Wednesday 4 November 2015

Monday's Executive Board, in brief.

We are very fortunate that the Executive Board meets before its official meetings, and after, to ensure all are in happy cosy agreement before the great unwashed are allowed in. Should there be anything other than harmonious bliss between Plaid and their Independent pals, on everything, the long, detailed agenda might have taken a little longer than the record breaking 45 minutes it took on Monday.

The record was helped by switching off of the webcam to discuss the highly sensitive, top secret future of Llandeilo Library. There was no open discussion on whether the public interest test to exclude the press and public was met. There never is.

The agenda itself concerned a wide ranging and important variety of topics from the prevention of Radicalisation (introduced by Pam Palmer..) to rural planning policy (that was very brief...), and a Charter for Children's Rights sped past as rapidly as the current levels of overspend in the council's accounts.

One issue in overspend was given a brief airing when the £1m in school redundancies came up. The chief executive helpfully pointed out that the county council corporate budget picked up the tab for these costs, it didn't come out of the school budgets. This he said, was wrong and 'something needed to be done'. He went further to say that these naughty schools often got rid of staff on higher salaries, replacing them with staff on lower salary bands; "We know it goes on.."
I guess, when it comes to financial chicanery it takes one to know one.

It might well 'go on' but surely the county council's own Modernising Education Programme to close, merge and federate (mainly 'close') Carmarthenshire's schools has played a part in the increased redundancy bill. Back in July figures showed that there will be 59 agreed redundancies for school staff, including 36 teachers, over the next twelve months.
The council are also planning to squeeze education further by chopping £14m off the delegated school budget over the next couple of years.

It's also a bit rich coming from an employee on upwards of £180,000 per annum (with the occasional addition of various unlawful payments) who was quite happy, this time last year, to sail off with a redundancy package of nearly half a million quid himself from the council's precious corporate budget.

Should you be so inclined, the archived webcast can be viewed here. There's another Exec Board meeting on the 16th November which I am guessing will launch the start of that thorny issue, the budget consultation.


Further to my post from last month, '96 parks and playgounds up for grabs', it turns out that the Council currently has £1.3m in Section 106 money, specifically for 'Recreation, open space and play schemes', languishing in the vaults. Presumably this would have gone some way towards keeping at least some of the parks and playgrounds, which are now being dumped, fit for purpose for years to come.


Cneifiwr said...

The cost to the council of the severance package Mr James applied for is understood to have been around £400,000. In the end public outrage did for that one, but with the likelihood of a local government reorganisation coming along in the next 2 or 3 years, he stands a pretty good chance of getting the loot anyway.

There is, of course, nothing to stop him from taking early and very, very comfortable retirement, but clearly he would rather wait for the jackpot.

Meanwhile he is making videos to tell us how much he loves Carmarthenshire.

Anonymous said...

misconduct in public office, no confidence. This is the way mr james needs to leave. Not by coining it in for his mendacious actions.