Thursday, 16 February 2012

Stress management, budgets and balls.

I see the Minutes have just been published for last week's Council meeting where, somehow or other, Meryl Gravell clung on to her Leader's crown. Sadly, there is no record, or even brief summaries of what was said either in support or against Meryl's leadership.  As the vote was recorded you can see who voted which way, something you and indeed the council staff she maligned, may wish to remember in May. Should the staff feel particularly overburdened, either by reduced pay, slashed overtime or by being labelled lazy by the council leader, they will, I am sure, feel so much better knowing the council are embarking on a three (to possibly five) year contract with a private stress management company. According to the tender, others who may use this service include a private school, Cwm Environmental and a pudding company. There we are.

I learn that ticket sales to the annual Chairman's Ball are disappointing. To be held at the taxpayer-draining council office, otherwise known as the Parc Y Scarlets stadium, councillors have been warned that the black tie charity bash may be cancelled due to lack of interest. Poor Cllr Ivor Jackson, could he be the first Council Chair to be too unpopular to have a Ball?

Here's the internal email sent to all Councillors;

"Sent: Wed 15/02/2012 17:04
To: DSU Members English Only
Subject: Charity Ball - 16/03/12

Dear Councillor

The Chairman of Council has been considering the responses received to his invitation to the Charity Ball to be held on Friday, 16th March 2012.
Unfortunately, due to the current lack of support, it is felt that it may be necessary to cancel the event.  A final decision will be made within the next few days.

Principal Democratic Services Officer (Chair's Office)" 

The next gripping highlight on the horizon is the Council's 'Budget special' next Tuesday (21st) where full council will debate the budget. In fact, this week's Carmarthen Journal has a piece with Meryl metaphorically rolling up her sleeves to 'get on with the job'. God help us. You can see which way that one will be going. A rather more 'link-worthy' article in the paper features Carmarthenshire's Women's Aid who will see their £6000 grant from the council 'deleted'.

I shall of course be at the meeting, in the public gallery. I hope as many as possible will join me. (next Tuesday, 10am County Hall, Carmarthen - arrive early due to ridiculous entry ritual, which could possibly include full body scans this time to detect hidden pens, paper, pointy hats, black cats etc).

Let's not forget the planning department who are ploughing on, regardless, with the the 'Carmarthen West Development Brief'. It has re-emerged again, this time at next Monday's Executive Board meeting. It is a long term plan to develop 129 hectares of mainly green fields to the west of Carmarthen (obviously) with hundreds of new houses, and is already attracting opposition. One worrying aspect of this is the total lack of commitment to any affordable homes, there is a fair bit of waffle about 'alternative arrangements' but the onus is definitely on the kind hearts of the developers, whoever they will be, to supply any, rather than on any insistence by the Council. Still, in their noble efforts to prevent any of their selected consultancy firms from feeling the economic pinch the council have now 'commissioned further work on the issue' the cost of which will probably equal that of a modest affordable home...

Oh and before I go, here's a recent post from another Carmarthenshire blog, 'A view from West Wales' regarding the entry procedures to the public gallery; The Kremlin on the Tywi  - the title says it all.

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