Since being sacked by the Mercury, I have been approached by
my fan club who tell me they are both missing my weekly ramblings.
Truth to tell, I, too, have been suffering from withdrawal
symptoms, so, for the sake of the three of us, I have decided
to venture into cyberspace.
My moles tell me a rumour is circulating in the Kremlin on
Cleddau that the reason Newscom Ltd decided to dispense with my
services was that Cllr Brian Hall was threatening to sue over
something I had written about him and the deal was that he would
drop his action on condition that I was cast into outer darkness.
Mr David Evans, the Mercury's publisher, assures me that there
is no substance in this story.
So, who would have anything to gain from spreading these fairy
Certainly not Cllr Hall, who, I would have thought, would want
to keep the episode as quiet as possible, considering that he
has failed to make good on the bloodcurdling threats issuing from
his solicitors since the spring.
"If the apology and the approved terms of the retraction
are not made immediately Cllr Hall will have no alternative but
to commence a libel action for substantial damages"
30 March 2000.
"We therefore repeat our previous request that a retraction
and apology [is published] otherwise he will have no alternative
but to commence legal proceedings without further warning"
6 April 2000.
"We look forward to hearing from you in the next five
days ............. failing which our client will be commencing
proceedings against your client for the defamation of his character"
10 May 2000.
"......... if you are not instructed to proffer the necessary
retraction and apology within the next seven days then clearly
our client will have no alternative but to seek his recourse through
2 August 2000.
Since then, an uncharacteristic silence has descended upon
the usually voluble Hall, even though neither apology or retraction
has been forthcoming.
This is a pity because there are important points of law involved
which I would have liked to see resolved, and, in the unlikely
event that he had won, it would have been interesting to discover
what value the judge would put on the reputation of a man who
has been arraigned before his own council for threatening violence
against two of his fellow members
Alas, it seems, Hall has decided to let discretion be the better
part of valour.
All that blusters is not bold!
There's many a slip twixt threat and writ!
It looks as if the next General Election, probably now only
six months away, will be fought on the familiar ground of taxation
The Tories say they will cut taxes if elected and Labour respond
by challenging them to say which areas of public spending will
suffer as a result.
While it is undoubtedly true that the amount any government
can spend on public services depends on how much tax it collects
it is not true to say that this depends entirely on tax rates.
Two factors influence the amount of revenue at the government's
disposal: tax rates and the size of the economy on which they
It has been said that a successful tax policy extracts the
maximum number of feathers from the goose with the minimum of
hissing - hence successive Chancellors' passion for stealth taxes.
But, insofar as geese are concerned, it is not feathers that
should concern us but golden eggs.
Most economists would agree that high taxes act as a disincentive
to hard work and risk-taking i.e. they kill or severely handicap
So the trick is to pluck the goose without reducing egg production
to the point where the loss of income outweighs the value of the
An example of how this works happened right here in Pembrokeshire
only a couple of years ago when Dell computers, who had been widely
tipped to set up shop in the county, opted instead to take advantage
of the much lower rates of corporation tax on the other side of
the Irish Sea.
The upshot is that the Irish government is now collecting not
only Dell's corporation tax but PAYE from the workers and VAT
on their spending.
A far more satisfactory situation than that of our own government,
which, despite, or because of, its higher tax rates, is getting
Oh, and I nearly forgot, the people of Ireland are also better
off because they have a 1000 well paid jobs.
Ferreting through the vast amount of data I have accumulated
on the infamous proposals to rebuild the "very derelict"
former farmhouse at Enfield, Portfield Gate, I came across a rather
interesting handwritten note.
It said "Dave, a couple of decisions on appeal which may
help you with Enfield. I have the files if you need them. L "
Dave is Mr David Lawrence the County Council's Head of Development
Control and L is, I believe, one of his colleagues, Mrs Linda
The note is dated 24/2 just 10 days before the Enfield application
was due to make its debut before the planning committee.
Interestingly, the two appeal decisions on the file, one at
Slebech, the other near Brawdy, both upheld the Council's decision
not to grant planning permission for the rebuilding of tumbledown
properties like Enfield because the proposals fell outside policy.
The reason the two appeal decisions would "help"
Mr Lawrence was because he was coming under pressure from the
"bungalow farmers" in the ruling Independent Political
(sic) Group to disregard the very planning policy that he is paid
Having read these two files, it came as something of a surprise
to hear the Director Roger Barrett-Evans tell a meeting of the
County Council in July last year that he had decided to recommend
approval of the Enfield application after reading the appeal decisions
on similar cases.
Old Grumpy can only assume either that Mr Barrett-Evans hadn't
read the two appeal decisions on file, or, if he had, he hadn't
I contacted the Welsh Assembly and they kindly sent me a copy
of a more recent appeal decision regarding a similar application
in the Brecon Beacons which the independent Inspector, Mr Ian
Osbourne BA(Hons) DipTP MRTPI, recommended for refusal because
of the "substantial amount of reconstruction that would be
In addition, the Inspector held that for an application to
fall within policy it had to comply with all the criteria, which
exposes as a serious misrepresentation of policy the line peddled
by Mr Barrett-Evans and his planning officers, that it is sufficient
for the application to satisfy the majority of the conditions.
Back to home page