Saturday 12 October 2013

Defending the indefensible

Council leader Kevin Madge has reacted to Rhodri Glyn Thomas's plea for the Welsh Government to place in Carmarthenshire Council in 'special measures' with a statement to the press seemingly incredulous that anyone thinks there's a problem with openness and transparency at the best council in Wales. Well, possibly not from where you're sitting Kev.

I am at a loss at where to begin on this deeply flawed view but perhaps, to keep this brief, I'll stick to Motions at meetings, as it was Wednesday's meeting which proved to be the final straw. Yes, he's right, councillors can bring issues to full council - as long as they now have seven seconders and it gets through the Chief Executive's office. ('Public question time' is completely unheard of by the way).

The topic of 'unlawful' payments, namely the pension scandal and the libel indemnity, was always going to be a sticky one to get on the agenda. Readers may remember late last year when the council pulled advertising from the South Wales Guardian after a mildly critical story, the evidence being an email leaked from the press office. 

The Plaid group put forward a Motion that the 'council respect the freedom of the local press'. Understandably they thought this scandal should be discussed in the Chamber. No chance. The Chief Executive, 'in consultation with the Chair' decided it was only worthy of private discussion between three senior council officers including the council's press manager, Debbie Williams (author of said email) and, yes, Cllr Pam Palmer.

So what about the extremely serious allegations of 'unlawful payments', will this be discussed at next month's meeting?
Cllr Madge hopes "that the difference of legal opinion might be resolved" by then, which is somewhat opposed to the Wales Audit Office view that; 
"If the council continues to oppose his [the appointed auditor] view he will also have to consider whether to apply to the courts for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful."
There's a long time between now and next month. Vague discussions and reports are promised for sometime next week, next month, whenever... and don't forget Kevin Madge himself was present at the two meetings where these questionable decisions were made, and the beneficiary was present at least one of them.
If I were cynical I'd say there was some serious stalling going on.

I suppose those involved in the 'unlawful' expenditure should count themselves lucky they hadn't done the evil deed of trying to film a council meeting; two squad cars and four police officers would have turned up, they would have been arrested, handcuffed and locked up...all within twenty minutes....

As you may be aware, Barnet blogger, the superb Mrs Angry has been following the goings on in Carmarthenshire and has updated her recent post; Daft Arrest: Welsh Assembly member calls for council to be put in special measures ... 


Anonymous said...

Kevin Madge is delusional if he thinks these latest revelations are going to be swept under the carpet!

Anonymous said...

This state of affairs can't go on any longer can it? Carmarthen council has become a laughing stock but if I were a taxpayer in the county I would certainly not be laughing.Why are the parties of the present administration clinging on in support of a chief executive who treats them with such distain?

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the news about the council employing private detectives to follow a teacher off work with stress without telling even the head of the school

caebrwyn said...

@anon 20:29

Yes, another shocker from Caerphilly

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be at all surprised that the same thing has happened in Carmarthenshire.