A senior councillor with over 40 years experience in public service has criticised the administration at Carmarthenshire County Council for keeping the shutters closed on scrutiny and promulgating a breakdown of democracy.
Kevin Madge who represents the Garnant ward has been mayor of Cwmaman 5 times and served as Leader and Deputy Leader of the County Council contacted Llanelli Online today, Monday (Oct 5) to express his concerns.
Cllr Madge started off by saying that he had serious concerns over the lack of scrutiny, transparency and accountability of the Plaid Cymru led administration, which, he says, is at present being run by 10 members of ‘Gold Command’ made up of members of the Executive Board.
Cllr Madge said: “There are 74 councillors. The majority of those are at home. People are still paying full council tax for reduced services. We have not had a scrutiny meeting since March 2020. The next is not scheduled until November. There is a breakdown of democracy in Carmarthenshire and I am sure it is happening elsewhere within other local authorities.
“Is this administration too afraid to be scrutinised? Of course we know there is an overspend and my estimates are that the council is £8 million in the red. We know Welsh Government will meet a lot of the spending but we still need to scrutinise the spending.
“I know how the council’s system works. I have been there running it. The democratic process has broken down and councillors are not getting answers to any questions. It is detrimental to the people of Carmarthenshire having reduced services while still paying full council tax. All councillors are still getting paid but the council will be saving on expenses.
“We are told we can do online meetings., we have the tools for this. We can’t go on with an indefinite lockdown on services. We need to consider all areas because we do not know how it will pan out over the winter. We need mental health services, dementia services and day care services. The suicide rate has gone up by 22% on this time last year.
“I am not getting any straight answers to my questions. We have the ability and facilities to hold meetings online but they are not happening. I get paid £14,000 per year and I am at home unable to hold them to account. Public services are on their behind. “
Speaking about the role of the Hywel Dda University Health Board Cllr Madge said:
“Hywel Dda need to publish details of their waiting lists since March of this year. There are no details on their website. West Wales has not been run off its feet, we have had a low infection rate and a low death rate. There are people waiting for cancer treatment, breast cancer screening and other services. Hywel Dda has not been in crisis and yet doctor’s surgeries are in chaos. We cannot abandon services indefinitely. More people will die from cancer and suffer from loneliness. The Health Minister has been honest saying that it will take several years to clear the backlog but we are not being told that at a local level and we need to act now. “
We contacted Carmarthenshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board for a comment.
Carmarthenshire County Council leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “As part of our COVID-19 recovery plan, the majority of council and committee meetings have resumed in a phased approach. Scrutiny committee meetings will be the next to resume, and are due to recommence in the next couple of weeks. I would encourage any councillor who has any concerns or suggestions to contact myself or the democratic services units to have a meaningful discussion instead of going through the media.”