Tuesday 17 January 2012

Museum pieces - Part I of an occasional series: Cllr Jane Tremlett

With the County Council elections looming in May, the next few months may well be the last time we get to look at some of the inhabitants of County Hall before they are consigned to electoral oblivion.

One of the more vocal occupants of the Independent benches to the right of the council chamber is Cllr Jane Tremlett, a second-hand bookseller by trade who represents Laugharne Township.

Laugharne is a tranquil spot on the coast, whose best-known former resident was the poet Dylan Thomas. Dylan's rackety lifestyle would not have met with approval by Mrs Tremlett, who is however very fond of quoting Shakespeare and Dickens in her little speeches.

Observers of Carmarthenshire's County Council have often noted in the past that appointments to the various lucrative jobs on committees, the Executive Board, etc. show that someone in the council has a perverse sense of humour. How otherwise would you explain the appointment of Ivor Jackson as Chair of the Council, or of gnarled Old Testament Cllr Gwynne Wooldridge as Younger People's Champion and Executive Member for Education and Children's Services?

So it is that Mrs Tremlett presides as chair over the Council's Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee.

Ironically for someone who likes to quote Dickens, Mrs Tremlett would probably regard the Victorian novelist as a dangerous lefty radical for his views on welfare and workhouse management. Little Oliver would not have dared ask for more if she had been running things.

One of Mrs Tremlett's favourite obsessions in council meetings is attacking Cllr Siân Caiach, who suitably sits in an almost identical place on the opposite side of the chamber. Mrs T does not like the radical, troublesome Cllr Caiach one little bit, and her cutglass accent (think Queen Elizabeth II addressing the Commonwealth in about 1953 and you will get an idea of what she sounds like) often rings out across the chamber to berate her fellow committee member for some alleged shortcoming or other.

Normally these days not much happens in Laugharne, but this week the council's planning committee approved controversial plans for a massive expansion of the Seasons Holiday park from 75 chalets to 212, a further 48 serviced apartments and a range of new recreational facilities.

Not surprisingly, the plans worried many local people and the local community council. Even some of the Independent members of the planning committee worried about the scale of the thing, which is almost equivalent to building a small town.

In 2010 the Community Council met to hear a presentation by consultants for the holiday company on the road and traffic implications of the enlarged site, something which has worried local people more than anything else. Mrs T was unable to attend, and the rather patchy minutes of the council show that she often has better things to do with her time.

One of the prerogatives of local members in planning matters is to request that the Planning Committee make a site visit before they reach a decision. This is meant to help them to understand layouts, potential problems, etc. in a way that paper plans do not, although some of the more elderly committee members seem completely bewildered by these little day release trips.

Mrs Tremlett, for reasons best known to herself, did not think this rigmarole was worthwhile, and so no request was made, despite representations by people she represents and the misgivings of some of the Planning Committee members.

No doubt, in common with every other candidate, Mrs Tremlett will claim in her election leaflets that she will "stand up for her local community".

At least the locals will know what to make of that empty slogan.

1 comment:

caebrwyn said...

Another curious decision was the on in December to surface mine 92,000 tons of coal in Llandybie near Ammanford,objections were recieved from 52 nearby residents although the planning officer's report is quick to mention that 23 of these 'gave no reason for the objection' - endless trucks, noise and coal dust notwithstanding. A 312 name petition was also submitted against the proposal but it was also noted that - shock horror - some were from 'outside the area'. The MP also objected. With the objectors duly dismissed the committee, with promises from the developers of 're-instatement' (there has been a poor history of this in the Ammanford area)and yippee a short cycle path, passed the application. As in Laugharne, you would think such an enormous development would warrant a site visit, but no not a whisper, and one of the local Members, Cllr Anthony Jones is even an ex-miner, or something to do with mines - you would think him of all people would understand the effect this will have on the residents of Llandybie. The committee usually enjoy a trip out to view a small extension or a re-instated farm gateway but for some reason a huge opencast mine and a holiday village doesn't warrant it. I imagine they will all go out to the Llanfynydd site of the proposed holiday village for Chinese tourists though, they may get little silk scarves and pretty boxes of tea.