The proposed cuts to nursery education have been put on hold after parents fighting the proposals instigated a judicial review process. Rhondda Cynon Taff Councillors were this week told by the Council's legal officer that "it would not be appropriate for Members to make any public comment regarding the proposed litigation."
In an email to all elected members Paul Lucas, Director of Legal & Democratic Services and the Council's Monitoring Officer, said
'Elected Members will recall that at the last meeting of Council 26th February 2014 I reported that letters were in circulation regarding potential litigation facing this Council with regard to Nursery Education. I further confirm that I will be dealing with all the legal aspects relating to those issues in accordance with the powers delegated to me by Article 14.03 of the Constitution.'
Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell was far from impressed
"If the Monitoring Officer is dealing with this under delegated powers then why would it make any difference if Councillors made comments on the process? Especially when the decision was taken by the Cabinet and had nothing to do with the rest of us.
"I can see two possible reasons for this 'advice.' Firstly it gives the Cabinet and other Labour Councillors the perfect get out so that they can avoid answering any questions from the public. They can simply put their hand in the air and claim it is not down to them, they have been told they should not speak.
"Secondly it could be seen as a gag for opposition Councillors such as myself to prevent them making comment in the press or on social media and showing support for the parents in their battle.
"The email gives no reasons for an imposed silence and unless and until the legal officer can come up with something more substantial then I will continue to comment as I see fit."