PACT meeting shambles in Fairwater

September 2, 2010 3 Comments »

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

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  1. hrwaldram September 2, 2010 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Hi Paul,

    I too was one of the people waiting outside Pentrebane community centre last night and I'd like to add a few facts to enlighten what actually happened.

    The community centre had been closed for six weeks over the summer period and yesterday was the first day it was due to reopen – both the frontline support officer and the PACT chair had contacted the lady who was responsible for looking after the key to open the centre – and she had said she wold be there on time to open up or it would already by open. The lady in question is someone I know and is quite responsible, reliable, and I was informed if there had been a change of plan she would have contacted the PACT chair.

    Once it transpired the PACT meeting could no longer go ahead in the venue, councillor Neil McEvoy suggested having an open-air meeting (the weather was quite nice), but this was not favoured by residents.

    There is a reason the police could not hold the meeting in the nearby pub – PACT meetings need to be on neutral ground for residents and police – the pub venue had not been arranged with the landlord and it would be unfair for the police to barge in to hold a meeting – which may put off regular punters which in turn would not be well-received by the landlord.

    It was frustrating that the PACT meeting could not go ahead – especially with such a good turnout fmor residents – but it was simply the result of an unforseeable event and it would be unfair to plant the blame on anybody.

    The police and councillor did hand out their print-outs with updates from the last meeting and stuck around to hear any pressing concerns from residents.

    The next meeting will be in two weeks time.

  2. Richard Cook September 2, 2010 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Funnily enough the Canton PACT meeting on Tuesday could not get into the booked meeting room at Taff Housing as they had not told the police that they were shut! But we all went across the road and had the meeting in a rather cramped office at Canton police station. In Canton we thought it would be a waste of everybodys time to re-schedule the meeting – we just got on with it and had a successful meeting anyway.

    • Elaine Ballard November 18, 2010 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Hello Cllr Cook,

      You are right that there was no access to Taff's conference suite on that day – it was the day after Bank Holiday, which is a concessionary day for the Association. We realised our mistake, unfortunately after the event, and apologised to the Police for the inconvenience caused. We're glad you were able to make other arrangements at short notice, and we will ensure that there are no clashes between PACT meetings and office closures in future.

      Elaine Ballard
      Chief Executive, Taff Housing Associaiton

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