Thursday 3 September 2015

Caebrwyn asks a question - the September agenda

Well, for the first time in living memory (almost) there are three Public Questions on next Wednesday's (9th September) full council agenda, and this one is mine;

"Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas stated in June that 'serious questions' will 'inevitably' be asked over the decision to shortchange Carmarthenshire residents over the sale of a council asset and pay off a £274,000 loan on behalf of a private company, Scarlets Regional Ltd. The club ended up with £650,000 and the taxpayer £200,000 from the deal. 
Documents disclosed by the Council under the Freedom of Information Act revealed there was disagreement among officers within the authority over the deductions but their objections were overruled by a senior officer. 
Given that many other private businesses in Carmarthenshire are struggling to stay afloat and pay off their loans, will the council leader agree that the decision was not in the best interests of the people of Carmarthenshire and finally ask those serious questions?"

Regular readers may recall the background to this which was a deal between the Council and Scarlets Regional Ltd to sell off a piece of land, and particularly the controversy of the 'allowable expenses' deducted prior to the split.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas raised the issue again a few weeks ago in the Western Mail.

The documents I received under the Freedom of Information Act last year were at odds with the council's claim that it was the District Valuer who made the decision, and showed, as the Western Mail reported;

"They showed that Jonathan Fearn, the council’s head of corporate property, and Roger Jones, the council’s director of resources, were unhappy with the Scarlets’ proposal that around £260,000 of the proceeds should be used to pay off the loan it had taken out to fit out the Red Room. 
But the council’s chief executive Mark James overruled their objections."

I have confirmed with the council that I will attend the meeting to put my question to Cllr Dai Jenkins (Plaid) and I understand that he will be present to answer it. I can also ask one supplementary question, should I wish.

Disappointingly there are no questions from Members on the agenda even though there has been a summer break and there are fifteen committee reports for 'noting'.

There is, however, another dreaded Powerpoint presentation, this time about Superfast broadband.

Finally, the amendments to the constitution agreed at June's Extraordinary meeting make an appearance.
More on that in due course.


Anonymous said...

As I understand it the 'allowable expenses' money was invested to increase footfall, which obviously did not work in the period the Red Room was in existence because venture ceased business in a very short time and the Scarlets in their accounts value the business at nil.

"There's no doubt that this wonderful facility will have a positive impact on Llanelli and the surrounding areas and I wish you all the very best of success for the future," then Council Leader Kevin Madge had said.

Anonymous said...

Do not be surprised if Councillor Jenkins might be unavailable because of an urgent appointment with a man about a barn.

Linda will tell you about commercial sensitivity or some difficult-to-understand point of law only pertaining to Carmarthenshire, so therefore little information can be given and your supplementary will be out of order.

caebrwyn said...

Thank you for your comment. The Scarlets said that if they didn't have the money to pay off the loan they would not go ahead with the deal. The two officers refused to support the deduction at all. The 'footfall' excuse was given after the deal was done after the details were first exposed by Cllr Jeff Edmunds.

caebrwyn said...

No...Surely that wouldn't happen...