Friday, 3 July 2009

Welcome for Assembly recommendation

The report of the National Assembly's Health, Wellbeing, and Local Government Committee on scrutiny arrangements at Local Government level has been welcomed by Plaid Cymru councillors in Carmarthenshire. The Plaid group submitted evidence to the committee as part of its review, and members of the committee visited Carmarthenshire to see how well the process was working as part of their investigation.

In their evidence to the Committee, Plaid called for cross-party balance in the appointment of scrutiny committee chairs, a call which has become a clear recommendation of the Assembly Committee. Responding to the report, Plaid's Group Leader, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, said, "We have always felt that it is wrong that the appointments to the roles of scrutiny chairs should be made by the council's leader, since he or she is effectively appointing the people who are supposed to scrutinise the work of himself or herself and the other cabinet members. That does not give the scrutiny process a sufficient degree of independence in our view.

“We had asked the Committee to ensure that the appointment of such chairs was entirely independent of the council leader, so that they could properly hold the Executive Board to account. They have not gone that far, but a new law to enforce party political balance would be a major step forward, and one which we would very much welcome. It is a great pity that the only way to ensure party balance is by passing a new law, and it underlines the highly politicised nature of Carmarthen's so-called 'Independents' that they will only act fairly when the law obliges them to do so."

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