A CABINET member had to apologise after being caught on microphone swearing during a full Powys County Council meeting.
Finance portfolio holder, deputy leader and Consevative group leader Cllr Aled Davies (Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochanant & Llansilin) uttered the words, “oh f*** sake” during a debate which discussed making changes to the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy.
The changes which were discussed on Friday, March 19, would see the authority borrow money over a longer period of time, in the belief that they will pay back less.
The change of policy had been agreed by the Independent/Conservative cabinet earlier this month, but needed to be agreed at full council level.
During the debate, Liberal Democrat and Green group leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt moved an amendment asking for a “full review” of the capital (building) programme during the next year as a proviso for support.
Council chairman, Cllr Gwynfor Thomas (Llansantffraid – Conservative) had refused this, believing this to be a “major” amendment, while only minor ones are allowed to be brought up during a meeting.
Cllr Peter Roberts (Llandrindod South – Liberal Democrat) brought up another amendment, he said: “It’s been stated that we keep the capital programme under review on constant basis.
“But when we have discussions around budget time, we’re talking about three years, what we have today is a proposal that is looking at 50 years.”
Cllr Roberts believed there was a “disconnect” between the two time-scales,
While noting Cllr Davies’ commitment to annually review capital projects, he proposed a minor amendment and “request that those reviews are brought before full council within a year.”
“It’s an amendment that emerged during debate,” said Cllr Roberts.
As he finished speaking, someone muttered “oh f*** sake” and was then identified as Cllr Davies.
Cllr Roberts, said: “Aled I take offence at that, I wish for an apology immediately, it’s inappropriate.”
Cllr Davies, replied: “Apologies Peter.”
Cllr Thomas said: “I’m in charge of the meeting and I would have invited Cllr Aled to make his apology.
“Cllr Aled would you reiterate your apology please.”
Cllr Davies, added: “I sincerely apologise, I’m very sorry for my comments.”
Cllr Roberts accepted the apology.
Going back to the issue under discussion, Cllr Thomas, added that he would “stick to his guns.”
He did not regard the amendment as a minor one which would be allowed a vote.
Cllr Thomas also pointed out the major amendments should be submitted before the meeting.
Earlier, the independent chairman of the Finance Panel, John Brautigam, said: “All debt has to be repaid, you need to remember that.”
He told councillors that he had worked out that under this method: £1 million borrowed now, would mean a repayment over 10 years time at three per cent inflation, would be worth £744,000 in 2021 terms.
And that over 50 years, it dropped to £228,000.
Mr Brautigam pointed out that provision would still need to be made in the budget to allow for the debt repayment, and advised that “thorough appraisal of projects” must be carried out.
Cllr Davies assured councillors that thorough business cases are needed to justify every building project:
Cllr Davies said: “I’ve made a commitment to keep the capital programme under constant review, we need to makes sure it’s affordable.
“On my watch I will not allow anything unaffordable go through and put the council’s finances at risk.”
Questions were also raised whether the changes would help push more money towards front line services?
Cllr David Thomas (Tawe Uchaf- Labour) said: “It’s implied that any savings will be used to support the capital programme.
“Are we going to have more money to spend on services?”
Head of finance, Jane Thomas, said: “No.
“The benefit from this will be ring fenced within the MRP budget.”
The changes were approved with 52 councillors voting for and 14 against.