Pembrokeshire County Council deputy leader faces conduct hearing over election computer use

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THE deputy Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr Rob Lewis, faces a Code of Conduct hearing next week after being accused of using authority computers for political campaigning during local elections.

The Public Services Ombudsman was called into investigate a complaint made by Cllr David Bryan, who had also been a member of the ruling Independent Plus Group before leaving following the 2012’ elections.

In September 2012 Cllr Bryan was given an anonymous DVD called 'IPG election campaigns 2008 and 2012' with 16 sub-files on it, says an Ombudsman's report.

A report prepared for a Standards Committee Hearing on March 18 states that Cllr Lewis accepts that he had used the council’s computer system inappropriately in 16 circumstances but disputes that the context of a further five instances were improper use.

This is because he believes they “relate to the management of the political structure of the council and are directly connected to the running of the council and is therefore not a breach of the Code of Conduct”.

The first 16 files, which are not disputed as inappropriate by Cllr Lewis, included election posters and documents encouraging voters to support Independent Group councillors David Simpson, Elwyn Morse, Ken Rowlands, Lyndon Frayling, Pearl Llewellyn, Peter Stock and himself and former councillors Clive Collins, Jim Codd and John George.

All were prepared in March, April and May 2012 with ‘lewisrob’ shown as author or last person to save the file.

The files Cllr Lewis maintains were connected to the running of the council in his role as secretary for the Independent Plus Group, included a list of candidates in different colours to identify political affiliation, invitations to the political group’s May 8 2012 meeting, details of wards and candidates divided into “Independents”, Labour”, “Uglies” and “Tories”, a colour coded list of wards with ticks and those “still to sign” and a list of wards, colour coded candidates and initials of winning candidates were among the documents.

The files were created in January, April and May of 2012 and again lewisrob was listed as author or last person to save.

When interviewed, Cllr Lewis said he was “recently” aware of the council’s IT guidance for members and the limitations imposed by the Code of Conduct. He also said the equipment was not used for printing.

He agreed he was responsible for the files using the council’s computer system and said they were for his colleagues’ electioneering purposes as secretary of the group. He described himself as being used as a “sounding board” by members.

Referring to the disputed files Cllr Lewis “laughed in response to the comment that the 'Uglies' would need an explanation”.

“Councillor Lewis said that he could not now justify the use of the council’s computer system and said, ‘But at the time I must say I, you know officers have a period of time per day that they’re allowed to use the computer for other use, and I was of a similar understanding, but I’m obviously wrong, I know that.’

“He said that as a cabinet member he was at the council offices all day, similar to officers who have access to their computers for personal use, ‘I was of the wrong view that I might be able to use the machine for other purposes occasionally.’ He now accepted that was not the case.

“Councillor Lewis said that this information passed to Councillor Bryan had been stolen from his computer,” adds Mr Tyndall’s report.

Cllr Lewis also highlighted discussion of the matter in the media and on political blogs but this was dismissed by the ombudsman as no names were mentioned.

Mr Tyndall found that the files could not be construed as appropriate usage of the authority’s computer system, do not have a bearing on council business and are party political and the matter should be referred to the monitoring officer for consideration by the Standards Committee, which will meet at County Hall on Tuesday March 18.

Comments (19)

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4:25pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Indeview J Hudson says...

I am a bit out of touch, is it usual for Council officers to have access to Council's computers for personal use?
I am a bit out of touch, is it usual for Council officers to have access to Council's computers for personal use? Indeview J Hudson
  • Score: 8

5:40pm Wed 12 Mar 14

chizy says...

Indeview J Hudson wrote:
I am a bit out of touch, is it usual for Council officers to have access to Council's computers for personal use?
Of course it is, Council officers can do what they like.

And there is nothing anyone can do about it so there. Just keep on paying your council tax and most of all DO NOT challenge or question anything they do or say.
There, now everyone is happy and content.
Repeat "we are happy and content".

You really couldn't make it up ;)
[quote][p][bold]Indeview J Hudson[/bold] wrote: I am a bit out of touch, is it usual for Council officers to have access to Council's computers for personal use?[/p][/quote]Of course it is, Council officers can do what they like. And there is nothing anyone can do about it so there. Just keep on paying your council tax and most of all DO NOT challenge or question anything they do or say. There, now everyone is happy and content. Repeat "we are happy and content". You really couldn't make it up ;) chizy
  • Score: 15

7:42pm Wed 12 Mar 14

princes gate says...

another councillor who voted to keep bpj in office. ihope his parishioners remember this at the next elections a total disgrace.
another councillor who voted to keep bpj in office. ihope his parishioners remember this at the next elections a total disgrace. princes gate
  • Score: 17

8:13pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Bradpitt says...

Who are you calling ugly?? Take a look in the mirror!
Who are you calling ugly?? Take a look in the mirror! Bradpitt
  • Score: 1

8:32pm Wed 12 Mar 14

seaveiw says...

Here we go again when will the saga of this corrupt council end, now its the deputy leader pity he couldn't cover this up, bet he tried
Here we go again when will the saga of this corrupt council end, now its the deputy leader pity he couldn't cover this up, bet he tried seaveiw
  • Score: 12

8:57pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Harrygrayballs says...

What's the betting whitewash will be on special offer next week??
What's the betting whitewash will be on special offer next week?? Harrygrayballs
  • Score: 12

10:18pm Wed 12 Mar 14

pembrokedock123 says...

this seems like more scrapping of the bottom of the barrel - using council PCs paid for by council tax to maintain own political career - and not even thought stimulating political arguments but just posters - why bother? because they can? why didn't someone tell him not to be so stupid and to go home and draw his posters? or were the others aware anyway?

I wonder how many other inquiries into Pembs CC the Ombudsman has got on his desk at the moment? Maladministration I think it's called.
this seems like more scrapping of the bottom of the barrel - using council PCs paid for by council tax to maintain own political career - and not even thought stimulating political arguments but just posters - why bother? because they can? why didn't someone tell him not to be so stupid and to go home and draw his posters? or were the others aware anyway? I wonder how many other inquiries into Pembs CC the Ombudsman has got on his desk at the moment? Maladministration I think it's called. pembrokedock123
  • Score: 10

10:27pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Flashbang says...

As the councillors mentioned put themselves up for election as independent candidates, ie unaligned to any political group, the electorate is entitled to an explanation as to why councillor Lewis is doing their work for them.
As the councillors mentioned put themselves up for election as independent candidates, ie unaligned to any political group, the electorate is entitled to an explanation as to why councillor Lewis is doing their work for them. Flashbang
  • Score: 10

5:58am Thu 13 Mar 14

malcolm calver says...

I must first declare a personal interest in the Pembrokeshire County Council standards committee having made an appearance before them..
The committee, in the past, has looked favourably on members of the Independent Party summoned to appear before them, such as in the Cllr Brian Hall appearance.
It will be interesting to see both how the county councillors who sit on the committee vote and also the advice being given to the committee by the Monitoring Officer / Employee Laurence Harding.
I must first declare a personal interest in the Pembrokeshire County Council standards committee having made an appearance before them.. The committee, in the past, has looked favourably on members of the Independent Party summoned to appear before them, such as in the Cllr Brian Hall appearance. It will be interesting to see both how the county councillors who sit on the committee vote and also the advice being given to the committee by the Monitoring Officer / Employee Laurence Harding. malcolm calver
  • Score: 11

7:17am Thu 13 Mar 14

andoman says...

It's interesting how many of these details are emerging now. In the past, the goings on in the council remained unreported. I wonder are there some officers gradually creating change...

Regardless, it seems the real mugs are the electorate. It's almost as if we can't trust ourselves to take responsibility for whoever ends up in county hall. We've always thrived on the idea that thems in power don't care about us in Pembrokeshire. We are in a consenting masochistic love affair. Madame PJ, the dominatrix mistress.
It's interesting how many of these details are emerging now. In the past, the goings on in the council remained unreported. I wonder are there some officers gradually creating change... Regardless, it seems the real mugs are the electorate. It's almost as if we can't trust ourselves to take responsibility for whoever ends up in county hall. We've always thrived on the idea that thems in power don't care about us in Pembrokeshire. We are in a consenting masochistic love affair. Madame PJ, the dominatrix mistress. andoman
  • Score: 10

7:32am Thu 13 Mar 14

South of the Landsker says...

On reading all the websites and blogs I think it is a few Councillors which are causing change, maybe small ones now but the flood gates are gradually opening. There are many good officers but I doubt that they would be in a position to expose what is currently coming to light.
It is worrying that a Cabinet Member wasn't aware of what is appropriate use of public computers, more worrying that he had time to 'create' election documents in what should be a busy job, and even more worrying that other Cabinet members could not create their own material and two he helped didn't win their seats.
On reading all the websites and blogs I think it is a few Councillors which are causing change, maybe small ones now but the flood gates are gradually opening. There are many good officers but I doubt that they would be in a position to expose what is currently coming to light. It is worrying that a Cabinet Member wasn't aware of what is appropriate use of public computers, more worrying that he had time to 'create' election documents in what should be a busy job, and even more worrying that other Cabinet members could not create their own material and two he helped didn't win their seats. South of the Landsker
  • Score: 9

8:22am Thu 13 Mar 14

Martin Lewis says...

The Uglies :-) Stoddart covered this on his website long ago. These people are just stupid or don't care about the rules.....or probably both. I'd love to have seen the final result. I bet my 9 year old niece could do a better job. Rob Lewis is a laughing stock, he's incompetent and even Jamie Adams must scratch his head in bemusement at some of Rob Lewis' input into recent goings on. Buffoon!
The Uglies :-) Stoddart covered this on his website long ago. These people are just stupid or don't care about the rules.....or probably both. I'd love to have seen the final result. I bet my 9 year old niece could do a better job. Rob Lewis is a laughing stock, he's incompetent and even Jamie Adams must scratch his head in bemusement at some of Rob Lewis' input into recent goings on. Buffoon! Martin Lewis
  • Score: 11

9:44am Thu 13 Mar 14

ladybench says...

Any body that have had dealings with this man must know how feeble he is,he talks the talk but thats where it ends,typically sucks up to those in charge.A disgrace to the electorate.Often seen with white or brown envelopes.
Any body that have had dealings with this man must know how feeble he is,he talks the talk but thats where it ends,typically sucks up to those in charge.A disgrace to the electorate.Often seen with white or brown envelopes. ladybench
  • Score: 10

11:42am Thu 13 Mar 14

seaveiw says...

Still trying to find out what exactly is an independent plus councillor, what does the plus mean, come on one of you councillors who have this title answer me.
Still trying to find out what exactly is an independent plus councillor, what does the plus mean, come on one of you councillors who have this title answer me. seaveiw
  • Score: 5

1:59pm Thu 13 Mar 14

Martin Lewis says...

I can answer this for you Seaview, it's very simple.

My councillor Simon Hancock swore he would NEVER join the Independent Political Group (IPG).

When he left the Labour group shortly after being elected unopposed at the last election, he was persuaded to join the IPG simply by them changing the name of the group to the Independent PLUS (Simon Hancock) Group, the IPG. The second P comes from the acronym to keep them the Independent Plus Political Group.

Simon was miraculously and immediately elevated to cabinet with an accompanying Special Responsibility Allowance of £15,000 p.a. to go with his councillor allowance.
I can answer this for you Seaview, it's very simple. My councillor Simon Hancock swore he would NEVER join the Independent Political Group (IPG). When he left the Labour group shortly after being elected unopposed at the last election, he was persuaded to join the IPG simply by them changing the name of the group to the Independent PLUS (Simon Hancock) Group, the IPG. The second P comes from the acronym to keep them the Independent Plus Political Group. Simon was miraculously and immediately elevated to cabinet with an accompanying Special Responsibility Allowance of £15,000 p.a. to go with his councillor allowance. Martin Lewis
  • Score: 12

3:12pm Thu 13 Mar 14

ScoobyDooby says...

Let's call it as it is: he is a cheat who has been caught cheating and thought he could get away with it. Once found out, this grubby little man has tried to paint himself as the injured party because he has been caught. Stolen information, my foot! Whoever got this information and passed it on did a public service and deserves a medal.
Isn't he the one who was waving press cuttings around at the Council meeting in February while gurning and grinning at Jamie Adams like a retarded chimp?
How did such a creature ever become deputy leader of the Council?
Let's call it as it is: he is a cheat who has been caught cheating and thought he could get away with it. Once found out, this grubby little man has tried to paint himself as the injured party because he has been caught. Stolen information, my foot! Whoever got this information and passed it on did a public service and deserves a medal. Isn't he the one who was waving press cuttings around at the Council meeting in February while gurning and grinning at Jamie Adams like a retarded chimp? How did such a creature ever become deputy leader of the Council? ScoobyDooby
  • Score: 16

3:49pm Thu 13 Mar 14

Martin Lewis says...

"Grinning like a retarded chimp" - It's not nice to have to revert to such observations, but sometimes it's necessary. He's a buffoon and as I commented elsewhere, even Jamie Adams and his "partners in crime" looked embarrassed as Rob Lewis stood there, aimlessly looking around for validation from sets of eyes that were staring straight ahead or down at their desks.

Look at Hancock's body language in the pic on JacobWilliams.com

http://jacobwilliams
.com/files/2014/02/T
he-faces-say-it-all.
jpg

A bubble above Adams' head would read "FFS!!!!!"
"Grinning like a retarded chimp" - It's not nice to have to revert to such observations, but sometimes it's necessary. He's a buffoon and as I commented elsewhere, even Jamie Adams and his "partners in crime" looked embarrassed as Rob Lewis stood there, aimlessly looking around for validation from sets of eyes that were staring straight ahead or down at their desks. Look at Hancock's body language in the pic on JacobWilliams.com http://jacobwilliams .com/files/2014/02/T he-faces-say-it-all. jpg A bubble above Adams' head would read "FFS!!!!!" Martin Lewis
  • Score: 6

3:49pm Thu 13 Mar 14

South of the Landsker says...

seaveiw wrote:
Still trying to find out what exactly is an independent plus councillor, what does the plus mean, come on one of you councillors who have this title answer me.
The Independent Plus was created to allow Cllr Simon Hancock to walk across the floor of the Council Chamber in 2012, he said he would not join the Independent Group.
In reality it is the Independent Group plus anyone who wants to dip into the special responsibility allowances. Recent members include - Ken 'I'm a Headmaster you know' Rowlands, Sue 'Forget what I said in the past' Perkins and Simon 'Neyland won't notice' Hancock
[quote][p][bold]seaveiw[/bold] wrote: Still trying to find out what exactly is an independent plus councillor, what does the plus mean, come on one of you councillors who have this title answer me.[/p][/quote]The Independent Plus was created to allow Cllr Simon Hancock to walk across the floor of the Council Chamber in 2012, he said he would not join the Independent Group. In reality it is the Independent Group plus anyone who wants to dip into the special responsibility allowances. Recent members include - Ken 'I'm a Headmaster you know' Rowlands, Sue 'Forget what I said in the past' Perkins and Simon 'Neyland won't notice' Hancock South of the Landsker
  • Score: 16

12:11pm Wed 19 Mar 14

Justiceforall says...

Unauthorised use of computers is small change compared to the stories of councillors using council employees and materials to fix up their homes and drives. If these stories are true lets have disclosure of the culprits.
Unauthorised use of computers is small change compared to the stories of councillors using council employees and materials to fix up their homes and drives. If these stories are true lets have disclosure of the culprits. Justiceforall
  • Score: 1

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