Jacob Williams
Sunday 11th May, 2014

True blue Sue turns the screw

True blue Sue turns the screw

JW recently started a Facebook page for his website/councillor efforts. I said if it received 50 ‘likes’ I would share a remarkable photo from Friday’s Pembrokeshire County Council AGM.

As you can see in the box just below, that milestone has been and gone, and in this post I fulfil that promise. I’m good like that.

Regular readers may also have noticed at the bottom of my two previous posts I included a ‘coming soon’ teaser: ‘Did Cllr. Huw George mislead councillors during a full council debate?’

It’s no Partygate, but it will show how ‘facts’ are often presented in the council to influence debates and outcomes.

I’m not begging you to ‘like’ my Facebook page (click the blue ‘Like’ button below) but when it receives 200 likes I’ll go ahead with the Huw George post.

I’ve chosen 200 because I haven’t actually written it yet, and it’ll hopefully give me some time to do so. Probably weeks!

At one point during the AGM came a key vote on the distribution of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee chairmanships. There are five of these, and in the effort/reward stakes they are easily the most lucrative gigs on offer to enhance the bulge in a councillor’s pay packet.

You can normally count on one hand the number of meetings O&S committee chairs preside over per year, yet the roles attract a juicy £9k on top of the basic £13k councillor pay.

Each party/group’s allocation of chairmanships (if any) is linked to its size, so the distribution of these posts is prescribed by a formula, not by a vote. However on this occasion the council was required to act as a tie-breaker because the Conservative group and the Pembrokeshire Alliance group both have three councillors and therefore an equal claim to the coveted chairmanship of the older persons’ O&S committee, which can only go to one group.

Due to the ruling ‘independent’ party’s support it went the way of the Conservatives, but not before opposition councillors made a failed attempt to take the vote by secret ballot.

The reasoning behind secret ballots – for those wondering why – is to remove undue pressure and influence. The ruling party members were all singing to the same tune and blocked this attempt, so the vote went ahead by a show of hands.

One of those who opposed the secret ballot was Cllr. Sue Perkins.

“Openness and accountability,” she could be heard hollering at one point as she voted against taking a secret ballot, “openness and accountability!”

So the ever-so-open-and-accountable Sue won’t mind me publishing the following photograph.

It was a sight that spurred Cllr. Mike Evans on my left to shout across the chamber to her: “I never thought I’d see the day, Sue. I never thought we’d see the day. Unbelievable!”

True blue Sue Perkins

Click to enlarge

This, ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls and especially Pembroke Dock Llanion voters, is Labour sell-out Sue Perkins – commonly known as ‘true blue Sue’ – raising her hand along with most of her ruling group chums in the IPG, to award the Conservative party the £9k committee chairmanship over the newly-formed Pembrokeshire Alliance.

At this point, those who don’t know the history behind the photograph might well ask “what’s so shocking about a woman dressed in blue voting Tory?”

They would never guess Cllr. Perkins was, for many years, one of the county’s staunchest Labour party activists who served as one of its leading councillors, romping to victory with the Pembroke Dock Labour vote at a by-election in 1997, and thereafter in 1999, 2004, 2008 and 2012.

Between all of the above years she was a thorn in the side of the council’s ruling independent clique, serving several of them as leader of her (then) beloved Labour party.

It was in this position – leader of the opposition – that Sue narrowly defended her seat with a slender 57 votes against one other candidate at the 2012 poll. Following the election, out of the blue (if you’ll excuse the pun) Cllr. Perkins was elevated to a newly-vacant child safeguarding cabinet position created just months beforehand by the then IPG leader and the leader of the council, Cllr. John Davies. The new leader, Cllr. Jamie Adams appointed Cllr. Perkins to the role because the inaugural holder, Anne Hughes, didn’t make it past the 2012 ballot box.

An active Labour party member serving in the cabinet of the ‘independent’ party-controlled council was unheard of. Apparently, though I understand she disputes the finer points of the arrangement, the Labour party only gave Cllr. Perkins its blessing to fill the position for as long as it took the authority to drag itself out of the damning safeguarding scandals which were so bad the Welsh Government had to intervene.

Too busy being a cabinet member, Cllr. Perkins was succeeded as Labour party leader by Cllr. Paul Miller, where he noticed Cllr. Perkins showed a proclivity for voting against the Labour party and with the ruling IPG. After roughly a year in the post Sue claims she was backed into a corner and forced to make an unfair decision by her Labour party colleagues who were becoming increasingly uneasy about a Labour councillor playing such a prominent role in a failing scandal-prone administration and for going against party stances on local issues.

The story goes that she was effectively given two options: either leave the cabinet (£29k per annum) and remain in the Labour party, or if she wanted to remain in her precious and oh-so-important cabinet post (£29k per annum, in case you’ve already forgotten) she would have to leave the Labour party.

So she ditched the Labour party and did the full monty by joining the IPG. We can only assume that turning her back on such strong and historic political ties moved IPG council leader Cllr. Jamie Adams so much that he rewarded Cllr. Perkins’ heroic bravery by allowing her to remain in her comfy cabinet seat (£29k per annum).

There is no doubt that, where child safeguarding was concerned, the council was in about as much mess and trouble imaginable. Her excuse when asked why she ditched Labour and joined the IPG was always that her role was extremely important (and £29k per annum – remember?) and for the authority to continue with the good progress it was making from such a smelly creek, the Perkins paddle was paramount.

For good measure, her sterling work on safeguarding – which required her undivided attention – was well above petty party politics. What mattered most was what she was doing, not her political affiliation.

It convinced very few, and there were calls all round for her to resign as a councillor, force a by-election, and gain a new mandate by standing as a candidate in her Llanion ward under her new independent party’s banner. Who knows when she took her lessons in openness and accountability because she still hasn’t forced that by-election. Her overly-altruistic excuses earned her the less-common nickname: Sue “I did it for the kids” Perkins.

Also during Friday’s AGM, our ex-Labour turncoat and now IPG leading light voted against her Pembroke Dock friend, Labour’s Cllr. Alison Lee, becoming chair of the authority’s licensing committee.

Sue, who, of course, has every right to vote for whoever she wants, gave her support to the only other horse in the race, Cllr. Daphne Bush.

Cllr. Bush just happens to be a member of Cllr. Perkins’ ruling ‘independent’ party.

Who needs enemies?!

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  • Andrew Lye

    When in a hole, you are supposed to stop digging. The IPPG are showing in recent months that the only way is to actually continue digging. They must be nearing Australia by now!

  • Tessa Hodgson

    Not long after I was elected, I overheard Cllr Perkins indignantly sounding off in the tea room to anyone who would listen regarding the scandal, as she saw it back then, of Councillors standing as independents, a la Daphne Bush, and then jumping in with the IPPG after the election.

    Pot – kettle – black springs to mind.

  • Mike Cook

    It’s no wonder our politicians are are held in such low regard, when you have people like Sue, throwing away their convictions for money.

    It’s better being true blue, than a pale shade of red any day.

  • Weasel

    The body language displayed in this excellent photograph is very telling indeed, particularly with the IPPG hierarchy.

    The ex Chairman Arwyn Williams is only half heartedly raising his hand as he appears to be looking across to the new Chairman, Tom Richards, as if waiting to be told by Tom what to do, as he has done for the past twelve months.

    Next across, David Simpson seems to be making a point that he is not voting by keeping his arms very firmly crossed.

    Next it appears Ken Rowlands is having his right arm lifted by hidden strings, as his left side is correspondingly pulled downwards.

    Further along Simon Hancock looks exceedingly embarrassed as he keeps his eyes lowered and hopes his puppet master does not spot he is not voting for his new party line.

    Huw George is making every effort to raise his hand higher than everybody else to show teacher what a good boy he is, unlike naughty Simpson and Hancock.

    Meanwhile his glorious leader is smugly glaring across at the PAG bench hoping to rub it in that he has stuffed them once again.

    And finally Brian Hall appears to be making a very rude gesture and stares at the laughing rebel Simpson as if to say he’ll be shortly getting a knock on the door from his Manchester buddies.

    As they say, every picture paints a thousand words.

  • Galf

    From the angle of the photograph (I didn’t see the webcast) that ex-Plaid Cymru Welshy Steven Joseph has now turned Tory supporter.

  • Jon Preston

    Hi Galf. I would rather we tried to put it behind us that Cllr. Joseph was once a member of Plaid Cymru. It seems to me he used the influence of Plaid Cymru’s Cllr. Rhys Sinnett to aid his election campaign. A reliable source informs me that there is a determined group within his ward who want to ensure he is not re-elected.

    JW’s picture captures the hypocrisy whithin the council chamber. I don’t know how that woman sleeps at night, though £29k in the bank must make it much easier!

  • Kate Becton

    I’m not going to be popular for this post, but I feel that we are in danger of demonising someone who has, on balance, done sterling work for the people of her Ward.

    I was, for a couple of years, deputy to Sue Perkins as Leader of the Labour Party and counted her as a friend, who tried to be very supportive during the period that I experienced a difficult time.

    As an aside I was also at one time the ‘whip’ to the Labour Party – I can assure you that it was akin to herding cats.

    Anyway my point is that I do not believe that there is anyone more suitable than Sue to undertake the safeguarding of children role (please make other suggestions) on PCC, and the constant emphasis on money demeans us as much as it demeans them.

    Simon is a different kettle of fish – without doubt an extremely intelligent and talented individual; I never really understood him.

    However, in my experience Sue, whilst, on occasion, stubborn and blinkered, always had her heart in the right place.

  • Concerned

    You sum up Simon pretty well. When I knew him, I could never quite put my finger on his motivations, yet he put in a lot of hard work into his community.

    I don’t really know Sue, but given her prominence in the Labour group and her comments when Ken Rowlands defected, it is not difficult for outsiders like myself to feel cynical about her motives. Would she have done her cabinet job for nothing? I doubt it.

  • Indepedant

    Nobody is demonising anyone Kate. The actions of quite a few at the council speak for themselves. The hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy some show is spectacular to behold. There is no defence for greed, corruption or dishonesty.

  • Goldingsboy

    Sue – has her heart in the right place…

    …and, what’s more, her accountant fully approves.

  • Martin Lewis

    Kate you live in a dream world. I have my own issues with Simon Hancock’s actions but Sue Perkins is in a different league. The actions of Perkins, Hancock etc. in swapping sides and receiving monetary gain from doing so MAKES it personal.

    They’ve duped the people who vote for them. And in the case of Hancock, his actions prevented an opposition candidate standing against him which they surely would have done if he’d abandoned Labour before the election.

    Why on earth you think Perkins is unbeatable as a candidate for safeguarding children bemuses me. By default because she’s a woman? I’d have given Viv Stoddart or Tessa Hodgson the job on that basis.

  • Bemused of Pembroke

    Please enlighten all of us with exactly how much these holders of various “special” committee positions receive in extra allowances.

    We know each gets their basic councillor allowances but what additional allowances are there for what? (Chairs and vice chairs etc.)

    You would expect these special allowances to be evenly split across the political groups?

  • Be bemused no more.

    The full list can be found at http://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/content.asp?nav=101,2096,1579,1517&parent_directory_id=646

    Briefly, all members get a basic allowance of £13,000.

    Certain positions of special responsibility attract an additional allowance:

    Leader – £34,000
    Deputy Leaders (x 2) – £18,000
    Cabinet members (x 7) – £15,500
    Chairmen of Committees (x 7, of which four are in the hands of the IPPG) – £9,000.

    All figures rounded up/down.

    There are also 12 seats on the National Park at £3,500 apiece of which the IPPG are entitled to seven.

    All in all, this adds up to the best part of a quarter of a million quid that Cllr Jamie Adams has at his disposal courtesy of the taxpayer. So it doesn’t take too much imagination to work out why the IPPG is such a tight-knit group.

    Kate Becton surely remembers that when Ken Rowlands abandoned Labour for the IPPG at the the 2008 election and was swiftly elevated to cabinet rank (SRA circa £15,000), the Labour group’s then leader Sue Perkins sent him an angry email which concluded “I hope you enjoy your 30 pieces of silver” (see: http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/2303134.love_labours_lost/)

    Whatever you think about Cllr Rowlands, he jumped ship before polling day, so, unlike Cllrs Perkins and Hancock, he can’t be accused of using the party’s good name to get himself elected in a safe Labour seat.

  • John Hudson

    Hope this helps rather than confuse!

    The 2014/15 salary list for council positions was given in item 10 of the agenda for 8 May 2014 and approved by full council.

    Each councillor get a basic salary of £13,300.

    Last year they also got an additional fixed sum of £500 (grand total £30,000) for office expenses.

    This was not in accordance with the advice of the Independent Remuneration Panel who advised that such expenses should reimbursed on the basis of receipts and invoices for expenditure actually incurred.

    Last year there was no report submitted for Council to approve, and I assume that the £500 was given as a continuation of the previous year’s arrangements, under the Director of Finance’s “assumed” delegated authority for the proper administration of the Council’s financial affairs. Much in the same way as past years’ expenses.

    The 8 May report does not indicate how we are to pay or reimburse members for office expenses.

    The Leader will get £48,000 (13,300 + 34,700)
    The two deputy Leaders £31,250 each (13,300 + 17,950)
    Seven other cabinet members £29,000 each (13,300 + 15,700)

    The Leader appoints his cabinet members. The Cabinet will cost us £313,500. This is on the basis of shared collective responsibility. For the same money, individual cabinet members could be given direct responsibility and accountability for their portfolios. The IRP recommended salaries are calculated on this basis, as full time jobs.

    Chairmen of committees get £22,000 (13,300 + 8,700).

    These are appointed in accordance with the political balance of the Council, which means that the majority Group get to appoint some Chairmanships but in the case of the 5 O&S committees, these are required to be allocated to political groups on the Council balance basis.

    So the IPG (33 Members) gets the chair of two – Environment and Economy. Labour (7 members) get one – Children and families Plaid Cymru (4 members) get one – Safeguarding.

    The remaining chair Older persons H&WB, is between the Conservative (3 members) and Pembrokeshire alliance group (also 3 members) but Council voted to allocate this to the Conservatives.

    The 10 unaffiliated members are not regarded as a political group for this purpose and are excluded from this process.

    The Audit committee has a lay Chairman, not a councillor, while the Democratic Services committee is required to have a chair, not from the majority political group.

    The Corporate Governance Committee is a construct of this council. Its functions have been diluted since the requirement to have an Audit and a Democratic Services committee. The Chairman is appointed by the Leader/majority group.

    In my view its remaining functions could be allocated between the two new committees with a saving of one seat. However this would mean a loss of the £22,000 direct patronage of the Leader, so may not be an attractive proposition.

  • Paul Absalom

    Sorry Jacob, was that £29k a year Sue Perkins, Captain Ken and Simon Hancock got in exchange for joining the IPG cabinet? I am not sure.

  • Kate Becton

    Martin, – I did not mean to imply that Sue was unbeatable as a candidate for the safeguarding role, though I do believe that her experience would make her a very strong candidate – I have the utmost respect for Cllrs. Stoddart and Hodgson and also believe that there are certainly men on the Council who would undertake the role well – Cllrs. Mike Evans and Rhys Sinnett come to mind. However I could not see the IPPG accepting any of the others.

    I really don’t think that we could go back to the days when Cllrs. were volunteers – that would clearly place too many restrictions on the number of people who would put themselves forward. I also think that there should be SRAs – however the amount paid should reflect the responsibility – an example would be the Chairs of the O&S Committees – around £8/9000 for five meetings per year is a ridiculous amount of money.

    If the IPPG would stop the futile denial of their Political Group status and start to act as a PG, with a common platform and manifesto, then I think there would a greater acceptance of their SRAs – if, of course they won a majority of seats at an election.

    I also agree that there should have been by-elections, but, to quote Cllr. Tony Wilcox – ‘Rearrange the following words, hell when freezes over’.

    Mike, I know that Ken Rowlands jumped ship before the election, however it was after nominations has closed and so it was not possible for a Labour Party candidate to stand against him. Anyway, he has won an election since where the electors were fully aware of his status as a member of the IPPG, which, now I come to think of it, is making me somewhat nervous.

  • Richie S.

    My heart’s definitely in the right place! Can I join the gravy train please?

  • John Hudson

    The money saved on scrubbing out the Corporate Governance Chairmanship could be put to better use in web-casting other meetings.

  • John Hudson

    Kate, I think at that time there was a lot going on in Johnston – an extension to Arnold’s yard for waste disposal site or something, traffic on Bulford Road and the local school proposals. Ken did a lot of local work on these while a Labour councillor in opposition to IPG, and so would have had a lot of local support on a personal following.

    I am sure someone will correct me if my recollection is faulty.

  • John, the chairmanship of the corporate governance committee doesn’t attract an SRA, so I think there are only minimal operational costs to be saved by abolishing that committee.

    As you’ll be aware, the idea of extending the webcasting provision to additional council meetings was opposed by leader Cllr. Jamie Adams due to the lack of financial provision.

    Then just days later he created a brand new cabinet post attracting a £15k SRA.

    There appears to have been little difficulty in scraping that sum together!

  • John Hudson

    Thank you Jacob, just goes to show how confusing the Council reports on Councillors’ salaries are.

    Is the Chair of this committee responsible for the Council’s Constitution appointed by the Leader?

  • Timetraveller

    The question of what the IPPG stands for is at the heart of all that is going on in Pembs.

    That socialists can defect to it is telling, but human nature being what it is, the value of pieces of silver can alter perspectives.

    On the other hand its most notable achievement, the lowest council tax in Wales, would have the Taxpayers Alliance in raptures, though of course they would have no truck with having the highest paid CEO in Wales. They are an ungrateful lot!

    This is achieved by shaving £12 million of the WG’s estimates for running the county. Such an achievement should rightly be lauded, however other Welsh counties don’t seem to be in a hurry to emulate it, even under current fiscal constraints.

    Every councillor should be familiar with the Green Book, though I doubt if officials would encourage such knowledge. Whilst it’s not bed time reading, it’s readable enough for any particular area a councillor may be reviewing. Although not obligatory on the council, it lays down the basis for what the WG feel the council should spend, and is the basis for the WG’s block grant.

    Saving £12 million out of £200 odd million doesn’t sound too challenging, but factor in the areas were the council more or less has to pass on the cash – National Parks, schools, Fire Brigade etc and this saving has come from a smaller spending area centred around social services, with some creative thinking in “profit centres”.

    A few years ago the authority lost a major court case concerning funding rates for domicilary care for the elderly. I believe it amounted to £2.5 million p/a and basically they were found to be short on arrangements to protect such services being under-funded to the detriment of residents in care.

    One would expect this shortfall to have cost an extra £65 on the average Band D house. To the relief of ratepayers, no such position was made. However they stopped funding “social housing” projects, which previously had amounted to 25 or so units p/a. This was provided for in the aforementioned Green Book to the provision of about £1.8 million p/a. Is it a huge coincidence that the flats built above shops in PD may address this perceived need for social housing?

    The IPPG are very much in a version of “Yes Minister” where Sir Nigel wins every round and they play the part of Jim Hacker – well meaning, good intent, but completely out of their depth. So bemusedly they sit back and claim consider results, not process! (Which is more or less what Jim Hacker ended up doing.)

    “True blue Sue” may not be too dangerous in Young People’s services, it had a lot of scrutiny with the Ministerial Board. Older People’s Services perhaps a different matter, bless them they are easily confused anyway!

  • Kate Becton

    Jacob, I’m now rather concerned about the fact that we apparently have to ‘vote’ on your Facebook page in order to receive updates to your website. I find this unacceptable – either you want to have a political website or you don’t. I can assure you that I have never had this trouble with the other website.

    Also you mention that Sue Perkins did not vote for her ‘friend’ in the ballot of the Licensing Committee – I thought that this was exactly the thing that you were concerned about – that friends were voting for each other, regardless of the virtues of the opposition. Apparently not!!

    John, I agree that Ken Rowlands did a lot of work in his ward, however the same thing can be said of both Sue Perkins and Simon Hancock.

    I am aware that both of them have worked tirelessly in their respective Wards – certainly Sue, with a small band of volunteers started the Pembroke Dock Festival, which has been an enormous success, encouraged and supported the Bush and Park Estate Residents Group, is Chair of the Memorial Park Committee which has a small skatepark and she is continuing to work to provide new play equipment for younger children. I am not as familiar with Simon’s work; however his devotion to Neyland and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of the town are well known.

    I enjoy this website because it is now the only one that I contribute to as I found that the personal abuse and intemperate nature of the posts found on other websites were more than I felt able to accept; at least I feel that here we can have a discussion and explore the issues.

    I am now wondering, bearing in mind that we are a relatively small number of people, whether, in fact, most people do not care about what goes on in the Kremlin on the Cleddau as long as they are receiving a good service in the Ward. Discuss.

  • Kate, I suspected someone would come along with your sort of superficial logic.

    Obviously the bit I included about Sue being entitled to ‘vote for whoever she wants’ didn’t put you off bringing up attitudes toward political patronage, or, as you’ve put it “friends voting for each other, regardless of the virtues of the opposition.”

    I think your definition of ‘friends’ in terms of patronage is too simplistic and restrictive. It appears you’ve overlooked the clear common bond between Cllr. Perkins and Cllr. Bush, that they are mutual members and beneficiaries of a political-party-that-isn’t-a-party which enables them to financially benefit from large SRAs to the tune of £15k and £9k respectively.

    I take it from your earlier comments that you find it ‘demeaning’ to talk about the money involved, but you need to face facts – it’s almost exclusively what holds the ruling clique together.

    As for discussing on a public forum the talents and abilities of the respective candidates, that really could be demeaning.

    Let’s just say there are councillors in County Hall with strong views, whether they backed them up with their vote last Friday or not – and that, Kate, would be down to patronage!

  • Kate Becton

    Jacob – too tired to reply now, but will do so tomorrow – best wishes – Kate.

  • I’ll only publish your reply if you recruit 100 extra people to like my Facebook page!

    (And yes Kate, that’s just a joke!)

  • John Hudson

    County Councillors are meant to direct and control a County council as a county wide strategic authority.

    It’s all very well being good at representing a particular ward, but where does the strategic County policy direction figure?

    At the moment Welsh Government issue Laws or Measures and Directives. Chief Officers interpret them and advise Council. Very few, if any options, are put to Council for consideration and decision. Where does the Pembs. political input come from?

    Jacob, I would be grateful if you could let us know whether all councillors are still getting the £500 p.a. flat rate “contribution” towards IT and Office expenses in 2014/15. Was this approved or not?

  • Hi John, as far as I know, yes this is still in place. Also, in answer about the appointment of the Corporate Governance chair, that position is elected by committee members. With a 7-6 majority, the success of the IPG candidates for both chair and vice-chair is a foregone conclusion.

  • Martin Lewis

    Kate Becton says she “could not see the IPPG accepting any of the others” – and there lies the rub. The IPPG are only interested in Yes-Men (or women, Reg), not the best person for the job.

  • John Hudson

    Thank you again Jacob, so much for openness and transparency on members’ allowances and expenses in the annual committee report.

    This £500 p.a. has to be a reasonable amount. I have no idea but I bet there is not an internal paper or decision record justifying this amount which has been in place for a number of years now, off the radar so to speak.

    It’s about time the amount was reviewed in the light of inflation, or perhaps even brought into line with the Independent Review Panel’s guidelines and reimbursed on the basis of actual expenditure incurred by claims supported by receipts and invoices.

    This may be beyond the capabilities of some members given the example of the election expenses.

    These people are in charge of our money!

  • Indepedant

    Having sat as a volunteer alongside True Blue Sue many times she was only interested in ‘volunteering’ as long as she was Chair. Not many AGMs take place on these committees!

  • Kate Becton

    Well Jacob, I can assure you that I really did my best on my trip to Carmarthen today, I wore a sandwich board reading ‘Save Jacob Williams’s political website – like his Facebook page’ – I have to report that I am unsure of the numbers I have recruited – funnily enough not very many people seemed to understand what I was talking about – and on two occasions, whilst trying to explain I got very close to a meeting with either the police or the men in white coats. But I tried – I really tried.

    Back to business – I am assuming that contributors agree that our Councillors should get paid for what they do – I know Martin asks would Sue do her Cabinet job if she was not paid – would any of us?

    Also, knowing Sue as I do I still maintain that she would have got the job had others applied and been interviewed. It is very easy to snipe at people and I am sorry that Sue, with her understanding of and empathy with children and young people, which nearly drove me around the bend at times, and which makes her eminently suitable to do what she is doing, was placed in the position she was.

    The question I would ask is – ‘If the IPPG declared itself as a political group standing for election on a manifesto would this make a difference’ – I believe that it would and they need to have the courage of their convictions (oh no I hear you say – what convictions) – that is exactly the point, we need to hear it from them.

    How many more people am I going to have to recruit to see the Cllr. George piece Jacob?

  • Martin Lewis

    It’s well documented on that other website that Sue’s appointment came at a time when the ruling group was in deep sh!t regarding Children’s Services and even by IPG general standards, the group was bereft of anything approaching a half decent standard of candidate – so the Labour Group put her out on loan and she never returned.

    Can’t think why but Jacob thinks her magic number is 29. Whatever qualities you think she has Kate, councillors that do what she did will forever leave themselves open for ridicule when they pontificate from the benches. To err is human but some of our representatives treat their voters with contempt and then cocoon themselves and pretend all is well with the world.

    You’re peeing in the wind trying to defend what we all know has happened. Bitter? Too right, we’re fed up of being ruled by traitorous individuals.

  • Bemused of Pembroke

    I see the general figures but to be blunt I was wondering if these figures for allowances are compounded when a councillor sits on several special committees?

    If, say, a councillor sits on three different ones does that mean they then have three special allowances paid in addition to their basic allowance?

  • Paul Absalom

    Pembrokeshire, the place where the cost of elderly care has gone up by over 50% because the council is struggling trying to balance the books, legislation is not fully complied with by the council because they have no money, webcasts can’t be rolled out to all committee meetings because of a lack of money. But hey-ho, Jamie can create a brand new cabinet positions for one of his buddies (and manage to find enough dosh to pay for it).

  • Richie S.

    So Kate seems to think that if the IPPG declared itself as a political group standing for election on a manifesto, this would make a difference?!

    Not as far as I, and I suspect a lot of the electorate, are concerned Kate. All that I seem to see in that lot are a fair number of liars, cheaters and schemers!

    Throw in a lot of nodding dogs behind them and that sums up the IPPG. A lot of people have long memories Kate, and it will be a long time before I can bring myself to vote for anyone associated with Adams and Co.!

  • John Hudson

    The Council’s 2014/15 approved revenue budget includes £800,000 as a full year cost reduction to be achieved by increasing adult service charges to full cost, following reports in November 2013.

    After “consultation” a further report, approved by Cabinet after the budget was put to bed, stated that the implementation of agreed charge increases would be delayed by one month, and that other charges had still yet to be agreed. In other words reduced income leading to a budget deficit.

    At Cabinet on Monday, a report on increased fees payable to residential nursing and care homes refers to an increased allowance for the inflation rate in the calculation of proposed fees. No mention here in these reports of income shortfall or increased expenditure leading to budget deficits and Section 151 considerations. There is no mention of the budgetary financial implications at all!

    It seems the Leader only invokes the problems of additional expenditure when he does not approve of the purposes. Otherwise consideration of any financial implications can be ignored by reporting officers and his Cabinet.

    The Cabinet, by the way, is responsible for budget monitoring. It is a good job they are looking after our money so effectively and closely in these straightened times.

  • Kate Becton

    Richie – My point was that if IPPG members stood as a Political Group it would then be up to the Electors to either vote them in or ensure that they did not retain their seats; you may very well be right and many of them would find themselves without a seat, but at least the Electors would know where they stood. (No pun intended).

  • Kate Becton

    John – I do hope that no one near the Cabinet reads your last post – we could find ourselves having to find yet more money for a new Cabinet member with responsibility for budget monitoring.

    I read in the newspapers lately in a report on the management of the Co-Operative movement that a number of Board members did not know the difference between a creditor and a debtor – is it possible that the same could be said for some members of the Cabinet???

  • Keanjo

    Kate, the cabinet system is flawed. I very much fear that without change, whoever we vote into power will be corrupted.

    The system must be changed to restore the real power to all the Council members and not to a pushy cabal with the power of financial patronage. Moreover, officers should not be given the power to make policy. That is the province of elected members. Officers are there to carry out the policy targets chosen by members.

    I’m afraid the present shambles will only be cured by a complete change of leadership of members and senior officers and a significant shift in ethos in County Hall.

  • John Hudson

    Kate, one Jamie Adams has specific responsibility for Corporate Governance with shared collective responsibility with all his cabinet members.

    In 20+ years of watching this council and its predecessor, I cannot recall councillors/cabinet ever being advised about the cost of anything. They approve proposals in a financial vacuum, relying totally on the authority they have delegated to officers.

    Cabinet, collectively still do not even get to see the Council’s accounts, let alone all Councillors.

  • Kate Becton

    Back again Jacob, to take issue with one of your remarks in your post which was a reply to mine, i.e. that it is demeaning to discuss the personal attributes of various people in a public forum.

    Frankly, if you wish to not post these sort of comments you would have very few posts at all, come to think of it you wouldn’t have a website!!

    I very sincerely hope that none of my posts have been personally abusive – but I think it was Malcolm Calver who established that people in public life had to, effectively, accept a bit of stick. You are very effective at exposing what you believe to be personal failings, and dodgy motives.

    I have tried to give my sincerely held opinions – I have to admit that I have probably always been a bit naive and too trusting, however I do try to tell it as I see it and am pleased that other contributors to this website seem to respect each other’s views – even when they totally disagree with them.

  • Kate, just so you know, I don’t have any issue with any of your comments and was not accusing you or anybody else of making demeaning/personal comments.

    You took issue with people discussing councillors’ remuneration as you think it’s “demeaning.”

    I completely disagree with you on that one, remuneration is a matter of public record, who, don’t forget, also provide the funding.

    My point is that, if it came to the crux of the issue – that the chairmanship of the licensing committee (and every senior position for that matter) should be made to the best candidate – then I might understand how an online comparison of Cllr. Lee’s attributes with that of the successful candidate, Cllr. Bush, could be seen as ‘demeaning.’

    But even then, as it’s a public post, the public have every right to expect the best person for the job, and to see the evidence backing it up.

    Councillors put themselves in these positions, they aren’t forced to stand or accept, and as the old cliché goes: if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

  • Kate Becton

    John – I totally agree with you that Councillors are not advised about the cost of anything. Presented with the Council budget, could be 70-80 pages, I will admit that I found it virtually impossible to understand.

    You, quite clearly, understand this massive amount of financial information, I have to say that I didn’t and don’t, however I am beginning to think that the whole point of the exercise of presenting financial information as a huge one-off exercise meant that Councillors were unable to understand what on earth was going on.

    To be fair – and I include me in this – Councillors are not Accountants; they normally have a set of different skills, and I believe that the Officers of PCC ‘blind them with science’, making no attempt at all to ensure that Cllrs. are presented with bite size pieces to ensure that they understand at least part of what is going on financially, which is, after all the most important part of being a Councillor – without money one can do nothing.

  • John Hudson

    I do not understand the financial information provided to Councillors because there is no narrative explanation to the tables of financial figures. However I am not privy to the secret members-only budget seminars. Even the intense O&S committee scrutiny fails to elicit any detailed information on the service delivery effects of finance.

    I do not expect councillors to be rabid financial experts, but I do think that officers should recognise this and ensure that lay persons, including us who pay for it, should be told more in some detail. There are explanations in the formal accounts, they may excite a twitch of interest, even from the least accountant mind.

    Best not to put this out in a formal setting where officers and Cabinet members can be questioned in public. This comes down to a secretive, defensive attitude by officers and a Cabinet that have encouraged this by delegating all responsibility for incurring expenditure and the allocation of reserves, both revenue and capital.

    Keanjo bemoans the failure of the cabinet system. It could work given a more open and transparent system of corporate governance and a Constitution that recognises the predominance of individual elected councillors without any corporate policies.

    Perhaps the emerging Pembrokeshire Alliance is the (only?) way forward for the future. As a registered political party comprising of like minded “independent” candidates that we seem to prefer. At least we would know what we were voting for at the polling booth.

    I am afraid that a growing cohort of independent unaligned councillors will only make matters worse in so far as secret group discussions about appointments to committees are concerned. Such a group/body would not be able to chair any committees without forming themselves in a group post election.

  • Kate Becton

    John – thank you for your comments. Having attended a number of members’ seminars I felt that they created more smoke than fire.

    I know that it is difficult for officers who have a firm grasp of financial issues to remember that they are speaking to lay men; the use of impenetrable financial language tends to, I am afraid to say, make one lose the will to live!

    I believe it was truly impossible to make head or tail of it for most Cllrs., though there were the honourable exceptions.

    I also agree with your comments about the independent unaligned Cllrs., within this non-group are some of the most effective Cllrs.; I do appreciate that, because of the IPPG, they are reluctant to formalise as a Group; however it means that Pembrokeshire is deprived of the very people who could be most effective as Chairs. etc., particularly of the O&S Committees.

  • John Hudson

    I must admit that I have often thought that councillors do not know what they are voting for when they vote through the list of figures presented to them in the annual budget documents. That does not stop them from voting.

    It came as a bit of a shock when I was told that approval of the revised annual budget, in December/January as part of the next year’s budget process, gave automatic authority to decisions made by officers during the year, without any explanation of what they were.

    In my view it is the job of officers to provide budget documents that laypeople can understand, both councillors and tax payers. This should include, and be quite clear about, changes in the level of services planned to be provided.

  • Powertothepeople

    Anyone that stands for a political party in an election gets in and then jumps ship should be forced to stand down and the post re-opened.

  • Powertothepeople

    Oh and meanwhile they have put up the cost of collecting large rubbish items. They were 1-10 items for £10 they are now 1-5 items for £16!!!

    No concessions for the disabled, elderly, or carless!!!

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