Continuing the theme of my previous blogpost, and more, here's this week's 'Cadno' opinion piece from the Carmarthenshire and Llanelli Heralds. Well worth a read;
Reproduced with permission
Cadno and the experiment
Today we have naming of parts.That’s the start of a famous poem by Henry Reed, in which the writer reflects on the tedium of military training. The poet’s skill lies in mixing two voices: the instructor’s and that of a day-dreaming recruit. He contrasts the mechanical nature of warfare with reflections on nature.
It is highly likely that, if you have been compelled to learn about 'War Poetry' in school, Henry Reed's is one of the poems that will have been placed before you. If your experience of poetry education was like Cadno's, it materialised shortly before you got round to Rupert-bloody-Brooke and his corner of a foreign field that is - forever - England.
As it was when Cadno was in school, so it shall be forever after. Repeat the same old over and over again, then one bright day a pupil will find a rhyme for the word ‘orange’ and become Poet Laureate.
Einstein observed that repeating the same experiment over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
So it is, with a sense of inevitability, we come to Mark James and the City Deal.
Jacqui Thompson, the writer of the online blog Carmarthenshire Planning Problems and More, concisely explains what was said in the reports prepared on behalf of the UK and Welsh Governments and the City Deal Board. Cadno recommends you read her.
The issues the reports set out are familiar to those who have followed Carmarthenshire County Council for many years. There is a lack of transparency, poor internal communication, secretiveness, distrust, and a failure to declare interests.
When it comes to individual projects, the reports identify that they are long on windy rhetoric and aspirations. They are equally devoid of the nuts and bolts to hold them together.
The recent revelation of Sterling Health's involvement in a further project involving members of Swansea University’s staff gives a reasonable person pause for thought. That pause is longer when we note the same staff were involved in the Wellness Swamp. We can, therefore, be sure that old CeeBeebies was totally unaware of any involvement by Sterling in a proposal to create a private medical school at Swansea University’s Bay Campus. Had he been aware of such a relationship, as the Responsible Officer and CEO of the City Deal Board, he would have reported it.
In fact, there is no possible way that Mr James – as a responsible public servant – would not have notified the City Deal Board of any involvement – however tangential – that he and others involved in the City Deal’s governance had with one another in other projects outside the Deal.
It is an innocent coincidence that Mark James CeeBeebies is involved with some of the same members of the University staff, this time in Kuwait.
Coincidence, as this newspaper’s Deputy Editor wrote a few weeks back, is no correlation.
In short, shit happens.
Now Mr James approaches the end of a glorious tenure, Cadno notes there is not a single other instance in the whole of Mark James’ his public career in which any project with which he has been concerned has ever been criticised for lack of transparency, poor communication, or secretiveness.
Similarly, under Mr James' benign hand, Carmarthenshire County Council has never been the subject of any reports or complaints alleging lack of transparency, poor communication, secretiveness, or distrust.
In relation to the Council’s funding of his libel indemnity, it was never the case Mr James said he did not seek to benefit financially and would reimburse the Council for the costs incurred as a result of its kindness to him. It was never the case that in a subsequent Court appearance a barrister instructed by him said that CeeBeebies’ opinion was that he could do whatever he wanted with the indemnity money, including throwing it in the gutter.
Never has the CEO intervened in a row over the Council’s annual budget by giving an interview to the media in which he criticised the then opposition’s proposals. At least, not since that opposition became part of the governing group.
Never has Mark James attempted to avoid tax on his seven-figure pension pot by means of a wizard wheeze nodded through by a supine and ineffective Executive Board.
Never has Mark James CeeBeebies delivered a statement to the Council or provided a version of events in a press release which have been flatly contradicted by an email he sent to others revealing the real position.
Never has it been the case that major capital projects supported by the Council have been the subject of some extraordinarily dodgy decisions, or that any of them have over-promised and under-delivered. It could never be said that under Mark James, Carmarthenshire’s handling of landmark projects have been long on windy rhetoric and aspirations and devoid of the nuts and bolts to hold them together.
Never could it be said that under Mr James’ control the Council has been found to be secretive.
Never could it be said that under Mr James’ control the Council has been criticised for a lack of transparency.
Never could it be said that there has been any perception at any stage that Carmarthenshire County Council has been economical with the truth or sparing with the actualité.
If at any stage, any and/or all of the above had been the case, the reaction to the two most recent reports into the City Deal would not have been one of horrified surprise - or surprise of any sort.
There would have been some reflection on Einstein’s comments about the definition of insanity.
For example, readers: if you drop the same amount of sugar into the same amount of nitric acid one hundred times, there will be a slow eruption of hideous ooze over the side of the beaker on one hundred occasions, accompanied by a rather unpleasant smell.
Nothing like the way the City Deal has turned out to date.
Nothing at all.
Reproduced with permission