Monday, 2 December 2019

Does Plaid Cymru plan to rule Wales like their Councillors rule Carmarthenshire, I hope not ..


EMLYN DOLE TRIES TO REINSTATE "UNLAWFUL" FUNDING OF COUNCIL LIBEL ACTIONS

Carmarthenshire County Council is infamous for its Chief Executive taking the Blogger Jacqui Thompson to court for libel after she allegedly described their Chief Executive Mark James, as"Pinocchio" After a costly court case in London  where the Council spent a 6 figure sum (our money) in a civil case defending the integrity of not only the Council, but of CEO, Mr Mark James, who also won crippling damages from Mrs Thompson. All approved by senior Councillors keen to stop criticism of the Council. 

 Although he had claimed to the County Council Executive Councillors that he would return any damages to the council, Mr James instead pursued Mrs Thompson himself for the money with the threat of forcing the sale of the family bungalow to pay these damages. She is still paying him instalments and If she misses a payment her home could still be lost to Mr James.. The money she pays him, he promised to the Council, but he is pocketing the lot., Not a murmur from the Plaid Councillors who run the County Council who were clearly happy for him to get extra cash. But the Council had been forced to shelve their policy of paying out public money to defend their senior officers - the Plaid Councillors apparently did not like that! 


Jacqui Thompson

Plaid council Leader Emlyn Dole and his merry band of Plaid Executive board members have subsequently tried to reinstall the policy of funding Council Officers and allow them to take out legal actions against members of the Public using Council funds. The Welsh Audit office has already ruled this as "unlawful" but Mark James, unlike the chief executive of Pembrokeshire Council, Bryn Parry Jones, who similarly misused public funds and was asked to pay them back, Mr Mark James did not have the unlawful monies removed form his generous retirement lump sum.  Emlyin Dole decided to let him keep all the money Mr James had been given, eve though it was ruled unlawful and could have been repaid.He had been given legal fees and a secret pay rise unlawfully. Why Mr James was not asked to return the money by council leader Emlyn Dole is not known.

Far from giving up on subsidising senior Council officers to take court cases against members of the public,the Plaid Executive Councillors earlier this year instructed their chief legal office, Linda Rees Jones, to ask the Auditor General at the Senedd to reconsider and again allow  Carmarthenshire Councillors to fund senior Council officers in personal libel actions against local residents from the public purse. This is not a well publicised Plaid policy but clearly popular with current Plaid councillors.

This is the Auditor General's reply sent to Linda Rees Jones, Head of the Carmarthenshire legal department, on the 10th May 2019:

"Thank you for your letter of 28th March 2019 in which you ask whether I accept that it is open to local authorities to indemnify their officers to bring defamation proceedings.

"I have reviewed all of the material that you presented and, in addition, taken fresh independent legal advice of my own. After careful consideration of this body of material, I find the legal argument previously described by [redacted] the more convincing. I remain of the opinion, therefore, that it is unlawful for a local authority to indemnify their officers to bring defamation proceedings.

"While I will consider any situation on the facts, I am mindful of the power provided to me by section 36 of the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004 to make a claim for judicial review in respect of decisions that would have an effect on the body's accounts. If the council departs from its previous decision to remove provision for indemnity for defamation proceedings, I request that the Council gives me at least 21 days' notice of any proposal to consider granting an indemnity to a member or officer to bring an action for defamation

Yours sincerely

Adrian Crompton
Auditor General for Wales

My Personal Translation : "I don't think this is legal and if you Councillors are going to try this on again I want at least 21 days notice so I can deal with you thoroughly before you finance a court case unlawfully again".

It is disturbing that Council Leader Emlyn Dole approved that the Council should  reinstate  this libel clause into the council's constitution. Since the whole purpose of taking residents to court in libel actions using the public's own money is to discourage open dissent with the actions of senior officers, all of whom act with the consent and under the instruction of the Executive Councillors. Carmarthenshire has had a Plaid Cymru Administration.

 The policy of bankrupting the critics has had the added bonus, as we've seen, of the officers also winning damages from the original complainant which not only financially cripples the resident but add to the bounty of the senior officer, most of whom have generous 6 figure salaries already. It also discourages criticism of the Councillors themselves.

I personally was a County councillor for nine years in Carmarthenshire, my observation was that many Councillors were easily manipulated and I suspected sometimes deliberately mislead by officers who were used to  "ruling the roost " without much input from the elected members. However, the practice of financing libel cases has not been the only scandalous case. There is one apalling case which stands out in that it is a clear injustice, has caused one couple massive distress and financial ruin and the problems are becoming chronic, needs to be resolved, and not swept under the notoriously lumpy carpets of county Hall!.



THE CASE THAT SHOCKS ADAM PRICE.

But the Plaid controlled County Council does nothing.



"INDEED, I WOULD GO SO FAR AS SAYING THAT THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST CASES OF NONFEASANCE, THE NEGLECT OF A PUBLIC BODY TO CARRY OUT ITS BASIC DUTIES, THAT I HAVE SEEN DURING MY TIME IN PUBLIC LIFE.

ADAM PRICE . LEADER OF PLAID CYMRU , writing in support of his constituent Patrica Breckman and describing  his opinion of her case


Of Course, it is, in theory, the Councillors who run the Council but this case makes a mockery of justice and fair play in Carmarthenshire , The case of Patricia Breckman and her Partner. This case has been described on local TV programs, local newspapers and is one of an elderly couple who retired locally and bought a cottage with the intention of opening a cattery. They soon discovered that their neighbours at Blaenpant Farm were very hostile and that council enforcement officers appeared fearful of actually enforcing planning regulations, presumably due to the hostility of the neighbours.

                                                                  Patricia Breckman 

It is Mrs Brekman who bore the brunt of the consequences of her neighbours actions. The County Council was clearly negligent but  has escaped Scott free. Emlyn Dole, council leader has invited her to take the Council to court if she is still dissatisfied. Like most of us, Tricia does not have the tens of thousands of pounds that the Council has access to, which they will doubtless use to fight any claim she makes. In fact Emlyn Dole knows she is severely impoverished by not being able to set up her cattery and having to deal with an aggressive and  vindictive neighbour running an unlawful business next door without council permission. Her home is close to repossession by her mortgage provider.

More than this, I am told Emlyn Dole has presented to the Plaid Group Councillors an instruction that they cannot even discuss Mrs Breckman's Case, in public or even amongst themselves.. Linda Rees Jones, Head of Legal for the Council, says she has a letter from the County Council's insurers, Zurich, warning her that if any Plaid councillor even discusses the case verbally, the County council will lose all of their liability insurance cover.

This letter has never been seen, apparently, by the Plaid Councillors, and seems a bit harsh, or could it be just a hoax to frighten them into compliance?. Emlyn, if Linda's letter actually exists let us all see it, please!

Council Leader Emlyn Dole seems to have agreed initially, at the suggestion of  the previous Council Chief Executive, Mark James to close the issue with an Ex Gratia payment  without admission of liability, to compensate Mrs Breckman and her Partner for the financial damage cause by the Council's inaction. 

 Now Emlyn Dole himself with the support of the new Chief Executive, Wendy Walters, has decided against this. It seems that even mentioning such an Ex Gratia  payment would also invalidate the council's entire liability Insurance with Zurich. Again, I can't find any actual evidence validating that the insurer has instructed the council to act in this way. Many suspect the Council Civil Servants run the show in Carmarthenshire but it actually seems Zurich Insurance are in charge, and can silence our elected members. Allegedly Zurich are threatening to withdraw all the council's insurance if the County Councillors even mention Tricia and Eddie's predicament!

Cllr Emlyn Dole has also  agreed to meetings with Tricia's local MP Jonathan Edwards and her AM Adam Price only to cancel them. He also has agreed to a review of her case, and then cancelled that.

 I believe that both Adam and Jonathan have probably done their best but are powerless to protect their constituents from falling foul of the supposedly Plaid led County Council as the Plaid Councillors have decided for whatever reason, to act disgracefully against Tricia and her partner Eddie.
 
.Emlyn is a clergyman and possibly ill equipped to deal with Council Officers who may be economical with the truth. But if your Party run a County Council, and Plaid fought long and hard for years to get "control" of Carmarthenshire County Council, you should act with integrity, decency and compassion and hopefully be better than those who came before. Not this group of Plaid councillors, who seem to have "gone rouge" and have decided to ignore senior figures in their own Party, including its leader.


Throughout the public services there is too much " cover up" and very little in the way of apologies. There is little justice if people are advised to get their own redress for Council failings by self financing civil cases against local authorities who go to great lengths to hide their mistakes. Abandoned by those they voted to represent them!

The excuse that Carmarthenshire County Council is an "Officer led" Council holds no water. I'm told that unlike her predecessor Wendy Walters is careful to ask the Council Leader for specific support for Council Decisions, as she should. Is Emlyn Dole  so used to agreeing with the previous chief executive that he cannot say no? Or too frightened to admit what he has done? I have heard a rumour that the Plaid Councillors actually want Emlyn to step down but none are willing to take over the poison chalice of Council Leader. Stalemate.


In a letter in September 2019 to his Party Leader explaining his failure to commission a review into Tricia's case (his explanation is that any review of the case will also totally invalidate the insurance of the council by Zurich) Emlyn touchingly begs Adam Price to confirm and acknowledge Emlyn's integrity.


Emlyn writes "In your letter of 6th august you kindly assured me that you disassociated yourself from any comments that have been made publicly about my integrity in relation to this matter (Tricia's Case) and I hope that you still acknowledge my integrity despite my having to step down from commissioning the review."


Cllr. Emlyn Dole, Plaid Cymru,, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council


In these words Councillor Emlyn Dole suggests he has a personal assurance from Adam Price that Adam will not endorse  or verify any criticism of Emlyn related to Tricia Breckman's case.  He asks that  this arrangement continues even though he has failed to commission a review of Tricia's case previously promised to Adam Price, Tricia's Assembly Member and Emlyn's party leader.

In other words, as I see it, Councillor Emlyn Dole expects Adam Price to cover up for him and not support Tricia, his own constituent, if any statement about her case  negatively effects Emlyn's integrity.

May I remind you all of Adam Price' words -

 "INDEED, I WOULD GO SO FAR AS SAYING THAT THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST CASES OF NONFEASANCE, THE NEGLECT OF A PUBLIC BODY TO CARRY OUT ITS BASIC DUTIES THAT I HAVE SEEN DURING MY TIME IN PUBLIC LIFE." 

Adam has also stated in correspondence to Carmarthenshire Council  "you are indubitably responsible". 

I believe that Adam Price fully understands what has been going on but is torn because the issue cannot be resolved by his fellow Plaid Cymru Council members who are  actually in charge of the Council, but clearly dancing to a different tune, avoiding, rather than addressing the issue. 


Adam Price, local  Assembly Member and Leader of Plaid Cymru

 Adam Price, you could be our first minister in May 2021. Please show us that  you can persuade your fellow party members in Carmarthenshire County Council to treat this couple decently. They moved here to Wales in good faith to live and work and add to our economy. Because of appalling failings in our local Council of which you are well aware, they have lost their life savings and now face losing their home. They have nothing wrong. They need kindness and justice, not continued persecution facilitated by your own councillors. please act now. 

As First Minister of Wales, you will have tougher nuts to crack than a dysfunctional Plaid Cymru  County Council Executive Board  being bullied into inaction. Show us you mettle and get this sorted.

 Siân Caiach


Extra Information : available on request

There is a full summary by the Breckman's  own County councillor. It was written to byCllr  Cefin Campbell  to Cllr Emlyn Dole and his deputy Cllr Mair Stephens They have decided to ingnore it.. It is very detailed, 4 pages long and summarises the awful experience of this elderly couple who have had their lives blighted by the neglect of duty of those who should have protected them. I'm happy to copy it to anyone who wishes to study the whole story.

Please contact me by email: sian.caiach@gmail.com if you wish a copy forwarded to you..