A PRESS release issued by Welsh Conservatives reports on the number of Council meetings from which members of the public were excluded across Wales.
The Conservative release suggests that there is “a culture of secrecy” in some local authorities. While an examination of the press release reveals a worrying trend across Wales for local authorities to go into secret session, Pembrokeshire County Council reported that it had not gone into secret session on any occasion or on any agenda item of business during the Council year 2013-14.
The report ignores the number of times the Council has gone into private session during the current year, 2014- 15, including the occasion when the cameras were turned off while the allegedly “independent” group used its bloc vote to ram through former Chief Executive Bryn Parry-Jones bonanza pay off from the authority. On other occasions, both Jamie Adams’ “independent” group and council officers have used a very restrictive – and incorrect – interpretation of the sub judice rule to thwart proper scrutiny.
Those instances, where pretended privilege is claimed, are not covered by the press release. A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “Local authorities and their cabinets are required to meet in public unless they are considering matters which are exempt from this requirement. These matters are closely defined by legislation and any Council going into closed session in any other circumstances is in breach of the law.”