In theory at least, Carmarthenshire County Council is run by the councillors who sit on the Executive Board. But I sometimes wonder.
Take the latest meeting of the full council as an example. One of the most significant items on the agenda was a report on the follow-up inspection of the county’s Social Services. The report was a good one, showing a lot of progress has been made since the last inspection, although in the area of Adult Services in particular, the council was starting from quite a low base, having had a less than glowing report in the past.
The report was introduced by Executive Board member, Labour Cllr Kevin Madge. After a few generalities about how wonderful the council was and how much good work had been done, he sat down, and members were given the opportunity to raise questions.
Four Plaid councillors raised a series of questions on different aspects of the report. One would have expected the Executive Board member to have responded to those questions – after all, he is the person who is responsible and accountable for the what the council does; to say nothing of receiving a special responsibility allowance for doing so. Not a hope.
Each and every question was answered by someone else, mostly by the Director, with the assistance of the Chief Executive and the Council’s Leader, although her main contribution was no more than a bit of political point scoring, trying to shift the blame on to the Labour Minister in the Assembly Government. Only at the very end, when it was time to close the debate, did the councillor actually say anything further – and then, it was another attempt to blame the Plaid Cymru opposition councillors for a decision of a Labour Assembly Minister.
It seems that Cllr Madge is responsible in name, but is either unwilling or unable to respond to any detailed questions on the services for which he is responsible. Or perhaps the Leader is just afraid that he might give the ‘wrong’ answer?
Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Group Leader