Sunday 23 September 2012

Mr Buckley rides into town

The row over Sainsbury's plans for a supermarket in Llandeilo has taken another turn with Simon Buckley, the chief executive of Evan Evans brewers, making a formal complaint to the Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council over the now notorious and highly misleading press release issued by the council in collaboration with J Sainsbury plc.

Caebrwyn has a copy of the letter here, and it pulls no punches. The decision to publish the release through the council's press office was an abuse of power, Mr Buckley says, and he calls for the suspension of the the council leader and a formal apology to those denigrated in the official document.

Mr Buckley ends by saying that if any legal action results from this complaint, he will be paying his own legal costs, rather than relying on the tax payer. Unlike some people, he may well have added.

Clearly, this row still has some way to go.

Mr Buckley is a shrewd and experienced man, and although his letter does not say so, he is almost certainly aware that complaining to the Chief Executive about the council's press office is unlikely to trigger any soul searching, investigation or, indeed, any action at all, because as nerdy council watchers know, the press office is a part of the Chief Executive's own department, and it is highly improbable that the offending press release would have been issued without the knowledge of Mr James himself.

As we know, the press office has more form than the most hardcore of old recidivists languishing at Her Majesty's Pleasure when it comes to political attacks and smears.

Back in January of this year, opposition councillors were amazed to read a statement put out by the ruling Labour and Independent groups over the Christmas period which announced a whole string of changes to proposed budgetary cuts while putting the boot into political opponents. The same release (let's remember that this was in the run-up to the council elections) also announced that increases in council tax would be kept to 2% rather than 4% as previously proposed.

Opposition councillors pointed out that these announcements, which included quotes from a backbench Labour councillor, coincided with what was supposed to be a formal consultation on the budget proposals.

The press office had clearly been used once again for overtly party political purposes, said Peter Hughes Griffiths.

Mr James responded with a performance worthy of Michael Howard on Newsnight, as he patiently explained that what lesser mortals saw as black was in fact most clearly a gleaming shade of white. Although the press office could not be used by political groups, it was entirely legitimate for members of the administration to make their views known.

Strangely for an entirely legitimate use of the press office, the offending statement was mysteriously removed from the council's website, never to be seen again.

Mr Buckley will not need a crystal ball to predict what sort of response his letter will get.


Anonymous said...

Have you seen the Council's press release on Dinefwr schools?
You'd swear Rob Sully was putting his hand in his own pocket to pay for the new school!

Anonymous said...

Passing along the A40 yesterday I notice that Mr Buckley is making room on his site demolishing an old building. I wonder whether he has checked with his friends in the Environmental Agency regarding the asbestos from the old Llandeilo UDC /Boro of Dinefwr buildings creeping into the Crug which flows into the Twyi as he is such a stickler for procedure !! Probabley Not I wonder how will be it be before his friends in CCC spot this !!