Friday 14 February 2014

Plaid petition; No Confidence in Carmarthenshire Council's Leadership

Following yesterday evening's urgent Executive Board meeting there has been total silence from County Hall. It is not even clear what the purpose of this 'informal' meeting was. According to Kevin Madge it was to update Members on his meeting with the police the previous day, others insist it was to determine whether the Chief Executive should be immediately suspended.

Rumours are circulating that Kevin Madge is under pressure from Cardiff Labour HQ to suspend the Chief Exec, the Chief Exec, apparently, has flatly refused to go. Further rumours suggest that Meryl Gravell and the independent members on the Board are going to defend his position no matter what.

If this position remains, presumably the police investigation will commence with all involved remaining in situ, surely a completely nonsensical situation.

Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas has issued the following press release, and set up a petition. Please sign, whatever your political persuasion;

Council’s leadership faces community petition of no confidence

Following the astonishing events in County Hall, and the failure of the council leader to suspend the authority’s Chief Executive when the police announced a criminal investigation, Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas has today launched an online petition for members of the public to express their lack of confidence in the Council leadership.

On Monday, the Plaid Cymru opposition councillors will be submitting motions of no confidence in 3 members of the Council’s executive board.  They will also be submitting a motion to suspend the chief executive.

AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas said the petition he has established is for all residents of Carmarthenshire, irrespective of political persuasion, to send a strong message to county hall before those motions of no confidence are discussed.

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Assembly Member, Rhodri Glyn Thomas said:

“It’s been over two weeks since the damning Wales Audit Office reports were published.  Over two weeks and not a scrap of leadership has been forthcoming from the council leader, Kevin Madge.

“His and his executive board colleague’s unwavering defiance of the Auditor’s findings, and their attempts to defend the indefensible has seen the First Minister of Wales dragged into the mess.

“Plaid Cymru, and more importantly, the public recognised the seriousness of the situation fifteen days ago but the council leadership has done next to nothing.

“It is crystal clear that Carmarthenshire is bereft of leadership.  It is also clear that only Plaid Cymru’s motions of no confidence can bring any sense of authority back to the council.

“I see this as a petition for all residents of Carmarthenshire irrespective of political persuasion.   I want residents to sign our petition and send a strong message to the leadership of county hall that their actions are dragging the good name of Carmarthenshire through the mud.

“Our petition can be signed by visiting my website”  

Having just watched Pembrokeshire Council webcast meeting with regards to the pension scandal I suggest readers watch the archive. It was astounding. 

When it came to the vote to suspend the Chief Executive it transpired that the monitoring officer of the council had given Tim Kerr QC a brown envelope (in the car) containing press cuttings from those who had expressed an opinion in the press that the CEO should be suspended or resign. 

It didn't contain names of those who had expressed an alternative view. 

Just before the vote, Mr Kerr QC warned that those Cllrs may have to withdraw over prejudicial interest, he didn't mention the envelope until pushed on the issue. At first he insisted that the envelope had been given to him anonymously.

Disgusted opposition councillors finally walked out. The Leader then tried to have the vote anyway but fortunately the proposer of the motion withdrew it before he could get away with that one.

I leave the rest of the farce for now, I'm sure our Pembrokeshire bloggers will update us with all the details.

Let's hope there are no similar 'envelope' incidents in Carmarthenshire....


Anonymous said...

Are we in Wales or in deepest Russia ?
For God's sake let's get rid of these people.
They are an utter disgrace to Wales, UK and human rights.

Lesley Williams said...

I, too, watched the farcical proceedings at the Pembs CC meeting today and I have no doubt that many interested parties in Carms CC were also picking up tips and pointers as to how the Extraordinary meeting here can be sabotaged in a similar way. To their credit, several Pembrokeshire councillors said that this was a travesty of democracy and appeared to be ashamed, embarrassed and angered by the way the meeting had been manipulated. I have a horrible feeling that the same thing will happen here.

Ken Haylock said...

I want to understand what happened in Pembs. Is it really the case that any councillor who has an opinion on anything (as opposed to a pecuniary interest) is disqualified from debating or voting on that topic, or being present when it is discussed?

That rather tears it for manifestos, then, doesn't it. And means that only dribbling morons with no independent thought processes can expect to spend more time in the council chamber than out of it.

Of course, it doesn't take much to see that a controlling junta can supress any and all debate on a critical issue within the chamber on pretext after pretext for an extended period, and then disqualify anybody who has expressed an opinion on said issue outside the chamber (the only place they are allowed to get their views on record) from participating when a debate finally is allowed. Is that _really_ what the code of conduct is meant to enable? Seriously? I doubt it. If it is, the code of conduct is not fit for purpose. Of course 'pre-judging an issue' is a problem, but many times I have expressed a view on an issue based on the facts that I know now, and then changed my mind when new facts become available. If no new facts were made available to me then I was very unlikely to change my mind for no good reason. If it is the law as intended that no councillor is allowed to form any kind of view about an issue until it is actually debated in the council chamber, then nothing will ever get debated by anybody with more than two brain cells to rub together!

Of course, since this... surely novel... interpretation of the Code of Conduct was sprung on councillors at the meeting by a QC hired at the expense of the people of Pembrokeshire to represent... the officers who were about to be suspended (ta da!) for following the same QC's... novel... legal advice, now acting against the wishes of the councillors _elected_ by the people of Pembrokeshire, he obviously knew in advance what his ambush strategy was, while the ambushees had no opportunity to seek independent legal advice themselves to discover whether the QC's interpretation of the code of conduct was one that would survive a trip to court.

Carmarthenshire councillors interested in formally suspensing both the Chief Executive & the Acting Legal Officer at least would be well advised to band together to seek independent legal advice as to the correct interpretation of the code of conduct as it relates to expressing views publicly on matters where debate inside the council chamber has been suppressed and information has not been freely shared. If it turns out that merely saying, or even thinking, that Mark James (and possibly others) should be suspended pending completion of the Police Investigation into his conduct before the junta graciously permit a debate to take place in the chamber, then I'd advise every and all opposition councillor, and those Labour members whose constitution is not strong enough to stomach what will almost certainly be done in their name, to just stay home, let them have a Soviet Style meeting of Apparatchiks for Commendation of Glorious Revolution Ever Marching Onward In Carmarthenshire without lending it the credibility of even attending. If on the other hand, it turns out that that draconian interpretation of the code of conduct is total cobblers, that fact should be shared widely and publicly amongst potential participants as soon as possible. And also shared with the councillors across the county boundary, who will surely be at least twice as apoplectic as some of them apparently already are if they can be told that that they've been stitched up again by rotten self-serving legal advice commissioned by officers!

Anonymous said...

Surely every Coucillor who had shown or expressed a view of support for the Scarlets should have been asked in the same way to leave the Chamber before the decision was taken to given them a new stadium? did that happen i think not.