Tuesday 11 February 2014

Council Crisis: Kevin Madge putting Mark James before voters, says Rhodri Glyn Thomas

The response of senior Labour councillors in Carmarthenshire to the auditor's reports stands in stark contrast to the party's reaction to similar events in Caerphilly and Pembrokeshire.
It began with "it's just a few headlines and will blow over" before turning into vitriolic attacks on the opposition and the Wales Audit Office. 
Yesterday Kevin Madge began what looks for all the world like PR Rescue Plan C as he took to the pages of the Carmarthen Journal with yet another "bear with us, everybody, we will soon present you with all the facts" statement. He also briefed Mr James's favourite newspaper that he would be meeting Dyfed Powys Police later this week.

If there is to be a police investigation, anyone in the council wanting to "tidy up" in County Hall will soon have had two weeks to do so. The shredders have no doubt been working overtime.

Meanwhile the response of the Independents, the other half of the coalition which runs Carmarthenshire, has been total silence. Pam Palmer, who is both deputy leader of the council and leader of the Independent group, has not been heard from since the crisis began. Neither has Meryl Gravell. Together the two councillors have been at the top table in County Hall for more years than anyone cares to remember, and they bear a huge amount of responsibility for what has happened. Not a squawk or squeak from either.

Here is Rhodri Glyn Thomas on the extraordinary reaction of Carmarthenshire's dysfunctional Labour Party to the crisis.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas has accused the Labour party in Carmarthenshire of being in crisis following the way in which it is dealing with the Wales Audit Office reports into the County Council.

In his statement today the Carmarthen East & Dinefwr AM cited examples of the different ways in which the Labour party has responded to damaging Public Interest Reports in Caerphilly, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire councils.  Rhodri Glyn Thomas said the Labour party in Carmarthenshire was more interested in trying to preserve its control of the council, than it was in doing the right thing for county taxpayers.

Mr Thomas added that Labour supporters in Carmarthenshire are rightly appalled that the leadership of the party has lost its moral compass in allowing one of the county’s top earners to avoid tax.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas said:

“The Labour leader of Caerphilly Council suspended its chief executive just two days after the Wales Audit Office reports were published.  In Pembrokeshire council, the Labour opposition group leader called for the immediate suspension of the council’s chief executive the very day the report was published.

“In Carmarthenshire, however, eleven days have now passed since the Audit Office published its damaging reports and the Labour leader of the council, on behalf of his 21 fellow Labour councillors, has done nothing but pledge his full support for the council’s senior officers despite the Auditor stating unlawful processes have taken place.

“Instead of taking decisive action and triggering a full investigation, the Labour council leader has instead issued personal attacks on his political opponents and has tried to undermine the integrity of the Auditor by publishing selective information.  It seems the party is more interested in preserving its supposed control of the council, than it is doing the right thing for county taxpayers.

“My constituents are rightly angry by what has gone on in County Hall.  Labour supporters throughout Carmarthenshire – and indeed throughout Wales - will be appalled that their party leader enabled one of the county’s top earners to avoid tax.  The Labour party in Carmarthenshire has lost its moral compass.

“As a result of gross incompetence, the Carmarthenshire Labour party has become isolated from reality, and is in the equivalent of ‘special measures’ now that the party’s Cardiff headquarters is involved and running the show.

“Plaid Cymru representatives have said for the best part of two weeks – if we had sanctioned unlawful payments worth over £55,000 with public money, we would suspend the officers involved and do the honourable thing and stand down. 

“With the Carmarthenshire Labour party in crisis and now being controlled from Cardiff, Plaid Cymru hopes county residents will start to see some decisive action instead of the defiance, dithering and delay they’ve put up with for almost two weeks.”


KLS said...

Pardon me for saying so but this is all starting to sound a bit desperate (again). Labour and Mark James have shown on enough occasions that they can do pretty much as they like. Despite a lot of indignant frothing, Plaid Cymru has shown itself impotent in when it comes to the crunch.

Unless someone in Dyfed-Powys police with a few shoulder pips decides that 'unlawful' equates to 'illegal' - as happened in Caerphilly - then Kev will stay behind the barricades and this will remain a local squall.

Anonymous said...

One would think that Labour headquarters in Cardiff would insist on the removal of Mark James to retain its credibility as it must be very damaging to the party. There support for this failing exectutive can only make them look weak and ineffectual. Let's hope Dyfed Powys Police have the guts to make an impact.

Anonymous said...

Has Kev got things to hide? Their behaviour is indicative of covering up something - trying to hang on in fear of being exposed. Creepily undignified!

Anonymous said...

Is it going to be Dyfed Powys Police who investigate, then? Given that a chunk of their annual funding is approved by the council - and they've done pretty well in recent years from the current bunch at the top - councillors and officers - they can't be properly independent. Indeed, look how they treated Mrs Thompson for filming a meeting on her mobile phone! Handcuffed & humiliated, imprisoned, and forced to sign a pledge - all because of a phone call to the fuzz from "Chief"!

Anonymous said...

It occures to me that Mark Kev and all the executive, including senior policemen for Dyfed Poweys could all be Social chums, belonging to clubs, churches , Masonic lodges etc. Are we going to get any independent input into this scandal? or are we really governed locally by a Junta possibly the envy of the Kremlin!?

Anonymous said...

I don't see anything desperate in it at all, KLS. From what I'm hearing, Rhodri Glyn Thomas is saying what a lot of Labour councillors are thinking.

Where the next crisis will come for them is that Kevin Madge is all the labour party has in the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency. He's the only one who keeps the party name going. With him now disgraced, Labour has handed over the 2015 election to Plaid Cymru.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't make them look "weak and ineffectual" it makes them look like a party that condones illegal acts.

Anonymous said...

Talking of stony silence, what about the lack of response from Tegwen Devichand, the other (Labour) deputy leader? Or is she waiting in the wings for Kev's downfall?

Mrs Angry said...

Someone please enlighten me. What is the difference between 'unlawful' and 'illegal'? Is 'unlawful' only used when there is an embarrassed reluctance to arrest someone, in contrast, say, to a person 'lawfully' filming a council meeting? Are there perhaps only lawful and unlawful acts in Carmarthenshire, and nothing that could possibly be interpreted as 'illegal'? I am awfully confused.

Anonymous said...

Good reasoning Mrs Angry.These little worms are trying desparately to wriggle out of this chaos.They don't seem to realise that there are so many birds waiting nearby to dispense with them after the next shower of rain.

KLS said...

Even if Kev is led away in handcuffs (unlikely), all that will happen is that another Labour person will assume control. Nothing is going to change council-wise until 2017. Look at Caerphilly.

Lesley said...

In answer to KLS 12.55 "nothing will change council-wise until 2017", nothing will actually change unless and until we have a chief executive officer who does not dictate every last full stop and comma of council policy and administrative decisions.

Anonymous said...

We have to pay tax to pay for this lots wages,instead of messing about they should be getting on with getting
Real jobs into carmarthenshire.If you paid someone to build a wall or paint a house,you would expect them to get
On with the job and not mess about and string it out.It needs sorting quickly who is going to do it I don't know
People in the top jobs big buddies with each other.