Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Lumpy Carpets - Part One

After a couple of weeks spent down in Llanelli, it's time to head back to County Hall in Carmarthen where it's very much business as usual.

Four years after winning the libel trial against blogger Jacqui Thompson, the chief executive and a gaggle of highly paid council staff have been busy launching what Mr James is surely hoping will be his final grand offensive against the Llanwrda housewife.

Last year Mr James went to the police with a dossier put together by council staff to complain that he was the subject of criminal harassment. One of the items handed to the constabulary was a blogpost in which Mrs Thomspon referred to "lumpy carpets" in County Hall (she was actually quoting a newspaper).

Unsurprisingly, the police went through the motions and decided not to pursue the matter.

Undeterred, Mr James, or more likely council staff burning the midnight oil on his behalf, has now come up with a second dossier for the attention of the police, and he has complained yet again of harassment.

Jacqui Thompson has been asked to attend an interview under caution on 16 March. On 23 March she will be attending a court hearing in which Mr James is applying for the forced sale of the Thompsons' family home.

But Mr James is not just keeping the police and courts busy. Another set of complaints has gone off to the Public Services Ombudsman alleging that Cllr Siân Caiach has breached the Code of Conduct for councillors.

The two complaints are understood to be closely related, and if the Ombudsman opens his filing cabinet, he will find that his predecessor dismissed another barage of complaints against Cllr Caiach in 2012, telling him that he needed to grow a thicker skin.

The timing of all this activity is interesting, so long after the trial. Cneifiwr pointed out last year that the complex series of legal depth charges being laid would go off in the spring of 2017 to coincide with another important date in Mr James's diary when he dons his other very well remunerated hat as returning officer for this year's council elections.

Seasoned observers of Mr James's very long career know that meticulous planning is one of his strengths, but perhaps it is just pure coincidence that the grand offensive has been timed for the precise moment that the council goes into purdah ahead of the elections.

Coincidence or not, Mr James's actions will now be immune from scrutiny during normal term time, and he must be hoping that the show will be over by the time the new council gets down to its first real business in June, with the new crop of councillors being presented with another fait accompli.

But you can't make an omlette without breaking a few eggs, and there will be collateral damage. Plaid Cymru in particular must be squirming at the thought that the election campaign will be overshadowed by Mr James's pursuit of what, in theory at least, is a purely personal legal matter, albeit one which was almost entirely funded and resourced by the council itself.

As for Cllr Caiach, isn't it funny how Mr James's complaints to the Ombudsman always seem to happen around election time?

The fact that Plaid inherited the mess from previous Labour-Independent administrations may not cut much ice on doorsteps. Voters are not known for their fair-mindedness in matters such as these, and it will be interesting to see how Labour plays its set of rather grubby cards.

Part two of this story will follow at the weekend.


Anonymous said...

I suppose the Labour and Plaid should comfort themselves in the knowledge that not many people really care about local politics. if they did, it would I'm afraid be a plague on all their houses. Labour for doing the unlawful payment deals and plaid for being hypocritical about how to deal with them (compare and contrast statements pre and post power) The independents of course will escape all responsibility because they are invisible.

Anonymous said...

ALL the Councillors in Carmarthen should show some backbone and en-masse put forward a vote of no confidence in the CEO. By sitting on their hands they are complicit in supporting the VINDICTIVE actions of the CEO M.James.For far too long threats of legal action etc. has been used to stem any criticism of this man. HE is a SERVANT of the Council and as such it is THEM that he is answerable to as well as the people of Carmarthen.

Anonymous said...

'Enough is enough' councillors should be screaming at their CEO. Hasn't Jacqui Thompson suffered too much already without more threats of legal action. What more suffering is this council going to inflict upon her? Harassment comes in different forms and this could be seen as a CEO and the councillors (plaid) causing the harassment! They should be extremely aware and careful how far they push someone to breaking point. Again Sian Caich comes under fire. Again all councillors should be supporting her against this tyranny. If other councillors spoke out as she does she wouldn't always be the fall guy for this out of control CEO. Men or mice?

Anonymous said...

I do so agree with the comments made by Anon @8.32, 9.19 and 11.28 and have very little to add apart from saying that the CEO and any of these pathetic councillors who call themselves Christians should spend the Lenten period down on their knees begging for forgiveness if they have any consciences at all.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely anon @ 11.28 Shame on the councillors who stand idly by while the most terrible things are happening to members of the public in Carmarthenshire.There is no difference between the conduct of an out of control CEO and councillors who are elected to SERVE the community that elected them.

Anonymous said...

Everything rotten that has taken place in Carmarthenshire is totally the fault of councillors.At least all those who are more than happy to allow CEO to control the lot of them.So much easier than making decisions for themselves.
The hardworking councillors who are fully aware of what is taking place are in the minority so get the others out in May.That is the only chance democracy has of returning to what has been described as the wild west.

Anonymous said...

Mr James’ disdain of Cllr Caiach is all too obvious, exampled by his embarrassing hissy-fit in response to her questions during his Swansea Bay Enterprise Zone presentation to full council. Cllr Caiach has been persistent in her efforts to raise questions about the unlawful indemnity. Mr James has been equally persistent in his determination to silence her, in this he has been generously aided by the “impartial” monitoring officer.

Other councilors are more easily brought into line by Mr James. When Cllrs Lenny and Campbell recently tried to raise a motion relating to the indemnity they all too redily capitulated to the ruling of Linda Rees-Jones. Cllr Lenny stated that it was not the end of the matter, but, with the ensuing silence, apparently it was.

While this takes place we have the leader of the council repeating his mantra of “the most open and transparent council in Wales”, in the desperate hope that if he repeats the magic words enough times they will become true – at present they remain empty words Cllr Dole.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have the conscience to persecute my worst enemy in this way. I was brought up and taught that if I could not do good then don't do bad. Saying that, if I saw injustice or something wrong I would say so.
I have never met Jacqui Thompson but no one deserves to be treated like this, and caused such deliberate stress and anxiety. I couldn't sleep at night if I caused such torment, but then I couldn't work in a position of power because I think there are no bars then.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of Councillor Dole repeating over and over "CCC is the most open and transparent council in Wales" hoping the magic will work.Deluded doesn't even come close as he thinks it already is.

Anonymous said...

The good thing about bullies is there is always a bigger one.

What james needs to understand is that despite all his bulling of these 'easy targets' his comeuppance will happen. And when he's least expecting it.

That will be a good day for Carmarthenshire....

Anonymous said...

Didn't someone, somewhere, say that if you repeat a lie often enough, eventually everyone will believe it? I've got a feeling that in this instance that particular maxim is not going to work for the Rev Dole however much he keeps telling us that the council is the most transparent etc etc.

Anonymous said...

At last Mr.Dole has been rewarded by Private Eye for his "transparency".

Well done Em.

Anonymous said...

Anon 23.46

Councillors aren't going to give him his comeuppance because most of them seem too afraid of him.