Sunday 8 February 2015

Premature constitutional ejaculation

Thanks to the eagle-eyed reader who spotted a clause in Carmarthenshire County Council's constitution which deals with the hallowed practice of receiving reports at meetings of the full council. It reads as follows:

4.2 Functions of the full Council
(r) to receive reports from Committees on matters which have been
delegated to them and providing an opportunity for Members to ask
questions thereon;
(s) to receive and confirm or otherwise the recommendations of
Committees on non-executive functions not within their delegation or
which a Committee has referred to the Council for decision, to enable
Members to ask questions, propose amendments, or to pass such
resolution or resolutions thereon as may be deemed appropriate;

That seems clear enough, doesn't it?

One of the regular highlights of meetings of full council over the last couple of years has been watching the chief executive throw his toys out of the pram every time the subject of receiving reports comes up.

They can't be amended, they can't be changed, and they cannot be debated, he regularly snarls, presumably quoting from a different constitution to the one everyone else has seen.

Council watchers will recall that Mr James last year dug his heels in, refusing to accept that councillors who table questions have the right to ask supplementaries.

As a compromise, supplementaries are now allowed at meetings provided councillors have gone through the ritual of suspending the relevant standing orders (which don't say that supplementary questions are banned, by the way).

This game will have to continue until such time as the council is invited to amend its constitution, probably later this year.

It seems that Mr James has decided he cannot wait that long to force through one of his pet projects to shut down discussion and questions relating to committee reports. Incredibly this latest fatwa includes reports from scrutiny committees.

Leighton will not be impressed when he hears about this.


Anonymous said...

Re. eagle-eyed reader - Thank you Cneifiwr, as I have commented before on your blog, members (especially those in opposition) should know the constitution inside out and use it to their advantage. It took me no more than two minutes to find clause 4.2.

Another one which I think should be used more often in order that members can be named, shamed or praised is:-
If 10 members present at the meeting demand it, the names for and against the motion or amendment or abstaining from voting will be taken down in writing and entered into the minutes (but only in relation to meetings of Council).

Anonymous said...

Does james unilaterally write, produce, control and disseminate the councils constitution?

I thought we lived in a democracy, not a dictatorship?

If true and he is acting above and beyond his authority then let hm continue as this can only benefit everyone when he is found out and dismissed office with no pay-off and no pension.

Yes please...

Cneifiwr said...

You are absolutely correct Anon@16.07. There are some recorded votes in meetings of the full council, but the right to demand recorded votes in committees was abolished among other "reforms" 3 or 4 years ago.

This means. for example, that even with filming of planning meetings now, it is impossible to be certain who voted for what in controversial planning decisions.

The only beneficiaries are councillors who want to hide their actions from voters.

Anonymous said...

Cneifiwr @ 16.44
Cneifiwr @ 16.44

Hope I’m right in saying that if a committee member feels strongly enough about an issue he/she can have their vote recorded as it does not stipulate “but only in relation to meetings of Council” as in 16.4 .
Where any member requests it immediately after the vote is taken, their vote will be so recorded in the minutes to show whether they voted for or against the motion or abstained from voting.

Anonymous said...

I expect it is the approved minutes and nothing to do with reports. Sir, on this occasion you are mistaken.
Matters arising vanished decades ago from any sensible agenda otherwise the Councillors would not have time to ..................