I must state at the outset that the title of this piece has no connection with the sickly-sweet item of confectionary produced by Burtons.
The calorie-laden biscuit of that name, as junk food buffs will know, has a double-m.
No! this about the way our Dear Leader, Cllr Jamie Adams, avoided answering my question about the visit to the interior of the roof at former Coronation School in Pembroke Dock by himself and his sidekick Cllr David Pugh somewhere between 2 and 12 December last year.
Regular readers will recall that back in November last year I published some photographs which cast doubt on the council’s claim that the whole of the roof at Coronation School had been stripped off and recovered with new and recycled slates on new felt and batten.
As one local wag observed: “How clever of them to have also recycled the lichen”.
When my notice of motion calling for elected members to have access to all documents regarding these grant schemes came before the Cabinet on December 2 members were presented with a report by the council’s internal auditors which claimed that the whole of the roof at Coronation School had been stripped off and reslated.
On December 5 I put up a post challenging some of the auditor’s claims and that prompted Adams and Pugh to travel down to Pembroke Dock on a fact-finding mission.
So it was that, at the meeting of full council on December 12, Cllrs Adams and Pugh both told the council that they had been up in the loft at Coronation School and seen for themselves that the “entire roof” had been recovered.
Thank to the wonders of the webcast I can tell you exactly what they said.
Pugh told the meeting:
“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.”
While the Leader claimed:
“I do have in my possession here today signed letters from, for example, the main contractor and indeed the subcontractor for the roof at Coronation School Meyrick Street Pembroke Dock which indicate that the entire roof was stripped and reclad in new and used natural slates on new felt and batten.
And, as Cllr Pugh has indicated, both he and I have been in those lofts and have seen that for ourselves.”
And that was the end of the matter, or so it seemed.
Given that almost everything else Pugh told the meeting on December 12 was untrue, I was a bit sceptical of these claims, so I made some further enquiries.
First, I learned from the council’s internal audit service that there were only two open access points (hatches) in the ceilings and that these were at the top of the two main stairwells.
What Pugh described as my “self-proclaimed expertise” in roof construction led me to believe that it would not be possible to inspect the entire roof from these two vantage points..
However, such was the confidence with which the head panjandrum and one of his chief spear-carriers claimed to have inspected the whole of the roof, that I hesitated.
But help was at hand because in January the audit committee made a site visit to Pembroke Dock and while we were standing outside Coronation School I asked the project coordinator, who had accompanied Adams and Pugh on their attic expedition, whether it was possible to view the whole of the roof from these two access points.
The answer was no – to inspect the whole of the interior of the roof would require cutting holes in the ceilings.
I seem to recall that this revelation prompted the chairman of the audit committee to request that, in order to settle the matter once and for all, this should be arranged.
As what follows will show, this still hasn’t been done.
Sensing a weakness in the enemy’s defences, I put down a question to Cllr Adams at last Thursday’s meeting of full council.
Briefly, I asked if he would admit that his statement to the meeting on December 12: that he had seen for himself that the entire roof at Coronation School had been re-covered, was untrue.
When it came time to answer, Cllr Adams beat a quick retreat behind the ongoing police inquiry into the grants business.
“The police have advised against any further public discussion about this matter in order to avoid prejudicing their investigation” he told council.
Though quite how the involvement of the police has any bearing on whether Cllr Adams told the truth at the meeting on Deceember 12 is not altogether clear.
However, it seems that private discussion about this matter is perfectly in order because I understand it was raised at the IPPG’s secret pre-council get-together on Wednesday 7 May.
What I hear is that Cllr Brian Hall gave the meeting the benefit of his knowledge of the site by pointing out that to inspect the whole of the roof would require accessing the flats (private property) and cutting holes in the ceilings at a cost in excess of £1,000.
This means that not only were Adams and Pugh both lying when they claimed on December 12 to have inspected the entire roof space, but all those present at last week’s secret group meeting are now fully aware that they were not telling the truth..
It is a tribute to the group’s cohesiveness that not one of them has broken ranks and distanced themselves from this exercise in mendacity.
Mind you, with in excess of £200,000 in taxpayers’ cash to distribute in the form of SRAs and other goodies, the Leader has some pretty strong glue at his disposal.
This silence from the IPPG membership, which includes at least two Magistrates and sundry churchmen, is even more startling when you consider that these lies were designed to destroy my credibility.
Had Pugh stuck to disputing the facts, as published on this website, that would have one thing.
But he took the opportunity to put the boot in.
Not only was I wrong, but I had conducted “a campaign of smear and innuendo” and had made “allegations without any evidence”.
Then another “smear campaign” before concluding: “But, then, getting at the truth is not on his agenda”.
Not content with attacking my integrity, he then likened me to Don Quixote “whose madness drove him to see enemies in everyone”.
Unfortunately for Pugh almost everything he told full council on December 12 was false and as a result the council has been left with no option but to call in the police.
And, despite all this, his Cabinet colleague, Simon Hancock, who has never dissociated himself from Pugh’s remarks, had the brass neck to stand up in council last week and and preach that members should “bear malice to none and show charity to all”.
However, as so often in cases of this sort, it is the cover-up that gets people into trouble.
The issue is no longer whether the whole of the roof has been re-slated, but whether Adams and Pugh were telling the truth when they claimed to have seen it for themselves.
There was an illustrative case in the papers a couple of weeks ago, when a mother was sent to prison for giving her son a false alibi, even though, as it turned out, the son was innocent of the charges against him.
Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.