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Council’s third sector contributions in chaos

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thirdsectorcarmsA REPORT being considered by one of Carmarthenshire County Council’s own scrutiny committees has laid bare the extent of the authority’s confusion over exactly where money goes which is intended for collaborative projects with and grants to third sector organisations.

Citing duplication and incoherence in the council’s own approach and blaming, in part, the over bureaucratic systems insisted upon by the Welsh Government, the most startling part of the report reveals discrepancies between what has been reported as third sector spend, what the council’s own information is telling them about that spend and what organisations are actually receiving from the authority.

The failure to control third sector spending featured prominently in the recent court case involving disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman. While there is no allegation of corrupt practices relating to third sector spending at Carmarthenshire County Council, close scrutiny is bound to follow as to who is benefiting from the Council’s largesse and exactly what their relationship is with different Council departments.

The report also reveals that:

  • The ‘management’ of all these funds has led to some organisations receiving multiple funding from departments across the Authority.
  • A number of the organisations operate under aliases making it difficult to understand the whole funding picture to them.

During a TIC Programme Board meeting in September 2013 Wendy Walters, then Head of Economic Development, was asked to investigate how much money the Authority spent annually on the Third Sector community. This was as a result of anecdotal information received about a lack of co-ordination of spend and strategic focus in this area.

A report presented in April 2014, revealed that in one division of the county council alone there was:

  • A number of ‘historical’ reasons for relationship and spend with some external organisations with little or no current appropriate rationale.
  • Lack of knowledge and understanding across Divisions with respect to ’joining up’ of spend, i.e. two or more Divisions spending with same providers, operating separate and not standardised contracting, administrative and monitoring processes, resulting in duplication of effort, inconsistencies, etc.
  • Evidence of 3rd sector organisations operating across the county with the same or very similar remits, however contracting separately with various Council Depts. Potential for efficiencies, by removing duplication of negotiating, commissioning, contracting, monitoring and evaluating tasks within both CCC and 3rd sector organisations.
  • Some evidence of CCC managers attempting to encourage and support the 3rd sector partners to engage in collaborative activities, to deliver better ‘joined up’ services. This work is meeting with considerable resistance due to the effects of funding systems that encourage fragmentation.

Initial information suggested that the authority facilitated funding in excess of £19m to the sector during 2013/14 and that the figure was likely to be similar in 14/15. There were in excess of 1,000 organisations and individuals registered as being in receipt of some form of funding from the authority. This ranged in size from grants of less than £100 to over £1m.

At its meeting on the 20th March 2015, the Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee unanimously resolved that “a report relating to the work undertaken in relation to its spend on third sector services be provided at the next meeting.”

That report reveals that at the start of the project £19,217,800 was paid to voluntary and community organisations, this was during the 2013/14 financial year. The figure for 14/15 was £16,858,803.

In relation to those cuts, the report reveals the reduction target for this project is £1m during 2015/16

Included within the recent round of budget consultations were a number of recommendations relating to finances within the Third Sector. This equated to £608,000 in 15/16, £408,000 for 16/17 and £179,000 for 17/18.

In addition to the figures above the officer working group have been reviewing all contracts and in consultation with the organisations have identified further areas of reductions.

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Cllr Kevin Madge elected as new county council Chairman

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THE new chair of Carmarthenshire County Council said he will work tirelessly during his term of office.

Cllr Kevin Madge, member for Garnant, takes the chain of office whilst celebrating 40 years as a councillor.

Taking the chair, Cllr Madge paid tribute to outgoing chairman Cllr Mansel Charles, member for Llanegwad, saying he had fulfilled his duties with passion.

Cllr Madge will chair the council for the next 12 months, with Cllr Ieuan Davies, member for Llanybydder, as his vice chair, and his wife Catrin as his consort.

“I’m very much looking forward to the year ahead, I will do my best for everyone. I will work tirelessly,” he said.

Cllr Madge has chosen the Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks and emergency food provision for people in crisis, as his Chairman’s Charity of the Year.

The Chair is the first citizen of Carmarthenshire County Council, and is elected at the Annual General Meeting.

Duties include chairing full meetings of the council, representing the council at formal and ceremonial occasions, welcoming visitors to the county, and attending and supporting events organised by local people and organisations.

Cllr Madge has been a county councillor since 1996, and a member of Cwmaman Town Council since 1979.

He also serves as chairman of the Royal British Legion Garnant branch, Garnant Family Centre and Cwmaman Meals on Wheels, and is a member of Amman Valley League of Friends.

He represents the county council on the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, and the Mynydd y Betws Wind Farm Community Fund, and is on the governing body of Ysgol Y Bedol.

A former pupil of Amman Valley School, Cllr Madge has worked in the Amman Valley throughout his life, most recently as agent and researcher to Dr Alan Williams MP until 2001.

A keen football supporter, he has served as chair and president of Cwmaman Football Club and spent 25 years as a Welsh League and Neath and District football referee.

He is married with two children and three grandchildren.

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‘UK Government should work with the Welsh Labour Government on Tata’

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LOCAL Assembly Member Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.

Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.

During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.

Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”

“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”

Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.

Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”

Nia Griffith AM said ““This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.

“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”

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MP and AM call for Trostre certainty after merger fails

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LOCAL ASSEMBLY MEMBER Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.

Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.

During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.

Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”

“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”

Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.

Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”

Nia Griffith AM said “This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.

“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”

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