Cllr Steven Joseph has announced his departure from the county council’s ruling Independent Plus Political Group (IPPG).
According to that other website, a gaggle of plotters met at his house on Sunday evening to discuss forming a new group – Pembrokeshire First or Pembrokeshire People First depending on who is telling it.
Present at this meeting were IPPG stalwarts Cllrs Lyn Jenkins and Mark Edwards and, most surprising, Labour’s Alison Lee.
This follows an earlier meeting in Wetherspoons at which, a mole tells me, other prominent members of the ruling group were also present.
And I also hear a rumour that a deputation of disgruntled IPPG members went to see the Leader a couple of weeks ago with a demand that things must change – especially at the top.
So, IPPG members are revolting, though there is no sign of any headlong rush to follow Cllr Joseph into the promised land.
He followed up Sunday night’s meeting with an email to his fellow members which seemed to suggest he was packing it in completely.
“Tonite (sic) I have decided that I cannot continue being a councillor in Pembrokeshire as long the current culture exists.”
But, on reading the rest of the email, it becomes clear that it only concerns his continuing membership of the IPPG.
It is almost exactly a year since Cllr Joseph abandoned Plaid for the ruling clique so can we look forward to these defections becoming an annual event to enliven the dog days between Fish Week and Ironman?
Cllr Joseph tells us that he is leaving the IPPG because “The current culture is one of fear and frustration, people being bought with promises of positions…” which he wants to see replaced with a “…culture of doing what is right with integrity and moving forward.”
All very commendable until you remember that when Cllr Joseph jumped ship last August he told the Pembrokeshire Herald that by joining the IPPG he could get more done for his constituents.
That other website had a very good contemporaneous account of these events.
As I pointed out at the time, any system whereby constituents of members of the ruling group were afforded preferential treatment would be illegal.
As Cllr Joseph says: “The current situation is rotten to the core” but it was rotten to the core when he joined the IPPG a year ago so that is a poor excuse for leaving now.
My suspicion is that Cllr Joseph and other IPPG members have woken up and smelled the electoral coffee and come to realise that membership of the IPPG is not the vote-winner they thought it was when they were promised it would lead to a better deal for their voters.
They are now trying to pull off an orderly retreat under a smokescreen of words like integrity and doing what is right.
I doubt if many people will be taken in.
Central to their strategy is to climb aboard the already overcrowded anti-Bryn bandwagon.
We are told that: “The biggest issue is obviously Bryn as captain of the ship…” and “I cannot be part of a regime that supports Bryn Parry-Jones. He is the captain of our ship and after hitting so many icebergs, there comes a time when the captain has to take responsibility for the series of mistakes.”
This, I fear, is based on a misconception.
The constitutional situation is that Jamie Adams is the captain of the ship and the chief executive’s job is to navigate the captain’s chosen course.
Unfortunately the leader and his cronies are so intent on “preserving peoples (sic) positions of power” that they haven’t time for course-setting and the task falls by default into the hands of the chief executive and directors who can then rely on the IPPG majority to rubber stamp their chosen direction of travel.
I notice that, on the Pembrokeshire Herald’s facebook page, Cllr Joseph is claiming that he left Plaid because they were my puppets.
According to Cllr Joseph, Plaid’s leader Cllr Michael Williams and I would get together before important council meetings so that I could instruct him how to vote.
This suffers from one serious defect – it is without even a shred of truth.
It seems that Cllr Joseph has learned one thing from his time in the IPPG: if the actual facts don’t support your case, invent some that do.
Reading between the lines, Cllr Joseph has been getting some stick from his constituents over his decision to vote for the debate on the pension scheme to be held in private.
He tries to justify this decision by claiming that he had no choice: “On one hand we are told that we cannot discuss his pension openly because he is an employee with employee’s rights (which is why I voted as I did)…”
As I explained to that meeting before it went into private session, the legislation provides that members may resolve to exclude the public when exempt information such as that concerning staff pensions is concerned. It follows that the members may also resolve not to exclude the public.
Cllr Joseph’s judgement was to follow the IPPG line and vote to throw the public out.
To pretend he had no choice is disingenuous, at best.
The picture that Stephen Joseph is trying to paint is one where he has acquired a unique insight into the workings of the IPPG and, as the knight in shining armour – a man of integrity – he is sallying forth to rescue the democratic damsel from this “rotten” system.
Please, give me a break!