later in the meeting under the 'Annual Treasury and Prudential Indicator Report', Cllr Caiach asked some questions about the council's financial arrangements. Astonishingly, the Chair made it quite clear that he didn't think that full council was the place to discuss such matters....he eventually told Cllr Caiach that he wouldn't allow her to ask such things again. In future she was to contact the relevant Director privately.
None of her questions, nor the responses are in the minutes, nor even the part where the Director was unable to figure out what the abbreviations stood for in his own report....and no one came to his rescue as no one else knew what they were either.

Scrimping on the finer details in the minutes is one one thing (I suppose we are used to that, and at least we now have the webcasts), but the dire level of debate is quite another. The whole idea of public questions is for members of the public to have their questions aired in front of the whole council, the "forum for the debate of matters of concern to the local community" whether they're present or not. This concept has either not been grasped, or been deliberately stifled.

As for trying to stop councillors asking questions about council finances....Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths is beginning to look very much like yet another pointless sidekick of Mr Mark James.

Thoroughly depressing. I hope the WLGA and the Wales Audit Office who are supposed to be 'monitoring improvement', take careful note, as there doesn't seem to have been any. Although the mystery of how anything was going to change without the removal of the top brass, was never really explained...


Anonymous said...

So disappointing to read that Plaid are happy to continue the Kafkaesque charade that epitomises the Mark James run authority. Council meetings are meant to enable democratically elected councillors to hold the administration to account. If Cllr Caiach can't hold them to account over the accounts, and she is gagged from doing so in the future, then the Council reveals that absolutely nothing has changed, and criticism will not be tolerated. Manipulating the minutes is a well-worn black art. Openness and transparency are the last things Carmarthenshire County Council wish to see.

Anonymous said...

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths appears to have joined the footie club.

Anonymous said...

I am so disappointed. I really thought Plaid would be principled and turn over a new leaf. Unless they change the undemocratic, secretive culture of this sick council they will lose my vote.