Tuesday 10 February 2015

The common denominator

The news that the EU Commission has decided, after an informal assessment, not to investigate Carmarthenshire Council over illegal State Aid (unfair competition) funding to Scarlets Regional Ltd, will be greeted with smug satisfaction in County Hall.
The chief executive announced this, somewhat prematurely it turned out, back in July.

Interestingly, the EU Commissioner looking at this matter based his assessment "On the basis of available information..."
"Available" being the key word I would imagine. Presumably there was some information which was not available...

Anyway, EU rules or not, what we do know is that the Carmarthenshire taxpayer has forked out over £18m, plus a £2.6m loan so far, let alone the back door subsidies and the 'Marston's deal' etc etc.

Back in 2007 Councillors were warned by external auditors it was all a bit too risky, but this was one of those visions of the chief executive and no troublesome councillors or pesky auditors were going to stand in the way.

Even earlier, in 2001, in Boston, Lincolnshire a similar vision for a stadium was born and councillors were told by their chief executive, Mark James, it 'wouldn't cost the taxpayers' a penny'. By 2002 he'd jumped ship and moved to Carmarthenshire. Unfortunately, as we know, Mr James brought his visions with him.

So far, the taxpayers of Boston have stumped up over £6m towards the Princess Royal Sports Arena (a snip compared to PyS but a bit more than a penny) and with a row currently raging over yet more funding, which will take the taxpayers' contribution over the £7m mark, many are wondering when it will ever end.

In 2007 a damning auditors' report into the Boston fiasco pointed much of the blame on those that led the initial project. At the time, the local newspaper, the Boston Standard and also the Western Mail both reported on the matter but as those who were involved at the start had long left, they escaped accountability.

The legacy left by Mr James in Boston continues to bleed the taxpayers to this day - the same legacy we can look forward to when he eventually leaves Carmarthenshire.


Redhead said...

All the organisations involved have a strong interest in sweeping this under the carpet as, if investigated, who knows what skeletons would be rattled in which cupboards.

caebrwyn said...

I agree, plenty of skeletons in cupboards Redhead, even Boston-related ones. More on that another day, perhaps.

sian caiach said...

I was a little bemused that only 2 of the complaints I submitted to the Commission were considered. Correspondence on this has been very slow with the EU. but I now have some clarity. All the other points including the free rental of the stadium etc. were not considered as they were not submitted on the same day as the initial complaint.This is because you cannot add on to a complaint, apparently, even if this is on the same point of law.
This means that because I only submitted 2 issues initially I now have to make a completely new complaint on the other issues. I will be extremely careful to include all of the outstanding complaints in one document and we shall see what the commission make of the many other financial issues in due course.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this LINK http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pnp.344/pdf will be of interest to any of the CCC watchers, critics, Council Executive and members. I came across it today and immediately thought it gave a realistic and understandable explanation as to how the culture of our COUNCIL has become so TOXIC. Personally I believe members and the Executive should have more control and scrutiny over their officers actions. They need to ask questions especially when notified of their officers reluctance to follow the councils own policies and procedures in regard to COMPLAINTS, WHISTLEBLOWING and POVA. OUR representatives should not continue to allow officers free rein to act against the public interest.

Jennifer Brown (whistleblower)