One day a couple of years ago Cneifiwr was chewing the cud with a neighbouring farmer. As we compared silage wrap, a mini coach full of bewildered elderly men pulled up into Emyr's yard. Now, Emyr's place is miles from anywhere and about 1,000 feet up, so it can feel bleak and windswept even on a good day.
Slowly the old boys clambered out of the coach.
Emyr speculated that perhaps this was a new council initiative to deal with the growing cost of social care for the elderly. Perhaps they were about to be released into the wild as part of a "survival" course, just as people sometimes dump urban foxes in these parts.
It turned out however that this was the Planning Committee of Carmarthenshire County Council on a site visit, and that they were looking at a plot across the lane on someone else's land.
The mini-coach is used to ferry around groups of councillors on outings such as this.
Backbench councillors have to make do with their own vehicles, and some of these are petty impressive beasts. Until recently it was possible to view summaries of the councillors' expense claims online, and it was clear that some of the older "Independents" have been clocking up astonishing mileages. In the interests of transparency, this information has now been removed. [Update: it has made a sudden reappearance in an abbreviated form].
For smaller groups, the Council maintains a shiny black Ford Galaxy people carrier. Cneifiwr can confirm from personal experience that people carriers are not babe magnets, and that is perhaps why the Council likes to hide it away from the front of County Hall in Carmarthen, where the parking spaces are reserved for Mercs, BMWs, Range Rovers and the like.
In addition to the official people carrier, the Council has a black Mercedes saloon for the use of the Chair and the Leader of the Council. If there is a clash of appointments, protocol dictates that the Council Chair gets the chauffeur-driven Merc, and the leader has to slum it in the people carrier (along with another chauffeur, of course).
It now appears that there have been several diary clashes since Labour's Kevin Madge took over as Supreme Leader, and he has been left standing in the dust as Chair Siân Thomas, wearing her best frock and chain of office, waves sweetly from the leather-clad interior and heads off for her next appointment. Kev has been reduced to using the Ford Galaxy once again.
Observant readers will have noticed how big, black Mercs are the vehicle of choice for lots of world leaders, including Robert Mugabe, Bashar al-Assad and the ruling Communist dynasty in North Korea. The peasants may be starving, but it is important that the leader is ferried around in a vehicle commensurate with his status.
Not only is the Ford people carrier not a babe magnet, but Kev feels that it does not adequately reflect his status as Council Leader and so has ordered a new Leader's Mercedes limo. He is currently away in the sun, but he will be pleased to hear that the new car will be waiting for him when he returns to County Hall.
|If it's good enough for the leader of Carmarthenshire Council, it's good enough for me.|