Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

Audit Committee in disarray

Published

on

Questions: One of the properties in Meyrick Street, Pembroke Dock

Questions: One of the properties in Meyrick Street, Pembroke Dock

THE COUNCIL’S continuing reluctance to release correspondence relating to its relationship with controversial Irish property developer Cathal McCosker is raising fears of another cover up at County Hall. Mr McCosker, the so-called ‘Baron of the Bedsits’, received hundreds of thousands of pounds in grants to renovate properties in Pembroke Dock. Instead of allowing scrutiny of his bank accounts when pressed, however, Mr McCosker reached a deal with the Council to repay a rumoured £180,000 to the local authority. It is the correspondence between the Council and Mr McCosker which was the subject of a motion calling for its disclosure, which was debated at a meeting of the Council’s Audit Committee on Monday December 1.

The meeting began inauspiciously. Lay member of the committee and its Chair, retired Morgan Cole partner Peter Jones, was absent.Normally, when a committee chair is unavailable the vice chair takes over handling the committee’s business. In this case, the vice chair of the committee is IPPG councillor Mike James. In the normal course of things, one would expect him to step into the vacant chair. However, the Audit Committee is a special case.

The rules governing the Audit Committee are covered by a piece of legislation called the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2011. It is a piece of legislation that has its own Guidance Notes which councils and their legal officers must make sure they follow. “It is permissible for only one of the committee’s members to be from the council’s executive, and this must not be the leader (or elected mayor). The council must have regard to this guidance when determining the membership of its audit committee. The chair of the committee is to be decided upon by the committee members themselves.

It can be a councillor or a lay member but, in the former case, must not be a councillor who belongs to a group with members in the executive.” The purpose of the guidance is, therefore, to make it clear that whoever chairs the committee it cannot be a member of a group with an interest in preserving the status quo. As one of the roles of the executive is to scrutinise a council’s internal financial controls, having a member of the ruling group deciding how that function should be transacted is inappropriate.

East Williamston representative Jacob Williams challenged Mike James’ chairing of the Committee and pointed out that correct legal position. He pointed out that it was for the committee members to appoint a chair for the meeting and that the chair could not be a member of the ruling group. Acting Head of Legal Services, Claire Incledon, was summoned from her garret to help the Committee reach a decision. Ms Incledon took the view that there was nothing in the rules to prevent the blameless Mike James from taking over the committee’s transaction of business on Monday.

The IPPG councillors on the committee ensured that her view was followed on nothing harder than the basis that Ms Incledon was a lawyer who should know her stuff, regardless of what the law actually said. So, Mike James chaired the meeting: a move which calls into question whether any of Monday’s business was lawfully transacted. The substantive order of business before the Committee related to Cllr Mike Stoddart’s motion to ensure that councillors had the chance to scrutinise how and in what circumstances the authority had decided to settle up with Mr McCosker.

Detective Sergeant Lewis of Dyfed Powys Police, who was attending the committee to assist it with its enquiries, confirmed that no arrests had been made, no charges brought, and no court proceedings were pending. Claire Incledon intervened. This move, she told the Committee, would involve the council breaking the sub judice rules. Since March, Council Leader Jamie Adams and others on the IPPG benches have repeatedly and persistently misused the sub judice rule to stifle debate on the grants scandal.

Experienced newspaper proprietor that he was, Mike Stoddart pointed out with some force that the Contempt of Court Act and the sub judice rule it enshrines was not applicable. The Contempt of Court Act only bites when arrests have been made, charges brought and court proceedings are either pending or ongoing. As none of those circumstances applied, the sub judice argument was nonsense. While the police objected to the release of records under Article 6 of the Human Rights Act, it was argued that the limited circulation of the material to which Cllr Stoddart wanted access would not lead to any unfair trial, as the material would be treated confidentially.

In similar circumstances in January of this year, Monitoring Officer Laurence Harding was compelled to acquiesce in the request to release documents for councillors’ examination. On that occasion, of course, the Committee was under the robust leadership of John Evans MBE, who later resigned in disgust at the failure of the Council to respond responsibly to legitimate public concerns. Speaking to The Herald, Mike Stoddart said: “What an absolute shambles! First the IPPG members used their 4:2 majority to elect one of their own as chairman despite having it explained to them by Cllr Jacob Williams that such an appointment was clearly against the law. This constitutionally defective committee then went on to reject my Notice of Motion on the basis of what were clear misrepresentations of the Human Rights Act and the sub judice rules.”

Continue Reading
2 Comments

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News

A40 closed at Scleddau due to collision between car and motorbike

Published

on

EMERGENCY SERVICES have shut the A40 at in Scleddau due to a serious road collision.

The accident happened just before 2pm. The Herald understands that the collision involved a motorcycle and car at a junction near The Gate Inn public house.

Police said: “Emergency services are currently on scene and dealing with the incident. Please find an alternative route if possible. Update to follow.”

Continue Reading

featured

Moley’s Ambassador March to support those who have lost a child

Published

on

ON SATURDAY (Jun 19), Andrew Cole (aka Moley) will set off on a 24 hour walk around Pembrokeshire with the aim of doing as many miles in as little time as possible. 

Moley is proud to have recently been made ambassador of the charity ‘2 Wish UponAa Star’ an organisation dedicated to supporting families that have lost a child under 25 years of age.

He will be setting off at 6am in the morning from Neyland and walking all day and night, finishing at 6am the following morning.

2 wish upon a star was set up by Rhian Mannings, who set up the charity after losing her own son.

By celebrating the lives of those lost, and offering support to families through their grief; Rhian and her team offer an essential service to the community and those families who have suffered the devastation of losing a loved one.

Appealing for support from the people of Pembrokeshire he said: “Please give generously to support the wonderful work of Rhian and her team. Also, if you happen to see me in the day, feel free to give me a beep of encouragement’

“If you would like to donate to Moley, and support the charity, you can visit his JustGiving page.”

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/moleycole

Continue Reading

News

Lifeboats and chopper in major air sea rescue off the coast of Tenby

Published

on

TWO RNLI lifeboats from both Tenby and Angle stations have been launched to assist a coastguard helicopter which has been scrambled from MOD St Athen.

It is understood that a search for a missing person or persons is underway.

Paged this morning: Angle Lifeboat is currently involved in the search south of Tenby

The alarm was raised before 10am this morning (June 18).

Tenby’s Y-boat is also involved in the operation, The Herald understands.

MORE TO FOLLOW

Rescue underway: Coastguard chopper position at 1030HRS on Friday, Jun 18 (Pic MarineTraffic)
Continue Reading
News4 hours ago

Lifeboats and chopper in major air sea rescue off the coast of Tenby

TWO RNLI lifeboats from both Tenby and Angle stations have been launched to assist a coastguard helicopter which has been...

News24 hours ago

Organisers urged to read guidance on holding Covid-aware events

ORGANISERS planning to hold events in Pembrokeshire are being urged to read guidance published by the Welsh Government. The Welsh...

News1 day ago

Four men arrested as armed police swoop on Hubberston address

ARMED police and specialist dog handlers swooped on an address in Hubberston, Milford Haven on Wednesday night (Jun 16). The...

News2 days ago

Heatherton expansion approved

• Committee overturns officers’ objections • Economic benefits outweigh other impacts • Conditions must not delay development THE COUNCIL’s Planning...

News2 days ago

Milford Haven: Christmas cosmetics thief caged

A MIDLANDS shop lifter caught stealing £2200 worth of cosmetics and skin care products from Boots in Milford Haven just...

News3 days ago

Major blaze destroys well known Tenby chip shop

EMERGENCY services have sealed off part of Tenby following a major fire at a chip shop. Fire fighters rushed to...

News3 days ago

Tributes from family for ‘beautiful’ Ella Smith following fatal road accident

POLICE investigating Sunday’s fatal road traffic accident have confirmed that the person who sadly died has been formally identified as...

News4 days ago

Public urged to have say on second homes and empty properties policies

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has begun a consultation exercise on the authority’s policies relating to second homes and long term empty...

News4 days ago

Tributes to victim as police confirm fatal workshop fire in Sageston

POLICE have confirmed that a workshop fire in Sageston over the weekend was sadly fatal and is now being investigated...

News4 days ago

One dead and three seriously injured in road traffic accident on B4341

DYFED-POWYS POLICE has confirmed it is investigating a fatal road traffic collision which occurred on the B4341 between Haverfordwest and...

Popular This Week