Jacob Williams
Sunday 3rd August, 2014

Joseph’s coat of many colours

Joseph’s coat of many colours

One of my regular Milford Haven moles was in touch this afternoon with some interesting news from the county’s largest town.

It’s sure to irk the author of that other website that he’s been out-scooped on his own patch with the assistance of a home-grown mole. I can only assume that my source wanted maximum exposure and knew it could never be achieved through the moribund OldGrumpy.co.uk.

I’m told that two members of the ruling independent party, Cllrs. Lyn Jenkins and Mark Edwards, along with Labour’s Cllr. Alison Lee, turned up at Cllr. Stephen Joseph’s house late this afternoon.

The timing didn’t really lend itself to a social Sunday roast dinner gathering, and the absence of council chairman Tom Richards and his deputy Wynne Evans would seem to suggest it wasn’t some mundane civic event either, so it’s given rise to much speculation as to why four councillors of mixed affiliations from different corners of the county would be meeting up on the sabbath.

One of the least credible theories goes that Mark Edwards was pursuing a recruitment drive for new members to join his Haverfordwest snooker club.

As the only member of an opposition party to be seen, Cllr. Alison Lee’s presence has caused much head-scratching. The most believable theory is that she was there on behalf of her party leader, Cllr. Paul Miller, to try and recruit more councillors into the Labour fold.

Of course, the conspiracy nuts would trample over such tenuous speculation and would point to something more serious being behind it, such as the beginning of the end of the ruling IPPG via a breakaway movement.

Should Cllr. Joseph form or join a new political group on the council, he will have served under three political colours in just two years as a member. Having been elected for Plaid Cymru at the 2012 election, he caused ripples last year when he threw in his lot with the ruling independent party, the IPPG, whose own candidate, serving cabinet member Anne Hughes, he defeated to create the biggest upset of the 2012 election.

Fuelling the conspiracies that this gathering was part of a political ploy rather than a social sojourn is that Cllr. Joseph’s house is right next door to The Trafalgar pub, which has led the quick-witted to ask “could this be Cllr. Jamie Adams’ Waterloo?”

On this occasion I prefer to side with the conspiracy theorists, as it’s even been suggested a potential new group could be called Pembrokeshire First.


Update

As you will no doubt be aware, following my post, Cllr. Joseph emailed all councillors last night to say he would be resigning his membership of the ruling party.

He also hopes to set up a new group with any other councillors wishing to join him.

No takers are confirmed as yet, but Cllr. Joseph has commented below in the comments section, along with others including Cllrs. Jonathan Preston, Michael Williams and Tony Wilcox. I can also recommend you check out the Pembrokeshire Herald’s online coverage.

Despite some inaccuracies in the report, the Herald has a very cloak-and-dagger image of the gathering on the doorstep and reproduces the text of Cllr. Joseph’s letter in full.

They’ve even sourced a comment from leader of the council and IPPG, Cllr. Jamie Adams, who says he “didn’t always see eye-to-eye” with Cllr. Joseph, and instead of responding to the concerns he cites in his resignation letter, our dear leader wheels out the all-too-familiar ‘but we do have the lowest council tax in Wales’ line.

I also understand the author of that other website intends to post a story on the topic, but as I type (Monday, 10pm) it’s not up.

Seeing as he starts his pre-bed bottle of merlot at 7.30pm, I think it’s unlikely we’ll see the old duffer’s take on these events until Tuesday at the earliest, though he has posted some tentative observations in the comments section below.

If he hasn’t posted on his blog by Wednesday, I may be inclined to conclude that Mike’s thinking of the best way of announcing his decampment to Pembrokeshire First, though with his penchant for vino, Pembrokeshire Thirst may be more appropriate.


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58 Comments...

  • I suspect that, given the unpopularity of the IPPG, Cllrs Joseph, Edwards and Jenkins have a vision of the gravy train pulling out of the station after the next election with them left standing on the platform.

    As Dr Johnson said: “The sight of the gallows concentrates a man’s mind wonderfully.”

    Though I can’t for the life of me think what Alison Lee was doing there.

  • Jon Coles

    The numbers become interesting if the new group manages to attract seven members or more, as that would negate those IPPG-lite “unaffiliated” members and others who usually follow the IPPG whip.

    In addition, what effect would there be on committee memberships, Jacob? Which current party group would be the big losers if Pembrokeshire First got seven members or so?

  • Jonathan Preston

    A self-preservation exercise by Joseph. He made a grave error of judgment defecting to the IPPG. The Milford electorate will be wise to him next time around. Shifting again just serves to confirm he doesn’t really know where he belongs in local politics.

  • Welshman 23

    Cllr Joseph has said that his new party will be called ‘Pembrokeshire First’ and will have the slogan ‘people not politics’.

    http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/7610/council-group-tip-balance-power/

  • Stephen Joseph

    Jon Preston – I could have stayed with Plaid Cymru and done absolutely nothing except the odd rant about a proposed Civic Amenity site near your area and then gone back to doing and saying nothing, and barely turning up. I agree with you about the politics, I have no interest.

    Mike Stoddart – the next election doesn’t interest me, part of the problem is cynicism Mike, we need to work for positive change.

  • Tony Wilcox

    Early days yet, however the more councillors who see sense and leave the nest of vipers that is the ruling group, the better!

  • Jonathan Preston

    Cllr. Joseph, you will find that my opposition to the Civic Amenity Site was successful and served to prove that my election promise was to support the elderly and infirm. I may not be grabbing headlines with tales of defection and now perhaps new political parties (that are not political?) but my work with SEPCHN in defending vital medical services is well documented.

    Yes, I would like to attend council as regularly as I possibly can but I also hold down a full time job. Some councillors on the other hand are fortunate enough to be ‘kept’ – but I think it is of great benefit for a representative of the people to live by similar means to those that they serve.

    The electorate will decide who they wish to continue to work for them, the situation you have presented them with Cllr. Joseph is that you have spent your first two years flitting from one group to another with as yet no success that I am aware of.

  • Michael Williams

    Well, well. Stephen Joseph on the move. Where next I wonder? I doubt it is a principled stand, as he proved when he joined the IPPG that he didn’t know what a principle was.

    Elected as Plaid Cymru, joined the IPPG, and now yet another Damascus experience. Poor fellow. He looked so at home and fitted in so well amongst Adams, Lewis, George, and their de facto leader, Parry-Jones.

  • Jon Coles,

    I haven’t had time to do all the calculations, but if this new group acquired seven members – including enough from the IPPG to nullify its majority + Cllr Alison Lee from Labour – it would qualify for the SRA for largest opposition group (circa £9,000) and a scrutiny committee chair (another £9,000) and a seat on the National Park (£3,500).

    Four members would be sufficient to give it a scrutiny chair and a NP seat.

    I hope to put up a longer post on this subject on Pembrokeshire’s premier website later today.

    However, it would be unwise to discount the possibility that Cllr Lee might defect to the IPPG – especially if it could offer her the chairmanship of the licensing committee (SRA £9,000).

    Indeed, I hear on the grapevine that this particular carrot may already have been dangled.

  • Concerned

    The Pembroke Dock connection with Cllr Perkins may be enough to sway Cllr Lee over to the IPG, particularly if the suggested carrot was dangled!

    I think we all recall what Cllr Perkins said some years ago when Cllr Rowlands defected to the IPG. Something about thirty pieces of silver.

    It’s a funny old world!

  • Tony Wilcox

    Sadly predictable political squabbling regarding the formation of yet another group within Pembrokeshire County Council. Surely all that matters is the long overdue demise of the Rag, Tag and Bobtail outfit that currently pretends to be in control!

  • I’ve noticed an interesting comment posted by Cllr. Bob Kilmister, leader of the Pembrokeshire Alliance on Facebook, noting his confusion over Cllr. Joseph’s position and the fact he overlooked the possibility of joining the Pembrokeshire Alliance.

    Cllr. Kilmister says he set up his party “to allow disgruntled IPPG Councillors [to] find another home,” yet not one of its members has joined from the IPPG.

    Cllr. Joseph’s resignation from the IPPG offered the Alliance its very first chance to prove Bob’s theory that it’s a haven for disaffected IPPG members, and by all indications it doesn’t even seem to have been given consideration by Cllr. Joseph.

    Of the Pembrokeshire Alliance, Cllr. Kilmister also claims to have spent “a great deal of time & effort and money to get where we are now.”

    The question has to be asked: where exactly are they?

  • Stephen Joseph

    Tony Wilcox – there is no political squabbling, on the contrary I am making a move on my own, merely thought it courteous to inform all councillors and give them an invitation to join me.

  • Tony Wilcox

    I’ve not got any issues with what you are attempting to do Stephen, the more you can get from the ruling party the better.

  • Lizzie-Tish

    Divide and rule? I reckon Teflon Man is secretly rubbing his hands together. He’s survived worse than this. I’m an optimist so I hope I’m proven wrong but the more s*** that’s flying the better they dodge it in my humble opinion.

  • Stephen Joseph, You say in your email: “The current situation is rotten to the core. I have tried my hardest to change the status quo but to no avail.”

    That sounds like a political squabble to me. And when you joined the IPPG twelve months ago you were in fact reinforcing the status quo.

    When in a hole, stop digging.

  • Stephen Joseph

    Well it’s not a political squabble Mike. I don’t understand how a part of the IPPG fail to see any wrong in Bryn. I don’t agree I have reinforced the status quo but have been working against it from the inside, however you can’t help people if they won’t admit there’s a problem to start with.

    I’m not a politician Mike, sometimes you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Would you have preferred me to stay there and condone what’s going on?!

  • Michael Williams

    My god Stephen, if you couldn’t see what they were like many moons ago before you joined them, you must have been blind.

    It’s not only about the CEO, your great mate Rob Lewis either lied on his election expenses return or misled the ombudsman, and was guilty of the sort of election campaigning practises you might expect to see in a banana republic.

    Your ex-Leader is a master of half truths, spin and dodging questions, and let’s not forget Brian Hall, a fine example of an IPPG member. All of this was abundantly clear before you let your colleagues and electorate down.

    You condoned what was going on by choosing to sign up a year ago, and as I pointed out you fitted in perfectly! What it seems is that you have belatedly realised that the entire corrupt edifice is crumbling around you, and are seeking to save your own skin.

  • Malcolm Calver

    Cllr Joseph, I would appreciate you informing us if you say you are “not a politician” then how would you describe yourself?

  • Welshman 23

    Cllr Joseph how many times have you voted against the IPPG? I would be interested to know.

    Were you promised other roles or benefits for your ward when you defected, and these promises have not been honoured?

  • Nev Andrews

    Jacob…why not tell the elected members on here to take it to the members’ tea room, have the debate there and make sure it’s streamed via the webcast… 🙂

    You could do the Dimbleby bit!

  • What a good idea!

    Who could be wheeled in as a panellist to provide the tokenistic non-politician’s view?

    You? Keanjo? Welshman 23? Malcolm Calver?!

  • Keanjo

    I don’t fancy that Jacob but referring to Stephen Joseph’s Damascene conversion, it is to be welcomed – Old Grumpy can do the maths but three more conversions and a vote of no confidence could read: for the IPPG 29, against 31.

    Now that would be a result!!!

  • Paul Absalom

    When Stephen Joseph defected last year, I wondered what cabinet post he was going to get. Is he now upset because Jamie (give me £4,000 in historic travelling expenses) Adams created a post for his fellow YFC mate, rather than giving him a post?

    Just seems as though he gives a year and when nothing is forthcoming throws his dummy out and changes direction. All for the good of the people who elected him though, of course.

  • Nev Andrews

    Mr Calver surely…

  • John Hudson

    As a non Milforder, I was interested in Cllr Joseph’s reasons for joining the IPG and keeping them in control.

    If my memory serves me, his scheme for the Rath swimming pool was incorporated into a larger scheme (backed by the community!) of the Port Authority and the Council. It was this “help” that persuaded him to join the IPG. I don’t think anybody else knew anything about the scheme before the funding bid was submitted.

    Perhaps the council had consulted future residents as in the case of Hakin and Hubberston schools.

    Needless to say the bid for funding failed, but hey ho, the IPG had got another member signed up.

  • Timetraveller

    Oh Dear. Political scrambling and brownie point scoring all round. This is why the IPPG exists!

    Mike and others, it is not the time for working out who gets an SRA, nor who voted for Bryn last month or whenever.

    That the IPPG had frailties is common knowledge, so recent events should be no big surprise. Democracy works best with two parties, one able to form a working administration, the other a strong opposition. The maths of this may result in no overall majority, but what this authority needs to tackle corruption is a new administration.

    For that to happen, members need to bury the hatchet. Whether a grand alliance is possible, who knows, but for it to happen the past has to be put behind us.

    Does Pembs really need another party?

  • John Hudson

    Timetraveller raises the point about what will arise out of this.

    However, the same cadre of officers will be advising the new political administration of whatever shape or policy leanings, that is if it has any.

    How will it direct these officers?

  • Keanjo

    Timetraveller, that is spot on. The priority must be a vote of no confidence in the present Leader and Cabinet who have presided over a complete failure in the proper administration of PCC.

    The members will then be in a position to deal with BPJ as they see fit. It only needs a few to members to abandon the IPPG and there must be quite a few who are thinking that way.

    This is no time for the various factions to bicker among themselves but time for the opposition to unite and defeat this failed administration.

  • Ianto

    Having knocked it down, who will build it up again? Seems we have more than enough prepared with a sledge hammer, where are the brickies to rebuild?

  • Keanjo

    Jacob, if the IPPG lost in a vote of no confidence, could the majority opposition ask the First Minister to call an election to give voters the chance to sling the IPPG members out on their ears and give Ianto the bricklayers he is looking for?

  • I’m quite sure that no such provision exists, Keanjo, and that there’s nothing similar contained in the statute books either!

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Ianto, there are a lot of capable hard working councillors ready to rebuild and move our county forward.

    Once those who have failed have gone you will find things will improve rapidly. Please don’t tar us all with the same brush!

  • Welshman 23

    Nev and Jacob, count me in for being a panellist on any debate, I do not need much encouragement to stand in the next elections in 2017.

    Jamie Adams says at the bottom of his comment to the Pembrokeshire Herald that we comment to satisfy the headline writers: “Pembrokeshire’s future must come before any desire to satisfy the headline writers.”

    Well listen here Adams, you are an expert along with your fellow IPPG in creating your own headlines. I would suggest you engage brain before opening mouth.

    Here are some gems (and there are many more) that have been headlines over recent years:

    — Claiming (and being paid) historic travelling expenses 4 years late.
    — Pension scandal and Wales Audit Office and police investigations.
    — Estyn and CSSIW review.
    — Partygate.
    — Grants fiasco in Pembroke Dock.
    — Paedophile council worker Mik Smith.
    — Poor old whistleblower Sue Thomas was sacked whilst her allegations against Mik Smith were swept under the carpet.

    You and your IPPG make all the bad headlines, how dare you suggest that they are created by anybody else.

  • Stephen Joseph

    Mike Williams – best we have it out face to face, easy to rant on here and not talk to me in County Hall.

    Malcolm Calver – my motivation in becoming a councillor was because I was sick of moaning about the council and not doing anything to try and change things. If more people did that, it would be a better place.

    Welshman – I told the IPPG from the start that I wasn’t interested in any paid position or ‘favours’.

    Paul Absalom – It’s very easy to stand on the sidelines and criticise rather than standing up to the plate yourself. It might be hard for you to believe but all I have done in the council is what I thought best for Milford and Pembrokeshire. I don’t think BPJ is the best for Pembs, I tried repeatedly to be a voice of reason within the IPPG in open and closed meetings. I don’t understand their blind love for him, this left me with no other course of action.

  • Morgi

    I voted for Stephen Joseph partly because Anne Hughes was of that group with no moral compass. Lo and behold, I was betrayed and finished up with an IPPG rep whose dream was to provide Milford with a slide from a swimming pool to the haven!!!

    Of course, PCC didn’t put any financial resources into this hair-brained (my opinion) scheme – presumably the council staff detailed to assist with the formulation of the application for grant aid were unpaid volunteers and not those grant raisers so admired for their knowledge, expertise and professionalism by Councillor Pugh!

  • Timetraveller

    The complete collapse of the IPPG is certain if an administration could take over. The largest opposition party is Labour, especially if it could recover its defectors. It is for the rest to align with them.

    The two party model modifies in Parliament at times of crisis. If members want an anti corruption administration, that has to be the glue that binds it. At the moment we have the opposite, with continued recrimination and possibly yet another political party!

    The most likely outcome will be an internal IPPG coup followed by return of its defectors, but not massive change, apart from maybe BPJ whose position is politically untenable. The question becomes who would back Paul Miller as leader and on what terms?

  • Welshman 23

    Another error of judgement was “investing” £1.75 million of public cash in Bluestone, in return for shares which were recently valued at just £3.

  • Malcolm Calver

    Maybe, Cllr Michael Williams, the party you lead at County Hall and which Cllr Joseph stood for, did in his opinion once elected, “not come up to scratch” and rather than stay in the party he felt it better to leave.

    To you Tony, do not forget that many of your leading members Cllrs Perkins, Hancock, Llewellyn and Rowlands also joined the IPP group and surely as Labour councillors they would have been selected by your party as being ideal representatives of the Labour Party.

    I would suggest to Cllr Joseph stay as a truly independent councillor and state your point on every issue and not toe any party line as this is what is needed in so called “local government”.

    To Cllr Nutting, I love an idealist with slogans such as “rebuild and move our county forward”, perhaps you can give me an indication of how you personally would do this other than just hanging onto the Pembrokeshire flag.

  • Cllr Adams told the newspapers:

    “I am thankful that the majority of my colleagues on the council have demonstrated their ability to rise above the petty vendettas pursued by some and maintain a focus on the long-term.

    I am also grateful to those members who have sought to engage in our attempts to improve personal relationships within the authority.

    Pembrokeshire’s future must come before any desire to satisfy the headline writers.”

    This is typical of what passes for logical argument among the higher reaches of the IPPG.

    In Cllr Adams’ narrow view of the world, people are divided into two camps: those virtuous souls who agree with him, and the villains who don’t. The latter engage in morally dubious vendettas, short-termism and headline-chasing, while only the former have the interests of Pembrokeshire at heart.

    This form of discourse has the advantage that, if you can establish to your own satisfaction that your opponents are morally in the wrong, you have no need to bother refuting their arguments.

    And, if you can rely on an obedient majority to support you at every turn, it’s game, set and match.

    As Abraham Lincoln said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Mr. Calver, as with all idealisms the only way to bring them to fruition is keeping it simple. Talk, listen, act. All stakeholders have to be part of the decision making. Open dialogue will give confidence and commonality of purpose. Actions are positive and fully understood by all.

    I know now I am open to giving sound bites and platitudes. Unfortunately I and the Pembrokeshire Alliance will only prove our worth once we have the power. It does need a leap of faith. But I do like to think my word is my bond.

    Give me a ‘for instance’ and then I will tell you how I would deal with it. 🙂 Not too hard I am as mentally challenged as the next person. 🙂

  • Goldingsboy

    Are you seriously suggesting, Timetraveller, that the likes of Anne Hughes and her fellow turncoats should be given the opportunity to re-rat?

    Have you no measure of decency?!

  • Michael Williams

    But don’t forget that a major player in Jonathan Nutting’s group was a founding member and stalwart of the ruling IPG clique from 1996 right through to 2012, none other than Peter ‘Splinters’ Stock.

    Another one seeking survival from the sinking ship, perhaps, who seems to abstain on most issues these days. Are these people serious?

  • Tony Wilcox

    Malcolm, I agree with you, do you think the money involved had any bearing on them leaving?

  • Welshman 23

    Stephen, I appreciate you commenting on this site, how about sharing your views and in particular the alleged meeting that took place over the weekend with fellow councillors on their views and their plans going forward.

    You could really upset the apple cart if the names of these people involved went public.

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Ah I see, we are not here to talk about the way forward for Pembrokeshire 🙁

    Michael Williams, the way you are talking on this site suggests you have been around the IPPG for too long.

    How can we look credible when you are trying to shoot all and sundry. Remember what is important, and that is to bring about regime change.

  • Jonathan Preston

    It seems quite ironic that despite all this drama, Cllr Joseph remains a member of Plaid Cymru!

  • Morgi

    Stephen Joseph has no interest in politics and deserts one political party to join the Independent Plus POLITICAL Group!!! – I won’t vote for him again despite fancy quotations of Socrates and lovely soundbites re Milford.

    Regarding Pembrokeshire Alliance – the worst thing for me is that one of its primary aims is to recruit disaffected ex IPPG councillors. My fear is that this could be interpreted as power no matter the morals.

  • Welshman 23

    Paul Miller is holding a public meeting at the Picton Centre, Haverfordwest on Tuesday 19th August (6pm) and I’m really hoping you will join me.

  • Martin Lewis

    Just as Hancock remained a Labour Party member after he took his 30 pieces of silver. The mind boggles as to how this can happen. Steve Joseph has shown contempt for his voters just as Hancock, Perkins and others have before him.

    I count myself lucky that I’m no longer living in Neyland and being represented by him. Thank God I moved to Pembroke Dock Market Ward under the honest watch of Cllr Brian Hall!!!

  • Ken Dalziel

    I see his resignation from the group has made the BBC Wales news page and he gets fine praise from the leader 😉

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-28689172

  • Malcolm Calver

    Tony, how dare you even suggest that the extra money was the reason for them leaving, these people have principles!

    I do believe one of them is a man of the cloth and preaches from the good book, but there, so does Cllr George I am told, when he is not doing funerals at the crematorium.

    Maybe Tony you could enlighten us on what these four receive over and above the basic allowance?

  • Tony Wilcox

    Malcolm, I think I may have had the same maths teacher as Huw George. Since the last election combined total I reckon it would be in the region of £90,000+ and it’s well worth it, I am sure you will agree.

  • Welshman 23

    I attended the protest today, where I saw Councillor Joseph. In my opinion he should have addressed the audience, he missed an opportunity to explain himself.

  • Malcolm and Tony,

    Cabinet SRA = £15,000 per annum (approx) x 4 persons = £60,000 x two years (approx) since the last election = £120,000.

    Cheap at half the price!

  • Paul Absalom

    Steven Joseph:- Yes, it is easy for me to sit here and criticise, but I did not stand for the county council because I would not have had enough time to do the job properly.

    I agree with what you are saying I just question your reason for defecting from your like minded councillors, after all the last year you have voted with them, faultlessly.

    I think I would have realised that they are the wrong group to run this county after hearing the IPPG morning prayer the first time.

  • Casual Obsever

    Resignations, new groups…

    Lessons from history: the demise of corrupt organisations is usually signposted by the burning of documents.

    On environmental grounds, could everyone delay such until the winter when those concerned can heat their homes for a month?

  • John Hudson

    We owe a debt to Jacob and Mike for their powers of investigation and endurance in bringing the Council’s more dubious, and now distasteful activities out into the open.

    The present Leader and his party are demonstrably powerless to put things right and change the ethos of this disreputable, rotten, Council.

    But what of Labour, Conservative, Plaid Cymru, Pembrokeshire Alliance and the unaligned? Where is the constructive working together for the good of the County? Most of us have been longing for the opportunity that is now presented

    We are approaching the tipping point where with a few more “principled” defections from the IPG, even if only from disgust, the balance of power will move from the IPG to a gaggle of apparently, infighting small groups and individuals, who seem incapable of working together.

    Can this disparate band construct a coalition, a whole united group capable of leading the council forward, if and when the IPG collapses? I see no evidence, or hope for the future.

    Like many I am happy to throw stones into the disreputable glass house that we are required to pay for, but I have no wish or ambition to put myself forward to take on a councillor’s paid job.

    As an individual I would not presume to have a vision for the future of the County, but if we continue with 60 councillors just mindful for their own patch, I rather fear we are doomed.

    I wonder if the Welsh Government prefers the CEO in place to get this Council to do its bidding? It hasn’t got any ideas of its own County priorities or policies, to shape or modify those that are imposed on it.

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