Jacob Williams
Tuesday, 4th April, 2023

Another one bites the dust

Only a quarter done, and 2023 is proving to be quite a fluid year for Pembrokeshire County Council’s political composition.

All of the changes so far have been of the same type and in the same direction: councillors first elected in 2022 as independents and who had sat as unaffiliated independents, moving to join the ‘Independent’ group.

Also known as the IPG – from its ‘Independent Political Group’ legal name – this party in all but name basically ruled the council with a rod of iron from the 1990s right up until the 2017 election, at which time many IPG incumbents were ousted at the ballot box.

The following election, in May 2022, saw some more favourable results for candidates with known links to the IPG. Once the dust had settled, it emerged as the council’s largest political group, in opposition to the unaffiliated independent/Labour/Plaid Cymru/Lib Dem administration.

But, having lain dormant since 2017, the IPG in recent months has been agitating for a return to power.

Various overspends in ongoing capital projects have combined with other factors to lead many a backbencher to wonder whether the current administration is properly consulting – or accurately representing – the whole authority’s political will and priorities.

The first councillor who crossed the floor to the IPG was Haverfordwest Garth ward councillor, Anji Tinley.

The January 11th development was widely unexpected – though on closer scrutiny, given that she had been endorsed in 2022 by the ward’s outgoing councillor, IPG member Lyndon Frayling, it was perhaps not entirely inexplicable.

This was followed on 8th March by Milford Haven councillor, Alan Dennison.

Cllr. Dennison’s decampment to the IPG was also unexpected, but perhaps not so surprising – given the context that he’s a former Reform UK Senedd candidate.

The most surprising to date had to be the move by Cllr. Vanessa Thomas of the new Carew and Jeffreyston ward, part of which I represented at County Hall between 2012-2022 when the Jeffreyston community fell under my East Williamston ward.

Although it was published on April Fools’ Day, this Western Telegraph article heralding the IPG’s new recruits, will have come as no joke to the current administration.

Cllr. Thomas says her move to the IPG: “…was focused on feeling the need to be part of a group dynamic…” in the piece which also quotes her new group leader, Cllr. Jamie Adams, who led the authority from 2012-2017.

Adams says the expansion of his IPG group: “…affords a greater opportunity to ensure that the administration and their supporters within council are effectively held accountable for their decisions and the delivery capability over which they preside.”

But even this is now old news, in the rapidly-changing situation.

Although an announcement is yet to be made, JW understands the IPG has this week bagged another female councillor first elected in 2022 – Pembroke member Melanie Phillips.

The direction of travel and the speed at which it’s gathering pace will be deeply concerning to the current administration, whose leader, Cllr. David Simpson, has been in the top job since May 2017.

Most recently re-elected to the post unopposed following the 2022 council election, Cllr. Simpson’s current leadership term comes up for renewal at next year’s council AGM, in May 2024.

Under PCC’s constitution the only chance of replacing a leader in-between leadership elections (bar resignation or other disaqualification/vacancy) is to force a vote to remove the incumbent.

This approach is obviously a much more adversarial process than a regular leadership election, in which a challenger can test his or her chances against an incumbent, even on a whim.

If the IPG was to form an administration, the maths is simple: they can’t do it alone – they would need to form a coalition.

Conventional wisdom holds that the authority’s Conservative group, of eleven councillors, would be the natural bedfellows.

This would only take them to a combined 28 – up from 24 at the start of the year, but still shy of the safe 31/60 councillor majority.

However, such a coalition would likely gain the support of some, but not all, unaffiliated members too – which is why things are now looking increasingly precarious.

Although it’s making obvious progress, and perhaps on the cusp, there are other reasons to think an IPG coalition might not yet be best poised to take over the council.

Many, including serving IPG members I speak to, see the return of Cllr. Jamie Adams to the council’s leadership as a bridge too far – that a fresh face for the leadership is necessary.

This is where Huw Murphy (2022 inductee, Newport and Dinas ward) is thought to be accumulating plenty of overtime.

Former cop Huw’s quite the fan of schmoozing unaffiliated councillors on the blower.

Indeed I have good reason to believe his carefully co-ordinated campaigning calls are largely to credit for the IPG’s 2023 recruitment success.

Murphy clearly has the gift of persuasion, and has made little secret of his ambitions and opposition to the current way the council is being run.

An IPG led by Cllr. Murphy – should he manage pull it off – could change the landscape in ways we can’t yet imagine.

Meanwhile, the difficult question facing Cllr. Simpson and his cabinet right now is how they can stop the rot.

Interesting times ahead.


  • Alan Dennison

    Actually it was Reform UK I stood for in the Senedd elections coming a credible 4th ahead of the Lib Dems and having the biggest vote count in the country. I have never supported UKIP so look forward to you amending your statement.

  • Martin Lewis

    Simpson and his ragtag cohort of cabinet members have proved ALMOST as calamitous and incompetent as Adams and his mob. Simpson isn’t the devious self centred individual and liar that Adams is but the end result for the people of Pembrokeshire is the same.

  • Michael Williams

    I would recommend anyone considering flipping to the so called IPG to take the time to peruse the annals of Old Grumpy during their catastrophic time in charge.

  • Sorry Alan – duly amended!

  • Welshman 23

    The current leader should have gone after the Ian Westley episodes. It seems the previous leader saw fit to dispose of BPJ with a wheelbarrow full of cash £300k plus.

    It’s time this organisation was put into special measures. The current Chief Mr Bramble was brought in to shake things up but it seems that nothing has changed.

    As taxpayers we are picking up the costs for the catalogue of errors. What has happened to the investigation into the grants fiasco in Pembroke Dock this has gone on for years.

  • On reading Cllr Michael Williams’ comment (above) I remembered that, in 2019, I had written about a previous attempt by the IPG/Tory cabal to ease its way back into power.

    For the benefit of anyone with a short memory, I provided links to some of the IPG’s more disreputable activities.

    It is by no means an exhaustive list because it doesn’t, for instance, include Jacob’s exposure of their unlawful, industrial-scale use of the council’s computers to run their election campaigns in both 2008 and 2012 for which the political group’s deputy leader Rob Lewis was suspended by the Standards Committee after the Ombudsman concluded that his nefarious activities breached the Code of Conduct.

    Members now considering joining the IPG should be aware that people are often judged by the company they choose to keep.

  • Mark

    I note that Cllr Alan Dennison reads and contributes to this blog, I would have been interested to know his reasons for joining a group almost a year after his election. I never had him down as the sort who felt isolated and lacking in confidence.

  • John Hudson

    I am wondering where the officers’ party label can be pinned. With no party manefesto to be seen anywhere, my opinion is that they all share it, and officers rule unopposed, as ever.

    A change of party group leader may signify a change, although the Tories appear to have woken up over the Haverfordwest bus stop issue, with an embarrassing result for the corporate council.

    The two-stage capital project: 1) knock it down/buy it then 2) grant farm, find a partner or charge council customers to rebuild/ operate. Looks like the new corporate way forward, with cabinet’s blessing.

  • Mark – you are right about Cllr Alan Dennison who is not noted for being backward in coming forward.

    And I would have thought he was one of the last people who would accept being told how to vote by the likes of Jamie Adams.

  • Vivien Stoddart

    According to the Western Telegraph, Jamie Adams, as leader of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Independent Political Group, has said that “the latest councillor to join the IPG – the third this year – will create a greater opportunity to scrutinise the council’s Cabinet.”

    Jamie’s newfound enthusiasm for greater scrutiny and accountability is welcome, if belated.

    When I sought to hold the then IPG’s administration to account, Jamie’s response as council Leader, and that of his predecessor, John Davies, was to disparage my efforts.

    In 2011, when I questioned the wisdom of fighting two judicial reviews brought to court by care home owners, Leader John Davies accused me of making a number of unsubstantiated assumptions. He was confident the council would win the cases. The court found against the authority, and ordered the council to pay £400,000 legal bills.

    And when I raised concerns about the council’s purchase of the former Cherry Grove tax office from an offshore company, Jamie’s response was to accuse me of preferring to see the building fall into disrepair.

    He added that it was important this did not happen. So over £2m of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash was squandered on a white elephant for which no value-for-money use was ever found.

  • Flashbang

    Is this Huw Murphy a reincarnation of former councillor Rob Lewis?

  • John Hudson

    Viv, if I remember correctly, the Cherry Grove purchase was later said to be an initiative of the then CEO, for getting all of the county’s voluntary groups under one roof, and never went near any official corporate governance channel.

    In addition, any scrutiny of the lost care home judicial review episode was blocked at the time. This highlighted the lack of written records/evidence of decisions by the council to support its case. I am pleased that the council is to review its scrutiny arrangements following the last CEO’s departure arrangements. I do not think it has the wherewithal to do so.

  • Huw Murphy

    Having been named in this blog it would be remiss of me not to contribute. It’s always interesting to hear the views of others and participate in a debate. I also wish to make it clear that I admire anyone who stands for elected office, irrespective of their political belief as at some point we will get criticised, sometimes fairly and sometimes without good cause.

    The claim that the IG are “agitating” for a return to power is probably more reflective of the siege mentality to retain control of PCC by the unaffiliated Cllrs alongside Labour, Plaid and Liberals Cllrs who they indeed rely on to remain in power, so is the tail wagging the dog or dog wagging his tail in this “relationship?”

    The IG has indeed grown and there is no doubt this has been through the desire of many Councillors for a positive change in PCC politics rather than “agitating for power.” Councillors reflect the worries of their residents be it an unnecessary 7.5% Council Tax hike, to huge concerns over capital projects going way over budget to name but a few.

    It’s noted that Councillors Stoddart and Stoddart’s failure to touch upon anything that worries people today in their contribution to this blog appears reflective of the living in the past attitude of many in the ruling administration, hence a likely reason the “unaffiliated group” are losing members.

    However, it appears that rather than addressing the reason for losing members “senior” unaffiliated Cllrs are adopting an even bigger head in the sand attitude to present day issues by harking back to the past, making no effort to present a balanced overview in their contribution. Therefore, it’s all well to comment about Cherry Grove at a cost of £2 million many years ago but at the very least mention the fact that the Haverfordwest Transport Interchange (naming but 1) project at £10 million over budget, with the Labour Deputy Leader making it very clear that he fully supports this at almost any cost, which the Cabinet have supported to date without any dissenting voice.

    Jacob makes some fair comments when he acknowledges that many Cllrs are concerned about the current administration but tries to “explain” away why some Cllrs have recently moved across to the IG, almost as if it was somehow inevitable, without addressing the root cause. Jacob is someone I can have a conversation with and I respect as a committed County Councillor and on many things we probably agree and I also enjoy talking politics with Mike, but it would be boring if we agreed on everything.

    Many Cllrs have serious concerns at the direction of travel by the current administration such as higher than needed Council Tax rises, raiding the second home tax pot to balance the budget, the likelihood that they will support a tourism levy to the detriment of small Pembs businesses (they can claim they do not but they rely on Labour and Plaid to remain in power so are they going to oppose this policy?)

    They are closing public toilets despite a huge outcry by residents and with the exception of Cllr Harvey you have a Cabinet that appears very passive to the downgrading of Withybush Hospital. There is now the ongoing rental letter situation, which rumour has will cost PCC a good few hundred thousand in lost rent! Where will the Cabinet find the money to rectify yet another expensive mistake on their watch? This is an administration that appears not to listen to either its residents or to fellow Cllrs, many of whom sit on the ruling side (in reducing numbers), many who no doubt share similar beliefs and concerns to myself and are looking for a change for the better or at the least disassociate themselves from many of the questionable decisions of the current Cabinet.

    Therefore, it’s high praise too far to say that I have great powers of persuasion and I am no schmoozer but I do share the concerns of many Cllrs and have articulated how we may be able to improve matters for the residents of this County and will not shy away from asking awkward questions if needed. Politics is about doing what is right for our residents, not populism.

    What I can confirm is that all Cllrs who have crossed to the IG have not been “offered” anything, which has allegedly been suggested and frankly those who may have made such assertions should be embarrassed. It takes huge courage to change political allegiance and I have the utmost respect for those who have changed to date. It should be noted that all new members of the IG were elected in 2022 and clearly want to focus on the here and now and the future and not to be subjected to the selective memory of certain longer serving Councillors harking on about parts of the past that suit personal agendas, usually promoted to the hide the failures of the present. To quote Churchill, fear is a reaction, courage is a decision and we have seen courage from those who have recently joined the IG and from this we can now see the fear this has caused many in the ruling group.

    In 2022 41 Councillors were elected at the ballot box. Therefore, 19 were returned unopposed and interestingly 33% of current unaffiliated and 40% of current Labour Cllrs were not challenged in 2022. 5 Conservative Cllrs were also first elected in 2022.

    I believe only 5 of the current unaffiliated were elected in 2022. However, the IG currently comprise 17 with 9 elected in 2022. Therefore, over 50% of IG members are new Cllrs and have no relationship with the past. However, many unaffiliated Cllrs are very much linked to the past but they would rather not promote it, the best example being Cllr Simpson the current leader who was in the IPPG/IPG cabinet for over a decade and to my knowledge never publicly raised a dissenting voice to the then leaders.

    Therefore, it needs to be made clear the IG is not the IPG or the IPPG of pre May 2022, as desperate as some are to suggest this. The IG is a group which within its numbers have a majority of Cllrs first elected in 2022. As a group we are by definition a team all with an equal voice, where everyone will be listened to and their opinion both valued and respected. The IG is a broad church and we welcome robust and fair debate with one outcome desired and that is to achieve the best possible outcomes for all Pembs residents, irrespective if from a town, a village or a rural area.

    I have no issue with anyone saying “they haven’t changed from the pre 2017 days.” However, my response is that the IG has changed with many new Cllrs and new ideas based on fairness for all; the only ones harking back to the past are those on the ruling group desperately trying to hang onto the status quo and they are indeed the ones who are living in the past, which does them a disservice and also does not best serve the people of Pembrokeshire. Therefore, Councillor Mike Stoddart make a valid point when saying that members are often judged by the company they keep and many Cllrs have made the decision to join the IG as a result. It was gratifying that Mike even joined us temporarily on March 2nd when supporting the IG proposal for a 5.5% CT rise rather than his group proposal of 7.5%.

  • Alan Dennison

    In response to Mark, firstly, those that know me are well aware I do not lack confidence or tenacity for ensuring fair play. As an unaffiliated member in council for the last 11 months I have come to realise that in terms of making any substantial change or challenge, you are indeed isolated.

    I looked at the history of investment from PCC in Milford Haven and quite frankly it’s been pretty dismal for years and with what appears to be multiple, overpriced egotistical projects taking place in Haverfordwest, nodded through without any challenge from within the cabinet has made me realise that in order to effectively stop the rot I needed the support of like minded individuals without joining a political group.

    In response to Mike Stoddart, you know me well enough to know I will vote according to my conscience and also in the best interests of the people of Pembrokeshire and my own constituents. The fact is I voted like you, along with the IG and Conservatives, to keep the council tax rise to 5.5%, in effect we both agreed with the proposed budget proposed by Jaime Adams. I also agreed with the calling in by the Conservatives of the monstrous interchange project costs, I hardly think that’s me being told how to vote by Di Clements.

    As for me changing over to IG is not unexpected given I was a former ReformUk Senedd candidate, could someone please explain how the two tie up, Reform Uk is a political party, the IG is not.

  • Hi Alan, I should perhaps have made clearer, that the IPG is quite well known for attracting a fair share of members who were elected as ‘independents’ but who were members of political parties.

    Indeed, two of you have already commented so far – Huw Murphy being a card-carrying Tory!

    Among the legal changes brought in for the 2022 Welsh council elections was the requirement for such party memberships to be disclosed by candidates as part of the nomination process, in an effort to prevent voter deception.

  • Huw Murphy

    I think a bit more attention to detail here Jacob! No longer a card carrying member of any party, I would have expected you to check my register of interests first but you’ll be relieved to know I’m still a member of the Shire Horse Society!

  • Alan Dennison

    I was a member of Reform UK but quickly distanced myself from the Welsh section of the party after the election as it became clear that they were focussed on conspiracy theories and maintaining an anti vaccine stance, particularly the candidate in the south of the county.

    Given my history with Covid I felt this was incompatible with my own views and let them know quite strongly how I felt.

  • Hi Huw, the way I wrote it requires no correction as you were, at the time you were nominated, a card-carrying Tory – if you’ve shredded that card, it was only afterwards! During your tenure, I suspect.

    Incidentally, Alan’s council nomination records that his Reform UK membership came to an end on 21st August, 2021, but as you know, this was close enough to the election to be legally declarable.

  • Hi Alan, I just realised you commented whilst I was typing my own reply to Huw.

    This blog is clearly the place to be, late on a Thursday night!

  • Huw Murphy

    I think your initial comment was written in the context of the present day rather than the date of nomination. However, you stated “the IPG is quite well known for attracting a fair share of members who were elected as “independents” but who were members of political parties.”

    It would only be right in the interest of fairness to your readers to point out there are unaffiliated Cllrs who also declared membership of political parties on their nomination papers for May 2022 elections.

    Therefore for balance it’s clear that the “unaffiliated group” have Cllrs who ran as “independent” but were/are political party members meaning your “group” also has a fair share of political party members so I’m not really sure what your point is when suggesting something about the IG having party members when the same applies to your “unaffiliated group.”

  • Flashbang

    I don’t think it’s so much the fact that independent councillors are are jumping ships right, left and centre, it’s the fact that Jamie Adams is the IPG leader and he has a track record including oversight on major cover-ups and use of taxpayer money. Not to mention his backdated claims for historic travel expenses.

    Get a new leader without a shady past and you might get some credibility. The taxpayers of the county have been burned by the IPG/IG and have good reasons not to trust them.

  • Huw, “unaffiliated group” is as oxymoronic as “Independent Political Group,” which I note you’re making a concerted effort to try to rebrand as the IG, not IPG!

    Historically the IPG has been the hangout for a considerable number of councillors who were either elected for a party and then joined the IPG, or who were elected as ‘independent’ or no description candidates, and who were known to be members, or recent members, of political parties. Those who have sat not affiliated to any group have been few and far between in comparison.

    As I say, the rule which required candidates to be up-front with voters about this at nomination time only came in last year, so until then it was quite legal for an ‘independent’ candidate who was a member of a party when they stood, to resign their party membership the second before they filled in their declaration of interest which could be weeks after being elected, and the public would never know.

    The following councillors declared party membership when they were independent/no-description candidates last year:

    Alan Dennison (stood with the description “Independent” but declared membership of the “Reform UK Party.”)

    Delme Harries (stood under the description “Independent/Annibynnol” but declared membership of the “Conservative and Unionist Party.”)

    Elwyn Morse (stood under the description “Independent” but declared membership of the “Conservative and Unionist Party.”)

    Huw Murphy (stood under the description “Independent/Annibynnol” but declared membership of the “Conservative and Unionist Party.”)

    All of the above are members of the IPG.

    Of those members who sit not affiliated to any group, there’s:

    John Cole (stood under the description “Independent” but declared membership of the “Conservative and Unionist Party.”)

    Bethan Price (stood with no description but declared membership of “Labour Party.”)

    As for its relevance, I was responding to Alan’s question, which was about what I believe is my accurate (and rather obvious) observation about the IPG’s historic composition of national party-associated councillors.

    I’m not suggesting it is limited to a particular party, either. I think there was a time when the IPG had more ‘Labour’ councillors than the authority’s official Labour political group!

  • I notice that Cllr Dennison and Cllr Murphy are keen to pull the wool over the electorate’s eyes by taking the P out of IPG.

    I’m afraid the Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990 defines the group of which they are members as a “Political Group.”

    Constitution of political groups

    8 (1) A political group shall be treated as constituted when there is delivered to the proper officer a notice in writing which is signed by two or more members of the authority who wish to be treated as a poitical group.

    Membership of political groups

    9 … a member is to be treated as a member of a political group if he has signed a notice in accordance with regulation 8

    As both 8 and 9 have been complied with the correct title is Independent Political Group (IPG).

  • Rhys Jordan

    They say a week is a long time in politics…I wrote the following opinion piece for the Pembrokeshire Herald on Monday, and a lot has happened since! It seems Paul Miller’s annual big bash is the only thing that will come in on budget this year…I hope he negotiated the champagne on “sale or return”!

    As a Conservative Councillor in Pembrokeshire, it is concerning to see the direction in which our Council is headed. The recent council tax increase of 7.5%, spearheaded by Cllr Alec Cormack of the Liberal Democrats and Cabinet Member for Finance was backed by Labour, Plaid Cymru, and all but two of the Unaffiliated Councillors. It was a narrow victory for the cabinet against Jamie Adams’ proposed amendment of a lower 5.5% increase, favouring the use of reserves instead of hitting the pockets of residents, supported by all 27 Conservatives and Independent Group members.

    This decision is a significant burden on residents who are already struggling to make ends meet. It is unacceptable for the County Council to continue to increase taxes and burden hardworking families and individuals who are already struggling with higher costs of living.

    In addition, it is concerning to see the cabinet’s “Buy Now, Pay Later” approach under the direction of David Simpson and Paul Miller. While it may be tempting to make large investments and improvements in the short term, this approach is not sustainable and may lead to long-term financial difficulties for the Council and its residents. Every pound spent on a vanity project is a pound that cannot be spent on statutory services such as education or social care. While it is important to invest in infrastructure and development, it must be done in a responsible and sustainable manner and ideally at low cost to the taxpayer. The County Council must prioritise the needs of its residents, rather than pursuing pet projects such as the Haverfordwest Interchange, The Ocky White Development and South Quay Project, to name just a few. All projects are over budget, behind schedule and the long-term viability is questionable.

    The leadership of David Simpson’s Labour leaning cabinet is also a concern. It has become apparent that Simpson and his team are losing support, with supporters crossing over to the Independent Group, and rumours of more defections to come. This suggests a growing dissatisfaction with the current leadership and a desire for change.

    Perhaps it is time for a new cabinet to replace the current labour-leaning one under Simpson and Miller. A change in leadership may provide a fresh perspective and a new approach to governing that prioritises responsible spending, better statutory services, and the needs of Pembrokeshire residents.

    As a Conservative, I believe in a small government that supports individual freedom, personal responsibility, and strong communities. I understand the value of low council tax and efficient spending, and I believe that the council’s role should be to support and empower individuals, provide good education, social care, and essential infrastructure, not to burden them with unnecessary costs and bureaucracy.

    It is time for Pembrokeshire County Council to refocus on the needs of its residents and to adopt a more responsible and sustainable approach to governance. We need leadership that is willing to prioritize the needs of the people and to make tough decisions that will benefit our communities in the long term. How long can Simpson and Miller’s “Buy Now, Pay Later” agenda last? I think it is time to change course before it is too late.

  • Huw Murphy

    In response I think it needs to be made clear that after the last elections in May 2022 the number of political party members was equal between the IG & the unaffiliated with Cllr Dennison joining the IG recently.

    There is no “re-branding” of the IG but you are clearly trying to suggest by harking back to the past that the IG is no different now than it was 5 or even 10 years when it clearly is as over 50% in the group were only elected in May 2022. The IG is democratic and decisions are made where everyone’s voice is equal. How do the “unaffiliated group” decide on its policies and priorities as it’s the same voices I hear at most meetings. I have no doubt working as a team with a collective aim and supporting each other when doing so achieves better outcomes than working as a collection of individuals where you end up second guessing who is doing what and where.

    However, whilst looking at the past you are expending energy which would be better directed at combating the vastly over budget capital projects, keeping public toilets open, voting to keep council tax lower to reduce the pressure on hard working residents, which you voted to increase by 7.5% and so on; the most recent example being today’s Herald where the opposition groups have made clear their dismay at the rental increase debacle, but I have not seen any comment from an unaffiliated member expressing any concern. It should be noted that Cllr Mike Stoddart is mentioned in respect of his previous effort to equalise rents and I mention this as I support him on this.

    I have every belief if the unaffiliated “leaders” looked forward a bit more, rather than look back then you might not have lost so many Cllrs in such a short space of time to the IG. Furthermore, you might have reined in the political parties that many feel dominate the cabinet agenda, especially Labour and we might have avoided the worst of the capital project overspend now staring us in the face.

    I have no doubt most Cllrs in the chamber want to look forward to the challenges of today to give our residents the best services possible at a cost that is affordable and with 19 new Cllrs elected in 2022 there is a clear appetite for change and change is what has not occurred, with the same porridge given to us since last May that has been fed to the County since 2017 and I don’t think many will claim it’s been an outstanding success. I should also point out that I am not a reincarnation of anyone anymore than you are Jacob, we are both pretty individual!

  • Tory councillor Rhys Jordan complains of the present regime’s “Buy now, pay later” policy.

    He writes: “Every pound spent on a vanity project is a pound that cannot be spent on statutory services such as education or social care. While it is important to invest in infrastructure and development, it must be done in a responsible and sustainable manner and ideally at low cost to the taxpayer.”

    This is a bit rich coming from a member of the Conservative party that has presided over the HS2 fiasco and is currently responsible for the highest levels of taxation and public borrowing since the Second World War.

    It’s difficult to know where to start with Cllr Huw Murphy’s long-winded contribution, but when he asks: “How do the “unaffiliated group” decide on its policies and priorities as it’s the same voices I hear at most meetings” I do wonder if I should buy him a dictionary for Christmas.

    He surely understands that “Independent” and “Political Group” are mutually exclusive categories as are “Unaffiliated” (not belonging to a group) and “Group” (belonging to a group).

    And, finally (for now) let’s knock this nonsense about not voting as a group on the head.

    There is no point in being in a group unless you use your block vote to promote the group’s policies.

    If everyone is free to vote as they please, it is not easy to see how they are any different from an unaffiliated member.

    Cllr Murphy says: “The IG is democratic and decisions are made where everyone’s voice is equal.”

    What’s the point of making these “decisions” if everyone is free to ignore the majority view and vote as they think fit?

  • Vivien Stoddart

    I make no apologies for referring to the IPG’s abysmal record when they were in power, even if this appears to Huw Murphy that I am harking back to the past.

    I cited two examples of when opposition councillors’ concerns were contemptuously tossed aside by the IPG, costing taxpayers nearly £2.5m.

    I could go on and on, but will give just one more example of the IPG’s council stewardship, when a series of scathing reports resulted in the authority’s education system being put into special measures.

    And no amount of re-branding by the IPG, by dropping “political” from their moniker, can airbrush their past.

  • Alan Dennison

    Mike, I am not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, I leave that to this current cabinet. I am simply trying to open the electorate’s eyes to what is happening here and now. I really don’t care if you want to call me a member of IG or IPG, it’s totally irrelevant to me and any other sane person in the county. I would rather you and our fellow Milford councillors focussed on the massive wasteful spending that’s going on in the county now than keep harking back to yesteryear.

    I am as you know, against the Motorworld development in Milford given the previous costings of the original design of over £330k per flat, yet you and Viv seem to accept this is value for money and want it to go ahead. No doubt that will go up again by the time they are built if, as current projects currently ongoing and massively overspent are anything to go by.

    I haven’t seen as much support for what the residents of Milford actually want eg outdoor pool, skatepark etc. I have on numerous occasions asked why Milford has been discriminated against over the last 20+ years, we had a new school in Gelliswick, which replaced the other two which were, what 70 plus yrs old, and some 8 massively overpriced homeless pods which took an inordinate time to complete.

    The deputy leader accused me of taking a simplistic view of investment, citing a £5M development of a new railway station which has now I believe been cancelled or deferred. It will be interesting to see if Haverfordwest’s £15M plus or Pembroke’s £6M station revamp will go ahead. So what of the future for Milford investment if our councillors continue to look to the past, and support this current dismal administration, pretty much the same I guess ie bugger all.

  • Alan Dennison

    Word on the street is I am not invited to ‘The Party’…nor the rest of the IG or Tories. Some say it’s not going to be a party as such, maybe the Last Supper might be more appropriate.

  • John Hudson

    In my opinion, the failings of this council can be partly attributed to the lack of rigorous open and transparent public scrutiny, by councillors be they a member of a political party, group or none.

    Where individual councillors succeed in getting matters to scrutiny, they still have officers’ advice to overcome. As in the case of housing rents/service charges depooling, clarity in the law and regulation was subservient to the question of cost, if the council’s original method was to be considered incorrect.

    Cabinet reports have the benefit of being required under the constitution, to have specific assurance of separate legal, financial and personnel advice. Not so for O&S committees advising cabinet.

    The recent toilet strategy report prepared by the service managing directorate and the approved draft public consultation, was framed against the background of the full cost recovery approved policy.

    There is however another relevant separate council approved income generation strategy. This has its own requirement which allows or permits other less rigid considerations to be take into account, when making a decision. Such considerations were pointed to in an Audit Wales report, “At your Discretion”.

    In this report, the auditor pointed to the risk that solely using a legal framework to define local government priorities, risked diminishing local democratic choice, and it was favourable to view the provision of discretionary services such as toilets, as necessary or essential to meet the needs of its citizens.

    It is a moot point as to why officers overlooked providing such impartial advice to councillors in this case. Perhaps it did not fit in with the perceived or even real need to generate more income from charges.

    I do hope that the claimed new found zeal for more scrutiny by councillors results in the rejection of reports that do not convey the full, impartial relevant considerations necessary to be taken into account when reaching a fair, reasonable and lawful decision. This is all we can expect from our councillors.

  • John Hudson

    In his post above, Mike Stoddart makes the point about members of groups being free to vote as they like.

    Can I make the point that votes, or decisions, have to be made on the basis of all impartial relevant information, be lawful and be fair and reasonable which can be be subjected to Judicial Review.

    The personal inclinations and views of councillors, are not regarded as a relevant consideration if they are outside legislation and regulation.

  • Malcolm Calver

    Hi Jacob, the responses to your article might make good bedside reading but are the actions of county councillors benefiting the average Joe in the county?

    We have the highest taxation I can remember, and with it being recorded that 50% of the county being unemployed the outlook has never been grimmer.

    I am sorry it will only get worse until society works to promote self reliance and less reliance on local and national government.

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