Sunday, 14 February 2010

Stop digging

The first law of holes is that when you're in one, you should stop digging. It's a law which Carmarthenshire county council seems not to fully understand.

I've mentioned before the curious way in which the council takes some of its decisions. The strange case of Christmas car parking raised its head again at last week's council meeting, when one of Plaid's team drew attention to an apparent inaccuracy in the minutes of the previous meeting. At the time, on 9th December, she had asked whether parking would again be free, and was clearly told that it would be. That is not, however, what found its way into the council's minutes, which read:

"In response to a question as to whether free parking would be introduced in the Authority’s car parks over the Christmas period, the Director of Technical Services stated that a recommendation would be made to the Executive Board at its meeting on the 14th December to approve the introduction of free car parking after 10.00 a.m. in all towns in the two weeks leading up to Christmas 2009."

When asked how the decision was therefore implemented on 10th December, and publicised in the council's propaganda sheet on 25th November, the Executive Board member responsible for this area rose to his feet to declare that he had signed off the decision, but thought that he was in order to do so after the Executive Board had agreed the matter on 14th December – completely missing the point of the question.

His answer may also have caused some concern to the council's Monitoring Officer who quickly intervened to confirm that no councillors had taken the decision at all; it was an operational matter delegated to the Director of Technical Services. Fairly clearly, both explanations cannot be correct, but the Monitoring Officer's version is the one which keeps the council legal.

One has to ask why the Director of Technical Services would tell full council that he would take a recommendation on the matter to the Executive Board if, as the Monitoring Office claims, the said Director had already taken the decision himself at least two weeks earlier.

I can only speculate. Unfortunately, the potential for falling foul of the law of libel rather restricts me from doing so.

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