Monday 10 February 2014

Council Crisis: In denial

This week got off to a fairly quiet start. The Labour Party had been due to make a statement at 1pm, but that was cancelled, and the press were told that there would not now be an announcement until later in the week. 

Things hotted up somewhat this afternoon with the announcement that Kevin Madge, the drowning-not-waving council leader, has been asked to meet the Deputy Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys for a chat later this week (report in the Carmarthen Journal).

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the political strings are now being pulled from Cardiff, with the Carmarthenshire Labour Party in a state of deep denial.

One Labour committee chair told a constituent today that it was all just a Plaid witch hunt, and that the chief executive had rights as well. The situation was entirely different to the goings-on in Caerphilly, he said, reflecting what is no doubt the official line coming from the beleaguered Executive Board.

For some reason Pembrokeshire County Council has been able to organise an extraordinary meeting in double quick time, and councillors will gather in Haverfordwest on 14 February. The auditor, Mr Anthony Barrett, will be in attendance.

Whether he has received an invitation to attend the Carmarthenshire bash on 27 February is not entirely clear. No doubt Mr James and Mrs Rees Jones will be very pleased to see him.

The Carmarthen Journal is reporting that Mr Barrett will be there, but other sources are reporting only that Cllr David Jenkins (Plaid), the chair of the council's audit committee, would like him to come.

Here is Plaid's press release on the subject.

Plaid Cymru County Councillor and Chair of Carmarthenshire Council’s Audit Committee, Councillor David Jenkins, has called for the Wales Audit Office Auditor, Mr Anthony Barrett, to be invited to the Council’s extraordinary meeting to present his two reports.

The two Reports in the Public Interest published by the Wales Audit Office at the end of January  found that Carmarthenshire Council acted unlawfully on two matters.  Firstly, the decision of the executive board to cover the legal costs of the Chief Executive’s libel counter-claim and secondly, the decision of the executive board to pay an additional “supplement” to the Chief Executive’s pay instead of making those payments into the pension fund.

Since the publication of the two reports, the 28-member Plaid Cymru opposition group has said the Chief Executive and three members of the authority’s Executive Board cannot continue in their roles and has subsequently announced it will be presenting motions of no confidence against them.

Councillor David Jenkins has requested the Chair of the Council invites the Appointed Auditor to the extraordinary meeting to present his reports.

Councillor Jenkins said the Plaid Cymru opposition group has found a series of flaws with the way in the council leadership is responding to the situation.  He went on to say that given the Wales Audit Office has since confirmed the council is only publishing selective information, the Council as a whole would be better informed if the Auditor himself was present.

Plaid Cymru County Councillor David Jenkins – Chair of the Council’s Audit Committee said:

“The Plaid Cymru group is deeply concerned by the way in which the council’s leadership is responding to this serious situation.

“It is publishing statements and legal advice at a rate of knots, yet the information it publishes raises far more questions than it answers.  As things stand, the council leadership has not provided any new evidence and has not provided all of the reports we have called for.

“More disturbing is that despite the council issuing all 74 councillors with copies of e-mails its officers have had with the Wales Audit Office, the Audit Office now says we have not seen all correspondence.

“I believe Councillors would be far better informed if the appointed Auditor himself presents his reports to the full council as he did in the case of Caerphilly Council.

“We will, of course, respect the Auditor’s independence and ensure he is not dragged into a debate, but I believe he should be invited to present his comprehensive reports which he rightly stands by.”


Anonymous said...

Helping the police with their enquiries eh!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...$$ADocPackPublic.pdf

this is very interesting. worth posting about Cneifiwr. It seems Pembs had even more advice on the pension issue, scroll to the bottom of the report.

also worth noting, is the legal report which states 'factual and legal differences between the Council and Auditor should not be aired publicly as it could only end up in court at a further expense to the taxpayer."

it's quite an interesting read through.