Jacob Williams
Wednesday 19th February, 2014

Death by a thousand cuttings

Death by a thousand cuttings

As well as a Queen’s Counsel at enormous expense to Pembrokeshire ratepayers, and a rising star from Crymych attracting a considerably lesser premium, the success of the ambush stunt pulled in the council chamber on Friday owed a lot to a supporting cast of inanimate photocopies of local press cuttings which were stuffed in an envelope left in the back seat of the chairman’s limo.

Just shy of a couple of weeks before the meeting, reporters from both the Pembrokeshire Herald and Western Telegraph approached all councillors for their views on whether the chief executive, Bryn Parry-Jones, should resign.

Some said yes, some said no, some gave comments, and some said nothing at all.

What ensued in the council chamber has been covered in great detail in many places, here, here, and here, for instance. The authority’s monitoring officer, Laurence Harding, was tipped off ahead of the meeting that some councillors had comments of theirs printed in the newspapers that may have indicated prejudgement of the issue, and so their participation in the debate over the chief executive’s suspension could risk them ending up in hot water with the Ombudsman for breaking the councillors’ code of conduct.

You might say that one hardly needs to be tipped off about something appearing in a newspaper, but that was how it was explained during the meeting, and the identity of the person who brought it to Mr. Harding’s attention remains ‘confidential.’

Having gone through the articles, instead of approaching those councillors whose remarks he felt showed prejudgement with advice to consider pulling out of the debate on the suspension motion, the day before the meeting, Mr. Harding stuffed photocopies of them into a now-infamous envelope. The envelope was deposited in the back seat of the chauffeured council car he dispatched from County Hall to collect his instructed barrister, Mr. Tim Kerr QC, from Port Talbot Parkway.

It wasn’t until the very agenda item cropped up during the meeting, on camera, that this identified potential risk was brought to members’ attention, in the form of an ambush. Mr. Kerr, following the instructions given to him by Mr. Harding, appeared to me at the time (and even more-so watching it back on camera) to be uncomfortable with his role in the ambush, which was set in motion by Cllr. Keith Lewis. Indeed, at one point, Mr. Kerr even refers to his “invidious” position.

The monitoring officer’s role isn’t limited to advising councillors for their own benefit, the role is also the eyes and ears of the council, for the council’s benefit. In addition to the potential risk for individual councillors breaking their code of conduct, predetermination is a potential risk to any local authority as a whole. Decisions made by a body of individuals can be susceptible to legal challenge if it is believed that some or all of the decision-makers are prejudiced.

Quite why no efforts were made to bring the matter to the attention of members when the risk became apparent, even via email, remains a mystery. Especially when considering that the monitoring officer had time for a private meeting exclusively attended by cabinet members in the days leading up to the extraordinary meeting. An excuse along the lines of ‘members should have been aware of the risks themselves’ hardly cuts the mustard in this situation either, because Mr. Harding clearly had every intention of bringing it to members’ attention, but the way it transpired was nothing short of an ambush, and all councillors, regardless of who they are or whatever their political views, deserved better.

Now I’ve got that off my chest, take a look at the photographs below, from the webcast video. An interesting picture is beginning to emerge of our star-billed newspaper cuttings. Starting at 4:04:57 on the webcast, Cllr. Mike Evans asks Mr. Harding and Mr. Kerr if they have their photocopies to hand.

Mr. Harding delves into a folder from beneath his desk, while the QC looks among his papers on the desk:

Harding Kerr cuttings

They soon both find their copies, and it is at this point that Cllr. Evans is interrupted by an eagle-eyed Cllr. Pat Davies, who spots a photocopy of the same cuttings being brandished by deputy leader, Cllr. Rob Lewis, sitting in the cabinet benches.

There’s a bit of a Kerrfuffle audible at this point, as all eyes are focussed on what Cllr. Lewis has in his possession at the top table:

Mike Evans spots Rob Lewis

Cllr. Evans, shocked by what he sees, asks the chairman if Cllr. Lewis can confirm that he is, indeed, holding a photocopy of the same press articles in his hand:

Rob Lewis

Cllr. Lewis answers “It’s just a photocopy of the paper page.”

They do say that a picture paints a thousand words. I think these final two frames, after Cllr. Lewis has sat down, says more than I could ever type.

The faces say it all


Don’t tell him, Pyke!

Viewers of Friday’s meeting will have noticed an impromptu break in proceedings at the three and three-quarter hour mark. For no particular need, the chairman adjourned for a short while before a vote was finally taken to accept the auditor’s damning report and his four recommendations.

Most members retired to the tea room for this roughly fifteen minute break, during which the authority’s assistant chief executive, Ben Pykett, who was not a part of the meeting, was seen taking the chairman and vice chairman aside.

Unable to hear what went on, I was quite curious to find out what it was all about.

At the conclusion of the second and final part of the meeting I accosted vice chair Cllr. Tom Richards as he made his way down the corridor. He was very non-specific, and that was that.

Who should filter through seconds later, none other than chairman, Cllr. Arwyn Williams. The most I got out of Cllr. Williams was that Mr. Pykett was “checking to see how we were getting on with the meeting.”

All I can say is Mr. Pykett must’ve been one of the only employees in County Hall not watching the webcast!


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67 Comments...

  • G Hill

    It is my opinion that this scandal is the precursor to a third world country. This scandalous situation is no more than ratepayers deserve, if on any count, anyone involved in this patent deception is allowed to maintain their position.

    This is an example of contempt towards ratepayers, or to put it simply “biting the hand that feeds you”. Or simply corruption.

  • Royston Jones

    Why did Mr Kerr have to be collected by limousine from Port Talbot? Was the service terminating there? Or was it to give Mr Kerr time to read the cuttings?

  • John Hudson

    Why can’t we formally submit a petition to our Council? There is no formal mechanism for us, the electorate, to do this, and more importantly, for it to consider, debate and provide a formal public response.

    If we submitted one, it could be wheeled in the front door straight out to the bins at the back. The Council is not required to provide a response.

    WE are powerless. WE can’t even submit our concerns to the WG, as it will not admit petitions concerning the operations of councils.

  • Richie S.

    Can’t find the words to express my feelings about this whole shoddy business – I’m sure other readers will express the thoughts of all of us far better than I can.

    I will just say that how some people can sit in that council chamber with a clear conscience that they are representing the people of Pembrokeshire really does beggar belief!!

    I have always been a firm believer that ‘what goes around, comes around’ and it can’t come round soon enough for some of them!

    Carry on the good work Jacob, OG et al, keep sticking the knife in and twisting it!!

  • Anne Thomas

    I also wondered why Mr Kerr was picked up from Port Talbot, couldn’t he have got the train to Haverfordwest? It’s only a short walk to County Hall from the station. Money saved on the chauffeur driven limo might have paid for an hour or two of his time. Some of our councillors should hang their heads in shame after last Friday’s debacle.

  • Paul Absalom

    If I am correct, then Tim Kerr QC gave the wrong advice. In the WT and the Herald councillors were asked if they believe BPJ should resign, that is to say hand in his resignation and retreat to his plush country pad and worry about how he was going to manage on his meagre £100,000 a year pension.

    The motion was if BPJ should be suspended. That is to say weather he should be sent home on full pay while the police investigate. While at home he could worry about how to spend his almost £200,000 a year.

    Surely these are different. Some of the Councillors may have a different opinion on that.

  • Antony Glynn

    Yes indeed, Anne Thomas. The logical train stations that Mr Kerr might have been picked up from are where some services terminate or passengers have to change, i.e., Cardiff, Swansea, Carmarthen or Whitland. So why Port Talbot? And what about his return journey – was he driven back to Port Talbot to catch his train home? If not, why not? Who made the decision? Will we ever find out? (That last question is rhetorical because I already know the answer.)

    Unfortunately the money saved would not have paid for an hour or two of Kerr’s time. If it is true that he “has been/will be paid £20k for all of his services in this whole debacle” (Harford Boy – 7.48 a.m. 19th February) then we might make a rough guestimate of what we would have got for our money.

    We don’t know how much preparation Kerr did for this “debacle”; from what happened on the day we could guess at none, apart from his reading press cuttings in the PCC limousine. Online research tells me that top barristers can get paid £20,000 a day. Common knowledge tells us that PCC are eager to pay ‘top’ people (e.g. CEOs) top whack. Let’s be generous and say the whole business cost Kerr a long day – 10 hours of work. This works out at £2,000 an hour.

    The cost to us of a PCC driver, limousine and fuel to Port Talbot would probably be less than £50. Let’s be generous again and double it (a taxi from Haverfordwest to Cardiff airport would cost about £100).

    This, if my calculations are correct, means that saving the cost of the limousine would have got us a bare 3 minutes of Mr Kerr’s time.

  • Wayne

    This was a comedy of errors, can anyone say specifically what was being debated? We saw a ‘trusted’ and completely unbiased council employee remain in the meeting after being exposed as the person who provided Tim Kerr with some damning newspaper cuttings with a very slanted bias, and then we are treated to the theatrical exit (a number of times) of Keith Lewis flouncing out of the council chamber.

    All that was missing was a pantomime horse! Come on councillors, if you want to be taken seriously, grow up. More power to OG and the ‘truth crew’.

  • Welshman 23

    Farmer Adams has spoken with the Western Telegraph and voiced his support for BPJ. IPPG members you must be furious with Jamie Adams, there is a swell of dissatisfaction with regard to BPJ and the council’s performance under him. Do us all a favour and return to your former career and let local politics with people who understand the Pembrokeshire people. IPPG your days are numbered, sling your hooks now.

  • Hangerman

    I tell you what, I thought the Western Telegraph had grown a set this week.

    Then I saw the puff piece written by the woman who managed to combine the word “popular” with Jamie Adams in last year’s whitewash interview. And she made sure Jamie got to mention how the IPPG newsletter “broke” the story when they buried it on the ruling group’s behalf two years ago after being tipped off by Dave Edwards.

    How cosy! They were bounced into covering it after The Herald got stuck into it and dug up the whole truth. Quickly back to normal service now, Telegraph.

  • Powertothepeople

    I would like to think that the WT started reporting all the facts as a newspaper should. I am also surprised that they let so many of us comment without putting a halt to it.

  • Lobsterman

    I’ve watched the shameful debacle. It appears henchman Lewis was operating the supposedly neutral monitoring officer by remote control. The dodgy QC, retained by who? Protecting BPJ and the cabinet against who? The tax matter may end up in court, he will be much busier (and richer) then. Who is going to pay him then? It should certainly not be the ratepayers.

  • Valley-Red

    As an outsider, I have watched this whole debacle with a morbid fascination. I am a councillor in a South Wales local authority and am embarrassed at the thought that the public have the same opinion of all councillors. I started to watch the webcast last night at about 2200. I didn’t get to bed until 0230 as I couldn’t stop watching.

    For now I will just make a number of small points.

    The first refers to the senior staff committee meeting of September 28th 2011. The meeting started at 1430. We are told by councillors John Davies and Sue Perkins that a comprehensive and detailed discussion took place regarding the pension arrangements. That must have taken quite some time.

    There then followed (according to the ratified minutes) interviews (more than one but no actual number indicated) for the very senior post of head of planning. For a position at this level I would expect each interview to last a minimum of 30 minutes. The interviews took place, were evaluated, and an appointment made. The meeting ended at 1545.

    All this took place in 75 minutes? I think not!! The discussions on the pension arrangements, if any, were superficial at best and the interview process I suggest cannot have been very rigorous.

    Then last Friday’s meeting. After being involved in local politics for over 20 years I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. Suffice to say the party I belong to is known to have some Machiavellian figures in it. They are novices compared with that lot you have leading your authority.

    Just one message to the people of Pembrokeshire. Please don’t tar all councillors with the same brush. The vast majority of members of all political persuasions that I have met over the years are far better than this, as are your unaligned councillors and those who are members of “proper” political parties. It is unfortunate you have a political party who are in denial that they are actually a party.

  • Valley-Red

    A monitoring officer is supposed to be fair and impartial. Mr Harding certainly did not appear to display these qualities on camera last week. His position should be considered.

  • Martin Lewis

    Cllr Sue Perkins said: “The decision whether to leave the room is entirely up to that particular councillor. So all of this backing and forward doesn’t matter, it’s your decision. The Labour group’s made their decision, that’s their decision. It doesn’t…It’s your decision.”

    Can I please ask Mr Timothy Kerr QC to clarify exactly what Cllr Perkins is trying to say?

  • Martin Lewis

    It’s obvious from tea-room gossip, along with the demeanour of certain IPG members during this meeting, that several are totally unhappy with their allegiance to this party given what unfolded on Friday 14th.

    On the other hand, you have the likes of Sue Perkins, who deceived the 395 people who voted for her by selling her soul to the IPG in return for her cabinet SRA. It’s irritating in the extreme to see her standing there pontificating about the rights and wrongs of a councillor’s behaviour. What a hypocrite.

    On the first webcast it seemed that BPJ had his arm up Arwyn Williams’ arse and was working him like a puppet instead of the Chairman doing the job as he should. This time, it took me a few minutes to realise who Laurence Harding was but it quickly became clear that he would be fulfilling the role of puppet master.

    Why can’t we hear the musings between Harding and Williams when they’re conferring? Williams seems totally incompetent as a Chairman to me.

    I am pleased to read that a motion of no confidence will be put forward on 6th of March for Parry-Jones and Harding. Why is there no motion of no confidence in Jamie Adams? Is this not possible? Surely these motions of no confidence will succeed as there must be at least a few members of the IPG who are dissatisfied enough to not toe the party line on these issues?

    Human nature dictates that all of the IPG, BPJ, Williams, Harding and other council officers MUST read this blog, Mike Stoddart’s blog, Western Telegraph comments and Pembrokeshire Herald comments.

    I can assure them for each single contributor to comments on various online press articles and blog entries, there are many MANY others who may not be predisposed to commenting online themselves but DO express their views on a daily basis. I speak with lots of people in Neyland who are very sad and annoyed that our long standing councillor Simon Hancock followed Sue Perkins and Ken Rowlands in getting elected as a Labour councillor and then switched to the IPG for monetary gain.

    But I think these individuals aren’t speaking to enough people in their constituencies and they’re deluded into thinking that people don’t care about what they’ve done. I can assure them that many people DO care and are bloody aggravated by their actions.

    Paul Miller’s election as a Labour candidate showed that people in Neyland aren’t interested in having an independent councillor representing them. Paul had more votes than the combined votes of TWO independent candidates.

    And one of the most bizarre facts of this farcical council:

    Jamie Adams – Leader, not a single person in this county voted for him as a councillor, yet he ends up as Council Leader?

    And as soon as he knew that there would be no-one opposing him in the last election, in went his dodgy 4 year travelling expenses claim. An ordinary mortal employee of the council would never have been allowed to do this. But so sick is our system, it caters for officers to nod through such claims for someone in Adams’ position with a bit of bullsh!t as justification because although it’s a ‘rule’ or whatever, it doesn’t HAVE to be abided by, bloody ridiculous.

    As a Pembrokeshire person, I’m absolutely sick to death of the games being played by Adams and Co, the rich getting richer off the backs of the normal people in this county. The members of the IPG want to get out more and speak to the people they represent, instead of just taking our money and engaging in very dodgy practice which flies in the face of democracy.

    Giving a man who has exceed the £1,500,000 pension lifetime allowance a way round taxation penalties for further contributions into his pension is wrong at any time. But for those that permitted it at a time of swathing financial constraints and cuts to our services, it shows that they have no place in public service.

    See what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment Jamie & Co. People will only take so much and this latest issue with Bryn’s pension payments and the stifling of democracy in the council chamber has crossed the line.

    Bryn Parry-Jones’ pension arrangements were unlawful and morally wrong.

    Jamie Adams’ participation in the meeting that agreed to that arrangement was wrong. His continuing support of it in the face of huge public opposition is wrong. His insistence in this week’s WT propaganda article that BPJ’s presence at that meeting was not wrong…is WRONG. Even if his clever QC can assert that it isn’t wrong in law, it’s WRONG in the eyes of every right minded person in this county.

    How the IPG members sleep at night is beyond me. They KNOW they’re wrong, they spend their time defending the indefensible, paying thousands of pounds for what turned out to be a quite bemused and bumbling QC, and our good councillors have to battle through reams and reams of rules and regulations and other bullsh!t to try and get right to prevail. Which I’m sure it will in the end, it HAS to!

    As a postscript:

    Cllr Keith Lewis – what a weak individual, allowing the IPG to set him up to look such a fool.

    Cllr Rob Lewis – what a buffoon he looked. Well done Mike Evans for spotting that and Jacob, the look on the faces of the gang of four either side of him in your last photos does indeed say it all. He looks bloody ridiculous.

    Cllr Huw George – it shows how stupid Jamie must think you are to give you absolutely no part in the farcical proceedings, preferring to leave you out and use a clown like Rob Lewis.

    Cllr Reg Owens – it’s not a laughing matter, get a grip of yourself.

    Cllr Keith Lewis – what are you still doing there? I thought you’d left?

    Cllr Simon Hancock – a councillor of your experience should have had a LOT more to say during the debate, but instead you chose to sit in silence, apart from a token effort towards the end, as it all unfolded and played along with the charade.

    Cllr Arwyn Williams – do you have your shoes labelled “L” and “R”???

    Mr Timothy Kerr QC – He must have arrived at his offices on Monday morning shaking his head and tittering to his colleagues in wonderment at what he had witnessed and taken part in the previous Friday in West Wales.

  • Jonathan Nutting

    The only thing you missed out Martin, was the Cheshire Cat smile on the faces of those in Cardiff Bay. Yokels!!! I can hear their sneers. It makes me grind my teeth in frustration.

    There is one thing for certain. What ever else happens, not one of those underachievers will ever again be elected unopposed. Hopefully the people of Pembrokeshire will have long enough memories.

    If the elections were next week I wonder which IPPG members would come through the bloodbath?

  • D. Pleconcerned

    I see the old school trick of moving the chair from behind someone when they stand up is still used today! When Bob Kilmister stood to speak Peter Morgan moves behind him and removes his chair. Who is preparing who for a mighty fall in this whole fiasco?

  • Powertothepeople

    Can anyone tell me why Cllr Brian Hall was reading from a ‘script’?

  • Anoldman

    Copied this off a Carmarthenshire blog:

    “The legal advice provided by Mr Tim Kerr QC, which was jointly commissioned by Pembrokeshire Council, is interesting as it states that, on balance, a court would be quite likely to agree with the auditor.

    This was the advice which officers at Pembrokeshire Council refused to disclose to its councillors when they voted on the WAO report during the infamous meeting of the 14th February. Not surprising really.”

    Surely this small statement could have been imparted to councillors before the meeting, in strictest confidence of course. It could have saved a lot of time.

  • Anoldman

    I feel real anger towards PCC leaders for spending X thousands of pounds on 40 pages of legal advice which in my mind has been summed up in 13 words.

    It is also upsetting that we have had to foot the extra expense, which will no doubt be several more thousands for Mr Kerr, for his eloquent exposure of councillors who dared express an opinion before the meeting and were not allowed the privilege of the debate, which might have altered those opinions.

  • Malcolm Calver

    Perhaps we need a second Monitoring Officer to monitor the existing officer, as much of his advice of late has been wrong.

    In relation to the comment as to why Cllr Hall was reading from a script, perhaps it relates back to a past appearance of his before the Standards Committee.

  • Ianto

    So good to learn from reading the WT today that Jamie is a regular user of envelopes, pity he fails to specify the contents. He seems to be drifting closer and closer to never never land.

  • Martin Lewis

    Maybe Brian Hall was reading from a script because he’s unable to stand and speak unaided. It would have taken him weeks to write that script. “4 lines left” LOL!

    He’s like Brian Glover’s character in Porridge, ‘Cyril Heslop’.

    “I read a book once…green it was…”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce7t_NyPkmo

    If anyone is a bully it’s Hall. He’s cost us taxpayers thousands through impossible travelling expenses and threatening behaviour having to be defended by high level barristers in years gone by.

  • Sandboy

    Nothing will change, nothing will be done, the gravy train will keep on rolling on! How many councillors remain on the council who appointed BP-J back in 1995?

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. The people of Pembrokeshire may not have the opportunity to speak aloud until the next scheduled election in 2016. Long memories we have but a transparent, honest and workable solution in the interim is urgently required.

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    A simple solution to move this debate onwards and obtain a little credit with the people of Pembrokeshire is a vote of no confidence in the Leader of IPPG by his fellow IPPG members; this would stimulate an election from within their ranks for a new party leader and with it would come the leadership of PCC.

    A shake up and review of the current party standing on crucial issues could occur where a change to the Cabinet could be considered for members who are perceived to be compromised.

    The political parties within the Council would adopt procedures like this under the guidance of their national body. Have any of the IPPG Councillors taken advice through a meeting of the constituents they represent on what course of action they would like to see happen? It’s a challenge for any IPPG member to put his head above the parapet and take guidance from those that should matter.

    The newly formed Cabinet can strive to formulate a route forward which takes the whole Council and the people of our County with it. They may consider suspending the Chief Executive whilst awaiting the outcomes of the live police investigation, or instigate a robust internal root and branch review of current practice and in doing so halt any further outgoing payments to 3rd parties giving advice [including that to the Monitoring Officer].

    It may also be proper to inform the Ombudsman of the roles of Councillors involved in the decision making process which has blighted the Council in the last few years.

    A question arose on who was prejudiced in their comments to the press and had to consider removing themselves from the Chamber during the last Council meeting. I assume this should have been nearly all Councillors as didn’t the recognised parties have a pre Council meeting to discuss the agenda in the days leading up to the meeting?

  • Powertothepeople

    Very funny Martin. I remember the ‘Time Lord’ articles on Old Grumpy’s website.

  • Tim

    What would be nice to arrange is a public protest, outside County Hall on the day of full council next week! Tens of people waiting at the entrance to greet Bryn and his Cllrs – then they would see what the people of Pembrokeshire think.

  • Goldingsboy

    Jon Boy Jovi suggests that a solution to the current tumult regarding unlawful activity within the Kleddau on Kremlin would be the ousting of Jamie Adams from his position at the top of the greasy pole. Simply removing the leader, I suggest, would be of precious little use.

    Anoldman: Can you let us have the address of the Carmarthenshire blog? If its report is accurate that, “on balance, a court would be quite likely to agree with the auditor”, it suggests to me (and I’m no lawyer) that Mr Kerr was not acting in the interests of the council as a whole, but specifically its officers.

    Therefore it might be prudent, to the financial interest of Pembrokeshire council-tax payers, if a challenge is made to the fact that the council will be funding the bill for his services.

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Has anyone got a resignation letter pro forma? Jamie and his mates seem to be having a problem finding one!

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Oh no…is that predetermination?!

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    I suggested only as a development. Changing the leadership is a start. There is no way we can change anything before 2016 at the ballot box. However if any IPPG were to nail their political colours to the mast there may well be a change for the better. Independents as a group don’t work.

  • Jon Boy Jovi, sorry to break it to you but the next election is actually scheduled for 2017, not 2016!

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Apologies. That makes it even longer to allow the electorate a say. It would be an interesting ‘Jacob website straw poll’ to see how many of the current batch of councillors would be returned by their electorate and if they were not going to ‘return’ them who they would vote for…ie political party candidate/another independent.

  • Anoldman

    Goldingsboy, this should take you to what you ask for, about the 19/20 paragraph of the blogger’s comment.

    http://www.carmarthenplanning.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/extraordinary-meeting-unlawful-payments.html

    You might have to copy and paste the URL into your browser’s address bar.

  • Malcolm Calver

    We only have a week to wait, have some patience, have faith in your county councillors and hope they will make the right decision now the pressure is on them.

  • Kate Becton

    I am very new to posting comments on web sites – and finding it very addictive. However, one of the things that has slightly surprised me is the number of people who call for openness and transparency, and use names that are unidentifiable. Is there a problem with posting comments under one’s name?

  • Powertothepeople

    I suppose it is a case that those who comment on here are private individuals and have a right to privacy, whereas those on the council put themselves in that position by standing for election.

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    FAO Malcolm Calver – from another comment on Jacob’s website which ends “With the exception of a few, both Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire Councils are rotten to the core!”

    Do we as an electorate have the faith in our county councillors to make the right decision? Some undoubtedly yes, but for others I have an open mind; there is a hope that a recorded vote will take place and then every voter can see where their councillor stands on this issue.

    I am not aware that any councillor has formally consulted their electorate on this issue for guidance. Remember, they were elected to represent the views of the people in their area (many standing as independent councillors) not the views of the IPPG. Those councillors elected under a political banner made their intentions clear on polling day and may have a stronger political agenda behind their own thoughts.

    However, I rest assured that councillors representing the political parties on PCC have a modicum of self respect for their constituents and common sense. Will all 60 PCC councillors have this self respect and common sense as a marker when it comes to the vote next week is the key question?

  • Anoldman

    Kate Becton, personally I am afraid that life could be made very unpleasant for me, and I am getting too old to fight back.

  • Lesley

    In response to Jon Boy Jovi’s plea that Pembs councillors vote with their consciences and not as instructed by their political leaders, I wish you luck having just witnessed the farce that went on yesterday in Carmarthen.

    The votes there were strictly political with all groups voting en bloc with complete disregard for argument or the facts. It was embarrassing to see that some of our councillors appear to be not only incoherent but also illiterate.

    It was depressing to witness to what lengths some went in order to deny that any unlawful activity had taken place and it was galling to watch Mr Kerr QC smirking as he enjoyed another taxpayer-funded completely unnecessary morning’s “work”. I despair for local government in both our counties.

  • Malcolm Calver

    I am sorry Anoldman but if people are prepared to put themselves forward for election, then make statements when elected, anyone commenting on the statements should have the decency to identify themselves. The sad fact is that many councillors, when elected, sit in silence at County Hall, the reason why I do not know.

    I note that Kate has taken to commenting, so perhaps we could have her views on her ex-Labour colleagues Cllr Hancock, Cllr Perkins and Cllr Rowlands who have signed up to the Independent Party Plus cause!

    Many people believe that a dictator rules at County Hall but we are not at the North Korea stage yet.

  • Richie S.

    Like others, I began to think that “The newspaper that fights for Pembrokeshire” had finally decided to stand up for the electorate and publish what really has been going on, and not what PCC/IPPG would like us all to believe. So, well done for this week’s front page with the AM for South Pembs calling for the council’s leader and chief to step aside!

    Unfortunately, back to normal on the letters page with Farmer Adams taking up nearly a full page with his ‘right to reply’. Ironic to think that he thinks that he has this right whilst doing his bit to stifle what his council opponents have to say on what goes on in the Kremlin. The man should give up local politics and take up a new role writing comedy scripts!

    The paper also has a nice photo of David Pugh holding a shovelful of lion s**t. Brings to mind the old saying ‘when you’re up to your neck in s**t, stop shovelling’!!

  • Morgi

    Kate Becton is new to this form of expression – so am I. Had those councillors used untraceable (if this really exists) names online, then as far as those legal eagles been concerned they would not have predetermined opinions! In the press however – a leaf out of BPJ’s book should be the norm – keep your head down and say nothing!

    Note that Mr. Harding’s source to his envelope contents was ‘confidential’. I detect far greater silence pre our next webcast episode.

    If a return to some semblance of democracy in PCC is to be achieved, there needs to be an understanding that honesty and integrity alone will not succeed.

  • Kate Becton

    Malcolm – I feel that in the cases of Ken, Sue and Simon that there are some significant differences. Ken Rowlands withdrew his Labour candidature just before an election, thus preventing another Labour candidate standing. Ken won that election and the last one, so I can only assume that the electorate of Johnston are quite happy with the arrangements.

    I am assuming that in the case of Simon it was a case of ‘crossing the floor’ – motivation unknown? I am not aware if Simon remains a member of the Labour Party.

    The Labour Party/Group were happy for Sue to be in the Cabinet until the Ministerial Board finished their work; then wished Sue to return to the Group, this did not happen with the inevitable result.

    I do not believe that there would have been such a furore without the now infamous pension affair – I feel that Simon and Sue are now on the back of a very hungry tiger from which it will be difficult to descend – even if wanted to – though there is little sign that they do.

    Whilst I’m on could I ask exactly what the Gloucestershire police are investigating, and whom? Thank you.

  • Welshman 23

    Welcome to the debate Kate, I agree with your comment however I choose not to use my name.

    I think it’s important that all councillors are aware of the way the Kremlin is being run and urgent action is needed. It will be interesting to see who is at the meeting this Thursday.

  • Jon Coles

    As diligent a watchdog for any evidence of predetermination as Jamie Adams claims to be, I would have thought he would have managed to raise his concerns with Laurence Harding about his own reported comments in the local press. Otherwise Jamie would be the most frightful hypocrite. Wouldn’t he?

  • Morgi

    Kate, it isn’t clear in the police announcement what or whom the Gloucestershire police are exactly investigating. As a result of their studies into the public interest report published by the Wales Audit Office, Dyfed-Powys decided that investigations should be carried out by a force other than themselves as they have a close working relationship and partnerships with PCC.

    I believe the public interest report concerns the pension tax avoidance scheme.

    From what I’ve heard, the schemes and the way in which they have allegedly been administered are abhorrent. To link them legalistically is, I fear, going to be difficult.

  • John Hudson

    The draft minutes of the Extraordinary Council Meeting are available within the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.

    I did wonder how the individual members’ declarations regarding pre-determination would be handled in the Council’s formal written record of the meeting.

    To my pre-determined biased mind it does not record an impartial view of what went on at that meeting as can be viewed on the web-cast.

  • Ianto

    Page 8 of the minutes makes an interesting read for anyone who believes the minutes represent a true record of a meeting.

    No mention of envelopes, no mention of the prompt by Keith Lewis, no mention of the need to drag out the truth of the envelope saga and no mention of the lack of cuttings relating to pro establishment members.

    Seems it was a calm and uninteresting moment without any form of dispute. Amazing.

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    UNISON raise the bar on the issue of no confidence in BPJ, treading a path where very few of our councillors wish to follow.

    Will the ballot be in a room overseen by IPPG members and will any moles be easily detected one wonders? How will the IPPG impose a voting restriction on the members as they have pre-determined the outcome collectively by speaking to the press?

    It seems as if the employees of the Council are wishing to speak on behalf of all Pembrokeshire residents. Power to the People!

    If they express a vote of no confidence in their CEO, will the IPPG cabinet promote such a voice on Thursday? I bet Jamie Adams is counting sheep on his farm now as the public eye is firmly focused on the Council. Huw George may wish to encourage him to join his flock for celestial support or Jamie may follow the path in taking strength with some well chosen words of wisdom from Cllr. Pugh.

    Whichever way, the corner is getting closer.

  • Nev Andrews

    To answer one of Ms Becton’s questions with a reasonable guess, I imagine Gloucestershire Police are reviewing the pension ‘arrangements’ and subsequent public interest report to establish whether there is evidence that anyone at PCC should be charged with committing ‘misconduct in public office’. This, I believe, is the charge levelled against the Caerphilly CBC officers in their salary scandal.

  • Lobsterman

    The draft minutes only become a record of fact after they have been voted in as such at Thursday’s meeting. They should be challenged and the unsavoury and important omissions included. That section of the webcast could be played as evidence, make them squirm.

  • Martin Lewis

    Can someone provide the link to the draft minutes? Can’t seem to find them on the website.

  • Hi Martin, the minutes for that meeting can be found at 4b at the following link:

    http://mgenglish.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=3029&x=1&LLL=0

  • Martin Lewis

    Cheers Jacob, I found them already and just finished reading them. Talk about a summary of events. Like a previous comment has already described, the minutes bear no resemblance to what the public witnessed on the webcast.

    The IPG need a Caesaresque flunky running behind them, fanning them with a large leaf repeating “Remember thou art mortal, remember thou art mortal”.

    Total totalitarian disregard for public sentiment. The sooner Adams and the rest of the clowns are brought down the better for the people of this county, whether we continue as Pembs or revert to Dyfed. Let’s face it, how much worse could it be?

  • Ianto

    We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.

    Jamie Adams.

    With apologies to Benjamin Franklin.

  • Galf

    How convienient! Simon Hancock has tendered his apologies for today’s council meeting.

  • Martin Lewis

    I spoke to Simon last night. He is ill and has stated to the Milford Mercury his belief that BPJ should stand down. I like to think if he was there today he would be voting according to his stated belief to that newspaper.

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Yet another scandal headline from our Council, whether it be officers or cabinet members, it matters not!

    “Pembrokeshire County Council deputy leader faces conduct hearing over election computer use”.

    How long can it go on defending the indefensible?

  • Kate Becton

    Jon Boy Jovi – I hate to keep saying, ‘in my experience’, but it’s true for many members of PCC there is no concept of the idea that being a councillor is a privilege which carries professional responsibilities.

    Many councillors still exist with a 1950s/60s mentality, when all it took was ‘to be a good old boy’. I believe that many of them still do not ‘grasp it’ and feel that their position allows them to behave in entirely unprofessional ways i.e. using Council computers with impunity for any use they wish.

    It is a concern that there is no concept of professional, proper behaviour, the relationships between councillors and the officers are far too cosy, with the honourable exception of Cllr. David Simpson whose work as the Cabinet member for Housing has transformed this particular department (this may be due to the fact that Cllr. Simpson ran his own business prior to moving to Pembrokeshire and is only too aware of the proper way to get things done).

    It is unfortunate that the relationships between Councillors and Officers are far too cosy and that there does not seem to be a proper professional relationship.

    How to sort it – goodness knows – because Pembrokeshire gets the Councillors they deserve – after all they voted them in.

  • Nev Andrews

    I agree with much that Ms Becton says above. I would observe though that stating that running a business is the way to know how to get things done ‘properly’ is a rather debatable assertion and I’m referring to the world at large, not individuals.

    Doing things the ‘right’ or ‘proper’ way is very often a simple state of mind and not something which can be related to the nature of a business, public or private.

  • Dave Edwards

    I see that the Wales Audit Office has indicated to Carmathenshire CC that its bill for the Public Interest Report is to be around £70,000. Has anyone in PCC asked if its bill will be of a similar order?

    So much for cost neutral assurances!

  • John Hudson

    I think Councillor Simpson is also a JP, so this may have some bearing on his approach to Council matters.

  • Malcolm Calver

    I note your comment John that Cllr Simpson is a JP and the suggestion that this is some sort of indication as to his approach to council matters. I do believe that Cllr Mirehouse is or was a JP. We also have so called “religious leaders” on the council.

    Sorry John, it makes no difference.

  • Antony Glynn

    I have personal and professional experience of a JP councillor who lied quite freely and happily to a civil court.

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