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Truthfulness versus accuracy in minutes row

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A little less certain of her words: Cllr Meryl Gravell

A little less certain of her words: Cllr Meryl Gravell

A CLAIM made by a member of the Executive Board was the subject of significant backtracking at Wednesday’s (Feb 10) Full Council meeting.

The routine approval of the minutes of an Executive Board Meeting that took place on January 4 took a controversial turn when comments made by Cllr Meryl Gravell and recorded in the meeting’s minutes were challenged by three councillors, including opposition leader Jeff Edmunds.

Cllr Gravell had claimed at the Executive Board that a Lottery bid in relation to funding for Parc Howard had been derailed because of the opposition from local residents.

Cllr Bill Thomas challenged the minutes and claimed that Cllr Gravell’s remarks were untrue and unsupported by evidence. Cllr Thomas claimed that the claim was being examined by the Lottery Commission, who had uncovered no evidence to support Cllr Gravell’s slur on Llanelli residents.

Chair Peter Hughes Griffiths interrupted to establish whether or Cllr Thomas was challenging the minutes’ accuracy, or making a point about their content.

Councillor Thomas pressed on: “If the member for regeneration has either emails or letters that implicate people as having meetings with the Lottery Commission that scuppered this bid then I think we in the council should have sight of those letters.”

Peter Hughes Griffiths asked Cllr Thomas to identify the offending section of the minutes.

Councillor Thomas did so and continued: “As I say, it was investigated and we had a letter of unreserved apology. If the member has documented evidence either email or letters saying that people from Llanelli were implicated in meetings with the Lottery Commission and scuppered the bid, I think this chamber should have sight of those or it should be withdrawn from the minutes.”

Cllr Jan Williams joined in the challenge: “I would just like to ask if there is documented evidence that we could see that shows that it was completely the opposition of local residents that scuppered the bid. My understanding, having read why the bid was unsuccessful is not as claimed. I’d like that clarified because some of us have had spurious accusations made against us.”

Bill Thomas got up again and pressed on: “I would like the member for Trimsaran to give us an answer as to whether she has letters or emails implicating anybody as having meetings with the Lottery Commission. If not I would like that removed from the minutes and from the previous minutes and from the next set of minutes that are coming out.”

Cllr Gravell rose and responded, “That was the information I was given at the time.”

Bill Thomas responded: “That is not the question, Chair. I am asking for evidence.”

Peter Hughes Griffiths said that he would not permit an argument: “It’s going to be a debate and I only ask for questions and answers. I have been accused so many times of not being democratic and so on but you are pushing me too hard from time to time and I must say those are the rules and if you’re pushing me all the time I will stick harder to the rules won’t I? That’s my response all the time as Chair: to be fair with everybody.”

County Councillor Jeff Edmunds asked for clarification from the Chair.

Peter Hughes Griffiths responded: “Clarification about what now again?” He went on to suggest that a rationing quota applied to matters of business as they arose: “It’s a question and you’ve already had three questions today.”

Cllr Edmunds directed a query to the Monitoring Officer, who replied: “I hear what is being said from the floor and a few members challenging the basis of part of the discussion at executive board but the accuracy of the minutes of the executive board meeting are matters for the executive board to confirm.”

Following the Monitoring Officer’s intervention, Peter Hughes Griffiths drew the matter to a conclusion with the words: “In other words, end of story.”

The issue of the minutes’ truthfulness, as opposed to their strict accuracy recording what was said, is an argument that councillors are unable to resolve.

CLLR GRAVELL’S CLAIM

We examined precisely what Cllr Gravell had said which had caused such ill-feeling.

At the Board Meeting on January 4, she referred to a £5m plan to revitalise Parc Howard being presented with a business plan to ‘the Lottery’. She then continued to claim:

“The local people went behind our backs to the Lottery to say they didn’t want it to go ahead. That is just to clarify that is the case.”

As statements of certainty go, that certainly takes some beating. Cllr Gravell not only made a claim local people sabotaged the plans for Parc Howard, but did so by stealth. In addition she clarifies the position to underline her point.

But at the meeting of Full Council, when that version of events was challenged and she was confronted by the results of a Lottery Commission investigation into the claim, she was rather less certain and claimed that her assertion came from ‘information given to me, at the time’.

The issues that arise from Cllr Gravell’s retreat from certainty to something considerably less than certain is the identity of the person or persons who gave her what was manifestly incorrect information and why she continued to repeat the lie when it had been nailed by the Lottery Commission.

It is certain that Cllr Gravell’s words have exacerbated suspicions in Llanelli that the Council is not playing straight with the town.

Perhaps Cllr Emlyn Dole, who is attempting to relieve the miasma of rumour and suspicion surrounding past dealings with Llanelli, could make sure that when members of the Executive Board make assertions such as those made by Cllr Gravell, they are backed by something akin to evidence – i.e. that which can be examined. Or at least challenged to produce it.

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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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