Inside the Chamber: Cllr Jayne Cowan – Cardiff Council February 2011

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 council meeting that took place on Thursday 24th February 2011.

Jayne Cowan

When I approached the City Hall Car Park, I noticed several barriers were in place with Council Officers and members of the Police Force standing close to the protestors.  Councillors were handed leaflets from an organisation called, “Cardiff Against the Cuts”.

Very few people were in the public gallery at the start of the meeting.  I wondered why the protestors weren’t there watching the debate.

The Council Meeting was opened by the Lord Mayors Chaplain with prayers.

The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted with a minor correction – the number of people who abstained at a vote from the previous meeting.  The Lord Mayor asked Councillors to declare any interests they had in accordance with the Code of Conduct.  Councillors need to complete forms and declare their interest to the Chamber if they have interests in any of the items debated.

A number of announcements were made, including a reference made by a Councillor who confirmed that the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service will be going to New Zealand to assist in the aftermath of the recent earthquake.

I am pleased that I wrote to the Lord Mayor asking if all Groups could say a few words about an officer in charge of Committee and Member Services who was leaving the employ of the Council after 42 years service.  All Group Leaders paid tribute to the gentleman who is well respected across the political divide and will be sorely missed.

Three public questions were tabled for answer.  The issues raised related to CO2 emissions from waste incineration to the financial implications for Cardiff Council regarding a residual waste treatment facility or facilities and issues relating to Prosiect Gwyrdd

Two petitions were presented on behalf of residents.  One by myself regarding a highways and traffic issue in Rhiwbina and one by a Liberal Democrat Councillor regarding an aspect of the Council’s budget.

The Corporate Plan was discussed by several members across the political divide.  A request was made for the document to be referred back to a scrutiny committee, but this was rejected.  The Executive felt the document was positive for Cardiff, but the opposition groups highlighted the considerable failings including fly tipping, graffiti removal, the long time people needed to wait for disabled facilities grants which is set to become even longer.  The report was, however, passed.

The next item on the agenda was the Council’s budget.  The Labour Group did not table any alternative proposals, so the only two groups who had alternative proposals were the Independent Group and Conservative Group.  I was surprised to see the Conservative proposals on the order paper as there were statements which did not relate to specific savings which could be tracked.  One example is that the group asked the Chief Executive to find them half a million pounds worth of savings which is inappropriate to say the least.  There was a lengthy debate, and several members rose to their feet and made contributions.  The two sets of alternative proposals were lost and the Liberal Democrat and Plaid Budget was passed, seeing a Council Tax increase of nearly 2% to the Council taxpayer.  I felt that we could have had a slight reduction in Council Tax this year.

Council questions were tabled, and by this time less than half the Councillors were in the Chamber.  There were several issues under discussion including The Royal Wedding, information about Danescourt Primary School and Asylum Seekers.

The Council proceedings were over at around 9pm, after two buffets paid for by the Council taxpayers were consumed, and 100 bottles of water at £1 per head were on offer.  The Independent Group are the only group not to partake in any of the refreshments or bottled water.

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

Inside the Chamber: Cllr Jayne Cowan – Cardiff Council January 2011

Council chamber in City Hall

Councillor 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 council meeting that took place on Thursday 27th January 2011.

The monthly Council Meeting was opened by the Lord Mayor at 4.30pm and was immediately suspended as the microphones were not working.  The meeting was then re-opened by the Lord Mayor who asked a selection of Councillors and Officer to vacate their seats whilst the microphones were checked.  After 15 minutes or so, the meeting was reconvened and the Chaplain opened the meeting with prayers.

The meeting agreed the minutes of the previous meeting, and the Lord Mayor made announcements.  A few Councillors then submitted petitions to the Council for answer.

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Plans to merge Llanrumney & Old St. Mellons wards

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales was asked by the Local Government Minister, Dr. Brian Gibbons to review the electoral arrangements in each principal local authority in Wales.

Early this year the Boundary Commission recommended that the wards of Llanrumney and Rumney merged. Following public consultation the Boundary Commission has now produced it’s Final Proposals for Cardiff City and County Council.

It recommends that the communities of Llanrumney and Old St. Mellons join to create a new ward that carries both names in its title.

By combining the Community of Llanrumney and the Community of Old St. Mellons an election division is formed with a total of 9,766 electors (10,201 projected) which, if represented by three councillors, has a level of representation of 3,255 electors per councillor which is less than 1% above the proposed county average of 3,252 electors per councillor. We consider this to be an appropriate level of representation for the area and put this forward as a proposal. We propose the name Llanrumney and Old St. Mellons for the proposed electoral division. We also propose to retain the existing Rumney electoral division.”

The Trowbridge ward which contains the communities of Trowbridge and the new St Mellons estate is not affected by the proposals.

CARDIFF EAST EXCLUSIVE: Jonathan Morgan AM – Let the people elect Cardiff’s Mayor

In an EXCLUSIVE post for CARDIFF EAST Conservative Assembly Member Jonathan Morgan says it’s time the Welsh capital had a directly elected mayor. Jonathan Morgan, Assembly Member for Cardiff North, was elected to the Assembly at its inception in 1999. Morgan is regarded as one of the most articulate Assembly Members currently in the Senedd.

Anyone that knows me, know that I’m passionate about the city of Cardiff. I have lived here all my life; I was born here, schooled here, I went to university here, I have worked here and I now have the great honour of representing part of the city and its residents in the National Assembly.

Jonathan Morgan AM: "A directly elected mayor would give Cardiffians a direct say..."

The city has carried with it some of the greatest historical, social and cultural achievements that Britain has ever generated; a city which celebrates its considerable past and its confidence in the future.”

We have some of the most impressive architecture of any UK city – proud castles, highlighting our Norman and Victorian era; a civic centre to remind us of past great city leadership; sporting and leisure opportunities to match the very best in the UK.

Cardiff’s description as a modern, young European capital needs continuous support. Cities don’t achieve greatness just by acquiring a description; they require leadership and dedication by individuals who have vision. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Berman: “I appreciate people don’t want to lose Rumney Rec…”

Cardiff Council's leader Berman speaks out on Rec fate.

Liberal Democrat Council leader Rodney Berman yesterday broke his silence on the fate of Rumney Rec during an interview with the Guardian Cardiff.

The interview was titled: Leader of the council speaks on school reorganisation in the city

Cardiff East requested an interview with Councillor Berman but was told that he was a busy man. Councillor Berman suggested that we e-mail him some questions. We e-mailed him 10 Qs that we list below.

We issue an open invitation for Council leader Berman to answer the questions in the spirit in which they were intended. We will also offer Mr. Berman the chance to include his own words as to the rationale behind the council’s plans for building the Eastern High School on the Rumney Recreation Ground.

We make Mr. Berman the promise that we shall post his answers and words in their entirety and without comment for you to read. Continue reading

Comment: Propaganda paid for by taxpayers

Read here the letter I had published in today’s South Wales Echo

Whilst Alun Michael MP writes to Viewpoints (Echo 30 June) in defence of the Rumney Recreation Ground, “City council must listen to the people and scrap its proposals”, Cardiff council are having to apologise in the July edition of their Capital Times newspaper for confusing citizens about the Recreation Ground.

On the bottom of page 6 of the council’s own newspaper it states “In a report on the reorganisation of schools in the east of the city we said that the Welsh Assembly Government had approved the council’s plans to establish a new school on part of the Rumney Recreation Ground…we have been asked to point out that the scheme will still require planning permission for its site. We are happy to clarify the position and apologise for any confusion.”

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