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

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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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Cerys Furlong: a new generation of Cardiff Councillor

Councillor Cerys Furlong

Writing exclusively for CARDIFF EAST Councillor Cerys Furlong opens up on what life is like as a Cardiff Councillor. The Labour Councillor for Canton, first elected in 2008, is part of a new generation of councillors contributing to civic life in the capital. Widely regarded as a talented councillor to watch Furlong reflects on her two years in the chamber.

I was elected to represent Canton ward in May 2008. My predecessor in Canton was David Thomas, now sadly deceased. I had the good fortune of Dave’s advice on a number of occasions before being elected. His favourite pearl of wisdom was “don’t let it take over your life”. Hmmm… I’d like to take the liberty of testing out that advice here, in a short view of what it’s really like to be a Councillor.

I thought I had a pretty good idea having known my now colleagues Richard Cook and Ramesh Patel for a number of years. They set a challenging benchmark, and I recall saying to them “I won’t be able to do everything you do!”  That is indeed true, working full time, and being a Cllr is something I am still trying to juggle. However, in Canton we try to share out the work between us which makes life considerably easier. 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

CARDIFF EAST EXCLUSIVE: John Dixon reflects on new media’s role in ‘Stupidgate’

John Dixon’s post has captured your imaginations. Read the South Wales Echo’s coverage of Councillor’s Dixon’s exclusive post for Cardiff East. Your Cardiff reports that Councillor Dixon will appear before Cardiff Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee in September.

In a post written exclusively for CARDIFF EAST Councillor John Dixon reflects on the week he became the centre of a national media story. The Liberal Democrat Councillor for Adamsdown first elected to Cardiff Council in 1999, sits on the Council’s Executive and is responsible for Health, Social and Wellbeing.

This week I feel like I now know what it’s like for a star to go nova – for my life to suddenly explode (generating a lot of heat, and hopefully some light too), before gradually returning to normal again.

This week I learned the power of social media, and possibly glimpsed the future democratisation of news.”

Councillor John Dixon in an exclusive guest post for Cardiff East examines the impact of new media and what it might mean for Cardiff's councillors.

It started fairly normally – a Monday like any other. During the day, David James called from the Echo. I guess it was a fairly slow news day, as he wanted to chat to me about a rather old complaint which the Ombudsman was investigating – a Tweet I posted while in London last May on Tottenham Court Road, which said “I didn’t know the Scientologists had a ‘church’ on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off.”

I gave him the details but, because the case hadn’t yet been heard by the Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee, at the time, thought it best not to comment. What can I say? I like a quiet life. Continue reading

Old St. Mellons Village Fete 2010

The Playing Field, on Ty’r Winch Road Old St. Mellons was the place to be on Saturday afternoon as the Old St. Mellons Village Association staged the local annual fete. People and cars poured through the gates to the Playing Field on a hot, muggy July day.

Cllr Jane Rogers, Cllr Dianne Rees - Deputy Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Gwen Jones - outgoing Chairman of Old St. Mellons Community Council and Rev. Kellen - St. Mellons Parish Church Photo: KP Jones

There was obvious local pride that Old. St. Mellons and Pontprennau Councillor Dianne Rees is currently serving as the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cardiff. The gleaming chains of office drew much attention to the popular local councillor. Her deputy mayoral chains are engraved with names of her predecessors, a continuing link in the long history of Cardiff.

Excited children were confronted with an early choice: the ice cream van or a fire engine to explore in awe. Over the winter months extra items of play equipment, a small climbing frame and a see-saw had been added to the Playing Field along with a refurbishment of the tennis courts. Happy, smiling youngsters were putting the facilities to good use during the afternoon. A particular highlight, for many,  were the children in Welsh national costume from the St. Mellons Church in Wales Primary School taking to the centre of the fete and dancing. Continue reading

Trowbridge Community Centre – The Inside Story

Writing exclusively for Cardiff East Trowbridge Councillor Ralph Cook gives the inside account of how the new community centre came to be built. The Labour councillor, first elected to Cardiff Council in 1999, becomes the first of east Cardiff’s politicans to write for Cardiff East.

Councillor Ralph Cook

The ongoing controversy about the new Trowbridge Community Centre is something that need never have happened. I was elected as one of three Labour Councillors for the Trowbridge Ward in Cardiff (includes the area known as New St. Mellons), in May 1999. I had several key objectives (most of which have been achieved, or are about to be) and amongst these was to have the old Trowbridge Shopping Precinct redeveloped. Built in the 1960s it was a classic concrete monstrosity that served an important role until the changes sweeping local retail aside in favour of supermarkets really took hold in the 1980s. Gradually the shopping centre entered a cycle of decline that ultimately led to the Council facing difficulties in attracting retail tenants and the yobs and vandals took over.

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