Friday, 10 July 2009

Council avoiding public discussion

"Carmarthenshire County Council is acting in an undemocratic and underhand way over the proposed secondary re-organisations," according to Plaid Cymru. Plaid's leader on the council, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, attempted to raise the issue in last week's meeting of the full council, but was prevented from doing so under the council's standing orders.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hughes Griffiths said, "Just a couple of months ago, we asked the council to carry out a survey of parental preference in the Dinefwr area, but the Labour and Independent Party members voted en bloc against the proposal. Now we find that the relevant Executive Board member has decided to conduct a survey after all. He took the decision himself in a meeting at which he was the only councillor present, and has effectively reversed a decision of the whole council. Not only that, but the decision had been implemented before the rest of the council even knew about it, and the process being followed by the council is badly flawed."

Cllr Hughes Griffiths said that the question being asked of parents was insufficiently clear and did not adequately distinguish between different types of school. "They have referred to a category 2B school as being 'bilingual'," he said. "This is a nonsense; although category 2B schools may 'offer' a range of subjects in Welsh in theory, the practice is very different and there is often very little teaching in Welsh.

“The whole survey has been rushed rather than properly thought through. There has been no attempt to explain to parents in detail the implications of their choices, yet this is probably one of the most important decisions that they could be making about their children’s education.

"One of the worst aspects of all this, however," continued Cllr Hughes Griffiths, "is that we as councillors have had no chance to discuss this. The report of the consultation exercise undertaken by the council was not brought back to the councillors for any discussion - it seems as though the county's education policy is being decided by one man. We need more democratic accountability than we currently seem to have; it is completely unacceptable that we as councillors are unable to challenge this process."


caebrwyn said...

can you tell me which part of the standing orders applied? Why could there be no discussion on this important matter?

Plaid Sir Gâr said...

In a nutshell, councillors can only raise questions and comments on matters which are specifically mentioned in the papers for the meeting. Because this decision was taken by the Executive Board member, and such decisions are not formally reported back to the council, the decisions appeared nowhere in the papers.