Wednesday 12 February 2014

Gloucestershire Police to investigate Carmarthenshire Council - updated

The South Wales Guardian has just confirmed that the police will be investigating Carmarthenshire council with regards to possible criminal activity over the WAO reports concerning the pension payments and the libel indemnity relating to the Chief Executive.
Dyfed Powys Police have issued this statement;

"We have now fully considered the three Public Interest Reports published on 30th January 2014 by Wales Audit Office, into matters relating to Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire County Councils. 
"As a result, the Force has decided that it is a matter which should be investigated in the public interest by the Police, to ascertain whether or not any criminal offences have taken place. 
"Due to the close working relationships and partnership arrangements that exist between Dyfed-Powys Police and both local authorities, it is not appropriate for the Force to carry out the enquiry. 
"As such the matter has been referred to Gloucestershire Constabulary who will undertake the investigation. 
"Dyfed-Powys Police would like to make it absolutely clear that this decision has been taken by the Police alone, and has in no way been influenced by political commentary or media reporting on this issue." (SW Guardian
Western Mail now reporting; Police launch investigation into 'unlawful' payments made to council chief executives

...and BBC Wales here

More soon.

Update 19:00;
In an unbelievable statement Council leader Kevin Madge seems to have missed the point completely. Incredibly he seems to have put all this down to "political point scoring".

There is no mention of any suspensions just that he's asked the Welsh Local Government Association, of which, I believe, he is a deputy chairman, to undertake a review of the council's corporate governance procedures.

Dear oh dear.

The statement was not issued by the council but by the Labour Party press office in Cardiff.

(South Wales Guardian)

Update 19:35
Plaid Cymru Carmarthenshire have just released this statement:

Plaid Cymru reiterates calls for chief executive suspension following confirmation of Police investigation
‘Carmarthenshire Council bereft of leadership’

Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards and County Councillor Peter Hughes Griffiths have responded to the announcement made by Dyfed Powys Police Force this afternoon which confirmed the Gloucestershire police will be investigating whether any criminal activity has taken place in relation to the Wales Audit Office reports which concluded two matters decided by Carmarthenshire Council were ‘unlawful’.

Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards said:

“The public, media, county residents and all observers immediately recognised the seriousness of the audit reports when they were published two weeks ago.   I welcome the action of the police today as this situation clearly merits investigation.

“The Labour leader of Carmarthenshire Council, Kevin Madge, has been dragged kicking and screaming into showing just an ounce of leadership but he has failed.  He has failed again today with his response to the police investigation.  For the past thirteen days Kevin Madge has been more interested in issuing personal attacks on anyone who dared to question his extremely poor judgement.

“Now that we have a police investigation underway, the Chief Executive should be immediately suspended from his post.  It beggars belief that the Chief Executive is in office whilst the police are investigating whether any criminal activity has taken place.  Carmarthenshire Council, with the Labour and Independent parties at the helm, is bereft of leadership.

“The inaction of the council leader and his astonishing attempts to undermine the integrity of the independent auditor has seen the First Minister of Wales and the Labour party head office dragged in to try and sort out the mess Kevin Madge has created.

“Labour-run Caerphilly Council suspended its Chief Executive within two days of their audit office reports.  Pembrokeshire Labour party has called for the immediate suspension of its Chief Executive.  But what we’re seeing in Carmarthenshire, however, is that the Labour party is in meltdown and has absolutely no authority in the council it is supposed to lead.

“At every level of government civil servants advise and elected politicians decide - the same applies to Carmarthenshire Council.  The Executive Board is responsible for the unlawful decisions they have taken.

“The elected leaders of the council should therefore apologise to the taxpayers’ of Carmarthenshire for their unlawful actions and resign.  It is the bare minimum they should do as a result of the damaging audit reports, and for their subsequent actions in treating Carmarthenshire residents with contempt.

“Kevin Madge’s defiance, dithering and delay has seen the good name of Carmarthenshire dragged through the mud.  His disgraceful behaviour in approving a tax avoidance scheme should alone make him hang his head in shame.”

Leader of the Plaid Cymru opposition group on Carmarthenshire Council, Councillor Peter Hughes Griffiths added:

“The announcement of the police investigation confirms the seriousness of the situation the council finds itself in, and fully justifies the concerns we’ve raised for the last two weeks.
“The response of the Labour council leader is totally unbelievable. How can he justify not immediately suspending the council's Chief Executive? His suggestion of an external inquiry by the WLGA is quite pathetic.

“Cllr Madge seems to have lost his grasp on the situation entirely. As Leader, he failed to take decisive action when the reports were published and he has failed to take decisive action today. How can he remain in his post?  The public will think it disgraceful that the council leader has ducked the political decisions required in his role.

“With a police investigation confirmed, the public will now rightly expect every Labour and Independent councillor to accept these reports and the serious conclusions they have reached.

“We want to restore democracy to the council and restore the good name of Carmarthenshire.  We are ready and open to talk to all councillors who are prepared to lift the county out of the mess created by the Labour and Independent executive board.”


Anonymous said...

surely it is now only fair to all of those involved that the principle players in this saga be suspended pending the investigatiion. It would be absolutely normal practice and is designed to protect both the organisation and the individuals. Supension does not imply or infer guilt it just allows space for an investigation to take place.

Anonymous said...

At bleedin last!!!

Anonymous said...

About time too.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Gloucestershire Police force would like to kill two birds with one stone by delving a little further e.g. into WEFO funded projects? Are there any Cllrs in Carmarthenshire who would like to take a leaf out of Jacob Williams book? See below:-

Jacob Williams says, "The grant scheme documents are stored in a room known as the ‘data room.’ I booked an appointment yesterday afternoon, where Mike Stoddart joined me.

Mike revealed an alarming discovery he had made, which we took to the director of finance and leisure, who decided it was time to refer the matter to the police."