Monday, 27 June 2011

Keeping things under wraps - Part I

Carmarthenshire County Council is again demonstrating why we need change in the way the public finds out about its decisions and how it goes about making those decisions.

The last meeting of the full council took place on 8 June. It was an unusually stormy meeting for the council, with issues raised which are of great interest to many people around the county, but unless you were able to attend the meeting in person, you will not know what happened or what was decided. Almost three weeks have gone by, and the minutes for the meeting are still not available.

Let's not get too excited. Minutes are minutes, after all, and they are likely to provide only a very dry bones record of the decisions. Anyone unaware of the dramatic events which took place is unlikely to get a sense of what happened at the meeting, but the minutes are important nevertheless.

At the very least, the unacceptable delays in publishing minutes of meetings show how little importance the council attaches to the rights of the public and council taxpayers to be informed of its decisions. At worst, you have to wonder whether by holding information back for so long, the council is calculating that by the time it does publish, the so-called news agenda will have moved on and nobody will be interested.

Of course, delaying the publication of information which it is required to produce by law is only one way a local authority can keep things under wraps. There are many more tools in the box, and I shall be looking at some more in the coming weeks.

5 comments:

Photon said...

A very important topic, highlighted of course by the Jacqui Thompson arrest incident. As shocking as what happened to Ms. Thompson was the appalling, mediaeval macho attitude evident within the chamber - something that would be entirely absent from any minutes.

I've yet to hear from tough-guy minister Sargeant about his views on filming councils. What a pity that is.

Anonymous said...

Not that I want to support the current administration but minutes won't be published until they are approved as a true record by the subsequent council meeting, which has yet to take place - until then any record of the meeting would simply be a draft and not technically a reliable record of events.

Cneifiwr said...

I checked this out, and it is normal practice for the council to publish minutes of meetings, presumably in draft, prior to approval by the subsequent meeting. The delay in publishing the minutes this time round has been unusually long.

The minutes for the Executive Board meeting on 20 June are also still missing, and thos are supposed to be published within 3 working days.

Cymro i'r Carn said...

Mae'n warthus hefyd nad ydynd yn ddwyieithog amser yn eu cyhoeddi, a phrin iawn yw'r defnydd a wnaed o'r Gymraeg ar lawr siambr y cyngor, mafe'n gywilyddus bron, does fawr o syndod bod y Gymraeg yn wynebu trasiedi cenedlaethol a marw yn sir Gaerfyrddin gyda'r cyngor ag agwedd mor amwys tuag ati.

Cneifiwr said...

Llygad dy le, Cymro i'r Carn. Gwelais i dy gyfraniad am bolisi iaith Sir Gâr ar wefan Haciaith. Roedd e'n wych.