Jacob Williams
Saturday 26th October, 2013

Assumed liability

A regular reader has got in touch to say that the author of that other website, Old Grumpy, is a little miffed at my use of the phrase ‘does Hollywood and the silver screen beckon?’ in my recent article featuring Cllr. Huw George and his meteoric rise to international stardom.

Accordingly, only a few weeks beforehand, Old Grumpy had posted on his own website an article on seemingly logic-defying comments Cllr. George had made to BBC Radio Wales about pension taxes, in which he posed: ‘If Cllr George can stand this up, the Nobel Prize for economics beckons.’

I’m told the old duffer believes there’s no coincidence behind the similar turns of phrase, and has come up with two crackpot theories as to why this duplication may have occurred.

Either it was a straight-forward case of calculated plagiarism, or it was an appreciative nod to his weekly ramblings.

For a man university-educated separately in chemistry and law, his theories are surprisingly flawed.

They’re based on the assumption that I actually read his website.

Anybody who cares to read Old Grumpy’s nonsense, let alone use it to ‘inspire’ them, needs a damn good checking over by the men in white coats!

I’m reminded of the old saying a dear constituent of mine told me: “You should never assume. It only serves to make an ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me’!”

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  • Lesley

    I regularly read your blog and that of Old Grumpy and it strikes me that you are both doing sterling work in keeping your fellow councillors on their toes. So stop this silly sniping at each other lads – the two of you in co-operation would be an even more formidable force for good. I just wish that we had some councillors like you in Carmarthenshire.

  • Unfortunately, Lesley, only one of us qualifies for the description “lad”.

    A couple of weeks ago the “lad” described me as an “old duffer” and now he has repeated the insult in the article above.

    I suppose that’s what passes for wit in Pentlepoir!

    Anyone who knows me will be aware that I don’t suffer fools gladly and a slur like that will only serve to increase the irony in my soul.

  • Make no mistake, this is war – which I intend to go down in the history books as ‘Duffer’s Last Stand.’

  • Keanjo

    Whilst I greatly admire your achievements in presenting the truth about the shenanigans in County Hall, Mike, you have to admit that Jacob’s interactive web site is superior.

  • Ianto

    Grow up you two – this is only good news for the Kremlin.

  • Keanjo,

    Having read your comments on this and other sites, I had you down as a person of some discernment.

    So it comes as a nasty shock to discover that you prefer style over substance.


    I take it your “grow up” comment is aimed at Jacob who is exactly 50 years younger than me.

    Give him time!

  • Ianto

    Is there a problem interpreting ‘you two’?

  • Wake up!

    Can’t you lot see that the acrimony between the two “rival” website authors is pretend and in good spirits?

    They aren’t actually serious!

  • Well, the young upstart may not be serious, but I certainly am.

    He can thank his lucky stars that I don’t have friends in Manchester.

  • PR

    LOL, Wake up, I too am surprised at the amount of people that can’t see that Mike is genuinely happy that this young upstart has come along to take some of the pressure off him in his twilight years.

    If I was Mike Stoddart I’d be very pleased that Jacob has come along to continue and complement the work that he has already done over the years.

    It’s very obvious that these two are cut from the same cloth and I’ve a lot of time for both of them. Local government could do with many more of their ilk and less of the type of Adams, Davies, Allen-Mirehouse, Rowlands, George, Hall etc. etc.

  • Keanjo

    I didn’t mention substance. You may well have the edge on that!

  • I could go off you, Keanjo.

    I was rather hoping you’d tell Old Grumpy that if his website had a comments facility, we might start to find some content worth reading!

  • Keanjo

    Let’s forget these little squabbles. What interests me and I am sure many others is what the so called Cabinet is going to do in the face of criticisms from the people of Pembrokeshire, the Welsh Assembly and now the Chief Auditor of Wales.

    No answers are forthcoming from the Kremlin and they have obviously decided not to comment in the hope that all will be forgotten. Let’s make it clear that is not going to happen this time.

  • Malcolm Calver

    I would thank both Mike and Jacob on their websites and whilst respecting Mike for his decision not to have a comments section, perhaps Jacob could email county councillors for their views on items on his website and publish the names of those county councillors failing to reply.

    I am assuming they have the ability to reply.

  • I’m not sure how many of the replies would be publishable, Malcolm.

  • Keanjo

    Just read Old Grumpy’s weekly blog and I am glad to read that peace has been declared between the old warrior and the young hero who will now join forces to battle against the evil spirits who occupy the Kremlin on the Cleddau.

  • Go easy Keanjo!

    You make us sound like Frodo and Gandalf.

    I’m still out to get him, it’s just that I have decided to adopt more subtle methods.

  • Peter Stock

    I agree with PR, Jacob is doing excellent work as a County Councillor in Local Government, as a fellow Councillor I have been very impressed with his knowledge and contribution at full council and committee meetings for the betterment of Pembrokeshire.

    It goes to prove that you CAN put a wise old head on young shoulders!

    However there are also some Councillors who look for publicity or their photos in the local papers for their efforts and then those who just quietly work for the benefit of their wards, towns and communities and most of all, do their best for our county to make it the best and to provide a quality service.

    There is an old Pembrokeshire saying “sometimes empty vessels make the most noise”!

  • Malcolm Calver

    For many years Cllr Peter Stock was one of the main players in the Independent Party at County Hall, with I believe one of the Special Responsibility Allowances that went with that membership.

    I wonder why Cllr Stock, a man of such high calibre, can be ignored by the present party leadership in these austere times, especially as he has claimed in the past to have saved Pembrokeshire.

    Perhaps as he has now gone into print he could provide us with details of savings which could be made at County Hall that would benefit the towns and communities of Pembrokeshire.

  • John Hudson

    I keep looking for “Community Leadership” from the Leader of the Council and his hand picked Cabinet, which none of us voted for.

    Why are they so silent about the policies and financial savings that have to be made in running our services? Perhaps these IPG councillors haven’t got any ideas of their own and the unelected “officers they work with” haven’t told them yet.

    Once the draft officer’s budget is announced, the IPG will rally behind it and it will pass through fruitless extensive and expensive meetings of councillors without any change.

  • Peter Stock

    Well done Malcolm Calver, you can always be relied on to tell half truths or fabricate the truth whichever suits you best.

    When did I ever claim I had saved Pembrokeshire?

  • Malcolm Calver

    So Cllr Stock is of the opinion that I wrote the comment to suit myself, when I was only commenting on the fact that County Hall is receiving a fair amount of criticism at present and therefore maybe it is missing a councillor of his experience/ability.

    Cllr Stock please identify which of the following is a half truth or fabrication of the truth.

    Did you belong to the Independent Party?

    Did you receive a Special Responsibility Allowance?

    If you received a Special Responsibility Allowance would you not have considered yourself to be a main player at County Hall?

    Have you in the past, with your promotion of the Pembrokeshire flag, argued for Pembrokeshire not to be included in any future proposed amalgamation with neighbouring counties?

    I would have thought that Cllr Stock would have commented on some of the cost cutting that needs to be carried out at County Hall. The present council is not actually cutting costs but diverting the cost of providing services.

    I would suggest that Cllr Stock, now that he is not a member of the Independent Plus Party, uses Jacob’s website as one method of promoting his vision/views of how Pembrokeshire moves forward in these austere times.

  • Peter Stock

    Well now Malcolm, why do you not answer the simple question I have asked you?

    So I will ask you again “When did I ever claim I had saved Pembrokeshire?”

    What you are trying to do is attempting to answer the question with a question but still not giving an answer (which is one of the oldest tricks in the book.)

    I have a lot of respect for the people that read and contribute to Jacob’s website so I am sure they don’t want to read unwarranted remarks from one Councillor against another.

    I don’t have to prove my love, loyalty and devotion for Pembrokeshire and our people, it is something I do all day and every day.

  • Weasel

    I cannot say I have ever heard Cllr Peter Stock make any claim that he “saved Pembrokeshire”. Cllr Stock did however fight tirelessly to get Pembrokeshire put “back on the map” after it got lost within Dyfed, and he did that for and deserves the thanks of all Pembrokeshire people.

    I honestly believe that when Cllr Stock joined the original IPG, he did so for the right reasons, and over time got disillusioned with the way the party was manipulated from above and when he realised he could no longer fight from within he left, and should not now be criticised for having the integrity to do so.

    Cllr Stock is not being “ignored by the present party leadership”, he has been blighted for having the temerity to oppose the ruling clique, and it’s just a shame more of the IPPG puppets don’t share the same integrity.

  • Malcolm Calver

    If touring around the county selling Pembrokeshire flags to promote Pembrokeshire is not an attempt to save Pembrokeshire as an independent county, I do not know what is. Please tell me then what is the purpose of the exercise and as for what people want to read on this website I will leave that down to them.

    I am sure that the people of Pembrokeshire have not been properly represented by councillors who have at election time stood as independents and then joined a party immediately after being elected and to be fair to you, for whatever reason, you have resisted temptation this time.

    I personally do not have an objection to anyone trying to save Pembrokeshire as a destination, I do object however to the cost of having highly paid directors and managers of every county in Wales.

    I have tried to answer the question you raised regarding saving Pembrokeshire through your efforts to sell Pembrokeshire flags and I would now appreciate you answering the points I raised. There is a rumour going round that County Hall is looking for a candidate to fill a post titled “Ambassador for Pembrokeshire.” I am unaware of the salary likely to be offered.

  • Jon Preston

    One thing is for sure, any selection of an ambassador for Pembrokeshire will be limited to the IPG clique. The leader of Pembrokeshire County Council will almost certainly overlook or even enquire as to who may be a suitable candidate to fit the post beyond his loyal followers.

    If the sheep mentality of the IPG was not so damaging to the democratic process it could almost be described as amusing.

  • Keanjo

    If the CC improved their management and produced efficient services which did not need rescue teams from the Assembly, the Council’s reputation would be enhanced and an Ambassador for Pembrokeshire would not be required. The very fact that the Council identifies such a need is an admission of their incompetence.

  • Peter Stock

    So very sorry Cllr Calver, It looks like I owe you an apology.

    When you ask for what purpose is the exercise of selling Pembrokeshire flags other than to promote Pembrokeshire, I honestly thought that a Councillor of your knowledge would have known that the main reason is to raise money for local charities and hospitals including the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital (£7,500) with Pembrokeshire coins, and in the last 12 months over £1,000 to local charities, names supplied, if you would like to check.

    I really never thought that you would be the ONLY person in Pembrokeshire that did not know?

    You remind me of the mother who went to see her army son’s passing out parade and shouted out “Look at my Tommy, he’s the only one in step!”

    By the way Malcolm you are quite right I do fly around Pembrokeshire selling flags, but it is at my own expense.

  • Malcolm Calver

    I must admit Cllr Stock I was unaware that all the income generated from the sale of the Pembrokeshire flags went to local collections.

    Please advise me then if in the interests of reducing the amount payable to local government by the ratepayers of Pembrokeshire, you would consider that a larger group of counties joined together is urgently required.

    I also refer to your comment Keanjo regarding rescue teams from the Welsh Assembly and would suggest most people in Wales do not have much faith in that organization either.

    I watched a debate in the Assembly last week when the subject being discussed was the state of cricket in Wales, surely they have more important issues to debate.

  • Keanjo

    I agree there are more important issues and one of them has to be the shortcomings of Pembrokeshire CC.

  • John Hudson

    I wonder if the emergence of a proposal for “an Ambassador” has any thing to do with the ability offered by the Local Democracy Measure to separate the Civic and the Council chairmanship roles of the current Chairman of the Council.

    I think only one of these qualifies for an allowance, but it is another opportunity to extend patronage.

  • Darren Kenniford

    It will interest Malcolm Calver that his insistence of a combined authority will first happen in the Fire Service. Except at the cost of 26 Pembrokeshire firefighter’s jobs.

  • Malcolm Calver

    I do believe that Mr Kenniford is suggesting that we maintain the current level of spending on taxpayer/ratepayer funded employment.

    I am afraid Darren for the sake of future generations we have no option but to cut back on this type of employment.

    The sad fact is that our education system has failed us but at last we now see a more robust examination system coming, sadly at present it is just in England.

  • Darren Kenniford

    So, you’re happy to see the loss of 26 firefighter jobs between Pembroke and Milford? I can feel proud knowing that I’m doing my bit for my community.

  • Malcolm Calver

    Darren you do not seem to understand that the party is over for ratepayer/taxpayer funded employment.

    The growth in these positions has outstripped the ability of the country to support them financially.

    The argument could be made that twenty six firemen/fireladies have been underemployed for many years at a cost to the taxpayer/ratepayer of probably one million pounds per year.

    Those in control of fire stations I am sure would have examined the situation as it now stands and decided that twenty six are surplus to requirement.

    I am afraid that those made redundant will have to do the same as many in the private sector and seek other sources of employment.

  • Weasel

    Malcolm Calver, you are clearly out of step with what is going on. The Fire Service has gone the same way as Local Government and the NHS, all of which are top heavy with bureaucratic fat cat managers.

    The 26 who will likely lose their jobs are the ones on the “front line” who are willing to put themselves in danger. Those “in control of fire stations” you seem to glorify will keep their cushy jobs pushing papers at the expense of the real workers.

    It will be the same in the Councils and Hospitals as the cuts hit home, and as we have already seen “managers” just keep getting more and more pay rises as they laugh their way to the banks.

    I agree wholeheartedly that current spending levels cannot continue, but those making the decisions should be the ones to go. Compare the structures of any of these organisations to 20 years ago and you will see just how top heavy they are these days.

    Shame on you Mr Calver for supporting the fat cats against the honest working man.

  • Malcolm Calver

    My comment related to all those in the public sector from top to bottom. I am sorry but this idea that only those at the top must go is misguided.

    I would not class firemen and fireladies as lowly paid. There are many working people carrying out just as dangerous a job as firemen and fireladies for a lot less money and without their pension rights.

    In relation to numbers employed I can remember when Pembroke Dock fire station had only one full time fireman and the rest were retained.

  • Darren Kenniford

    Malcolm Calver,

    So can I, well actually, I have read about it in our history books, 1934, when the Fire Station was housed in the Market Hall, one person was employed to feed and clean out the horses- ‘Les Gardiner’, a 14 year old boy, whose father was the Wholetime Fire Chief.

    Then it was upgraded and positioned in the Royal Dockyard, had 2 pumps, well I say pumps, one was a front mounted appliance which carried 4 men ‘GXA 750’, the other was a Bedford NFS truck. The station was then moved to Bush Camp, where it remained until the Pembroke Borough council purchased old allotments in High Street and built a Fire Station which opened in 1962, the purpose built tower is level with the highest point on the Preseli hills.

    From the time of the Station going live in the Dockyard there have been WT Firemen, 11 of them. In the 90s the WT establishment was raised to 16 on two watches, today the establishment is 13! With Part Time workers covering 3 appliances, Chemical unit and Government anti terrorist mass decontamination unit. It’s worth noting that although you appear to have a problem with the Fire Service, these people will still lay all on the line to aid you in your time of need.


    Thank you for your support, it’s clear to me that MC has a serious distaste for the profession, which is normal for someone who has never needed the Service? Been refused entry? Or thinks we are a waste of taxpayers’ money as we don’t produce profits. It would be interesting to one day have an A4 paper each, and list our life skills together. It would also be interesting to see what each of us have brought and do in their relevant communities on a day to day level.

  • Malcolm Calver

    The fire service is no different from any other taxpayer/ratepayer funded organization that is facing reductions in income. Mr Kenniford rattles on about life skills and seems to believe that the fire service is something special, when it is only another employment source, which he has decided should be his source of income.

    The idea that fire men and fire women bring anything more to their communities than other members of the working community and therefore should be exempt from any proposed austerity measures or realignment of services, is, I am afraid, wishful thinking.

    I have never said that the fire service is a waste of money nor have I applied to join, and as for needing the service I would suggest as I am a resident in Wales it will be there for me should I ever need it, just the same as for anyone else.

    I did notice on the television last night a spokesperson for the FBU, I believe in Bridgend, proposing reductions in all the other publicly funded services.

  • Darren Kenniford

    For the record, I do not think my colleagues or I should receive special treatment. As an emergency service, then yes it should be protected, out of all of them, it’s the most modernised in the UK. It’s not a reactive profession it’s a pro active profession. As for your comment earlier of not agreeing with a top down reduction, you seem to be speaking with a forked tongue? Please re visit you previous comments about Pembrokeshire Flags.

    As for being there when you need it? I think you are either in denial or your head is in the sand, the cuts being thrust upon the Mid and West Wales Fire Service from the Government, not WAG, not Local Authorities, is going to have a detrimental effect upon you, and definitely upon your community. The measures being proposed are not just WT positions, it’s also part time and Fire Stations including their relevant vehicles.

    As for your extreme accusation that the Fire Service and personnel are underworked, that shows a complete biased view towards a Tory line, you are even spouting Daily Mail headlines.

    I would offer you this: an invite to see what goes on behind the scenes of a station, you seem to think it’s all about responding to fires. I would also like to add, you sound like a dinosaur, please address the emergency profession as 1) Police Officers, 2) Ambulance Paramedics/Technicians 3) Firefighters!

  • Malcolm Calver

    I am sure we will manage with a slimmed down fire service and I would suggest that you are the dinosaur Darren for not accepting change. I can understand it because you are probably afraid of the consequences of redundancy or perhaps becoming a retained fireman with the subsequent loss of income.

    I do note your comment about the three emergency services and as far as I am aware professional status is reserved for lawyers, doctors etc.

  • Keanjo

    MC, I think we need to ask why cuts are necessary. Could it be connected with the fact that the County Council paid £1.75 million on a very small share in Bluestone (now worth just £3), and now further expenditure on legal fees to find out if it was legal to allow the Chief Executive and his Directors to avoid tax, officers who are amongst the highest paid for a relatively small Authority.

    Poor management by the Authority has meant that rescue teams have been sent in by the Welsh Assembly. Presumably the cost will have to be paid by the Authority. The cuts suggested by County Hall always seem to be cutting services such as toilet closures, rubbish collection or suggesting that other people should pay for them. Cutting staff numbers always seems to involve people at the sharp end who are generally not highly paid.

    Surely the approach needed is to look critically at the management structures and determine the minimum number of people necessary to provide the services tax payers can afford.

  • Darren Kenniford

    Oh now now Malcolm, if you’re losing the argument, please just say. I have been extremely open with you. You and I are ratepayers, you have your argument, I have mine. My occupation is professional and technical aligned. 25 years in the fire service I can assure you that I don’t fear redundancy. If you knew anything about my station or crewing system, you would realise how silly your comment and in fact comments are.

    I would like to assure you that you will never again see a more modern, professional occupation in the UK.

    My offer is still open, you will be respectfully treated, come and see what really goes on. Then, you can shout and scream ‘we deserve redundancy, they are dinosaurs’?

  • Malcolm Calver

    We need the cuts Keanjo because for many years the county council and the services it provides have grown faster than the county can afford.

    The budget for PCC is approx £360 million and with a population of approx 120,000 that works out at approx £3,000 per annum for every man, woman and child. This is unsustainable and please remember we have sixty elected county councillors who are supposed to be in control at County Hall and as far as I am aware, senior personnel are still being recruited at inflated salaries.

    I would agree with Keanjo that councillors need to determine the minimum number of people necessary to provide essential services and I am afraid the rest should be informed their services are no longer required.

  • Darren Kenniford

    £240 million! We could start with £21.5k given to your council, MC? Or you could actually be asking why you are paying the same for a reduced service 1998 (88 WT Firefighters) 2013 (39). P.S. My offer is still open?

  • Malcolm Calver

    Mr Kenniford I would appreciate you informing me of the following and then I will answer your questions:

    1 What does the £240 million figure relate to?

    2 What is the £21.5k given to MC?

  • John Hudson

    My Rate Demand notice from PCC broadly identifies that for 2013/14 the gross expenditure budget for PCC is £331m of which users of council services pay £127m directly to the Council in rents, fees and charges including direct grants from WG. This leaves a net budget requirement of £204m. To this, levies and precepts to meet the net requirements of National Park £1m, and Fire and Rescue Services £6m, total £7m is added.

    The resultant total net budget of £211m is met by income Revenue support grant of £135m, Non Domestic Rate share £38m, leaving a total to be picked of met by PCC council Tax payers of £39m. So far proposals from PCC to meet reductions required included in the above budget total £1.6m.

    We, as Malcolm has highlighted, as yet have only seen proposals which seek to shift services elsewhere or increase direct income by way of increased charges which we will have to pay for. As yet no significant reduction in services provided by PCC have been announced.

    Incidentally in the current year, staff vacancies are to be “managed”. Can we agree at least that in order to provide some level of services, staff are required with a range of skills and that these have been identified by senior management, albeit in some cases at reduced salaries.

    PCC has operated for years on the basis of having the lowest council tax in Wales and a lean mean administrative machine. There cannot be much slack in the total gross service cost of £311m without severe effects on the services we need.

    In order to preserve the lowest council tax, the only policy this council seems to have, it is likely that charges for services will increase and those on low income or unemployed will go without, get into debt, resort to food banks, be cold. What has this country come to?

    We do have cash reserves of some £50m.

  • Malcolm Calver

    Come on Mr Kenniford please clarify your comments of the 14th November 2013 especially the suggestion that £21.5 is given to Manorbier Community Council.

    According to the dictionary given means “freely hand over as a present”.

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