Tuesday, 19 May 2015

CHANGES TO COUNCIL 'SUBVERTING DEMOCRACY'

Changes to Wrexham Council’s constitution are “subverting democracy” and will mean an extra £63,000 a year for senior councillors, says Plaid Cymru’s group leader Arfon Jones.

Plaid Cymru Councillor Arfon Jones, of Gwersyllt West, is also concerned that legal advice backing the changes have not been shared with councillors. As a result, he has been forced to utilise the Freedom of Information Act to ask for a copy of the legal advice that Wrexham Council has obtained to support a change in its constitution. The change will concentrate power in the ruling Independent-Tory coalition and mean an increased spend on Senior Salaries for councillors.

Cllr Jones said: 
"I have asked Wrexham Council to provide a copy of the legal advice on which this change of constitution is justified. They initially refused, then they offered bits and pieces of the advice in confidence which I feel is insufficient. As a result, I have made a request under the Freedom of Information Act. It is essential that changes to the constitution, which will increase one group's political influence  and diminishes other groups’ influence, is subject of full scrutiny and consultation. How can we make decisions on incomplete information? The report on Wednesday flies in the face of the concept of openness and transparency and should be deferred until we have all the information to hand."

Cllr Jones has also sent a Freedom of Information request to the Wales Audit Office as they are blamed by the Council for demanding this change in the Constitution. Cllr Jones said: 
"I was told that the Wales Audit Office had told Wrexham Council to change the Constitution as it was non-compliant with the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011. I asked for copies of letters from the Audit Office and was told there were none and that the advice was verbal between an auditor and a senior officer. I find it hard to accept that a significant change would be made on the back of a verbal conversation. " "The Plaid Cymru group believe that the changes to the Constitution are political so as to strengthen the power of the ruling coalition and they are looking for reasons to justify the change. Whoever has come up with this has been watching too much House of Cards rather than getting on with the job of making Wrexham a better place to live and work. It’s a crass attempt at subverting democracy."

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