Jacob Williams
Sunday 5th March, 2017

The Ken is mightier than the lord

The Ken is mightier than the lord

On arrival at County Hall for Thursday’s penultimate county council meeting of the 2012-2017 term, councillors found envelopes waiting in their pigeon holes.

They contained an undated, unsigned statement from the self-styled “Voice of Johnston,” Cllr. Ken Rowlands.

Rowlands was first elected as Labour member for Johnston in 2004.

Crafty Ken was also adopted as the party’s candidate for the 2008 election, but within an inch of the close of nominations, not leaving Labour enough time to find a replacement, ditched them to successfully stand as an ‘independent’ – bringing two fellow comrades with him.

Lay-preacher Ken always claimed that he only decided to join the council’s ruling independent party post-election – and denied that his fellow Labour councillors Lyndon Frayling and Umelda Harvard were his dowry for doing the dirty.

This was all blown wide open by my Partygate revelations.

This showed, among other things, that the ruling party were creating election leaflets for the three of them – and counted on their respective seats as being “safe” and “almost in the bag” in secret pre-election strategy documents I published online.

Oh, and The Voice of Johnston’s denials were dealt a terminal blow as Partygate also revealed that, er, Ken’s wife acted as the trio’s election agent!

Cllr. Sue Perkins, who’d previously trounced a bitter Ken for the Labour leadership, knew exactly what had gone on and accused the three of “pretending to be Labour candidates and misleading voters,” telling Ken: “I would be happy never to speak to you again.”

She most famously sniffed: “I hope you are happy with your 30-pieces of silver!”

This was in reference to Ken’s immediate promotion, post-election, to a lucrative cabinet position.

Who said loyalty goes unrewarded?

At that time, the Partygate evidence wasn’t available to support the version put forward by Cllr. Perkins – whose theories Ken shrugged off as “vitrolic, offensive and smacking of political paranoia.”

Sue, of course, was totally right – and her spirit was willing – but her flesh was weak.

Five years later she would join Ken in ditching Labour in return for the ruling ‘independents’ – and a cabinet post of her own!

Countless more pieces of silver have played their part in propping up Pembrokeshire council’s rotten ruling independent party – see Cllrs. Simon Hancock and Alison Lee – which today has more ex-Labour councillors than the official Labour group.

Back to Ken, whose cabinet tenure under successive independent party leaders came to an end in 2014 when he was put out to grass.

Former deputy-head Rowlands was the education portfolio holder, presiding over poor educational performance much like his predecessor Cllr. Huw George.

With time to mull things over on the backbenches, it’s got right up Kenny’s nose that the council’s “often positive outcomes” feature “in the back pages of the press” and certain unnamed councillors “denigrate this authority’s progress” failing to “acknowledge the successes.”

So much that he sent us a piece of his mind!

Ken opens his letter saying he was “somewhat surprised” that “the more rational members” of the authority “had not responded positively to Councillor Rob Summons’ e-mail to members in December.”

This is a reference to a crackpot missive his ruling independent party colleague sent all councillors on Christmas Eve.

When most people were chopping parsnips dreaming of a white Christmas, the Burton bruiser – ex-copper Cllr. Summons – thought it was ripe time to be defending his independent party’s record in a spontaneous outburst.

Cllr. Rowlands’ letter seems to confirm suspicions his pal’s yuletide outpouring fell on deaf ears – or none at all – as Summons’ spam was laughably filtered as junk mail!

Ruling IPPG councillor Summons, who won the Burton seat in the 2013 by-election, is said to be cosying up to the Conservatives – and some sources claim he’ll be their candidate there in this May’s election.

Repeating Summons’ unsolicited theme, Thursday’s finger-pointing letter to councillors from The Voice of Johnston – reproduced in full below – neglects to name a soul.

Rowlands goes for anonymous slurs and euphemism – smear tactics famously deployed by his party leader, Cllr. Jamie Adams.

So we may never learn the identities of spineless Ken’s “bellyachers” on the “side-lines!”

With polling day mere weeks away, some interpret the following letter as The Voice of Johnston’s choice of swansong…

There’s plenty to dissect from Thursday’s meeting, to which I may well return. In the meantime read Old Grumpy’s post on it here.

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  • Larry T Lamb

    PRINCIPALITY!? Good grief, it’s 1950s man!

  • Enver Hoxha's Tractor

    All those trivial matters Ken is exercised about:

    1. Narberth School;
    2. Grants fiddles and covering them up;
    3. Repeatedly cocking up schools consultations;
    4. Cocking up the future of leisure services;
    5. Waste of scarce public resources;
    6. Locating a tip next to a nursing home;
    7. Building a relief road to a closed refinery;
    8. Paying off Bryn Parry-Jones;
    9. The closure of Haverfordwest Library;
    10. The sale of Haverfordwest Castle;
    11. Overspending on capital projects;
    12. Flogging off council assets on the cheap.

    It’s a glorious record, upon which he must look back with pride, as he backed all of them.

  • Keanjo

    Jacob, I am sure you would give your consent to Councillor Rowlands listing these ‘positive outcomes’ on this website – after all they wouldn’t take up too much space.

    Looking forward to reading them Ken.

  • Dai Trump

    If I may add to the list of PCC failures:

    13. Haverfordwest town centre/out of town shopping.
    14. The loss of Haverfordwest Market.
    15. Fishguard supermarket site.
    16. Blackbridge, a) Purchase, b) Steelworks, what a joke! c) The current proposals for the site, a bigger joke and even more serious.
    17. The Cleddau Bridge call centre.
    18. The nearby Watersports centre.
    19. Ocean Lab Goodwick.
    20. Chinese shoe factory in Pembroke or Pembroke Dock.
    21. Withybush strategic industrial estate.
    22. Bullying staff complaining about sex offenders.
    23. Education and child protection failures.
    24. Rewarding turncoat councillors with cabinet jobs.
    25. The pie in the sky marina developments.
    26. Foley House.
    27. Purchase of Cherry Grove Offices.

    And these are just the ones I can remember, Ken may not have backed some of these but his fellow IPPG members did. Senior officers are equally to blame and equally inept, hopefully May will be a clear out of the former followed by a clear out of the latter.

  • Ken’s missive is long on innuendo and short on facts.

    Who are these mysterious plotters who use “social media” and “certain media publications to which they are closely allied” to spread fake news about the council?

    I assume they have names!

    All this paranoid conspiracy theorising makes him sound a bit like Donald Trump.

    One of the now famous Partygate files contained a list of names drawn up by Rob Lewis ahead of the 2008 election.

    Those listed had been detailed off to approach newly-elected councillors at the poll count with a view to recruiting them to the IPG.

    One of those named on that list was Ken Rowlands, who later claimed in a letter to the Milford Mercury that he hadn’t decided to join the IPG until after the election.

  • Ray Burgess

    Very interesting.

  • Martin Lewis

    Dear Ken

    Thank you for your letter which I wasted a couple of minutes of my life reading just this morning.

    It’s evident from your actions as a councillor going back as far as I can remember that your grasp on reality is weak and you have delusions of grandeur brought on by far too much exposure to the goings on in County Hall, especially during your time with your new gang of friends in the IPG/IPPG which you so shamelessly joined after not only doing the dirty on the Labour party, but also lying about it constantly, until publicly exposed by Jacob Williams during “Partygate”.

    I, as a resident of Pembrokeshire, am very grateful to the council members who you deem to take an inordinate amount of time denigrating PCC’s progress.

    The “improvements” of PCC are only what is expected of an authority with a massive budget at its disposal. A budget so large that they are able to spend tens if not hundreds of thousand of pounds of our money seeking legal advice to try and hinder these same councillors.

    Members of your own IPPG are full of hypocrites, liars and bullies. If you need to resort to the kind of behaviour seen by successive members and leaders of the IPG and IPPG over recent terms of Pembrokeshire County Council then you are doing something very wrong, and have a lot to hide.

    If you cannot see the absolute contempt that most right thinking people in this county hold the IPPG in then you are blind and/or ignorant.

    Officers and ruling party councillors are paid to run this county in an efficient manner. That is their reward. Why do they need thanks for improvements to services that they themselves have neglected and deprived of capital while funding unnecessary officer and cabinet appointments?

    Watching last week’s council meeting, Jacob Williams quoted a very VERY clear part of the constitution, i.e. 4.10.4 that dictates that “Each Member asking a question may speak for a maximum of three minutes to ask his/her question.”

    For the council’s legal officer and chairman to argue that this plain English does not actually mean what it says shows exactly the contempt in which they hold the opposing members of council and the members of the public.

    How DARE they try to obstruct democracy in this way. It was one of the most DISGRACEFUL spectacles that I have ever witnessed in the council chamber, and that’s SAYING something given the antics of this council.

    It only shows that the legal adviser and Chairman of the council have total disregard for the way in which the council is meant to adhere to laid down procedures and how they will stoop to ANY level to prevent democracy and what is right and proper to be the way that the council conducts itself.

    It doesn’t matter how clever Jamie Adams thinks he is or what little good grace he purports to give the opposition members, everyone can see him for what he is and has been – an ineffective leader and economic with the truth!

    The members of cabinet would struggle to find enough talent between them to fill a half pint pot. Most of them are unable to debate without reading from a prepared script which they simply read word for word on most occasions e.g. Sue Perkins, Rob Lewis, Alison Lee, Simon Hancock.

    The cabinet really is the laughing stock of Pembrokeshire, yet Jamie Adams protects them like his own family because he knows his own leadership is hanging by a thread and dependent on them so they can get away with cock-up after cock-up.

    One item on the agenda last week had an amendment proposed that members of the cabinet are paid the lower of 3 optional pay grades, rather than the middle one.

    You’d think that current members of the cabinet wouldn’t be able to vote on that, what with them having a personal interest in the result. But oh no, that amendment was voted down and later in the webcast those same IPPG members were bleating on about times of austerity and the need to make savings – stomach churning stuff!!

    Keith Lewis, £20k wasted on a consultation that one of your own primary school pupils could have seen was unnecessary and futile. Isn’t there ANYONE in the council with half a brain that could see that this was a waste of time and money?

    The IPPG and their lords and masters are all playing a game that ordinary members of the public simply don’t recognise.

    You want the some members to stop “bellyaching on the side-lines”?

    Does it not register with you the seriousness of what they are revealing with their social media blogs?

    Other commenters on this article have already comprised a huge list of waste and wrongdoing of this council.

    Grace us with your presence on this blog Cllr Rowlands and give us a list of “improvements” made by this council that don’t involve improvements of farcical situations bought about by their own inept doings e.g. “improvements” in education.

    There would be no need for Jacob Williams and Mike Stoddart’s blogs if the ruling group, the cabinet, and certain past and present officers didn’t try to deny democracy and always stood up for what’s right and in the interest of the people of Pembrokeshire.

    Blatant disregard for the council’s own constitution by its legal advisers, preventing Tom Tudor from simply asking a question on the agenda, is scandalous.

    Chairman Tony Brinsden’s declaration that there’s nothing in the constitution saying that he’s allowed to read out his question when he obviously didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.

    I remember the rapturous round of applause Brinsden received when he achieved the unlikely feat of being elected chairman, yet from what I’ve seen of him on the webcasts he’s turned into yet another yes-man for the IPPG. As chairman, he should have insisted that the question be allowed to be read out when Jacob quoted directly from the constitution where it stipulates that members are allowed 3 minutes.

    It seems to me that the chairman, along with many others, are only interested in winding up the meeting as soon as possible to get to golf course/pub as early as possible and be damned with taking care of business properly.

    Our opposition councillors should not be fighting the officers and ruling group members and cabinet on the topics that they are having to if the officers and ruling group members and cabinet would only do what’s right in the first place.

    I don’t care what legal point Claire Incledon was trying to make, the constitution is clear, it does NOT relate to members of the public, it relates to members. It’s not discretionary, that word doesn’t appear in the constitution relation to reading out of questions.

    It’s a disgrace that they are trying to restrict members on such a basic point.

    So Ken, please do not insult members of the public with your drivel.

    The members you refer to are not denigrating the authority’s progress with their social media posts, they are simply holding to account the decisions of officers, ruling group members and cabinet who would absolutely run riot if it wasn’t for these members highlighting their disgraceful behaviour in their blogs and in the local press.

    It makes you wonder what people like most members of the IPPG must have got away with in the old days before the internet.

  • Flashbang

    Thanks to Enver and Dai for the ammunition that prospective candidates can use going up against the corrupt swill that have infested the council.

    With a bit of luck the new council will have a mass cleanout of departments and officers who are not working for the benefit of the county and taxpayers.

  • Malcolm Calver

    There have been lots of shenanigans over the last few years at County Hall and I suppose in five years’ time we will look back and come to the same conclusion regarding the next five years.

    I do believe that it would be helpful to voters in May to be informed which of the present councillors, who are standing in the forthcoming elections, support increasing the financial burden of Pembrokeshire County Council on Pembrokeshire residents.

  • Welshman 23

    There seems to be a number of councillors defecting from the IPPG to the Conservatives. Let’s start naming them.

  • John Hudson

    Some years ago the auditor found that councillors were unable fulfil their statutory responsibilities because they were not properly informed in order to make proper decisions in the light of all relevant considerations.

    This was partly due to incomplete information being provided, and also because some members lacked motivation and capacity.

    The late submission of a huge appendix of budget reductions emailed to all members the night before the council meeting caused severe disquiet being expressed by some members and not all voted for the budget.

    The Leader waffled on about how great and informative the secret budget members-only seminar process had been. However, clearly piqued at expressions of late budget dissent, Ian Westley quite rightly drew attention to the fact that these seminars were poorly attended and that members had more opportunity than ever to actively participate in the budget process.

    Officers cannot prepare budgets without political direction.

    We should be informed of the attendance and non attendance at these secret budget meetings, so we can see how disinterested our elected member is. Perhaps it is time to incorporate these into the formal council meeting schedule so that attendance and minutes are available.

    Clearly the process is not fit for purpose. I would add that the selective provision of information to members is still prevalent and that the scrutiny process leaves room for improvement through question and challenge. For too long members have been relying on accepting advice on face value.

  • Anoldman

    PCC ranks second out of 22 local authorities! Doesn’t say much for Wales. God help us.

  • Paul Absalom

    I think the criticism of Pembrokeshire County Council is unfair, just imagine how many consultancy firms and solicitor firms would have gone bust if it wasn’t for authorities like ours.

    Let me list the good things they have done:


    (One hour later) Ok, I stand corrected.

  • Loobeloo

    Lowest council tax in Wales, but look where Pembrokeshire is in education tables, disgusting.

    Fewer services than ever, now buy your own bin bags, orange bags so thin you cannot put anything with a corner in them, flatten it first or tear the bin so it’s useless.

    Oh, here’s a novel idea, why not collect the smelly black bags once a week and the non messy orange bags fortnightly, no that would be common sense. Then again they make money out of recycling, silly me.

  • Malcolm Calver

    Whilst being a critic of many of the goings-on at County Hall I am afraid we cannot blame Pembrokeshire County Council for all the problems that are laid at their door.

    We as a nation want our public services to provide more than we are prepared to pay for, or want services that should not really be funded by the taxpayer.

    We have an education industry that thrives/survives on bums on seats. Children today leave secondary school after many years with poor reading, writing and arithmetic skills.

    One reason given for poor performance is that classes need to be smaller but I would suggest there is nothing wrong with existing class sizes but something needs to be done about disruptive children in the classes.

    I am afraid we have to accept that we cannot all be brain surgeons and that we all have limitations. Time to call time on sending children to Mickey Mouse universities doing Mickey Mouse degrees.

  • Ivor Whistle

    Is Ken counting second from the bottom?

    Anyone would think there’s an election coming soon…

    Perhaps they should remember the phrase ‘judged by results’. Come May we could see, but most probably they will rely on voter apathy to continue in the same vein.

    Ultimately, power corrupts, so in five years’ time we could find ourselves in the same position. They need to remember that they are elected to represent their ward, not their personal ambitions.

    And using statistics to prove their point is doomed to fail. Statistics are only as good as the benchmarks you are judged against.

    100% of nothing, is still nothing.

  • Ratcatcher

    Pembrokeshire County Council, what a joke! Elected to serve the people of Pembrokeshire, when in reality all they serve are themselves. Except for a few honest councillors, corruption runs through the Kremlin.

    The money they gaily throw at ridiculous schemes is not theirs, but ours. Some of the rodents that I remove from my traps daily have more idea of running a local government than these pompous idiots.

    I could wade through these councillors’ deepest thoughts and not even get my ankles wet. The most worrying aspect is that, this May, a lot will be putting themselves forward for re-election! God forbid!!!

  • Pembs. Exile

    Martin, you show great expectation – a thimble would be a more appropriate vessel to collect the talents of the PCC cabinet.

    I must take issue with the statement that “The cabinet is the laughing stock of Pembrokeshire.”

    I can assure you that many beyond the county boundary have a hearty laugh at the farce being played out in the Kremlin Palace of Variety.

  • Loobeloo

    So PCC have to cut services due to financial restraints. But in local news they will borrow a million pounds to regenerate Milford’s Quay Stores and connect it to the Torch theatre (mountain climbing school?).

    That money has to be paid back within 5 years so PCC must have £200,000 a year available to pay it back, plus admin charges, but they keep pleading poverty.

    Something not right here. Which services will get cut to cover this? From Quay Stores to Milford Marina people will have to cross the busiest road in Milford. I may be wrong but I think the buildings belong to the Port Authority who will get it all done up for NOTHING.

  • Dai Trump

    Nice to see that Ken’s standards haven’t dropped and he is still a fully paid up member of the IPPG cover up team over the Mik Smith report.

  • Galf

    Loobeloo, the Port Authority are getting the loans for the Quay Stores. It’s funny that they cannot afford money for one of their buildings but had no problems buying the old Ward’s Yard site. They really are out to monopolise all of the waterway frontage.

  • Keanjo

    Still waiting for the list of ‘positive outcomes’ from Councillor Ken.

  • Goldingsboy

    More importantly, Loobeloo, why does the port authority want to keep on building, when all those new sheds on the docks have yet to find tenants?

  • Loobeloo

    Galf, I stand by what I wrote, if you read the local press it is PCC who have applied for and been granted the loan, and are pressing the Port Authority to use it to regenerate the Quay Stores. If it was the Port Authority who applied for and got the loan it would not concern me. Why do the council need to be involved? Have PCC now become a bank?

  • Dai Trump

    PCC do seem to have become a bank, unfortunately for a lot of lame developments and lame developers!

  • Malcolm Calver

    It is incorrect to say that PCC have become the bank for dubious projects but rather the ratepayers of Pembrokeshire, through some obviously useless councillors who do not have the ability necessary to operate a whelk stall.

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