Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Emergency Debate.

Can't understand why some Powys Councillors have been so naggy. When I was a Councillor, nothing I liked more than a bit of tension in the chamber. And there was a bit of real spice in Llandrindod Wells today. I suppose they're not used to the public taking a really close interest in what they're doing - and giving voice before an official invitation to do so. Today's 'Emergency Debate' happened only because 11 County Councillors had written in to demand it. The motion before Councillors proposed the scrapping of the four options for reorganising secondary education which are contained in a 'leaked' report, which had been prepared by an officer working group. The options include proposals to close three high schools in Montgomeryshire and establish a sixth form college. The chamber was full of interested observers, including me.

The session began with what seemed some bizarre legal advice (from he who gives it) about what constitutes an interest. Sounded more like advice to say nothing of any interest to anyone. And then it was Jeremy Patterson, Chief Executive, with what seemed to me a none too subtle pitch to reject the motion. What followed was a very good debate, with good contributions from all sides, except for one rather offensive contribution from a Powys Independent - which prompted a poke in the eye from an outraged Russell George. Fully deserved in my opinion.

Debate was good - but odd. Almost everyone's speech was in full agreement with the arguments put forward by Conservative Councillor, Aled Davies. Almost all of the Conservative Councillors spoke up well. And then Councillor David Jones put froward his amendment which was effectively to go back to square one, establishing a new working group (to include councillors) to come forward with a new report, containing a variety of options. Difference between Aled and David was that the latter did not want to rule out anything until the costs were all known. Aled wanted to rule out closures and the end of sixth forms now. I'd have preferred Aled's motion - but David's amendment was not unreasonable. Must admit that the outcome was along the lines I'd expected.

For the last few days I've been trying to manage expectation amongst the concerned public, leading up to today's debate. For the next few days, it will be managing disappointment. I want to reassure people that today was a good result - as good as could have been expected. None of the Councillors can now be in any doubt about how we, the people of Montgomeryshire feel about suggestions that they should take away our secondary schools, or their sixth forms. We know that most of those who spoke today agree with us. And we are rid of the officer-dominated Steering Group which came up with the 'bonkers' report in the first place. All we have to do is make sure that the fire is kept on smoulder until its time to turn the bellows on again- and consume any proposals to wreck our education system in a mighty conflagration. I was really proud of the Conservative Group. They fight for their people, and they're just not willing to be pushed around by anyone.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I was really proud of the Conservative Group. They fight for their people, and they're just not willing to be pushed around by anyone"

Were you proud of the two Tory members that voted with the ammendment and against the rest of the Conservative Group Glyn?

Interesting one of them was one of the Tory group leaders and in fact he was also the Tory member who seconded the motion put forward by Cllr Aled Davies. Fancy that! A Tory group leader who seconded the motion but ended up voting against it! Perhaps he is in the wrong group?

Gary Price said...

Glyn - Good to see you in the Chamber taking an interest, However I'm a little concerned that the Conservative Councillor and leader of the Conservative Group at PCC stood up and spoke passionately in favour and then seconded the Conservative groups proposal actually voted contrary to the Conservative group and in favour to the amendment put by Cllr David Jones. It makes you final line “They fight for their people, and they're just not willing to be pushed around by anyone.” A little un true, how does that happen?

Glyn Davies said...

anon and Gary - Fair points. But I tend to talk about the 'Montgomeryshire Six' I suppose. They are the Councillors I work closely with. But there's no issue really. The Conservatives were not 'whipped' in any way - contrary to the silly comment made by one Councillor today. They were all free to vote as they thought right. Personally, I like to support those who are in my team whenever possible - but that's me. Seemed to me that the only ones whipped were those who agreed with Aled, but then voted against him!

Anonymous said...

When did you run this past Tsar Cameron?

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - I think David Cameron trusts me to be loyal. Must admit that my tendancy towards quirky humour has caused a a slight rustling in the grass in the past - but until the election I going to be angelic.

Anonymous said...

what did you think of councillor hayes speech yesterday. your expression didnt give much away. I was watching.

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

Who was the PIG councillor who attacked? We want names!

Gary Price said...

Glyn, Just to clarify for those that are reading this and didn’t attend County Hall, I make reference to the Mick Hodges Group Leader of The Conservatives from Llandrindod Wells.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - Thanks for answering Roman's comment. For the record, what Stephen said was completely untrue, and as the outraged Russell George responded, he has no evidence whatsoever for saying it. To make matters worse I'd sent a private letter to Montgomeryshire Councillors telling them telling them what happened. Its also rather cowardly to make comments in a context when others cannot correct.

Another incorrect statement was made by Councillor Ken Harris about 'whipping'. He suggested to all those watching that the Conservatives were taking up a position because they were 'whipped'. Not only was this totally untrue, but ironically it seemed to everyone else that his own group had been 'whipped'.

Gary - Thanks for clarification. This blog likes readers to be accurately informed.

JB said...

Glyn,

New 'review board', same terms of reference? Totally unabashed and intent on the same outcome.

http://www.countytimes.co.uk/news/85073/breaking-news-school-closures-still-possible-following-extraordinary-council-meeting.aspx

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Gary should spend less time having a dig at people and more time actually doing something constructive. At least Mike Hodges is prepared to listen to the people and act accordingly. Mike is being taken serious when he speaks and Gary...well ask around

Anonymous said...

We now have it all at Powys - a weak senior officer management structure of former junior officers that have climbed the greasey pole at Powys and who embarrassed themselves at the meeting, and; local politicians who are quite unable to offer any intellectual debate, but rather squabble and undermine any political leadership. This subject is simply too complex for this County Council but I'm so pleased that you have contributed so well in exposing this naiive officer-led charge to the undermining of our social and cultural structure. This County Council has promoted unsustainable development that has torn the heart out of our communities. Housing that has been built has met the needs of affluent middle class and middle aged incomers rather than local young families, resulting in the demise of our linguistic and social culture. PCC has done nothing to counter population trends to provide family accommodation and we continue to see excess number of deaths in relation to births (and this trend is accelerating). This means that our schools have falling rolls. Our communities are full of characterless suburban developments and our previously strong rural communities with particular ways of life are now souless. The County Council has disbanded its economic development department and the demise of the WDA/DBRW has meant that we no longer have real local accountability but instead live off the scraps that the Cardiff/South Wales-centric Welsh Assembly periodically feeds us with. Jobs and homes are vital to our schools. I'm not straying off the point here Glyn but there is a much wider debate required as our High Schools are the last bastions of our communities. But thir future depends on far more than just more funding, although speak to any Head in Powys and she or he will tell you that they only receive 60-65% of the Central Government (Assembly) funding allocation - the rest is syphoned off for Powys County Council administration. Powys just can't be trusted to take a strategic view - their senior officers are largely in-bred with little or no outside experience, whilst their councillors are all former Community Council members who are not real politicians and are pawns to their officer-led strategies. We now have a Director of Education that previously was Head of Sports and Leisure at Powys!! This is symptomatic of the County Council and it is high time that the Welsh Assembly took notice of what is happening in Powys. But then again, we are the forgotten area of Wales.

Glyn Davies said...

JB - The terms of reference is to be decided on by the Mar 19th meeting following a recommendation from the Mar 2nd meeting (I think).

Anon 1 Gary can answer for himself.

Anon 2 - A really strong comment. Too strong for me to completely agree with. But I do agree with a lot of it. The affordable housing policies are almost design to be ineffective and damaging. The secondary schools proposals that we've seen so far seem designed to inflict maximum damage on our social and cultural infrastructure. I wrote a post a few days ago (which was completely ignored) that questioned whether Powys was a sustainable administrative area. A decision has already been taken that certain aspects of healthcare cannot be delivered on a Powys basis. The administrative structure currently in place is just too top-heavy for an area of such limited population. How different it all is from the 1980's when there was a real economic buzz about Montgomeryshire.

Anonymous said...

I have had great pleasure in reading this blog over the last couple of weeks and I feel that all members of the conservative group in Powys did us proud. It shows we have a group that is open to the debate and is willing to listen to all not just the party whip. I work around the county and from what I herd Councillor Gary Price was whipped as he was one of the first names on the paper to call the meeting but had to pull his name. As for his comments about Councillor Mike Hodges he seems to be a man that listens and uses his head is that not what you want as a leader. Glyn you should be proud of all your conservative colleges in Powys as you have a group of people elected that listen to the residents that appointed them. I have never voted for the Conservatives before but I will now. You may have not won that vote but they know you are there delivering the free voice of the people. I am sure your group will be fighting them all the way through the process to keep our schools open. Keep up the work