Four Penarth Labour councillors - including three members of the same family) vote en bloc in a Vale Council planning committee . No record was made of how they voted

Four Penarth Labour councillors – (including three members of the same family) vote en bloc in a Vale Council planning committee . No official record was made of how they voted

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.

The Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan Cllr Fred Johnson (Labour Cadoc Ward) vets all planning applications made for Penarth

Planning chairman Cllr Fred Johnson (Labour Cadoc Ward) votes on a planning application made for Penarth

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 .

Cllr Christopher Williams (Independent Dinas Powys) and Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)

Cllr Christopher Williams (Independent Dinas Powys) and Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)

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”.

Cllr Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward Barry ) Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cllr Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward Barry ) Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council

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 Vale of Glamorgan Council Chamber .

The Vale of Glamorgan Council Chamber .

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.


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  1. cariad. says:

    The Vale councillors are a law unto themselves they seem to forget that they are working for the good of the public.

  2. Chris David says:

    Thanks once again to the independents trying to bring transparency to he proceedings. We must oust the commissars at the elections.

  3. lesley withers says:

    I fully support these moves for increased transparency. It is outrageous that this information is currently blocked. Thank goodness we have these independent councillors who are prepared to ask ‘awkward questions’.

  4. Kevin Mahoney says:

    I think a slight correction is required here

    Plaid Cymru did not make a bid for greater transparency earlier this year, I did when I put forward a motion calling for just one councillor to be able to demand a recorded vote rather than the six required at present.

    Plaid Cymru were in fact the most vociferous opponents of my motion for greater transparency with Plaid’s Nic Hodges being particularly beligerent and vocal on the two occasions that my motion was discussed in full council.

    The only three councillors who supported my motion for greater transparency were 3 Independents, myself, my fellow Sully councillor Bob Penrose and Chris Williams.

    Every other councillor present from, Labour, Conservative, plaid and Llantwit independents voted down my proposal.

    Rather bizarrely Plaid’s Val Hartrey later made a request that all votes of the planning committee be recorded after she had voted against my motion and then also voted against it at the second discussion held in full council.

    When I first joined the council there was a culture of not bothering to ask if anyone wished to vote against or abstain if the first show of hands for a yes vote seemed substancial. This meant that votes were being recorded as unanimous when in fact there was opposition to the motion or proposal.

    It was only my public insistance to the then mayor and at other committee meetngs that all votes must be taken and the numbers noted including those against and those abstaining that saw a change to the existing practice.

    I must confess that I was astonished that this wasn’t being done anyway and as mentioned above many many votes were being recorded as unanimous without opposition even though councillors including myself were being denied the opportunity to show our opposition by having our against or abtension votes noted.

    The only conclusion that cvan be drawn is that the majority of councillors on the Vale of Glamorgan council are more than happy that their votes are not recorded and thus not available for for public examination if the opposition and lack of support to my previous motion is anything to go by.

    We will see Wednesday who opposes this time, perhaps residents might like to contact their councillors and ask why they don’t wish their votes to be recorded for examination and later explanation.

    • Cymry Llundain says:

      How do we go about getting independent councillors in Penarth? Party politics at local level is killing democracy.

  5. What sort of set up is this ??, no accountability , no members of the public as observers allowed , no details released , no record on who votes what, are we living in North Korea or the Vale of Glamorgan ?, this is outrageous. Its no wonder we have such poor service and lack of responsibility , and on top of that we are paying for this abuse of power and corrupt procedures.
    Now we know why the absurdity and useless viewing platform was forced on the public without consultation and public objections ignored, now we know why the CCTV cameras have not worked for years, now we know why we had the total fiasco over plants on the clock roundabout, now we know why trees were vandalised despite a public outcry. Anyone who votes for these indifferent , corrupt clowns at the next elections deserves all they get . These people are as undemocratic as you can get , money grabbing nonentities who are treating the people with contempt. I urge everyone to make a note of these people and DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM , they are WORKING FOR THEMSELVES not you. And i’m pleased this article was printed and it explains a lot of things of why people in Penarth are whistling in the wind whenever they enquire or criticise the poor / lack of services . Vote these abusers of public trust out of office.

  6. Tim Hughes says:

    A number of contributions have been made that support the recording of all votes but I would like to offer a different perspective on this issue. To me the whole point of having paid MPs and Councillors is that they spend time understanding what the issues are, reading the meeting documents, listening to the views of others and then forming an opinion and voting. I understand that it is possible to form a view without any of this but that is not what is intended. Members of the public do not attend these meetings in large numbers and will very rarely have read the papers.
    In planning issues, for example, the council will have a planning policy; the committee members will have expert advice from professionals about the applications and the agreed policy in relation to these issues. If a planning committee refuse an application that refusal must be on planning grounds and be in accordance with the policy, and the reason reported to the applicant. If the applicant goes to appeal and wins then the council may be liable to pay all the additional costs of the applicant’s appeal. It may even be that the correct planning decision does not align with what the immediate local voters want.
    They currently do not record votes in the Houses of Parliament unless there is a division and I wonder how many of the contributors to this discussion have looked in Hansard to see how their MP voted on a particular issue when there was a division, my guess is none. My feeling is that the only reason this is an issue is so that at an election one candidate can accuse another candidate as having voted a particular way. But if I don’t know exactly what the vote was on and what was the advice and what was the debate, then what real value is that to me.

    • Kevin Mahoney says:

      MP’s votes are recorded and available as a matter of public record, and those MPs have to stand and defend their voting record as and when challenged over their particular stance.

      I see no reason why councillors should not be accountable in the same manner.

  7. Chris David says:

    Exactly Mr Mahoney. Transparency and accountability are paramount.

  8. Chris David says:

    OK chaps which is correct? But in any-case I personally want complete transparency and if a councillor is hiding he she is not trustworthy.

  9. Shirley says:

    hat is a division in Parliament?
    In parliamentary procedure, a division of the assembly, division of the house, or simply division is a method for taking a better estimate of a vote than a voice vote. Typically, a division is taken when the result of a voice vote is challenged or when a two-thirds vote is required.

  10. Shirley says:

    What is a division in Parliament?
    In parliamentary procedure, a division of the assembly, division of the house, or simply division is a method for taking a better estimate of a vote than a voice vote. Typically, a division is taken when the result of a voice vote is challenged or when a two-thirds vote is required.

  11. Tim Hughes says:

    Transparency and accountability; bureaucracy’s favourite friends.

  12. Chris David says:

    ? TH Could you explain re the transparency comment. You have explained some things rather well in the past but I’m not sure what you mean?

  13. Tim Hughes says:

    It adds no value. We all want better more efficient services so why worthless effort. Worse still this silliness emboldens those obsessed with counting things.

  14. Chris David says:

    Oh that’s it then- no more elections. No more statistical analysis (well cuts out the propaganda). No need to count the housing need. Hmm, so how will we know we need more efficient services? Scrap mathematics in school but most of all…no more accountability. Transparency and accountability- the dual enemies of dictators.

  15. Paul Fenton says:

    Transparency and accountability the two things the corrupt fear most.

Comments are closed.