CARMARTHEN COUNTY COUNCIL will hold an extraordinary meeting in June to discuss potential changes to the constitution.
The meeting will be held on June 17 to consider the recommendations of the Cross Party Constitutional Review Working Group established to consider the recommendations contained in the Carmarthenshire Peer Review Report.
The council asked the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) to carry out a peer review of its governance arrangements in 2014 and the group duly reported back and councillors discussed the recommendations in November.
Rather than accept the recommendations, the council decided to review the review and pick out the bits which, in Kevin Madge’s words, would ‘fit in’ with the way things are done in Carmarthenshire.
The second review group, however, has only met behind closed doors and deliberations have only been made available by freedom of information requests.
That is despite the call to make Carmarthenshire one of the most open and transparent councils in Wales.
It was hoped that the review could be completed quickly and that the recommendations could be adopted at the beginning of the year.
However, the only change which has been brought in is the removal of councillors’ right to question matters arising from the minutes of the various scrutiny and other committees. The Herald is unsure whether the council believes that move meets the calls for greater openness and transparency.
WLGA had called for changes to the constitution but it has also called for a change of cultur e.
That culture was highlighted in 2012 when Trisha Breckman and Eddie Roberts filmed a number of disputes with neighbours about planning violations concerning a haulage business.
On that occasion, Peter Tyndall, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said that Trisha Breckman and Eddie Roberts had suffered an injustice and that Carmarthenshire council was guilty of maladministration.
The ombudsman also made recommendations to the council to improve its planning enforcement system and to make a ‘fulsome’ apology to Mrs Breckman and Mr Roberts.
Further guidance subsequently had to be provided to the Council about how to write an apology.
A preliminary agenda has been issued for a meeting of the council on Wednesday June 17, where the whole council will have the chance to: “Consider the recommendations of the Cross Party Constitutional Review Working Group established to consider the recommendations contained in the Carmarthenshire Peer Review Report.”
As the Working Group has been working under the aegis of a Chief Executive who is largely responsible for determining the culture at County Hall, it remains to be seen whether substantive progress has been made against the WLGA recommendations, or whether the majority will continue to endorse a failing sta tus quo.