Monday 13 November 2017

Misuse of council computers - One rule for one...

Last month, following my complaint to the Wales Audit Office in July, I was given the outcome of their lengthy 'investigation' concerning the chief executive's extensive misuse of council computers for private use. Specifically this related to detailed and prolonged searches of this blog to provide 'evidence' to the police for his private complaint of harassment and for evidence to pursue his 'personal damages'.

To my astonishment, the Wales Audit Office decided that there was no case to answer and said;  "I am satisfied that there has been no breach of Council policies by any individual member of staff.  Carmarthenshire County Council staff are permitted to access external websites and blogs during their working day"
Something didn't ring right.

The WAO response prompted a third party to ask the following Freedom of Information request;
Dear Carmarthenshire Council, 
I would like to know, for each year from 2010 to present, how many occasions council employees have found themselves subject to disciplinary procedures concerning the use of council IT facilities for personal use, and what the eventual measures taken against the employee were. 
I am interested in any cases which had an outcome ranging from a note being made on the employee's HR record through to dismissal for gross misconduct. I am perfectly happy for this data to be anonymised. 
Please contact me if you have any queries.
Yours faithfully,
Martin Milan.

This was the surprising response;

Dear Mr Milan,

In response, we are only able to provide information from the financial year 2012/13;

To date there has been 8 allegations that have been dealt with formally;
1 employee resigned prior to a formal investigation commencing
1 employee resigned during the investigation
1 didn't go to a hearing as the employee had already been dismissed as a
result of a separate disciplinary allegation
3 written warnings
1 verbal warning
1 disciplinary transfer to another post.

Yours sincerely
John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin
Information & Data Protection Officer 
In case there had been any confusion, the requester then asked for confirmation that the data provided above did relate solely to the misuse of Council IT facilities for personal matters, and the reply came back as 'yes'.

I think this speaks for itself. There is clearly one rule for the chief executive and one for everyone else. Yet again. I suggest that the Wales Audit Office take another look, and maybe the Monitoring Officer might care to instigate disciplinary proceedings against Mr Mark James CBE? What a joke.

To use council staff and resources to perform work for which a solicitor would have charged a small fortune is bordering on criminal, particularly as the council themselves have repeatedly told everyone that this was an 'entirely private matter' between Mr James and a resident.

After everything that has happened, what more do our councillors need, apart from a backbone, to bring a vote of no confidence against this tin-pot dictator? As for the police and the WAO, why are they still protecting him?

The full thread of the FOI request can be seen here

See also this post from July; 'Evidence' accessed from council computers - the Carmarthenshire Herald. The Herald noted it would be "wholly inappropriate for any officer to use council IT infrastructure to assist another officer in the preparation of a private legal matter, and that it would also be wholly inappropriate for any officer to ask or instruct another officer to do so"


Anonymous said...

The stench emanating from some departments at Carmarthen Council is fast becoming a public health hazard. The sooner that this situation is brought under control the better. Only then can the public who finance this service truly feel that they are getting full value for their money. Is the Council motto "For the few,NOT the many?" Answers on a post card!

Anonymous said...

So, the truth is out.

Keep digging and the leak will turn into a flood which will hopefully wash this stain from the county for once and for all without the need for any further monetary expense.

Its time the stench created by the atmosphere of bullying is cleared. Sadly, and following the death of Carl Sergeant, it has taken that to bring a focus on the underhand tactics employed by these bullies, including chief bully, carny jones, a third rate politician at best.

Keep up the good work.

Unknown said...

It would be totally appropriate that an allegation now goes to the Monitoring Officer and for her to make out a report for members under her statutory duty. She has already refused to do this regarding damning information I provided on another matter. She would not dare oppose this ruler, so there should now be a vote of no confidence in both of them. How can any member have any trust in their own legal department.

Anonymous said...

't would be totally appropriate that an allegation now goes to the Monitoring Officer and for her to make out a report for members under her statutory duty. She has already refused to do this regarding damning information I provided on another matter.'

There is only one problem with that: She hasn't got. clue how.

Putting incompetent people into roles is a good strategy for people like james as he can then manipulate to his hearts content safe in the knowledge the pleb he's manipulating hasn't got a clue whats going on, as is the case here. Google the Peter Principle.

The problem is not so much the monitoring officer but the puppet master pulling its strings. Get rid of the puppet and then concentrate on the puppet master.

Anonymous said...

A completely controlling CEO. How much more blatant does it gave to get before this man is suspended. Monitoring Officer cannot carry out her duties - officers not able to abide by their own code of conduct - legal officers cannot be honest. Is this Carmarthen or Moscow? Where the bloody hell are our councillors and Ministers?

Anonymous said...

The 8 employees who were subject to disciplinary proceedings might like to drop Mr James a line and ask him how the f*** he gets away with it.

As Mr James is also running a private property empire in Cardiff, maybe the WAO should check whether he's been using council facilities for any other extra-curricular activities?

Anonymous said...

Another area he controls is that of members. To mislead members and refuse to answer questions is very serious. What better way than to ensure members do not ask questions is to intimidate them into silence. That way no questions are asked and therefore there can be no accusation of misleading nor answering. What a man. He controls everyone and everything. The question is why he'd want to. Generally, individuals who resort to these tactics have a lot to hide therefore need o be totally in charge.

Unknown said...

I made these comments on a previous blog but I will copy and paste again on your current blog as I think it is very relevant. Emlyn Dole you are in charge NOT Mr James!! Or am I wrong and you don't have the backbone to do anything Mr Dole??

Emlyn Dole and Plaid Cymru have now been in charge of the council for approximately two years if not more.. I cannot understand why councillors under his leadership has not been able to put Mr James in his place. Who runs the council? The elected members or the CEO?This type of Mal administration goes on and on in Carmarthenshire but no one has the backbone to sort it out. When Plaid Cymru came to power I thought this is a chance to have a clean sweep and take the good name of Sir Gar out of the papers and Private eye. But this has not happened and week by week we here of the misdemeanour of the CEO and his team in the dirty business that has been associated with Carmarthenshire

Anonymous said...

As the top team under James are all paid eye watering private sector type salaries
As in the private sector when the top team fail they all go

There has to be a clear our of all the directors with James and start again for a more community / people focus Council

Alice Wonderland said...

Please listen and please share - Why do we need a Government by RJ Williams

This is Directed firmly down at The Bay of Flying Pigs.

Enough is Enough.

Angela Richards


Anonymous said...

It is time for the CEO and his Monitoring Officer to meet with those who have very serious grievances against this Council. Let them both explain to those who have lost thousands of pounds and in some cases their employment and in other cases loss of their home, why this Council is NOT responsible for any misconduct issues which have been the cause of such very serious losses. If he is so confident that he and others have not acted inappropriately, then he will have no reason to refuse. If he does refuse then it will be obvious he cannot justify officers conduct leaving CCC absolutely responsible.

caebrwyn said...

Anon 14th Nov 09:45

For a further update regarding Mr James' property empire see today's post from Cneifiwr here, it also seems that letters of a legally threatening nature also feature in Cardiff, as they do in Carmarthenshire.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought. Mark James believes he is unaccountable. Ministers appear to accept Mark James is answerable to himself, and refer members of the public back to CCC to deal with grievances. If a CEO is dodgy where does that leave members of the public then? He must be answerable to someone. As the PSOW only accepts complaints of maladministration it wouldn't be to him.