What they are hearing is tale of two very different local authorities. One is open, transparent, the winner of multiple awards and has a glorious track record of innovative regeneration projects. The problems which have beset the council over the last few years are a storm in a tea cup whipped up by nit pickers and malcontents; it is now time to move on.
The other is a secretive and undemocratic place, run by a tiny and self-perpetuating cabal which tramples over the rules, hates all forms of criticism and bulldozes its way through no matter what. It has developed a culture which is the enemy of good governance.
Culture is a word that the panel members have heard a lot in the last few weeks, and if their final report reflects what they have been told, it will make for very uncomfortable reading in County Hall.
A copy of an e-mail has come in which was certainly not meant for your eyes or mine, and which was not forwarded by any of those it was addressed to. Publication is however very much in the public interest because of what it says about the way in which Carmarthenshire County Council is run, and it was written by someone the Chief Executive cannot dismiss as a scurrilous representative of a tiny minority of malcontents determined to run the council down or, Cneifiwr's all-time favourite, someone "who has a problem with local government".
The someone in question is Sir David Lewis, a co-opted voting member of the Council's Audit Committee, former Chairman and Senior Partner of a global law firm, former President of the City of London Law Society, alderman and councillor of the City of London and Lord Mayor of London 2007-8. As UK financial services ambassador with full cabinet rank he advised and reported to the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary.
Sir David felt that he had a public duty to make his findings and experiences known to the WLGA Review Panel, and so he went along to the Chief Executive's secretary to ask for an appointment to be made with the panel. Whether the message was not relayed or the WLGA panel felt they had no need to speak to Sir David, he was somewhat surprised not to be taken up on his offer.
And so, just like members of the public, Caebrwyn and Cneifiwr, he put pen to paper, emphasising for good measure that he is not and never has been a member of a political party.
The letter runs to about two pages and is explosive.
There has been a breakdown in trust between the electorate and the Council, he says. "The governance of the Council is in disarray and not fit for purpose".
The values of any well governed Council include openness and transparency, honesty and integrity, tolerance and respect, and equality and fairness. "In recent years these values have evidently not been applied or followed".
Sir David believes that this is not the fault of the general body of councillors but that responsibility lies in the hands of the Executive Board and the Chief Executive. "There needs to be a change in culture".
It is not that the rules and procedures are inadequate, more a case that they are not applied in practice because of "the internal culture in County Hall".
Basic rules and values concerning conflicts of interest which should be obvious to all have not been applied by some members of the Executive Board and senior management. "They are not mere technicalities as some have suggested" (see Minor Matters).
Sir David does not name names, but for anyone who has followed this blog or Caebrwyn's you won't find it hard to put two and two together.
Recent events should not happen in a well-managed Council, he says, before adding that they "will not happen if there is a proper professional relationship between the Chief Executive, the Executive Board and the Council generally and if the Scrutiny Committees are given the full facts."
No amount of changing rules and constitutions will alter matters without a change in culture.
Sir David is scathing about the Council's notoriously short and uncommunicative minutes of meetings. Worse, "there is a culture of hiding difficult or troublesome items".
"It is unclear to me whether or not the committee clerks are instructed to adopt this unhelpful approach and if so by whom."
He is full of praise for the way in which financial statements are prepared, but speaking as a very senior and experienced lawyer he concludes that the quality of internal legal advice he has seen, and the advice given on the WAO reports in particular, was "cavalier at best and incompetent at worst". A much more senior person needs to be appointed urgently.
Ouch. She was only acting on orders, M'lud.
Sir David goes on to suggest that councillors should be given an opportunity to meet and question the Executive Board and Chief Executive at regular intervals, with full and complete answers given.
Hell will probably freeze over before that happens, and as most of the members of the Executive Board are spectacularly clueless, any such event with current personnel would rapidly turn into a one-man show featuring the Chief Executive giving answers which may be rather less than full and complete.
Sir David ends rather understatedly by saying that if the Executive Board and Chief Executive really want to make the Council "the most open and transparent council in Wales", there is a very major task ahead of them.
The culture which Sir David refers to has been nurtured and developed over a long period by a small number of key players at the top of the pecking order. He does not say it because it hardly needs to be said, but changing the culture of the council without changing the senior personnel is doomed to failure.
Let's hope someone is on hand to administer a stiff brandy and smelling salts in the Executive Suite as they digest this message. The press office may also need medical attention.