Friday 5 December 2014

Tribal gatherings

The red carpet was rolled out again in Llanelli this week for a flying visit from First Minister Carwyn Jones to inspect a planned new community centre called 'Y Lle'. The council helped the group behind the initiative to prepare a bid for £70,000 of funding from a capital grant fund of £1.25 million set up by the Welsh Government in September to develop new Welsh language centres across the country.

Not mentioned in the municipal PR sent out ahead of the visit was that the £1.25 million was money taken from the Welsh for Adults programme, which saw its budget slashed by 15% earlier in the year.

Officially then, this smoke and mirrors exercise was the Welsh Government stepping up to the plate to support the language, although the council's briefing paper to invited dignitaries hints that 'Y Lle' will be a general community centre serving a part of Llanelli which does not currently have one, and the £70,000 award is a mere drop in the ocean compared with the near £1.5 million the county council threw at Towy Community Church in Carmarthen.

The list of those invited to the event by the council was a select one, including the Council Chair, Elmer Daff Davies (Ind), Kevin Madge (Lab), Cllr Hugh Richards (Ind - yes, him again), Cllr Mair Stephens (Ind) and Cllr Mery Gravell (Ind). The only other councillor invited was John Jenkins, the maverick former Tory who represents the ward. No other Llanelli county councillors were asked to the party.

Accompanying the councillors was a gaggle of press office staff and various officers, including Mark James, whose commitment to the Welsh language is legendary.

Meryl Gravell did not turn up to greet the distinguished visitor from Cardiff, but the council's Press Office went to town with a whole gallery of snaps to record the historic occasion, including one of Kevin Madge greeting the Boss as he steps out of his limo:

 If Cllr John Jenkins did show up to the event, he has been airbrushed from history.

One of the main thrusts of the recently approved WLGA Peer Review of governance was that the council should become less tribal in its approach, talk to the opposition and use its PR machine in a less partisan way.

The leopard has clearly not changed its spots yet.


Redhead said...

Who pays for the limo and is the family on the insurance as in Parry-Jones Porsche?

Blodwen said...

According to Pembs Cllr Jacob Williams's blog, the Porsche and its insurance (including family cover) were all paid for by Pembrokeshire council taxpayers.