Monday 2 December 2019

Plaid Cymru, and the rotten legacy of Mark James

My last post included a published comment warning former CEO Mark James that just because it's quiet, it doesn't mean there isn't a train coming. Quite correct, there will be a train coming, regardless of the outcome of the current police investigation. (Brief update on that here)
If necessary, I'll be driving it.

Mark James spent seventeen years at the council and ran it with all the charm of a psychopath, he was no better in Boston where he allegedly tampered with legal documents, lied under oath and bullied staff. In Carmarthenshire he bullied and threatened any staff, councillors, whistleblowers or members of the public who dared challenge his word. He granted favours and promotion to those who flattered his ego. He used council facilities, including the notoriously incompetent and unscrupulous legal department for his own personal vendettas and shady business deals.

He used the police and courts as a weapon to get his own way and to bully and silence critics. He helped out his 'friends' and acted fraudulently, with the full support of the monitoring officer and whichever puppet administration he'd put in 'power'.

The puppet administrations are to blame for allowing this regime to continue for so long. And to have caused so much damage. It was the idiotic Labour/Independent executive board which bankrolled his illegally funded counterclaim. Kevin Madge, the former Labour leader who rubber stamped the decision, with Mark James leaning over his shoulder, cut a pathetic figure attempting to defend the latter throughout the WAO findings, Madge is now Chair of the Council. This is how loyalty is rewarded in Carmarthenshire.
It remains to be seen what the outcome of the police raid on former leader Meryl Gravell will be.

As for the counterclaim, the 'indemnity' was indeed a slush fund, and 'Pinocchio' has always been a very accurate description. Not least of all the whopping lie about paying damages back to the council. He's pocketing the lot.
If I fail to pay Mark James his monthly 'gutter' money, for evermore apparently, he will sell my home, "without further notice".

Plaid Cymru, in opposition, were vocal in their criticism of the regime, and not just regarding the libel case but everything from bizarre planning decisions to cover-ups in social care, and so there was some hope that they would start serving out some justice when they came to 'power' in 2015. Quite the opposite happened and Emlyn and co were taken into the fold. In a deal for the position as leader, Emlyn 'two barns' Dole bowed to Mark James and reneged on his previous opinion that the indemnity had been unlawful.

With the scene set by Labour, Plaid just carried on with the farce. And still do.

One of his first steps as leader was to place a crippling legal charge on my home for hundreds of thousands of pounds for legal costs. A vindictive decision straight from the mouth of Mark James. A sum I will never be able to pay, and a charge which the judge was reluctant to order. Mark James' own charge on my home, from the unlawfully funded counterclaim, is tens of thousands of pounds.

Plaid Cymru are now, under the guidance of monitoring officer, Linda Rees Jones (and Mark James, this latest attempt started a year before he retired) are now trying their best to change the mind of the Auditor General and reinstate the ability to sue the public with taxpayers' money, and extend it to themselves.

It's scandalous.

As former county councillor Sian Caiach points out in her latest blog post, this is a Plaid Cymru policy they're keeping quiet about.

Throughout all this, Plaid politicians Adam Price AM and Jonathan Edwards MP appear to have recognised the blindingly obvious injustices and, in particular, the arrogance and failures of Mark James. They continue to state their opposition to illegal libel indemnities. They called for Mark James to repay his ill-gotten gains some years ago, this was ignored by Labour at the time. I myself asked Emlyn Dole if he would honour his colleagues request and demand repayment before Mark James retired, he refused to even consider asking him.

Despite their apparent sincerity the Plaid politicians outside the council appear to be powerless to influence their colleagues leading Carmarthenshire. Whether this is by fault or design isn't clear. One assumes they prefer not to rock Plaid's Carmarthenshire boat, or is there a complete disconnect between the external politicians and the merry bunch 'running' the council...not that Emlyn seems particularly merry these days.
The Welsh Labour government have failed to hold this rogue council to account and positively intervene over the many issues which have arisen over the years. At the moment it doesn't look like Plaid Cymru would do any better. Promoting a Welsh justice system, with full human rights implications, needs to start with eliminating injustice in this corner of Wales.

The 'legal adviser' to councillors has, for some years, been Linda Rees Jones, instructed, totally, by Mark James. She owes her permanent position as monitoring officer to Mark James himself who bypassed the proper appointment process in a cosy arrangement and a reward for her unswerving loyalty to covering up his illegal and immoral behaviour. Her legal department was famously described as cavalier and incompetent but it's worse than that, she has deliberately mislead councillors to protect Mark James and herself, and to line his pockets.

Whilst these issues, and others, continue to fester in the corridors of County Hall no amount of gloss and spin can eradicate the foul taste. It won't go away. Any councillors with even a vague sense of justice and empathy will take the bull by the horns themselves, along with MPs and AMs and realise that the continuing rotting legacy of Mark James, and his monitoring officer, needs to be halted once and for all.
He will not get away with it.

They need to right the past wrongs, now, reject the misleading advice, and run the council with that justice, fairness and empathy they pray earnestly for, very publicly, each month.


In Wellness scandal news, in true Carmarthenshire council style, not only have they spent a fortune covering their legal backs with Acuity Law but have employed the services of a large PR company to try and put lipstick on the proverbial pig. Heavenly Group Ltd have been commissioned to 'rebrand' the scandal ridden sauna-by-the-swamp.
With undoubtedly 'difficult' budget cuts fast approaching, I have asked just how much has been spent with Heavenly Ltd.
Response due at the end of the month.

For extensive background to the Wellness Village, City Deal, investigations, etc, please search this blog using the searchbox on the right


Anonymous said...

Brilliantly written and unequivocally inarguable. This authority is an absolute disgrace not only to Carmarthenshire but to Wales and it's people. The damage that all members are fully aware of should never be part of politics. What has happened and is still happening is literally criminal and should be viewed this way by our political representatives and dealt with as such. No-one is above the law and it's high time the law stepped in.

Anonymous said...

'Pinocchio' - Boris Johnson's father will be very proud you can spell !

I have been impressed with Adam Price in this election campaign speaks from the heart
Shame his gang in Carmarthenshire County Council are not so impressive
Referencing the Mark James clan still in the council who supported his tenure - there seems a lack of direction from the new person in charge - very low profile working in the shadows
The only news recently is the possibility of a gritter drivers strike
And a small launch of the rural strategy in Newcastle Emlyn but when you look at the Executive Board Member Decisions Meeting for Communities and Rural Affairs headed by Plaid there have been none
Funny that

caebrwyn said...

In libel indemnity news, I have obtained, via FOI, the follow-up letter from Linda Rees Jones pleading yet again with the Auditor General to change his mind after his sound rejection in May.
She rehashes the same old argument, relying on the Welsh Government guidance rather than the legislation itself enacted in 2006 prohibiting the public funding of libel claims.
Remarkably, she also relies on 2003 case law, quoted in the guidance, which states (and I kid you not); "The hazards of defamation exercises are, or should be, notorious. Common sense suggests that the council’s [it was Bedford] disastrous experience in the present case should be sufficient to warn-off all but the most litigious of local authorities from granting indemnities in respect of the costs of defamation proceedings brought by their officers."

The determination to cover their illegal actions takes a new twist in this letter with a veiled threat to the Auditor General that if he doesn't agree that they acted lawfully, they will, in so many words, approach the Welsh Government to try and override his decision.

It appears that the Auditor General has yet to respond. However, it is somewhat immaterial as not once through all this has Ms Rees Jones, or Emlyn Dole, or of course Mark James, mentioned the moral, ethical or democratic aspect of suing the public, let alone the colossal financial risks.

How Plaid Cymru can put their name to this, let alone support their group leader Emlyn Dole as he positively pushes for the reinstatement of the Mark James slush fund, and to extend it to cover himself, is beyond belief. Particularly given their previous opposition.

Emlyn may be beholden to cover-up for the criminal and vindictive behaviour of Mark and Linda, for whatever sordid little reason, but why aren't Jonathan Edwards and AM Adam Price stopping him in his tracks? Do they really want to carry on the Mark James legacy and see Carmarthenshire crowned, yet again, as the "most litigious local authority" in the UK?

caebrwyn said...

The bill for rebranding the Wellness Village is £24, far. The equivalent of an above average annual wage in Carmarthenshire, perhaps one of those council workers who will be losing their job in the latest round of budget cuts. Bloody criminal.