Pugh renewed

Thursday’s meeting of full council will determine who is to succeed Cllr Myles Pepper (recently elevated to cabinet rank) as chairman of the planning committee.

Old Grumpy hears that the IPPG candidate for this important position is the current committee vice-chairman Cllr David Pugh.

Regular readers of this column will recall that Cllr Pugh – formerly the cabinet member with responsibility for economic development – took the lead role in the full council meeting two years ago when the IPPG made a concerted attempt to rubbish my claims that there was something amiss with the administration of the commercial property grants scheme in Pembroke Dock.

This followed an earlier refutation of my claims at the cabinet meeting on 3 December 2013.

Following that cabinet meeting Cllr Pugh and Leader Jamie Adams had paid a visit to Pembroke Dock in order to gather the evidence required to show that I was lying.

One of the issues to which I had referred involved a huge discrepancy between the amount of rendering in the tender for No 25 Dimond Street (Community Hub) and what was shown on the drawings.

According to Pugh, I had neglected to take into account “a third side elevation”, which, when included, brought the tender and the plans into line with each other.

“So whether this is a deliberate untruth, or sheer incompetence on his behalf in not checking the facts, I’ll let you all decide” he told the meeting.

Fortunately, I was able to demonstrate that this “third side elevation” was a figment of Pugh’s imagination and he was forced to issue a rather grudging apology.

Another of my errors, according to Pugh, was that my calculations for No 29 Dimond Street (Paul Sartori charity shop) had overlooked a large area at the rear of the shop given over to the storage and cleaning of clothing.

“I don’t know when Cllr Stoddart did his inspection or whether he didn’t bother to walk to the back of the shop.┬áBut as you know, this is a charity shop and most of the retail space is taken up with space that has been used for storage and cleaning of clothes and so on.

If he’d bothered to check, he would see that the main work done in that retail space by bringing a semi-derelict building back into use and is not just the front shop. The bulk of that work was done to the rear and was completed satisfactorily.”

Wrong again!

“Most of the retail space” to the back of the shop turned out to be a small room comprising less than 15% of the total area.

This error became easier to understand when it emerged that, when Cllrs Pugh and Jamie Adams made their visit to Paul Sartori late on a December evening not only was it dark, but the shop was closed and they had to carry out their detailed inspection by peering through the front window with only the street lights to aid visibility.

You might think this made his criticism of me for not bothering to walk to the back of the shop (allegedly) even more difficult to stomach.

To add insult to injury, he implied that I had lost my marbles: “Cllr Stoddart reminds me of Don Quixote, the fictional character whose madness drove him to see enemies in everyone and ended up tilting at windmills.

Indeed this part of his performance inspired the author of that other website to institute the Golden DonQui award and predictably Pugh ran out an easy winner.

Cllr Pugh’s complete failure to check the facts can be explained by the fact that he and the Leader were accompanied on their tour of Pembroke Dock by the council officer who had supervised the contracts and had signed off work that simply hadn’t been done.

This officer was marking his own homework and, no doubt wishing to give himself an A*, he filled Pugh’s head with all this nonsense about third side elevations and areas at the back of the shop.

I expect this turned out to be a fairly easy task because he was telling Pugh exactly what he wanted to hear.

That said, because he was saying what he honestly believed, however mistaken, Pugh couldn’t be accused of lying about these matters, though a more rational person might have gone to the trouble of checking his facts before accusing someone of madness or “a deliberate untruth, or sheer incompetence”.

However, while there may be some excuse, however far-fetched, for his claims regarding 25 and 29 Dimond Street, there is none for his account of his trip – accompanied by the Leader and the case officer – to the attic at the town’s old Coronation School.

You may recall that I had cast doubt on whether the whole of the roof at Coronation School had been stripped off and reslated on new felt and batten.

At the cabinet meeting on 3 December 2013 members were shown photographs of a section of the inside of this roof in which the new felt could be clearly seen.

Of course, a photo of part of the roof didn’t prove that the whole of the roof had been replaced.

Anyway Pugh and the leader decided to go and see for themselves and he told council:

“The whole of the roof was stripped off and re-covered in a mixture of new and recycled natural slates on new felt and battens.

I personally have been up in that roof and checked it, as has the Leader. That work has been done to the specification”.

It was only much later that I discovered that it was not possible to inspect the whole of the roof from the two available access points, so when he said he had checked it for himself and found that the work had been done to specification i.e all of it, he was telling a barefaced lie.

Interestingly, the leader told the identical lie to the same meeting, so there must be a suspicion, at least, that the two of them conspired in this deception.

And this is the man who the IPPG thinks is a fit and proper person to chair the quasi-judicial planning committee where honesty, integrity and a sense of fairness are essential.

But it is not just the IPPG who are content to turn a blind eye to this sort of disreputable behaviour because I hear from a very good source that leading Tory Cllr David Bryan has been lined up to propose Pugh for the position.

Can this be the same David Bryan that supported my motion of no confidence in Pugh at the meeting on 6 March 2014? (Item 166)

Though it is interesting to note that, along with several others, his two fellow Tories Cllrs Hudson and Howlett couldn’t quite make their minds up and abstained.

The webcast of the infamous meeting has long since been deleted from the council’s website, but the author of that other website saved it for posterity and uploaded it to YouTube!

The video below starts playing at the point of Pugh’s contribution, 50 minutes in: