Monday 10 February 2014

Police to meet with Carmarthenshire Council leader

It has now been ten days since the auditor published his two reports; one concerning the unlawful libel indemnity here, and the second relating to the unlawful pension payments here. County Hall remains in complete denial and spent last week using the council website to issue hostile statements towards anyone who might be agreeing with the auditor, including the Auditor.

The special council meeting to 'discuss' the reports has been arranged for the 27th February (nearly two weeks after Pembrokeshire council which managed to arrange theirs for the 14th) and the Auditor has confirmed he will attend. It remains unclear at the moment whether Mr Kerr QC, Counsel for the council, will travel down from London for the occasion. I shall of course be travelling down from Llanwrda.

In a development this afternoon the Carmarthen Journal reported that the Deputy Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys Police has asked to meet council leader Kevin Madge later this week:

'The deputy chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police Gary Pritchard has asked to meet with Carmarthenshire Council leader Kevin Madge following a call to the police by MP Jonathan Edwards over Wales Audit findings into ‘unlawful’ payments.
Carmarthenshire Council confirmed Mr Madge would attend a meeting later this week to discuss the issues with Mr Pritchard. 
Dyfed-Powys Police told the Journal: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that they are liaising with both the Crown Prosecution Service and an external force in relation to the report issued by the Wales Audit Office last week.” 
Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards outlining his reasons for contacting the police, said: “The reports are extremely damaging. In my mind the findings justify dismissal of senior council officers and should make the council’s elected leadership stand down from their roles."    (Carmarthen Journal
Before the 'emergency meeting' on the 27th there are two other full council meetings, one on Wednesday (12th), the agenda is here, and one on the 19th which is the 'budget' special. Wednesday's meeting will receive the report of the Executive Board meeting on the 6th January, where the libel case and myself came up for discussion. The meeting resulted in Kevin Madge's outburst that no one is allowed to criticise the council and, according to Kevin, it was 'we' the council who countersued Mrs Thompson....
All three meetings, it is promised, will be webcast.

It is quite astonishing that despite the auditor's findings and the public outcry, those involved in the scandals can continue to preside over council business, especially the budget. Plaid made calls last week for it to be postponed but to no avail.

As for the political row, last Friday Labour AM Keith Davies called for the immediate suspension of Mark James pending investigations, this opened the way for Carmarthenshire's Labour leader Kevin Madge to follow suit, he didn't.

Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas issued this statement today;

“The Labour leader of Caerphilly Council suspended its chief executive just two days after the Wales Audit Office reports were published.  In Pembrokeshire council, the Labour opposition group leader called for the immediate suspension of the council’s chief executive the very day the report was published. 
“In Carmarthenshire, however, eleven days have now passed since the Audit Office published its damaging reports and the Labour leader of the council, on behalf of his 21 fellow Labour councillors, has done nothing but pledge his full support for the council’s senior officers despite the Auditor stating unlawful processes have taken place. 
“Instead of taking decisive action and triggering a full investigation, the Labour council leader has instead issued personal attacks on his political opponents and has tried to undermine the integrity of the Auditor by publishing selective information.  It seems the party is more interested in preserving its supposed control of the council, than it is doing the right thing for county taxpayers. 
“My constituents are rightly angry by what has gone on in County Hall.  Labour supporters throughout Carmarthenshire – and indeed throughout Wales – will be appalled that their party leader enabled one of the county’s top earners to avoid tax.  The Labour party in Carmarthenshire has lost its moral compass. 
“As a result of gross incompetence, the Carmarthenshire Labour party has become isolated from reality, and is in the equivalent of ‘special measures’ now that the party’s Cardiff headquarters is involved and running the show. 
“Plaid Cymru representatives have said for the best part of two weeks – if we had sanctioned unlawful payments worth over £55,000 with public money, we would suspend the officers involved and do the honourable thing and stand down.  
“With the Carmarthenshire Labour party in crisis and now being controlled from Cardiff, Plaid Cymru hopes county residents will start to see some decisive action instead of this defiance, dithering and delay they’ve put up with for almost two weeks.”

Owen Donovan has written an excellent post over on his Oggy Bloggy Blog. In addition to Owen's analysis of the current situation, he also noticed an interesting discussion from the Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee concerning the Stradey site in Llanelli, once again illustrating the contempt which County Hall holds towards anyone that interferes......just have a read;


The agenda for Pembrokeshire's emergency meeting on Friday (14th) has been published here (pdf) it includes detailed documents relating to the pension scandal and a Notice on Motion to suspend the Chief Executive, Mr Parry Jones with immediate effect. (Via @jacobjwilliams)


Anonymous said...

It's amazing the difference in response; Mrs Thompson films a council meeting - the police arrived in minutes, two cars and four officers, and she's bundled off in handcuffs. She wasn't even doing anything unlawful.....

Anonymous said...

It is about time the Labour Party in Cardiff woke up,at what's happening in Carmarthenshire,it reminds me of the
Film apocolypse now a roque element of an organisation
Out of control in the west of the country.

Anonymous said...

All good news for Plaid though!

Ken Haylock said...

Speaking as a humble non-Welsh-Speaking Council Tax Payer in Carmarthenshire, I'll take good sustainable governance as first priority. It would be a complete disaster from my perspective if the result of all this was that either we the voters, or the legal provesses that are clanking slowly into action now, brought about a shift to a PC administration that ditched the Labour Party, the Evangelical Bowling Alleys' and the under the counter subsidies' for the Scarlets etc, but kept the lack of accountability and the governance by unaccountable clique, so that we as council tax payers ended up funding Eistedfodd's and the like instead of Rugby clubs and welsh language white elephants instead of fringe religious ones, while feeling just as frustrated with the council. If PC can sort the obviously deep rooted constitutional & the governance issues out, at the cost of their own opportunity to wield autocratic power absent the encumbrance of scrutiny once the chickens have finally all come home to roost in the current crisis and maybe a few cell doors have slammed shut, then they will have done us all a huge favour.

Unfortunately, power is rather like Sauron's ring (c.f. Tolkein), in that for now PC are happy to fight the good fight against unaccountable governance... but that when they have the levers of dictatorial power in their own hands after a long period in the wilderness, their leadership might find lobbing it into the volcano far too difficult.

People suggesting that Labour's current difficulties in Carmarthenshire are an opportunity for Plaid are probably not helping them to do the right thing if they do end up in charge by default.

I think they could do us the long suffering council tax payers of Carmarthenshire a real favour if the firs thing they do is initiate a root and branch constitutional clean-up under the leadership of Councillor Sian Caiach. I'm pretty sure that neither Labour nor PC would much like the resulting reduction in their power when 'in power', but I regard that as a feature not a bug...

Anonymous said...

I do so agree that a council led by Cllr Caiach would bring back honesty and integrity into local politics to the benefit of us all. She is a truly independent, outspoken and intelligent woman who is unaffiliated to any political party and would therefore be the ideal person to spearhead the clean-up of Carmarthenshire County Council. Bring it on!

Anonymous said...

"Meet"? Surely they mean "interview under caution"?

Anonymous said...

Free Online Dictionary:
1. Not lawful; illegal.
2. Contrary to accepted morality or convention; illicit. .....