So when Cllr Siân Caiach accused him of being responsible for the bizarre deal cooked up by the council with the Scarlets, Henry Davidson and Marstons, Kev's response is that she was being hysterical.
The poor old readers of what is left of the Carmarthen Journal must be scratching their heads again as they read that Kevin Madge has set the record straight about a row which has been rumbling on for months, but which never got a mention in the paper until it was told to print a press release hot off the printer from County Hall. You can read the press release for yourselves here, but be warned that visitors to the Journal's new-look website are likely to find that their screens are invaded by all sorts of unwanted and unwelcome advertising.
Boiled down to its essentials, Kevin Madge's message is:
- A deal to slash interest payments on a council loan to the Scarlets and the land deal, which saw the Scarlets walk off with £600,000 of the £850,000 proceeds, were in no way related. Cllr Caiach's question was whether the senior councillors who approved the deal on interest rates had been made aware of the Marstons deal. Kev has not answered the question.
- The piece of land involved in the deal was of no use to the council or the Scarlets. Fair enough, but the council taxpayer surely has a right to expect that public assets will not be given away.
- The decision to sell the land was delegated to the council's head of property in consultation with Cllr Jeff Edmunds, with the District Valuer being asked to advise on how the proceeds were split. That is the official line, but there is good reason to believe that someone else was calling the shots.
- The reason why the Scarlets took out a lease on the Red Room in the Eastgate development was apparently to ease the concerns of Henry Davidson, which felt that the Marstons pub could undermine the Eastgate Centre. Oh really?
- The new Marstons pub and the Red Room have created 193 full and part-time (and overwhelmingly low-paid) jobs. Great, but if the council gives away public assets to anyone who says they are going to open a pub or bar, there soon won't be any assets left to give away. And perhaps the two new ventures really do employ 193 people, but there must be a lot more more staff than customers at times.
- Finally, Kevin Madge says that Cllr Caiach has said that he personally agreed the terms of the sale. The truth is that Cllr Edmunds told her that his boss was kept informed of what was being discussed.
At last week's council meeting the Head of Resources, Roger Jones, told councillors that Jonathan Fearn, the head of property, had disagreed with the District Valuer's split of the proceeds.
Would the District Valuer really have awarded the Scarlets, who had not paid a penny for the lease, £600,000 of the £850,000 sales price, and awarded the club £280,000 in allowable expenses to set up the Red Room? If so, there is something deeply wrong with the District Valuer. If the claims are true, it surely undermines public trust in the valuation office.
If Mr Fearn was in the chamber, he was not given an opportunity to speak for himself, and he must be feeling very uncomfortable at having this albatross of a deal hung around his neck. By all accounts, Mr Fearn is a decent and scrupulously honest man, and it was his misfortune to be given the job of fronting the negotiations along with Cllr Jeff Edmunds, who would also seem to have deep reservations about what happened here.
The Wales Audit Office has been asked to investigate this very peculiar arrangement, and in the meantime a the council can expect a Freedom of Information request asking for disclosure of the report produced by the District Valuer.