Friday, 15 July 2011

The Peculiarly Secretive World of Carmarthenshire County Council

A few weeks ago, I blogged here about the #daftarrest-gate happenings down in nearby Carmarthenshire.

Whilst Councils such as ours in Ceredigion have, as there reported, began to investigate ways of opening up local government to modern technology and greater scrutiny, it would seem from developments this week that Carmarthenshire are regressing even further backwards.

At its meeting on Wednesday, members of the public found themselves confronted for the first time with security provisions which stopped them from entering the public gallery without having to go through new and rather draconian procedures.

Jacqui Thompson who has found herself at the centre of this furore reported here in her Carmarthenshire Planning Problems blog at how she was effectively stopped from accessing the public gallery. In addition, Y Cneifiwr then tells us more of the inredulous hoops that members of the public had to go through as he himself at least managed to eventually make it to the public gallery.

Meanwhile, Cllr Sian Caiach added her take on the actual Council meeting on Wednesday in which she attempted to change the minutes from that infamous previous meeting to note what actually occurred but Councillors overwhelmingly voted against the facts.

Ceredigion's Bodlondeb Debate
In contrast to this incredible new twist in this ridiculous farce, Ceredigion County Council's Cabinet met this Tuesday and were faced with a packed public gallery as the future of Aberystwyth's Bodlondeb Residential Home was up for debate.

The issue of the future living arrangements of Bodlondeb's residents has been the centre of argument and heated debate over recent weeks as public meetings and newspaper comment has put pressure on the Council's Cabinet to refuse the option of transferring these vulnerable elderly residents to a new home at Waunfawr's Hafan Y Waun.

Whilst Carmarthenshire Council sought to limit the way in which the public could gain access to watch its public meetings this week, here in Ceredigion, dozens upon dozens of local residents took the opportunity to walk up the stairs at County Hall in Aberaeron and to sit, unencumbered, to watch their elected representatives vote on this most delicate of issues. They cheered those Cabinet members who spoke in favour of their plea and eventually witnessed the Cabinet defer the decision which amidst the contention surrounding the debate, is the bare minimum that they should've done.

But the point is that those who pay their taxes and wanted to see the local government decision making process in action, were able to do so without any question.

In Carmarthenshire, it's clearly not so straightforward.

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