Wednesday, 2 December 2015

December's Agenda

Next week's full council agenda has been published and includes a couple of interesting questions from members. 

Further to my previous post, which refers to the report in the Herald about allegations concerning the EU funded Coastal Care programme, opposition leader, Cllr Jeff Edmunds (Lab) poses the following question;

“In the light of the recent report in the Carmarthenshire Herald regarding allegations of financial and management irregularities in the County Council's management of the Coastal Care programme, will the Executive Board Member for Social Care and Health facilitate a public enquiry into this allegation as a matter of urgency”

Executive Board Member Jane Tremlett will be responding. One gets the impression that for the question to make it on to the agenda at all, the answer will be that there is nothing wrong and the numerous whistleblowers are entirely mistaken. Rather like my question regarding the misuse of public funds by the chief executive to pay off a loan for the Scarlets.

In the case of Coastal Care, I have heard these allegations for nearly three years, and from separate sources. A public inquiry is required but failing that, this matter should be referred immediately to either the Wales Audit Office, to add to their current investigations over EU Property Fund grants, again administered by the council, or the police.
Whilst they're at it, the Wales Audit Office needs to revisit the council's treatment of whistleblowers and refuse to accept tick-box assurance from management; the reality is that the opposite is true, there is no assurance, the culture remains toxic, at the highest level, and staff are frightened to come forward.

By coincidence, Cllr Emlyn Dole has put forward a Motion urging Carmarthenshire residents to vote 'yes' in any future national referendum to remain part of Europe. As it happens I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment. Cllr Dole cites the financial advantages to west Wales of our membership, but these financial advantages need to be administered properly and as we have seen, particularly within the top brass of the council, good governance, transparency and due diligence is, as ever, sadly lacking.

Cllr Edmunds also poses an interesting question directly to Cllr Dole;

“Councillors have a very important role to play; we are the interface between citizens and the council.  We are also seen as community leaders, democratically elected to represent our communities and are accountable to them, especially at the ballot box.

Cllr. Dole as leader of this council my question is, 'Do you believe that we as councillors should hold ourselves responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of us?”

Unless I'm mistaken this question actually refers to the recent furore over the council leader's barns down on the farm in Pontyberem. Or maybe there's something else. We wait to hear the response and more importantly, Cllr Edmunds supplementary question. Accusations of political attack will undoubtedly fly and I suspect it forms an element of the question. After all, Cllr Edmunds was very quiet during that other furore, the illegal payments to the chief executive, when the council was under the leadership of his hapless colleague, Kevin Madge.

However, which ever way you look at it, the council leader riding roughshod over the planning process did nothing to restore public confidence in this deeply flawed service and, in more general terms, 'holding ourselves responsible for a higher standard' should include challenging the poisonous culture of this officer-led council along with it's cash-cow and mouthpiece in the form of Cllr Meryl Gravell, joined now, it seems, by Cllr Dole.

Agenda here.


Anonymous said...

There’s an interesting post on Jac o’ the North about the cash-cow’s dealings with the leader of a “global purchasing and supply chain consultancy” -

Anonymous said...

Thanks anon. A very good read. He seems to do his research very well!