Saturday, 3 March 2012

An alternative vision for Carmarthenshire

Alun Lenny, the often outspoken Carmarthen town councillor who will be standing for election to the County Council in May, wrote an interesting letter to the Carmarthen Journal this week in which he gave us a glimpse of what may be in the Plaid manifesto for the elections.

No doubt, the finishing touches to the manifesto are being made now, and the document will be an interesting one because this county sorely needs a radical change of direction.

Mr Lenny begins by attacking the culture of bullying and arrogance which has become such a hallmark of the administration led by the "dream team", as Labour's Kevin Madge describes them, of Meryl Gravell and chief executive Mark James, and he goes on to say that, if returned with a majority, Plaid would "create a new democratic structure" to include the most talented and experienced councillors from all groups in the administration.

Back in March 2009 the Plaid group on the council brought a motion proposing a change to what was called a "politically balanced board", only to see the idea rubbished by the council's officers and voted down by the ruling Independent-Labour coalition.

With thanks to Anon (comments below), it is clear that Plaid's options under the Local Government Measure 2011 are very limited when it comes to changing the structure of the council. Under that measure, Welsh local authorities may choose between either:
  •  A leader and cabinet executive (the current system in Carmarthenshire)
  • A mayor and cabinet executive (the system preferred by some of the county boroughs)
What this means is that Plaid would have to continue with the existing arrangements, although it could of course invite some non-Plaid councillors to join it on the Executive Board.

Whether this would appeal to members of the Independent and Labour groups, only time may tell, and the response of the Independents to such an offer would be particularly interesting because, of course, they claim not to be a political party, just a collection of "like-minded" individuals. In reality, the group functions like any other political party except that unlike political parties membership is by invitation only.

Although the idea has its attractions, the danger is that we could end up with a council in which opposition is limited to a tiny handful of true independents, and debate and scrutiny are stifled.

We will have to wait and see what the manifesto says, and this blog will examine what is on offer from any other group which publishes a manifesto in the run-up to the elections. Let's just hope that they contain some real substance and not the usual empty platitudes about "standing up for the community" which is the normal fare on offer.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A "politically balanced board" is not an option under the Local Government Measure. Gwynedd will be the last council to move to a cabinet system following the May election.

Jack Old Oak said...

The Independents are a "like minded group" and not a political party? Wouldn't "SMALL MINDED" be a better description?