Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Pembrey Park scandal, an update - updated

Later post 11th July here.

Scroll to end of post for update 6th July

Back in March an internal audit report emerged identifying serious issues with the running of Pembrey Country Park and the Millenium Coast. The audit was carried out following the retirement of the previous director and deputy chief executive, Mr. Dave Gilbert. These issues were described as 'historic' and assurances were given that no fraud had been identified.

Calls by councillors to be told exactly what had gone on, and to involve the police and the Wales Audit Office were dismissed by council leader Dole as the height of impertinence, shrugged off, and matters remained in-house.

In April the Herald reported on further allegations including recorded phone calls suggesting a cover-up of the 'issues' by very senior officers, for example, "for f***s sake don't go to the police". The Herald also learned that some documentation had now been passed to the police though not, of course, by the council. It was also rumoured that a senior manager had been suspended from within the department.

Meanwhile, a further report is going to the Audit Committee next week (Fri 8th July) to update them on the 'action plan' and progress made to date. Reassurances are given to the committee, in the form of restructuring, realignments and the creation of more managers, to suggest that all is now in hand.

A little more detail of those 'historic issues' can be read from the report, for example;

"It was not possible to place an assurance that all income due has been collected, recorded, banked, monitored and accurately reflected in the Authority’s accounts."

To you and me this means quite simply that money went missing.

"It is not possible to place an assurance that all assets are fully accounted for."

So not only did money go missing but so did equipment.

And "Employee Declaration of Interests are not being completed when it would be appropriate to do so" suggests a very smelly can of worms.

There was a failure to follow Financial Procedure Rules, Contract Procedure Rules, Quotation Procedure Rules, Transport & Engineering Unit Policy, Health & Safety, Building Regulations, Control of Vibration at Work Regulations and Human Resource Policies.

There were also issues with public liability insurance cover, and also the security and safety of fuel storage.

All in all a time bomb waiting to happen. The problem for the council is not what actually happened, maybe the police will make their own enquiries (if their time is not wasted elsewhere), nor future measures to rectify the mess, but who knew what was going on, and for how long.

As I have said before, even I have been aware of serious allegations for over two years and the information which has emerged inside and outside the confines of County Hall makes it very apparent that the knowledge, and alleged cover-up, went right to the very top.

Update 6th July

Labour group leader Cllr Jeff Edmunds has tabled a question (see below) to Council leader Emlyn Dole for next Wednesday's full council meeting. Expect the usual flannel by way of a response so let's hope Cllr Edmunds can articulate a decent supplementary question.

“An article in the Llanelli Herald on the 20th May 2016 made extremely serious allegations against this council. The front page headline of the report was ' COUNCIL SCANDAL AT PEMBREY PARK' and this article alleged the 'fixing' of the contract to provide catering facilities at the park and conspiring the termination of employment of certain staff member(s) amongst other things. 
These are extremely distressing and alarming accusations of possible corruption in the authority and my question to The Leader of Council is:- 
What is the council's current situation surrounding these allegations and what are we doing about it?”.


Anonymous said...

Same old story.Now Plaid and officers on the same side.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if we could do away with politics.
Then we could have Councillors who care for their beliefs and not party gang warfare.

76 and fed up to the teeth with corruption.

Anonymous said...

Criminal conduct doesn't ever run out of time to be investigated. Many examples of that. Just requires the will to investigate.

Teifion said...

The Police involved? Can we honestly expect them to investigate their (what's the phrase?) a sister agency?
From the goings on in Pembrokeshire we know they really don't want to lift that stone because of that they might find underneath it :(

Anonymous said...

Well! I've read the Audit report. Now call the cops!

Anonymous said...

The answer will surely be - the same as with all similar accusations - ignore it and it will go away, eventually, as we are totally unaccountable anyway.

Teifion said...

Can someone report the Police for apparent dereliction of duty ?