Jacob Williams
Monday 16th December, 2013

You’ve been framed!

You’ve been framed!

I must admit, I did think that with the advent of live-streaming of full council meetings and an archive facility for the public to watch them back at will, the ruling clique would have made an effort to appear reasonable and well-behaved. How wrong I was!

It probably went entirely unnoticed by most, but, early on, chairman Cllr. Arwyn Williams prevented Cllr. Phil Baker from speaking on agenda item 5, which was Cllr. Gwilym Price’s attempt to allow the streetlighting in and around Goodwick to be illuminated for an additional hour to coincide with the arrival of ferry traffic.

Knowing Cllr. Baker has lot of experience in matters pertaining to highways and their design and construction as a civil engineer, the debate could well have benefited from his contribution.

I suppose I’ve used the word debate incorrectly. I was one of the lucky ones who had a chance to say anything on it at all – because before I had even indicated my wish to speak on the matter, the chairman had taken it to the vote.

And it wasn’t easy to distract his attention away from the sea of raised IPPG hands which had already sprung into the air before he’d finished saying “…show of hands.”

We may never know what Cllr. Baker was going to inject, but I would like to think he had something to add to my own query, and that was over cabinet member Cllr. Huw George’s comment that extending the lights by an hour would not only cost more for the electricity, but would require a change of every bulb costing sixteen grand.

Cash is a rare resource which is already under strain, and we were told that the limited benefits to such a select few would not warrant this sort of expenditure.

A regular reader has since observed that no such restraint over use of public funds seems to have been exercised by the council in seeking external legal advice from a top London barrister into the ‘Pension Arrangements’ furore, but why should we expect consistency with other people’s money?!

The top billing agenda item on Thursday – and the reason you’ve read down this far – was the vote on Cllr. Mike Stoddart’s proposal to allow councillors access to the documentation relating to the Pembroke Dock building restoration grant schemes.

Just like the cabinet meeting the preceding week, the two items came back to full council for final determination. You can read about it all here.

Unsurprisingly, there had been no changes of heart among the top-table elite. Indeed, Cllr. David Simpson said he’d had concerns of his own, but that he’d spoken to his cabinet colleague, Cllr. David Pugh, who’d spoken to someone else who’d told him everything was ok and there’s nothing to see here, so because he was now satisfied that everything’s above board then we could take his word for it. It went something like that, anyway.

Speaking about what he’d read in the press (here and here) about the discussion of the proposal when it cropped up at cabinet, Cllr. Michael Williams said: “what I read in the press made me feel ashamed to be a member of this council.”

As a keen reader of these webpages, I’m sure his knowledge of the meeting was also shaped by this article. But he didn’t have to take mine or the newspapers’ word for it, and neither should you, because Cllr. Bob Kilmister, Cllr. David Bryan and Cllr. Paul Miller all attended the cabinet and thought it was a disgrace, and during Thursday’s meeting they all said as much.

Perhaps Cllr. Adams took note of the backlash he received for casting a slur over Cllr. Mike Stoddart’s building career, because he didn’t bring it up again, though he didn’t go so far as an apology either. He did, however, redeploy the ‘string-pulling’ stunt, claiming that Cllr. Paul Miller’s interest in the matter was because Cllr. Stoddart was pulling his strings.

My best guess is that Cllr. Adams repeated this to try and convince the doubters that he hadn’t slipped up and spoken out of turn at cabinet, because that would involve an admission of error.

It was Cllr. Pugh whose comments overstepped the mark at Thursday’s meeting. He didn’t shout like he did at cabinet, but he was still in no mood for reasoned debate. Even some of his fellow party members disliked the direction his pre-prepared speech went, which sought to address Cllr. Stoddart rather than his allegations, like saying “getting at the truth is apparently not on his agenda.”

But the already crumbling credibility of Cllr. Pugh’s ‘argument’ – and very possibly his future comedy career – hit rock bottom at around the 59 minute mark, when he said: “Cllr. Stoddart reminds me of Don Quixote the fictional character, whose madness drove him to see enemies in everyone, and ended up tilting at windmills.”

Pugh

If you watch the recording, among the disquiet at this point you can hear Cllr. Tony Brinsden chip in with: “he’s playing to the cameras,” before Cllr. Pugh continues: “I should add, of course, that Don Quixote was accompanied and assisted by his faithful servant, Sancho. I’ll leave you all to d…”

He didn’t get the chance to finish the punchline of his scripted ramble, because the chairman, Cllr. Arwyn Williams, asked him “…can you just wind up now?”

I know you’re thinking this is about as rare as a blue moon, an IPG Chairman curtailing an IPG cabinet member mid-rant, but the real credit for the chairman’s intervention goes to Cllr. Paul Miller, who spurred the chairman by asking: “What on earth is this nonsense we’re having to listen to, here? Can you do your job please, chair?” To almost universal accord.

Before everyone had had a complete guts full of his sales pitch, Cllr. Pugh did make an attempt to address one of Cllr. Stoddart’s observations, which was the seemingly wildly generous calculation of external wall which had been quoted for hacking off, re-rendering and painting at number 25 Dimond Street.

Since the meeting, Old Grumpy appears to have demonstrated by way of photographs that, quite simply, Cllr. Pugh’s attempt to discredit the difference in quoted wall area and actual wall area, is bunkum.

Following contributions from a number of others, including the two newest IPG boys – Cllrs. Rob Summons (by-election) and Steve Joseph (floor-crosser) – a vote was taken on Cllr. Stoddart’s amendment that all documents minus financial information be made available to councillors.

The recorded vote appears below.

Unaffiliated
Phil Baker
Tony Brinsden
Mike Evans
Tessa Hodgson
Phil Kidney
David Lloyd
Mike Stoddart
Vivien Stoddart
Jacob Williams

Plaid Cymru
Rod Bowen
Jonathan Preston
Rhys Sinnett
Michael Williams

Conservative
David Bryan
David Howlett
Stan Hudson

Labour
Pat Davies
Alison Lee
Paul Miller
Gwilym Price
Tom Tudor
Tony Wilcox
Guy Woodham

Pembrokeshire Alliance
Bob Kilmister
Jonathan Nutting
Peter Stock

Independent Plus
Reg Owens

27

Independent Plus
Jamie Adams
John Allen-Mirehouse
Daphne Bush
Mark Edwards
Wynne Evans
Lyndon Frayling
Huw George
Brian Hall
Simon Hancock
Paul Harries
Umelda Havard
Mike James
Lyn Jenkins
Michael John
Stephen Joseph
Keith Lewis
Rob Lewis
Pearl Llewellyn
Peter Morgan
Elwyn Morse
David Neale
Myles Pepper
Sue Perkins
David Pugh
David Rees
Tom Richards
Ken Rowlands
David Simpson
Rob Summons
Arwyn Williams
Steve Yelland

Unaffiliated
Owen James

32

No abstentions.

0



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40 Comments...

  • Paul Absalom

    What surprised me was David Lloyd actually saying what Pembrokeshire people are thinking. If all is above board what are they hiding? Has anyone seen him since? Was he publicly flogged for using the word corruption? The Pembrokeshire Independent Group are digging themselves into a deep hole. (GOOD).

  • Keanjo

    If the Welsh Assembly need evidence to support a takeover of this administration then this webcast is it.

  • Lizzie-Tish

    Hmm, I thought True Blue Sue was meant to be safeguarding the County’s young people. Also she won’t be happy with her cartoon depiction in Pembrokeshire’s Best this month, she wouldn’t be seen red in shoes like that!

    One other small point Jacob, your simple sums are too hard for me as I went to Pembroke Comp.

  • Davejavu

    Jacob, you need to improve your maths.

    In the “for” voters column listed above only 25 names appear.

    Hope you haven’t been dealing with any grant applications or expenses claims!!!

  • You’re right – I’ve added Mike Evans (unaffiliated) and Tom Tudor (Labour) in now. I don’t know why their names were missed off the list, it was no counting error!

    Speaking of dodgy maths, I’ve been told that the comment verification (simple sum) wouldn’t accept that 8 + 4 = 12 for one commenter yesterday. Then also Lizzie Tish (who commented before you) joked that she found the sums were too difficult.

    I hate to think how many gems we might have missed out on from comment authors who failed to get past the verification stage…

  • Goldingsboy

    Sue’s thirty pieces of silver from the IPG trough was money well spent.

  • A Brock

    Meanwhile, through the looking glass:

    http://carmarthenplanning.blogspot.co.uk/

    I was especially struck by the description of the treatment meted out to an independent councillor by one not-so-independent member of the ruling junta in the report of December’s Council meeting in Carmarthenshire … couldn’t happen here.

  • I notice the Western Telegraph has rather downplayed this story – small piece bottom of page 4 – about the same number of column inches as given over to the vitally important matter of the voluntary ban on Chinese lanterns.

    Following on from the disappearance of comments last week from the article on the same issue, is one allowed to ask if there is something going on that the £1-paying WT readers should know about?

    If I was a conspiracy theorist, which I am whenever anything involving the WT and PCC is concerned, I might conclude that County Hall had been on the blower to tell them that Cllr Pugh’s savage attack on me at last week’s full council meeting had been derailed and could they please hide the story away out of sight.

    Reminds me of Pravda’s suppression of news of air crashes in the old USSR.

    You may recall that Cllr Pugh disputed my claim that, compared to what was shown on the drawings, the rendering at 25 Dimond Street had been over-measured in the tender documents by 150% and asserted that I had failed to account for a “third side elevation” which made up the difference.

    This alleged failure by me prompted him to tell the meeting: “So, whether this is a deliberate untruth, or incompetence on his behalf in not checking the facts, I’ll let you all decide.”

    After I emailed him challenging him to give a precise location for the extra wall, he has now sent me an “unreserved apology” because he has now had to admit that the “third side elevation” at No 25 is a figment of his imagination, because it belongs to a different building altogether.

    So much for “incompetence” through “not checking the facts”, not to mention “deliberate untruth”.

    There will be a longer post about this affair on Pembrokeshire’s premier political website tomorrow. I’m sure Jacob will be sporting enough to provide a link.

  • Touting for business on my website again, Stoddart?

    Times must be hard!

  • Raymond Stoddart

    Watched you brother, proud of you, you kept your cool despite all the unbelievable slurs. Felt sorry for Adams playing in the premier league with a conference side. Good job the January transfer window is only around the corner. JW, PM, TH, BK and DL would inject youth, expertise and credibility into his squad [n.b. PM is not the lion.]

  • John Hudson

    Following a private unreserved apology, where does this leave the council vote to defer matters to the Audit Committee, perhaps persuaded by erroneous evidence? Where did this evidence come from? Will the public record be corrected in Council Minutes?

  • Hi John,

    As Cllr. Pugh’s “third side elevation” claim has now been proven (and recognised by Cllr. Pugh) to be untruthful [see OldGrumpy.co.uk] then I think there’s more chance of us having a Christmas heatwave than this matter being recorded in the draft minutes.

    Though if it hadn’t been proven to be a load of cobblers, it might well have appeared in big letters in the draft minutes as a proof that Mike was ‘wrong!’

  • Keanjo

    Understand that David Pugh has now admitted that he was factually wrong in his attack on Mike Stoddart and we must assume that he will have the good grace to apologise abjectly and publicly for his unwarranted attack in the Council Chamber last week.

    I trust that the Leader will not be engaging Counsel at ratepayers’ expense in anticipation of the libel proceedings which could arise.

    Presumably even the Cabinet will now take this matter seriously and agree to a proper inquiry by appointing a sub committee with no cabinet members and including Phil Baker who is a qualified Civil Engineer, to investigate the apparent discrepancies and report back to the County Council and the public on their findings.

  • Punster

    Does Cllr Pugh’s failure to distinguish between #25 Dimond Street (a second hand clothes outlet) and #27 (Bargain Booze) mean that he can’t tell his bazaars from his merlot?

  • Les

    The grovelling apology from a senior member of the council is surely a resigning issue. To basically accuse someone of lying or incompetence is surely so serious that when the accusation is refuted, heads must roll.

    This is surely compounded when the councillor making the accusation is obviously incompetent himself. Who else accompanied him on the visit to the premises in question?

    Looks like Old Grumpy will be dining out on this for years!!!

  • Tasso

    I note with interest Mike Stoddart’s observations on the strategic placement of the news item about the Pembroke and Pembroke Dock grants in the Izvestia’s Pembrokeshire edition.

    I think he should thank heaven for small mercies. I am amazed the Council’s newsletter reported it at all.

  • Tony Wilcox

    The most ironic statement made at full council I felt was the leader’s suggestion that Paul Miller was having his strings pulled by Grumpy. This coming from a group that has never made any decisions without chief officers telling them to.

  • Robin Wilson

    As a candidate in the recently held Burton by-election, I do hope the electorate are watching closely the valiant efforts of Cllr Stoddart to hold the present administration to account.

    I look forward to the next local elections, as at that time we should be in a position to judge if we feel we are getting value for money from some of our elected Councillors.

    I wish to congratulate those who question the incumbents, and who truly give value for money…those that truly disappoint, should be held to account.

  • Paul Absalom

    Cllr Pugh said Mike Stoddart was acting like ‘Don Quixote’. I bet Cllr Pugh feels like a right ‘Don Qui’ now. As for the other 32 so called wise men, what they have actually voted for is to keep the evidence hidden from all elected councillors which could prove or disprove corruption.

  • Keanjo

    I like your Don Qui, Paul. Could become his nickname in future.

    Regarding secrecy, the powers that be seem to be hell bent on not letting the public know the true facts and that in itself generates suspicion.

    Maybe the IPPG are hoping the whole thing will be forgotten like their £1.75 million ‘investment’ in Bluestone, but this time they are tangling with Old Grumpy!

  • Les

    I have just read Old Grumpy’s latest instalment and I have got to say how much enjoyment he is providing for us Local Authority watchers.

    There is no doubt that he has just ruined xmas for a few councillors with his exquisite remarks about further revelations to come.

    Really looking forward to the new year!

  • Tony Wilcox

    Wonder if Grumpy has considered applying for membership of the ‘savaged by a dead sheep’ party. Might just get enough support for Scrutiny Chair the way things are going currently.

  • Punster

    I like Paul Absalom’s Don Qui, though for those a bit slow on the uptake (no names, no pack drill) it might be better as Donqui.

    To be honest, I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it first.

    Not to be outdone, given Cllr Pugh’s problems with the non-existent wall at the former Gordon’s butcher’s shop at 25 Dimond Street, could I remind your readers that Don Quixote’s sidekick was Sans shop answer.

  • Malcolm Calver

    The building industry is not rocket science and here again we have Pembrokeshire County Council wasting taxpayers’/ratepayers’ money on delaying an investigation into these projects.

    Cllr Stoddart has made serious allegations regarding these schemes that need to be fully investigated. I find it incredible that any county councillor making such allegations is denied the right to examine fully any council documentation he deems necessary to satisfy himself that no fraud has occurred, what is the point of electing county councillors?

    Please appoint an independent quantity surveyor to go through the project and determine if money has been paid out for over measured items or work not even carried out on the project.

    I do feel Cllr Arwyn Williams and the IPG group have failed the people of Pembrokeshire on this issue and should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Nev Andrews

    A number of thoughts occur…whilst it is councillors who are fighting amongst themselves and may be preventing an ‘investigation’ into this issue, council officers are the people who have managed the scheme and paid out the money.

    I find it odd that the CEO has not intervened publicly to defend his staff and their integrity, because that is what these allegations are hitting at in effect, not just a load of self serving, quasi “masonic” gentlemen and ladies purporting to be responsible for the running of our County Council.

    If there is evidence of mismanagement which could imply that a possible criminal act has occurred, then simply refer the matter to the Police, with said evidence. Why has this not been done, if the material available so far is as persuasive as we are led to believe?

    Also, formally refer the matter to the Wales Audit Office Appointed Auditor for the Council and request that he investigates the matter. Has this been done yet I wonder, and if not why not?

    I am just concerned that there seem to be two rather obvious formal avenues which have not been explored in amongst the rather hilarious and yet sad soap opera which occurred in the Council Chamber recently. And yes, finally, Councillor Pugh should be referred to the Ombudsman for his public behaviour in my opinion…followed by a training and development event for public speaking (or get the man an autocue!)

  • Dave Edwards

    I’ve just looked at this picture again and realised where I had seen it before – the three monkeys!

    You know the one:- Hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil but just condone it.

  • Keanjo

    Just read a further blog on Old Grumpy about the Paul Satori charity shop refurb in PD. The whole thing gets curiouser and curiouser. This has got to the stage where the Welsh Assembly needs to send an investigative team in to establish whether any fraud has taken place. An internal County Council investigation is no longer feasible.

  • Robin Wilson

    Allo, allo, allo…and now it seems there is number 29 to explain!!!

  • Goldingsboy

    Pugh, what a scorcher!

    Old Grumpy has fired yet another rocket into the IPG’s rotting body.

  • Les

    I think for the council to save its reputation it now urgently needs to instigate an independent investigation into the matters raised by OG. There is no point leaving it to a committee in February – it is more urgent than that. OG seems to be coming forth with evidence that is difficult to rebut.

    Who knows who is right but it is surely only right to set up a politically balanced inquiry, publish the documents and get the facts out. In my view propriety demands that Cllr Pugh resigns from the cabinet (pending the outcome of the investigation). In any case he is looking a bit silly from where I am sitting and must have lost the authority to do his job?

  • Goldingsboy

    Jacob, what options are open to us under the county’s constitution? It seems obvious to me that the police have not investigated or become involved, which is a thorough scandal in itself. Therefore, may we as council-tax payers, for example, petition the District Auditor to thoroughly examine the accounts, or could we contest the accounts in some way?

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I feel we need to do something.

  • I’m not aware that the police or the Wales Audit Office have been requested to investigate this matter, but there is nothing to stop a member of the public – including councillors – asking them to. Indeed, this exact suggestion has already been made by a number of cabinet members at the cabinet meeting and full council, including Cllrs. Simon Hancock and David Simpson.

  • Morgi

    Jacob, why are we ratepayers paying for lawyers to give legal advice to OG on the laws pertaining to copyright?

  • Malcolm Calver

    Failed to see both Mike and Jacob listed in the New Year Honours List, then I do not have access to those that were offered honours but turned them down. Perhaps they should consider going into the medical profession and deliver royal babies.

    Just informed that the cabinet decides on those to be rewarded, not sure which cabinet recommends approval.

  • Goldingsboy

    Is it not the case Jacob, that the Wales Audit Office is more likely to act upon a request made by an elected councillor?

  • Morgi – obviously they’re keen to make sure that Mike doesn’t get himself into legal trouble!

    Malcolm – Don’t forget, the winner of the Golden DonQui Award will soon be announced. Voting closes in under 12 hours.

    Goldingsboy – If there is anything worth investigating, or reasonable grounds to suspect there could be, then it shouldn’t matter who makes a request.

  • Morgi

    Jacob – I’m confused – no legal advice sought for the top earners prior to their pension potty diversion, then legal advice given where it involves someone who has success as a whistleblower sorting out corruption!

  • Les

    Did someone just mention the C word?

  • Nev Andrews

    Morgi – who has had this success you refer to in sorting out this corruption you refer to?

    Goldingsboy – it is NOT the case that the auditor is more likely to look at something referred to him or her by a councillor. Any referral will be dealt with on its own merits and in accordance with the strength of the “evidence” submitted.

  • Morgi

    Nev – In Jacob’s “Smear Tactics” article, he refers to a conversation that took place between himself and OG which described OG’s role in the successful prosecution of an official who was sentenced to prison for corruption.

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