Special Western Telegraph comment: A mockery of democracy

Special Western Telegraph comment: A mockery of democracy

Special Western Telegraph comment: A mockery of democracy

First published in News
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FARCICAL, shambolic, embarrassing; take your pick.

Each accurately describes the extraordinary meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council on Friday.

In scenes that would have been hilarious had the subject matter not been so serious, democratically elected councillors – voted in by you and me – were systematically and cynically denied the opportunity to represent their constituents.

Democracy was stopped in its tracks. And it stunk to high heaven.

Friday was the first opportunity for members to discuss the hugely controversial issue of the pension arrangements of well-paid senior council officers, including the chief executive, Bryn Parry-Jones.

The background has been well covered but suffice to say that this is an issue that has sparked furious reaction from members of the public right across Pembrokeshire and deserved to be debated in full, in public.

As councillors came to discuss a perfectly reasonable notice of motion– the suspension of the chief executive while investigations continue (although surely that should have been a given anyway considering the ongoing potentially criminal investigation) – the curtain went up and the stage was set.

Up shot Cllr Keith Lewis (Crymych, Independent Plus) to declare that he had dared to give his opinion to a local newspaper when asked whether Mr Parry-Jones should resign.

Given the dangers of ‘predetermination’ potentially landing members in front of the Ombudsman, Cllr Lewis said he thought he should withdraw from the chamber, while questioning aloud whether other members should follow suit.

It could not have been more staged if the main character was still carrying his script.

The QC hired by the council to defend its actions in the pension pay supplement scandal, Tim Kerr, then took the meeting into what appeared to be the plot of a Cold War thriller.

An envelope, addressed to Mr Kerr, had been left in the back of a council car that picked him up from a train station.

That envelope contained press cuttings of comments made to the local press about the chief executive’s position.

After questioning it was eventually established that the envelope had been left by the council’s monitoring officer, Laurence Harding, although he would not say who had handed him the press cuttings in the first place.

Mr Kerr then produced a list of 10 councillors who he believed could be in danger of having predetermined the issue.

Strangely, all had given the opinion that the chief executive should stand down.

But with a top QC offering such advice, the game was up. Opposition members had little choice but to withdraw and there was no vote.

It was a set-up from start to finish. It was dirty politics of the highest order and it prevented the people of Pembrokeshire’s voice being heard.

Those members involved should hang their heads in absolute shame.

However, the way the debate was ambushed has just added fuel to the fire. The story has grown.

It was also a massive own goal.

The Welsh Government was watching, of that you can be sure. Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire are already referred to as the ‘wild west’ in Cardiff Bay.

Perhaps it is time that some new sheriffs rode into town and took charge.

Please take the time to watch the archived debate online: www.pembrokeshire.public-i.tv/core

Comments (23)

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12:38pm Wed 19 Feb 14

seaveiw says...

I agree totally with the WT comments a total managed farce. disrespectful to a democracy in which we all live. Apparantly not so in Pembrokeshire should be made into film or book
I agree totally with the WT comments a total managed farce. disrespectful to a democracy in which we all live. Apparantly not so in Pembrokeshire should be made into film or book seaveiw
  • Score: 32

12:57pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Electra1 says...

For all of you who haven't seen it go watch it now!!!!!!!!!!!
For all of you who haven't seen it go watch it now!!!!!!!!!!! Electra1
  • Score: 19

1:23pm Wed 19 Feb 14

hardcheese says...

BBC NEWS Quote
"Pembrokeshire council's chief executive should step aside from his job pending a police investigation into pension payments, a local AM has said.
The Wales Audit Office found the council made "unlawful" payments to Bryn Parry Jones and another official.

"On Monday it was confirmed that Mr Parry Jones would remain at work while police investigate the matter.
But Conservative AM Angela Burns said he should step down and that auditors should return to the authority.
Mark James, chief executive of neighbouring Carmarthenshire council, also received cash payments in lieu of employer pension contributions. He has stood down from his duties while police investigate.

Mrs Burns said Mr Parry Jones should do likewise.

She told BBC Wales: "I would say that he should stand aside. I'm perfectly happy for the status quo to be restored providing the police investigation comes up saying that everything is at it should be."

Last week a full meeting of Pembrokeshire council was due to vote on suspending Mr Parry Jones, but a number of councillors staged a walk-out after allegations that some people had already pre-determined the outcome.

Mrs Burns said: "I would like to see an independent investigation being undertaken because I feel that the councillors involved here have acted with the most extraordinary behaviour."
BBC NEWS Quote "Pembrokeshire council's chief executive should step aside from his job pending a police investigation into pension payments, a local AM has said. The Wales Audit Office found the council made "unlawful" payments to Bryn Parry Jones and another official. "On Monday it was confirmed that Mr Parry Jones would remain at work while police investigate the matter. But Conservative AM Angela Burns said he should step down and that auditors should return to the authority. Mark James, chief executive of neighbouring Carmarthenshire council, also received cash payments in lieu of employer pension contributions. He has stood down from his duties while police investigate. Mrs Burns said Mr Parry Jones should do likewise. She told BBC Wales: "I would say that he should stand aside. I'm perfectly happy for the status quo to be restored providing the police investigation comes up saying that everything is at it should be." Last week a full meeting of Pembrokeshire council was due to vote on suspending Mr Parry Jones, but a number of councillors staged a walk-out after allegations that some people had already pre-determined the outcome. Mrs Burns said: "I would like to see an independent investigation being undertaken because I feel that the councillors involved here have acted with the most extraordinary behaviour." hardcheese
  • Score: 28

3:20pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Andrew Rees says...

Isn't it about time the people of Pembrokeshire lobbied the Welsh Assembly Government stating that we have no confidence in both the Cabinet and Chief executive Officer of Pembrokeshire County Council and request that the Cabinet be relieved of its responsibilities and that the Chief Executive Officer be suspended pending a full inquiry by the Minister for Social Justice & Local Government . Just saying.
Isn't it about time the people of Pembrokeshire lobbied the Welsh Assembly Government stating that we have no confidence in both the Cabinet and Chief executive Officer of Pembrokeshire County Council and request that the Cabinet be relieved of its responsibilities and that the Chief Executive Officer be suspended pending a full inquiry by the Minister for Social Justice & Local Government . Just saying. Andrew Rees
  • Score: 29

3:34pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Gog1963 says...

Well done councillors for make pembrokeshire the laughing stock of the country. They should book you in at the swansea grand for the winter season. Just need to look the monitoring officer's body language to detemine what is going on!!!! very independent person!!!!!;) You tube will have field day and pembrokeshire will see what you guys get paid £1000s for playing games in grand places!!
Well done councillors for make pembrokeshire the laughing stock of the country. They should book you in at the swansea grand for the winter season. Just need to look the monitoring officer's body language to detemine what is going on!!!! very independent person!!!!!;) You tube will have field day and pembrokeshire will see what you guys get paid £1000s for playing games in grand places!! Gog1963
  • Score: 14

3:42pm Wed 19 Feb 14

JonnyBlueJeans says...

I watched this live, in full, and was amazed at what I was watching. This stinks and the people of Pembrokeshire don't deserve it. Cllr Lewis should be ashamed of himself and the leader of the Labour faction should have stuck to his guns. He said they had sought their own legal advice and they were perfectly OK to stay. Of course they would have had a predetermined view as it was their motion but this is what democracy is about. Debate gives people the chance to change minds and this was taken away in the most cynical manner. Why does PCC want to do everything in private? What are they afraid of? What are they hiding? Bring this motion back to the chamber and debate it
I watched this live, in full, and was amazed at what I was watching. This stinks and the people of Pembrokeshire don't deserve it. Cllr Lewis should be ashamed of himself and the leader of the Labour faction should have stuck to his guns. He said they had sought their own legal advice and they were perfectly OK to stay. Of course they would have had a predetermined view as it was their motion but this is what democracy is about. Debate gives people the chance to change minds and this was taken away in the most cynical manner. Why does PCC want to do everything in private? What are they afraid of? What are they hiding? Bring this motion back to the chamber and debate it JonnyBlueJeans
  • Score: 25

4:56pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Indeview J Hudson says...

IF true Leadership had been shown by the leadership and members of the IPG from receipt of the initial report of the Auditor non of this would have happened.
We would not have had to fork out for legal fees on a lost cause.
The Auditor's report could, as now, have been accepted.

However after all of this, it is clear that the actions and professional judgement of a number of PCC senior officers responsible for advising the political leadership, does bear close examination.

How does the political leadership propose to achieve this?.
IF true Leadership had been shown by the leadership and members of the IPG from receipt of the initial report of the Auditor non of this would have happened. We would not have had to fork out for legal fees on a lost cause. The Auditor's report could, as now, have been accepted. However after all of this, it is clear that the actions and professional judgement of a number of PCC senior officers responsible for advising the political leadership, does bear close examination. How does the political leadership propose to achieve this?. Indeview J Hudson
  • Score: 19

5:45pm Wed 19 Feb 14

teifion says...

Bryn Jones was a solicitor as I understand , he must have known that the QC was giving pretty "controversial" legal advice in an attempt to pervert justice and to save his neck - surely this MUST mean that he can be sacked for incompetence without a penny piece to his name?
Bryn Jones was a solicitor as I understand , he must have known that the QC was giving pretty "controversial" legal advice in an attempt to pervert justice and to save his neck - surely this MUST mean that he can be sacked for incompetence without a penny piece to his name? teifion
  • Score: 21

6:58pm Wed 19 Feb 14

JonnyBlueJeans says...

Having thought about this for a little longer I believe Tim Kerr, the legal advice PCC brought in didn't cover himself in glory either. When handed the "envelope" he should have said,this is not right, or the very least, where are the names of the people who have given interviews about Bryn Parry Jones staying. I think we should never use this individual again and write to his bar and tell them exactly why.
Having thought about this for a little longer I believe Tim Kerr, the legal advice PCC brought in didn't cover himself in glory either. When handed the "envelope" he should have said,this is not right, or the very least, where are the names of the people who have given interviews about Bryn Parry Jones staying. I think we should never use this individual again and write to his bar and tell them exactly why. JonnyBlueJeans
  • Score: 26

7:08pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Seymour Clearly says...

There are some senior council officials,including the chief executive, and the leader of the council who have stated the need to save millions of pounds.
Yet when their reputations are on the line ,they show total lack of morals and total contempt toward the people of Pembrokeshire,by happily spending thousands of pounds to protect their own jobs.
Let us hope that the police investigation will prove their guilt ,beyond doubt,and that the punishment is severe,and Pembrokeshire rids itself of the like forever.


Just been told that International impresario F Raud wants to sign up "Adams and Jones" to do a "Mel and Griff " style show,where they talk sweet nothings across a table.The show will start in the West End,and if successful will be taken around the country.
Mr.Raud is also keen to do a Johnny Cash style show in the prisons of America.However this offer has been turned down by the pair as they fear they will be detained in one of these institute of Kerrections
There are some senior council officials,including the chief executive, and the leader of the council who have stated the need to save millions of pounds. Yet when their reputations are on the line ,they show total lack of morals and total contempt toward the people of Pembrokeshire,by happily spending thousands of pounds to protect their own jobs. Let us hope that the police investigation will prove their guilt ,beyond doubt,and that the punishment is severe,and Pembrokeshire rids itself of the like forever. Just been told that International impresario F Raud wants to sign up "Adams and Jones" to do a "Mel and Griff " style show,where they talk sweet nothings across a table.The show will start in the West End,and if successful will be taken around the country. Mr.Raud is also keen to do a Johnny Cash style show in the prisons of America.However this offer has been turned down by the pair as they fear they will be detained in one of these institute of Kerrections Seymour Clearly
  • Score: 12

7:39pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Harrygrayballs says...

Hearty congratulations to the WT,accurate journalism
has taken a giant leap forwards just as democracy
has gone so far backwards...........
....
Hearty congratulations to the WT,accurate journalism has taken a giant leap forwards just as democracy has gone so far backwards........... .... Harrygrayballs
  • Score: 24

8:32pm Wed 19 Feb 14

seaveiw says...

Harrygrayballs wrote:
Hearty congratulations to the WT,accurate journalism
has taken a giant leap forwards just as democracy
has gone so far backwards...........

....
I agree with this quote the press have alertsed us the electorate of Pembrokeshire to the on going saga. Not much mention on the National TV I wonder why.
[quote][p][bold]Harrygrayballs[/bold] wrote: Hearty congratulations to the WT,accurate journalism has taken a giant leap forwards just as democracy has gone so far backwards........... ....[/p][/quote]I agree with this quote the press have alertsed us the electorate of Pembrokeshire to the on going saga. Not much mention on the National TV I wonder why. seaveiw
  • Score: 18

8:57pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Seymour Clearly says...

Jamie Adams has shown his hand in the press and clearly stated that he supports Bryn Parry Jones totally,
This surely means that under the terms of the office of County councillor,he cannot ever vote on issues regarding the said Bryn Parry Jones in perpetuity.
Get him out of that,Mr Kerr
Jamie Adams has shown his hand in the press and clearly stated that he supports Bryn Parry Jones totally, This surely means that under the terms of the office of County councillor,he cannot ever vote on issues regarding the said Bryn Parry Jones in perpetuity. Get him out of that,Mr Kerr Seymour Clearly
  • Score: 23

9:35pm Wed 19 Feb 14

chizy says...

Seymour Clearly wrote:
Jamie Adams has shown his hand in the press and clearly stated that he supports Bryn Parry Jones totally,
This surely means that under the terms of the office of County councillor,he cannot ever vote on issues regarding the said Bryn Parry Jones in perpetuity.
Get him out of that,Mr Kerr
Bryn has to have some dirt on him.
[quote][p][bold]Seymour Clearly[/bold] wrote: Jamie Adams has shown his hand in the press and clearly stated that he supports Bryn Parry Jones totally, This surely means that under the terms of the office of County councillor,he cannot ever vote on issues regarding the said Bryn Parry Jones in perpetuity. Get him out of that,Mr Kerr[/p][/quote]Bryn has to have some dirt on him. chizy
  • Score: 16

10:47pm Wed 19 Feb 14

pembrokedock123 says...

Excellent statement by WT - the essence of what professional journalism is all about - speaking truth to power, whether they want to hear it or not
Excellent statement by WT - the essence of what professional journalism is all about - speaking truth to power, whether they want to hear it or not pembrokedock123
  • Score: 18

11:10pm Wed 19 Feb 14

PembrokeshireMan says...

chizy wrote:
Seymour Clearly wrote:
Jamie Adams has shown his hand in the press and clearly stated that he supports Bryn Parry Jones totally,
This surely means that under the terms of the office of County councillor,he cannot ever vote on issues regarding the said Bryn Parry Jones in perpetuity.
Get him out of that,Mr Kerr
Bryn has to have some dirt on him.
Bryn has dirt on all of them and they all have dirt on each other. Bryn's trial by media is a distraction for the wider and deeper problem of nest feathering by the upper ranks of the public sector. They can get away with it when times are good but when the money runs out the pips start squeaking.

This is as much about what they have decided to pay themselves when they have finished work as it is about what they have decided to pay themselves now. We can't afford it now and we won't be able to afford it in the future. Bryn lead the way in Pembrokeshire but there are swathes beneath him who will ride off into the sunset of old age on his gilded coat tails.

It wouldn't be so bad if they were doing a good job.

I would agree with Harrygrayballs in congratulating the WT on a decent bit of journalism at this point. However, as good as it is, it has seemed that the WT has been in the pocket of PCC for far too long. Whilst plenty would deny it, the WT seems to have been spurred into action by the whippersnappers over at the Herald. How deep will the WT dare to dig I wonder?
[quote][p][bold]chizy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Seymour Clearly[/bold] wrote: Jamie Adams has shown his hand in the press and clearly stated that he supports Bryn Parry Jones totally, This surely means that under the terms of the office of County councillor,he cannot ever vote on issues regarding the said Bryn Parry Jones in perpetuity. Get him out of that,Mr Kerr[/p][/quote]Bryn has to have some dirt on him.[/p][/quote]Bryn has dirt on all of them and they all have dirt on each other. Bryn's trial by media is a distraction for the wider and deeper problem of nest feathering by the upper ranks of the public sector. They can get away with it when times are good but when the money runs out the pips start squeaking. This is as much about what they have decided to pay themselves when they have finished work as it is about what they have decided to pay themselves now. We can't afford it now and we won't be able to afford it in the future. Bryn lead the way in Pembrokeshire but there are swathes beneath him who will ride off into the sunset of old age on his gilded coat tails. It wouldn't be so bad if they were doing a good job. I would agree with Harrygrayballs in congratulating the WT on a decent bit of journalism at this point. However, as good as it is, it has seemed that the WT has been in the pocket of PCC for far too long. Whilst plenty would deny it, the WT seems to have been spurred into action by the whippersnappers over at the Herald. How deep will the WT dare to dig I wonder? PembrokeshireMan
  • Score: 15

8:24am Thu 20 Feb 14

Indeview J Hudson says...

For years the political IPG leadership has been trumpeting the triumph of outcomes over process. content to leave the proper administrative procedures in the hands of senior officers while they, the IPG bask in the outcomes of failed judicial reviews, failed child and education inspections and now this Pensions fiasco which has exposed the true rotten nature and ethos of this Council to us all.
But do not worry, we are told everything is on track to improve, with the same senior officers advising the same blinkered political leadership, each supporting the other against the tide of overwhelming public condemnation..
Will the largely silent IPG membership continue to support this broken management,, which seems unable to even acknowledge its faults let alone correct them..
If things had improved would the Pensions scandal been allowed to happen?
For years the political IPG leadership has been trumpeting the triumph of outcomes over process. content to leave the proper administrative procedures in the hands of senior officers while they, the IPG bask in the outcomes of failed judicial reviews, failed child and education inspections and now this Pensions fiasco which has exposed the true rotten nature and ethos of this Council to us all. But do not worry, we are told everything is on track to improve, with the same senior officers advising the same blinkered political leadership, each supporting the other against the tide of overwhelming public condemnation.. Will the largely silent IPG membership continue to support this broken management,, which seems unable to even acknowledge its faults let alone correct them.. If things had improved would the Pensions scandal been allowed to happen? Indeview J Hudson
  • Score: 13

9:59am Thu 20 Feb 14

Gogledd says...

Everyone has a valid comment but feeling negative this morning and reading the comments...when we had the scandal over the Education, there were calls for BPJ to stand down then and he didnt and I dont think he will this time either. This man just faces everyone down and tells them to take a hike..they only way he will go is if he is forced. And its not all his doing the the whole IPPG cabinet, they and others are equally guilty, and I doubt if shame comes into it...worried yes, shame no...they have none.
Everyone has a valid comment but feeling negative this morning and reading the comments...when we had the scandal over the Education, there were calls for BPJ to stand down then and he didnt and I dont think he will this time either. This man just faces everyone down and tells them to take a hike..they only way he will go is if he is forced. And its not all his doing the the whole IPPG cabinet, they and others are equally guilty, and I doubt if shame comes into it...worried yes, shame no...they have none. Gogledd
  • Score: 17

10:55am Thu 20 Feb 14

ladybench says...

The Cancer in PCC.Having watched the fiasco of our councillors.Its time for an independent investigation.
All those councillors who have deemed to stop democracy run its course should be struck off .We know who you are and you time is limited come re-election.I trust all those people in Pembrokeshire will be keeping news cuttings as well.We should not be allowed to forget.
The Cancer in PCC.Having watched the fiasco of our councillors.Its time for an independent investigation. All those councillors who have deemed to stop democracy run its course should be struck off .We know who you are and you time is limited come re-election.I trust all those people in Pembrokeshire will be keeping news cuttings as well.We should not be allowed to forget. ladybench
  • Score: 9

2:05pm Thu 20 Feb 14

Mike Stoddart says...

This is not the first time the Western Telegraph has attacked the IPPG, as it is now known.
In a hard-hitting editorial, it once described the county council's ruling Independent Political Group (IPG) as."... a farcical 'independent' cabal, or a cabinet of puppets, presiding over the last supper of democracy", adding for good measure: "What a sad state local government has slumped into: polarised by party politics and overshadowed by the 'independent' umbrella of the ruling oxymoron party".
Unfortunately, the newspaper waited until six weeks after the 2008 local elections before making its feelings known.
This is not the first time the Western Telegraph has attacked the IPPG, as it is now known. In a hard-hitting editorial, it once described the county council's ruling Independent Political Group (IPG) as."... a farcical 'independent' cabal, or a cabinet of puppets, presiding over the last supper of democracy", adding for good measure: "What a sad state local government has slumped into: polarised by party politics and overshadowed by the 'independent' umbrella of the ruling oxymoron party". Unfortunately, the newspaper waited until six weeks after the 2008 local elections before making its feelings known. Mike Stoddart
  • Score: 6

6:11pm Thu 20 Feb 14

seaveiw says...

pembrokedock123 wrote:
Excellent statement by WT - the essence of what professional journalism is all about - speaking truth to power, whether they want to hear it or not
WT keep on publishing the facts until this whole saga is resolved,hopefully with the intervention of the Welsh Assembly. We the electorate of Pembrokeshire are not going to be satisfied until this corrupt council is taken over by them.
[quote][p][bold]pembrokedock123[/bold] wrote: Excellent statement by WT - the essence of what professional journalism is all about - speaking truth to power, whether they want to hear it or not[/p][/quote]WT keep on publishing the facts until this whole saga is resolved,hopefully with the intervention of the Welsh Assembly. We the electorate of Pembrokeshire are not going to be satisfied until this corrupt council is taken over by them. seaveiw
  • Score: 13

7:16pm Fri 21 Feb 14

seaveiw says...

Mike Stoddart wrote:
This is not the first time the Western Telegraph has attacked the IPPG, as it is now known.
In a hard-hitting editorial, it once described the county council's ruling Independent Political Group (IPG) as."... a farcical 'independent' cabal, or a cabinet of puppets, presiding over the last supper of democracy", adding for good measure: "What a sad state local government has slumped into: polarised by party politics and overshadowed by the 'independent' umbrella of the ruling oxymoron party".
Unfortunately, the newspaper waited until six weeks after the 2008 local elections before making its feelings known.
I get really up with these so called independent councillors to me they they should be called sit on the fence councillors, swinging backwards and forward, never making very good decisions, and obeying instruction from ?the chief executive.They therefore do not take responsibility for there actions,
[quote][p][bold]Mike Stoddart[/bold] wrote: This is not the first time the Western Telegraph has attacked the IPPG, as it is now known. In a hard-hitting editorial, it once described the county council's ruling Independent Political Group (IPG) as."... a farcical 'independent' cabal, or a cabinet of puppets, presiding over the last supper of democracy", adding for good measure: "What a sad state local government has slumped into: polarised by party politics and overshadowed by the 'independent' umbrella of the ruling oxymoron party". Unfortunately, the newspaper waited until six weeks after the 2008 local elections before making its feelings known.[/p][/quote]I get really up with these so called independent councillors to me they they should be called sit on the fence councillors, swinging backwards and forward, never making very good decisions, and obeying instruction from ?the chief executive.They therefore do not take responsibility for there actions, seaveiw
  • Score: 4

4:29pm Sun 23 Feb 14

Tttoommy says...

chizy wrote:
Seymour Clearly wrote:
Jamie Adams has shown his hand in the press and clearly stated that he supports Bryn Parry Jones totally,
This surely means that under the terms of the office of County councillor,he cannot ever vote on issues regarding the said Bryn Parry Jones in perpetuity.
Get him out of that,Mr Kerr
Bryn has to have some dirt on him.
how masonry works?
[quote][p][bold]chizy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Seymour Clearly[/bold] wrote: Jamie Adams has shown his hand in the press and clearly stated that he supports Bryn Parry Jones totally, This surely means that under the terms of the office of County councillor,he cannot ever vote on issues regarding the said Bryn Parry Jones in perpetuity. Get him out of that,Mr Kerr[/p][/quote]Bryn has to have some dirt on him.[/p][/quote]how masonry works? Tttoommy
  • Score: 4

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