Friday 29 November 2013

Back behind closed doors....

Following the recent outburst of transparency by a member of Carmarthenshire County Council's ruling Executive Board when Cllr Jeff Edmunds gave Cllr Siân Caiach the low-down on the increasingly byzantine tactics used to funnel more money into Parc y Scarlets, the Board is returning to form next week with two separate meetings, both of which contain exempt (i.e. secret) items.

The second meeting, on 4th December, is the more interesting, but there is no point in any readers going along because the meeting will be applying a public interest test to determine whether the sole agenda item should be discussed behind closed doors.

One of the certainties of life in Carmarthenshire is that the Board will decide that press and public should be excluded.

The mysterious item is advertised merely as "Review of the Authority's Pay Supplement Policy to Senior Officers". You can read the policy for yourselves here, and it's a pretty anodyne document.

If the Board were doing what it says it is going to do on the agenda, i.e. review the policy, it is hard to see why the item should be exempted from disclosure because tweaking the rules would be unlikely to reveal any sensitive information. However, that has not stopped the council from slapping on exemptions in the past when it feels that it needs to hide its blushes.

Perhaps, and we can only speculate here, there is a clue in paragraph 10.2 of the document, where we are told that senior officer employment contracts deal with matters such as salary, telephone allowances, and oh, pension contributions. Who'd have thought it?

This may be pure coincidence, but we are rapidly approaching the time when the Wales Audit Office has threatened to publish two separate public interest reports dealing with the libel indemnity and.....pension contributions. 

This may take some time, but watch this space.

The first meeting deals with a range of issues, including community asset transfers and a very weighty report on Swansea Bay City Region Economic Development Strategy 2013-2030. Boiled down to manageable proportions, the report concludes that the region is underperforming economically, and that more emphasis needs to be put on creating jobs. Turning to how those goals might be achieved, the sea mist rolls into Baglan Bay.

Here's a flavour of what the report says needs to be done in the form of four "cross cutting themes":

● Thinking and Delivering Together for City Region Success (effective partnership working);
 ● Quality and Intelligence-driven Leadership and Action (long term Vision; strong and capable leadership; decisions based on robust evidence and intelligence);
● Being and Acting Connected (strengthening links within and outside City Region); and
● Understanding Sustainable Growth (embracing long-term solutions to deliver growth for present and future generations).

Bearing in mind that Meryl Gravell and Chief Executive Mark James both played a prominent part in a recent Swansea Bay City Region conference, readers can probably work out for themselves what vision and strong and capable leadership mean.

The council's management summary notes that this "bold and ambitious" plan has no financial implications, but at least it's creating employment for the report writers and conference organisers.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps entirely understandable cynicism on your part Cneifiwr with your focus on the antics of Meryl G and Mark J.
The SBCR and its regional economic regeneration strategy are however the last stand against the terminal decline of this region - from NPT in the east to PCC in the west, through CCS and CCC.
The RERS is a good plan on the whole - but it will flounder on the rocks of ego of politicians across the Bay and in Cardiff, not just in Carms.
On the arrogance of "leaders" from Swansea University and from the new one with a long name that pretends its a university, Trinity St David SMU(?!) and on the lack of talent from senior staff within the four la's. The ones with talent - and if you knew who I was they would know who I mean! - will be driven into the ground by the talentless, self-interested patronage seeking no hopers. Hey, ho.....

Cneifiwr said...

Thanks Anon. I think you have hit the nail on the head - the same old faces with their record of failure and cock-ups. It doesn't exactly fill anyone with confidence who would like to see real economic regeneration in the region.

The region is also absurdly large, presumably to accommodate the massive egos running the show. North Pembrokeshire and great swathes of rural Carmarthenshire need a strategy, but it's hard to see what possible benefit they can derive from Swansea Bay City - in fact these areas are more likely to suffer as a result of being lumped into the region.

I still think that Adam Price's alternative vision for the west has much more to offer.