Saturday 10 August 2013

A Tale of Two Councillors

As we know, councillors in Wales are now being encouraged to write an annual report to tell us all what they have been up to. They don't actually have to write a report, but councils have to publish them if they do.

The response in Carmarthenshire has been muted, to put it mildly, but thanks to insomnnia Cneifiwr noticed that the first two (and so far the only two) out of the traps are those veteran Independents, Pam Palmer and Meryl Gravell.

The reports are interesting, at least to sad council watchers, because this is one of the very few occasions when you will get to see them setting out their stalls and showing voters how they see themselves and how they want us to see them.

As is often the case with the council website, the links to their reports do not work, at least on the English pages, but you do get a result if you search in Welsh.

To get to the reports is not exactly easy, but if you want to try, go to the Welsh section of the website, select "Eich Cynghorydd Sir" on the left of the page. On the next page, select "Eich Cynghorydd Sir" (yes again), and pick a name from the first drop-down menu. Choose Pam Palmer, and "Ewch". No, stop tittering at the back. It means "Go".

Up comes a page with Pam's picture on it. Next click on the picture. This brings up a profile, and in the middle of the profile you will find a link to an annual report for 2012/13.

See. It's as easy as that!

Pam's report has been professionally translated, presumably by scribes in County Hall.

She kicks off by explaining at great length why she does not hold surgeries, but is available to anyone who wants her at any time of the day or night (!) before going on to say that she has tried hard to make people aware of the Local Development Plan, and stomped around Abergwili distributing copies of the proposals for new housing developments to people living close to the sites. That really deserves praise.

Much of the rest concerns things like dog muck, buses, speeding drivers, and rubbish. Pam says she has secured regular rubbish collections for Abergwili, and she suggests that she has secured additional funding for the schools in her ward.

Perhaps that's one of the perks of having a councillor on the Executive Board. Lucky old Abergwili.

You will find nothing in the report about Pam's activities as leader of the Independent Party, or what she gets up to as a member of the Executive Board, and there is no mention of the County Museum which she told us she was trying to save before the last council elections.

Her attendance record for council meetings is an impressive 91%.

The picture painted by Pam is of a humble parish councillor who has the police on speed-dial and who frets about dog muck and boy racers. Her role as a political fixer and her membership of the small group which runs the county council do not get a look in.

Meryl's report is very different. If Pam is an old maid bicycling to holy communion through the morning mist, Meryl is a jet-set political colossus. Carmarthenshire's answer to Christine Lagarde, the boss of the IMF; Henry Kissinger in a frock.

Apparently there is no dog muck in Trimsaran. In fact the vast bulk of this fairly lengthy report is not about Trimsaran at all, although it has got some new rubbish bins, but exciting regeneration projects and huge grants dispensed by Meryl across the length and breadth of Carmarthenshire.

She begins by noting that the Ffos Las race course has been very successful, and that she supported Robbie Savage's application to build a hotel there.

While Trimsaran merits a few mentions on one page, five pages are devoted to regeneration schemes and other projects from Laugharne to Llandovery.

Huge sums of money are involved. It's £352 million here and £5,627,30.45p there.

Unlike Pam's elegant Welsh, Meryl's prose is rather odd at times, and occasionally it has a whiff of Google Translate about it, so perhaps this is her own work.

Unison and others will be interested to read what Meryl has to say about the Pembrey Country Park and the Millennium Coastal Park at the end of the report:

"Rydym yn chwilio am bartneriaid i helpu i gyflawni gwelliannau seilwaith; digwyddiadau a gweithgareddau; a datrysiadau llety yn y parciau. Derbyniwyd bron 30 mynegiant o ddiddordeb, a gwahoddir partïon sydd â diddordeb i ymweld â'r parciau a thrafod eu syniadau yn ystod mis Mehefin, gyda'r bwriad o geisio cynigion tendro ffurfiol wedi hynny".

[We are looking for partners to help execute infrastructure improvements; events and activities; and accommodation solutions in the parks. Almost 30 expressions of interest have been received, and interested parties are invited to visit the parks and discuss their ideas during June, with the intention of making formal tender offers afterwards.]

The Millennium Coastal Park will next year host the National Eisteddfod, so let's hope for all concerned that the Towy Community Church on Ice Experience and Ronald MacDonald BigMac Health Spa and Fun Splash don't open their gates until the druids have departed.

Oh, and Meryl was absent from nearly a quarter of council meetings.


Jennytc said...

2 years ago, when our top road was being resurfaced, our local councillor took the trouble to go door to door around the immediate area to canvas opinion with regard to the surfeit of speed bumps. The overwhelming consensus was that their number should be reduced considerably and, amazingly, that's what happened. I was impressed a) that he took the trouble to do that and b) that the council listened. Real democracy - which seems to be very rare these days.

Anonymous said...

Democracy, rare Jennyta! It is flipping extinct in Carmarthenshire!!