28 January 2010




The Sun reports on a vigorous police reaction after a thief broke into a house in Narberth and stole a ladies' handbag.
According to the nation's biggest selling daily, 15 officers turned out - including a superintendent and six detectives - and an incident room was set up in the local, usually unmanned, police station.
The reason for all this frenzied activity, the newspaper claims, was that the victim of the theft was the chairman of Dyfed Powys Police Authority (DPPA) Mrs Delyth Humfryes.
DPPA denies the accuracy of The Sun's report though it doesn't go as far as to say it is completely baseless.
While there is probably an element of tabloid hype involved, this is one of those stories that you want to be true.
On that basis, I am giving The Sun the benefit of the doubt.
It also occurred to me that, until this story broke, I had never heard of Mrs Humfryes.
So who is this person who holds sway over our police force, what qualifies her to do the job and how was she appointed?
Unfortunately DPPA's website is not much help.
All it tells me is that there are 19 members of the authority - 10 county councillors and nine "independent members" and that Mrs Humfryes is one of the latter".
I can only assume that she was appointed by WAG from among the charmed circle that monopolises such posts.
While the county councillors are at least elected the situation is not a whole lot better because they are not elected to the police authority.
Pembrokeshire County Council has two "representatives" who are appointed by the Leader who was given absolute power in these matters by the very first meeting of the Cabinet.
It will come as no surprise to readers of this column to learn that the Leader has used these powers to appoint himself to one of these £6,500 a year posts.
Our other "representative" is Cllr David Neale of Carew.
The quotation marks are an indication that representative is not a terribly accurate description of this duo's role because they neither report back to council on their activities, nor promote the council's views to the police authority.
I have no idea what their attitudes are to policing or whether they represent those of my constituents.
In fact, though they nominally represent the county council, they actually represent nobody but themselves.
The sooner we have directly elected police authorities, and the attendant increase in accountability, the better.

Solva Community Council has written to all members of the county council to express concern about the way its objections to the closure of St Davids swimming pool were handled.
Part of the correspondence is a letter to the Leader in which the community council says: "It seems clear to us now that the County Council has, in effect if not in reality, a policy of never being wrong or at fault and that the defensive reaction of your councillors and officers stems from a reluctance to acknowledge what might be perceived to be a mistake."
They complain in particular about the Leader's letter to the community council dated 13 November 2009 in which there is "no recognition on your part that Solva Community Council has been lied to consistently misled."
Strong stuff!
However, I would point out that both Solva and St Davids are represented by members of the ruling Independent Political Group [Party]to which all ten members of the Cabinet also belong.
It is not stretching logic too far to point out that the decision to close the swimming pool was the party's policy and as neither Cllr Leslie Raymond or Cllr John George have resigned the party whip it must be assumed that they are happy to go along with it, even if reluctantly.
It is true that both members made statements against the closure at the council meeting on May 7 2009 (Pool party) but by then the decision was irrevocable so all we heard was empty words.
In any case, these face-saving statements were made under the guise of asking a question which, given that any deviations from the question by members of the opposition are quickly stamped on by the chairman, was a constitutional outrage in its own right.
But, as Solva Community Council seems to have noticed, the IPG never allows the democratic niceties to interfere with its appetite for power.

There has been a disappointing response to my offer to wager a bottle of Merlot on the outcome of the forthcoming encounter at Twickers.
I hope you haven't swallowed the Daily Telegraph's propaganda about England having the best crop of young players for a generation.

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