February 14 2013

Just in time

Old Grumpy notices that the website (Manorbier Reporter) maintained by Charles Cochrane of Manorbier is back up and running and spouting the sort of poisonous bile that gets bloggers a bad name.
It is interesting to note that one posting takes the form of a pre-election puff for Norman Parry, who, Mr Cochrane hoped, would take the county council seat from his arch-enemy Cllr Malcolm Calver.
Mr Parry - ex South Pembs district and Pembrokeshire county councillor Parry to those who know their political history - is quoted as saying:
“I am disgusted at the way the current County Councilor (sic) has conducted himself whilst in office, using his website as a tool to demean fellow Community Councillors, for what is obviously his own agenda"! "For being hauled in front of the Ombudsman and losing his appeal for breaking the Code Of Conduct and hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the papers, bringing Manorbier and its community into disrepute.
Those with long memories can be forgiven for asking whether this is the same Norman Parry who was censored by the Ombudsman over his part in SPDC's award of planning consent for a waste transfer station at Princes Gate, Narberth.(see Game, sett and match for Mr Parry's full CV)
Cllr Parry, as he then was, was the landscape contractor on the site and as such he had a pecuniary interest in the application.
What attracted the Ombudsman's interest was that SPDC's minutes recorded him attending several meetings where this controversial application was discussed.
Cllr Parry denied he had ever been present and claimed that the minutes must be in error.
He might have got away with this had the Ombudsman not asked to see the committee clerk's shorthand notes which revealed that not only was he present but that, on at least two occasions, he had spoken on the issue.
Just the man to restore Manorbier's battered reputation, you might think.
In the event, Mr Cochrane turned out to be the Prince Monolulu (younger readers may have to Google this cultural reference) of election forecasters when Mr Parry trailed in next to bottom with 6.5 % of the poll.
Though it should be said that this was a considerable improvement on his previous outing in his native Carew where he trailed in last.
It seems that even Cllr Calver's efforts in helping the elderly in the village give rise to suspicion.
According to Mr Cochrane: "While we are on the subject of Councillor Calver's relationship with the Elderly, Infirm and Vulnerable another matter in this respect which is raising concerns is the number of these people that he is holding Power Of Attorney for, additionally how he allegedly collects money from the post office etc for these and other vulnerable people. I have been informed when a neighbour offered to help one of these people in Jameston recently, when Councillor Calver found out he was abusive towards this neighbour and told them to mind their own business. This neighbour is concerned for two vulnerable people where Councillor Calver visits on a regular basis and finds it hard to believe the Councillor does it out of kindness and compassion, especially as he was so defensive about any other person offering genuine help to these people.Aditionally (sic) concerns have been raised in St Florence of the particular attention the Councillor pays to this same group of people there."
The suggestion seems to be that Cllr Calver is running errands for these old people with some ulterior motive in mind.
Perhaps he is hoping that, with a bit of luck, they will leave him a few bob in their wills.
These things happen!
Indeed, only a couple of weeks ago someone told me about an old lady in Begelly, who, having been befriended by Mr Cochrane, showed her gratitude by leaving him a considerable sum of money, and her house.
And, if that wasn't good fortune enough, I am informed that the day after she signed the will she died.

Coming clean

Last week's Mercury carried a report on a recent meeting of PCC's Cabinet under the headline "Compulsory CRB checks for all county councillors" in which Leader Cllr Jamie Adams is quoted as saying that CRB checks should be "mandatory" for all members.
I am not that well up on the law on this particular topic, but, from what I can gather, there is no way the council can compel members to comply.
What I am absolutely certain about is that it would be a breach of the Data Protection Act if the council implemented Cllr David Pugh's proposal that the information should be published on-line.
Do people like Cllr Pugh have even the first idea what it means to live in a democracy?
Cllr Sue Perkins expressed herself "shocked and amazed" that there were some members who still hadn't had CRB checks.
I don't have a problem with CRB checks for people working with what I believe the legislation refers to as "vulnerable groups" but in my nearly nine years as a councillor I have never found myself in that situation.
And in 20 years as a school governor I never had any unsupervised contact with children.
I have serious concerns, on civil liberties grounds, about CRB checks.
Who will have access to this information?
What is the threshold above which a member will be deemed unfit for office?
And, if the requirement to take a test is not enforceable, what is the point?
And do we want to live in a society where everyone is a suspected child abuser?
However, for the avoidance of all doubt, I have decided to come clean about my criminal past.
What follows is from memory, but, give or take a year, the dates are accurate.
1960. Received a caution at Newcastle-under-Lyme police station for my part in the liberation of a three-foot high Guinness toucan from the Jolly Potter in the town's Barracks Road.
As the rather stern sergeant who administered the caution reminded us, while we may have considered this a fairly harmless student prank, it was, in reality, an act of theft.
I didn't actually remove the object from the pub, but as I did help to distract the barmaid while the deed was carried out and took my turn to carry it up Keele Bank and back to the university, I was clearly guilty of both conspiring with others to commit a crime and handling stolen goods.
1966. Exceeding 40 mph in a restricted vehicle - namely a Ford Transit van - between Roch and Simpson Cross. Pleaded guilty by letter. Fined £20 - Haverfordwest Magistrates' Court.
1966. Exceeding 40 mph in a restricted vehicle - namely a Ford Transit van - between Aberaeron and Aberystwyth. Pleaded guilty by letter. Fined £20 - Lampeter Magistrates' Court.
1995. Failure to produce a driving licence within five days of being issued with an HORT certificate. Pleaded guilty at Haverfordwest Magistrates' Court. Fined £30.
As this is to be an enhanced CRB check I have decided to include police investigations as well as convictions.
1997. Breathalised outside the Mercury offices in Fulke Street, Milford Haven. This was after I had a drink in the Chairman's room following reporting on the the Christmas meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council. I was tipped off that Cllr Eddie Setterfield was overheard telling someone that he had seen me drinking beer and it would be a good opportunity to "get me". When I returned to the office I found two policemen lying in wait. They told me they had reason to believe I had been drinking and asked me to blow in the bag. As I'd only consumed two vol au vents, a mince pie and a single can of beer, the test proved negative, as did the electorate's response to Cllr Setterfield at the 1999 election.
I like to think my detailed account of this episode in my Old Grumpy column had some bearing on Eddie's demise, though I can't entirely rule out the possibility that my earlier revelations that he had finessed his travel expenses to the tune of £140 - which he had to pay back - may also have contributed to his downfall.
As can be seen from the above, my offending behaviour follows a pattern that is familiar to sociological research i.e. that criminality diminishes with age, and I have now been going straight for fully 17 years.
There are many things that shock and amaze me about what goes on in Pembrokeshire County Council, one of which is that Cllr Sue Perkins seems not find any difficulty in serving in the Cabinet alongside Cllr Ken Rowlands, who, in 2008, she accused of committing an act of Judas-like treachery.
To which Cllr Rowlands responded that the reason she was upset was that his defection along with Cllrs Umelda Havard and Lyndon Frayling had cost her the SRA as Leader of the largest opposition group (Love, Labours Lost).
This is especially poignant given that subsequent revelations both here and on that other site would seem to indicate that Cllr Perkins' analysis was not too far wide of the mark (The Plot thickens)(Fairy Stories).
However, what might shock and amaze Cllr Perkins even more is the information I received via FoI in early January this year.
This concerns the Tier 2 training in child protection, which falls within Cllr Perkins' area of responsibility and which is mandatory for all councillors
What this FoI response reveals is that, despite the council running four sessions of this training during 2012 (February, July, October and December) one of her Cabinet colleagues, Cllr Elwyn Morse, is not listed as having completed the course.
And, on top of that, also missing from the list is another prominent member of her new found IPPG friends, Cllr Brian Hall,
Physician, heal thyself!!

Foregone conclusion

My apologies for being late this week, but I have been away in Cumbria for my mother's funeral.
As is usual with these occasions, there was much retelling of stories from the distant past.
I was reminded about the birth of my sister Dorothy when my father took me to Maryport Cottage Hospital to pick up mother and the new arrival.
I was five years old and one of my earliest memories is of being shown into a room where there were four babies in their cots and being asked to choose which one to take home.
There were three boys and a girl and I picked Dorothy.
Looking back, I now realise that this was the first of the many consultation exercises I have been involved in where the outcome had already been decided.

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