Monday, June 13, 2011

Carmarthenshire Council movie : shape of things to come

Calling the police because a pain in the arse is filming your council meetings struck me as over the top. It has got a lot of attention, here and here for example. I have to agree that both Carmarthen Council, its leaders and agents and the police have overreacted to a laughable extent.

In defense of a Council, it is where the rubber meets. Westminister can hide from many of the specifics, but closing a day centre for example which was the specific issue being considered is one which the angry mob of local people can identify with and get upset about. Hard decisions need to be made and Councils have to make and implement more than their fair share of them.
The BIG problem here is that the issue of the Day Centre closure was not debated and that is the important issue that has been missed by some of the reports and the blogger who got arrested was trying to bring attention to. This is the biggest undemocratic action of the Council and the most worrying. Would it surprise you if a planning application went in from a developer who has mates "on the Council" for a day centre redevelopment? Probably not, but if a Council can't be clear about its reasons for such a closure and accept reasoned debate, they are not functional.

However, Councilers in Wales in my experience are quite poor at dealing with rational arguments which are not aligned with their own. The do become defensive very quickly and work hard and fast to shut you out. I was a member of a Community Council for a short while and one of the reasons I left was that when members of the public tried to attend, they were shut out. Trefeurig Community Council is just the same today, as I am sure many others are.

Why the Police did not tell the Council to "get a life" is beyond me. I expect they will both look back and regret this, even if just from a publicity point of view. They were wrong to arrest and I am sure they had much better things to be doing. Will be interesting to see the response David Allan Green gets back from Dyfed Powys Police, appears they had a meeting about it!

This will also be the trigger for Council meetings in Wales being opened up. A year from now it will be common place to have video feed of the majority of Council meetings. no, sorry this is Welsh Councils were are talking about, 5 years. Unless WAG with to put the boot in as Mr Pickles has done on the other side of the Dyke.

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