Another attempt to open up the secretive, Labour-run, Vale of Glamorgan Council to public scrutiny is to be made on Wednesday this week .
Currently it’s virtually impossible for ordinary members of the public to find out how the salaried councillors who are meant to represent them in the council chamber – have actually cast their votes on various issues.
Voters therefore have no way of checking whether the councillors they’ve elected are actually representing them.
Councillors normally vote by just raising a hand – but no official written record is made of how each councillor casts his or her vote unless a motion is carried beforehand to have a “recorded vote” – a comparative rarity in Vale Council proceedings.
The show-of-hands votes are also not usually counted – which means members of the public never know the level of support on any given motion. A committee chairman will simply say “clearly carried” and swiftly move on to next business .
However on Wednesday night Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully ) and Christopher Williams (Independent Dinas Powys) have tabled a motion to change council procedures so that “All councillors votes in all council meetings to will be automatically recorded”.
The chances of success are not high. A similar bid by Plaid Cymru in August this year failed.
The leader of the Labour-run Vale Council Cllr Neil Moore (Cadoc Ward, Barry) said a recent review of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s constitution recommended “no change”. [ i.e. no official record will be made of how each councillor votes]
Meanwhile a second motion – also submitted by Councillors Mahoney and Williams – is intended to force the Vale of Glamorgan Council to be a lot more transparent about the attendance records of councillors than it is at the moment .
The motion calls for ‘All councillors attendance records at full council and all other committees of which they are members, to be clearly displayed on each member’s page on the Vale of Glamorgan council website and updated monthly.’
Again, the Labour Party is likely to resist this.
The Vale Council already routinely refuses all Freedom of Information requests from members of the public about the attendance of councillors at committees and full council meetings.
The council’s usual tactic here is to flatly refuse to deal with such enquiries and refer members of the public to the scores of different minutes of various council and committee meetings published on the web site – which are supposed to list those present at each meeting .
This council strategy deters ordinary members of the public from pursuing the matter further – thus enabling the council to conceal the rate of absence of individual councillors from public scrutiny.