The Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee of Carmarthenshire County Council has been looking into the council's spend on "third sector" organisations, or in plainer language charities and various voluntary groups. The figures are stunning, and the conclusions even more worrying.
In 2013/14 the total spent was £19.2 million. This figure fell to £16.85 million the following year, and further reductions have been identified as a result of the investigation. What triggered the review was "anecdotal information" that there was a "lack of co-ordination of spend and strategic focus". In other words, huge amounts of money have been being splashed around by different departments with duplication and nobody in overall charge.
The result was that in 2013/14 over 1,000 organisations and individuals received funding ranging from just £100 to over £1 million. The way the council awards contracts varies across departments, and in some cases contracts have just been rolled over without anything much in the way of scrutiny.
The report, which is unusually frank for Carmarthenshire County Council, also notes that there are discrepancies between what departmental managers say they are spending and what the actual financial data shows, as well as what council managers say they are spending and what the recipients themselves "believe" they are receiving.
There is no doubt that this has been going on for years in a body which likes to claim that it is one of the best run councils in Wales.
Shocking - and yet I am still having to fight for the £1.000 awarded to me by the Ombudsman for the destruction of our amenities, over years, caused by my neighbour, condoned by this council, who have always given him their full support. The true figure this council has cost us and is responsible for, is £150.000 + and Mark James is refusing to pay me one!
If you pay peanuts you get monkeys.Was not this the view of Meryl Gravell,Pam Palmer or another? Well, they got it very wrong didn't they.Someone has to do something and soon.There is enough evidence to clear out the rotten apples before the whole council is reduced to complete shambles.Councillors you have been warned.
One of the best run councils in Wales? One of the best run councils in Wales? One of the best run, ---sorry.
A salutary lesson on why to never say never, as I was about to say I'm never at a loss for words. My gob is well and truly smacked on this occasion. What a dreadful insult to all other councils in Wales to even suggest there is a worst one. Dear Dear, My My, Blimey and Crikey!
I believe the comparison to monkeys is unfair to the council. Monkeys are more stupid. They have not learned to unclench their fists to get their hands back through the bars and yet still retain their spoils.
Let us give credit where credit is due.
While Labour remains in power in WAG nothing will be done about the CCC. It still rankles how lacking in interest and concern my Labour AM showed when told how the CCC was failing POVA and failing to follow complaints policy and investigate. I also tried to draw the attention of the Plaid AM for Mid and West Wales to the matter he was equally dismissive. Whistleblowers are an irritant to WAG, LAs & the Ombudsman. None of these public servants seem truly to have the public interest at heart. There again there is (maybe) one Plaid member trying to get to the bottom of what has happened (I live in hope). Otherwise whistleblowing to protect the interests of service users and the public will be seen to be accomplishing nothing except strife (for the w/b), cover up and no action to investigate disclosures properly or protect the service users or the public interest. If you are a public servant or representative your interests should come second to the public interest. The CCC will continue to act against the public interest all the while they can ignore, silence or/and defame their critics whether whistleblowers, members, bloggers, members of the public (service users) and even the Ombudsman when he can be persuaded to investigate and publish a report, safe in the knowledge that WAG does not want to become involved. Whistleblowing/complaining accomplishes nothing when there is no accountability for not acting on disclosures/complaints or for victimising the whistleblower/complainant. Some of us continue to cast our votes hoping someone who really wants to look after our interests gets to represent us in Parliament, Welsh Assembly or Local Authority and that they keep their promises. Are we just wasting our time?(I hope not) Will the CCC and it's leadership ever be held accountable? (I hope so).
Jennifer Brown (whistleblower)
Its the best run council in...
Mos third sector organisations have sold their soul to the devil......Our council control far too many groups,charities etc very few independant impartial organisations left here.
"It's all about the money money money" Jessie j has a parody purely for CCC
One officer seems to have power to make a decision and consultation is seen as a tick box exercise.....if the LA tick the box with the people they want to tick the box.
What is the point of Government "advising" anyone to do anything? They are there to govern. This means, by its very nature, telling people what you intend to do and (after consultation, discussion and voting) doing it. If it's just options, leave it alone, if it isn't options, GOVERN!
Can you imagine a teacher saying: "This is what you have to do to pass your exams, I can teach you to pass the exam, but don't worry if you don't feel like it ... you just do whatever you like here in school".
But that's the problem - they want to hedge their bets and be all things to all people so they just end up being nothing to anyone.
Notwithstanding the mismanagement associated with voluntary sector contracts, perhaps the council should be transparent about recruitment costs for the position of Director Environment. No appointment made following the first costly recruitment drive. So vast amounts of public money spent again so that the incumbent could leave for Caerphilly after 3 months in post. More public money to be wasted shortly?Someone should be accountable surely?
One only has to refer to the shambles the Welsh controlled health service is in to realise that Wales cannot govern anything small ( Carmarthen ) or large. I well remember the arguments against devolution one being how can someone that only had a budget of 50p be expected to manage millions. Personally I vote for complete INDEPENDENCE for Wales.
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