Sunday 28 July 2013

What you won't be reading on the beach this summer

In the small but incest-free world of Welsh blogs Oggy Bloggy Ogwr is the place to go if you want to read about the legislative output of the Senedd. Fortunately he writes about other things as well because, let's face it, there really is more excitement in watching paint dry than the turgid and distinctly unambitious stuff churned out in Cardiff Bay.

In fact one of the specialities of the Welsh Government and its civil servants is measures, laws, technical advice notes and all the rest of it which sound vaguely interesting, but which turn out to be utterly pointless and of no use whatsoever. However they do enable Carwyn & Co to put a tick in the box, claim that they have acted on sustainability/the Welsh language/climate change/local democracy/child poverty, etc., etc. before moving on to the next topic, safe in the knowledge that nobody much will bother to look at what they have actually done.

Take the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011, enacted by the Senedd. Section 5 of this piece of legislation deals with the production of annual reports by councillors. What it says in plain language is that councils must make provision to allow councillors to produce annual reports detailing their activities during the previous year, and that councils will publish reports produced by councillors or members of the council executive.

The full, and rather dry text of this part of the Measure can be read at the end of this post, but the one thing it does not say is that councillors or members of the council executive must produce an annual report. This rather glaring loophole was picked up earlier this year by Vale of Glamorgan County Council (report here).

Councils are also supposed to publish details for the arrangements for publication of annual reports.

The subject of councillor annual reports came up in a council committee in Carmarthen in March of this year (agenda here). The report contains the following underlined warning:

The Assembly Government expects that the first annual reports will be published no later than the end of June 2013.

The report also warns councillors that they may only mention activities undertaken in their role as councillor. This will come as a disappointment to all those who were looking forward to hearing accounts of Ivor Jackson's cruises or Meryl Gravell's holidays, and it may leave some councillors with precious little to say.

Here we are at the end of July 2013 and not a single report has been published; the council has not published its arrangements for publishing reports either, but since there is no requirement for councillors to publish a report, there seems little point in the council telling us about its arrangements for non-publication of non-existent reports.

Actually there is one exception to this lack of activity. If you bury deep enough, you will find three previous "annual reports" on the profile for Kevin Madge, the most recent document being for 2010/11.

Kev's annual reports (here's one) contain large splashes of red (presumably a reference to his professed socialism), and quite an amount of yellow (you can make your own minds up about what that alludes to...taking the **** perhaps?). Otherwise they are the sort of electoral junk mail that normally gets stuffed through your letter box a few weeks before polling day.


And now for the bit you have all been waiting for: Section (5) of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011:

 5. Annual reports by members of a local authority
(1) A local authority must make arrangements for—
(a) each person who is a member of the authority to make an annual report about the person's activities as a member of the authority during the year to which the report relates,
(b) each person who is a member of the authority's executive to make an annual report about the person's activities as a member of the executive during the year to which the report relates, and
(c) the authority to publish all annual reports produced by its members and by the members of its executive.
(2) The arrangements may include conditions as to the content of a report that must be satisfied by the person making it.
(3) A local authority must publicise its arrangements.
(4) In exercising its functions under this section a local authority must have regard to guidance given by the Welsh Ministers.

1 comment:

Owen said...

Remember, us poor, misguided sods who write about legislation need to read it all too! (Or attempt to).

It looks as though Bridgend councillors haven't put their annual reports for this year up either. Though most/all have their annual reports for 2011-12 available.