Will Ceredigion county councillors ever assert themselves? Will they ever find the courage to shake themselves into the realisation that they were elected to lead, not to meekly accede to the preferences of the council’s chief executive?
Recent evidence is not encouraging. It’s frankly alarming that most councillors deferentially obeyed a command from CEO Eifion Evans to attend a mandatory meeting following protests by members dissatisfied over inadequate lines of communication between them and council officials.
To hear of councillors describing this enforced meeting as comparable to “being brought in front of the headmaster” is toe-curlingly embarrassing. Have these elected members surrendered all dignity? Why did none of them apparently have enough gumption to point out that it’s not a function of the chief executive to lord it over members, that any such meeting should properly have been called not by an official but by the leader, or chair, of the council? Why this spinelessness?
It would be futile to try to argue seriously that electronic or phone communication between councillors and officials, and between the public and officials, are just as good as face-to-face contact. They aren’t, and to pretend they are won’t solve the problem. Yet quality of communication is vital for any authentically democratic council.