Welsh democracy being held behind closed doors

The number of council cabinet meetings held behind closed doors has increased, according to figures uncovered by the Welsh Conservatives.

New research shows that 38.5% of all cabinet meetings at Welsh councils contained at least one item from which the public was excluded in 2016/17 – compared to 36% in 2015/16.

Labour-run Bridgend council barred the public from all or part of 93% of its cabinet meetings over the period.

Meanwhile Conwy (81%), Carmarthenshire (71%) and Merthyr Tydfil (71%) also held large numbers of meetings behind closed doors.

Commenting on the figures, Shadow Local Government Secretary, Janet Finch-Saunders, said:

“I firmly believe in the principle of openness and transparency in all decisions made by elected politicians.

“Yet for all too many residents across the country, Welsh democracy is being held behind closed doors.

“Some Welsh councils routinely exclude the public from meetings at which they take important decisions about taxpayers’ cash and the delivery of public services.

“That can’t be right, and in an age of low voter engagement councils should be taking steps to boost transparency – not to pull back the curtains.

“Under Labour rule, council tax has risen by 187%*, and residents must be able to see for themselves whether their money is being spent wisely.

“Clearly that’s not possible when democracy is being held behind closed doors.”