Voting machines

October 2004

The Leader put forward a proposal that the number of members on the four scrutiny committees should be increased from 10 to 12.
By virtue of the political balance rules, seven of these eight extra seats were allocated to his Independent party.
The opposition proposed an amendment increasing the committee membership to 13 which would have given Labour three more seats and Plaid one.
The IPG voted 36-1 (Cllr Henry Jones) to reject this proposal.

October 2004.

I put down a notice of motion calling for the removal of elected members from the standards committee.
Currently two members of the IPG (Cllrs Leslie Raymond and Robin Evans) sit on this six strong committee.
I argued that it was against the principles of Natural Justice to have members sitting in judgment of their fellow members, whether party colleagues or opponents.
IPG voted 36-0 against this proposal and were joined by Cllr Simon Hancock (Lab).

December 2004

I put down a notice of motion calling for the publication of a statement made to the police by the county council's Director of Finance, Mr Mark Lewis, regarding Cllr Brian Hall's travel claim for 1 February 2001 (see Time Lord).
The motion was lost 43-10 with the IPG dividing 37-0, supported by Cllrs Ken Edwards, Simon Hancock, Umelda Havard, Sue Perkins and Joyce Watson (all Labour) and Rhys Sinnett (Plaid).
Cllrs Carol Cavill (Plaid) and Tony Wilcox and Pearl Llewellyn (both Lab) abstained.
As I tried to make the case for disclosure, several IPG members resorted to rather unseemly barracking in an attempt to throw me out of my stride (see Shouted down) but that only increased my determination to unearth the truth and I subsequently used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the statement in which Mr Lewis said that Cllr Hall's expense claim was "correct in every detail."
Every detail, included documents which showed Cllr Hall had crossed the Severn Bridge at 12.56 pm; bought a meal at the motorway service station near Magor at 1.08 pm; and, on the same day, left Pembroke Dock at 2 pm to attend a meeting at Penllergaer which, incidentally, started at 2 pm.
It has since come to my notice that Mr Lewis made a second statement to the police.
The police have refused to release a copy of this statement and the matter is currently the subject of an appeal to the Information Commissioner.

February 2005

I put forward a notice of motion calling for deputy Cabinet members to be barred from serving on scrutiny committees on the grounds that, as they held office (and their special responsibility allowances) at the Leader's pleasure, and attended informal Cabinet meetings, they were in no position to provide independent scrutiny of the Cabinet's decisions.
IPG divided 34-0 against this proposal.
They were joined by Cllr Tom Tudor (Lab).

February 2005

Notice of motion calling for the Leader's absolute powers to appoint members to outside bodies to be transferred to a politically balanced selection committee as is the case in Carmarthenshire County Council.
Under the present system the vast majority of these positions are allocated to members of the Leader's own party.
For instance, the Port of Pembroke liaison committee is made up entirely of IPG members though three out of the four councillors for Pembroke Dock, where the port is located, are Labour.
IPG voted 33-0 against this proposal and were joined by Cllrs Ken Edwards, Ken Rowlands and Tom Tudor (all Labour).

May 2005

Opposition motion of no confidence in vice chairman of the children and young persons scrutiny committee, Cllr John Griffiths, following his remarks on corporal punishment during a debate on the Ombudsman' report on the Stephanie Lawrence case.
On this occasion the Leader demonstrated his rather unattractive authoritarian tendencies by putting forward a proposal that the notice of motion be deferred to the following day's AGM (see Dodging the column).
The reason for this shabby anti-democratic manoeuvre was that soundings among his own troops led him to believe that if it went to the vote the opposition would carry the day.
Even so, six members of the IPG: Cllrs Martin Davies, Don Evans, Robin Evans, Wynne Evans, Henry Jones and Steve Watkins voted against the Leader's amendment.
Two members of the opposition, Cllrs Malcolm Calver (Truly Independent) and Carol Cavill (Plaid) abstained.

July 2005

My notice of motion calling for the revocation of the planning consent for an agricultural bungalow at Cwmbetws farm Eglwyswrw on the grounds that the planning committee's decision had been taken on the basis that there were 165 dairy cattle on the farm when, in fact the, cattle had been previously sold (see Herd instinct).
The IPG voted 35-0 against and were joined by Cllrs Ken Edwards, Simon Hancock, Umelda Havard, Ken Rowlands and Joyce Watson (all Labour).
Cllrs Martin Davies (Ind) and Carol Cavill and Moira Lewis (both Plaid) abstained.

May 2006

Opposition notice of motion that would have allowed written questions to be submitted by e-mail.
IPG voted 32-2 against with only Cllrs Martin Davies and Henry Jones refusing to toe the party line.
Carol Cavill (Plaid) abstained.

July 2006

Notice of motion to remove plenary powers from senior staff committee.
This stemmed from the large pay rise awarded to the chief executive.
Opposition members proposed that this committee should only have the power to make recommendations to full council, thereby giving all members a say in matters of senior officer's pay.
Of 37 IPG members present 36 voted against the proposal and Cllr Henry Jones abstained.(see Blockheads)

October 2006

Opposition notice of motion that all adverse Ombudsman's reports should be reported to full council.
The present situation is that only reports where the Ombudsman finds there has been injustice are so reported.
This proposal was in response to the case at Prospect Place Pembroke Dock where a council document had been forged to bring a particular application within a development brief (see Numbers game).
Because the Ombudsman found that the maladministration had not led to an injustice to the complainant, there was no requirement that the Ombudsman's findings be reported to members.
IPG voted to reject the proposal by 27-5 with Cllrs Martin Davies, Robin Evans, John George, Henry Jones and Elwyn Morse voting with the opposition and Steve Watkins abstaining.

October 2006

Notice of motion submitted by Cllr Kate Becton that would have allowed applicants and objectors to address the planning committee.
Leader put forward an "amendment" extending the right to speak to planning site visits only (see All power).
IPG voted 30-3 for the Leader's "amendment" thereby killing off Cllr Becton's proposal.
Among IPG members, only Cllrs Mike Evans, Robin Evans and Steve Watkins refused to lend support to the Leader's unconstitutional wrecking tactic.

December 2006

Opposition notice of motion to allow members of the public to ask questions at meetings of full council.
Such a system is already in place in Carmarthen.
Question time was to be limited to half-an-hour at the beginning of each meeting (2.5 hrs per year) and members of the public were to be restricted to a single question.
Any questions remaining unanswered at the end of the 30 minute period to receive a written answer.
Independent Political Group divided 36-0 on the issue.
Two members of the opposition: Malcolm Calver and Rod Bowen (Plaid) voted with the IPG.

May 2007

Opposition proposal that planning applications be removed from the scheme of delegation and decided by the planning committee at the request of the local member.
Defeated 32-20 . Massive IPG rebellion. Well, six: Cllrs Clive Collins, Martyn Davies, Mike Evans, Wyn Evans, Pearl Llewellyn and elwyn Morse, but countered by half the Labour party (Cllrs Ken Edwards, Umelda Havard, Ken Rowlands and Tom Tudor voting with the IPG mainstream.

May 2007

Opposition proposal to allow signatories of notices of motion to address Cabinet.
Defeated 32-16.
IPG members Cllrs Henry Jones and Elwyn Morse abstained.

May 2009

Opposition proposal to allow signatories of notices of motion to address Cabinet.
Defeated 35-20
IPG members Cllrs Martyn Davies, Mike Evans, Mike John and Elwyn Morse voted with the opposition Cllr Maureen Molyneaux abstained.

February 2010.

Notice of motion calling for the council to complain to the Competition Commission regarding the Western Telegraph's abuse of its dominant market position to charge 50% more for public notices than other forms of advertising.

All IPG members voted against the proposition.

May 2010

NoM by Cllr Bob Kilmister to allow members to speak at Cabinet when their NoMs were debated by that body.
All IPG members except Cllrs Mike John, Myles Pepper, Pearl Llewllyn and Martyn Davies voted the party line.
PS this proposition was adopted unanimously last December. Cynics put this change of heart by the IPG down to the presence of the Ministerial Advisory Board.

October 2010

Proposal by Leader that members right to ask questions be restricted.

All members of the IPG with the exception of Cllrs Maureen Molyneux, WYN Evans, Myles Pepper and Anne Hughes voted with the Leader.
PS. this decision was reversed in July 2012 by a unanimous vote.
Cynics put this change of heart by the IPG down to the presence of the Ministerial Advisory Board.

Proposal by David Howlett (Con) that all payments over £500 be recorded on-line.
IPG voted solidly against - Cllr Wyn Evans the only defector.

December 2011

Opposition proposal that the salaries of senior staff should be set by full council rather than the six-person, Cabinet-dominated senior staff committee.
All members of the IPG except Cllrs Mike Evans, Myles Pepper, Pearl Llewellyn and Maureen Molyneux voted against.

Opposition proposal to allocate chairs of committees set up to scrutinise Cabinet should be held by opposition members.
All IPG members voted the party line.

February 2012

Proposal by Cllr Michael Williams (Plaid) that members in receipt of a £15,000 Cabinet SRA should not be eligible to take up paid positions on any outside bodies.
All members of the IPG voted against

Annual Council May 2012

Proposal to increase numbers on committees from 6 to 7 in order to better reflect the political balance on the authority.
IPG members Mike John and Simon Hancock voted against the party line. Cllr Paul Harries abstained.

As can be seen, the number of rebels never came remotely close to overturning the IPG's 39 - 21 majority, though in their present reduced circumstances 32 - 28 it might be different in future.
As far as I can ascertain no member who was in receipt of a special responsibility allowance has ever failed to toe the line.
And it is noticeable that the same names crop up time after time.

If your councillor is a member of the IPG and their name doesn't appear on this list, they probably think "independent" means something different to what is to be found in the dictionary.