THE OUTBURSTS by Council Leader Emlyn Dole and soon-to-depart CEO Mark James against efforts made by bloggers and media to hold the County Council to account (see last week’s Herald) have received a stinging response from local blogger Jacqui Thompson.
To describe Mr James and Mrs Thompson as ‘having form’ understates the level of dislike and mistrust between the pair.
Mr James was sued for libel by Mrs Thompson, an action in which he made an offer to settle before Mr James’ employers stumped up an unlawful indemnity in respect of his legal fees. Mr James won that action but the cost to the Council’s reputation was immeasurably more than the sum the Court awarded him in damages. Particularly as the case was accompanied by the scandal of the Executive Board permitting its most senior employee to enter into a tax avoidance scheme in relation to his public sector pension.
Mr James’ subsequent repudiation of his agreement to repay the Council in respect of the unlawful indemnity, saying through his barrister that he could throw the £35,000 in the gutter if he so wished arguably demonstrated Mr James’ status as ‘untouchable’. Even efforts by some councillors to persuade the CEO to compromise his position and reach an accommodation about the unlawful indemnity was howled down by the Council’s Head of Legal, a witness in Mr James’ libel case.
And all that came after a former independent external member of the Council’s Audit Committee slated the quality of the Council’s internal legal advice and processes.
Mr James attempted to have Mrs Thompson prosecuted for harassment, only for the case to collapse embarrassingly when it went before the Magistrates’ Court in Llanelli.
Mrs Thompson has consistently alleged that Mr James has exploited his position as Council CEO to use public facilities to pursue what is – at law – a private matter between individuals.
In her letter to Mr James, which Jacqui Thompson copied to Council Leader Emlyn Dole, she vigorously hammers away at both men.
Due to its content, The Herald has edited the letter, but what we are able to publish is below.
A FOND FAREWELL
Dear Mr James,
Your remarks about bloggers at Wednesday’s AGM require this brief response, which will also be published on my blog.
As there are not many bloggers, or “keyboard warriors” about, and, as you have actually met me, albeit in a courtroom, the consensus of opinion is that you were including me in your comment. As was Emlyn Dole.
I am not anonymous, far from it as you are well aware, and neither do I hide away in dark corners, and I’m quite capable of speaking my name. There is nothing I have said on my blog which I wouldn’t say directly to you, or anyone else, in an instant. If you wish to try and argue over anything I’ve said, then do get in touch.
It was me who called you out and went through a public trial; you hid behind the taxpayer to make your attack, also calling on them to fund your first class travel and upmarket hotels.
You didn’t even have the bottle to attend Carmarthen County Court and face me while you attempted to take my home, you hid.
The taxpayer had already funded your legal costs once, and your unlawful tax avoidance scam. I wouldn’t put anything past you. I represented myself and was quite capable of saying a lot more than my name.
It is you who have hidden, Mr James, behind your puppet councillors, your legal department, your money, and your junior staff.
Urging councillors, or anyone, to ignore the press and public opinion is appalling but has been a trademark of your regime, and councillors who have toed the line have been rewarded. Those who have not have been bullied and treated with contempt.
You have withdrawn support for local newspapers for publishing negative stories and enabled, unlawfully, for the council to sue. And more.
You do not ignore the press or blogs as you claim, you just get someone else to read it all for you, at public expense. If it was all so unimportant then why did you refer to it all in your farewell speech?
I do not have time on my hands, we work hard to ensure we can live and that you get your monthly ‘gutter’ money so that you do not take our home. The time I do have I spend unearthing the facts and the truth which you are so reluctant to impart. And as I said, I will continue to hold you to account for your actions at this council, retired or not. You have not heard the last from this particular ‘anonymous’ blogger.
You will certainly be remembered Mr James, not as a man of vision, nor even one with a ridiculous Honour, but as the man who trashed the reputation of Carmarthenshire County Council, and Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs ‘Shit of the Year’.
Mobile COVID-19 vaccination van to visit Ammanford
HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD is pleased to confirm that its mobile vaccination van, in partnership with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, will be located in Ammanford from Wednesday 28 to Saturday 31 July.
The mobile vaccination clinic will be based at Ammanford’s Tesco Superstore car park (Park Street, SA18 2LR) and will be open between 11.00am and 7.00pm. There is no need to contact the health board to book an appointment.
The vaccination van will deliver the vaccine to anyone aged 18 and over that requires either a first or second dose (Moderna and Oxford AstraZeneca). Second doses can be given 8 weeks after the first dose.
The fire service is providing one of its vehicles and members of the team will also be in attendance to provide the public with general community safety advice, including about home safety.
With the rise in cases across the UK, it is important as many people as possible to come forward for their first and second doses as soon as possible.
Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We are thrilled that we are able to bring our mobile vaccination van to Ammanford for four days.
“Over 2,000 vaccines have been delivered from the van to date and we hope many more people in Ammanford and the surrounding area will choose to have their vaccine with us during our time at Tesco car park.
“Everyone is welcome, if you have changed your mind having already declined a vaccine we will be happy to see you or if you would like to speak to someone before deciding whether to have it, our brilliant vaccination team will be more than happy to speak to you and answer any questions you may have.”
Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Chris Davies said: “I am pleased that we can, again, assist Hywel Dda in its vaccination programme, having recently concluded a hugely successful partnership where we were able to assist with transportation of people within our communities to and from mass vaccination centres.
“This opportunity and partnership allows us to expand our assistance further within the health arena, and is going to make a positive impact on our response to this global pandemic and we are pleased to be able play our part and collaborate with our NHS partners to change the lives of many people.”
Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs
FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.
Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.
Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:
- Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
- Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
- Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
- Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.
The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.
Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.
“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.
“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”
New children’s play area in Bryn as part of new council housing development
A NEW children’s play area has opened in time for the summer holidays in Bryn, Llanelli as part of a new £5.9million council housing development.
Carmarthenshire County Council is building 32 new homes on land close to the Dylan housing estate in Bryn.
The scheme will be made up of 22 two-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom bungalows and six four-bedroom homes and is part of the council’s ongoing drive to deliver more affordable homes across the county. It has been part funded through the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Grant.
The development also includes a new children’s play area, funded by the council in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, which will take over the running and maintenance of the play area on completion.
Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “I am delighted the park has been completed in time for the summer holidays for the local children to enjoy.
“We are committed to delivering more affordable housing across Carmarthenshire and this development will benefit dozens of families in Llanelli, as well as proving much needed facilities for the local community.
“I would like to thank the rural council for collaborating with this us on this and I hope the children are thrilled with it.”
Before designing the play area, the rural council liaised with local schoolchildren to find out what play equipment they wanted at their new park.
Llanelli Rural Council Chairman Cllr Tegwen Devichand said: “The council is delighted to be working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council to provide this wonderful new play area for the community.
“The opening of the play area couldn’t have been better timed to coincide with the school holidays. I hope the local children will enjoy the range of challenging play equipment on offer and that they have lots of fun using it over the summer.”
The housing development is due to be completed by the beginning of 2022.
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