Jacob Williams
Tuesday 26th April, 2016

Unoriginal thinkers

Unoriginal thinkers

I seem to have struck a rich seam on the topic of plagiarism among county councillors.

I’ve taken a renewed interest in the propagandising motion tabled by Pembrokeshire County Council’s leader, Cllr. Jamie Adams, urging residents in June’s referendum to vote to remain in the EU.

That’s the one for which dairy farmer Adams ‘wrote’ a statement of support entirely plagiarising words from his farming union’s brochure and the Daily Express.

It was due to be discussed at yesterday morning’s cabinet but despite allowing its inclusion on the meeting’s agenda, the council’s legal eagles now say due to the Welsh Assembly election purdah it shouldn’t be discussed until after next week’s poll.

Cllr. Adams, who has a prejudicial interest in the issue, has been granted a dispensation by the standards committee to speak but not vote on his motion which is expected to come straight to full council on May 12th.

Upon the cabinet papers’ first publication last week it was immediately obvious to me that the words in Cllr. Adams’ supporting statement on ‘his’ EU referendum motion weren’t his own.

But at yesterday’s cabinet meeting copycat Jamie confirmed that his EU referendum motion and another one he tabled on bovine tuberculosis had come about as a result of an invitation he and his deputy, Cllr. Keith Lewis, had accepted from Carmarthenshire County Council.

But this wasn’t a gathering or even a conference. Oh no. No fine a word than “summit” is what the leader chose, yesterday, to describe this elite conclave.

Whether they discussed Putin’s advance on Ukraine or the plight of nuclear disarmament at this ‘summit’ remains a mystery.

Ceredigion council was also represented at this meeting of the minds where “the economic fragility of the dairy sector particularly in West Wales” was discussed, and, out of which Cllr. Adams says there was: “agreement from the three leaders” that the EU referendum and bovine TB motions should be “progressed through the three councils as notices of motion.”

In hindsight, all of the hallmarks indicate that the EU referendum propaganda motion wasn’t Jamie’s own work.

And, having now dusted the wording for fingerprints I can see there’s little evidence of Jamie’s mitts in sight.

My further research shows, unsurprisingly, Cllr. Adams’ EU motion is word-for-word what was approved at neighbouring Carmarthenshire council in December, tabled by their council’s leader, Plaid Cymru’s Cllr. Emlyn Dole.

But I wouldn’t wish to pay Emlyn Dole the unwarranted compliment of possessing original thought.

For the same words of the motion Jamie’s Towyside counterpart submitted had previously been debated at another UK council!

One begins to wonder if, upon elevation to the heady heights of council leadership, these august titleholders are signed up to a civic copywriters’ syndicate.

Or if local government is rife with some dark and mysterious mutual back-scratching pacts.


Spot the difference

Spot the difference

Well what we can say with absolute certainty is that the wording of Jamie’s and Emlyn’s motion existed at least as long ago as last summer.

On July 1st a councillor, Joe Otten, put forward the same pro-EU motion at his own authority in the self-same words.

Otten’s a Lib Dem councillor in Sheffield so we can probably rule out the excuse that Emlyn Dole was working to a blueprint drafted for him by his Welsh nationalist party’s ‘brains.’

Dole may have been inspired by the Sheffield showdown – which was successful, but firmly opposed by UKIP councillors representing the traditional home of British steel.

They argued: “that Sheffield and Great Britain have survived and prospered very well before we joined the EU and will survive and prosper to a greater degree after we leave.”

The Yorkshire authority’s debate saw UKIP’s contingent table an unsuccessful rebuttal motion urging councillors – not the public – to, among other things:

“Put their faith in Great Britain, reject the “Napoleonic Blueprint” that is the EU, and reject its aim to have one flag, totalitarian control of its member states, and believes that the EU wants our sovereignty, our democracy, our currency, and with that, our economy, and suggests that the country should break free from the bureaucratic nightmare that is Brussels.”

Readers might take note that neither motion ‘urged’ Sheffield residents to vote any particular way.

So Pembrokeshire voters have possibly got Emlyn Dole to thank for originating the bit Jamie kept in telling us to vote to remain.

Patronising enough in itself, of course, and even more insulting considering Cllr. Adams’ direct financial interest in the topic.

As for Cllr. Dole, we can assume he has no prejudicial interests as his wasn’t among the names of councillors with anything to declare in CCC’s minutes.

Sheffield not being rural or maritime, the only tweaks Jamie made to the wording was to add-in some guff – as a separate clause – about the EU’s indispensability to “our precious marine and terrestrial environment, and the biodiversity it supports.”

Brownie points are on offer for readers able to turn up another unrelated instance where Pembrokeshire’s dairy farming supremo has used the word ‘terrestrial’ in reference to husbandry and agriculture.

Let’s finish by going back oop north to Sheffield, the home of world snooker, from which city you may also be enjoying, like me, this year’s ongoing world championship.

The city council’s planning enforcers there last week threatened a patriotic cake-baker with legal action for the ‘garish and unsympathetic’ Union flag decorating his shop’s small frontage.

Sheffield bakery

Such a display is sacrilege in the eyes of Sheffield’s conservation officers. Had it been the European flag…

As you sow, so shall Huw reap

Pancake raceWe return to blog favourite, the Rocking Reverend, Cllr. Huw George!

When you stick your neck out as the face of an unpopular or silly council initiative you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.

And so it was as the guest of talk radio legend Jon Gaunt that Cllr. George faced his toughest grilling yet, on PCC’s much-discussed introduction of a ‘voluntary’ smoking ban on Little Haven beach.

Nothing at all like his cosy seaside puff piece with BBC Radio 4.

No amount of pancake analogies could conceal that, despite fronting this gimmick, PCC’s environment cabinet member didn’t really know if the council’s pension fund has tobacco company investments.

In posing the question, interviewer Jon Gaunt said this would, if proven, open the council to accusations of hypocrisy and had the potential to make Huw look ‘mightily stupid!’

But answer it Huw did – and I’m still not sure what he’s saying – have a listen and see what you think.

Does he mean: ‘yes I did check and my research revealed no money is invested in tobacco companies,’ or ‘no I didn’t check but I’m sure no money is invested in tobacco companies,’ or ‘I did check (I didn’t but I’m winging it here) and you can never rule out the possibility of an investment in some opaque fund whose details are murky.’

I rather suspect Huw was giving one of his evasive answers to please all ears – without answering – his uncanny ability.

A transcript of his words would be scarcely believable.

Huw’s no doubt honed this talent over several years as the resident evangeliser officiating funeral services at the municipal crematorium, delivering what I can only describe, from experience, as genuinely impressive eulogies for decedents I knew he’d never met.

He has the gift of the gab, you have to hand it to him – but may have found his match with Jon Gaunt.

Gaunty, as he’s known by his loyal following, was for a long time talk radio’s heavyweight blabbermouth.

I remember during free slots in my sixth form days us tuning into Gaunty on talkSPORT as we’d drive to pubs and clubs around the Tenby and Saundersfoot area in my friend’s beloved banger – whose radio only worked on the station’s medium wave frequency.

For he who got me into Gaunty I shall, later this year, be best man.

And we didn’t travel to these establishments to indulge in intoxicating liquor, I might add, but to play pool and snooker.

Always one to get easily carried away on air was our Gaunty.

The comment that got him the sack from national public radio, making him unemployable there since, was funnily enough made to a jobsworth council cabinet member.

Not Huw George – but there are strange similarities.

It was Cllr. Michael Stark from London’s Redbridge council who Gaunty called a Nazi during an infamous live radio interview in 2008, for his council’s introduction of a ban on fostering children in homes of smokers on health grounds.

As a fostered child himself with a less than privileged upbringing, you might think Gaunt was well qualified to offer his view that any child cared for by loving foster parents who smoke is in a much better place than languishing in the doldrums under council care.

But calling a councillor a Nazi was too far even for his employers.

The heat of the moment comment was Gaunt’s instant regret, who, when taken to task by the gobsmacked Tory councillor, tried to soften it by saying he was a “health Nazi.”

But the ‘health’ prefix did nothing to appease the grossly insulted interviewee who spurred Jon Gaunt to seal his fate: “well, you’re a Nazi then!”

Alas, his subsequent high court bid to argue unfair dismissal from the airwaves failed and Gaunty’s so far been unable to return.

His subsequent succession of flop online stints proves broadcast radio’s still king.

Gaunt interviewed Cllr. George back in March for his latest podcast, during which he calls the council ‘health and safety Nazis’ over Little Haven’s nanny state initiative.

It’s well worth a listen – he had Huw – pronounced “Hoo” – on the racks!

I must be losing my touch because Hoo’s Gaunty interview would have passed me by.

It was drawn to my attention by a reader resident in Canada – who I’m indebted to.

It was none other than the author of that other website‘s son.

He must be pleased to have found a blog worth visiting to keep abreast of Pembrokeshire council shenanigans.

IPPG sources tell me in the event of Huw George’s success in next week’s assembly elections he’s to step down from the cabinet making way for Cllr. Lyn Jenkins. With the more likely outcome that Huw fails to bag an AM’s salary, I’m told backbencher Lyn from Solva may soon land a more hands-on role regardless.

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  • John Hudson

    Is Jamie acting as Leader of PCC or as an individual when seeking to get PCC to urge residents to vote one way in the EU referendum?

    When Thatcher abolished the Greater London Council, Ken Livingstone led a campaign to save the GLC. I can’t recall whether this ended up in court or whether legal advice pre-empted any such action.

    In any event there was a legal ban on “exhorting” (to entreat, to encourage) the public to vote one way or another, no doubt based on the illegality of using public money for political purposes. I think it was and is possible to use local authority legal powers to advertise its services, however.

    Did Hoo say that he (PCC) was encouraging (exhorting) people to act in a certain way. Did he or PCC pay for the signage?

  • Flashbang

    Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber are probably doing the exit campaign’s job for for them in the county.

    If those two are for it, it can only mean that what’s best is just the opposite.

    Stop Jamie getting his hands on more unearned money.

  • H

    “It can’t possibly be plagiarism as the paragraphs have been switched!”

    Source: Plagiarised from the internet.

  • Tim

    Maybe Huw should take a look at this:


  • Dimly Fiendish

    One worrying thought, Jacob: if Jamie Adams is David Cameron manque, which of you or Grumpy is the Lothario of Old London Town, BoJo?

  • Sonofgrumpy

    “He must be pleased to have found a blog worth visiting to keep abreast of Pembrokeshire council shenanigans.”

    Jacob, sometimes even readers of the Guardian check out the Daily Mirror to see what’s new with One Direction!!

  • Tim, interesting that, as of 31 March 2015, the Dyfed pension fund had £14.2m invested in British American Tobacco.

    In addition there was £10.2 m in Diageo – purveyors of the demon drink – and £45.5 m in various oil companies whose products are responsible for global warming. Or should that be climate change?

    Perhaps Rev Huw would be better employed giving the pension fund managers a sermon on ethical investment rather than persecuting those who would enjoy a harmless (to others) fag on Little Haven beach.

  • Martin Lewis

    So the answer to Gaunty’s question was: “Yes, the council’s pension fund DOES invest in tobacco companies and therefore I am a 42 carat plonker, Gaunty!!”

  • Tim

    It wouldn’t be so bad if he admitted it did but to try and spin his way out of it, typical. Any chance of this being raised in a council meeting?

  • Beca

    Not sure of the significance of this if any, but the Haverfordwest office of Kinver Kreations in Market Street was hurriedly cleared last weekend with no notice or contact details posted on the premises.

    The property is owned by a certain Cathal McCosker so whether there has been a falling out or not can only be conjecture. No mention of this closure can be found on Kinver Kreations’ website!

  • Goldingsboy

    I see that Old Grumpy’s revelations on the Pembroke Dock grant scheme fraud allegations have, once again, found their way into the columns of “Private Eye”.

    They mention that it is now two years since the police were brought in to investigate.

    Let’s hope that the people of Pembrokeshire won’t have to wait as long as Liverpool football fans for a just outcome.

  • Keanjo

    Goldingsboy, the Private Eye report is scathing about the police inaction. I raised the matter with Christopher Salmon and to his credit he replied that the matter had been raised with him during the hustings and although he acknowledged that the investigation was taking a long time, he obviously could not make any other comment.

    However we can all assist Old Grumpy and Jacob by raising the matter with the Chief Constable and all these politicians who are supposed to be representing us, as often as possible.

  • John Hudson

    One further interesting aspect is that the police regard the council as the injured party in all of this and that it has allegedly suffered a loss.

    I guess it needs to be established which, out of all of the grant contributors, has suffered any loss.

    PCC was I understand the scheme administrator and paymaster so it may well be the council.

    In any event it has long been recognised that chief financial officers have a special fiduciary duty to ratepayers to look after their money.

  • There seems at last to be some action on this.

    The police’s explanation for not making arrests seems a bit hollow when it appears that, in a suspected fraud case at a care home in Llangwm, someone has been arrested and bailed within a few days of the allegations coming to light. See here.

  • Goldingsboy

    Is John Hudson correct to identify PCC as the “injured party” in the grants scandal?

    Given that the council has been forced to repay a large chunk of cash to its original source suggests to me that it is merely acting in an agency role.

  • Timetraveller

    Mike, the police have a different and unique mindset to most of us. They often start with an assumption, such as all Liverpool fans are drunken yobs or that council officers are honest and beyond reproach.

    They will follow this prejudice to the nth degree – 25 years in the case of Hillsborough (and still not getting it!), so the PD grant scheme is yet young.

    This file to the prosecutor has to be weak enough to ensure no further action, as any minions prosecuted are likely to squeal profusely about council officers.

    This will undermine the above mentioned assumption (not the one about Liverpool fans).

    A policeman’s lot is not a happy one if this case got out of hand, after all, it’s only a bit of money, EU money at that, it’s not as if any of us have had to pay it.

  • Goldingsboy, I believe John Hudson was repeating the police’s own claim – that the council is the alleged ‘victim’ in all this.

    In case you missed it, Mike discussed this correspondence he had had with the police on his blog over a month ago.

    It includes the bizarre bit where they told him:

    “In this instance taxpayers have not suffered any economic loss as they would have paid the same amount of tax regardless of whether this crime had occurred or not.”

    You couldn’t make it up!

  • John Hudson

    This issue about the council being its own entity in its own right divorced from us, the council tax payers, toll payers and payers for other council provided services, seems to pervade and be at the forefront of entrenched thinking both from officers, who may be forgiven for putting the council first, and leading councillors, some of whom we elect to represent us.

    WE have no legal choice but to pay what is demanded from us via rates, tolls and services. Even pushing services on to community councils ends up being funded by a smaller sections of us.

    During superficial consideration of the Cleddau Bridge toll at council last week, the point was made that the bridge was never intended to be a cash cow for the council.

    The application of the estimated 2016/17 £1,905,000 bridge surplus from tolls to other county-wide highways expenditure has the effect of reducing council tax at the expense of toll payers.

    This saving to the council reduces tax payable at Band A by £23.60, Band B by £27.54, Band C by £31.47, Band D by £35.41, Band E by £43.27, Band F by £51.01, Band G £58.01, Band H by £70.81, and Band I by £82.62. Businesses and others do not receive any such benefit. Who benefits the most?

    But the council can boast that it has the lowest council tax in Wales!

    As the council debate reveals, leading IPG councillors were more concerned about the loss of £1.9m income (4.5% of the budget requirement) than any fairness of collection between the county’s residents.

  • Timetraveller

    News is that the “entity” Pembrokeshire County Council is joining a number of other entities in complaining about the assistant auditor general for Wales, Anthony Barrett, apparently they don’t like him describing their antics as “unlawful”.

    The ratepayers of Pembrojeshire owe this man a lot. A statue to him could be acquired for just half the money he saved when the former CEO was bolting out of the door with his bag of swag.

    Whether having your mitts in the public purse is unlawful or not obviously depends on which “entity” you are. It can therefore be a fine line for some.

    Does this council regard dipping the public purse as lawful? Can anyone recall any financial largesse that might apply here?

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