Emotions run high as Pembrokeshire County Councillor questions property grants

EMOTIONS were running high as further questions were asked about the Town Heritage Initiative (THI) and Commercial Property Grant Schemes (CPGS) in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock.

At Monday’s (December 2) cabinet meeting, Councillor Mike Stoddart called for the release of “all information (bills of quantities, tender reports, final accounts, etc) on a confidential basis to all council members”.

The two THI schemes in Pembroke Dock and Haverfordwest – costing nearly £18m in total - are funded primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and support the regeneration of buildings in a conservation area or with a grade II or higher listing.

The £1.47m Commercial Property Grant Scheme (CPGS) is a part of a larger Pembroke and Pembroke Dock regeneration project and is primarily funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Cllr Stoddart talked members through a five-page document outlining his “grave concerns about the probity” of the schemes which questioned grant payments and whether the work was actually carried out.

In front of a busy public gallery, Cllr Stoddart held up redacted council documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests.

“This is the open, transparent Pembrokeshire County Council,” he said. “This council is basically obstructing me from having information that I’m entitled to have as a member.”

Cllr Stoddart said he had worked in the building industry and “knew what he was talking about”.

A report by the council’s director of development and the director of finance and leisure stated the HLF was “content” and full audits were carried out by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), the Wales Audit Office (WAO), the Welsh Government European Funds Audit Team and the European Commission.

The findings of an internal review also concluded that “adequate and effective compliance arrangements” were in place and “complied with”.

The council’s head of internal audit, Jonathan Haswell, and head of regeneration, Martin White, gave a presentation addressing each of Cllr Stoddart’s concerns, which accompanied a 14-page report.

Council leader Cllr Jamie Adams questioned how successful Cllr Stoddart’s career in the building trade had been, adding that he had been given information which suggested it was “less than successful”.

Cllr Stoddart asked the leader to clarify the “innuendo”.

“I’m quite happy to say what I think and not give an innuendo,” Cllr Stoddart said, to which Cllr Adams said: “Your whole argument is based on innuendo.”

Cllr Adams questioned what Cllr Stoddart’s “end game” was and added: “If the outcome is that money is not spent and you consider that a win then this is a very sad situation.”

Cabinet member of ecomony, communities and tourism Cllr David Pugh said he was “staggered”.

“We had people willing to invest in heritage buildings which were crying out for investment. This has brought the town back to some sort of life. We now have a future.

“I do not think Cllr Stoddart understands the difference between eligible and ineligible money.”

Cllr Simon Hancock added: “If there’s evidence of impropriety – and I’m not suggesting there is - then an independent investigation is needed and the matter can be referred to the police.”

Cllr Stoddart said he was “trying to find out the truth” and added: “If you really believe everything I’m saying is rubbish then you have a duty to report me to the Ombudsman for bringing the office of councillor into disrepute.”

Comments (19)

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2:52pm Tue 3 Dec 13

Dave Edwards says...

It ill behoves Farmer Adams to call into question Cllr Stoddart's competence at running a business. I can remember a yogurt making firm called Culture Drinks Ltd, run by Cllr Adams and his friend Will Prichard that was wound up having never made a profit, despite glowing articles in WT and the Farmers Guardian.
It ill behoves Farmer Adams to call into question Cllr Stoddart's competence at running a business. I can remember a yogurt making firm called Culture Drinks Ltd, run by Cllr Adams and his friend Will Prichard that was wound up having never made a profit, despite glowing articles in WT and the Farmers Guardian. Dave Edwards

3:00pm Tue 3 Dec 13

Electra1 says...

'This has brought the town back to some sort of life. We now have a future'.

Yes in the bedsit business.
'This has brought the town back to some sort of life. We now have a future'. Yes in the bedsit business. Electra1

3:33pm Tue 3 Dec 13

Andrew Lye says...

Am surprised that the Leader has to start inferring Cllr Stoddart's business acumen. This is rather underhand and does not answer the specific questions about the concerns raised by Cllr Stoddart.

Not how I expect a Leader to act. Getting personal (or inferring) towards another councillor outside the ruling group is not at all professional.
Am surprised that the Leader has to start inferring Cllr Stoddart's business acumen. This is rather underhand and does not answer the specific questions about the concerns raised by Cllr Stoddart. Not how I expect a Leader to act. Getting personal (or inferring) towards another councillor outside the ruling group is not at all professional. Andrew Lye

4:13pm Tue 3 Dec 13

Mike Stoddart says...

All I was asking for was that the information on these grants was made available to elected members who have a duty to make sure that public money is properly spent.
The Cabinet claims that everything is in order, so you have to wonder why they continue to behave as if they have something to hide.
As for Jamie Adams' resort to smear tactics - that, I'm afraid, is par for the course.
All I was asking for was that the information on these grants was made available to elected members who have a duty to make sure that public money is properly spent. The Cabinet claims that everything is in order, so you have to wonder why they continue to behave as if they have something to hide. As for Jamie Adams' resort to smear tactics - that, I'm afraid, is par for the course. Mike Stoddart

9:47pm Tue 3 Dec 13

dave-javu says...

Who or which firm stands to make money from the work which was "not carried out" ?
Who or which firm stands to make money from the work which was "not carried out" ? dave-javu

10:34pm Tue 3 Dec 13

Gogledd says...

I read with dismay all the goings on within PCC. This is just a general plug at it all. All the cuts of services, Markets, Hospitals, and all this money being spent on what...it makes depressing reading and I cannot see where it is all going to end. They havent got a clue!
I read with dismay all the goings on within PCC. This is just a general plug at it all. All the cuts of services, Markets, Hospitals, and all this money being spent on what...it makes depressing reading and I cannot see where it is all going to end. They havent got a clue! Gogledd

10:44pm Tue 3 Dec 13

Qwerty123abc says...

How childish and unprofessional of Jamie!
How childish and unprofessional of Jamie! Qwerty123abc

12:58pm Wed 4 Dec 13

KeanJo says...

Adams' comments were childish and not worthy of a leader of a County Council. He now appears to place great faith in the Welsh Auditor. A few weeks ago he suggested the Auditor didn't understand the law. Mike Stoddart has a perfect right to ask for an explanation on this matter which involves grant money and I would have thought the best procedure would be to appoint a small all party sub committee who could examine the facts ,question the involved officers and report back to the full council........open local government in other words.
Adams' comments were childish and not worthy of a leader of a County Council. He now appears to place great faith in the Welsh Auditor. A few weeks ago he suggested the Auditor didn't understand the law. Mike Stoddart has a perfect right to ask for an explanation on this matter which involves grant money and I would have thought the best procedure would be to appoint a small all party sub committee who could examine the facts ,question the involved officers and report back to the full council........open local government in other words. KeanJo

8:19pm Wed 4 Dec 13

Harrygrayballs says...

What is the relevance in Mike Stoddart's success or otherwise in the building trade?Do I sense further diversionary tactics on the part of the Council Leader..
Straight questions require straight answers Mr.Adams or is that an alien concept??
What is the relevance in Mike Stoddart's success or otherwise in the building trade?Do I sense further diversionary tactics on the part of the Council Leader.. Straight questions require straight answers Mr.Adams or is that an alien concept?? Harrygrayballs

8:52pm Wed 4 Dec 13

KeanJo says...

Where have all the negatives gone?
Where have all the negatives gone? KeanJo

10:09pm Wed 4 Dec 13

KeanJo says...

Great! The negatives are back .i thought they might be missing these comments
Great! The negatives are back .i thought they might be missing these comments KeanJo

8:41pm Thu 5 Dec 13

Kiwitaff says...

Lukesluck, It could be a criminal matter if public funds are not used for the purpose they were supposed to be used, then that could be seen as misappropriation of tax payers money. Councillor Stoddard had every right to ask how the money was used.

If there is evidence that it has been used to fund something else, then that could be seen as fraud and the police should investigate. Council leader Adams remarks seem to be a put down and inappropriate to a very serious matter.
Lukesluck, It could be a criminal matter if public funds are not used for the purpose they were supposed to be used, then that could be seen as misappropriation of tax payers money. Councillor Stoddard had every right to ask how the money was used. If there is evidence that it has been used to fund something else, then that could be seen as fraud and the police should investigate. Council leader Adams remarks seem to be a put down and inappropriate to a very serious matter. Kiwitaff

8:08pm Sun 8 Dec 13

Dave Edwards says...

I suspect that emotions will run even higher at the council meeting on Thursday.
It will not just be the Leader's disgraceful comments impugning Cllr Stoddart but the potentially more explosive issue of the Chief Executive's dodgy pension scheme approved in 2011.
As your readers will be aware, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire were partners in the scheme to give their top earners a chance to trouser a large amount of cash instead of having it paid into the Local Gov Pension Scheme.
The council faced with the Wales Audit Office view that the payments were illegal, joined with Carmarthenshire in hiring very expensive lawyers to fight this opinion. "We are sure we are right" has been the official line coming out of the both the Kremlin on Cleddau and Colditz on Towy.
However, on receipt of letters from WAO reminding them of the facts and the consequences, Carmarthenshire have thrown in the towel by passing the following motion :- "Without conceding that it is intrinsically unlawful that the pay supplement policy be withdrawn on procedural grounds." So PCC are now alone in footing the bill!
As Adams and co have had the same WAO letter, without letting the voters know, reminding them of the facts and consequences I look forward to their reaction.
I suspect that emotions will run even higher at the council meeting on Thursday. It will not just be the Leader's disgraceful comments impugning Cllr Stoddart but the potentially more explosive issue of the Chief Executive's dodgy pension scheme approved in 2011. As your readers will be aware, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire were partners in the scheme to give their top earners a chance to trouser a large amount of cash instead of having it paid into the Local Gov Pension Scheme. The council faced with the Wales Audit Office view that the payments were illegal, joined with Carmarthenshire in hiring very expensive lawyers to fight this opinion. "We are sure we are right" has been the official line coming out of the both the Kremlin on Cleddau and Colditz on Towy. However, on receipt of letters from WAO reminding them of the facts and the consequences, Carmarthenshire have thrown in the towel by passing the following motion :- "Without conceding that it is intrinsically unlawful that the pay supplement policy be withdrawn on procedural grounds." So PCC are now alone in footing the bill! As Adams and co have had the same WAO letter, without letting the voters know, reminding them of the facts and consequences I look forward to their reaction. Dave Edwards

10:13pm Sun 8 Dec 13

KeanJo says...

Cabinet members will do well to remember that joint responsibility for cabinet decisions carries with it joint blame if such decisions are found to illegal
Cabinet members will do well to remember that joint responsibility for cabinet decisions carries with it joint blame if such decisions are found to illegal KeanJo

9:46am Mon 9 Dec 13

Tttoommy says...

KeanJo wrote:
Cabinet members will do well to remember that joint responsibility for cabinet decisions carries with it joint blame if such decisions are found to illegal
Indeed even if it was an "open" meeting in the councils Chief Execs office , innocent councillors can still be held liable - in Law and financially - maybe some councillors should look into what is being done in their name before they get a bill or a summons?
[quote][p][bold]KeanJo[/bold] wrote: Cabinet members will do well to remember that joint responsibility for cabinet decisions carries with it joint blame if such decisions are found to illegal[/p][/quote]Indeed even if it was an "open" meeting in the councils Chief Execs office , innocent councillors can still be held liable - in Law and financially - maybe some councillors should look into what is being done in their name before they get a bill or a summons? Tttoommy

10:52am Wed 11 Dec 13

KeanJo says...

Where have all the comments gone ?
Where have all the comments gone ? KeanJo

2:20pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Tttoommy says...

KeanJo wrote:
Where have all the comments gone ?
what's that saying about he who pays the piper calling the tunes?
[quote][p][bold]KeanJo[/bold] wrote: Where have all the comments gone ?[/p][/quote]what's that saying about he who pays the piper calling the tunes? Tttoommy

3:04pm Wed 11 Dec 13

KeanJo says...

Tttoommy wrote:
KeanJo wrote:
Where have all the comments gone ?
what's that saying about he who pays the piper calling the tunes?
Do you mean paper or piper?
[quote][p][bold]Tttoommy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]KeanJo[/bold] wrote: Where have all the comments gone ?[/p][/quote]what's that saying about he who pays the piper calling the tunes?[/p][/quote]Do you mean paper or piper? KeanJo

3:30pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Tttoommy says...

KeanJo wrote:
Tttoommy wrote:
KeanJo wrote:
Where have all the comments gone ?
what's that saying about he who pays the piper calling the tunes?
Do you mean paper or piper?
;-) I couldn't possibly comment

EXCEPT to say

If they're calling in favours from the paper or threatning them with loss of advertising revenue they must be quaking in their collective boots
[quote][p][bold]KeanJo[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Tttoommy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]KeanJo[/bold] wrote: Where have all the comments gone ?[/p][/quote]what's that saying about he who pays the piper calling the tunes?[/p][/quote]Do you mean paper or piper?[/p][/quote];-) I couldn't possibly comment EXCEPT to say If they're calling in favours from the paper or threatning them with loss of advertising revenue they must be quaking in their collective boots Tttoommy

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