Saturday 3 November 2012

Not for public consumption - the latest twist in the Breckman case

Update 4 November

The extent to which the council will discuss the findings of the Ombudsman's report on the Breckman case can be guessed at from its response to calls for a public inquiry into the county's planning department. A council press officer told the Carmarthen Journal that an inquiry would be a "waste of time and money" (see report here).

The council clearly views the Ombudsman's investigations as an annoying intrusion, and the contempt with which his damning report on the Breckman case has been treated echoes responses to previous critical reports:

  • Report on Mr M, the disabled man who waited for three years for the council to put in a ramp and other adjustments to help him with his wheelchair: "the family should not have been re-housed, but left in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation".
  • Report on Delyth Jenkins and Sally, the young woman who was abused in a council day centre: "Sally can't wait to get back to the centre. It is time to draw a line under this".
For details of other items which will not be up for discussion at this week's meeting of the full council, see Caebrwyn's round-up here.

Caebrwyn also carries a piece on the Ombudsman's latest report criticising the council, this time relating to the appalling treatment meted out to a severely autistic girl and her parents.


On 16 October BBC Wales broadcast an edition of Week In Week Out which looked at the Breckman case and the extraordinary failings it highlighted about the way in which the case was handled by Carmarthenshire County Council in particular.

What was particularly shocking about the story was the way in which the council turned a blind eye to problems which were obvious to everybody else, including a planning inspector, allowed the dispute to fester for years and then began what amounted to persecution of the victims.

When he delivered his report, the Ombudsman for Public Services asked the authority to provide councillors with copies of the report within three months. Shortly before the deadline, the council asked for a two week extension, and that extension lapsed around the time that the programme was broadcast.

Following the broadcast, the leader of the opposition group on the council, Peter Hughes Griffiths (Plaid Cymru) said,

"What is clear from the Ombudsman’s comments is that the authority lost all objectivity in this case and subsequently failed Carmarthenshire residents. 

The leadership of this authority must do better and never allow such an injustice to happen again.   I expect the Leader of the Council to present the Ombudsman’s full report at the next meeting of the Council."

The next meeting of the council is scheduled for 7 November, and the report has not been tabled by the Chief Executive Officer, who determines the agenda.

It seems that because the Ombudsman did not specify that the report should be provided to all councillors, the Chief Executive has decided to submit it instead only to the Executive Board (i.e. cabinet) and the Chair of the Planning Committee, some of whom were responsible for allowing the scandal to develop in the first place. And all are politically safe pairs of hands who can be relied upon not to kick up a fuss.

Hell may freeze over before our elected councillors are given an opportunity to read and discuss the report.


Anonymous said...

Given the frequency that the Ombudsman is involved with Carmarthenshire County Council, perhaps 'Ombudsman Reports' should be an "agenda'd" item each month...

Anonymous said...

It is disgusting!

Sounds to me like you have a council not too dissimilar to Anglesey!

Both should be disbanded forthwith!

Delyth Jenkins said...

I thought lessons had been learnt within the social care department as a result of my complaint and the damning Ombudsman's report published in Sept 2009? Obviously not!

Anonymous said...

All Councillors should demand a copy of the report

guess who??? said...

jeez wept.. even after all that, the council are still fobbing off.

In response a council spokesman said the authority dealt with around 550 planning enforcement cases every year.

(how many were succesfully dealt with amicably and satisfied and closed by the complainee or both parties?)

"For the AM to suggest that we need a public inquiry, based on just one of these cases, is a complete over-reaction," he added.

(oh really - overeaction?)

"This was a particularly complicated case. Even the Ombudsman looked into it twice over the past 10 years and decided that there were no grounds for investigating.

"It was only on the third occasion that he felt it required a more detailed examination.

"Nevertheless, the council does accept that we have made some errors in the several different aspects of our handling of this case over the course of a decade.

(yes they made some errors)..

"We have made a full and detailed apology to Mrs Breckman for this, and have recompensed her financially as recommended by the Ombudsman.

(Only because they had to)

"But this is a unique case in many ways, and to suggest that it requires a public inquiry is unwarranted.


"Such an inquiry would be a waste of time and public money."

(oh really? if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be in this mess. or are they jittery because they are about to get busted?)

Anonymous said...

Too right, enough is enough. Surely someone soemwhere has to intervene soon or are these people a law unto themselves? Very worrying actually.

Delyth Jenkins said...


I contributed to a phone-in on radio Kent this morning about the treatment of whistleblowers, and I would be grateful if you could include the link on your blog.
Eileen Chubb, the founder of Compassion in care was in the studio to speak about the work of her charity and her own experiences as a whistleblower. She is a remarkable lady and her enthusiasm to help others is inspirational. Eileen is campaigning to change the law to protect whistleblowers. At the moment the law seems to favour the perpetrators whilst the victims(whistleblowers) are treated as troublemakers. The campaign for Edna's law is a law written by whistleblowers to protect whistleblowers and puts right everything that is wrong about the law as it stands. The whistleblowing policy failed to protect me and is worthless unless Managers are held to account. The message given out at the moment seems to be that abuse is tolerated unless the Managers and senior Managers who failed to protect the vulnerable are held to account. I would also ask the readers of your blog to access Eileen's website, Compassion in care and add their support and comments if they wish to for what will be a life saving law.


Delyth Jenkins said...

Just to update, I have written to the First Minister last week about my complaint and also to Dyfed Powys Police. I await a response from both.

caebrwyn said...

Please let us know what they say Delyth

Delyth Jenkins said...

Will do.

Delyth Jenkins said...

No news from the Bay or from Dyfed Powys Police - not even an acknowledgement of my letters, let alone a response from either quarters. People ask why the victims of the abuse in the Jimmy Saville case were so slow in coming forward. This is the very reason in my opinion because complaints are ignored until it is too late.

Delyth Jenkins said...

Further to the above comment, I am grateful to the Welsh Minister for a letter received in the post this morning. I will not comment further on the matter for the time being.

Delyth Jenkins said...

Very sorry I meant First Minister