Council leader Kevin Madge (Lab) is likely to face one of the most challenging weeks of his long political career. To put it kindly, Kevin has few if any obvious talents apart from his ability to survive and cling on to the greasy pole. Now it looks as though his instinct for survival has abandoned him.
According to what is said to be a very good source from within the ruling Labour Cabinet in Swansea, Kev was phoned by David Phillips, the Labour leader of Swansea council, on the day the Wales Audit Office published its reports, advising him in no uncertain terms to suspend Mark James.
Like the Wales Audit Office's advice, that was ignored, and Kev nailed his colours to the mast with a series of attacks on opposition politicians and press releases defending "the Chief", as Linda Rees Jones refers to Mark James in her e-mails.
Several of last week's bizarre press releases were issued in the name of the Executive Board, which is headed by Kevin Madge and which includes other luminaries such as Meryl Gravell and Pam Palmer. Collective responsibility is the order of the day, it seems.
At the end of last week Keith Davies AM (Lab, Llanelli), having alerted us to the threat posed by unregistered hair dressers, finally got round to throwing his hat into the ring with a call for the suspension of the chief executive. Meanwhile the Carmarthenshire Labour Party is understood to be receiving a lot of unwelcome attention from Labour HQ, which is worried about what all of this is doing to voters.
One of the rumours doing the rounds is that Kevin Madge will now perform a U-turn early this week, and suspend "the Chief" before an expected announcement from the police.
That is unlikely to be enough to save his skin or the hides of Meryl Gravell and Pam Palmer who have so often and so aptly been described as the leaders of the political wing of the council's elite officers.
If that was not enough, he also faces a council meeting on Wednesday when various interesting points are likely to crop up. One of them will be the minutes of the Executive Board held on 6 January when Kevin Madge went on the rampage about the libel indemnity.
Another treat is a presentation of the Housing Revenue Account's 30 year business plan, another exercise in Death by Powerpoint designed to use up time available for holding to account a council which can't plan ahead for more than 30 minutes at the moment.
Councillors will also be presented with a petition calling on the council to help Llandeilo get its own swimming pool. Anyone who has been past the site of the new £30 million school across the river at Ffairfach will know that the town has suddenly gained several swimming pools thanks to flooding and that most unusual phenomenon, a wet Welsh winter.
Despite the enormous cost of the school (being built to, um, save money), there isn't enough for a swimming pool.
Residents and teachers at nearby Tregib school still cannot believe the County Council's insistence despite all the warnings on building the new school on a flood plain close to the river.
Why waste more taxpayers money on Mark James? He and Linda Rees Jones should be dismissed for Gross Misconduct just as CCC has done with other employees. CCC need to adhere to the policies and procedures of their making! As Mark and Linda are aware, if they disagree with the decision then they have a right to appeal!
How interesting it could be if they were dismissed and appealled - they would have to show evidence that they had not done what the WAO says they have done!
Dynamic Iincisive Madge
Kevin used to be indecisive, but now he isn't sure.
Look into why and when the Acting Head of Law was promoted to that position?
Anon@19.49 The previous Head of Law retired. I am pretty sure that what is supposed to happen is that a replacement has to be approved by councillors, but the chief executive has "special powers" to appoint an interim head pending approval.
Can Cneifiwr clarify that if an employee of a local authority is dismissed, and has brought the authorities name into disrepute, there is a possibility the employee can loose not only the employers contributions but his own contributions into the pension scheme as well?
The timing I meant!
But is she interim Head or actual Head?
There have been a number of Acting Heads of Departments and few of them have been suited to the posts they were appointed to.
It seems many promotions are resultant of sycophancy and cronyism, not fair competative interviews.Some posts aren't even advertised and many good memebers of staff have no chance of progressing to the higher echelons.
Staff rarely see their senior managers and the latter send their diktats via email. Managers are supposed to manage, but one thing is for sure they have little idea of leadership.
Is the Head of Law included in Plaid's no confidence motion?
Interesting.How long has this interim head been operating? Seems to have done a good job for the chief executive.
I can't help but feel sorry for the Head of Law. It is ver difficult to stand up to bullies
Thank you for all of the comments and questions. Mrs Rees Jones is acting Head of Law and Administration (there is probably a subtle difference between acting and interim). She has been in post for approximately 3 years.
I seem to remember that the official reason for not getting the appointment ratified by councillors was that the role might be shared with another council. Obviously that never happened, and it is likely that there would be considerable opposition from some councillors to approving her appointment.
Mrs Rees Jones is not the only senior officer to have been brought in by the back door, bypassing the democratic process. Something similar happened in the case of the Director of Education, although his appointment was eventually approved.
There was also a bizarre episode recently when councillors were trying to appoint a new Director of Technical Services. The appointments committee was about to appoint Candidate A when opposition from senior officers suddenly translated into a wrecking motion from the Independents and the process was aborted at significant financial cost.
This blog is fantastic ...... Keep the news coming.... It will be a fascinating week ahead! Democracy is the key!
@ anon 06:58 - Granted it is difficult to stand up to bullies but sometimes but sadly the consequences can be far worse if you don't! It is not too late for the Head of Law to speak out. If she doesn't then be it on her own head.
I could write a book about my communication with the acting Head of Law leading up to my tribunal in July 2011. My tribunal bundle was nearly a month late, I wrote to her at least 3 times asking where it was and in the end had to write to the tribunal. Still no sign of it. I had to engage a solicitor in the last month and ring her from his office before I finally received anything. ... and there's a lot more incompetence. In the last 2 days a lot of the pages in the bundle were re-numbered just to add to the confusion. The wheel of justice turns slow, but it does turn! It never fails.
So we can expect an advert for a permanent Head of Law to be chosen soon by proper arrangements?
Very, very fishy to have one for THREE years and no effort to recruit a permanent replacement .....
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