July 24, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

A MOTION to discuss setting up a research organisation to promote Mid Wales wool will be discussed by Powys County Councillors at some point in the future.

At a meeting of the Standards committee on Wednesday, June 23, members looked at an application for a special dispensation by Cllr Elwyn Vaughan to allow his motion to be discussed.

At a meeting in November 2020 Cllr Vaughan was due to ask for the Mid Wales Growth Deal to: “Look at opportunities to add value to our agricultural products and specifically to work with the farming unions and the British Wool Marketing Board with a view of facilitating the establishment of the equivalent of WRONZ, Wool Research Organisation New Zealand in Mid Wales.”

The item was withdrawn after Cllr Vaughan received advice that he needed a dispensation to allow it to be discussed.

Without it, many councillors who are farmers or have strong ties to farming would need to declare an interest and absent themselves from the discussion.

Cllr Vaughan told the committee that as his own brother farms, he may have had to declare and interest in his own motion.

Cllr Vaughan said: “The danger is that we could end up with a farcical situation where only a handful of people could take part in a motion and discuss it.

“In terms of this motion wool is an international commodity and anything we would do to add value locally would hardly effect the situation.”

“The litmus test should be is there a direct financial gain or benefit to the members in light of the motion.”

His request was used as an opportunity by the committee to discuss the principle of whether bringing in a wider blanket dispensation on farming issues would be helpful.

Scrutiny manager and head of democratic services, Wyn Richards, said: “It’s about how we keep people inside the tent so those who have knowledge and experience can contribute to the debate to inform decision making.”

“What is a step too far?”

Independent member, Jacqui Evans said: “I’m not entirely clear what we’re being asked to do?

“Should we stick to wool and address other motions when they are brought up?”

Independent member Christine Mulholland said: “I don’t personally feel comfortable expanding this to include other items that may or may not impact on farming.

“We do have a process for getting dispensations and we ought to stick to that, rather than us setting down a blanket dispensation that covers all sorts of things.”

Cllr Kathryn Silk said: “I am bothered that extending it more broadly does lead us potentially to be seen as feathering our own nests.

“Considering each and every motion individually on its own merits shows us in a better light, it’s more open and transparent to the public.”

She pointed out that with the advent of online meetings, organising committee meetings to discuss dispensations can be done “relatively easily”.

The committee agreed Cllr Vaughan’s request and will look at the precise wording of the dispensation before finalising it.

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