Friday 7 March 2014

The Rogue States of west Wales

The reputations of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire as rogue states was further confirmed yesterday as the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer of Pembrokeshire survived votes of No Confidence. Both authorities are currently under investigation be Gloucestershire police. Like Carmarthenshire, it was the ruling administration, who closed ranks and outvoted the opposition. Only it wasn't the opposition, it was public opinion and anger which was treated with contempt. I'll put a link to the archive when it appears and I'm sure the blogging councillors from Pembs will enlighten us further.

We learnt that Pembs has spent around £27,000 on legal advice from Tim Kerr QC and a pensions expert to defend Bryn Parry Jones, in Carmarthenshire we can roughly double that as there is the libel indemnity as well as the pension scam.

The Pembrokeshire leader said that the situation in Carmarthenshire was worse as there were the two reports and a 'personal element' regarding the indemnity paid to the Chief Executive. In Carms of course, the indemnity has been stopped, whether this was before Mr James' legal team took part in the appeal process or not is unclear. What is clear is that the indemnity was unlawful.

What is most striking are the attempts to defend the presence of both Chief Executives in the meetings where they stood to directly benefit financially from the decisions. Mr James' presence in the indemnity meeting was described by one member of the independent group as a 'schoolboy error', I still can't quite believe he said that.

Listening to Executive Board members, Kev, Meryl, Pam and co at last weeks emergency meeting in Carms, it is very unlikely that any of them would have remotely understood the complexities of the two decisions or to put it simply, what on earth was going on. They would have been presented with the legal advice marked 'This way up', and told what they had to do. In this case I suggest that ignorance will probably be their best defence, if and when they need one...

In both authorities the scandals have completely overshadowed anything else, including the all important budgets. There is an enormous public anger over all this as residents and staff are realising, partly through the power of webcasting, how the arrogance and bullying tactics of senior officials, in Carmarthenshire at least, have made a complete mockery of democracy in their county.

As for bullying tactics it appears, from a document, that the training ground was many years ago, in an borough council far away...

The situation in Carmarthenshire has been dire for years and it was my observations of the monthly farce in Carmarthenshire which was one of the things which first led me to try and film a meeting. I felt it was quite unbelievable and that as many people as possible should be aware of what was happening. The minutes are still selective and inaccurate; for instance, the minutes from the meeting of the 12th February completely omitted the exchange between Cllr Caiach and Linda Rees Jones over the libel case 'update' in early January.
It has cost me dear but with around half of Welsh counties now webcasting, which is something of a result.

There's another instalment this morning, Carmarthenshire Council live;


Anonymous said...

Its very concerning. Between the two council this has cost the tax payer upwards of £100k. When I see how much council take I pay every month I spit blood when I think about it.

I have contacted the local MP for Llanelli and Ms Burns AM about the situation and they both take the view that both of the councils are out of kilter with public opinion on these matters.

One thing I am absolutely sure about is that filming of meetings is here to stay - if there was an attempt to stop it there would be uproar and we have largely you to thank for this.

On another subject have you noticed how much better run the meetings are in Pembs. It all seems quite good natured somehow and better quality of speeches - minutes are by far superior as well.

particularly enjoyed OIG having revenge yesterday !!

caebrwyn said...

Anon 10.10
Thanks for your comment. I agree, I think there's be uproar if the webcasts stopped, I'm hoping they will now be extended to Executive Board meetings, Planning etc.

Yes, all seems a bit different in Pembs and I agree, the Minutes are far more detailed. As for accuracy, at least we can now check the archived webcasts, for full council meetings anyway.

Anonymous said...

As everyone knows "ignorance is NO defence in Law" Cardiff "does not have the manpower or resources to monitor what Welsh Councils do in relation to following procedure laid down by The Welsh Government"

Anonymous said...

It was such a "schoolboy error" that only a schoolboy should have made it. If this man did not know that he should not have attended the meeting he doesn't deserve to be CEO.

Unknown said...

Another good blog post of the ongoing farce. What a shameful state local democracy is in!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes.Very good anonymous@16:30
No surprise at the excuse though coming as it does from that lot in power (for the present anyway.)

Anonymous said...

Carmarthen is a difficult town as it is anyway, without them normalizing corruption and obstinancy. This places the pitch to get S4C to relocate here at risk surely, historically Carmarthen has always been a wild west town and very recent events suggest Councillors obstinately refuse to change.

Cllr Alun Lenny said...

I'm afraid that Anonymous 23:40 does Carmarthen town a great injustice. The people of Carmarthen returned Plaid councillors to all six town seats on the County Council in 2012. We form the opposition and robustly oppose the behaviour and attitudes of the County Council's Administration. Slowly but surely we are breaking down the anti-democratic walls built over a number of years in County Hall e.g. by consistently pressing for filming of council meetings (this has been a great success and should be extended to ALL meetings open to the public) and insisting that the WAO report should be the subject of a full investigation -which it now is by Gloucestershire police. So - fair play - give credit where credit's due. County Hall may be located in Carmarthen, but the good people of this town are just as angry as you are about many things that go on there.
Cllr Alun Lenny
Carmarthen Town South Ward.