Friday 29 March 2019

Health Board Chair slams Mark James over City Deal - Updated

Later post 12th May; City Deal; The 'potentially defamatory' letter...the row continues

Update April 10th;
BBC Cymru are reporting that the council have issued the following statement in response to the letter from ABM Chair, Andrew Davies;

 "We are considering the contents of the letter and will be issuing a robust response in due course. We will also take legal advice as we consider that the statements made are potentially defamatory"

This statement raises some very worrying questions.
As a governing body ('we' in the statement), the council cannot sue for defamation, the legal advice and the potential for legal action must have been commissioned and instigated on behalf of Mark James, the subject of the letter.

Whether it's a bluff, or a serious threat from Mr James, it would be interesting to know if any councillors were involved in sanctioning such 'advice' and why on earth, after everything that's happened, the taxpayers should still be footing his bill, unlawfully.
If I was Mr Davies, I know exactly what I'd tell Mr James....


A source close to Swansea City Council has revealed that an explosive letter has been sent from the Chair of the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (ABM) health board to the City Deal Joint Committee, through it's Chair, Swansea council leader Rob Stewart. The Chair of AMB is former AM and Welsh Government minister, Andrew Davies.

The letter condemns the statements given by Mark James to the City Deal Board, and in fact, all Carmarthenshire councillors, as being detached from reality, in plain speaking, a pack of lies.

City Deal partner.
From the claim that Carmarthenshire Council 'invited' the Wales Audit Office to 'provide reassurance' over their Wellness decisions, which the WAO deny, and indeed the first sentence of their report confirms this, to the claim that Swansea University were still on board with the project. Which they are not. Also, a senior Welsh Government source has confirmed that the Wellness business case had been put on hold after serious ethical concerns emerged over the project.
Mark James had claimed, in writing, that there were no issues at all.

The letter, which should be published eventually, goes further and cites all seven Nolan Principles of public life; selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and promoting these principles through leadership.

In particular, the letter focuses on integrity, and all breaches relate directly to Mark James. Clearly, someone's had enough.

To anyone who has observed Mr James' course of conduct with his own council, in fact his whole career in local government, this comes as no surprise, he works on his own principles; arrogance, selfishness, bullying, secrecy, dishonesty and greed. He wouldn't know a Nolan principle if it smacked him on the head.  Now that he's spread his malign influence to a wider region, it seems that not everyone is going to keep quiet. The Pembrokeshire led internal governance report is a case in point. Mark James has jeopardised the whole Deal. Don't say I didn't warn you.

This is not just about the revelation, regionally, that Mark James is a compulsive liar. It's also about his involvement with the shady deals which have jeopardised everything and which led to all the investigations, from Sterling Health to Kuwait. Neither can I possibly be the only one who thought that appointing his own solicitors, Acuity Law, for the council's internal review broke most of those seven Nolan principles all by itself. Actually, I know I'm not the only one.

The Joint Committee accepted all the recommendations in the various reports at a meeting held yesterday. A professional team will now run the Deal led by a Managing Director. If Mark James wasn't conveniently retiring he'd have been sacked as Accountable Officer. In effect, he has been.

Whilst the City Deal PR machine churns relentlessly on with its fly through videos and good news puffery, the reality is that Carmarthenshire Council as the lead authority and Mark James as the lead CEO have royally cocked-up the whole thing. Rows are now brewing over the extra admin costs which will have to be borne by the other councils as a direct result of the gross mismanagement.

According to sources Mark James didn't attend yesterday's Joint Committee meeting to face the music, the excuse was that he was scouring the country pleading with some other poor sap to empty another public purse into his sauna-by-the-swamp, or perhaps he'd just crawled back under a rock and hid.
This explosive letter will have done little to ease his indigestion...


Tessa said...

I have to say I AM a bit surprised the Ceebeebie has gone as far as he has this time. His megalomania seems to have progressed to insanity. Probably because he has been unchecked over several years. Seemingly because of the "Bystander Effect" - per Wikipedia "The bystander effect, or bystander apathy, is a social psychological phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when other people are present. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that one of them will help. Several factors contribute to the bystander effect, including ambiguity, group cohesiveness, and diffusion of responsibility that reinforces mutual denial of a situation's severity.
Arguably it was the Bystander Effect that allowed Jimmy Saville to continue as he did throughout his lifetime.

Unknown said...

This needs sendng to all 74 councillors, maybe NOW they will wake up and smell the coffee.

Anonymous said...

Unknown @12:14 If only that was so easy! Any communication to Councillors,even if they are your personal representative could well be BLOCKED at source. This CEO controlled Council is NOT transparent and neither is it Democratic. There are many residents in Carmarthen who have legitimate concerns but find that being able to voice them can sometimes become a never-ending process of frustration. We have a Plaid leadership who are found wanting when they should be calling to account the totally unaccountable actions of some of the senior officers on the Council. Even when M.James does leave, the Carmarthen public is likely to be saddled with major debt for many years to come. All due to the grandiose plans of one man and his cohorts.

Patricia B said...

Anon 14.06 I agree with that. For my sins of notifying Mark James of unauthorised industrial operations in 2005, rather than investigate matters, I was subjected to the trauma of six false arrests, spending countless hours in police cells, having to face three court cases, all eventually dropped, put on CCCs gagging policy without notification for three years, my emails were blocked for months without any notifications, accused of 'doctoring' filmed evidence, not once but twice, accused of being a liar, making false claims, accused of being.....'a nutcase'...(such professional language) other disgusting accusations, all passed onto our councillors no doubt, and so much more. These are crimes as they were a deliberate strategy to silence me, blacken my name and ruin me. The Ombudsman (the objective,honest one) exposed the deceit and lies that were orchestrated against me, but I still face losing my home,

Why did they do this to me? Anyone who understands the culture of this rotten council, who has followed Mark James desperate and despicable conduct will know - as does Jacqui. Well done Jacqui for tirelessly continuing to expose the much wider picture of this dreadful mans behaviour. If it wasn't for you we would all still be in the dark, facing our own nightmare alone.

Anonymous said...

I see the reassurance communication to the W.A.O for the Wellness Village was apparently 'rapid', taking just over a week, but the letter to be sent to W.A.O. regarding their opinion of the lawfulness of the indemnity seems to be taking an age.

Blodwen said...

Well, we all said he was retiring before the shit hit the fan! Looks like we were correct.

Redhead said...

Blodwen: He will be charging a vast sum if money to CCC for having the fan cleaned and will then be taking it with him just leaving the shit. Now, about that legal officer - isn't it time she came under the spotlight again ....

caebrwyn said...

Anon 16:48: As per my previous post, the WAO confirmed that as of 25th March 2019 they had still not received Legal Linda's letter that the July 2018 CRWG meeting resolved to send. Presumably her and Mr James, knowing it was unlawful anyway, decided not to bother...

Redhead: Many of us will be making sure the shit follows him, he has a responsibility to clear it up himself... His personal defence lawyer, Legal Linda, is equally culpable. Both of them should be under arrest, never mind the spotlight! She is also the Monitoring Officer for the City Deal, so it wasn't surprising that with her and Mr James' combined talents, the internal governance was found to be so bloody awful.

Anonymous said...

Have all our politicians run off to some far flung forgotten island, where Internet,phones, communications, news etc, have never been heard of? Or have they been struck down with the deaf dumb and blind syndrome? It is unbelievable that not one of their voices has been heard regarding this scandal. Or is it that we all have to accept Wales for the country it has become where a syndicate operates protecting those within it and attacks those outside it? It is becoming ever more evident it is the latter.

Anonymous said...

I see that the latest blog post by Jac o’ the North concerning the troubles at Dawnus ( revives the questions surrounding Mark James’ involvement in CCC’s purchase of the MoD’s Llangennech site in 2014. Jac refers to Cneifiwr’s post of that year ( and your post of 2017 (

See Jac’s update at the end of the post and the comments, here’s an extract - “4/ Then we have ‘Teflon’ Mark James of Carmarthenshire county council. For years people have wondered why nothing ever stuck to him. Well, if he was doing favours for HMG, and for people and companies favoured by HMG, then that explains a lot.
5/ Recently we seem to have witnessed some kind of denouement as Dawnus goes tits up, Mark James announces his retirement, an obscure company in Llangennech starts attracting the good and the great, Swansea University is hung out to dry, and the City deal is jeopardised.”

Redhead said...

Surely at least both should be suspended pending investigation? Suspension is not about guilt but about assessing facts in a way where neither of them are involved.

caebrwyn said...

Anon 08:54
Yes indeed, the MOD sale was another very shady deal courtesy of Mr James. Councillors weren't allowed to know the identity of the buyers...but it was all ok, as they were 'known to officers', ie Mark's mates.
Direct link to Jac o'the North here, Cneifiwr here and me here.

They should have both been sacked long ago for crimes against Carmarthenshire but yes, I agree, they should certainly be suspended now and taken out of the equation. The problem, I guess, is that this would be down to Emlyn 'two barns' Dole. Even when Mr James was under criminal investigation in 2014 the then leader, Kevin Madge, didn't have the bottle to suspend him, in the end James graciously 'stepped aside' for three months. Many hoped he'd never return.
But given that the police are investigating the sordid details of the Wellness scandal, and James is in it up to his neck, he should be suspended immediately. Failing that, the Welsh Government should step in.

caebrwyn said...

Labour group leader Cllr Rob James has tabled the following Motion for full council next Wednesday. The only reports discussed by councillors so far have been the two-pager from the WAO and the sham report prepared by Mark James' personal solicitors, Acuity Law, who are currently trying to sue elected members (see previous post).
The UK/WG and the Pembs-led governance reports, which found the council, and Mark James not fit for purpose, (see 15th March post), have not appeared on any council agendas.
Given that the City Deal board has said it accepts the findings, full council has no choice other than to agree to the Motion. Including the webcasting.

The Motion reads;

“That this Council:-
a) endorses both the UK/Welsh Government Independent Review and the Pembrokeshire Council-led Internal Review into the City Deal;

b) accepts that all recommendations within both reports and believes they should be implemented as soon as possible;

c) supports the use of webcasting for all future Joint Committee and Joint Scrutiny Committee meetings;

d) supports legally binding changes to the Joint Committee Agreement to implement the necessary changes.”

The full council meeting will also see Labour's Cllr Kevin Madge nominated as Chair of Council for the next municipal year. The crowning glory for Mr Madge, who was, of course, complicit in the illegal payments scandal and the tens of thousands spent in trying to defend the indefensible actions of Mark James. He has obviously been rewarded for his loyalty.

Anonymous said...

And......the council leader is on the joint committee..........duh

Anonymous said...

Carmarthenshire CC / Parc y Scarlets / Cardiff Bay flats / Swansea City deal / Swansea University / Dawnus / Kuwait / Sierra Leone

All roads lead to MJ

If someone said he was behind the sale of Tata Trostre steel plant - that wouldn't surprise me

He is a one man destruction machine

caebrwyn said...

Anon 23:37
Yes. So we can expect a prepared speech from Dole saying all is fine, nothing to see here and blame any controversy on political opportunism or 'negative' press. The truth of the matter is that this fiasco, now being investigated by the police, has been led by the council, and the chief executive, who has lied through his teeth and been involved from day one with shady deals with Sterling, Clement, Kuwait etc. The governance and internal legal advice has been found not fit for purpose, no declarations of interest have been made and procurement procedures have been breached. Who'd have thought it eh?

Anon 09:32
Quite. Not exactly the Midas touch, more the kiss of death. And let's not forget Boston and the PRSA stadium...and those criminal allegations....
Mark James needs to be suspended and urgently investigated, including a close examination of his financial affairs, retirement or not.

Blodwen said...

Today's Herald is still plugging away at the case - Jon Coles' excellent article and comment by Cadno. A must-read. They state quite clearly that "Marky Mark" has (to put it mildly) misled the council about the true state of affairs. Surely, after receipt of the damning letter from the Health Board, something will happen now?

Rechead said...

Blodwen: almost certainly not. There are too many fingers in pies and too many hands in tills in Wales so no- one tells on anyone for fear their misdeeds might come to light. Even Nigerian fraudsters offering riches can't hold a candle to them

caebrwyn said...

I now have a copy and I agree, excellent articles.
Swansea Uni's registrar and Chief Officer Andrew Rhodes confirms to the Herald that any statement to the effect that the Uni has re-engaged with the Wellness Village is "untrue". Similarly, the WAO confirmed that "the Auditor General had independently decided to undertake this work". They also confirmed that their report was an initial overview, not a detailed 'investigation' as the council claimed.

The Herald invited the council, or Mr James, to comment and were told that a 'robust response' to the claims in the letter was being prepared, but the paper had not received anything before going to print.

It says a lot that the main concerns of the Audit Committee meeting held last week, when the sham Acuity Law report was spoon-fed to them, was not that the chief executive was a compulsive liar, and both he and the council had been found not fit for purpose, but that it was 'disappointing' that the damning Pembrokeshire-led governance report got to the press (and blogs) first.

And here's an extract from the Herald's columnist 'Cadno';
"...Old CeeBeebies [Mr James] has spent a long time being a big fish in a relatively small pond. He has now, in the twilight of his glorious career, found himself in a sea full of barracudas. He has tried the same tactics and strategy which have kept him as Carmarthenshire County Council's apex predator, only to come unstuck as he faces those who are used to the far more testing and highly-politicised environment of the City Deal. In those waters, sharper teeth bite much harder than the light gumming delivered occasionally by the likes of 'Marvellous Meryl..."

@Redhead You are spot on, but we shall keep on trying....

Anonymous said...

How right Cadno is - old Humpty CeeBeebies Marky Mark loves to use jabberwockey language and expects everyone to believe his own special interpretation of it, with the majority of his sad admirers blindly nodding. CeeBeebies once wrote to me "just because you keep saying something doesn't make it true". He would know!! It seems he couldn't get away with his own twisted interpretation of our language any longer, having to swim with the big fish, and as Cadno has likened him to old Humpty, he's fallen off his very high wall.

Anonymous said...

Let us hope that Plaid see sense and accept the Rob James motion, and do not put forward a wrecking motion via an amendment.

Anonymous said...

I see today that CCC are brandishing the libel weapon once again as a threat against Andre Davies et al. Is Plaid Cymru going to allow this to happen again on their watch ? Absolutely appalling bunch of turncoats and I am a Plaid supporter. no more if this goes on.

caebrwyn said...

Anon 12:46
Thank you for that. I have also heard that a legal threat is being considered in response to Andrew Davies' letter. If so, then this is appalling. I will report on this if and when I hear more.

As for today's full council meeting, Plaid did put forward an amendment which replaced the words 'That this council endorses...' to 'That the Joint Committee endorses...'
It effectively passed the buck.
The concerns over funding, due diligence, Kuwait, legal threats, secrecy etc put forward by Labour councillors were ignored, and Plaid led the usual disappointing combination of attack and spin. Heavily outnumbered, Labour accepted the amendment.
You can watch the debate on the archived webcast. Just a word about Cllr Giles Morgan (Ind), who accused Cllr James of believing a 'blog' rather than senior officers. Cllr James is, I'm sure, capable of reaching his own conclusions about this saga on the available facts, as am I, and as are most people who are not under the direct influence of the chief executive.

To put it simply, for the benefit of Cllr Morgan and co, it is not the 'questions from the press' which have been 'undermining public confidence' but the unfolding scandal involving the chief executive, his friends at the Uni and Sterling.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable of Giles Morgan to suggest we all ignore facts as reported in the press and blogs, but blindly accept officers words, as he and his cohorts have always done. Look where that has led them!! Is he for real? Has he not read the damning reports or is he so afraid of yesterdays man he has to continue with the culture of deceit and dishonesty in order he won't face the usual threats of being sued. This whole council is a pantomime and an absolute disgrace. The public deserve honesty and objectivity at the very least. Maybe members of the public aren't so gullible as he and his fellow councillors are and have sufficient intelligence and wherewithal to understand truth from fiction. Again, the only councillor who has the guts to be honest and speak out is Cllr Rob James, but then has to suffer the usual mud slinging by 'two barns', dishonest, the right Rev Dole!! How does this man have the gall to criticise anyone?

Lesley said...

The treatment being meted out to Cllr Rob James is the same as that to which anyone who dares make a criticism is subject. It is an absolutely appalling state of affairs which can only be described as a dictatorship. The majority of the councillors we pay for are a complete waste of space and money and should be put out to graze at the earliest opportunity.

I am presently in a state of shock having this morning caught sight of a magazine - Carmarthen Times or something - which had a picture of Meryl Gravelle on the cover and a headline "Marvellous Meryl". A late April Fool joke surely?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has to resort to threats of legal action every time someone makes a critical comment, mentions something contraversial in a meeting, blows the whistle, makes a complaint, writes out a questioning report, states facts that CeeBeebies doesn't agree with, in fact anything at all remotely critical, should be seriously challenged as one has to question his mentality; as to throw out your dummy so many times at so many people suggests he is riddled with insecurities . There has to be a reason for that! All very worrying. Or maybe he's simply going for a record of numbers of people to be sued by one man/authority.

Redhead said...

He's getting all his legal threats in while CCC pay for them.

caebrwyn said...

It certainly looks that way. I've reminded the head of legal that a council cannot sue, neither can it fund an officer to bring a claim. I've also asked who they have asked for legal advice, and pointed out that there would be major concerns, on several levels, if it was Acuity Law.
I've also asked, before Mr James runs up another unlawful legal bill, if the process is underway to recover the last lot of illegal payments from him before he retires.
I'll let you know if I ever get a response.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why Carms and the other Councils still appear to be flogging the Delta Lakes Wellness Centre, at a projected cost to the City Deal Pot of £200 million+. There is an even better (and deliverable) Wellness project proposed for Swansea (between J46 and J47 of the M4), which would have the great advantage of close proximity to Morriston Hospital. Among it's comprehensive functions would be to provide accommodation to remove "bed-blocking" at the hospital. This project is to be delivered at NO COST to the public purse, by a company which has already carried out three similar projects in the North West of England. So far Swansea Council are declining to engage with the promoters, and it is doubted that this project has been mentioned to the other three Local Authorities. However BMHA is very keen. Strange times!