Friday, 18 July 2014


I'm coming to the conclusion that council leaders, at least in the rotten boroughs of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, have acquired an additional role, or 'portfolio' if you wish. This additional role has been evident in Carmarthenshire for the lengthy Meryl and Mark years and has seamlessly drifted into the Kevin era, though, as we all know, Meryl still wears the iron pants.

The role requires council leaders to 'liaise' with the chief executive; nowhere in the constitutional waffle does it say 'defend and protect the chief executive, 'no matter what'. In Carmarthenshire, Kevin is even given scripts to read out which was embarrassingly evident last week. His 'official duties' certainly don't include any requirements to think for himself or hold officers to account. He was so determined to take the bullet for Mark James at last week's meeting he was prepared to stab his own party leader, Carwyn Jones squarely in the back.

I have observed Pembrokeshire council much less of course but I can't have been the only viewer of Monday's Week in Week Out programme, which exposed the systematic failure of Pembrokeshire Council to protect children from a predatory council youth worker, who felt that chief exec Bryn Parry Jones was going to do the honourable thing and resign on Tuesday morning.

He did no such thing of course, why resign when you have a minion in the form of a council leader who will happily take the bullet, defend you to the death, and ensure you have a cosmetic democratic mandate as he whips his disciples into dutiful obedience. Parry-Jones sat there like the cat that had the cream.

The whistleblower, Mrs Sue Thomas, who featured in the BBC programme has left a lengthy comment on the Western Telegraph article

I'm not sure what the job description for chief exec is in Pembrokeshire, but in Carmarthenshire it says clearly that the buck stops at the doors of the presidential suite; 'Overall corporate management and operational responsibility'. What a joke. In both counties.

Then there was the matter of Parry-Jones' unlawful pension scam, a scandal shared with his partner in unlawfulness across the county border; were the council going to force him to pay it back? The Pembrokeshire leader, Cllr Jamie Adams, had been given three tasks to fulfil; to attack the anonymous anarchist who had leaked the chief's 'letter' to the press; ensure the vote was held in private session to avoid public embarrassment and lastly, to ensure Parry Jones, and his wife kept the loot. Partly I'm sure because of the disproportionate cost of pursuing Mr and Mrs CEO through the courts, and having already spent a shedload of taxpayers' money on a legal defence, he managed to succeed on all three counts.

As it happens, I found it quite refreshing that someone had an overwhelming sense of civic duty to leak the letter. Good on them.

Then we come to Carmarthenshire. Where do you start...? At last week's meeting, for instance, Mr Madge clearly felt he was adhering to his duty to "Promote and support good governance of the Council and its affairs" by not only defending profoundly unlawful decision making, but helping to silence an opposition councillor who had been publicly attacked by the chief executive for choosing to support a member of the public in a court case. Not an item I noticed on the agenda incidentally. As for the chief executive, part of his job description, believe it or not, is to provide 'professional and impartial advice to all parties in the decision making process...'  
What a circus.

The WLGA review, (which, remember, has been forced upon them, the panel haven't exactly been 'invited' as Mr Madge claims), is now underway and we hope they are beginning to understand the depth and scope of the problems in Carmarthenshire. I sincerely hope it will do some some good and restore some semblance of democracy, we'll have to wait and see. 
Unfortunately, what it won't do is get to the heart of the problems and force a change of culture, and for that to happen we need a change of top brass, elected and unelected.

1 comment:

Redhead said...

It makes a mockery of elections when younsimply elect councillors to do the bidding of officers. in these circumstances, over a period of years, an officer draws around him or her a web of people who have been trained to think and act the same and they form a powerful caucus when they do not think the way voters do.