Council could hold meetings on private finance

Many discussions about Powys County Council’s finances and budgets may soon take place behind a veil of confidentiality.

The Democratic Services Committee discussed constitutional changes to the Finance Panel, including holding private meetings behind closed doors and without public access.

Head of Legal and Democracy, Clive Pinney, explained the proposal: “The Finance Panel concluded that it was not working.

“There was a lot of discussion and the proposal reflects a suggestion from finance committee chair John Brautigam. “

Mr Pinney explained that the panel meeting would be divided into public and private and that all meetings had already taken place in private.

He told advisers that during the latest setup review, Acting Managing Director Mohammed Mehmet (April 2018 – February 2019) “felt it was fair and appropriate that all discussions be public.”

“It has not been as easy to discuss things in public in an open, honest and transparent manner as before,” said Mr. Pinney.

Mr Pinney said: “The public meetings would continue to discuss monitoring and performance reports for revenue and capital, future transformation planning and budgets would be held in closed session.”

Councilor Stephen Hayes said the recommendation was a “full dog breakfast” and the result of too much discussion.

Cllr Dan Rowlands said: “I think that leaves a slight risk that at town halls officers and portfolio holders can bring these elegant reports on how finances look and then at the next meeting we have a frank and honest discussion of how this really looks.

“What is the process to monitor that we always give an honest report on the state of the finances?” “

Mr Pinney assured him that members of the Finance Panel would ensure that there was full transparency “where it is appropriate to do so”.

Committee Chairman Cllr Elwyn Vaughan, who is also a member of the current finance panel, said: at hand.

“The other challenge is when opposition parties in particular felt they were not involved in budgeting.

Cllr Kathryn Silk added that she felt she was “plump” to support the changes as no other options were offered.

Cllr Hayes proposed an amendment recommending that the council review best practices across Wales and put them in place ahead of the 2022 council elections.

Cllr Hayes said: “If we reform ourselves with what has been suggested now, we are not necessarily going to serve the next council well.”

This counter-proposal was then voted on and rejected by two votes in favor, four against and three abstentions.

Cllr Vaughan then put the original recommendation to a vote.

Three councilors voted against and one abstained – the silence of the other five councilors was seen as approval.

The changes will be submitted to a full board meeting to be discussed on September 23.

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Information Service

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