SCRUTINISING the budget and financial issues at Powys County Council (PCC) could become even trickier.

A proposal is being put in front of the democratic services committee on Monday, September 30, and will be discussed by councillors which could see finance panel meetings taking place under the veil of secrecy.

The meetings have only just started to be held in public this year after a decision was made in January by the full council for the committee's work to come out of the shadows.

The report from head of democratic services, Wyn Richards, says: “At the meeting of the group leaders, there was a discussion as to whether the finance panel’s meetings should be held in private rather than in public as agreed by council in January 2019.”

The group leaders are: Rosemarie Harris (Independent), Aled Davies (Conservative), James Gibson-Watt (Liberal Democrat/Green,), Mathew Dorrance (Labour) and Elwyn Vaughan (Plaid Cymru).

Mr Richards added: "It was suggested that holding meetings in public inhibited the panel in being able to discuss matters such as budget proposals to the same extent as they could in private.

“If the panel agrees that future meetings should be held in private, a recommendation will be required to council to that effect.”

At its next meeting on Wednesday, October 2, the finance panel is set to discuss the proposal and a final decision will be taken at a full council meeting as it would mean changing parts of the constitution.

This year, PCC’s culture of secrecy has got worse.

The planning department has stopped putting public comments for or against planning applications on its website portal.

This was done for fear of data breaches that could lead to a massive fine.

Although details from a Freedom of Information request shows the department took the decision to make financial savings.

Meetings of the taxi licensing committee are held behind closed doors as well as decisions on licensing pubs and restaurants for alcohol and temporary event notices.