Dear Mrs Thompson,
Many thanks for your e-mails.
Iâ€™ve taken a bit of time to try and establish what has happened these past few days. I respond to you today on both my and my constituency colleague, Adam Priceâ€™s behalf.
Iâ€™m afraid the information I have is based on informal discussions, rather than anything which has been published.
As I understand it:
Â· There was a suggestion by the Labour group leader at a recent meeting of the councilâ€™s CRWG meeting to remove the particular clause from the constitution.
Â· The response from a Plaid Councillor was that there remains a grey area as to whether the council is or isnâ€™t allowed to provide an indemnity following recent proceedings relating to Caerphilly Council.
Â· The Plaid Councillor proposed writing to the Wales Audit Office for clarity on the matter.
Â· This proposal was supported by the Labour group leader.
Youâ€™ll appreciate that my understanding is somewhat different to the noises which have been made in the press since the meeting!
As far as Adam and I are concerned, this is not a matter which has been discussed within the party and we would not personally support the re-introduction of the clause. Furthermore, we donâ€™t think there is any appetite whatsoever in the Plaid Council Group to re-introduce such a clause.
We maintain the position that it is right and proper for a public authority to indemnify officials for proceedings brought against them in the course of their duties, but not the ability to initiate proceedings or for counter-claims.
If I get any more information Iâ€™ll be sure to get in touch, but as far as Iâ€™m concerned there are no attempts to re-instate the clause.
I hope thatâ€™s useful for now.
This week’s Carmarthen Journal also features an article on the subject which does not yet seem to be online, so here it is;
First of all I’d like to say that I believe Mr Edwards and Mr Price are sincere when they say they would not personally support the reintroduction of the clause. Having read their remarks over the past few years, including in correspondence I can’t imagine they would think this was a good idea, to say the least.
Unfortunately, they do not run the council, and neither, for that matter, does Emlyn Dole, or his Independent colleagues.
We know who does.
I would imagine that when the Motion to remove the clauses landed on the chief executive’s desk for inclusion on the CRWG agenda there was a rapid flurry of activity.
As we know, a report was written to ‘advise’ CRWG. That report has not been published and, according to the Journal article the whole Item was ‘exempt’ and confidential. There is no reason for this at all.
I am fully aware of the historic, and flawed arguments put forward by Mr James that the clauses are, in his opinion, lawful, but there also appears to have been some scratching around to include unspecified proceedings relating to Caerphilly Council. I am not currently aware of such proceedings directly related to this issue.
However, instead of simply agreeing to remove the offending and unlawful clauses, a counter-motion to reinstate was, it seems, put forward. Eventually, a vote was taken whether or not to write to the Wales Audit Office, presumably for legal clarity. I understand that the Labour leader abstained another Labour councillor voted against.
I have asked Linda Rees Jones for a copy of that letter.
As the quote from the Wales Audit Office states, their position remains unchanged.
Mr James, has, for the past four years railed against the findings of the then Appointed Auditor Anthony Barrett and I imagine his correspondence with the auditor was as arrogant and as irritatingly righteous as his correspondence with me. In 2016 he used Mr Dole to question the Wales Audit Office as to whether Mr Barrett was suitably qualified to make his findings. Mr James was sent off with a flea in his ear.
Even in his complaint to the Ombudsman concerning Sian Caiach he challenged, at considerable rambling length, the findings of Mr Barrett.
If the council were run by councillors I have little doubt that these clauses would have been quietly removed. But, as I said back in 2015, our dynamic duo, Mark and Linda, are in something of a dilemma, if they remove the clause completely, then Mrs Thompson would have won a small but significant victory – they would be conceding that it should never have been there in the first place. They would also be agreeing with the Wales Audit Office. Their positions would be untenable.
Hence the continuing prevarication, and undue, and unlawful, influence on councillors.
If they leave it in the book, in its ‘withdrawn’ state, never to be used, then it looks ridiculous and serves no purpose within the constitution; a permanent reminder of professional incompetence, arrogance and unlawful behaviour.
As I have said, regardless of political nuance or pointing the finger of blame, the clauses remain unique to Carmarthenshire, a memorial to local government idiocy, and in particular, the self-centred idiocy and unbelievable arrogance of Mark James.
Perhaps he’s considering raiding the council coffers again, and suing someone…
Please search this blog for further background, of which there is an abundant supply.