Saturday 8 February 2014

Council Crisis: A question of timing

As we follow the daily twists and turns in the crisis enveloping Carmarthenshire County Council, it is easy to forget that things are not much better next door in Pembrokeshire, where the council leadership and the chief executive, Bryn Parry Jones, are under fire for what the Wales Audit Office considers to be unlawful pension arrangements for a couple of its senior officers.

Pembrokeshire is not exactly famous for being a shining example of an open, democratically accountable local authority. When the auditor's damning report on the pension arrangements was published the council leader, Jamie Adams, was away on holiday in South Africa. Now he's back, and the the council has moved quickly to arrange an extraordinary meeting of the full council to discuss the report next week. According to the BBC, the meeting will be held on St Valentine's Day.

Both councils were given 30 days by the WAO to set up meetings to discuss the reports. Pembrokeshire will get to discuss the scandal two weeks earlier than Carmarthenshire, which will hold its meeting on the last possible date allowed by the WAO.

Like Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire also has a lively council blogging cottage industry, and it is with some disappointment that this blog has to note the complete lack of gratitude on the part of our neighbours for the generous assistance Carmarthenshire has provided to help the junta in Haverfordwest combat the outrageous accusations made by the WAO.

It is not too late for Cllr Jacob Williams and Old Grumpy to recognise that it was Carmarthenshire that introduced Pembrokeshire to Mr Timothy "Genius" Kerr QC.

What a pity that neither council has so far seen fit to share Mr Kerr's advice on the pensions arrangements with elected councillors, the public or even the Wales Audit Office.


Anonymous said...

the question is, is Plaid in Carms effective enough to take power from Labour at the county council?

Plaid need to speak to independent councillors to bring down this administration.

Anonymous said...

I am still confused about "Independent" councillors who seem to be like the three wise monkeys and see nothing, hear nothing and do nothing" - except shore up their Labour colleagues.

Could it be that they are not REALLY independent at all?

Catherine said...

Of course they're not independent. How can you be independent if you are part of a group which votes en bloc? I think they should be done under the Trade Descriptions Act for false description of the goods (and not being fit for purpose). The only true independent is Cllr Caiach.

Anonymous said...

That is what I think,how can you have an independent
Group?Its like an independent person that is a member of
Numerous clubs,likes to be noticed in a crowd etc.Maybe
Someone could explain it,I don't know.

Anonymous said...

If they are a group, who is their Leader? Forgive a pn Englishman this possibly naive question!

Cneifiwr said...

Anon @17.50 Their leader is Cllr Pam Palmer.

The Indies are one of those great unsolved mysteries. They claim to be a group of like-minded invididuals, but 99% of the time vote as one. They do not publish a manifesto at eleactions (apart from local ones along the lines of "dog mess is a problem in Stryd y Pwll"), so there is no Independent "vision" for the county - at least not one that's ever been published. That doesn't stop them from wanting to run the county, however.

Oh, and probably the best description ever of them was "the political wing" of the council officers. They certainly bear a lot of the blame for turning Carmarthenshire into a paradise for unelected and unelectable egomaniacs.

Anonymous said...

How interesting! Perhaps their voting record should be more widely investigated and statistics publicised, such as the percentage of times they have voted with the other party. And possibly their whethet there are links to officers or crossover organisations and/or funding of projects.

A great deal of time has been expended on Labour but perhaps this "group" now warrants more investigation. Perhaps emails are shared on political matters between Labour and Independents but not other councillors for example. We need to know just how close the 2 groups are and what interests they share and what declarations of interest they make compared to the interests they have.

Anonymous said...

I think most of the Independents are Labour in disguise!

Anonymous said...

I have been reading the BBC online report and what Carmarthenshire C.C. said in response to the pension issue.
C.C.C. reportedly said, 'The Chief Executive took the personal decision to opt out of the pension scheme, a decision he or any other individual who is in the scheme is legally entitled to do. No contributions are due from any employee who is no longer a member of the fund. OK BUT IF AN EMPLOYEE DECIDES TO OPT OUT, THEY WOULD NOT GET A PENNY OUT AT THIS STAGE. IT WOULD BE FROZEN UNTIL RETIREMENT AGE?

I'm sure many C.C.C. employees have, over the years, opted out of the pension scheme, I doubt very much if they have been given a refund!