Jacob Williams
Monday 12th January, 2015

What’s afoot at the Kremlin?

Chamber 1

Chamber 2

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I was at County Hall on Friday afternoon and as twilight approached I noticed the council chamber lights were aglow.

I stuck my nose in thinking I might catch IPPG members partaking in one of their non-secret secret meetings.

The public gallery gave a good vantage point to take in the utter carnage that was waiting below. It was the most thought-provoking sight in the chamber since the blood-spattered walls in the aftermath of last year’s Valentine’s Day massacre.

The havoc hadn’t been wreaked by a monitoring officer assisted by a QC this time, but by workmen who had dismantled the chairman’s desk. Not only had they butchered the thinly veneered furniture out out of all recognition but the flooring had been disturbed too.

No longer did it look like an MFI showroom but a bizarre experimentation site. Beneath the carpet tiles, neatly stacked to one side, and the dust sheets, the removal of the top man’s top table revealed the platform it sits on as well as a shallow pit beneath.

Many are hoping an ejector seat or trap door will soon be unveiled, to liven proceedings when pancake analogies don’t hit the right spot.

Some folks in the tearoom believe chairman Cllr. Tom Richards, fresh from his 2014 Golden DonQui victory, could be splashing out on a celebratory hot tub, while others say Cllr. Richards would probably rather spend the money on a dungeon for young upstarts. These were both pooh-poohed by usually reliable sources who say a more realistic explanation would be an expansion to the municipal wine cellar.

My best guess is that a dumbwaiter-type contraption is being installed direct to the ground floor reception area so Cllr. Keith ‘Hokey-Cokey’ Lewis can slip in and out of the chamber with minimal interruption.

Have you got any theories? Or any hopes for what might be on the way? Post them below.

UPDATE: Find out what it was in aid of, here!

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  • My suggestion would be that they are dismantling the mechanism used by Bryn to control the chairman’s lips.

    Either that, or they are removing the wires that synchronise the IPPG members’ hand movements during important votes.

  • Anoldman

    A lesson, in how to waste money.

  • It could even have been commissioned during the Parry-Jones era, like a pond with a floating duck house.

  • Billy Dokar

    The answer is simple: Jacob Williams has stumbled upon Tom Richards’ access to the Bat Cave under County Hall. The workmen are repairing the Bat Pole that transports Bat Tom to the Bat Boat hidden near that part of County Hall that suspiciously resembles Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London.

    With one bound, Bat Tom will vanish from his chair and arrive, by now fully uniformed with hat and mask, at the Bat Boat and gun it to the Bristol Trader to rescue a G&T from the hands of a barman.

  • Ianto

    In the post Bryn vision of openness, it is an automatic paint stripper which detects IPPG members who continue in former ways. The machine will engage and fire, allowing those unable or unwilling to reform to be sprayed and thus speak the unvarnished truth.

  • Lizzie-Tish

    Is it where the lawyers are kept hidden until they’re needed? Mind you my other half reckons it may be that the chamber is having the carpets cleaned to get rid of the stench of corruption.

  • Keanjo

    It’s just an ass hole.

  • Jon Harvey

    Another property grant cock up?!

  • Ray Roberts

    I guess they needed a bigger receptacle for all the bullsh*t to flow into!

  • I’ve had another idea. Maybe Cllr. Rev. Huw George is branching out and they’re installing a baptismal pool.

    Funerals at the Crem, baptisms at the Kremlin.

  • Sian

    Cllr Richards installing a bar??

  • Galf

    It is the entrance to an escape chute that leads to an awaiting speed boat on the Cleddau that will take its occupants around to the Towy and the relative safety of Carmarthenshire County Council.

  • Quill

    No no no, you silly sods. They’re quite clearly digging up some of the old skeletons before PC Plod beats them to it. By that I don’t mean Rob Summons.

  • PembsboyUSA

    New desk with the “Pemdigion” coat of arms?

  • Tony Wilcox

    All wrong, sorry. They are installing a ducking stool as they reckon witches are the sources of leaks. Witchfinder General to be appointed soon!

  • Timetraveller

    Bloody moles!

  • Chas.

    New secret electronics so that the chairman can control the recording cameras when things do not go ‘their’ way.

  • Goldingsboy

    I think the answer to Jacob’s question is to be found in the stench emanating from the council chamber that has, over the years, become so pungent that those responsible for the maintenance and good order of the Kremlin have battled in vain to find an effective antidote.

    And then Old Grumpy published his treatise on our local flora, which gave rise to a desperate idea – why not fill that void with dried herbs etcetera and create a massive potpourri at the heart of the problem?

  • The Rock

    I think it’s a set of stocks.

    Remember at the December Council meeting Councillor Allen-Mirehouse’s request – “Mr Chairman, I would ask that you use your authority to restrain the member.”

    The Chairman was unable to carry out this request (suppressing democratic debate is difficult).

    This must almost certainly be the next forward thinking twenty first century IPPG measure to remedy that situation and try to restrain Old Grumpy.

  • The Rock, good idea. He’s been without restraint for far too long.

  • Barney

    I think it’s going to be an orchestra pit. So they can play the “JAWS” theme tune every time Jamie Adams speaks. And “Stand By Your Man” every time Sue Perkins opens her trap.

    Not forgetting that little number from Les Misérables “At the End of the Day” every time Peter Stock gets to his feet.

    That circus favourite “Entrance of the Gladiators” wouldn’t be a bad shout for Huw George and Arwyn Williams either.

  • Brian

    Damn the goons have found Tom, just don’t mention Dick or Harry.

  • John Hudson

    I hope that this funding extends to improving the public gallery so that “live” observers can see and hear all councillors.

  • Bob

    With Jamie Adams spouting everything the council does must be within the law, I hope the councillors vote down the proposal to charge for disabled blue badges as reported on the WT website, which some of the comments posted on the article claim is against the law.

  • Jonathan Nutting

    Barney, you are half right in what you have heard. Unfortunately as with most stories emanating from County Hall, the real truth is even more unbelievable.

    It is on good authority that I am told PCC is installing a mighty Wurlitzer organ. Our ever thoughtful council, with copious amounts of taxpayers’ money has decided to enhance full council meetings with judiciously orchestrated ditties.

    Along the lines of an American football games, theme music will play, especially when goals and own goals are scored.

    To enhance viewer experiences the Wurlitzer will be capable of rising from the basement at all auspicious moments. Each of the main protagonists will also have a specially edited well known tune. PCC is now consulting the public’s views upon this and an indication of the tunes they feel most appropriate.

    Mike Stoddart, crafty as ever, has already earmarked ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ for himself. I hear his understudy, following in his mentor’s footsteps, has indicated a preference for ‘Chariots of Fire.’ I am considering ‘Long and Winding Road’ for myself.

    Over to you 😉

  • Vicky Moller

    Oh you innocents, did you not know that certain parties are sick of being mocked, and, having read the news are hiring the commercial arm of IS, known as ISNT, to remove you all in a blaze of righteous gunfire?

    This is their hidey-hole masquerading as a security measure, but being as you guessed grant funded, it is stuck in red tape and building regulations.

  • Loobeloo

    Is this their way of elevating their positions in the council. Or is this an elevator for raising important issues, or could it be a space to sweep things under the carpet?

  • John Hudson

    Has anybody else noticed the absence of regular financial and performance reports getting through to overview and scrutiny committees as required by standing orders and financial regulations?

    The 10 cabinet members recently approved (nodded through) their forward work programme that did not include these reports which was passed through overview and scrutiny committees without comment or amendment as well. Cabinet is responsible for monitoring financial performance on behalf of the council.

    Last year O&S committees did not receive the final 2013/14 out-turn monitoring report.

    O&S committees are due to consider the 2015/16 budget report which includes a revised estimate of outturn for the current financial year. The last 2014/15 monitoring report committees received was in September 2014 relating to actual spending and performance for the first 3 months of the financial year. Cabinet has nodded through the 6 month report
    for this year.

  • Phil

    Really Vicky? A joke about a hail of righteous gunfire? Serious lack of judgement at the moment.

    Thanks John for subtly moving on and getting back to the real world – where we have a very well paid cabinet which doesn’t appear to know the definition of the word “scrutiny”.

  • Lighten up, Phil!

    The inability to take jocular, sardonic remarks for what they really are – a bit of good old fashioned humour – can lead to issues, even if (especially when) they are at the expense of others.

    Free speech is alive and kicking…as they say: #JeSuisCharlie!

  • Gogledd

    Bring back Spitting Image.

  • Conspiracy Theorist

    Jacob, Did you mean Je suis un Charlie complete?

    Rumour is that Wynne Evans, next year’s chainman, has called for the desk to be moved back so that he doesn’t have to sit too close to Cllr Michael Williams and the Plaid Cymru gang.

    I am also told that, following the appearance of his photograph in the Western Telegraph campaigning against dog muck in Narberth, Cllr Evans has acquired the nickname Winnie the Pooh.

    I should hasten to add that it is not suggested that there is any connection whatsoever between Cllr Evans’ dislike for dog mess and his desire to distance himself from Plaid Cymru.

  • Nev Andrews

    I’m very much with Phil…poor comment by Vicky Moller in my opinion. And no comment from your blogger/councillor to Mr Hudson’s valid question and points re finance.

    Jacob, it’s not simply the inability to take jocular, sardonic (which is it??) comment (in what ever form) it’s the response to it that is the issue.

    Your response to Phil’s reaction as being in some way akin to those who objected and acted appallingly to French cartoons is pretty offensive. But he may not I suppose because your response was of course jocular…

  • Conspiracy Theorist, I hadn’t thought of your Michael Williams/Plaid Cymru theory. It’s outside the box and very interesting. You don’t think Stephen Joseph left their gang to join the IPPG for similar reasons do you?

    Sitting on the ruling group’s benches bought him a good few extra feet of Michael Williams-free space, and now he sits among the unaffiliateds that’s further still. Oh, and Winnie the Pooh is brilliant!

    Nev, Vicky’s satirical, exaggerated comment is directed toward the Pembrokeshire council chamber and some of its inhabitants, not the awful situation in Paris. I wouldn’t have written it and it may not be to everybody’s taste, but it’s a joke about the council.

    Phil’s comment implies that Vicky shouldn’t have made a jocular remark (however funny or unfunny) about taking offence and answering with a spray of gunfire because of this event.

    It goes without saying that the sort of horrifying response to non-inciteful mockery we’ve seen in Paris is the biggest issue of concern to freedom of expression. For similar reasons, I don’t believe a non-inciteful comment mocking the council in the way Vicky did should be off-limits simply because people like you take offence.

    I clearly didn’t intend to liken Phil’s reaction to those who perpetrated the atrocities – but to see you’ve exercised your right to be offended isn’t surprising, indeed, it’s eminently predictable.

    Incidentally, your comment suggests that you believe ‘jocular’ and ‘sardonic’ are mutually exclusive terms. They’re not.

  • Fabian

    Conspiracy Theorist, like Wynne Evans (aka Winnie the Pooh) in Narberth, Brian Hall has lamented the dog poo problems here in the Pembroke Dock area for years.

    I understand he’s been referred to by some as “Brian the S**t” before, but I can’t be sure this has anything to do with any views he may have expressed on canine crap.

  • Sallie

    The council is on a frogmarch into better times, with a more honest, open and accountable culture etc etc. Maybe they are putting in a confessional booth. I think a pig trough is more likely.

  • Tim

    Have you been able to take another look and see if you can tell what they were up to Jacob?

  • I haven’t been back yet to see if the work is complete, but when I have I’ll do a before and after photograph, we’ll know then if any of the above comments were right.

  • John Hudson

    Maybe it’s a dock, where those charged with making dubious decisions (senior staff committee et al.) can be held to account.

  • Clive Davies

    Remember that wonderful film about an asylum called ‘The Snakepit’..?

  • Dave Edwards

    Maybe they are looking for the missing copies of “Bob’s Blog” (previously known as “Bob on Friday”) which last made an appearance on 22 November!

  • One more month and he can call it “Kilmister’s Quarterly!”

  • Welshman 23

    What a waste of money, who sanctions this expenditure? Driving back to Pembrokeshire I saw roadworks just before the golf club where they were putting kerb stones on the verge. I hope this is not being funded by the local ratepayers. On the subject of waste, who is paying for the road alterations by Fred Rees? It seems that Sainsburys may not be going ahead with the new store they were planning now.

  • Perhaps all that “blue sky thinking” has clouded Bob’s outlook and taken the shine off his enthusiasm for blogging.

  • Keanjo

    Good question Welshman, I believe the roundabout at Bluestone was financed by the Council but unfortunately they couldn’t recover the cost. I hope history has not been repeated. Any comment Jacob?

    JW – Welshman 23 and Keanjo, a quick Google search turns up a Western Telegraph article stating that Conygar is funding the roadworks.

  • Goldingsboy

    Perhaps Bob has been informed by some kindly soul that his blog is so poor it might be wise to let it to wither on the vine.

  • Keanjo

    Thank you for the info Jacob, but it does make one wonder why the difference?

  • Galf

    It’s not just “Bob’s blog” that is poor (his blue sky thinking got only one reaction) the feedback section of the Pembrokeshire Alliance website hasn’t received a comment in over seven months!

  • Welshman 23

    Thanks for the info Jacob, the article states investing £8 million, but I wonder if we have seen any of the cash. There may be a get out clause if the development does not take place. The money should have been paid in stages.

  • Bayard

    Welshman 23, when my mother was a county councillor in Somerset many years ago, she said that kerbing rural roads was one of the ways that the County Surveyor got his budget spent before the end of the financial year.

  • Welshman 23

    Bayard, thanks. It just seems a little strange kerbing half way along the golf course straight.

  • Keanjo

    Bayard, with the greatest respect for your mother, I can assure you the best way is surfacing. In the trade it was known as the mad March rush.

  • John Hudson

    I think that there have been changes to accounting regulations to avoid the end of financial year “spend it or lose it” attitude. This was in an attempt to avoid bad rushed spending decisions.

    My impression is that these days, all end of year “left overs” should be collected together as an end of year balance and considered as an integral part of next year’s budget decisions.

    This would involve assessing the amount required to be put by as a reserve for unexpected contingencies. The external auditor has to comment on the adequacy of this reserve (this Council inherited a £6.0m reserve, which is still considered adequate, despite the growth in the Council’s budget.)

    The Council then has to assess the amounts to be carried over as earmarked reserves for specific services and/or projects, which it can spend during the next year, or use to even out peaks and troughs of expenditure over a future number of years. It can also, of course, determine to use some of any end of year balance to offset the call on next year’s Council tax.

    This Council, despite having the “lowest Council Tax in Wales” has always used its end of year saving arising from providing services to add to its earmarked reserves. Currently any end of year surplus is added to the priority 21st Century Schools earmarked reserve. In effect this means that this Council Tax funded contribution reduces the call on any capital receipts from selling off property and the amount of borrowing required to finance the programme over the life of the new schools built.

    During this year, the Council has somehow benefited from an increase in council tax receipts to the tune of some £2.0m. (You might well ask how could this be?) All of this adds to the current year’s end of year balance and is proposed to be added to the priority 21st Century Schools reserve.

    There was no public debate about the recommendations from the (unelected) Director of Finance to the (elected) Cabinet, which rubber stamped the Proposed 2015/16 draft budget and the 2014/15 revised estimate without any comment. No budget options for alternative decisions on the proposed budget allocations were put forward or proposed.

  • Welshman 23

    Have you seen BBC Wales news, PCC have 35 days to provide full leased costs of the Porsche supplied to BPJ. I wonder how much this will be.

  • Brian

    Hmm, had a good look at the Conygar Investment Company PLC. Seems that their entire portfolio of development projects is split between Pembs and Anglesey whose respective councils are perpetually competing for ‘worst in Wales’.

    How confident do we feel that the local population’s best interests will be protected by our Council? Does Conygar see these projects as a rich potential source of taxpayer lolly in assisting them with developing their profitable plans? Does it see these councils as a ‘soft touch’? Has PCC got a track record of picking winners when it comes to this sort of thing?

  • It has just occurred to me that these alterations may be intended to provide a quick route for the chairman to leap down and “restrain” any member who is causing annoyance to Cllr Allen-Mirehouse. See http://oldgrumpy.co.uk/2014/1694/johnny-come-lately/

  • Conspiracy Theorist

    Brian, it is interesting that, until recently, both Pembrokeshire and Anglesey had chief executives called Parry Jones, though, as the Anglesey chap doesn’t seem to have a hyphen, this is probably one of my vast stock of conspiracy theories that doesn’t have any legs.

  • Mike Cook

    I’ve just read the latest copy of Private Eye and neither Bryn or the IPPG are featured in the Rotten Boroughs column. Have the cabinet resigned en masse Jacob? I think we should be told!

  • Whisperer

    You fools, the “dark prince” has departed but anybody with sense knows that a vampire has to have a bit of native soil to sleep in – hence the hole…remember it was evening when it was taken.

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