RELUCTANT VALE PUBLISHES CLLRS’ ATTENDANCE RECORDS – BUT NOT BACK TO 2012

The Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan Cllr Stuart Egan , Cllr Gwyn John (Llantwit First Independents) the Labour Leader Cllr Neil Moore and Deputy Leader Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) all voted against allowing the public to see councillors attendance records on the Vale Council website . They lost by just one vote - but the full records have not been published

The Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan Cllr Stuart Egan , Cllr Gwyn John (Llantwit First Independents), the Labour Leader Cllr Neil Moore , and Deputy Leader Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) all voted against allowing the public to see councillors attendance records on the Vale Council website . They lost by just one vote – but despite losing the vote the full records have not been published

The Vale of Glamorgan  Council has, at long last, begun to publish a register of each councillor’s attendance at council meetings and committee meetings – but the figures only go back one month, rather than covering the entire period of the current Labour administration since May 2012.

The council was forced to publish each councillor’s attendance register following a knife-edge vote in a council meeting in December last year. The motion – opposed by Labour – scraped through by just one vote .

An example of a typical attendance record (this one is for Cllr Gwyn Roberts, Labour St Augustines). The resgister only goes back to Decembver last year rather than covering the entire period from the start of the current Labour administration in May 2012

An example of a typical attendance record (this one is for Cllr Gwyn Roberts, Labour St Augustines). The register only goes back to December 14th last year rather than recording  attendance from the start of the current Labour administration in May 2012 – which is what voters really want to know.

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully) proposed the motion in the teeth of Labour opposition

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully) proposed the motion in the teeth of Labour opposition

The motion had come from Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)  and Cllr Christopher Williams (Independent Dinas Powys).

Cllr Mahoney said  his motion would require that “All councillors attendance records at full council and all other committees of which they are members be clearly displayed on their members’ page on the Vale of Glamorgan council website, and updated monthly.”

Cllr Ian Johnson (Plaid Buttrills Ward Barry) i supported Cllr Mahoney's motion

Cllr Ian Johnson (Plaid Buttrills Ward Barry) supported Cllr Mahoney’s motion

The Independent motion was supported  by Plaid Cymru whose leader Cllr Ian Johnson  had a message for councillors seeking re-election in this spring’s forthcoming elections.

Cllr Johnson told members : –  “if you are scared of … having your attendance record scrutinised then perhaps you are in the wrong position, and should consider where you are in May” .

The result of the vote – which was unrecorded and conducted by show of hands – was  22 FOR and  21 AGAINST.

However there was a fatal flaw in the motion . It did not indicate exactly how much information the council would be required to divulge.

It now seems as though the Vale Council is only going to publish the figures as from last month on – and is not going to place on the record the complete records of councillors’ attendance since they were elected to office in 2012 – information which would be useful when voters go to the polls to elect a new council in May .

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23 Responses to RELUCTANT VALE PUBLISHES CLLRS’ ATTENDANCE RECORDS – BUT NOT BACK TO 2012

  1. Chris David says:

    Its a start Mt Mahoney. Pity the vote wasn’t recorded.

  2. Frank Evans says:

    Sneaky sods. Only publish from December last.
    Labour cabinet protecting labour councillors!

  3. David Moorcraft says:

    Vale Council , dragged SO reluctantly into the daylight, openness and transparency ? But WHY ? Don’t Cllrs see that it looks bad ?
    Can we, Will we vote them out ?

  4. Corruption and lack of respect for the taxpayer and democratic accountability .As crooked as a 40 pence piece, this sort of shady behaviour is a slap in the face for the public they are SUPPOSED to represent and serve. Do not forget their names in May and show them how disrespectful and crooked behaviour will not be tolerated . VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE , if these ‘nere do wells’ cannot play by the rules and be transparent and are taking money for ‘old rope’ get rid of them as soon as the chance arrives ………….IN MAY………… remember the names .

  5. Paul Lewis says:

    Well I don’t understand the reluctance to publish these figures, since my experience of councillors attendance rates are exemplary. I am a lay member of a council committee and my fellow full time elected councillors rarely fail to turn up.
    In fact, as I am the vice chairman of the committee I would have to stand in and chair the meeting and I have only been called upon once in the last 5 years to do so.
    This article reflects badly on the councils reluctance as if there were something to hide, but let me assure your readers, that in my experience I have found that not to be the case. Think what you will of this comment but it is a fact that can be easily verified by checking the council minutes should anyone chose to do so.

  6. Chris David says:

    Mt Lewis there is no correlation between a council committee and the VoG toy town Duma. I’m apolitical so no blinkered axe to grind. But the Labour lot down the Vale at disreputable.

  7. Grey local! says:

    Could we see a list of those who voted not to have their records published as I am not willing to vote for someone who is less thantransparent in their council work

  8. Kevin Mahoney says:

    It’s disappointing isn’t it? To be honest I think that if the situation is to be left like this it would be an insult to the people of the Vale and also to the councillors who voted my proposal through.

    I am waiting to hear from the Vale’s head of Democratic services following the email reproduced below that I sent to the department on Friday after discovering that only attendance records since December were currently being displayed.

    I have always put my own attendance records since being elected up on my website contained in my yearly transparency reports http://www.your-councillor.com/kevin-mahoney/news/

    Friday 13th Jan 2016

    Dear xxxxx

    Thank you for getting the attendance grids up on each councillors website page as voted for at Decembers council meeting.

    May I ask is there any reason why the figures are not inclusive of the period covering the full current council year which would allow residents to see exactly the attendance figures of their councillors for a full year. I appreciate that this would involve a member of staff trawling through all council meeting minutes. However as attendees and apologies for absence are included at the head of each meeting minutes I wouldn’t have thought that this would be a hugely insurmountable task in order to more accurately reflect councillors reasonably recent attendance records.

    i do appreciate that this procedure has been voted through reasonably late in the council year but surely as an authority we are not beyond this fairly simple task.

    Ongoing from the elections in May I would envisage that under each councillors page then each years records as each year is completed are left up for an ongoing record covering the term of each council alongside the current year to give a complete record up to and including each term (4 or 5 year)

    I would also suggest that there be provision for any councillor to explain any absences as they see fit i.e operations, hospital appointments, family emergencies, illness etc etc.

    What are your thoughts?

    Regards

    Kevin Mahoney
    Cllr Sully Lavernock and Cosmeston

  9. Big Davey says:

    Surely this information should be released under FOI legislation. If a resident of the Vale asks this question, surely the Vale are obliged to provide it?

    • NewsNet says:

      The Vale of Glamorgan Council has refused to provide this information under FoI legislation and claims it is readily available by reference to the minutes of all the council’s meetings and committee meetings.

      • Big Davey says:

        Thanks PDN.

        The Vale is being obtuse then if they provide the information in one form that isn’t aggregated to answer a basic question about the democratic process that is taking place there.

        Perhaps an FOI request of all expense claims for attendance of council meetings over the last 5 years would obtain the same result. Not many councillors if any would attend and not claim and those not claiming probably weren’t there.

      • Hagar77 says:

        A FocusBARRY member did ask under the Freedom of Information Act at the beginning of 2012 and after some pressure for that person to allow their name to be available the council supplied the data. I have that record of attendance between May 2008 and December 2011.

  10. Peter Church says:

    I have tried to get various pieces of information out of the Vale. But the answer that comes back each time is; “it would take too long or be too difficult”
    Which is rubbish as this information was in electronic form and the only reason I can see is either the staff are IT illiterate or they don’t want to release the info or possibly both!
    The word obscuration comes to mind.

  11. Chris David says:

    Great new NewsNet- in that case they can answer Mr Mahoney’s questions to Xxxxxx

  12. Kevin Mahoney says:

    Here’s the reply just recieved from Jeff Wyatt head of the Vale’s Democratic services.

    All Labour councillors present voted against the proposal for publishing of attendance allowances.

    All Labour councillors present and all Conservative councillors present ( except Clive Williams) voted against my motion for the automatic recording of councillors votes at the same meeting.

    You will have to come to your own conclusions as to why these councillors don’t want their votes recorded automatically or their attendance records collated for easy examination by the Vale public.

    Kevin – I have now had the opportunity of discussing this with colleagues. The decision has been taken to publish the information with effect from the date the decision was made by Council and in, doing so, it gives effect to the wording of the Motion agreed by Council. You will have seen that the Council Meeting at which the decision itself was taken has been included in the published information. The information will be updated on a monthly basis in accordance with the decision of Council. It would not be normal practice to implement a Council decision retrospectively

    From May 2017, information will, indeed, be collated and published over the life of the Council.

    Notwithstanding the above, should anybody wish to view retrospective attendances of Members, they can do so by accessing the relevant minutes on the Council’s website.

    Thanks.

    Jeff Wyatt
    Operational Manager, Democratic Services

    • Hagar77 says:

      If people are really interested in measuring performance by attendance then simply looking at council minutes would be very misleading. Local Government legislation determines how many seats are distributed to the political parties so it is not that straight forward, take councillor Mahoney for example. He was a single member of a party so would not have been eligible to sit on many committees. A more reasonable approach may be to have the percentage of meetings attended that a councillor was allowed to attend. If he was only allowed to sit on, say 3 committees, then comparing his attendance with a councillor on 8 committees would not produce a reasonable comparison.

  13. The Fake Donald Trump says:

    Never mind about releasing information’ what really keeps your Vale Cabinet Members awake and on their twitter accounts is complaining about fake news.
    Except, it is not fake news just news that makes the Council Cabinet look like amateurs.

    Lis Burnett ‏@lisburnett Jan 12
    Disappointing that @barrydistrict got the story so wrong. http://www.barryanddistrictnews.co.uk/news/15016972.Barry_Waterfront_site_will_be_re_marketed_following_multi_screen_cinema_bid_fail/ … Actual report available at http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/Documents/_Committee%20Reports/Cabinet/2017/17-01-09/Reports/IQ-Barry-Waterfront-IQ-Southern-Development-Site-and-IQ-Hood-Road-Goods-Shed-Site-Cabinet-Report.pdf

    She thinks she is Donald Trump now!

    Nice to see her next post is claiming her carpets don’t fit 🙂

    • Michael Cochlin says:

      GOSH. A certain Councillor claims this is not news site.
      But it appears that it is widely read and re-tweeted.
      Well done PDN for allowing such and honest open comments!!

      Me thinks there must be an election coming up……

  14. The words corruption and unaccountability come to my mind , and its not nice and they should not treat the taxpayers with such disdain and contempt.

  15. Chris Williams says:

    Just for the record and in the interests of transparency and openness, apart from bringing the attendance records motion twice to Council with Cllr Mahoney I asked the following formal question at the 26th June 2013 Full Council meeting;
    (v) Question from Councillor C.J. Williams

    Does the Leader know how many and which Councils currently record Council Meetings? Is there funding available for us to carry out audio recording of Meetings? Does the Leader believe, as I do, that audio records of Meetings would enable greater openness and transparency and also clear up any confusion or accusations of “selective minute-taking” when Members are attempting to recall and agree details of meetings when minutes are eventually circulated a month or later after the actual meeting?

    Reply from the Leader

    Unfortunately, I have not been able to obtain the information as to which Councils, if any, operate such a system.

    There is no funding available specifically for such a system. However, Members will be aware that the Welsh Government made available a “one off” provision to local authorities in Wales for 2013/14 for the development of webcasting facilities and to begin planning for the possibility of remote attendance at meetings. The conditions of the grant mean that the Council will be required to illustrate it has begun to webcast some meetings prior to the end of the financial year, although there has not been any decision which pilot meetings will be webcast at this time.

    Turning to the way in which minutes are produced within the Council, personally I do not believe that it would enhance the system that currently exists and there is no requirement to produce “Hansard” type minutes.

    I would remind Members of the detailed letter from the Head of Democratic Services to all Members dated 4th January 2013. That letter set out clearly why the current “house style” is deemed to be appropriate and, indeed, consistent with good practice and in accord with the publication “Knowles on Local Authority Meetings – A Manual of Law and Practice”, which is regarded as a recognised authority on the subject area.

    As far as the vast majority of Members are concerned, I am not aware of any suggestion of “confusion” or “selective minute taking”. Minutes are generally made available as soon as practicable after each meeting, albeit they are, indeed, included on a subsequent agenda for confirmation of accuracy, as required under the Council’s Constitution.

    Supplemental

    Councillor Williams asked whether the Cabinet would be looking at possible webcasting in the near future.

    The Leader indicated he had covered that in his reply. It was a requirement of the grant that some meetings be webcast and what needed to be considered was the costs involved, the practicalities of doing so and which meetings would actually be covered.

    As readers will perhaps be aware, the Vale finally introduced webcasting to, firstly, Planning Meetings, and now Full Council meetings last year.

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