Friday 8 January 2016

Unlawful payments - Dole's denial

One 'Councillor Question' submitted for next Wednesday's full council meeting has, I understand, been rejected.
Here it is in full, as sent to the Chief Executive's Office, as it is Mr James who decides what is, and what is not included on the Agenda;
Dear Democratic Services, 
I would like to submit this to The Chief Executive's Office as a Members' question for the next Full Council.
Please forward it on. 
Many thanks
Sian Caiach
"Dear Leader,

Several local voters have asked me about the likelihood of recovering the payments regarded as unlawful by the Wales Audit Office made to the chief executive over the pension compensation and the libel counterclaim, especially in view of the continuing financial difficulties we face. 
I would like to ask you the following questions: 
a) How much money is involved (unlawful pension payments plus unlawful legal fees for the libel counterclaim)?. 
b) Has Mr. James been involved in negotiations for future repayment? 
c) With the precedent being set by the WAO in the case of Mr Bryn Parry Jones in Pembrokeshire, is there merely an assumption that the money will finally be reclaimed from Mr. James' pension lump sum on retirement?
         Sian Caiach"

By way of context, Cllr Caiach had asked Council Leader Emlyn Dole for a direct response to this shortly before Christmas. His response (below) led Cllr Caiach to ask for further details, but nothing was forthcoming which led her to submit the question for next week's meeting. It was sent in on Monday via email, in plenty of time for the Wednesday deadline.

At the time of writing, no reason has been given by the Chief Executive for rejecting the question. The excuse that it has 'already been answered', is hardly justified.

However, on the agenda or not, Cllr Dole's 'answer' was brief, and quite extraordinary;
Dear Cllr Caiach, 
Thank you for your e mail below.   
We are unaware of any “unlawful” monies having been paid. 
As far as the recovery of any monies is concerned, the Executive Board is awaiting options on this. 
Best wishes,
Cllr Emlyn Dole.
To start with, Cllr Dole's use of the word "We"suggests that this is a joint statement...from him and Mr James? or the Plaid Group? Or even the royal 'we', as he is now leader?

"We are unaware of any "unlawful" monies having been paid"....Have those long months of strong Plaid condemnation of the unlawful payments disappeared into a Black Hole? Are Plaid Councillors now approving the very generous and unlawful funding for Mark James on both issues?

Outside the council, Plaid Cymru politicians Jonathan Edwards MP and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM took an even stronger stance and it was they who called in the police which led to Mark James 'stepping aside' during a criminal investigation.
It was also they who demanded that the money should be repaid by Mr James.

On the 3rd February 2014, the current Chair of the Council, Plaid's Peter Hughes Griffiths said;

“If I was leading this authority I would have at the very least suspended senior officers pending further investigation.  It is the bare minimum which should be done given the seriousness of the Auditor’s findings.  Furthermore, if I was responsible for spending tens of thousands of pounds unlawfully, I would do the honourable thing and stand down."

Cllr Emlyn Dole himself proposed, in July 2014, that the council accepts the WAO Libel Indemnity report and therefore the finding of unlawfulness. He also challenged the presence of Tim Kerr QC, to defend the Chief Executive, at the Extraordinary meeting where the WAO reports were discussed. Another Plaid Councillor later demanded an explanation over the costs of Mr Kerr's services. The council also voted to suspend the unlawful libel clause from the constitution.

I could go on, there are countless media reports, webcasts, and even council minutes - quite enough to make Cllr Dole's response to Cllr Caiach nothing short of astonishing.

As we know, neither the Chief Executive, nor head of legal Linda Rees Jones accept the WAO findings and Mr James ensured that neither Meryl Gravell (goes without saying) nor the then leader Kevin Madge disagreed with him.

The WAO have always stood by their findings of unlawfulness.

Was one of the requirements for Emlyn Dole becoming Leader a promise to deny that the unpleasant episode ever happened? And, if questioned, now claim the payments were lawful?

Does Mr James' hand really reach that far? It seems it does.

Returning to Cllr Dole's response and the second sentence relating to the recovery of monies; Given the content of the first sentence, he must, I assume, be referring to me, not Mr James.

WAO Public Interest Reports; January 2014


Teifion said...

Still not understood he's a public SERVANT has he?

Anonymous said...

This Leader has completely lost his way. He is living up to his Dopey Dole tag. Does he suffer from amnesia?

Tessa said...

Avoidance and denial won't make this unsavoury business go away, or indeed be forgotten, Mr Dole.

Unknown said...

I don't think it matters what party our representatives belong to once they reach the Executive table they forget they are public servants acting on our behalf. If they want to remain there for the prestige and extra remuneration they must not rock the boat. Whatever you promised/said/believed before no longer counts if it might open up the CCC to scrutiny or accountability for past wrongdoing & maladministration. Twas Labour leadership hell bent on cover up now it's Plaid leadership in a state of denial. This must all be a disappointment for their parties loyal membership. Personally I was pointed, by a decent staunch plaid member, to the now deputy County Council Chair (then Chair of the Audit Committee) as a person who would question the CCC actions regarding its failure to follow POVA, whistleblowing policy or the Statutory Social Services Complaints policy. According to him he had meetings with a couple of officers but failed to question the Chief Executive or anyone else too directly involved. Would I be wrong to contemplate he may have been given his new position on the understanding there would be no further delving on his part. Pity he has not got back to me on the matter (but that is how the CCC deal with unwanted complaints or questions; they just ignore both by leaving us complainants/whistleblowers in limbo). Sorry Plaid without a doubt you ordinary members want what's best for Wales and its people but some of your representatives are letting you down. Same goes for Labour especially the Llanelli AM and his unfounded loyalty to the CCC when Labour sat at the Executive table with the Independents. These self interested representatives feel no guilt for misleading the public (that is the only way they will keep their positions on the Executive).

Unknown said...

Sorry! I think I said in my last comment Deputy Chair of the Council I should have been Deputy Leader second in command to DOLE.

Anonymous said...

This is nothing short of scandalous. Its an election year and I am writing to my MP about this. These people are anti democratic and bring local politics into dis-repute.

Wavell said...

Anyone with common sense would have stopped building for a few weeks.
But arrogance took over I think.
Unfortunately the rest of the Plaid councillors just sit there and keep totally quiet, when they should be getting rid of Cllr ?.Dole as being unfit for purpose.
Wake up Plaid, the bells are ringing your death toll.

Anonymous said...

Selective amnesia is a type of amnesia where the victim loses certain parts of his/her memory. Common elements that may be forgotten include where he/she lives, abilities in certain areas and past events. Victims may be more susceptible to selective amnesia after experiencing a traumatic event such as a windfall increase in their property’s value following a questionable planning decision in their favour.

Unknown said...

Given the Welsh Audit Office investigated this matter and proclaimed the payments illegal the information requested in the question tabled by Cllr. Caiach should be contained in the WAO report. If it isn't then it should be in the source documents obtained by the WAO when it undertook its investigation. If so it would be reasonable (in the interest of freedom of information and democracy) for the WAO to publish it. Of course, if the WAO had not cowardly capitulated and dropped its threat of taking the Council to the High Court over the matter, then all the relevant documents would be in the public domain anyway. C'est la vie!

Anonymous said...

Did they label the payments illegal or unlawful? I seem to remember there was some talk about this.
What surprises me is that Mark James decides what questions can asked at council meetings.Should it be the responsibility of the leader of the council?

Anonymous said...

From what I can make out of CCC’s constitution the Chief Executive has no powers to reject a question from a member of the Council. All that is required is that the member gives at least 5 working days notice in writing of the question to the Chief Executive and the question must:
a) be concise;
(b) be in the form of a question rather than a statement; and
(c) relate to matters in relation to which the Council has powers and duties or which affect the area of the Authority, or part of it, or the inhabitants of that area, or some of them.

Anonymous said...

Is there no end to the farce that is the CEO led Carmarthen County Council.The First Minister said the payments were unlawful as well as the WAO. Time is long overdue for a Public Enquiry into the workings of the Council. It is certainly a loose cannon and in need of greater control and transparency in it's actions.These are public servants and as such their salaries are paid by the public.Perhaps the Leader could let people know exactly when the matter of "unlawful" payments were settled.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the people of Carmarthenshire should bring a combined action against this clown. After all he is there to guide and advice the council, not use it for his own fiefdom. Evidently there is no backbone in any of the councillors elected by the populous (with the exception it seems of Cllr Caich) so about time we took things into our own hands.

mark james has been thumbing his nose at us mere mortals for too long. We need a concerted combined action against him, similar to that which happened to his mate parry-jones in Pembs.

Only if the public can be galvanised against this excuse for management can something be done to eradicate those that don't deserve to be there, from top to bottom. The whole cesspit that is CCC needs clearing out, starting with king rat himself.

Anonymous said...

Interesting story being brought to the attention of the executive council. Will be interesting how they attempt to deal with their own kind...

caebrwyn said...

There's a recurring rat problem, reminded me of this from 2014:

Redhead said...

Do you have the same referendum rules as England - if 5% of electorate petitions to change to committee system and if 50% plus then agree it has to happen? See Blackpool and Fylde which did it. It probably wouldn't solve many problems but it would dilute the COs power.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the £18M cuts?