A link to the document on which the press release was based can be found below.
The seminar held at the Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli on 21st October was not one of the council's greatest PR triumphs, with protests outside, "Independent" councillors trying to get the Plaid Cymru councillors who were there in an observing capacity ejected, and the chief executive asking the branch secretary of Unison, Mark Evans, to leave because his presence might put some councillors off
Despite strenuous attempts by the council to prevent details of the proposals from leaking out to the public, Caebrwyn and Cneifiwr managed to get their hands on a fairly accurate breakdown of the cuts.
The Press Office, confirming its status as the Welsh equivalent of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Information, was adamant on Twitter that journalists had not been told that they could not report details of the proposals in reply to a tweet from Caebrwyn:
"Carms | Sir Gâr
Funny that some of the more reputable members of the press corps seemed to have rather different recollections of what they were told, and funny that neither the BBC nor any of the local press reported on details of proposals which would normally be expected to be front page material.
Be that as it may, the Council has now published a document (here) which gives a breakdown of the proposed cuts which were discussed in the theatre.
The document sets the record straight on a number of points, and so it is only fair to report them:
- The council says that 40 councillors participated, which means that 11 Labour and Independent councillors must have been absent.
- In addition to the proposals aired at the seminar, the council is working on a package of "managerial" cuts worth £16 million over three years (i.e. internal cuts rather than cuts to frontline services).
- The value of the cuts discussed in Llanelli is £14 million over three years.
- Some councillors have submitted their own proposals, and those will be looked at internally and may go forward as part of more detailed proposals.
Anyone who looks at the document will notice that transparency only goes so far. Many of the proposals are given a very broad description, such as "Catering Services" (proposed saving of £1.2 million) with no indication of how the saving would be achieved.
Although a few of the votes were close, what is striking is how many proposals were waved through by a large majority. Proposals to slash spending on school transport encountered very little opposition from the Labour and Independent councillors who took part. And not one single councillor voted against the idea of a £50 "administration fee" for every child in secondary education using school buses.
Cllr Calum Higgins (Lab), who hopes to represent Carmarthen East and Dinefwr after the next general election, reckons that Plaid Cymru councillors were shirking their responsibilities when they decided not to participate in the PR farce at the Ffwrnes.
No doubt voters hit with higher council tax bills, huge new charges for school transport, higher car parking charges and cuts in a huge raft of other council services will show him how grateful they are in 2015.
Readers in Newcastle Emlyn and the surrounding area may be interested to hear that the town's leisure centre is singled out for cuts totalling £35,000, besides which pupils from the adjoining Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn school will no longer be able to use its facilities. Cneifiwr is considering getting up a petition to rename what's left as "Canolfan Calum Higgins" so that Calum's contribution to our welfare is not forgotten.