Jacob Williams
The point of no return

Thursday 3rd April, 2014

The point of no return

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This website’s Partygate series revealed the scale of the county council’s cabinet room production line, which was in full swing creating election literature heading up to the 2008 and 2012 council elections.

According to Cllr. Rob Lewis, who was suspended last month for a pitiful fortnight for his leading part in this scheme, party chums of his in the IPPG who were seeking re-election (along with a smattering of newly-recruited hopefuls) used him as a ‘sounding board.’

This included, in his then role as independent party secretary (he’s now the party’s chairman) the creation of many of his colleagues’ election leaflets.

The trouble for Cllr. Lewis and his fellow cabinet crony, ex-councillor David Wildman, was they did so using council computer equipment – in clear breach of the rules.

During the course of his investigation the Ombudsman interviewed Cllr. Lewis, with a transcript in the report which went before the authority’s standards committee – or, as Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column this week calls it: “the amusingly titled “standards committee”.”

When the interviewer got round to the subject of who printed the leaflets, the transcript records:

Interviewer: So who printed?

Rob Lewis: Clive…

Interviewer: Clive James.

Rob Lewis: Clive does the printing.

Interviewer: So would you then pay Clive for the printing?

Rob Lewis: Clive done all the printing yeah.

Interviewer: How many did you have printed, just roughly?

Rob Lewis: I had two different lots you see, I had two different lots because I had some done for the…the boundary commission changed the ward, so I ended up with a new part which I hadn’t before which was hence the two separate leaflets.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Rob Lewis: So I ended up with like, off the top of my head I wouldn’t know, but I’d say 700 of one and 500 of another.

Interviewer: And the cost roughly?

Rob Lewis: Oh…£90 to £100, somewhere around there, I don’t know off the top of my head.

From the rest of the transcript and from what he said when he represented himself before the standards committee, Cllr. Lewis has explained that he typed the leaflets into his council computer and saved them in Microsoft Word format, which he then sent off to Clive James who created professional PDF proofs. He says these proofs were then approved and printed by Clive James.

Given that over a year had passed since the election at the time he was interviewed, we can forgive Cllr. Lewis’ hazy recollection of the amounts of leaflets printed, and how much it cost him.

This afternoon I visited the county council’s elections unit to inspect the financial returns submitted by candidates following the 2012 council election. You can only begin to imagine the surprise when I got to the file containing Cllr. Rob Lewis’ return.

Such documents are required to be submitted by all candidates – even unsuccessful ones – to set out all promotion costs incurred during their campaigning period in the run up to the election. It’s known as the “regulated period,” during which spending limits and other rules apply.

Whilst we might forgive Cllr. Lewis for being unable to remember how much he had paid Clive James Design and Print for his leaflets when interviewed by the Ombudsman, it’s not so easy to understand how he forgot to include it within his contemporaneously filed election expenditure record.

The only expenditure Cllr. Lewis declared in his return is listed below:

Rob Lewis election expenses

As well as juggling his demanding cabinet portfolio and deputy leader duties alongside his role as chief election strategist for the ruling party, it would appear that the Martletwy multitasker even found time to get busy with his inkjet.

Two options immediately jumped out to JW that could explain this discrepancy.

Either Rob Lewis was telling the Ombudsman a bare faced lie in saying that Clive James printed all of his leaflets for £90-£100, or he submitted election spending returns which were not a true representation of his promotional expenditure.

The former theory would be an astonishing demonstration of brass neck, which I’m sure wouldn’t go down well with the Ombudsman.

As for the latter, accompanying Cllr. Lewis’ financial return was a declaration he signed stipulating, among other statements: “to the best of my knowledge and belief it is a complete and accurate return as required by law.”

Rob Lewis election expenses declaration

It was rather a productive visit to the elections unit, so check back soon for more!


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89 Comments...

  • Lobsterman

    Great stuff Sherlock. What about all the other IPG candidates he admits producing leaflets for?

  • Socrates

    Lobsterman,

    That other website (www.oldgrumpy.co.uk) has some interesting info on that subject.

  • Jon Preston

    Local investigative journalism at its best.

    Well done JW for exposing this local politician’s underhand ways. What he does next remains to be seen, however if the IPPG standard is anything to go by he will cling on with his position regardless of what the electorate would consider the honourable thing for him to do.

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    So the brass neck theory I raised last week is thrown in again. I wait with bated breath for the next move from the IPPG councillors now. How many have been caught under this net? That may well answer why so many have not challenged Farmer Adams and his cronies.

    It’s about time the public stood strong on this and ask for a root and branch review of our current local government councillors. I’ve bleated long on hard about the need for party politics so now’s the time for the national parties to stand up for the people. Councillors Howlett and Miller, your silence is deafening. Is it because there is a general election looming?

    Jacob and Stodds are lifting the lid. As Joe Public, just how do we expose an IPPG councillor or call him to arms? Can we insist on a ward public meeting and requisition his/her attendance?

  • Aly D

    I am beginning to think Old Grumpy is slowing down, checked his site first and nowt as good as this. I have you in my favourites now. BPJ has gone quiet, probably thankful the IPPG are taking the flak right now.

  • Tessa Hodgson

    Great scoop Jacob. Did you look at the returns of the other IPPG members who were helped by Rob Lewis? I wonder who did their printing?

  • Lobsterman

    JBJ, I don’t see how or why national party politics would improve matters one iota. Cease bleating please. Independent, principled and hardworking would do just fine.

  • Dave Edwards

    Jacob, you didn’t postulate the obvious!

    Lazy Lewis didn’t print his own leaflets. He bought paper and ink, took them to Clive James who didn’t charge him. Multiply this by all the other IPPG candidates and you get to see what a public spirited man Mr James is.

    On the other hand, HMRC may wish to double check Mr James’ annual accounts for 2012-2013.

  • John

    Well done Jacob. Look forward to seeing your other discoveries. The end is nigh as Frankie Howerd used to say!

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Lobsterman, it’s a choice then between Farmer Adams or Splinters Stock to be independent, principled and hard working. I shudder at the thought.

    My main concern is there is just no one overseeing the independent groups and they are not accountable/brought to task by a party. If we could do that in a Pembrokeshire I’d back it 100% but it’s shambolic at best. It’s mainstream party politics for me I’m afraid unless there are 60 genuine independent councillors to back.

    Our Council is officer led and we are up the swanny with Estyn, Welsh Government and others. In the last month we have had a consultation on reducing two secondary schools, Old Grumpy and ‘er indoors with Hakin and Hubberston and now the failing PRU ditched! Who is making decisions? And some of these decisions have avoided cabinet/council!

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Many councillors are principled well meaning people representing their constituents to the best of their abilities. I may not agree with some, but that is politics.

    Some elements of your past comments are unfair and unjustified. Opinions are fine but get out there and start walking the walk. If you don’t like it, do something about it! I did. The IPPG is a poor group led by fools but that doesn’t mean that all IPPG members are bad, or all councillors. Get a grip and start putting forward positive suggestions that will help Pembrokeshire and its people.

    I never took a cheap shot on the rugby field, and I am surprised that as someone who remembers those days you keep making cheap shots at all and sundry. If you want to give Jamie Adams et al. a going over then fine. They have allowed themselves to be in the firing line by their actions and putting their feet in their proverbial mouths time after time. The rest… think on…

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Cllr. Nutting,

    1. Why have no IPPG Cllrs left the gravy train already? Is it because Farmer Adams has them by the short and curlies or is it money and the hope of the crumbs that fall from his plate into their coffers? I haven’t heard of any resignations or defections to the Alliance.

    2. I’ve seen nothing from the Alliance to give me faith in a change of wind. Stock typified what your party is about. He’s tasted the gravy for a long while in Pembrokeshire but never had the bottle to stand up when needed. Principled, no; hardworking yes, but selling flags isn’t what this is about. Independent, no if he’s in the Alliance. If there is an independent ruling group again from 2017 who will oversee them and make them accountable?

    3. I’ve asked can the Pembrokeshire people demand a public meeting where their ward Cllr. is mandated to attend. Can you give any leadership on this?

    4. Messrs Williams and Stoddart are revealing all about the Cabinet cronies. What have the KNS thrown into the ring? You were an educationalists Cllr. Nutting, just where do you stand on the current debates on school mergers, the Hakin/Hubberston 21st century school and the failing PRU closure?

    I wait now for some genuine discussion from you. Remember principled, independent (no party line) and hardworking.

  • Clive Davies

    Jonathan, don’t forget that Peter, bless him, principled and well meaning as he is, was happily duped by Hughes’ and Davies’ squirearchy for years, and took their shilling, at a time when out of town developments and in town Tesco was ripping the heart out of Haverfordwest, Milford and the Dock, reducing their centres to charity shops, pound shops, betting shops; and the dreadful ubiquitous Greggs flogging cheap mass-produced pasties to bed-sit land. Had he not fallen out with Farmer perhaps he still would.

    It is obvious that there is a massive problem with the ruling elite of both councillors and officers, but of those elected in the community’s name it only seems Mike, Viv and Jacob who have any real interest in exposing shadiness and seeking out sharp practice.

    If all those councillors who wish to see the end of the Farmer’s deferential rule (and who are in a much better positions than us general public to do it) did what Mike et al do, then the end of it would be nigher.

    Principles are fine; you can walk the walk and talk the talk as much as you like but integrity will only prosper when its lack is routinely exposed. Action speaks louder then manifestos and so few councillors – particular shame on Labour who even continue to tolerate the turncoat Perkins – seem to do anything other than wring their hands and occasionally bleat.

    And if all IPPG members aren’t bad why do they still support the Farmer by the cartload??

  • Malcolm Calver

    Come on then Cllr Nutting, we are all aware that most of the employees of Pembrokeshire County Council at County Hall are overpaid, so please inform us mere mortals of what major cuts you and your group would make, besides the hierarchy salaries. At least UKIP are proposing/promising less government which will hopefully mean less taxation.

    I note the telephone call from the relevant minister to the daily papers to go easy over the latest expenses scandal at Westminster, reminding them about who was leading proposed curbs on the press. I wonder if any phone calls were received by members at County Hall who seemed to change their minds in the pensions debate.

  • Goldingsboy

    No, Cllr Nutting that’s not quite how I see it, although I do agree that not all our councillors are in it for themselves.

    I believe however, as do many in the community, that a significant proportion of our elected representatives, whatever their initial motivations may have been, do see it as an opportunity for personal enrichment.

    A good example is the individual who was once committed, through high principles, to membership of a political party, and then ditched it the moment the polling stations closed. Clearly, the undeniable reason was the generous financial enticement offered by the IPG non-party party.

    Incidentally, it might be of interest to Jacob’s followers that a former senior bureaucrat at PCC once told me that he, and others of his colleagues, assessed the personal financial motivation of our councillors at about 47.5%. A similar proportion, he went on to explain, were there to fulfil an egotistical need, and the remaining five per cent genuinely wished to be of service to the people.

    I think, especially in the light of recent scandalous events, his analysis sounded about right.

  • While I have no desire to become involved in the spat between JBJ and Cllr Nutting, it is worth pointing out that, while it may be the case that not “all IPPG members are bad”, it cannot be denied that it is their votes that allow this anti-democratic party to maintain its grip on power.

  • Timetraveller

    Totally agree with Cllr Nutting, most councillors are there because they seek to contribute to society. The problem is politics can be a dirty business, power can corrupt, and often does, so we end up with the people we’ve got.

    There is a certain contradiction in independents forming a party, an issue Cllr Kilmister et al are grappling with at the moment. There is nothing wrong with the “Alliance” being no more than a loose alliance, it would then have to consider suitors from established parties to form an administration.

    The main parties are in disarray, many “independents” are closet Tories, I suspect individual relationships with that party are extensive. Labour…watching Paul Miller practising sound bites on TV, definitely an election coming up!

    We could look to the Liberals – all things to all men, but too small in Pembrokeshire. Ditto Plaid Cymru.

    Unless the opposition is prepared to get its own act together, probably an alliance round the Alliance, which although small can pull IPPG defectors, then officers will run this authority the way they more or less want to.

    The ruling group does not have a common political creed to direct the officers, other than holding onto power.

  • Keanjo

    I remember the reason given when payment to Councillors was first introduced was that we would get a better type of Councillor. Well they are certainly different, but better?

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Jacob and Mike have a place in the council. I sometimes think they see themselves as the sheriffs who hold others to account. As such they tend to look for wrongdoing from all and sundry. When they have been approached to take an active part in moving PCC into a new era they are not so keen. I would be interested to know which role they would see themselves in a post IPPG world. Would they be interested in pivotal positions in moving Pembrokeshire forward? Can they change?

    JBJ you seem keen on your role as a stone thrower. Well I will answer your questions on my own behalf and as I see it.

    1. IPPG members are only human. They feel good being part of the main herd. When times are tough as they are now they tend to flock closer together. There are quite a few who would like to leave but are not at present prepared to take a leap of faith. Unfortunately the Alliance is new, grounded only on words and concepts. There is a credibility gap that I am trying hard to bridge, along with others. We will succeed and I hope then to prove that some of us at least have principles, and the ability to be able to say sorry if mistakes are made – nobody is perfect but being accountable is a start.

    2. Peter works extremely hard to promote Pembrokeshire and charities. It is very unfair just to pick on areas you see as weaknesses. In any democracy we have a right to our own opinion. Sometimes it is far harder to stand up and be counted for your own views. Mike and Jacob find this constantly. I will certainly raise this point with the others in the Alliance.

    3. As we live in a democracy you have every right to ask for this. Unfortunately turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. If you are going to be subjected to hostility and abuse you do not make yourself available. If you live in Pembroke St. Michael ward on the other hand, I will very happily try and set up a public meeting. I do not fear the truth. If someone thinks I can do better then I am more than ready to listen and try harder.

    4. I have always advocated a child centred approach to education. I believe in small family groups that look to the whole well-being of the child. Education should never be 100% result orientated. The Japanese have found that to their cost. Hothousing children can turn out major problems. Education is about developing individuals. We have lost out big time in trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

    Change, growth and development are inevitable. The way we educate needs to be fluid and able to adapt. The way I was taught, the way I taught and the way they teach today are very different. Probably in 20 years’ time it will have changed again.

    Ideally I would like to see education sites spread out. To be far more community and family based. I saw Rosemarket close and the disintegration of the Coastlands Federation. Personally I am sad about this. Unfortunately we live in the real world where accountability on cost and teaching methods are paramount. Both of these lead to the ever larger centralised approach. Unfortunately we cannot have it both ways if we want to keep the status quo then we have to pay for it. I would pay the extra for this, would you?

    Whatever happens in the future, if I have anything to do with it, then it will all be part of an open and honest debate with no preconceptions other than to do the best for our children.

    On the subject of Hubberston and Hakin… What a shambles… What a disgrace… It is worse than watching a headless chicken careering around a farm yard! It was obvious that the merger of Hakin infants and juniors would require a new school. Promises appear to have been made to do this. With the loss of some monies to do with the 21st Century Schools programme. Changes needed to be made. With little thought and apparently political interference, Hakin new school was shelved and some bright spark saw the chance to put a finger in the pie to further rationalise.

    I am personally very disturbed by the lack of consultation and the apparent railroading that is going on. Why was the new school in Johnston not mothballed? Hakin has a far better case.

    I do not agree with the amalgamation purely because the majority of users are against it. I also believe big is not beautiful. The whole thing has been badly handled and the real losers are the people of Hakin and Hubberston.

    I have never really liked the PRU concept. Mainly because I believe in the rights of children to be individuals. I also do not think that disengaged children should be allowed to harm other children’s education. There are better ways of teaching these children. Unfortunately, the costs associated with this are large. I think we need to work outside the box and actually look for real solutions to these children’s problems.

    Secondary education in Pembrokeshire needs to be sorted out, some hard decisions made. I am at present of the opinion that there should be no more than seven schools, regionally based with clear and rational catchment areas. I feel that there should be only one, new school in Haverfordwest. The arguments for the retention of St. David’s are still open for discussion in my eyes.

    I am quite happy to express my views. I am also one of those rare people who are able to change their stance as they gain further knowledge. I do not know everything and do make mistakes.

    I think you will also be waiting a very long time before you see Mike and Jacob take a lead. I don’t think they see their role as ‘into the breach.’

    Mr. Calver, cuts should be made everywhere where we are not getting value for money. There should be no sacred cows or any stone unturned. I do not see it as a plus point that we have the lowest council taxes in Wales. In fact we are now paying for it. Compared to a lot of other councils we were quite lean to start with. This results in a position where we have to make cuts that really do hurt (ask the people of Narberth). Next year it looks like the scalpel will really be out! In some ways I am glad I am not in charge at the moment as there will be a lot of unpopular decisions to be made.

    There are several good theories being put forward by UKIP. Can they be put into reality? They are like my views on education, well meaning and thought out. Can they be put into practice? The one thing I have learnt, actual change only occurs very gradually and usually as a result of some unanticipated circumstance. UKIP etc. can quite happily put forward ideas but it is unlikely they will form the next government. This hopefully will not happen to the Pembrokeshire Alliance 🙂

    Goldingsboy…the cynic in me realises you are correct. The romantic in me hopes that you are wrong.

  • Malcolm Calver

    I am quite happy to have the lowest council tax in Wales, I firmly believe that I can put my money to better use than any politician. The only problem is I do not know if the cost of the services provided by Pembrokeshire County Council, that are not included in the council tax demand, compare favourably with what other councils charge.

    Please Cllr Nutting do not waffle on with such statements as “cuts should be made everywhere where we are not getting value for money. There should be no sacred cows or any stone unturned” give me some concrete examples.

    Are you really suggesting that Sunnybank should have been kept open when it was costing twice as much per resident as an equivalent place at a privately run home?

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Mr. Calver your initial statement fills me with sadness. I am afraid our views are poles apart. I can never agree with your form of individualism. We are members of a community and as such should look to take our share of any burden. Be it the education of our young to the care of our elderly. To abdicate responsibility for others and say you can spend your own money better is saddening.

    As an ex councillor you should have a far better grasp of PCC finances than you admit to. You appear to have a clear idea of where cuts should be made. If I had my way I would put tax up and protect the services we have. I would be interested in a list of cuts you would make. I have already been burnt by predetermination. I will wait and see and listen to the arguments for and against where cuts should and will be made. It will mean staff reduction. Actual people will lose actual jobs and I would not be doing my job properly if I gave glib answers to this particular question.

    Sunnybank I feel was encouraged to fail by lack of investment and interest. If there had been the will there would have been ways to make it viable and economic. If people want something to work they move heaven and earth to make it so. If you take your eye of the ball they soon fail and fall apart.

    The problem we have in Pembrokeshire (generally and does not apply to the people who comment here) is that we do not challenge decisions enough and look in depth into what is going on. We accept second rate and we generally get third.

    At least my waffle makes sense to me 🙂

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Jonathan,

    You state about IPPG members ‘there are quite a few who would like to leave but are not at present prepared to take a leap of faith’ – who do you think may jump?

    Again you have the audacity to speak of Jacob and Stodds as ‘the sheriffs who hold others to account. As such they tend to look for wrongdoing from all and sundry. When they have been approached to take an active part in moving PCC into a new era they are not so keen’ – heaven forbid Cllr. Nutting, they can see what the Russian Alliance is and if the words you spout are reflective of your manifesto the 2017 polls could be frying pan and fire time.

    Your educational rationale may well be applauded but you’ve learnt quickly as a councillor the art of deflecting! Haverfordwest to have one school yet you hold court on the St. Davids closure. Not supportive of PRU to educate. Hakin and Hubberston stitched up already. At the end of the day it’s the processes that you need to focus on and give consideration to.

    The councillors have the last say? Obviously not, as it seems the Officers do – not one of the councillors knew of the PRU changes and yet the staff have been told it’s closing at the end of this academic year. I bet the Officers and Cabinet are fixing up a visit to Y Dderwen School in Bridgend as we discuss the issue of Haverfordwest/St Davids secondary school future provisions.

    Child centered approach to coin another of your statements – yet you can’t see what the people of Pembrokeshire want. If you and the rest of the Alliance so believe you’re right, force a by-election in your wards and stand under the banner of the Alliance – if you get returned then I concede we may see a mandate for independent councillors in an Alliance for Pembrokeshire. If you fall at the polls you do so with honour but alas with no gravy for future dinners.

  • Keanjo

    JN, if you keep the Cabinet system there is a fair chance that a Pembrokeshire Alliance led County Council will turn out to be just as bad as the present shambles. The system itself is faulty and oligarchic and gives little power to Members outside the ruling clique.

    When I vote for a candidate I would like to think he will have an equal chance to represent me in the Council Chamber and not be treated like a nonentity if he does not agree to join the chosen few. Will the Pembrokeshire Alliance review the present system and how will they restore equal representative power to all members? I would be interested to read your considered views on this.

  • Fox

    Malcolm Calver – Most of the employees at County Hall are NOT overpaid. Hundreds have recently taken a pay cut (some in the thousands) and most of these are in the lower paid brackets. Do not judge the majority of council staff by those at the top.

    County Hall morale is at the lowest it has ever been and all credit should be given to the vast majority who are getting on with the job despite all the flak that is coming PCC’s way.

  • Clive Davies

    I still fail to understand why established and prospective political groupings are doing so little to expose the self-interest machinations of the ruling councillor cohort or the gentlemen officer elite.

    It’s to the credit of those of an independent investigative bent that they seek to expose whilst not claiming a mandate to govern themselves.

    Presumably they have less interest in getting their snouts in the trough than some who patiently stand in the IPPG line do – and perhaps less resentment than those who have had their snouts removed.

    But they do a greater service than woolly educational theorists or sour Victorians who think that Samuel Smiles needs to toughen up.

  • Bob Kilmister

    We have no choice but to accept the cabinet system because it is the only model available in Wales. The Pembrokeshire Alliance would though dramatically change the way the system works.

    The Executive under our control would, instead of making decisions which other Councillors cannot alter, refer the vast majority of their decisions as recommendations to full council. That way all 60 Councillors could have their say. Reports presented to cabinet would have to have options presented, currently this practice is extremely rare.

    Whilst I do not like the cabinet system, I think the fault lies in the way it is operated rather than the system itself.

    I frankly object to being labelled as the leader of the “Russian Alliance” as it is merely a badly directed insult. I was also one of Rob Lewis’s “UGLIES” and I resented that label too.

    I think that maybe JBJ should consider cases like Maria Miller’s before suggesting that everything is hunky dory and that we should trust the political parties. All the parties have skeletons in their closets and a very poor track record on governance both in central and local government.

    He is entitled to his view but personally I would suggest that he moderate his language. Since I was elected 6 years ago I have fought tooth and nail to make this Council more democratic. The Stoddarts, Tony Brinsden, Jacob Williams, David Lloyd, Phil Baker, Tessa Hodgson etc plus members of Plaid Cymru, Labour and even the Tories on occasions have done likewise.

    There are many Councillors who work hard to make PCC a better place. Only one group has opposed democratic change on a consistent basis and that is the IPG. Power is a drug. All those who oppose the IPG and what they represent need to work together to bring about their demise.

  • Cllr Jonathan Nutting says: “Jacob and Mike have a place in the council. I sometimes think they see themselves as the sheriffs who hold others to account. As such they tend to look for wrongdoing from all and sundry. When they have been approached to take an active part in moving PCC into a new era they are not so keen.”

    I can’t speak for Jacob, but I would make the following observations.

    Democracy is a system for distributing justice, not, as is often thought, for distributing power. Power only comes into it because without someone to enforce the law and make decisions there can be no justice.

    Given that someone has to hold power, it is also essential there should be mechanisms for ensuring that power is not abused. That role falls to a strong opposition and a free and active press, both of which have been sadly lacking in Pembrokeshire over the past few years, though I and a few other have tried our best.

    Fortunately, things are improving on several fronts.

    First, the 2012 elections saw the ruling IPPG’s majority cut from 39-21 to 33-27 – a position that remains following the defection of Cllrs Peter Stock, David Bryan and Mike Evans and their replacement with Cllrs Sue Perkins and Simon Hancock (both Labour) and Stephen Joseph (Plaid Cymru).

    That election also saw the demise of several of the IPPG’s faithful retainers and their replacement with young, and some not so young, members with minds of their own.

    Second we have the advent of the Pembrokeshire Herald, not to mention this website, and the recent introduction of webcasting full council meetings has given the public the chance to see the IPPG in its full technicolour glory – not an edifying spectacle for anyone who believes in democracy.

    As for Cllr Nutting’s claim that I am not keen to play an active part in “moving PCC into a new era”, that is simply ridiculous.

    I can say with confidence that I have been at the forefront of almost every important constitutional change designed to increase openness and accountability in the past ten years.

    And, before you can create a new order, you have to destroy the old.

    What this stuff about not playing “an active part” means is that I declined the chance to join the Pembrokeshire Alliance. While he might think that is the way forward, I don’t. Though, if it succeeds in breaking the IPPG’s stranglehold on power, I will be the first to cheer.

    One way to recruit new members will be the ability to fit them up with Special Responsibility Allowances and National Park seats. The other will be if the sheriff and his deputy make things so hot that IPPG members come to realise that membership of the party is tantamount to electoral suicide.

    As Dr Johnson observed: “Nothing better concentrates a man’s mind than the sight of the gallows.”

    I am told there are quite a few who have already glimpsed the distant gibbet and are concentrating their minds on trying to work out how to jump ship with the minimum loss of face. Not an easy trick to pull after years defending their membership of the IPPG, but, as the election draws nearer, I’m sure they’ll find a way.

  • Keanjo

    Bob, the system has been changed in England. Why can’t it change in Wales? Taking nearly everything back to full Council would be unwieldy and who will decide on what is meant by nearly?

    The better system is to go back to Departmental Committees advised by a Director and Chaired by a person selected by Committee members. Do away with the Chief Executive and his team. Chairmen could report back to main Council which would be advised by the Chief Legal Officer.

    Not much would be left for the Chief Executive to do so get rid of him and his department, thus power would be restored to Members and a much more democratic system introduced.

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Jon Boy,

    I have absolutely no problem with stepping down and forcing a by-election. If I thought it would have a positive reaction and was in the best interest of Pembroke then I would do it. It may surprise you but I talk to the people I represent. I am part of their community. Actually quite a few in Pembroke have applauded my actions. I am also a member of Pembroke’s town council. I keep them very much involved in all I do. I believe strongly in democracy and communication. I don’t think any of them believe I am secretive or unable to listen. I try damned hard to give them a voice and make sure that they are listened to.

    I can see you have ties to the PRU. It is news to me that the staff have been told that it will be closing. I will be taking this up on Monday with members of the management board.

    If you must spit out your ire do it at those who deserve it and do not make unwarranted assumptions. I suggest you visit the alliance website. At least then, you can make comments about us that have actual substance. I have a far better understanding of the education system than you do. Time to shut up on that score I think.

    I suggest you have a word with Rob Lewis, he will have a very good idea who are wavering within the IPPG. A better question may be who are still rock solid supporters of their failing junta.

  • John Hudson

    Within the current regulations when establishing its Constitution, this Council chose (using the IPG majority vote) to allow the Leader the ability to choose and appoint his (or her) own cabinet members. The Council could determine to revoke this delegation in favour of a full council vote for each individual cabinet member.

    At the moment cabinet membership is in the gift of the Leader. If cabinet members were to be appointed by full council vote, councillors would have the choice of candidates from all sixty members from all parties and none, who would then be elected by a majority vote of the full council to a non-political non-patronage based cabinet.

    The Council could also vote to strip non-performing cabinet members, or ones of dubious integrity, of their cabinet portfolio.

    It is of great sadness that the investigative efforts of OG and JW have to be diverted from other issues by the actions of the establishment, which aim to deny councillors their statutory rights in seeing documents and by producing flawed assurances as to the correctness of council procedures. Who is in charge of this?

  • Bob Kilmister

    In reply to Keanjo I have printed below the regulations. To adopt the committee structure you have to have a population below 85,000. Pembrokeshire’s population is much higher. I agree that a detailed policy document would have to be prepared before implementing the changes I outlined in the previous post.

    There are three types of council structure:

    1. Leader and cabinet/executive
    2. Executive Mayor and cabinet/executive
    3. Committee system

    The most common model in England and Wales is that of ‘leader and cabinet’. There are a small number of councils in England operating the model of ‘mayor and cabinet’ and none in Wales, despite best efforts by successive governments to push this model on local authorities.

    The ‘committee system’ model means different things to different people. The Local Government Act 2000 saw the abolition of the committee system in England and Wales everywhere except shire authorities with a population under 85,000.

  • Lobsterman

    Post IPPG postulation on procedures, positions and personnel is positively presumptuous. Perhaps all this intellectual energy would be better employed on strategic planning to hasten their demise. What next?

  • Malcolm Calver

    I am sorry Cllr Nutting but this burden you are asking us to carry on behalf of the community is getting very heavy, there seems to be too many wanting to be carried all their lives. The state, through politicians like yourself, has indicated that all will be provided free or at very little direct cost to the individual.

    On education it is not just the education authorities that have failed but many parents, either unable or unwilling to put enough effort into supporting their children especially during the early years of their life. On care for the elderly we have to return to the days of more family care provision for our parents.

    I remember that good old Liberal Democrat politician Lembit Opik and his favourite statement during one election campaign ‘I believe we should tax the people more to give them back what they want’ come off it Cllr Nutting, I am sure you will not be mentioning this when you next seek election.

    On the subject of Sunnybank and its viability when competing with the private sector, hardly any of the services provided by Pembrokeshire County Council would survive if they had to compete with the private sector.

    You asked me for a list of cuts I would make, I would have hoped that councillors would have been given a list to choose and vote on. Do we really need:

    1. A Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority?
    2. Provision of bus passes and also a disability car allowance on some very expensive cars?
    3. Provision of subsidies to luncheon clubs to a selected few in the county?
    4. Is there a need for over 60 community and town councils with over 600 councillors costing the community charge payers of Pembrokeshire millions every year?

    Fox suggests that staff morale is low amongst those working at County Hall because of wage cuts, I would suggest if they are that unhappy with their working environment and salary they should seek employment elsewhere.

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    I find myself looking at Malcolm’s points and endorsing them for consideration.

    Secondly, where does the WG decision to withhold funds leave us? Private session for Cabinet tomorrow but it must be worrying. Will Cllr. Mike Evans reconsider his vote on Putrid Pugh if the Tenby windfall doesn’t appear?

    At what time will Cllr. Nutting rock up to tender his resignation from the council…I’d expect the political parties to all be standing against him in the subsequent by-elections?

    In reference to Bob, the Russian Alliance is built upon the simple KNS lettering backed up by short-sightedness. Stock hasn’t commented since he took a battering on here and now everyone is challenging Jon Nutting so Bob comes rifling in with a line from the Politburo. Stodds nailed it, just cos he doesn’t want to follow the Russian model of LG it doesn’t mean he’s a leper.

    Tomorrow is going to be mad.

  • Phil Gwyther

    Malcolm,

    Can I respectfully suggest your views on the costs of Community and Town Councils are a little soured by your own past experiences. As a town councillor for nearly twenty years, it’s worth pointing out that no community or town councillor gets a penny in allowances or expenses other than the Mayor and deputy Mayor (if there is one in that council).

    I would estimate the ten or so mayors around the county (often known as “The Chain Gang”) cost a total of about fifty thousand pounds in allowances and provide a useful civic function, visiting scores of organisations in all their towns. They also double up as the Chairman of the council.

    Personally I have cost my council tax payers the price of about fifteen free dinners at the annual Mayor’s Civic dance (drinks at my expense), probably about twenty or so simple buffets when the council has entertained guests and some years a glass of warm wine when the outgoing Mayor chairs their last meeting. I don’t feel too many tax payers would object to that for nearly twenty years of council work.

    Also for the record there are 78 councils which claimed precepts totalling £1,417,000 in 2013/14. Many councils provide a vital community hall, sometimes toilets, flower basket schemes; summer decorations; Christmas lights in the towns; grants for arts festivals, special events and for individuals to represent their county at sport etc. A few run their cemeteries. These councils are also the first link in the chain of democracy – do you really want to kill all that off?

    It’s also worth pointing out that town and community council budgets are under pressure from the county council cuts. Parks and play areas/bus shelters/town centre maintenance/public toilets etc. are just some of the areas where for the last few years the county council has been trying to offload the costs onto the town councils. They call it partnership working. Many local councillors call it something unprintable.

  • Goldingsboy

    Jacob, have you had a look at that other website lately?

    Old Grumpy is making a snide reference to you in the headline of his latest “scoop”: Son of Partygate! The old geezer even calls you an “upstart”. The cheek of it!

    Grandson, possibly, but he should properly have reasoned it to be at a much further generational level, especially given his claim to have a university degree in maths. (It’s a bit like his claim to have once been a successful builder but, on the word of a leading burgher, that is not the case.)

    Oh, how journalistic standards have slipped since the advent of the blogosphere. Furthermore, I suggest you take much greater care the next time you find yourself hot on the scent of an IPG member’s outrageous misbehaviour or excess of gluttony.

    And, just be careful, check whether an ancient newspaper hack is following as you make your way to the multi-storey car park and your secret assignations with deepthroat.

  • Hefin Wyn

    I gather from reading various comments on this website that there is a general feeling that Pembrokeshire deserves a manifesto-led party to rule and lead the local authority whose reputation appears to be in tatters following several recent revelations and, probably, more to come before the next election.

    It seems the best we can hope for is a Labour/Plaid Cymru alliance who with the back up of their central offices personnel would be able to make a profound difference to the county’s welfare. We might then have more substantial achievements to crow about than just being the lowest or one of the lowest council rate gatherers in Wales.

    However, as a member of a broad alliance of Welsh language campaigning groups – a rainbow alliance led by Cymdeithas yr Iaith – I would be interested to know what importance, if any, subscribers to this website think the use or support of the language should be given within the local authority.

    Many of us were deeply perturbed with the wording of a recent social services job advert which gave the impression that Welsh was a hindrance and an irrelevance within the county. An unreserved apology was given and accepted with the use of that wonderful word ‘clwmbwrnedd’ to describe the faux pas. (Yes, senior councillors are capable of issuing apologies). However, the perception remains that the mindset of the job advert is in fact inherent to the whole council workings and outlook. In order to allay this fear the rainbow alliance has asked for a meeting with the chief executive, Bryn Parry-Jones.

    It is not the intention to seek retribution in any way. It is not the intention to seek concessions. It is not the intention to complain as such. What the alliance seeks is an assurance of a shared vision in order to enhance the future use of the language throughout the county. The alliance seeks an assurance that the language is an integral part of the county’s make-up contrary to the infamous job advert description.

    I take it for granted that all councillors have now reached a state of maturity which allows them to view the nation’s historical language in a positive light. The days of language bashing and ridiculing are surely long gone? What would be the view of councillors and aspiring councillors who read this website?

    A positive attitude can often achieve much more than large pots of money. Many are tired of writing to complain about language negligence – just as Rosa Parks, in another context, became tired of standing on an Alabama bus in the 1960s. We must move away from a negative mindset. The authority seems to be comfortable in dealing with innumerable complaints and responding with empty promises and accomplishing the bare minimum of statutory requirements.

    As yet the chief executive has not agreed to a meeting. Of course, by the next election we might be electing members to a much larger Dyfed model of a local authority. The Welsh language at least would probably fare better as it was the former Dyfed County Council who introduced Welsh as a subject in all Pembrokeshire schools and established Ysgol y Preseli as a bilingual secondary school. Pembrokeshire County Council have still to establish a much needed second bilingual secondary school to serve the south of the county.

  • Timetraveller

    Jacob,

    The fine print is interesting, and you suggest that it is probably a police matter. However I am confused as to how Dyfed-Powys Police can investigate the Pembroke Dock case, which, if comprehensive, should include the “authority”, as its officers seem to me to be implicated in some way.

    I’m not saying they may have been involved in any potential fraud, but officers seem to have done their utmost to keep the details of this case in the dark, hindering the investigations that have so far been made by Cllr Mike Stoddart.

    The same force didn’t feel they could investigate the same authority over the CEO’s pension. Can Dyfed-Powys therefore “investigate” electoral irregularities at the same town hall their chief constable often visits?

  • Hello Hefin,

    It is a fact that the Welsh language is in decline, so my view is: why should it be put on life support at the cost of the majority of the public whose support for it is waning or never existed in the first place. As you will be aware, particularly in the south of the county – below the Landsker Line, where I represent – Welsh really doesn’t feature.

    Of course it means more to some than others below the Landsker Line, but generally, people have little time for the Welsh language in these parts, and there is nothing wrong with that, I hope you’d agree. So you talk about fairness, is it really fair for my constituents and others in Wales to be expected to pay or care for keeping the Welsh language on life-support, when and where the language doesn’t really feature?

    There are many views on the Welsh language but what cannot be denied is that it’s in decline, and I can’t see what can be done by government – local or national – to preserve it, or, actually, why. If people aren’t learning and/or using Welsh then that is unfortunate for some, but languages come and go.

    Without wishing to tar all of its ilk with the same brush, when I hear and think of Cymdeithas yr Iaith my first association is the well-known militant tendencies of some of its members, and the violent and intimidating campaigns some of them have espoused.

    Some of their victims have called it terror, and when damage is caused, and bones and laws are broken in the name of attempting to preserve a declining tongue which has been a minority language for well over a hundred years, it’s hard to disagree.

    To me, therefore, the link you make between the stand made by Rosa Parks on racial segregation and the campaign for the preservation of a declining language really is so poorly made as to be an insult.

  • Dave Edwards

    In 2005, as a Cymro Cymraeg, I reported PCC to the WAG as their newly agreed constitution asked members speaking in Welsh to provide their own translation into English after they had spoken. They asked the Welsh Language Board to investigate but the WLB decided not to enforce the need for independent translation.

    The offending rule is still in place today, Rule 15, and in its present form is clearly unworkable. Jacob, in the next meeting, if you are asked to translate your comments into Welsh as the rule requires, could you do so?

  • Hi Dave,

    Unless all I had to say was a number, a day of the week, a month of the year or a commonly-known salutation, absolutely not!

  • Goldingsboy

    Jacob,

    I can understand PCC’s dual-language policy for all its official notices, as it keeps the Western Telegraph sweet, and thus on side.

    But, if Dave is so concerned that your website should have the choice, should he not also provide comments in his own name, in the politically-correct style of our age?

  • Weasel

    Jacob, I have to disagree with much you have said, but as you say, drawing a parallel with Rosa Parks is totally inappropriate and indeed an insult to that very brave girl.

    My view, as a non Welsh speaking proud Welshman, is that Welsh is very much alive and should be celebrated. I’m not sure how you can measure its decline or not, but I certainly wish I had been given the opportunity to study Welsh in school as my children all have. It was Latin and French or German for me, none of which I had the slightest interest in.

    I believe seeing and hearing Welsh on roadsigns, television etc only adds to our identity, even us non speakers. What I cannot agree with however is bilingual at any cost.

    Far too much money is wasted on forced bilingual documents, forms, reports etc, when it is not appropriate or needed. Welsh speakers must accept that English is the universal business language, and the tiny proportion of a small minority who demand everything is published by Councils for instance do so just to “prove a point” and do the Welsh Language no service at all.

    If we celebrate Welsh, teach it in schools, and use bilingualism only when necessary or appropriate, Welsh will flourish and richen all our lives.

  • Lobsterman

    Excuse me, how did a discussion on the subject of electoral shenanigans become sidetracked by an irrelevant rant about the Welsh language, get a grip Jacob.

  • I’m not sure who you are accusing of an irrelevant rant on the Welsh language, but I was merely responding to a comment from ‘Hefin Wyn,’ as requested. If you’ve got a problem with that then it’s with him for posting the comment, not me!

  • Nev Andrews

    For what it’s worth and as a committed practicing Englishman, my views are in line with those of Weasel’s. It’s the wasted effort and cost of unnecessary promotion that is as much the shame as the decline of the language, real or perceived…

  • Jon Preston

    I am disappointed you feel this way about the Welsh language Jacob. I agree it may not be widely used in Pembrokeshire but it remains an important part of Welsh culture and should be preserved and promoted. There are many works of literature that can only be conveyed in their original language of Welsh. To actively challenge a people’s language and culture should be left to the likes of Farage and Griffin.

    It is very encouraging that families who move to Wales are creating much of the demand for Welsh language provision in our schools. If PCC had the gumption to produce all of its bilingual communications in a back to back format they could cut their production costs by up to 50%!

  • Malcolm Calver

    The sad thing about the language issue is the failure of schools to teach basic English to pupils here in Wales. Whilst I have no objection to someone learning Welsh, if that is their wish, but more effort should be concentrated on English language teaching in our schools.

    For Phil Gwyther’s information, I am well aware of the amount raised by town and community council precepts, what he has failed to recognise is the cost to Pembrokeshire County Council taxpayers of the county council dealing with the town and community councils. I once asked Mark Lewis, Director of Finance for a figure and was told they have no idea.

    For Phil to suggest that these councils are the first link in our democracy is a joke, many councillors have never been elected, just co-opted by their mates, with the cost of running each council varying enormously. Many people are unaware that their local community council sets its own precept (budget) but firmly believe that the money is allocated by Pembrokeshire County Council on a resident number basis. Some areas of Wales have no community councils, thus no community charge and it does not have any detrimental affect on the area.

    You are correct Phil in that my experiences of community councils were through my connection with St Florence and Manorbier, the two community councils in what was my county council electoral area. Please remember though that I did expose the fraud relating to the Welsh Office grant claimed on the rigged Manorbier Community Council village appraisal, which the crown prosecution service failed to act on and it will not be long now before the goings on at St Florence Community Council will become public knowledge. I do believe the police are overcautious, for whatever reason, in investigating the antics of both local and national politicians.

  • Jon Preston

    I am unsure as to what Nev Andrews means by ‘committed Englishman’ one can only assume he must be proud of the way in which the Welsh language was systematically eroded as per ‘The Welsh Not’.

    The Welsh Not or Welsh Note was a punishment used in some schools in Wales in the late 19th and early 20th century to dissuade children from speaking Welsh. It was represented as a piece of wood, inscribed with the letters “WN”, that was hung around the necks of children who spoke Welsh during the school day.

    The “not” was given to any child overheard speaking Welsh, who would pass it to a different child if they were overheard speaking Welsh. By the end of the day, the wearer of the “not” would be given a lashing. The purpose of the “not” was to discourage pupils from speaking Welsh, at a time when English was considered by some to be the only suitable medium of instruction. Headmasters were required to seek the approval of parents before implementing a “Welsh not” policy.

  • Clive Davies

    Personally I’d rather use Welsh than English; it’s a far richer, more expressive language; but unless we get some meaningful local democracy it won’t really matter what language we use.

    Let’s concentrate on the issue in hand, getting rid of officer led practices and compliant IPGs, before debating the cultural significance, or otherwise, of the Brythonic past.

  • Jon Preston

    That’s a fair point Clive, I think we have somewhat digressed from the issue. One important matter that was raised with me this weekend by a member of my community was that as the IPPG continue to try and squirm their way out of one scandal after another, the average man in the street does not really differentiate between the true independent councillors and the IPPG sheep.

    I am quick to point out the very large difference however I would suggest the true independents actually canvass as ‘unaffiliated’ at the next local elections. No one would want to be tarred with PCC Titanic’s brush!

  • Hefin Wyn

    When Afro-American Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus on December 1 1955 the non-violent civil rights movement, dedicated to ensure all non-whites would receive equal citizenship in the United States, was given a massive impetus. The movement was graced by the leadership of the Rev Martin Luther King Junior.

    When Welsh students – not all Welsh speakers – sat on the road to block traffic on Trefechan Bridge, Aberystwyth, in October 1962 Cymdeithas yr Iaith was actively born as a campaigning non-violent direct action organisation. There are legitimate parallels.

    Both were heavily influenced by Ghandian philosophy of non-violence as a powerful weapon to deal with authoritarian regimes who expect brute force to be met by brute force.

    As expected, the authorities did try to undermine the movement’s integrity by accusing Ffred Ffransis – the most Ghandian of all Cymdeithas yr Iaith members – of assaulting a policeman (not a member of the public) in the aftermath of a Cardigan court case in 1969. In order to emphasize his innocence Mr Ffransis began a self-imposed indeterminate fast. The authorities later dropped the trumped up charges fearing massive civil disobedience and the movement’s modus operandi was never subsequently questioned.

    Cymdeithas yr Iaith drew considerable public support for its early campaigns such as ‘bilingual road-signs’ as a means of ensuring that Welsh became visual with equal parity with English. Who decries their presence now, despite the then Welsh Secretary, George Thomas’ insistence they would surely cause confusion, mayhem and innumerable daily road accidents? What appeared foolish and extreme at the time is the norm today.

    Ditto the presence of S4C, the television channel, upon which the Thatcher government did a U-turn following veteran Nationalist, Gwynfor Evans’ threatened fast to the death in 1980 which would have caused unprecedented civil disobedience and worse. Similarly, in 1563, Protestant Queen Elizabeth regarded the ‘huge cost’ of allowing the Bible to be translated into Welsh a worthwhile option rather than risking an uprising (as happened in Cornwall which resulted in thousands of deaths), and a possible return to Catholicism in Wales. The translation of the Bible enabled the survival of the language as a living language to this day which cannot be said, to the same extent, of the other Celtic languages.

    Nonconformism proved to be the bastion of the language. With a minister of religion in the vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement on the other side of the Atlantic it was almost incumbent on Nonconformist ministers to align themselves with the similar non-violent protests in Wales.

    Jacob’s reference to ‘well-known militant tendencies’ etc. is surely misleading and similar to tarring the American Civil Rights Movement with the Black Panther Movement and Malcolm X. Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru, Free Wales Army and Meibion Glyndwr were separate movements. The latter engaged in a campaign of burning holiday homes – when they were empty – in order to draw attention to the need to somehow safeguard Welsh speaking communities from losing their identity.

    Ironically, though I live in what I regard as a predominantly Welsh language community I have recently been barred from contributing to the community’s Facebook page by the administrator who is a former Production Liaison Manager with London Underground. Naturally some of my postings were in Welsh. But I have been emphatically told that English is now the predominant language of the community ‘whether I like it or not’.

    However, I digress. I believe there is a distinct resonance between the initial action of Rosa Parks in the Deep South and the initial action of those early Cymdeithas yr Iaith campaigners. Some American states hold a Rosa Parks Day. She has been honoured in Washington. It will be some time before we have a Pont Trefechan Day in Wales and before the early campaigners will be honoured in Cardiff Bay.

    However I digress further. The reference to Rosa Parks was not the main thrust of my original posting but merely an aside. I will have to return to the main thrust at some other time.

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Stodds has come out with a brief resume of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting (cover up) and the outcomes. What worries me is the route the education officers are leading and how they seem to control/hoodwink the Members!

    21st Century School funding is available but at what cost to the community? Hakin/Hubberston parents and community voiced a strong objection which has been ignored after a consultation period. The same will happen with St David’s and there will be one school in Haverfordwest. We will also see Welsh education being ramped up in the south/mid county.

    Members also have no idea what is happening with the closure of the PRU so officers lead and action their plans with little consultation with the people of Pembrokeshire. I’ve challenged Cllr. Nutting on such actions but alas he’s returned no answers. BPJ has taught his educational department well! As we speak the Cabinet and Education Officers are planning a trip to the new super school in Bridgend, Y Dderwen. A block print for Haverfordwest I’m sure.

    Also WEFO grants have been suspended. Which communities are affected? I wait for the press paper tonight to read the report on what the Cabinet are going to do. One thing for sure it’s not Cllr. Stoddart who is to blame.

    Once again we must question:

    1. Farmer Adams – will he resign/be ousted by the sheep?
    2. IPPG Cabinet members – will the sheep realise the wool has been pulled over their eyes?
    3. IPPG sheep – head for pastures new?
    4. BPJ – monitor and evaluate his job role – act as is his duty as returning officer and if he suspects wrongdoing make a Police referral.
    5. Officers – and who is monitoring them?

    I’ll ask again who will stand up to be counted? Pembrokeshire Alliance, I wait now for some substance.

    Let’s be frank and honest and get a WG review/election mandate to close the current administration and start again. 2017 is just too far away.

  • Keanjo

    In Cardiff I understand we are known as the Wild West and when I read about the public consultation procedure in the County I am reminded of a well known Western saying – first we’ll give him a fair trial, then we’ll hang him.

    Incidentally, and I hope it’s not true, I was told today that the CC is now known as Pembrokeshite County Council.

  • Weasel

    Not heard that name given to PCC myself before.

  • Malcolm Calver

    According to Cllr Preston the residents of Tenby are confused over what is an independent and what is not an independent.

    I believe Michael Evans, one of the present county councillors for Tenby stood as an independent in 2004 and 2008 and following his election defected to the Independent Party for the whole of those terms of council. The last election Cllr Evans stood as an independent and has to date stayed as an independent.

    Perhaps Cllr Preston could inform us what advice he would give to a member of the community in Tenby, on the likely path he thought Cllr Evans would take, if he was successful at getting elected again.

    The good people of Milford Haven elected one of Cllr Preston’s fellow Plaid Cymru comrades, but after being elected he jumped ship and joined the Independent Party. I would suggest there can be no guarantee even for his fellow members in Plaid Cymru, the Party for Wales.

  • Les

    You are surely not trying to assert that there is symmetry between the Rosa Parks situation and few kids who sat on a bridge at Trefechan.

    I honestly could never imagine MLK delivering the “I have a dream” speech from the guildhall at Carmarthen.

  • Michael Williams

    Maria Miller, gone. Will Rob Lewis follow, or even offer a 32 second apology?

    The Leader might even sack him! But that of course would mean they were people of principle or decency.

    No chance then, I fear.

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Well said Michael. That’s where I think the accountability to a political party, under national guidelines, would help. Petty Pembrokeshire politics led by Farmer Adams just doesn’t see fit to do justice to the people of Pembrokeshire.

    The wonders of local government, Pembrokeshire style. Wild West according to Cardiff? Laughing stock to the rest of the world at present. No honour, no accountability, no direction and no control. It’s all in the safe hands of BPJ. Laurel would tell Stan “that’s another fine mess…”

  • Goldingsboy (Monday 7 April) suggested that I had claimed to have a degree in maths.

    Perhaps he had been imbibing too freely of some liquid beverage containing the hops from which his nom de plume is derived because I have never made such a claim.

    However I do have an ‘A’ level in maths (1959 vintage) an achievement that prompted Septimus Hall – maths teacher and Methodist lay-preacher – to proclaim that I had restored his faith in miracles.

    While an ‘A’ level (bare pass) is not to be compared with a degree, the point I was making was that it gave me a clear advantage over members of the Cabinet most of whom probably think a binomial series is a long-running soap opera featuring characters with double-barrelled names.

  • Goldingsboy

    OK Mike, so I got that part of your claimed educational accomplishments so very badly wrong.

    However, you continue to overestimate, even with the knowledge gained from your time as a “successful builder”, the quantity or mass of grey matter to be found in PCC’s cabinet.

    As someone whose knowledge gained during the school years did not include binomial distribution tables (I had to Google it), and was confined to the science of avoiding it, (leaving without so much as a Certificate in Cycling Proficiency), I resent the idea that there is at least one member of cabinet who understands what they are used for.

    Ah, the penny has finally dropped.

    Which has reminded me of the connection between Humphrey Bogart’s interest in maths and his role in Casablanca. What cinema-goers did not properly catch, owing to the star’s poor diction, was “Here’s looking at Euclid.”

  • Tony Wilcox

    Loyalty or loot! Following the inevitable and thoroughly justified motions of no confidence submitted in elections cheerleader Rob Lewis, rumour abounds as to how many of of his group are jockeying for his SRA. (Sorry I meant his cabinet portfolio).

    At least 3 is my humble opinion. The Leader may well revert to obtaining/recruiting an opposition member in the event of losing Rob. Or more likely, just ignore the vote if it goes against him.

  • Hefin Wyn

    Les, I thought symmetry between both campaigns had already been proved beyond all reasonable doubt without either being a distinct clone of each other. Rosa Parks was not the first to violate the law by refusing to surrender her seat to a white person but it was the subsequent publicity and legal wrangling following her action that set the ball rolling. She was tired of demanding through legal means what she considered to be her human right.

    Similarly, Gareth Miles was tired of all the constant petitioning when he deliberately broke the law by carrying a passenger on his bike along the promenade at Aberystwyth past the police station in February 1962. He was eventually arrested. He believed it was also a human right to receive legal summonses and such documents in Welsh. If the language was to survive it had to be seen to be used in all walks of life.

    The ‘kids’, as you refer to them, who blockaded traffic on Trefechan Bridge, later became leading academics, scholars, historians, eminent in their chosen vocation and even an MP/AM. It was the publicity to that unplanned particular action that set the ball rolling. Gareth Miles is a leading playwright and novelist.

    Indeed, Martin Luther King’s rich oratory was often emulated, not necessarily at Carmarthen Guildhall but certainly at Swansea Guildhall, outside the building and inside in the assizes dock, most notably on the occasion of the infamous conspiracy trial in June 1971. The eight accused were eventually only given suspended sentences by Judge Mars Jones in an effort to quell the fuelling public disorder. Some of those speeches were reminiscent of traditional pulpit oratory at its best.

    However, I continue to digress from the main thrust of my original posting. And I still haven’t addressed Jacob’s subsequent thoughts. On another rainy day no doubt.

  • Quill

    Or maybe just don’t bother. Your assertion that the “symmetry” between Rosa Parks and Welsh Language antagonists has been “proved beyond all reasonable doubt” is totally deluded. In you and your co-collaborators’ narrow minds, possibly. That is all.

    And you hijack a thread of comments completely unrelated, with the promise of returning to it at another day. Who do you think you are!

  • Dave Edwards

    If the Pembrokeshire Alliance Party (PAP) really mean to attract IPPG defectors, they have an attractive proposition to offer.

    Bob Kilmister could give up his National Park seat in favour of a new member so the usual incentive of SRA so used by the IPPG would be used to its advantage for a change.

    Similarly of course Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Tories have seats to offer potential recruits!

  • Dave,

    I think there’s more chance of Rob Lewis voluntarily resigning from his cabinet and deputy leadership posts than of Bob Kilmister letting go of his National Park seat!

  • Martin Lewis

    Clive Davies, “Personally I’d rather use Welsh than English; it’s a far richer, more expressive language; but unless we get some meaningful local democracy it won’t really matter what language we use.” Like Mike Stoddart, I barely scraped a pass…in O Level Welsh. However, I’m a proud Welshman even though I can use only snippets of the language. But if the Welsh language is so rich and expressive, why do fluent speakers have to invariably insert either fully English words into sentences or bastardise English words to make the Welsh (Sosej, garej? Wibblywobbly? Poptyping?) etc.

    Hefin Wyn, I’m with Quill, Rosa Parks risked her life to do what she did, a risk not remotely matched by any of the rambling examples of supposed heroism you have quoted. And it does make me laugh the way you refer to the activists of Trefechan Bridge “later became leading academics, scholars, historians, eminent in their chosen vocation and even an MP/AM,” as if being an MP/AM is somehow an achievement way above academics, scholars, historians etc. Any old fool/crook can become an MP/AM and several of both have indeed done so.

    The Welsh language is indeed on life support and it costs a damned arm and a leg to pander to the unrealistic nationalists who demand bilingual this that and the other. I’d venture that not a single soul in Wales speaks ONLY Welsh so let’s have a dose of realism about it all. Watching Arwyn Williams on the webcasts giving his spiel at every meeting and then ending it with “diolch yn fawr” is cringeworthy enough.

  • Dave Edwards

    Acta non verba pro maio bono!

    (O level Latin – Swansea Grammar School 1958)

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Nail on the head Jacob. Good point by Dave but if the PAP want to recruit they need to have strong values and morals. Failing either of these who would oversee them?

    To be honest, if the bartering tool in local government politics is SRAs then the notion of paying county councillors to get a better calibre of person is a joke and does a disservice to any councillor who didn’t get paid over many years.

    PAP have gone quiet on this forum. Is it due to changing a barrel, sifting through papers to produce a website of substance or the realisation that they haven’t followed through in their promises?

  • Bob Kilmister

    Dave and Jacob, the Pembrokeshire Alliance will appoint people to any SRA positions that we receive on the basis of who is the best person to do the job. I am the only member of our group that represents an area that is almost wholly within PCNPA. I also live in PCNPA, so it is not surprising that I am our representative.

    Would I bribe another member thinking of defecting then the answer is clearly NO. If I did then we would be using exactly the same tactics used by the IPG to recruit their members. Patronage is not a policy I have any intention of adopting. If you join the Pembrokeshire Alliance it is because you agree with our aims and objectives and not for financial gain.

    If a member defects from another group or the non affiliated, we would then as a group consider the new position. I have no divine right to be on PCNPA because I am leader and I would stand aside if someone had better credentials. I welcome any member thinking of joining us to test this in practice.

  • Jacob,

    While I would never suggest that the Pembrokeshire Alliance would stoop to buying support with SRAs it is interesting to note that if a member of the IPPG could be lured across with the offer of a National Park seat, the Pembrokeshire Alliance would then have four members and an automatic right to a scrutiny chair (SRA circa £9,000).

    Eight members would give them two NP seats (at three-and-a-half grand apiece) and they would supplant Labour as the largest opposition group (Leader’s SRA another £9,000) plus a seat on the police and crime panel (bunce unknown) and Fire Authority (£1,350).

    Currently, the IPPG controls Cabinet SRAs totalling £163,500; committee chairmanships £36,000; chair and vice chair of council £12,000; and sundry National Park, police and fire authority positions worth in excess of £30,000, all in addition to each member’s basic allowance of £13,000 approx.

    That all comes to £240,000+ so, as you can see, there’s plenty to play for.

  • Clive Davies

    I think popty ping sums up a microwave oven pretty well. But that’s not the point. Comments like Mike’s above are of greater relevance to the task in hand than spats about language. A fractured opposition plays right into the hands (and pockets!) of the IPPG.

  • Fox

    I don’t see why anyone should get an SRA. They should do it for the kudos and only get expenses.

  • John Hudson

    SRAs prescribed by the Independent Remuneration Panel are based on Cabinet “jobs” being full time, and may be for jobs with individual responsibilities for portfolios, rather than the so called collective (or ‘no’) responsibility/accountability as now.

    Anyone who has attended a cabinet meeting will have to suffer long speeches that mostly paraphrase the reports in front of them.

    Our council cycle revolves at 5 or 6 meetings a year, thus reducing the opportunity for all councillors to be engaged. This of course also reduces the “work” of committee chairmen and members which are also tied to the council cycle. I think this in the past has been justified on the basis that with the cabinet system, there is not enough business to go forward to Council on a more frequent basis.

    This may be a reflection of the extent of delegation given to officers to make decisions on behalf of the cabinet, which are not reported or subject to O&S committee scrutiny. Thus officers and cabinet members are shielded from the task of defending their decisions from public scrutiny.

  • Hefin Wyn

    Martin, I was never aware that Rosa Parks put her own life in peril by her singular spectacularly simple action based on her own conviction and inner strength. She was not a gun toting military personnel. The ‘Mother of the Freedom Movement’ was not an armed revolutionary. The ‘First Lady of Civil Rights’ gained strength from her religious faith.

    Reports of the Trefechan Bridge sit-down confirm that the protesters, both male and female, were open to physical abuse but not life-threatening. The subsequent actions of Cymdeithas yr Iaith members – even if not in agreement with their aims – must, surely, be admired in that they openly admitted their ‘offences’, often voluntarily presenting themselves at police stations, and prepared themselves mentally for probable court appearances and jail sentences. The creed of Jesus Christ as a revolutionary rather than the creed of Che Guevara was applied.

    I certainly did not intend to elevate a politician above any of the other vocations mentioned but merely tried to emphasize that these ‘kids’ were acting on the basis of conviction and integrity. No doubt somewhere down the line there will be a work of art on display in Cardiff Bay depicting a signpost paint dauber as a tribute to the language activists.

    There is nothing untoward in using words such as ‘sosejis’ and ‘garejis’. It is not a matter of purity of language – not a Biblical version any more than Biblical English is the norm among fluent English speakers. English regularly borrows vocabulary from other languages. We must remember that Welsh exists in the shadow of the most powerful media language in the Western world. Its resilience means that new words are being constantly coined.

    Welsh is not a language exclusively for nationalists but for all political parties as witnessed by the positive response of the panellists on a recent Radio 4 Question Time broadcast from Monmouth. No doubt the amount of money currently spent on the language pales into insignificance when compared with monies spent by the British Council promoting English abroad and by the BBC on its English language foreign services.

    I would add to David Edwards’ Latinicism a Pembrokeshire proverb – Doeth fydd y dwl tra tawo – attributed not to any O Level exertions but handed down orally by several generations of native Welsh speakers. Rosa Parks can now rest in peace.

    It is high time I endeavoured to persuade Jacob that the language is not on a life-support machine. The language is not terminally ill but because of her admittedly frail condition is worthy of support.

    Hence when it comes to casting my vote at the next local authority elections one of the issues I will scrutinise will be the candidates’ attitudes towards the Welsh language and heritage. Meanwhile I eagerly await the outcome of the Gloucestershire Constabulary’s investigation into alleged irregularities within Pembrokeshire County Council.

    The diligence of those investigative councillors must be commended. However, the current squabbling regarding SRAs and such like reminds me of a playground situation where the kids become het up as to who will play the triangle or tambourine at the next music lesson. The days of ‘Independent groups’ are surely numbered. A manifesto-led political party is an absolute imperative to restore a semblance of democracy.

  • Martin Lewis

    Hefin, just as Martin Luther King put his life on the line for his beliefs, Rosa Parks did the same. If you disagree then I believe you have obviously underestimated the courage and conviction of her actions at that time in Alabama.

    MLK was the leader of the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks acted as an individual and could easily have paid with her life. As it was, she was very harshly treated in any case, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

    Shame on you for attempting to underestimate the magnitude of her actions and please, this is hardly the forum for your ramblings about the Welsh language, it’s just boring now.

  • John

    Whilst accepting that this forum has been hijacked I have to say that some of the anti Welsh language sentiments expressed on here is appalling.

    1. Welsh is not a dying language.

    2. We speak Welsh in Wales, get over it.

    3. The language and heritage is one of the things that makes us different. I think some on here would perhaps rather that Wales did not exist at all – why not go the whole hog and call it all England!

    4. I think the analogy of Rosa Parks is a fair one, although the degrees of what is being fought for is different.

    5. We need to maintain our language and culture for future generations. This comment is aimed at the people on here that are Councillors and have commented on their disdain and total lack of interest in the Welsh Language. Remember that you gave been elected to represent the views and wishes of ALL your electorate.

  • Fran

    “GET OVER IT” indeed…

    …pot, kettle, black!

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    John,

    This forum thread has been hijacked. I’m fully supportive of the language and culture being very proud of my Pembrokeshire roots and Welshness. However we have a compromise situation where everything is bilingual. Costs for this are double what the tax payer sheds out in England (or any other European country). Simple choice, signs etc should be in one language only, I don’t care which it is Welsh or English. Referendum to decide? We are looking to save money, then here’s a start.

    Likewise we complain of our comparative education PISA scores against other European countries. Perhaps if we spent less time paying lip service to Welsh in schools and concentrated on English they may improve? Food for thought.

  • As has been recognised by several correspondents – regardless of their views – the comments section on this article has been hijacked by entirely unrelated conversations.

    Future comments not relating to this article will not be approved.

  • Bayard

    You could do a post on the Welsh language and then everyone could put in their three-ha’penny worth without being off-topic?

  • Tony Wilcox

    Regarding the upcoming no confidence vote in Rob Lewis, those who had election leaflets prepared by Cllr Lewis would surely have to declare an interest and withdraw from the debate and vote?

  • Interesting query, Tony.

    As a member of the standards committee, Cllr. Tom Richards declared a prejudicial interest and left the meeting for the very same reason you’ve outlined, during the ombudsman’s Partygate case hearings.

    Recent history has shown how loose some in County Hall have been with taxpayers’ money in obtaining legal advice, so don’t be surprised if a local government legal expert like Tim Kerr gets drafted in to ‘provide clarity!’

  • John Hudson

    While the Ombudsman’s report dealt with the narrow point of misuse of the Council’s resources, where is the line of bringing the Council into disrepute drawn?

    I am far from impressed by the actions of successful candidates who were secretly promoted by the IPG which according to Councillor Lewis’s evidence had an interest in retaining control of the Council.

    Exactly what was the nature of this interest? Control of the SRAs on offer or perhaps more public spirited concerns and policies which have never been tested by the electorate?

    I suggest that there is a difference, just, between a councillor choosing, unannounced, to join a group, post election and a candidate secretly promoted by a group at the election with the admitted intention of gaining control of the new Council.

    I guess that if the councillors involved were to be individually officially challenged, they would have to openly state their reasons for joining the group, and for not letting their electorate know their intentions.

  • Keanjo

    Jacob, the CE has a legal qualification. Maybe he should be asked to give an unbiased opinion on Rob Lewis’ election expenses?

  • Tony Wilcox

    Tom would have taken advice before doing so, however, have no doubt that if a majority of councillors vote for no confidence in Rob Lewis, it will be ignored.

  • Hefin Wyn

    As I am the one guilty of introducing Rosa Parks to the proceedings and allowing myself to be sidetracked by the response to the significance of her action I hope Jacob will allow me one final comment on the matter before moving on to discuss the intended topic. By the way I have found the exchange of views to be stimulating. And I would support the suggestion made that the much needed exchange of views regarding the role of the Welsh language in Pembrokeshire could be transferred to another thread led by Jacob’s comments.

    I have the utmost regard for Rosa Parks but do not believe she endangered her life through her action. It was not her intention to take a life, to maim or injure a fellow human being as would be the situation if she had taken part in the earlier American Civil War. A conventional soldier by definition puts his life on the line. Neither did she suffer unduly because of her brave individualised action unsanctioned by any of her superiors. She subsequently lost her job as a seamstress but soon found similar employment on moving to Detroit and became a much sought after public speaker. She was held in high esteem by her own people and rightly so. I do not underestimate the significance of her action. She was a game-changer.

    I do not believe that Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Martin Luther King, put his life on the line either at least not in the conventional sense. His armoury was based on truth; a very powerful weapon and immensely less costly than the usual weapons of sustaining conflict. Government agencies of the day monitored his movements not to ensure his safety but to garner how dangerous was his truth based spiritual led civil rights campaign. He did pay the ultimate price upon his assassination having already stated he felt his life’s work had been fulfilled. Controversy still surrounds the incident. Why should a small time thief who had no history of violence want to silence King? Whatever the circumstances the perceived leader of the civil rights movement had become a too powerful a figure for some factions. Just like John F Kennedy whose assassination is also still surrounded in controversy.

    Martin Luther King’s death could be seen as a modern day crucifixion…but I will resist further sidetracking. However, the experts are agreed that the civil rights movement was actually far too diverse for the leadership to be credited to one person. Sociologist Doug McAdam says; “Without discounting King’s importance, it would be sheer fiction to call him the leader of what was fundamentally an amorphous, fluid, dispersed movement”.

    I apologise for the distraction. The point of comparing the American Civil Rights Movement with the efforts of Cymdeithas yr Iaith members to promote the Welsh language was to emphasise that they also campaigned on the basis of conviction. The perceived image of mindless vandals on par with mods and rockers on a Bank Holiday visit to a holiday resort does not bear scrutiny.

  • Dave Edwards

    Keanjo – Bryn Parry-Jones has a second class law degree, hardly the world’s greatest legal mind.

  • Keanjo

    Dave, he should be able to give an informed opinion on election expenses – he’s a Returning Officer for national elections as well. It would be interesting to hear his unbiased professional opinion.

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