VALE COUNCIL REFUSES TO PUBLISH VOTING RECORDS OF COUNCILLORS

Vale councillors vote against publishing their voting records. Top left Mayor Stuart Egan ,Monitoring Officer Debbie Marles counting the hands up,(below right to left Cllr Gwyn John, Cllr Neil Moore (Leader) and Cllr Lis Burnett (Deputy Leader)

Vale councillors voting last night against publishing their voting records. Top left to right : the Mayor, Stuart Egan ,Monitoring Officer Debbie Marles ( who is counting the hands up) ,(Below right to left)  Cllr Gwyn John, Cllr Neil Moore (Leader) and Cllr Lis Burnett (Deputy Leader). It was the first Vale Council be to streamed on the internet – four years after the equipment to do so was installed

Labour and Conservative councillors last night voted in unison to defeat a move to force the Vale of Glamorgan Council to publish the individual voting record of every member of the council.

Last night’s vote means that local residents will not be able to monitor the performance and the voting-patterns of  incumbent councillors – or have access to that information before they go to the polls next May – even though the councillors are, in fact, paid employees of council-tax-payers.

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully) moved the motion. On the left is Cllr Clive Williams ( Conservative Plymouth Ward) who was to vote in support of him - and against the other Conservatives

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully) moved the motion. Cllr Clive Williams (left) (Conservative Plymouth Ward Penarth ) was to vote in support of him – and against the other Conservatives

A motion to publish the voting records and the attendance records of councillors had been tabled by Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)  and Cllr Christopher Williams (Independent Dinas Powys) .

Cllr Mahoney said the words “transparency” and “openness” were almost as overused as the council’s favourite word “sustainability” . He asked what could be more ‘transparent’ and ‘open’ than making every councillor’s voting-record  – and their stance on various issues –  available to the public who they represent?

Cllr Mahoney is seen by other members of the Vale Council as outsider, something of a renegade and a paid-up member of the “awkward-squad” who tends to rub everyone up the wrong way and therefore has trouble forging alliances with representatives of the other parties. But last night proved to be an exception.

Cllr Ian Johnson (Plaid Buttrills Ward Barry) intially gave the impression he opposed Cllr Mahoney - but then offered an amendment in support

Cllr Ian Johnson (Plaid Buttrills Ward Barry) intially gave the impression he opposed Cllr Mahoney – but then offered an amendment in support

At first, Cllr Ian Johnson (Plaid Buttrills Ward Barry) appeared to be opposing Cllr Mahoney’s motion – pointing out that there was no electronic voting apparatus in the Vale Council Chamber and therefore motions were passed “by acclamation“. Most motions, he said, were “non-controversial” and members could ask for votes to be manually “recorded” [by taking a time-consuming roll-call of councillors] on controversial issues.

Cllr Johnson also listed motions over the years on which Cllr Mahoney had opposed Plaid Cymru.  A “mischief-making councillor” – he said – could abuse the voting process by asking for a recorded vote on everything.

…..However at this point Cllr Johnson changed gear – and said he agreed with Cllr Mahoney that the present system wasn’t good enough . The Vale Council should be more open and more transparent – just as the National Assembly was. Voting by  acclamation was “outmoded” . The council should invest in electronic voting apparatus as soon as possible – as suggested by the council’s own democratic services committee.

Cllr Johnson suggested an amendment to Cllr Mahoney’s motion:-  “Voting on each item will be carried out electronically  and the names for, against and abstaining will be entered into the minutes. The chairman will announce the result immediately each result is known” . The council’s Monitoring Officer told members that there was already provision for the same arrangements – if adopted – to  also apply to committees.

Somewhat ungraciously, a surprised  Cllr Mahoney accepted the amendment – saying he was delighted that Plaid Cymru – having opposed his proposal last time –  had “come around to his way of thinking” .

Cllr John Thomas (Conservative St Athan) said "his group" were doing to oppose the motion. But Cllr Clive Williams rebelled - and supported the motion.

Cllr John Thomas (Conservative St Athan) said “his group” were going to oppose the motion (that councillor’s votes should be made public)

However, soon the major parties began a move to quash the motion. Cllr John Thomas (Conservative St Athan) said he would not support the motion. He said I am quite happy to stick with the current arrangements”  – arrangements which the democratic services committee had discussed the only recently. The council didn’t know what the cost would be of  installing an electronic voting system. “My group[ the Conservatives ] will be voting against” he said. [ In fact Cllr Thomas was to be proved wrong]

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Dinas Powys) corrected Cllr John Thomas

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Dinas Powys) corrected Cllr John Thomas

On a point of order, Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Dinas Powys) said he hesitated to correct Cllr Thomas, but in fact the council’s  democratic services committee had already recommended in principle that electronic voting should be adopted

Cllr Thomas responded by saying the democratic services committee – which a moment earlier he’d used to support his stance –   had no executive powers .

Cllr John Drysdale (Labour Illtyd Ward) raised the cost issue.

Cllr John Drysdale (Labour Illtyd Ward) raised the cost issue.

Labour councillors then leapt on the cost issue to keep electronic voting  – and council transparency  – at bay. Cllr John Drysdale (Labour Illtyd)  asked “Can this council pass a motion which commits it to  take actions for which it does not have the equipment or the ability”

Cllr Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward Barry) Leader of the Vale of GlamorganCouncil declared his opposition to the motion which would have required his council to be more transparent

Cllr Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward Barry) Leader of the Vale of GlamorganCouncil declared his opposition to the motion which would have required his council to be more transparent

This opened the door for the Labour leader of the council Cllr Neil Moore use the “equipment issue” to argue against the motion “ If we agreed this – it would be electronic voting for every meeting that we have . We don’t have the equipment” . The existing member microphone system he said, was “obsolete”   and therefore the whole system would “probably cost a fortune”. “We have reports coming to council on a regular basis showing how much money we don’t have” he said.

However Cllr Moore appeared to be confused as to whether he was talking about councillors’ voting records or councillor’s absence records (which were to be the subject of a later motion) .

He said that “If anybody wants to know the way people vote all they have to do was to look in the minutes because they’ll see who should be present. They can see who is present. They can see who has given apologies and can actually see who don’t give apologies –  which is more important” [ PDN Note: In fact no such item is included in the council minutes]   “and they can actually…ummm” – he said hesitantly – “see what happens in relation to the decisions”. [ PDN Note: -The minutes do not record who voted for, against or abstained unless there is a (rare) recorded vote]. By now Cllr Moore appeared to have realised what he was saying and corrected himself . He said  “Admittedly you don’t know every one of them  – ummm – but it’s called..but it’s called .. a democracy . We work on a majority vote or by affirmation …So I will be resisting”

Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) - who is a member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council's 5-person 'cabinet'.

Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) – who is a member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s 5-person ‘cabinet’.

Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell)   said that “We are tonight more accountable than we’ve ever been because of being recorded”  [PDN Note:  it was the first time the CCTV system, which was  installed four years ago at considerable public expense, has ever been used to stream live tv coverage of a full Vale Council  meeting on the internet. The delays were entirely due to foot-dragging by the current Labour administration – which still opposes televising the Vale ‘cabinet’ meetings where all the major decisions are made ]  .

Cllr King said that if anyone was interested in how people voted they could “look it up” , However it was pointed to Cllr King that the TV coverage does not show all the members who are voting –  and therefore viewers cannot use tv coverage to see how each individual councillor is voting. Cllr King said he would like to see electronic voting someday but was “not keen on spending the money just yet”.

Cllr Jonathan Bird (Conservative Wenvoe) asked that a report on the cvosts of an electronic voting system be prepared. The Vale CCTV system wrongly identified him as Cllr Janice Birch

Cllr Jonathan Bird (Conservative Wenvoe) asked that a report on the costs of an electronic voting system be prepared. The Vale CCTV system wrongly identified him as Cllr Janice Birch

Cllr Jonathan Bird (Conservative Wenvoe) asked for a report to be prepared on the estimated cost of electronic voting .

The Mayor Cllr Stuart Egan in the chair said such a report would be prepared for the Vale ‘cabinet’. He said “This is being recorded tonight . This council is moving forward in opening up its procedures but we shouldn’t make decisions without knowing the cost first” and went on to invite Cllr Mahoney to respond on his motion.

The Vale of Glamorgan council chamber in as it was in 2012 before being given a quarter of a million pound make-over for tv

The Vale of Glamorgan council chamber at it was in 2012 before a £250,000 make-over was carried out for television cameras to be installed four years ago. Only last night were they used for the first time to cover a full council meeting

Cllr Mahoney said “We just wasted over £250,000 stripping out a perfectly good council chamber to replace it with the joke that this is. Surely” – he said to the Labour group – “you should have done that then [ i.e. introduce electronic voting at that time] rather than whining about money now”    

Calling him to order, the Mayor asked Cllr Mahoney to reply to his motion. Cllr Mahoney said “I’m delighted that, at least in some quarters, my plea for transparency and openness is being  met and understood at long last “.

One of the Vale Council’s rare recorded votes was then taken:-

The Penarth MPs voting AGAINST the motion were Cllr Janice Birch (Labour Stanwell), Cllr Rhiannon Birch (Labour  Cornerswell),  Cllr Lis Burnett ( Labour St Augustines),  Cllr Maureen Kelly Owen (Conservative Plymouth Ward) , Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) ,  Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustine’s)

The only Penarth councillor voting FOR the motion was Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward -) who defied his own Conservative group whip and supported the amended motion in favour of greater transparency.

In the full council vote there were  10 votes FOR and 33 votes AGAINST  – meaning that the Vale Council does NOT have to publicly reveal how its councillors vote in council meetings or committees, other than when a full formal recorded vote has been called for by a minimum of 6 members (the required minimum) .

 

 

 

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10 Responses to VALE COUNCIL REFUSES TO PUBLISH VOTING RECORDS OF COUNCILLORS

  1. Spencer Locker says:

    Time to go i think. It is obvious that the VoG Council are happy to keep their constituents guessing and obstruct the average man on the street from accessing this information easily. It’s utter rubbish about money, they could easily install a programme that allows them to vote via their mobile phones whilst in the chamber. This would record the vote and the voter. As always, Neil Moore, Gwyn John and the other self serving bureaucrats have something to hide and conveniently forget they are Civil Servants and are, therefore answerable to the electorate. They are not ‘village elders’ or ‘wise men’ who know better than us, they are supposed to represent our views and this they have not done for a LONG time. They are working without a mandate and after Christmas i have no doubt they will be knocking on our doors and asking what they can do for us……..before the upcoming election!

  2. Chris David says:

    Now will we vote them out? You pay them to make decisions about your lives in secret. They are employed by you! Its all a little North Korean.

  3. Hywel says:

    Great report, thank you. If it wasn’t for PDN we’d know even less about what they’re up to.
    Does anyone know what’s happening with that Cosmeston petition?

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      It was presented to the council last night by Chris Franks. No response at the meeting so we will have to wait and see. Cllr Franks also asked a question about it and the commercialisation policy. While that is in place who knows what crazy scheme labour will try and foist on Cosmeston next.

  4. Grey local! says:

    I cannot understand why a person elected by the community would not want us to know how he or she is voting. So like others I know, I won’t be voting for anyone who wants their record kept secret. We pay their wages and they are supposed to represent us. Everything should be ope and aboveboard.

  5. Chris Franks says:

    Well done for a decent report. The Plaid group did indeed all support electronic voting which would clearly set out the stance of each councillor. It would especially show that the Conservatives voted against a Dinas Powys By Pass. This is a fact they now wish to forget.

  6. These people show nothing but contempt for the people they ‘pretend’ to represent , id really like to know who the hell these little demi gods think they are . If ever a body of people were ripe for removal from office they are this self serving incompetent bunch of ‘cowboys’ . God alone who elected them and what the turnout was but it certainly wasn’t me. They should be given awards for their ‘crackpot’ ideas and poor service . Dare I mention the now totally useless viewing platform in Penarth , £100, 000 of taxpayers money WASTED , just think what that amount could have been used for. The useless CCTV cameras that don’t work and the constant running saga of the clock roundabout , plants , no plants , paving slabs , no paving slabs , the decimation of trees in itself wanton vandalism. The on going pot holes saga etc , this group of people couldn’t run a tap never mind a Council, anyone who votes for this bunch of comedians in May needs to be put on medication . Get rid of them , we want openess and accountability not a secret society and contempt for the voters and public at large, remember the names and vote them out.

  7. CelticMan says:

    I agree that most should be removed but replaced by who?

  8. Chris David says:

    Well we could start by cutting down the seats! Cleary many of them are not necessary. Anyway lets see who stands and then perhaps PDN could comprise a questionnaire for them? A min manifesto from each one. And please what ever- scrap this bogus cabinet jobby and those in it.

Comments are closed.