Jacob Williams
Thursday, 27th April, 2023

Stage set for leadership ouster vote – contenders still unknown

The previously-scuppered motion to unseat Pembrokeshire County Council’s leader, Cllr. David Simpson, will now be debated at a special meeting convened by the authority’s main opposition group, the Independent Political Group (IPG.)

The extraordinary meeting to consider the no-confidence vote will be held at 10am on Thursday, 18th May.

My previous blogpost set out the options available to IPG leader Cllr. Adams, after his bid to unseat Cllr. Simpson fell foul of the deadline allowing it to be heard at the ordinary council meeting on 11th May, as well as the rule barring its appearance on the following day’s AGM agenda.

One of those options I set out was that he might call an extraordinary meeting.

I posted my blogpost at 1.30pm on Sunday, 23rd April.

Cllr. Adams’ request for an extraordinary email was emailed to County Hall at 6.58pm that very evening.

Coincidence? You decide!

In his requisition to the council’s presiding member (Cllr. Simon Hancock, Labour, Neyland East) Cllr. Adams, supported by his sixteen fellow group members, said:

“Having been thwarted by the constitution to introduce the Motion of No Confidence in the Leader to our AGM, I now write on behalf of all the above Members of the Independent Group in compliance with Section 4.4.1 to requisition an EGM to hear the Notice of Motion [of no confidence in the leader] as below. I would be grateful for your earliest reply.”

But this wasn’t the most interesting missive that flew through County Hall’s email servers on the sabbath.

Shortly afterwards, at 8.06pm Cllr. Di Clements, leader of the ten-strong Tory group, sent:

“Good evening Simon

I write to inform you that on behalf of myself and all members of the Welsh Conservative group that we also wish to requisition an EGM to hear the Notice of Motion put forward by members of the Independent Group.

Very many thanks and I would be grateful if you could acknowledge receipt of this email.

Kind regards

Until recently, Tory councillors were quietly downplaying suggestions that they were in concert with the IPG in their bid to unseat Simpson, who’s led the council since 2017.

Combined, the authority’s two opposition groups have 27 councillors out of sixty, but would likely gain the additional support of Cllr. Andrew Edwards, whose recent departure from the Conservative group was triggered by a self-referred ethics probe into allegations of racism.

Attention now turns to the councillor, or councillors, the IPG/Tory coalition will nominate and, ultimately be expected to back, should the vote to Cllr. Simpson succeed.

Cllr. Adams and his predecessor Cllr. John Davies – both former council leaders and IPG stalwarts – have ruled themselves out of the running.

This aspect of the no-confidence process is right now more intriguing than the 18th May vote to unseat Cllr. Simpson, because nominations to succeed him have to be submitted by 5th May, which in accordance with the rules is “at least seven Clear Working Days before” the extraordinary meeting.

This leads to a somewhat interesting scenario where councillors wishing to succeed Cllr. Simpson must put their head above the parapet without knowing whether there will ever be a vacancy.

As I said in my previous blogpost, this constitutional provision is to prevent a period where the authority is without a leader – should one be removed, the next business is to appoint the successor.

Current favourite in the nomination stakes remains new councillor for the Newport and Dinas ward Huw Murphy, although other politicos have been reluctant to discount longtime councillors Michael John (Llangwm) or even member for the Narberth Rural ward and former cabinet member, Elwyn Morse, all IPG.

In the perhaps unlikely event the IPG deem a Tory candidate is the more palatable option to put to the chamber, a somewhat reluctant Cllr. Di Clements may get the nomination nod.

I bumped into Cllr. Adams in the car park following Tuesday’s planning committee meeting in Haverfordwest.

“So come on, Jamie – who are you putting up?!” I asked.

A smiling Jamie just said: “You’ll just have to wait and see!”


  • Welshman 23

    18th May? It should be next week. As per usual local authority red tape. The quicker we remove PCC and put the authority into special measures the better. This authority’s list of failures goes on and on.

    Grants scandal Pembroke Dock, what’s happened to this?

    BPJ pay off.

    Ian Westley settlement.

    Cost of the new bus depot in Haverfordwest.

    Ocky White development.

    The list is endless.

    If PCC was a business it would go bust due to poor management and leadership, and 60 councillors is far to many, this figure should be reduced.

  • John Hudson

    We, the great unwashed, will have no say in the Leadership election, if there is one, or who the new handpicked cabinet members are.

    Just pay your council tax and charges for services, if you use them.

  • Malcolm Calver

    It is a sad fact that nothing will change whoever occupies the position as this is stitched up before the meeting.

    Maybe a secret ballot election process is required to change the process.

    What we really need is people being more resilient and less dependent on local government which has become a very expensive item for taxpayers to pay for.

  • John Hudson

    Given the way councillors are voted in, surely nobody believes that the Leader of PCC (a council without a policy mandate) whoever he/she is, is anything other than a necessary legal figurehead?

  • Malcolm Calver

    Be careful John, somebody will report you for using he/she.

  • Mark

    If things are looking close for David Simpson and history is any guide, he would naturally be worried about some of his cabinet members breaking away to form a new administration with the IPG and Tories.

  • John Hudson

    A good illustration of the notice most councillors take of public opinion and concern is the policy and pre-decision O&S committee meeting this week about public toilets.

    The cabinet decision call-in also threw a spotlight on the way in which the council has approved the financial provision for this service in the current financial year, apparently news to councillors who had approved the budget.

    They are ok until November, when takeovers and contributions from other bodies will be assessed and final provision/closures for the remainder of the financial year will be agreed by nine cabinet members.

  • John Hudson

    While 60 elected councillors play their internal games about group and council leadership, so far 50 residents have signed the council’s in-house petition requesting that all 60 councillors are given the opportunity to debate the future of our toilets in the full light of all relevant considerations.

    At the moment 9 councillors in Cabinet control this service and have agreed that “it is not possible for the Council to sustain the current level of provision from within the existing settlement.”

    Hence the search to offload the financial burden to “partner” authorities, funded by Pembrokeshire residents and of course users of the service, or close some of our toilets.

    No evidence has been provided for us to see the basis on which the responsible cabinet member persuaded his colleagues to accept his appraisal of the situation.

    The council has set the petition bar for referral to full council at 1,000 signatures (its own Toilet consultation achieved 226 responses) so it looks as though the 9 will continue to dictate matters, while the other 51 councillors are content to avoid any involvement in this matter of concern to many residents.

    Long may Pembrokeshire County Council continue in its old well worn discredited, established way. How is any change to be achieved?

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