Update 28 January
Mrs Breckman has been in touch to say the following:
My feelings are that of course it should be discussed openly in the
chamber, and that all councillors are made aware of its contents.
overwhelming anger over all of this, is not just the planning issues,
they are bad enough, but that I was pilloried for telling the truth,
lied about to all councillors and others, (another reason all
councillors should be made aware of the seriousness of it), leaving the
overriding issue one of misconduct in public office. Of course the
Ombudsman cannot and doesn't take that into consideration when making
his investigations. As we all know he can only look for and find
I am intending writing back to Carl
Sargeant, asking that he reconsiders, and meets with me, as he needs a
much clearer understanding from my perspective of the misconduct of
certain officers and the damage they can cause to ones life. Until he
is fully acquainted with all the facts he cannot make a fair judgement
on whether there needs to be a Public Inquiry.
On 31st January the Planning Committee of Carmarthenshire County Council will meet to decide various planning applications as usual, but what is highly unusual about this meeting is the final agenda item listed only as "Outcome of Ombudsman Investigation".
Officers of the council are recommending that a public interest exemption should be applied to exclude any members of the public and press present from the discussion.
The case they will be reviewing is in fact that of Mrs Trisha Breckman and her partner Eddie Roberts who suffered serious injustice at the hands of the County Council over a period of years.
The Ombudsman's report was published in July 2012, and it will have taken the council 7 months to get round to putting it in front of a group of councillors. It is quite clear that the Ombudsman and many councillors were expecting the report to go before the full council, but senior officers within the council appear to have been hell-bent on ensuring that the report receives as little oxygen as possible.
Every trick in the book, and several not in any book, have been used to prevent open scrutiny of the report, including last week's removal of the standard "Any Other Business" item on a meeting agenda to foil an attempt by Mrs Breckman's councillor to raise the matter in a public meeting.
Normally, it is true, reports which deal with the affairs of individuals are rightly subject to a public interest exemption. But this is not a normal report. Details of the affair and the report have been the subject of newspaper reports and a television documentary. Everybody knows the identities of the people involved, and anybody who wants a copy of the report can write to the Ombudsman to obtain one.
The usual reasons for applying an exemption do not apply in this case, and the public has a very strong interest in hearing what the Council has to say about it and what steps it is taking to ensure that nothing of the kind ever happens again.
The council's failings are not limited to planning enforcement, but include much wider failings in the way in which the authority deals with the public. That is why it should be heard by the full council in public.
By insisting that the report and the outcome are discussed behind closed doors, it is clear that what is being served here is not the public interest but that of the council's officers.