Monday 7 November 2016

Further thoughts...and this week's Cadno

Update 9th November; Carmarthenshire Council have top billing in Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column (again), out today.

Also today, from Mrs Angry's excellent Broken Barnet blog; The Ritual of Vengeance: Welsh blogger Jacqui Thompson fights for her home  which also includes the Private Eye article referred to above.

Update 12th NovemberCarmarthenshire's Roll of Dishonour is also well worth a read, from south Wales blogger, Oggy Bloggy Ogwr.

Update 21st November; County Councillor Sian Caiach makes a request to Council leader Emlyn Dole


(This post continues from; Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire Council applies to force sale of my home)

With what has been written by others over the past couple of weeks, Cneifiwr here, and here, Cllr Sian Caiach here, and the Madaxeman here, as well as various online reports there is little left for me to say. I urge you to have a read of the articles, and the comments and judge for yourselves whether or not the council, and Mr James have descended, yet again, not only into a legal, but a moral minefield with the consistency of gloopy mud.

According to Cllr Lenny (Plaid) their group is meeting today (7th) to try and resolve this intractable situation.. I have no idea what they will propose, if anything.
All I can say is that the final charging order hearing has not yet been held, and neither has Mr James' attempt to force sale of my home, both of which I will resist with all the resources I can muster, which mainly consists of simplicity and common sense. And fight.
I will not be handing over my house keys anytime soon.
I thank everyone who has sent messages and comments of support.

The issue of the currently unenforced and illegal counterclaim costs of £41,000 is being studiously avoided. I asked Cllr Lenny if the council were going to ask Mr James to pay it back...he didn't answer that one.

Sadly, a question tabled by Cllr Caiach for this whole matter to be discussed, in the open, at Wednesday's meeting of full council was rejected. What a bloody surprise. I understand a private response was sent by Emlyn Dole (Plaid council leader) who yet again shows his undying loyalty to Mark James by refusing to accept that the counterclaim payments were profoundly unlawful.

In fact, with the council funding the action, and the council (supposedly, and in theory...) having any damages, the Derbyshire Rule that a governing body cannot sue has been blown to pieces by the actions of Mr James and the executive. But I knew that all along. It took some serious digging into my blog to find anything actionable for Mr James to take forward, and the posts complained of were months old and involved just three words 'pinocchio', and 'slush fund', which turned out to be rather slushy after all.

This week's Herald carries several articles and letters about all this. A series of detailed questions were put to the council by the Herald, and they refused to answer any of them, the questions can be seen on Cneifiwr's blog.

Before I leave you with this week's Cadno opinion piece from the Herald, I must just mention that I had a response this morning to my complaints to Dyfed Powys Police (see earlier post here). None of my complaints have been upheld; there was no conflict of interest and no, they're no revoking the Police Information Notice which will stay on record for fourteen months.
One point I did notice was that Mr James made his complaints to the police (in a letter to the Chief Constable, as you do..) on the 22nd January this year, yet he didn't bother to provide a detailed statement until more than five months later...
I have yet to study the report in detail, and I have yet to decide whether to take it further given the current pressure I'm under from someone who's motives seem even more questionable (updated post) than I first thought.
Anyway, more on that, in due's Cadno;

Cadno and the disgusting act 
A saying, often attributed to Einstein, suggests that common sense is made up of the prejudices one acquires before the age of 18. 
That does not say much for some things that are incontrovertible common sense: for example, 'if you pick it, it won't get better'. Carmarthenshire County Council carried on picking at a gnat's bite, and has managed to create an open and festering sore which has exposed the rotten matter at its core. 
In light of that, Cadno supposes that there is a very special sense in which common sense means not those things which people know to be true but no longer believe.
Either one of those categorisations would encompass the current actions of Carmarthenshire County Council and its bike-riding chief executive. 
It beggars belief that the Executive Board imagines it has a cat in hell's chance of recovering anything like the £190k of public money it blew on Mr James's defence of a libel action brought against him by Jacqui Thompson. It follows, therefore, that the additional costs being incurred by the council in pursuing the matter are simply public money being pissed away as though the authority was an incontinent drunk after a savage night on the Stella Artois. 
In addition, the money the council has wasted in office time and resources, scuttling around County Hall in support of the original litigation or scouring the internet and the blogosphere on what is, to any rational examination, a vendetta against an individual has not only been wasted but is practically incalculable. After all, it is our money they are wasting for their own good and the benefit of their most senior employee. 
This issue is examined at length elsewhere in this newspaper in a masterly dissection of the council's track record on this subject by Y Cneifiwr, but what Cadno is homing in on is one very simple question - not the right and the wrong, but the waste of what we are always told are 'scarce' resources when the hope of recovery of a meaningful contribution being received in respect of those resources are vanishingly small. 
The Herald has previously revealed Mr James' estimable gift for inaccurate precis, when we revealed that his assertion that no offers had been made to settle his judgement against Mrs Thompson was so wrong it suggested a somewhat casual relationship between what he said and what was true. 
The fact that he repeated to The Herald a claim he made to Wales Online, little knowing that we had a copy of the offer letters - plural - speaks volumes of his conduct.
And yet, despite that, the council are still engaged in acting as the executive arm of Mr James; wounded amour propre. 
It is a bloody disgrace and the councillors involved in rubber-stamping this shameful and wasteful exercise should hang their heads in shame. And it is to the undying shame of the current administration that it is continuing the folly embarked upon by the clueless bunch of well-meaning dupes and time-servers that preceded them. It taints the whole of Carmarthenshire's local government, in which there are many fine initiatives and sound future plans, that the Party of Wales is now merged and indistinguishable from the Party of James. 
When you think about common sense, readers, do you think that it is common sense to take political capital and goodwill and waste it fighting a battle that was picked by your predecessor in favour of someone who is unelectable? Put it another way, knowing what they know about Mark James now, how many of the current Labour and Plaid membership would have endorsed his original appointment? 
Cadno reckons not bloody many, if any. 
We have a chief executive under whose carefree guidance Carmarthenshire became indistinguishable from a kleptocracy and synonymous with self-serving sharp-dealing and the public waste of public money, still leading councillors not by the noses but by the rings through their noses. 
You might say that, having won the action, the council is entitled to attempt recovery of its costs, That much, it could be said, is common sense. 
Well common sense is wrong, readers, with knobs on. 
Councils have many interlocking responsibilities, the primary one of which is to act in the public interest with public resources. cadno does not go so far to suggest that having notably failed in that duty in any number of projects, not carrying that duty in the present circumstances is an option.
Not only do two wrongs not make one right, but there are practical constraints to consider. The council, it could be argued, is duty bound to ameliorate the impact of its own decision to bankroll Mr James; defence upon the public purse. 
The answer to that is yes and no. The council is bound to consider whether or not recovery is possible, but the present position is that Mr James' claim for damages awarded to him personally as a direct result of the Council's largesse takes priority over the Council's claim for costs. The council is, or should be, well-aware of Mrs Thompson's capacity to satisfy any part not only of the council's claim for costs but also Mr James claim for damages. And all the mock 'Chinese Walls' argument in the world wil not convince any reasonable person, reasonably informed, to the contrary. 
Mrs Thompson has no money. There is a limited amount of capital in the family home which could be converted into cash, but the value recovered as a result of a forced sale of the capital asset is going to be markedly less than the true capital value of her share in the matrimonial home. 
The council was aware of the risk of not effecting recovery right at the outset but pressed on regardless. 
In private practice that sort of chimpery would result in a very unhappy client looking to their legal advisor to make good the shortfall between what they were awarded and any receipts, especially if the lawyer failed to advise the body maintaining or funding the action (the lawyer's client) to secure a pre-emptive charge over any damages paid to the party it bankrolled (the litigant). That is part of proper analysis of what is part of 'litigation risk', which encompasses not only the likelihood of victory but the odds of recovery once a case is won. 
It is obvious to anyone but the dimmest and most backward of lawyers that the threat of financial ruin is generally only effective when the person threatened has finances to pay the debt. 
Anything else is rather, in Lyndon Johnson's deathless phrase, like wetting yourself in public; it gives you a momentary warm feeling but to anyone else witnessing it, it's disgusting.


Wavell said...

The Council could easily recover that amount of money by getting in "method study" / "time and motion" advisers (that's what they used to call them anyway)to look at the CCC management efficiency levels.
Any self respecting company uses this method of saving when problems arise.

CCC take months to carry out a weeks work and prefer to use costly outside sources rather than their existing "experts" who would be free.

Anonymous said...

X-Ray Team Account ‏@BBCXRay

Do you know a story we should investigate? Get in touch

Anonymous said...

As Oggy Blogger says - the silence from our Government Ministers is deafening. Where the hell is their responsibility to Welsh people? When a local authority runs out of the control of it's elected members, with it's Chief Executive behaving like someone resembling a Godfather, then it is most definitely time for OUR Welsh Government to restore democracy for the taxpayers of Carmarthenshire. It can be extremely concerning for ordinary people to know that their council is not only compared to 'a cicilian cartel' but to also know that that statement is absolutely correct. Wake up Ministers and take control for the sake of the taxpayers of Carmarthenshire.

Anonymous said...

Further to Anon is very disturbing as Oggy Blogger states that the Welsh Government as a group seem unwilling to call to account the dubious actions of the executive led Carmarthen County Council. Why is this? There is plenty enough evidence in the public domain that would warrant at the very least a Public Enquiry into this Council. How much longer should the unelected members of the Council as well as the elected Councillors be prepared to stand up and be counted in exposing the many wrongdoings that are apparent to even those with a scant knowledge as to how democracy should be seen to have a place in local government. Far too many decisions are made by the executive members with next to no input from other council members.The latest threat to make the local blogger Jacqui Thompson homeless is a prime example of the totally vindictive nature of the Chief Executive who has chosen to blatantly disregard the views of the First Minister and indeed the Welsh Audit Office as regards "the unlawful " payments made to him by the Council.One must presume that "shameless behaviour" is considered as such when anyone dare to question or use their democratic right to question the council. If and when that happens then the unlimited funds available to the council are used to pursue such people.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 21.49
X-RAY BBC would be good

Anonymous said...

Saw this on Facebook a couple of day's ago - Well said 'AnonyNurse'!

Jacqui and the Beanstalk

Myths and legends, ancient fairy tales,
Yet resonate with life in modern Wales,
Where some in power verge on the despotic,
Their blinkered hangers-on too idiotic
To check and balance what their leaders do,
But dumbly opt to join the puppet crew.
Grand Puppet Master - imp in giant’s guise -,
(Vainglorious projects, castles in the skies) …
Who stamps on all who subject him to scrutiny,
Since opposition’s tantamount to mutiny …
With grasping hand jammed in the public purse,
This “giant” ‘mongst men can execute his curse,
And see to it a woman’s home is lost,
Regardless of injustice or of cost.
So, chin up, Jacqui T., our giant killer,
Legendary blogger, true bean-spiller;
You spilled the beans, the beans-talk grew so big,
The “giant” feared you’d jeopardize his gig;
You climbed the beanstalk, risking wrath and enmity,
But he has the Golden Goose – funded indemnity.
(Hubble bubble, toil and trouble,
Passions burn, resentments bubble;
Brown nose of puppet, sycophant’s guile,
So cut the strings and cramp his style) …


Anonymous said...

I agree, if the Welsh Government continue to ignore their responsibilities to the people of Wales, we need them to explain why they feel they are not. If they are not, then we must defer to Westminster. We do have rights under the Human Rights Act and these must be recognised by Ministers.

Anonymous said...

I'm living in a county, where the officers and councillors seem completely removed from their constituents . Leanne Wood wants an independent Wales, this will take us poor peasants in Carmarthenshire back to the dark ages. Although, it feels like we are living in them at the moment. There is no accountability , and it's only Bloggers like Jacqui and writers like Cadno, in The Herald that have made the public aware of these absurd issues in Carmarthenshire. Thank god for the Internet. There's no hiding place, but they don't care anyway!