Jacob Williams
Monday 18th August, 2014

Following the leader

Following the leader

This evening’s secret-but-not-a-secret meeting of the ruling group caused some controversy before it even started.

Cllr. Mike Stoddart, he of that other website, emailed leader Cllr. Jamie Adams early this morning – copying in all councillors – to “remind” him that “as well as being Leader of the IPPG, you are Leader of the council.”

He then asked a number of questions to which he would like some answers, and concluded by asking: “Could I urge you to call a meeting of all members at the earliest opportunity so that these and many other outstanding questions can be addressed?”

A response to each of the points raised by Cllr. Stoddart was duly circulated by Cllr. Adams, who said he intended to arrange a briefing for all councillors probably in early September, where he “hoped to provide Members with information on a way forward” which he “would prefer to be externally led to ensure that there is no suggestion of any bias.”

The leader preceded his reply to Cllr. Stoddart by saying: “Firstly you won’t be aware of the timing of the arrangement of our Group meeting which was early last week and not in response to Friday’s situation.”

“Friday’s situation” – and it’s one way of putting it, I suppose – is the leader’s method of referring to the Pembrokeshire Herald’s revelation of council chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones’ foul-mouthed tirade against two ruling group councillors for voting a way he wished they hadn’t, when they supported my proposal to ask him to repay the unlawful payments he received under the controversial pension opt-out scheme.

So if this secret-but-not-a-secret meeting was arranged prior to “Friday’s situation,” it’s safe to conclude it was in response to its scandalous precursor, which was the revelation of the real reasons given by audit committee chairman John Evans MBE for his shock resignation earlier this year.

It never rains in PCC, but it pours!

There have been questions in the comments section of this website and on Facebook asking if minutes of tonight’s secret meeting will be published.

The answer, of course, is yes – right here on jacobwilliams.com!

The meeting was extremely well attended by IPPG members, and my moles have been quick to point out that, given the scale of issues facing the council and its ruling group, the gathering was a peculiarly subdued affair, and nothing like some of the more heated group meetings of yore.

It was also noteworthy for the lack of contributions from senior cabinet attendees such as Cllrs. David Pugh, Bob Summons, Elwyn Morse and Simon Hancock, while past leader Cllr. John Davies was nowhere to be seen.

The recently revealed circumstances surrounding John Evans’ resignation, in which he claimed the chief executive convened a hostile early morning meeting in his office and threatened to engage a private investigator to uncover the source of a council leak, was one of the prime items on the agenda, however it didn’t take up too much time.

Cllr. Brian Hall this evening swatted off the contents of Mr. Evans’ letter as nonsense. He was in good company too, because none other than council chairman Cllr. Tom Richards was one of those present at the early-morning grilling cited in Mr. Evans’ letter, and in response to Cllr. Hall he said that the meeting was ‘nothing like’ Mr. Evans had portrayed it.

However cabinet member Cllr. David Simpson was also ordered to attend the chief executive’s molehunt meeting, and he disagreed with Cllr. Richards, saying that the points Mr. Evans raised in his letter were all valid, with the only difference from his view being that he didn’t perceive the hostility in the same way Mr. Evans did.

Talk also got round to the Pembrokeshire Herald’s exposé of Mr. Parry-Jones’ expletive-laden rant towards Cllrs. Mark Edwards and Peter Morgan.

The first to get his teeth into this one was, again, Cllr. Brian Hall. Whilst not accusing the two councillors of lying, he said the Pembrokeshire Herald probably “made it up.”

This was only a fleeting theory because Cllrs. Edwards and Morgan were both able to give all their first-hand accounts.

They confirmed that the chief executive was indeed very angry and did ‘swear a lot,’ but both agreed that their visit to the chief executive’s office concluded on more pleasant terms than the effing and blinding.

The Pembrokeshire Herald and other media and sources of information featured quite prominently tonight too, and I hear that whoever within the IPPG is ‘talking to the press’ and ‘other councillors’ is something that troubles Cllr. Rob Lewis no end.

Cllr. Reg Owens even said it was a ‘disgrace’ that the ruling group had such moles among its ranks. In another interesting deviation from the public persona he’s managed to carve out as the IPPG’s constant maverick, Cllr. Owens even felt it necessary this evening to justify to his ‘independent’ colleagues why he had attended the multi-union protest against the chief executive outside County Hall the other week.

Accordingly, he went along to support his ex-colleagues. Given the numerous run-ins Cllr. Owens has had with his group leader ever since he became a councillor and joined the ruling IPPG in 2012, it came as a surprise this evening to learn that he used the gathering as an opportunity to dish out some rather nice support for Cllr. Adams.

It just goes to show that what goes on behind the closed doors of a secret meeting isn’t necessarily the same as what’s put in front of the public gaze.

Privately supporting Cllr. Adams is one thing, but the chances of us witnessing Cllr. Owens gushing with praise for him in front of the web cameras can be ruled out entirely, because he also made it known to his colleagues tonight that, if a vote of no confidence in Cllr. Adams went ahead, he would probably have to abstain!

If that’s not embarrassing enough for Cllr. Owens, he also said last Friday’s Pembrokeshire Herald was wrong when it printed his name as being among those councillors the paper said it ‘understands’ have put their signatures to a requisition to call an extraordinary meeting to debate motions of no confidence. He said he had done no such thing – and that is true.

Requisitions for extraordinary meetings require all signatures to be on the same piece of paper, which can make the logistics of acquiring multiple councillors’ signatures from across the county quite difficult.

I, along with umpteen other opposition councillors, have put my signature to it, and last week I rang Reg to see if he would be willing to put his.

I made it quite clear that it was a requisition to call an extraordinary meeting to debate a motion of no confidence in Cllr. Adams as leader, and a vote of no confidence in Mr. Parry-Jones as chief executive.

Reg agreed to it on the phone, so conversation then turned to how, when and where he could put pen to paper.

I told him that, the following evening, the requisition would be just a short journey away from him at the Labour party’s office in Milford Haven where the group’s councillors were going to sign it at an informal get-together.

Reg said he would be quite willing to travel to meet them and sign it there, and that he would liaise with Labour leader, Cllr. Paul Miller, to arrange it.

Now I don’t know if he ever made that phone call to Cllr. Miller but he never did turn up to the Labour HQ with his ballpoint.

If he did make contact I think it’s unlikely the Labour leader discouraged him, but for whatever reason, somebody or something else did.

With some nerve he also told tonight’s meeting that he never planned on signing it either!

Maybe Cllr. Owens’ stark u-turn had something to do with one of the leader’s flagship announcements this evening that he intends to make some cabinet changes.

No specific details were given but we can also expect to see a change to ‘the structure of the cabinet.’ In addition, Cllr. Adams wants to be more inclusive with opposition members.

In September audit reports into Welsh authorities will be issued and our dear leader says Pembrokeshire will ‘definitely’ be in the top quarter.

The council has turned a corner, and apparently he has a five year plan in mind which requires his group members’ confidence, and ‘only good things’ will come from it.

If the platitudinous waffle hasn’t already got you revved up, the next disclosure will, because forget about the next five years, there’s a rather more pressing concern facing the council, who can currently be found guarding his plums from pesky peckers in the orchard.

Yes, the other reason Cllr. Adams requires his group members’ solid support relates to the chief executive, Bryn Parry-Jones, who is on an unusual ‘mutually agreed’ ‘period of absence’ – gardening leave to you and me.

So, how long will it last, and what will happen next?

Cllr. Hall said that Mr. Parry-Jones would be going away for a fortnight in a week, and suggested that he could return after that.

His was a lone voice.

My sources say there seems to be little doubt about it – Mr. Parry-Jones won’t be returning to the authority – however the important matter is the way in which the council and the chief executive part company. The devil is in the detail.

Both Cllr. Adams and his deputy Cllr. Rob Lewis stressed that any parting of ways mustn’t give rise to grounds for wrongful dismissal. They even reminded those present how costly and drawn out employment disputes can be, and hinted at the recently revealed large settlement awarded to Sharon Shoesmith by Haringey Council for her wrongful dismissal in 2008.

It seems no pressure tactic is off-limits!

Cllr. Adams dropped his bombshell: a parting of ways would likely involve a ‘package,’ and he wanted his party’s support because a parting package would require full council approval.

All in all, my sources seem to be in agreement – Cllr. Adams had a good meeting, the troops seem to be behind him – and he’ll probably have the best night’s sleep he’s had in a long time.


News in brief

Cllr. Brian Hall had been away in Ireland for a few days and said he “came back home to ten f*****g volcanoes.” He suggested to Cllr. Adams that a vote should be taken among members present to see how much support he had as leader, which he called “a vote of confidence.” I’m told Cllr. Adams pooh-poohed this idea and wouldn’t allow it to go ahead.

There were audible sniggers when vice-chairman Cllr. Wynne Evans told the assembled throng that Mr. Parry-Jones was owed the council’s ‘gratitude,’ and that he had been a ‘fantastic’ chief executive who’d done a lot for the county.

The leader said he had become aware that some IPPG councillors had been emailed by the leader of the Pembrokeshire Alliance, Cllr. Bob Kilmister, with a proposal to form a grand alliance with Cllr. David Simpson as leader.

He thanked the recipients present for bringing the emails to his attention and for their loyalty. I’m told councillors ‘laughed’ at the grand alliance proposal, and it prompted Cllr. Pearl Llewellyn to say: “If I goes from this group I’ll be going out on my own, not in with the Alliance!”

Cllr. Simpson said that he had nothing to do with the grand alliance approach, and that he hadn’t spoken to Cllr. Kilmister about it either.

Cllr. Simpson also poured water on the idea that he was raring to become the next leader. He told Cllr. Adams at the meeting “I’m not going to stand against you,” and said he thought Cllr. Adams is “a good leader,” but “if you step down, I might think about it!”

I’m told Cllr. Brian Hall butted in on many contributions, making it intimidating for some of the others to air their views.

Of those who did speak out: Cllr. Myles Pepper said he’s been having a lot of stick from his constituency over council scandals and his membership of the ruling party.

In a similar vein, Cllr. Lyn Jenkins said that she never had been and never would be told how to vote, and if she ever was told how to vote in future she would leave the group.

Cllr. Mike James also said he was not happy with the chief executive swearing at elected members. He said this issue as well as concerns raised by John Evans should both be fully investigated.

Founding member of the council, Cllr. John Allen-Mirehouse claimed that, with his long time on the council and his experience of opposition members, he was of the opinion that even if Cllr. Adams and Mr. Parry-Jones both fell on their swords, the opposition “will never ever stop, no matter what you do,” while others pointed out that the newspapers and the media are out to attack the ruling group at any given opportunity, and they only ever print bad news, never the good news!


Share this...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

67 Comments...

  • Jon Coles

    Birds heard coming home to roost are not usually chickens. If Rob Lewis is worried about leaks, he ought to remember that HMS IPPG leaks from somewhere around the upper decks.

  • Welshman 23

    Jacob and Grumpy, I applaud both of you for getting inside information. When is the emergency meeting of full council?

    I know Wynne Evans lives in Narberth but he must be on the wrong medication to make comments like he did. And as for the newspapers only printing the bad news, I’d like to see a list of the good news. Please do not start with cheapest rates in Wales.

  • Goldingsboy

    Jacob, have councillors a right to legal advice affecting council business?

    Moreover, if they are going to fill a goodie bag for that greedy sod to accompany him on his journey out of the land flowing with milk and honey, then the people of Pembrokeshire must voice its opposition right from the start.

  • Dave Edwards

    If he has been in Ireland for the past two weeks, how does Cllr Brian Hall know “the chief’s” holiday arrangements? Maybe Uncle Brian has been babysitting again!

  • John Hudson

    On any vote concerning the CEO, has any councillor, who has enjoyed the chief executive’s hospitality and may apparently be considered as a friend, got a non-pecuniary interest that needs to be declared? (Have these been declared in the past?)

    I think I recall that a senior member of the IPG excused himself from sitting on the Rob Lewis Standards Committee hearing on grounds of friendship.

    What about friends of the Leader, not to mention pecuniary interests arising from positions they may enjoy by the Leader’s personal appointments to positions?

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    The Brown Shirts did their job in the bunker on the Night of the Long Knives. This shows that perhaps the IPPG foot soldiers are happy with what is going on and as an electorate the breaking of such solidity may be difficult. 2017 is a long way off.

    Uncle Reg whilst fronting up as a unionist is also one perhaps grading the crumbs of comfort from the table in any cabinet reshuffle.

    It’s a worrying trend to think Big Brother is watching over the hamlet to bring to the fore any dissenter. Cheapest council tax we may have but how much lower could it be if we didn’t lurch from one disaster to another? There is a proverb, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. Perhaps the gravy train runners could bear this in mind and act in the best interests of Pembrokeshire.

    It is a moot point but is anyone running a book on how many Cabinet members will be fronting the Pembrokeshire Council stand at this week’s County Show?

  • John Hudson

    This is a copy of a letter that I have sent to the Wales Audit Office regarding the “improved” corporate Governance arrangements of the Council:-

    Request for a Report in the Public interest into the Corporate Governance arrangements of Pembrokeshire County Council.

    I understand that you are required to report on these “arrangements” as part of your audit process and that you are able to:-

    • Conduct a special inspection and publish a report and make recommendations and

    • recommend to Ministers of the Welsh Government that they intervene in some way.

    I note from your latest Annual Improvement Report on PCC issued in July, that you have concluded, inter-alia, that the Council is improving its governance arrangements and encouraging greater member involvement and challenge. However you do identify some specific governance issues the Council needs to consider.

    I need not rehearse the failings of this council over recent years and months, (some under continuing investigation) but it does seem time for a definitive comprehensive review into the continuing ongoing ethos of this Council and its corporate governance arrangements.

    Since your report was published there have been three issues that have caused great concern to some councillors and many citizens of Pembrokeshire, to the extent that any remaining confidence in the council’s ability to put its house in order may have been lost:-

    1. The revelations about the Mik Smith “case” and implied administrative shortcomings and

    2. The publicly reported resignation of the Lay member and appointed chairman of the Council’s Audit Committee over undue officer influence on the former Chairman causing him to resign.

    3. The subsequent reported actions of the Chief Executive Officer at a meeting.

    The Council’s political leadership seem to be incapable of even recognising that things have gone seriously wrong, and presumably drawing comfort form your reports, continue to try and assure us that things are improving.

    It has to be said, that I suspect many of us do not believe this. Will you please, under the powers available to you, undertake appropriate action that you consider necessary.

    As we mere electors are powerless, and are reduced to shouting from the sidelines, it seems that the auditor is the only hope.

    The long awaited review of the Council’s Constitution is nowhere on the horizon.

    Does anyone know why “we” bought The former Tax Office at Cherry Grove for £600,000 and are spending £1.3m doing it up? Who, or what, is going to work there?

  • The Time Lord

    A sinking ship between a rock and a hard place for certain councillors. As it is for HR because of their fear that a change of governance will mean that their previous actions will be under scrutiny by the new governance. Heave ho! my hearties.

    The IPPG’s nearest lifeboat seems to be time. Is there time between now and the next election for all this to be forgotten?

    Is anyone keeping a spreadsheet on each IPPG member so that it can be published individually as a reminder just before the elections?

  • Andrew Lye

    So they are proposing to hang a certain person out to dry to save their scrawny necks if these facts are correct?

    I was relieved to read the positive comments about the Pembrokeshire Alliance. In the meantime, the IPPG propose to continue with their bunker mentality.

  • Timetraveller

    It would be “disloyal” for any IPPG member to challenge Jamie Adams as leader. The process of change requires he either stands down or a certain amount of plotting and positioning. Individual members will need a lead to follow, many are already looking around.

    There has been political ineptness on a grand scale, it is telling that Jamie wasn’t prepared to test his standing on a vote of confidence.

    Give it time and make the issue a general one of corruption. Corruption is a versatile word, if it had a colour, it would be brown. If it had a texture, soft and sticky. Most IPPG members know the toilet has not been flushed yet, so lots more to come!

  • Hayley

    Great reporting…sounds like a foul mouthed teddy bear’s picnic!

  • Quill

    Like Brian Hall, I’ve been away for a while and come back to find JW, OG, the Herald, John Evans, Peter Morgan and Mark Edwards have let slip the dogs of war!

    Only difference between me and Brian is I’m delighted with it! If any IPG member reads this I hope you have trouble sleeping at night, you’re a disgrace and if you can continue to support such a fascist organisation after recent happenings then like Myles Pepper you deserve all the criticism you get. I haven’t got any sympathy for you whatsoever because you bring it all upon yourself, especially the ones who put up with it in exchange for drips of gravy.

    You’ve only got yourselves to blame, and I for one am delighted I can read all your sordid stories that go on behind closed doors with you all thinking it’s secret. The public hate you for what you’re all doing, these days most of us know all about it, you can’t hide anything or keep any secrets.

    Change your ways and stand up for what’s right.

  • Jonathan Preston

    The statement that Cllr. Simpson has made in that he didn’t perceive the hostility in the same way Mr. Evans did is irrelevant. Intimidation (or bullying) is defined by the way in which the recipient of the attack is made to feel. If John Evans MBE experienced any form of intimidation due to the manner in which the CEO conducted affairs, then that is totally unacceptable.

    To avoid any likely claims for ‘unfair dismissal’ the Leader Jamie Adams will have to display qualities of real leadership and should be asking for the resignation of the CEO, no handsome severance, no extended gardening leave, no more money out of the Pembrokeshire pocket.

    Jamie Adams could himself then stand down and make way for Cllr. Simpson to put himself forward as leader (I think he would do very well if it came to the vote) however this is unlikely to happen so we can continue to observe the IPPG members squirm as they blindly follow their leader from one crisis to another scandal to eventual electoral Armageddon.

  • Mayday

    This 2010 report from the Audit Commission makes interesting reading:

    http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/2010/03/by-mutual-agreement-severance-payments-to-council-chief-executives/

  • Goldingsboy

    Well done Mayday. I suggest all opposition councillors should read it and begin their planning to thwart Mr Avarice personified.

  • Tim

    What I don’t get is if any other employee working in PCC acted like this, they would be out the door as they have broken rules. What does Jamie and his lot think they are doing? I assume they condone this kind of behaviour from employees then? In which case are they setting a precedent for others to act like this? I’m sure the policies such as ‘dignity at work’ and other rules should be followed by all staff no matter how high up the ladder they are.

    Pembrokeshire CC is a joke – not only my opinion but the majority of those living in the county share that too. Oh and it’s not Jamie and his gang the general public see, it’s the front line workers; they are the ones that have to deal with the comments from everyone, they are the ones who are ashamed to admit they work for PCC, they are the ones who watch the Chief roll up in his car and hide in his office while they slog away not even earning the living wage.

    Jamie stop thinking about yourself. I dare you to go to Castle Square and ask the public what they think of you and PCC – just see how the people of Pembrokeshire, the people that you are supposed to represent and look out for, really feel about PCC.

  • Teifi

    To answer one question asked here – the finance department is moving out of the Kremlin to the old tax office, no one in the department knows why, they have no idea if another department is expanding or moving in and one doesn’t ask why unless you want to be branded “troublesome” – as in “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!” 🙁

  • John

    I believe that Councillors have shown their naivety in comments made in the meeting and in the above report. There is more than enough ammunition here alone to claim constructive dismissal and will be food and drink for any legal advisor to the CEO. Those that may be responsible for future discussions with the CEO may have just had their job made that much harder.

  • Robin Wilson

    Statement…I am taking a “leave of absence”. Is that part of your holiday entitlement? Do you mean you are taking a paid holiday as part of your holiday entitlement, as per your contract of employment?

    Does your contract state how much notice must be given for a holiday? So, are you taking a break, without notice, as part of your holiday entitlement? Or are you just taking a break? What are the reasons for this “leave of absence”?

    Have you consulted HR about your reasons for reaching this decision to take “a leave of absence”? If not, why not? Are you resigning from your post?

    Pardon me for asking, but there would seem to be a lot of unanswered questions for anyone who has been or is in business…or do other rules, of which I am ignorant, apply?

  • Keanjo

    The Chief Executive’s position is in his hands although he really does need to give due consideration to the views of the people he serves.

    The political solution is much clearer. The leader of the IPPG and his Cabinet have failed Pembrokeshire and should resign en bloc. The Council could then choose their replacements and the new administration should consider what has gone wrong, and devise a new system. I look forward to their resignation at an early date.

  • Weasel

    With regard to the recent accusations against the Chief Executive why has Jamie Adams not followed the clear process as laid down in PCC’s Constitution to cover such circumstances?

    There have been at least two allegations in recent weeks regarding the Chief Executive’s behaviour that if true constitute gross misconduct.

    Part 4 Section 2 of the Constitution demands that where accusations of gross misconduct have been made there should be an immediate “suspension of the officer for the purpose of investigating the alleged misconduct”, and that “the Authority must appoint a Committee (“an investigation committee”) to consider the alleged misconduct.”

    It is not for the Leader or his ruling group to make any judgement on this, and they should not be negotiating any severance packaged until the disciplinary process has been completed. Scare stories about unfair dismissal claims are at best premature and if the process is adhered to and fairly applied, quite simply irrelevant.

    Surely the Monitoring Officer should be pointing out to the Leader that he is failing in his duties and advise him of the requirements he has to follow under the Constitution.

  • Jeff's the Man

    Brian Hall has his head so far up the chief’s backside he can see Jamie Adams and Cllr Richards’ feet!! Great site Jacob keep up the good work – there is too much corruption in County Hall!

  • Galf

    I hear via a ‘fragrant’ source at the Kremlin that the authority’s cellar of municipal grade wine has recently been significantly reduced. It remains unsure if this is due to :-

    – Consumption (either in drowning sorrows or in celebration.)
    – Increased hospitality (especially to those in the legal profession.)
    – No restocking due to concerns that ratepayers have to foot the bill (thought unlikely.)
    – Relocation.

  • Tony Wilcox

    There is no doubt in my mind that the Chief Executive will be back in position. They simply do not have the bottle to challenge him. I reckon he will remain in post until a year or so before the next council elections. If enough time has passed between his departure and the election, this may give currently unelectable councillors some hope of conning their electorates once again.

  • The Time Lord

    Time for some action I feel. Could I suggest that the concerned voters of each ward arrange a meeting with their councillors to discuss the key issues and to obtain their views and concerns, and then to report back. Purely, from a practical view point, all on the same night where possible.

  • AAD

    If Ealing Studios were still around now, could they consider updating one or two of their greatest comedies? My own contribution, for what’s is worth is…The Cherry Grove Mob!

    Who do you think among this lot would be suitable in the Alec Guinness role?

  • John Hudson

    Usually at the public inspection of accounts, in amongst the central office expenses, I find payment vouchers for wine bought for admin offices, presumably for “entertainment functions” and for the annual civic dinner. This year I could not find either.

    While I could find the food voucher for the annual civic bash held at Scolton Manor, I did not find the drinks bill. I have been informed that these were provided from “stock” and didn’t cost anything. I am not sure whether this was from available central office stock or from “Scolton” stock provided free.

    Thanks for the information about Cherry Grove. I thought County Hall had always been tight for staff space, hot desking etc. This has not apparently bothered senior staff until now, when we are led to believe staffing costs are being “managed” to achieve cost reduction targets.

    Operational matters are under the control and direction of the CEO. Does any Cabinet Member or Councillor know why we are spending some £1.9m on this extra office space. They after all approved the capital estimates. I cannot believe that they did not know or were not told when they approved the budget.

    Why have the plans for the new library in Haverfordwest not yet been announced? You remember, the one we were told was too expensive. There is money for this in the budget approved by councillors.

    Might I suggest that an “improvement” would be that cabinet and Councillors were informed properly, rather than just apply the rubber stamp to proposals and budgets put to them by officers.

  • The Time Lord

    Tell me wise men and women. If there is a vote of no confidence in a local councillor, is there a mechanism for he/she to resign?

  • Skipper's First Mate

    Regarding possible saving by a time lifeboat – after all the election is some time away – is there not the risk that by then everything will be in an even worse state? Such that the failure to get re-elected moves from a possibility to a racing certainty.

  • Antony Glynn

    It is a matter of astonishment and bafflement to me that Brian Hall has been able to return to his old tricks, as reported above. Surely his shenanigans of a few years ago should have been sufficient to ensure that this thuggish oaf would never again darken the doors of County Hall.

  • Brian

    Continuing the historical theme…is this going to be the end of IPPG’s Monday evening meeting?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-UHaCZSBeM

    Can’t quite make out the identity of the gentleman at the top of the tower but I think he might be on gardening leave.

  • Tony Wilcox

    I can’t help wondering if the scathing comments of our county’s illustrious senior politicians (both AMs and both MPs) in today’s Western Telegraph had any bearing on the timing of the not so secret secret meeting, as they would no doubt have been aware of the content.

  • John Williams

    I love the way that everyone seems to think that the next elections will clear out the Augean stables that is the leading group. Most people I speak to are not interested in all of this or do not know it’s even going on. The problem we all have is actually to get the voters out. In my ward very few voted and yes we have an IPPG member. I despair.

  • Skipper's First Mate

    John, if you look at the past election results it is in fact very easy to vote them out. Majorities are quite low. All you need is a few to vote for someone else (a change of vote is in fact a difference of 2) and a few non voters to vote. The latter is where the unions can swing it as they need to organise their members to vote. If the IPPG do not understand that then they can’t see the wood for the trees.

  • John Williams,

    Don’t despair! We don’t need to vote them all out – enough to remove their majority will do quite nicely.

    At the last election their majority was reduced from 39-21 to 33-27 and, following Stephen Joseph’s defection, they currently cling to power by virtue of their two recruits from Labour (Cllrs Simon Hancock and Sue Perkins). As the next election comes closer, expect a few more to jump ship.

    “The sight of the gallows concentrates a man’s mind wonderfully”. (Samuel Johnson).

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Through the various reports Jacob has uploaded highlighting issues of concern at PCC, I’ve consistently pushed the viewpoint Stephen Crabb MP has stated in the Western Telegraph regarding the fact that “normal politics and governance do not really exist at County Hall” where “the big strategic decisions get taken by intelligent and highly able officers rather than by the elected politicians” and “There is no clear political programme which voters decide on at local election time and, therefore, very weak accountability from the politicians. And this goes on year after year.”

    If there was a controlling overview from a political party would we be in our current trauma? Fair play to Labour leader Paul Miller for fronting a public meeting which has mobilised responses from our MPs and AMs.

    The challenge is to get the independent councillors currently tight in the IPPG iron fist to stand tall and have the ability and belief to back their principles. The Leader and his Cabinet cronies stand on a precipice which is fragile to say the least. If just a handful of the IPPG flock of sheep leave the safety of the farmyard then change can occur.

    With no control over the Full Council vote, Farmer Adams becomes accountable and will be unable to get away with manipulating the truth. The Senior Officers have no route other than to be answerable to Council committees and all members. Perhaps then the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth will come out from the Kremlin.

    How many of the sheep will leave the pen? Viewing the comments aired during the Night of the Long Knives, very few due to the work of the Brown Shirts. Maybe, just maybe these Brown Shirts are not very good sheepdogs on the farm and the pen gate maybe ajar to allow some freedom.

  • John Hudson

    At the next Extraordinary meeting of the Council it is going to be difficult to identify those Councillors with an interest to declare as friends of the CEO (or the Leader?), let alone those with predisposed or predetermined positions. (Bring back Mr Kerr QC?)

    If such interests are declared, and the Monitoring Officer advises that they are barred from voting, would there be a quorum left? Perhaps the whole Council membership should be referred to the Ombudsman with a Code of Conduct complaint.

    I trust that there will be an officer’s report listing the alleged faults laid at the door of the CEO, Head of Paid Service and operational manager of the Council, so that councillors can take a dispassionate view of all relevant considerations before voting. Presumably the CEO will have an opportunity to refute any charges made, but it seems that this only occurs during a preliminary investigation following formal suspension.

    I assume that the IPG membership are content to support their Leader, even after the misleading assurances he, and another Cabinet member, gave to the Council over the grants fiasco, and the apparent misplaced support he has provided to the CEO, until now. Perhaps a report or statement on the reasons why Leader continued to lead his party to lend such support, until now, should be included in the public record of the Council meeting.

    Who is providing the Leader with legal advice over this matter of gardening leave, suspension, standing aside call it what you will. There needs to be some legal clarity in the formal Council record, rather than the apparent private agreement between the Leader and the CEO.

    Some formal financial advice would also seem to be required, we know how keen the Leader is to save the Council money. What are the grounds for continuing to pay a salary for nothing?

  • Goldingsboy

    Too many people on this blog just stir up apathy and despair. Well done Skipper’s First Mate for injecting hope and confidence into the democratic process of the county.

  • Mike Jackson

    Tom Richards only got in by 40 votes last time. A Tory candidate stood against him, and although she was unknown she picked up a fair few votes. Tom was sufficiently worried to actually come knocking on doors in our village.

    Knowing full well that most of Hayscastle dislikes him intensely, his almost blatant support of the closure of our local school made sure that barely anyone in Hayscastle voted for him. I think the majority of his votes came from Letterston where he trumpeted the backing he gave for their revamped school.

  • John Williams

    I am in an urban ward with just over 1,300 electors. Just over 700 hundred voted and our councillor was elected with about a 200 vote majority.

    Now one problem we have in this area are all the number of small flats and bedsits that are being constructed, encouraged by our councillor, which bring mainly the young, not interested in the area, let alone even registering to vote. Many more buildings like this and my member’s majority could be secure. I despair!

  • Skipper's First Mate

    My ship has a Captain and when he is off ship (nod nod wink wink say no more) I am in charge. I have to be in charge because there are things to do while he is away. Otherwise the ship will flounder.

    What exactly does/did the CEO do? And who is doing it now?

  • The Rock

    Where are these Hart and Crabb fellows coming from. It just shows how out of touch they are.

    The IPPG voted to suppress members’ access to documents that allegedly show fraud.
    The IPPG supported a pay scheme that was found to be unlawful and then employed lawyers to defend the indefensible with taxpayers’ money.
    The IPPG have no appetite to recover our money they gave away.
    The IPPG have a leader who made statements regarding the audit committee chairman’s resignation that bear no resemblance to the (now published) account he had received.
    They are found to have put our children at risk and had to be put into special measures.
    And when it’s revealed that the chief executive put excessive pressure on members they allow him to take a paid holiday.
    And on and on.

    Come to consensus NO – that time is long gone. Work together for the good of the county NO. It’s not kiss and make up time, it’s time for a DIVORCE. It’s time for the IPPG to RESIGN and seek re-election or for WAG to intervene (as per Anglesey 2011) if the IPPG remain in control any longer.

    Oh and Jacob thanks for putting the 12th December meeting on YouTube. Have you noticed your number of hits are rising every day, whilst the county council site is stopping after 40 seconds on my computer. Conspiracy theories please…

  • Bayard

    As far as I remember, Squirehouse only had a 40-odd vote majority, too and, if Labour hadn’t fielded a candidate, he would have most probably been out, to be replaced by a “dictionary independent”.

  • John Hudson has posted an interesting comment on the item below regarding Section 4 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. This piece of legislation is worth careful scrutiny by anyone interested in understanding how local “democracy” works.

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/42/section/4

    In fact if you read this legislation carefully you will realise that apparently mandatory actions like “it shall be the duty” to prepare reports etc etc are nullified by S4(2) “where he considers it appropriate to do so in respect of any proposals”.

    So, if the Head of Paid Service doesn’t consider it appropriate to prepare a report etc, he can simply do whatever he pleases without reference to elected members. And, as whether or not he considers it “appropriate” is completely subjective, that, in effect, gives him absolute power.

    You find quite a lot of this sort of thing in local government law which is sprinkled with phrases like “if in the opinion of the proper officer” and suchlike. As, short of mind reading, nobody can ever know someone else’s opinion, this gives council officers a more or less free rein.

    You will also notice in S4(1)(b) that the authority has to provide him with the resources which in his “opinion” are required to carry out his responsibilities. Not what the authority i.e. your elected representatives, considers reasonable, but what the Head of Paid Service believes is required.

    That seems like a recipe for empire building. So, when you hear criticisms of elected members for failing to hold the executive to account, you should consider the possibility that the law itself might render the executive unaccountable.

  • Lobsterman

    So the Local Goverment and Housing Act 1989 renders councillors superfluous. That has been proved by the goings on over recent years.

  • Jonathan Preston

    In reference to Mike Stoddart’s post:

    The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ‘opinion’ is:

    “A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.”

    Quite worrying I think you will agree?

  • Nev Andrews

    If, over time, legislation has been enacted which makes the ‘executive unaccountable’ then councillors are indeed superfluous and local government as it is currently modelled in Wales (as I have suggested previously) should be abolished.

    However, I don’t view Section 4 of the LG&H Act 1989 as quite giving the Councillors in Pembs the wide ranging excuse for accountability failures some might be relieved to think that it does…I have considered the possibility, Cllr Stoddart, and do not agree.

    On a similar accountability theme, what I have also found remarkable recently is the nerve of certain councillors asserting in the Chamber that part of their role is to hold other bodies like the Health Board ‘to account’ for perceived or real failings in that organisation’s governance arrangements. And this is from a Council which can’t govern itself, scrutinise effectively or hold its own to account…the mind boggling lack of ‘self awareness’ in situations like these is truly appalling. It would only be funny if it was a 1980s sitcom.

  • Nev,

    I wasn’t suggesting that the legislation gives elected members “a wide ranging excuse for accountability failures some might be relieved to think that it does…”

    Perhaps it would have been clearer if I had written: “…consider the possibility that, on occasions, the law itself might render the executive unaccountable.”

    I agree that elected members’ failure to hold the executive to account goes much wider than that.

    First, as the Wales Audit Office observed in a recent report, a significant number of members lack either the ‘motivation’ or the ‘capacity’ to carry out this role.

    Second, those who do have the capacity are constantly thwarted by the ruling majority, most of whom don’t.

    And third the Wales Audit Office (and its predecessor the District Audit Service for which you worked) have, in my experience, always been extremely reluctant to find fault with the council.

    All peeing in the same pot, as the late Jim McBrearty was fond of saying. Indeed, I must dig out the letter you wrote to the Milford Port Health Authority after I discovered two of its members claiming reimbursement for first class rail travel for a trip to Hull when in fact they had travelled by car.

    It looked like a clear case of false accounting to me, but, as I recall, you took a more relaxed view.

    Hopefully, Mr Anthony Barrett’s robust stance on the senior officers’ pension arrangements is a sign that things are changing on that front.

  • John Hudson

    Probably when it enacted this and current legislation, Parliament rather assumed that people would act reasonably.

    This put a stop to councillors interfering in the day to day operational managerial activities of the Council, best left to professional officers, who are charged with carrying out policy directions given by Councillors, and assumed that officers would properly inform Councillors so that reasonable decisions could be taken in the light of all relevant considerations and that elected councillors would have some idea of policy.

    As Mike points out, the PCC head of paid service apparently hasn’t thought it appropriate to inform councillors as to how he would arrange to manage the council. (I wonder why, perhaps he quickly came to the conclusion that it would be a waste of time).

    Officers have, as required, arranged for councillors to approve the council’s constitution. This weighty document shows how our elected representatives have delegated authority (given it away) to officers.

    Fundamentally all spending decisions, both capital and revenue can be taken by officers who also have authority to allocate and spend the reserves.

    The council’s asset management plan, dealing with property maintenance, capital investment etc, has also been given away to officers, so our elected representatives can’t be held to account when we find properties so poorly maintained and too expensive to repair.

    Similarly property acquisition decisions (Cherry Grove £600,000 purchase and £1.3m for refurbishment) are taken by officers without councillors knowing.

    The cabinet should be held to account for its decisions, and it is only recently, following external pressure, that decisions taken by officers have begun to be published and are therefore open to scrutiny.

    External scrutiny also highlighted the fact that council decisions were not being recorded properly so that they could be defended as in the case of care home fees judicial review and the pensions report fiasco.

    The less said about scrutiny in Pembrokeshire the better. It is in my view non-existent, but then again the auditor has commented that most members lack motivation and capacity to challenge. Officers have shown no interest in allowing councillors to challenge their decisions.

    There is a legal framework within which councils must work, the fact that Pembrokeshire’s has foundered is due to its political “leadership” who have been over content to let officers get on with it and draw the SRAs for being the public face of the council where all decisions are made by unelected officers.

    It would be interesting to hear the council’s political leadership defending its inaction and disinterest over the years in court. If the officers didn’t act in this power vacuum, nothing would ever get done.

  • Martin Lewis

    Mike, you’ll remember “Wales This Week” in 2008. Paul Davies said that in 2012, the Conservatives aimed to field candidates in each of the 60 wards.

    THAT didn’t happen.

    Here’s the video for anyone that’s interested:


    The fight MUST go on, however, there needs to be MORE outside the box thinking. With Brian Hall still bullying his way around the county and the council, it shows that the ruling group will put up with anything as long as their monthly council allowance continues to roll in.

    I’ve delved through the Western Telegraph archives and some newer readers of this blog may be interested in the following links, some of which provide very interesting historical reading going back to the days of Maurice Hughes, ex-Council Leader.

    The same issues were present 15+ years ago and the same denials were taking place, same story, different people, however Brian Hall features consistently with negative stories throughout this period as many of the links show.

    Fraudulent expenses claims, threats of violence, slagging off local firefighters, advocating murder of Welsh Water officials etc. And of course it’s the same Chief Exec throughout. Leader refusing to release sensitive documents that would evidence coverups and wrongdoing. Opposition members having to fight tooth and nail for freedom of information requests.

    Deja vu.

    The difference TODAY that may force the change that is needed is social media such as this blog, Old Grumpy’s blog, Facebook etc.

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6649646.Councillor_at_centre_of_TV_row/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6547888.Leader_fails_to_act_despite_probe_demands/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/blogs/9119215._Welsh_Water_Should_Be_Put_Up_Against_the_Wall_and_Shot___Cllr_Brian_Hall_/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/blogs/3157532.Brian_Hall/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/1233360.Brian_Hall___Relentless_campaign_against_me_/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/1229885.Was_Brian_Hall_right_to_stand_down__Have_your_say/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/1189172.Should_Hall_step_down_/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6647060.Let_councillor_answer_allegations/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6648334.Qualified_apology_for_firefighter_gaffe/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6649646.Councillor_at_centre_of_TV_row/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6648372.Councillor_slammed_for_attack_on_firefighters/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6649078.Councillor_makes__cover_up__allegations/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/1224288.Public_grilling_over_Hall_conduct/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/1175124.Calls_for_Hall_to_resign_after_he_is__vindicated_/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/1216479.Will_leader_back_or_sack_Hall_/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6649352.Voters_rout_big_guns/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/1239181.Hall_Resignation_welcomed/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6647102.Councillor_s_conduct_questioned_again/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/1046951.Councillor___s_threat_hearing_adjourned/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6647707.Answer_sought_to_councillor_s_expenses_claim/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/letters/900445.Charge_Hall_for_parking/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/840453.Mayor_fumes_at_Rover_snub/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/3561628.Fence_causes_councillors_offence/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/795919.Council_forced_to_release_documents/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6648361.Councillor_was_poorly_informed/

    http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/6649542.Battle_for_council_control_launched/

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    The Labour party Swansea Council Leader announced a Cabinet reshuffle and is expecting a challenge to his position from other party members. Cllr Phillips said his team needed to be “fully signed-up” to achieving Labour goals so close to a general election.

    Read more at this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-28896080

    In Swansea the electorate voted in a Labour led Council and therefore it knows what to expect. If they don’t like it their electorate can do something about it as a matter of course in 2017.

    Why in Pembrokeshire are we different? Supposedly independent councillors form an illicit group which none of us had an opportunity to vote for or against as a political group. There was and is no manifesto and consequently we are not aware of their goals. Whoever has the portfolio for goal management on the Cabinet has a difficult job aligning successes even though we have no baseline to compare it to!

    2017: Will we see all ward seats contested by the major political parties? At the very least I’d expect no current IPPG councillors to walk through unopposed whilst the current Cabinet can expect a full on charge from the powerhouse political parties. Every link and scandal relating to the current administration will have been well documented and I’m sure these individuals will feel the heat when it’s time to campaign in their wards. Those who are proud to be Pembrokeshire people will remember who took the P out of Proud in 2017!

  • Nev Andrews

    Very good Cllr Stoddart…carry on you I say. A Port Health Authority letter from when? I do remember some such issue and whatever the outcome was, I’m sure it was as you say. Whether I was ‘relaxed’ or unable to prove something I do not recall and these are two different things as you well know. Neither can I recall what the specific regulations were or what any ‘loss’ or additional cost to the public purse might have been from, I imagine, 20 years ago. I couldn’t comment anyway even if I wanted to so, advantage to you.

    There were many “issues” abroad around that time which, even with law enforcement agency involvement, failed to perhaps get the full action some may have, to me, merited and that could be a source of regret to me, although again, I wouldn’t comment further.

    As you bring up my previous existence and role, by the way, what was yours when you were examining vouchers and documents many years ago in Cambria House? I pass no comment on my 27 year career in public audit, I will leave that to others who are professionally able to do so. Perhaps you could seek Mr Barrett’s views?

  • Timetraveller

    Conservatives stand as Conservatives in local elections in Pembs? Is the world going mad? Surely if they are conservative (note the small c), they can be independents can’t they? (Again note the small i.) The brand got tainted in the outer regions of the UK, apart from the odd grocer’s daughter they haven’t really cultivated what you might call cloth cap members.

    Mind, Labour has abandoned the working man in favour of the unemployed and unemployable. That leaves those nice chaps in the middle, Liberals, to be all things to all men (as long as they don’t get in office). The point is a return to party politics isn’t going to change much in Pembs. What is needed is 31 or more of the members to determine that they will stamp out the irregularities and put a leash on the chief executive.

    Those in the IPPG need not worry too much if they start getting a little more ethical – the maths is that Jamie needs you more than you need him. So perhaps more “secret” meetings of the ethical group, moles welcome.

    Talking of Jamie, far from having the CX on a leash, it is unedifying to see him being walked around the Kremlin grounds on the self same leash. Of course one can only speculate about what goes on between two adults behind closed doors, but it is obvious who is wearing the trousers.

  • John Hudson

    Just to round up where (I think) we have got to:-

    The Leader and CEO have reached an Agreement whereby the CEO “stands aside” on full pay. No formal disciplinary action has been commenced, which can only be by full council approval for suspension, (on full pay) in accordance with prescribed lawful arrangements, which require a formal investigation procedure and subsequent report to Council. I admit to being confused over the currency of police investigation(s) outside of any internal Council action.

    We still do not know what the status of “standing aside” means in terms of the Council’s administrative arrangements.

    The 1989 Local Government Act requires THE COUNCIL, not the Leader, to appoint an officer as head of paid service (CEO) and for him/her to make arrangements for the proper management/administration of the Council.

    This requirement is included in the Council’s Constitution and the Council has designated its CEO as Head of Paid Service. This officer, as Head of Paid Service, under powers given to him by Parliament, does not appear to have thought it appropriate to report to the Council on how he would and does arrange matters.

    As far as I can see, the Council’s Constitution does not formally provide for another officer to be a Deputy or set out arrangements should its appointed officer be indisposed for whatever reason. While the Senior Staff Committee (under authority delegated to it by Council) has approved, first an Assistant CEO, recently upgraded to a Deputy Chief Executive position, appointment and pay scale, (as this cannot be a function undertaken by the CEO).

    The duties to be undertaken by the Deputy Chief Executive office holder of the post do not appear to have been approved by Council, so it may be assumed that these fall within the unreported arrangements determined by the CEO. There is a Management Structure “map” included the Council’s Constitution, (Part 7) but while this does define areas of responsibility, is does not make clear the potential role of the Deputy Chief Executive, or his authority to undertake the responsibility for managing the administrative affairs of the council which would seem to require express authority from the Council.

    So how can the Leader and the Head of Transportation determine responsibility for the Corporate Management Team. This unelected body undertakes quite important duties in advising and reporting to Council/Committees, and in my view should not in any way be under the influence of any elected councillor including the Leader.

    One further grey area, the Council is required to appoint an Election Returning Officer. It has – the CEO. This position carries with it a personal responsibility under the Representation of the People legislation, outside of the Council’s authority. What is the legal position of this “stood aside” CEO? The Council does not appear to have formally appointed a Deputy Returning Officer in the event of the CEO being indisposed for any reason.

    Last week there was a town council by-election in Haverfordwest, does anyone know whether appointed Returning Officers can appoint their own deputies to act as the Returning Officer in their absence? (A brief internet trawl found that Bristol has appointed both the RO and a DRO).

    I ask again, who is providing the Leader with legal advice on these complex issues? Who will properly, legally, advise the Council on all relevant considerations to be taken into account if and when the Council is required to make a decision? Surely it cannot and will not just be a vote on the personal arrangement as agreed between the Leader and the CEO?

  • Welshman 23

    If I am on leave of absence in my world it’s holidays out of my annual entitlement.

    It has not been a good year for Welsh councils in the last 12 months, Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Swansea are under the spotlight. Which authority is next.

  • Nev,

    Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you, but my son and his family have been on a visit from Canada so I have been otherwise engaged.

    In addition, a preliminary excavation of my shed has failed to turn up your original letter, but I have found a copy of my article in the Mercury from 3 February 1995 in which it is quoted verbatim.

    The background to this is the annual trip by the the Chairman and Director of the Milford Port Health Authority (MPHA) to the Association of Port Health Authorities’ annual conference.

    In 1992, unusually, three people attended the conference in Weymouth and when I inspected the authority’s accounts during the public audit inspection in October 1993, I found that, in addition to the £1,500 conference fees (£500 apiece), each of them had claimed over £150 in travel expenses for the 450 mile return journey.

    This was at the time when the global warming panic was gaining traction and I wrote a piece in the Mercury in which I described them driving up Arnold’s Hill in convoy belching exhaust fumes and pointing out that they could have lowered what has come to be known as their “carbon footprint” by all travelling in the same car.

    I suggested, tongue in cheek, that the reason they hadn’t done so was because they couldn’t agree who should sit in the back.

    There are two guiding principles for investigative journalists: follow the money and cherchez la femme. And both were engaged in this case because the real reason for this three-car procession was that there were six people on the trip to Weymouth (la troi femmes) and driving your car long distances at 35p per mile was a nice little earner in those days when petrol cost about 40p per litre (the money).

    Indeed, having spent a couple of days in the posh conference hotel at taxpayers’ expense, with luck you would have enough spare cash to afford another few nights’ B&B which was also, indirectly, at the taxpayers’ expense.

    The following year, two people attended the conference which was held in Hull – a 700 mile round trip. Clearly, all four could have gone in the same car (£245) but for reasons of comfort and convenience they chose to travel separately. So, in order to conceal their size-13 carbon footprints from my prying eyes, while at the same time claiming the maximum possible, they hit upon the bright idea of claiming for two first class railway tickets. Those accounts were open for public inspection in October 1994.

    This scheme was inherently defective because, on applying the cherchez-la-femme test, the obvious question was: had they forked out for two first class tickets for the wives, or were the ladies abandoned to the miseries of third class?

    I soon uncovered evidence that it was neither, in the form of one couple’s receipt for B&B in a guest house in a little town up in the Pennines. Interestingly, it bore the same date as the day they were supposed to be on the train. A quick reference to a map of the area revealed that their stopping-off point was nowhere near the railway line between Milford Haven and Hull. So I brought these irregularities, as I saw them, to the attention of what was then known as the District Audit Service.

    In a letter to MPHA the auditor advised that in future: “When delegates travel by car but seek reimbursement for a first class rail fare, they should make this clear on their expense claims.”

    There is a difficulty with this because reimbursement is defined in my dictionary as:

    1. To repay (money spent); refund.
    2. To pay back or compensate (another party) for money spent or losses incurred.

    And it is not easy to see how you can refund someone for a train ticket that had never been purchased in the first place. However, to be fair, I should also add that, in response to another part of my complaint, the DAS compelled the two delegates to cough up a sum of money to compensate MHPA for the extra cost of their wives’ stay in the conference hotel.

    And he also pointed out that VAT on the wives’ expenses had been wrongly reclaimed from customs and excise. Interestingly, the minutes of the meeting following receipt of the letter from the DAS record: “The Director of Port Health Services had received a reply from the District Auditor concerning another complaint [mine] which said the auditor was happy with the Authority’s procedures.”

    And despite a protest by one member (the late Tom Sinclair) that this misrepresented the DAS’s letter, the rest voted to approve the minutes as a fair record. And I don’t recall that the DAS, which has a role in ensuring good governance in these public bodies, made any objection, either.

  • John Hudson

    Welshman 23 raises an interesting point. Is “The Chief” as he is apparently known in some circles, on annual leave at the current time, and therefore unlikely to be around in any case?

  • The Radical

    Liberal Democrats may not be very popular at the moment but they talk a lot of sense in many areas and voters would be wise to take note of their views.

    One of the policies they have put forward was to give the electorate the power to recall their MP or councillor who are not doing their job properly.

    Such a policy would certainly apply to the bunch of clowns in the IPPG who have given farce a bad name. Let them be recalled to face the electorate now. Voters should not have to wait until the next election to express a view. We cannot afford their pathetic disgraceful and greedy behaviour that long.

  • M Davies

    I spent many years in the Royal Navy and one thing we were allowed was travel warrants. When away at sea these privileges were transferable to wives/partners to allow them travel to family etc. However, sometimes this system was open to abuse; there was no real way of confirming if a spouse had completed a trip from Lands End to John O Groats, but the money was paid. If the journeys never took place then that is fraud, plain and simple.

    Fortunately, no one tried to play the system that way because the consequences were severe. Fines were just the start and those attempting to defraud HMG would be facing detention. Not in a civilian [soft] prison, but the military prison where life is substantially tougher. If they were lucky, they would not be dismissed from the service. So the deterrent and punishment was sufficient to stop people attempting to exploit the system.

    My point is that people in similar positions, i.e., those spending public money should be subject to similar penalties. They are entrusted with public money and should operate within the law and be above reproach. It is an integrity issue and such people demonstrate quite clearly they have little or no integrity and furthermore no respect for the public they are supposed to represent.

  • Richie S.

    Whilst Bryn is enjoying his gardening leave, perhaps the IPPG could hold their meetings in his shed. After all, the amount of manure they produce could well be put to good use on Bryn’s vegetable patch!!

  • Brian

    Ah yes – discharge SNLR (Service No Longer Required for the uninitiated)… and tear off the corner of their service papers??

    What also hurt was the removal of accrued pension entitlement – that might make the eyes of a few errant MPs red!

  • Welshman 23

    Swansea council leader David Phillips has stood down, showing the backbone to resign when his back is against the wall. Take note Jamie, do us all a favour and move over.

  • Welshman 23

    Jacob you are very quiet, has Jamie given you leave of absence like BPJ’s gardening leave?

  • The Rock

    Political dumbness (an inability to speak?) “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Quote attributed to Edmund Burke.

    Delyth Evans, I can’t hear you. Please say something.

  • Michael Williams

    Jacob’s silence? Could he have been offered a cabinet post, in the upcoming reshuffle, or maybe he had a call from Hall’s friends from Manchester? After all the evenings are drawing in!!!

  • Goldingsboy

    This gardening leave idea seems to be growing in popularity. Watch this allotment space…

  • Nev Andrews

    Cllr Stoddart,

    I have just had the opportunity to come back to your response regarding the 1994 (I jest not!) expenses query you raised. You cannot find a copy of my original letter written in response? I am surprised at that I have to say. You make the comment that you quote ‘verbatim’ from it in your article in the Mercury in 1995…that’s a bit of a leap of faith even for me, given that I imagine the quote was selective to give credence to the tone of the article you wrote at that time.

    It was a newspaper article after all and not design for balance but for headlines, I imagine. I also find your suggestion that I may have taken a relaxed view of false accounting rather unpleasant and one that is difficult to understand given your later commentary. You neatly ignored my question to you which was what was your role when you spent hours voucher trolling many years ago…you also appear to have no real practical appreciation of what the role of an external auditor is, either in the public or private sectors.

    It is not to be a proxy or replacement for failing management, internal controls, internal checks or ineffective members. It is to be a ‘Watchdog’ in general and to give an opinion on the statement of account primarily. It is not to be the personal investigating officer of a parochial journalist (whoever that might be) but and as you would correctly expect, the auditor would look into matters which might be brought to his or her attention by members of the public or others.

    In the event that any response didn’t meet your preconceived ideas as to what sanction may or may not be appropriate, I can only express limited regret. If the case concerned was so clearly a case of false accounting as you indicate, and to avoid audit ineptitude (or peeing in the same pot, another unpleasant analogy), can I enquire what the police had to say about it when you raised it with them? Or is that response also lost in the manshed somewhere.

  • Have your say...