Inside the Chamber: Cllr Jayne Cowan – Cardiff Council July 2010

Councill Jayne Cowan, first elected to Cardiff Council in 1999, represents the Rhiwbina ward and sits as an Independent Councillor. Cowan is widely regarded as one of the hardest working councillors in Cardiff.  In an exclusive post for Cardiff East Councillor Cowan offers a unique eye-witness account of the last full council meeting before the summer recess that took place on Thursday 22nd July.

I thoroughly enjoy Council Meetings, and feel they are an important part of being an elected representative.  The Council meeting gives Councillors opportunities to pose questions to the Council’s Executive, the Chairs of Committees and the Council representatives on the Police and Fire Authorities.”

Cardiff City Hall is home to Cardiff Council's debating chamber where Cardiff's 75 councillors meet monthly. Photo: Penarth Framing Services http://www.penarthframing.com

Last Thursday’s meeting, on reflection, was an interesting meeting.  After the introduction of the Lord Mayor and the prayers by a member of the Clergy, the meeting commenced with all groups paying tribute to the acting Chief Executive Tom Morgan.

I for one will be sad to see Tom go as he is very passionate about his work in the Council and has overseen many large scale projects which will last the test of time.  Members referred to Tom’s passion for rugby and spending time with his grandchildren.  The Chamber was grateful to Tom for the 21 years service.  Cllr Goodway stated, “I was hoping you’d have gone on a lot longer” and this sentiment was echoed by other members.”

A member of the public tabled a question which was answered by Cllr Berman.   The questioner asked a supplementary question regarding the proposed schools reorganisation in Cardiff East and the results of a local referendum and started by asking Cllr Berman to answer the substantive question.  The Lord Mayor intervened and insisted that the member of the public should ask a question and not make a statement.  The speaker was passionate about the subject and wanted to know why the building on parks and green spaces hadn’t been voted in this Chamber so that the public would know how each person voted.

The first Annual Report of the Director of Social Services was discussed.  I feel passionately about this service area, and felt that the report was not detailed enough, but I was grateful to the Executive Member Cllr Dixon for the chance to debate it.  I felt strongly that the report referred to the point that Executive Members were well briefed, but I remain concerned that there was no mention of backbench members and opposition Councillors .”

A myriad of questions were tabled for answer.  I remain surprised that some Members do not take part in the meeting, either by posing questions or taking part in debates.  This is an opportunity for members of the public to see their elected Councillors in action and I feel strongly that the Council should publish on their website the number of questions posed by each Councillor and also the number of times they have contributed to debate.  I understand this is only a part of being a Councillor, but the Council as a whole needs to be proactive when sharing information with the public about their representatives.

After taking legal advice, my ward colleague and husband Adrian Robson and I declared an interest in the Standards and Ethics item as my parents next door neighbour was due for re-nomination on the committee.  We left the Chamber at this point.

No debate took place on the adoption of Powers relating to the business of acupuncture, tattooing, semi-permanent skin-colouring, cosmetic piercing and electrolysis.

Nominations were then placed before members for Governing Bodies.  None were contested on this occasion.

The press and public were then excluded, and the webcam switched off while a public services Ombudsman Report was debated.

Questions which had been tabled by Members were answered by Members of the Executive and the Chairman of the Planning Committee.

Independent Councillor Jayne Cowan

For more information about the Council Meeting please log on to www.cardiff.gov.uk/webcasting or visit your local library where hard copies of paperwork will be made available.”

Members of the Public are able to table a question at a Council Meeting and can obtain more information by contacting me – jcowan@cardiff.gov.uk, tel 029 2062 7757 or direct mobile 079 7001 3332.  I can be followed on twitter also on twitter.com/jaynecowan

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