In a letter to the Echo, Keith Parry -one of my local councillors – questioned my right to comment on events that I had not attended, stating “None of my colleagues has ever seen Paul Seligman at a Fairwater Pact meeting since the process began”.
I don’t accept his logic. Although first-hand knowledge is useful, we all comment on events based on the best information we can get. In this case, the basic facts were not in dispute – another local councillor (Mr McEvoy) publicly called a local resident a liar and was subsequently criticised for his behaviour by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
However, it’s true that I hadn’t attended a PACT (Police and Communities Together) meeting since he and his colleagues were elected. I’m involved with the community in other ways, and the meetings (when I have heard about them) have clashed with other commitments.
Nonetheless, I told several people – including Cllr Parry – that I would attend the next PACT meeting to demonstrate my commitment to the process.
I turned down an invitation to a meal at a family member’s new home to make sure I could go tonight (September 1st) and rushed to get there after a 9-hour working day.
Police and residents were milling around outside the Community Centre where the meeting was to be held. It transpired that the building was locked and the caretaker not available.
We were asked if we would be happy to cross the road to the local pub, where a room was available. There was apparently general agreement and a group of us went to the pub. After some 15 minutes, we concluded that we were not being followed by the others. We returned to the grounds of the community centre where they had remained and eventually the organisers announced that they were postponing the meeting to an unspecified date. No contact details were taken.
I don’t want to exaggerate the importance of one minor incident, or to criticise the police who wasted their own time as well as mine, though I presume they were being paid. But if something is important, and you take a professional approach, you plan it properly and you check the arrangements beforehand.
It’s discouraging to anyone who isn’t a regular attendee to have an evening wasted like that. It’s unlikely that I will have another free evening at short notice, so I will probably miss the rescheduled meeting – assuming I hear about it at all.
But, Cllr Parry, I tried.
This is a guest post from Paul Seligman, a resident of Fairwater