A MEETING called for all Ceredigion councillors by Chief Executive Eifion Evans following public rows over access to council officers has been described as “being brought in front of the headmaster”.
All councillors were told to attend the “mandatory” in-person meeting at Penmorfa on Thursday, 7 September, although it is understood more than half a dozen councillors did not attend.
Mr Evans called the closed from the public and press ‘workshop’ following a heated row among councillors and Mr Evans at a scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday, 19 July.
Discussing the performance of the council’s one-stop services shop CLIC, councillors said the system was flawed and that councillors could not get hold of officers to deal with any issues in their ward.
Trefeurig Councillor Caryl Roberts – who was elected in May last year – told that meeting she was “categorically” told not to communicate with officers over issues raised by residents. Mr Evans said that was a “lie” and that he was “very disappointed with the comments.”
Councillors who were in attendance at the meeting and have spoken to the Cambrian News said it was “like being brought in front of the headmaster”.
The meeting consisted of “long debates” about the ability to contact officers and the efficacy of the CLIC system when trying to get issues resolved, but councillors “didn’t get the answers we were looking for,” one councillor said.
At a cabinet meeting on 5 September, council leader Cllr Bryan Davies scotched the idea that officers are more difficult to get hold of.
“People mistakenly believe they don’t have access to officers as they did before Covid, but really nothing has changed,” he told the meeting. “Just because the officers aren’t in council offices, they are still working hard and performance has improved.”
It is understood that at the meeting it was made clear that councillors could contact officers, with “two layers” of management available for councillors to call on if their issue isn’t resolved by CLIC.
The current CLIC system, which is also used by the public to report issues, does not prioritise issues raise by councillors, the meeting was told.