Wales’ Local Government Legislation Branded ‘Absolute Failure’ as ‘Secretive’ Councils Revealed
Welsh Conservatives have obtained figures showing the poor levels of transparency of town and community councils across Wales, with access to minutes and meetings ‘a mixed bag’.
Out of the 734 community councils in Wales, 10% (74) do not have websites, while 69 have no email addresses and 19 have no electronic presence whatsoever.
Use of social media is also scarce, with two-thirds, or 510 councils, not having basic access to Facebook or Twitter, which are both free to run. Only 85 councils have both, with a further 126 only having Facebook and 12 having Twitter.
Welsh translation is also rare as just a third (245) of the 659 councils whom have their own website, had the option of translating their pages into Welsh or English.
Carmarthenshire has the most town and community councils without any electronic presence, with five, while Ceredigion and Conwy both have four each.
This comes five years on from the Welsh Labour Government’s Local Government (Democracy) Act 2013. The legislation requires community councils to publish information and notices electronically.
The Welsh Government is currently undertaking a review of town and community councils.
Shadow Local Government Secretary Janet Finch-Saunders AM said:
“The Welsh Labour Government are obsessed with re-organising councils but are yet to fulfil their legislative objectives set five years ago.
“To have such a large amount of community and town councils which are in charge of public money and make decisions on behalf of society operating in such secretive ways is disgraceful and, simply put, anti-democratic.
“If Wales truly is a democratic nation, then this ‘behind closed doors culture’ cannot be tolerated.
“Setting up a website and having an email address is an easy and fundamental part of engagement, and making minutes and meetings public is demanded by the law of the land.
“It is time for the Cabinet Secretary to grow a backbone and tell these town and community councils that they have to get with the times and accept the accountability that comes with the job – no ifs, no buts.”