29 April 2002
Some weeks ago I promised to give you the low down on any members of the Cabinet (Politburo) whose nefarious activities had featured on this website.
So, here goes.
Leader, Maurice Hughes (see Pot and Kettle )
Deputy Leader, John Allen-Mirehouse (Squirehouse J P)
Brian Hall (Time warp and Cover-up exposed ) and see below.
Bill Hitchings (Standard practice)
Pat Griffiths (Self-interest)
The only disappointment is that Alwyn "Monster Lunch Muncher" Luke didn't land the expected seat on the Politburo, but no doubt my chance will come when the committee chairmanships gravy train pulls into the station.
Old Grumpette has been in a sulk ever since she saw the picture in last Wednesday's Western Telegraph of Fiona Phillips receiving a plaque, to mark her appointment as the paper that fights for Pembrokeshire's new editor, from County Council Chairman Rosemary Hayes.
"If you hadn't written all those nasty things about councillors fiddling their expenses and failing to declare their interests I, too, might have had a plaque to put on the mantelpiece", the former editor of the Mercury told me, crossly.
Only joking, of course, because Old Grumpette shares my view that the proper relationship of journalists and politicians is that of a dog to a lamppost.
Old Grumpy hopes that this cosy get-together in County Hall doesn't mark the end of the Telegraph's hard-hitting, investigative approach to local politics (That's enough irony for today. Ed).
It is my intention, henceforth, to refer to the newly formed Cabinet as the Politburo, if this air of chumminess persists, I may have to resort to renaming the Telegraph, Pravda.
Since leaving the Mercury in September 2000, Old Grumpy has taken a keen interest in what was going on in my former columnar territory in the top right-hand corner of page 12.
My immediate successor was "Mouthpiece" (remember that horrible graphic) about which the less said the better.
Then came "Kitty Piper" whose earlier efforts: a mixture of whimsy and gardening tips, were perfectly acceptable.
However, after a few weeks, Kitty found it impossible to confine her ramblings to harmless advice on the best time to take geranium cuttings, and began to muscle-in on my patch by writing scathingly about the County Council and local politics in general.
At first I ignored this deliberate provocation, but when she used a phrase I had coined: "The political wing of the Chief Officers Management Board (COMB)" to describe the ruling Independent Political (sic) Group, I could take no more.
I'm all for freedom of speech, but this was a breach of copyright.
So I sent a couple of the boys around to have a quiet word and she abruptly disappeared.
Last week she resurfaced to say that she was giving up writing because it interfered with her Karma.
"I have spent the last six weeks sitting cross-legged in the attic, denying myself all worldly pleasure and contemplating the four truths of Buddha," she told readers of the Mercury.
If she values her health and well being, or entertains any ambitions to own a County Council plaque, that is where she'll stay.
I notice that the hallowed spot is now occupied by Jeff Dunn who is taking his journalistic life in his hands by going head to head with Vernon Scott in the nostalgia stakes.
The trouble is, as someone pointed out to me this morning, nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
Nobody can accuse council leader Maurice Hughes of lacking a sense of humour following his announcement that Roy Folland has been given the "Health and Well-being" portfolio in the newly formed Cabinet.
This is a complete role reversal for Cllr Folland; the county town's leading mortician, who relies on people dying (and the £22,000 a year he will get for being a Cabinet member) for his living.
We must all hope that he makes such a success of the job that the hearse stays permanently locked in the garage.
Last week, on inspecting Pembrokeshire County Council's statutory register of members' interests, I discovered that Cllr Brian Hall is a director of a company called Euro-Ryall Ltd
This company was incorporated on 29 December 2000, though his entry in the register of interests is dated 12 March 2002, well outside the "one-month" time limit for registration set by the Local Authorities (Members' Interests) Regulations 1992.
Enquiries at Companies House website reveal that Cllr Hall's fellow director in Euro-Ryall is a Dr Michael Patrick Ryan.
The name Dr Ryan rang a bell and sure enough when I checked Hall's expense claims I find that he, Dr Ryan, and Mr Pat O'Sullivan spent the four days 16-20 November 2000 touring Pembroke Dock
According to a note at the bottom of the claim form, the council's Head of Marketing, Mr David Thomas, was also present on one of these days.
In respect of these activities, Cllr Hall submitted a claim for £20 for lunches for the four of them despite the fact that members are only allowed to claim reimbursement for their personal subsistence costs.
Messrs Hall and Ryan must have taken a shine to each other because, less than six weeks later, on 29 December 2000, Euro-Ryall Ltd was incorporated, leaving me to wonder if the meetings with Dr Ryan and Mr O'Sullivan, for which Cllr Hall also claimed 30 miles travelling allowance, were entirely devoted to council business.
Further investigations revealed that on 23 and 24 January 2001, Cllr Hall entertained Dr Ryan to lunch, at taxpayers' expense, in Morrillo's café in Haverfordwest, though the council's attendance records show that on the 23 January he wasn't entitled to claim lunch for himself never mind for his business partner.
Of course, the amount of money involved is trivial in the great scheme of things - though I do recall reading in the Western Telegraph, not so long ago, of someone who was prosecuted for stealing £3 worth of lager from a supermarket - but it is surely not too much to ask, in a democracy, that those in power should obey the law.
Old Grumpette to Old Grumpy.
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