Friday, 9 September 2016

Keeping close to the nest

As regular readers will recall, rather than the lid being publicly blown open earlier this year, an internal audit report was commissioned which exposed serious flaws in the management of Pembrey Country Park. The report was presented to councillors as a two page summary with no details as to how exactly the mess, ranging from financial irregularities to tender rigging, arose in the first place.

Calls for the damning findings to be investigated by the police were rejected and it seems this scandal, which had been ongoing for a number of years, is still being investigated and kept 'in house'. No surprises there.

However, further evidence emerged in June this year, reported by the Herald, which suggested that there had been attempts by senior officers, at the time, to cover-up wrongdoing. This evidence included transcripts of recorded conversations, and one senior officer is heard demanding to know what information is held by a third party, adding "For f**** sake don't go to the police".

The report stated that it had been commissioned following the departure of the previous Director of Regeneration and Leisure in 2015 who's responsibility covered, amongst other things, Country Parks.

That Director Of Regeneration and Leisure was Mr Dave Gilbert OBE, who was also deputy chief executive and right hand man for Mr Mark James CBE, standing in for him when the latter was under criminal investigation by the police in 2014. The Executive Board Member with the equivalent portfolio at the time was Cllr Meryl Gravell, OBE

Mr Gilbert then became a Ministerial adviser to the Swansea Bay City Region Board, of which Cllr Gravell is a member. The Board, and particularly Meryl, is currently 'very excited' about the Council led (by 'council' I mean Meryl and Mark of course) project to funnel scarce resources into private health care and a luxury spa in Delta Lakes, Llanelli, the 'Wellness Village'.

However that's by-the-by, I was most interested, surprised even, to see that back in January this year, the former Director, Mr Gilbert, had been appointed as a non-executive director of Cwm Environmental Ltd, which manages the council's recycling and waste facilities, a service which is shortly to come up for tender.

Incidentally recent whispers have been heard of financial irregularities and senior sackings over waste management agreements in the council's environment department, including one linked to the Cwm Environmental site at Nantycaws. Again it seems that this matter will not go to the police as, it has also been whispered, the council itself has been a little over enthusiastic with the categories of waste it has been dumping...

Anyway, Cwm Environmental, you may be aware, manages these facilities as an arms-length company, and is wholly owned by the council, and whilst the role of non-executive director doesn't command a massive salary, it can certainly attract a very decent allowance.

It seems that sometimes, retiring senior officers are reluctant to stray far from the nest.


Anonymous said...

Do they charge £124 per hour for their services too? Which seems to be the going rate for H&S consultants that the council has had to draft in.

Were the public to be made aware of the potential breaches of safety legislation at the park there would be shockwaves through the council.

This £124 per hour fee by the H&S executive for intervention and improvement notices must surely cause embarassment to James and his gang.

Time for the truth to be told.

Anonymous said...

Dave Gilbert is a decent bloke with much common sense. If he hadn't been tempering the behaviour of those idiots James and Gravel - and not to mention Madge! - then things may have been much worse hard as that is to believe.

Teifion said...

Surely if a Law has been broken then the Police should investigate - even if it's a "sister" organisation?
No longer if someone on a football or a rugby field get "badly biffed" the Sports organisation tell the Police to but out as it's an internal matter the Police DO investigate or am I being naive ?

Anonymous said...

Decent bloke?