Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Local democracy in action.

Another public meeting tonight about the reorganisation of secondary education in Powys. This time at Llanfair Caereinion, where my own old school is under threat. 150 people turned up, including our MP, who is becoming a regular at my meetings. He's very welcome. Great speeches from the floor. I hope that the Councillors perform as well when it comes to their turn.

But one speaker (a councillor) was seriously agitated that what I've called a 'draft document for consultation' had been 'leaked' - for what she said was 'political purposes'. I didn't know what this meant. I had already explained what happened - but to be fair the agitated individual had turned up late and had not heard what I'd said. I had informed people that a copy of the document had been given to me, not marked in any way as confidential, by someone with no connection whatsoever with the Council. It was several hours until I had known that it had been 'leaked'. Seemed I was being berated for making public something hugely controversial. If I hadn't, someone else would have, and I'd have been crucified by just sitting on the information. Win some, lose some I suppose.

Anyway, lets get to the point of this post. Some councillors do seem to be agitated about the public having a say on an issue of huge public importance - before everything has been 'approved' for the public's eyes, having gone through all the Council's procedures. Discussion must be restricted within boundaries set by the Council itself. Its almost as if the public cannot be trusted with 'undoctored' information. I do not agree with this approach. Tonight, maybe 30 speakers outlined their opinions, in front of Councillors, including the Councillor responsible for education. They were influencing the Council debate that will eventually take place. I thought it was exhilarating. Genuine democracy in action. Young people in the audience, and participating. Did more for the democratic process than anything I've been involved in. I did take a bit of stick. But I can take it. Small price to pay.

9 comments:

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

Here here, Glyn. For too long the Council (and other government authorities) block the truth and treat the public like cattle. Good on you for leading this debate so that the people of Powys can defend what is dear to them!

Jacko said...

I'm really sorry Glyn but this time I think you deserve it. I hope i'm wrong but it really seems to me that this was a desperate attempt to scare people into voting for you.

Once you seen the document you knew the reaction it would cause.

I'm all in favour of grassroots democracy but how on earth can you expect coucillors do their job properly after you've whipped everyone up into such a frenzy?

What exactly is the purpose of your meetings? Do you think that these meetings will inform Coucillors decision? Or was it a way of getting yourself in the County Times?

Last night you were very keen to tell people that it was you that arrange the meeting, this unfortunatley makes me think that your reasoning was the later.

I think its unlikley that schools are going to be closed - the only thing I can see happening is that sixth forms are in someway centralised,probably with Coleg Powys.

I really do hope I'm wrong but what am I meant to think?

lads said...

You're right Glyn - a great meeting at Llanfair last night. If councillors are happy to let the officers run everything, then it's clear that the people aren't!
A curious comment I thought from the Portfolio holder who seemed happy to claim a considerable degree of "ownership" of the report. I thought he was a Deputy Leader of the opposition Shires Independent Group - not part of the ruling Lib Dem Alliance.
It really is high time we had some honesty about political control at PCC. The constitution should be changed pdq and a Cabinet formed with those who exercise power seen to be in control.
The Conservative Group - and other Independents if they wish - can then do a proper job of scrutinising, criticising and sometimes opposing what goes on. It would acually be good for the officers - and very good for democracy!

Anonymous said...

At least the councillors will get the public view very loud n clear. If the Lib Dems n Labour at the Welsh Assembly were serious about properly funding this region we wouldn't be in this mess.

alanindyfed said...

See Here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/8485113.stm

Not so helpful to your cause?

Glyn Davies said...

Roman - I too think its rather good that the public are having a say on this issue at an early stage.

Jacko - Why on earth would it 'scare people' into voting for me. I didn't write the report - and neither did I leak it. I did think the public would react to the document, and I did what I've done several times before - arranged local meetings where anyone interested can come and discuss the issue with me. No-one has ever objected in the past - probabably because very few people came! It seems its ok for me to hold meetings as lond as no-one turns up!! I did want people to know that I had arranged the meeting - to ensure that everyone knew its totally 'informal' status. It was no more than an informal discussion, and I was pleased that our MP and several Councillors came along to hear what people said. And pray tell me on what grounds you think it unlikely that no schools are going to be closed. Its absolutely not what I'm told is the intention of those who are working on the future strategy.

lads - My own opinion (for what its worth) is that several senior members of the Council want the official consultation document to go out with the currently suggested 'modals' in it. We shall see in due course.

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

I would assume Jacko would have all government decisions made behind closed doors, Big brother knows best. Sometimes it is necessary to stir the public in to action and out of their apathy, not that is what I believe Glyn intended however - we must be grateful that he brought it to our attention, otherwise it could have been all sewn up in secret and we could have nothing to prevent it.

chingic said...

Jacko> bit of an extrapolation don't you think?

'Our Glyn' is a really honourable man and would not stoop to the level you claim.

It is 'funny-peculiar' that those folks who see something bad are seeing that something bad because that's how they think.

There is no evidence that Glyn had any intention of doing anything along the lines you suggest.

fighot said...

"... have all government decisions made behind closed doors ..."

Roman> you have, perhaps not realizing it, described Obama's Presidency - he campaigned on open government/meetings.

Obama's health care got so impregnated with behind-doors decision making and special deals cut out for big pharma, the unions etc.

The Unions said it was a wonderful health care package, but they wanted exemptions for their members!

No wonder that most Americans who want health care reform don't want Obama's version of health care reform.