Friday 7 February 2014

Council Crisis - Statement from Cllr Caiach and further far

Cllr Caiach has responded to recent events and to the series of aggressive 'council' press releases by issuing the following statement to the press office. She has also asked the Chief Constable for a full investigation:

"Dear Press Office,

Your press release yesterday beginning "Councillors and officials...say they are bitterly disappointed and frustrated at misinformation being circulated.." etc which goes on to imply that the Councillors are all supportive of your view that the Wales Audit Office are possibly misinformed, incompetent and completely wrong about the illegal payments judged to have been made to our Chief Executive.

Yes, we are instructed to discuss the reports within 28 days but you insist on representing this meeting as merely an opportunity to show that the Wales Audit Office are mistaken about these matters by persuading the majority of 74 councillors that our officers are right and the Government's auditors are wrong.

Our officers have already had the opportunity to make their case against the draft report, and the Wales Audit Office has confirmed their initial opinion.

I presume you are instructed by the Council leader, Kevin Madge, and in future I ask that councillors are not mentioned in general, but by name.

I read the reports and the supplemental documents circulated to all Councillors. My conclusion was different to the council leader.

The issues are not just related to the payments but also to the fact that the majority of councillors were either not informed at all as in the case of the pension payments, or misinformed as in the libel indemnity case.

This case is also critical and important as it appears to be an attempt by our council to bypass the law of defamation by using an officer as a proxy to issue a libel counterclaim, something a council cannot do. If this were legal any council with a compliant officer could sue any member of the public in this way, using public funds. Clearly, in my view, an affront to democracy.

I have decided, taking into account the prevailing view of my constituents and using my own knowledge and judgement, to request the Chief Constable to initiate an investigation based on the Wales Audit Office findings, into whether or not there has been Misconduct in Public Office. The elected councillors are ultimately responsible for the proper conduct of the Authority.

As an elected councillor I believe the proper course of action is for an investigation into how and why these situations occurred.

I am, therefore, not "bitterly disappointed and frustrated at the misinformation being circulated around the recent Public Interest Report issued by the Wales Audit Office".
I believe the Wales Audit Office have issued this report after a careful examination of the facts and, I am not likely to be disappointed by "misinformation" you have not shared with me.

Any Councillors and Officers endorsing press releases should be named.

Please do not make reference to "Councillors" in generality again without contacting us.

Cllr Sian Caiach


In further developments a number of Carmarthenshire resident have written to the Welsh Minister for Local Government, Lesley Griffiths wondering whether the time has finally come for the Welsh Government to sit up and take notice and put the in 'Special Measures'. 

The Minister has, typically, been non-committal and responded to say that such action has to be on the instruction of the Auditor General. She confirms that she will be monitoring the situation closely and discussing with the Auditor General whether further action needs to be taken in relation to Carmarthenshire Council's entire governance and decision making processes.

Update 7th Feb; Following the Minister's quick response to residents' concerns yesterday, further representations have now been made to her pointing out that the emergency meeting arranged for the 27th February hardly shows any sense of urgency. The possibility that Mr Tim Kerr QC will invited down from London to attending the meeting has also been brought to her attention as this will incur a substantial cost.


Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM has tabled an urgent question to the First Minister for Tuesday's Plenary in the Senedd concerning the situation in Carmarthenshire.


All councillors were sent copies of the council's correspondence with the WAO, which now appears on the council website, along with the legal advice. Linda Rees Jones, Head of Law,  included this message in her accompanying email;

"Members will already be aware that a complaint has apparently been made to the police alleging misconduct in public office by myself in relation to this matter, although I only know what I have read in the press. I have had no formal notification of that fact myself.

I feel the need to remind members of that fact in case it affects the weight which you wish to attach to this email trail. However the contents of this email have been endorsed for release by the Director of Resources/S151 Officer who is copied in to this email."


....and finally, for now, rumours are circulating that the rapid developments seen this in the past few days could accelerate next week. It is also rumoured that Mr Tim Kerr QC will attend the 'emergency meeting' on the 27th February to put the council's case forward over the libel indemnity.
I'm still waiting for my invitation.


Anonymous said...

Who is the Auditor General and how can s/he be contacted?

caebrwyn said...

The Auditor General is Mr Huw Vaughan Thomas and can be contacted via the WAO website,