Friday, 26 May 2017

Reported for summons


Further to matters outlined here, and subsequent to a formal interview on the 16th March, two police officers called at my home yesterday to tell me that they have made a decision to prosecute and I am being reported for summons.
I understand that I will receive a summons in the post to attend a magistrates court in due course.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Carmarthenshire Council AGM, a few points


Yesterday's AGM was quite a subdued affair, these things usually are, more a formality than a means of debate. The whole thing can of course be viewed on the archived webcast.
After the preliminary chain swapping ritual and speeches, with visiting dignitaries in attendance, the new Chair, Cllr Irfon Jones (Ind) stumbled into action.

New Chair (for clarity, it's the one with the chain)

Cllr Mansel Charles (Plaid) was also invested with chains of office as Vice-Chair. It'll be his turn to be Chair next year.
The nomination for Emlyn Dole as leader went unchallenged and he was duly 'elected' although the Labour group abstained.
Cllr Dole then announced the new Executive Board, adding economic regeneration and 'marketing and media' (including the press office) to his own portfolio.

There are seven Plaid members and three from the Independent Group giving Plaid overall control. Mair Stephens was reappointed to the board and, as leader of the Independent Group, which appears to be still going strong, has boosted her salary as deputy council leader.

A new portfolio of culture, sport and tourism was created for Plaid's Peter Hughes Griffiths and Glynog Davies (Plaid) has education. Jim Jones has been cast aside and replaced by fellow Independent Phillip Hughes on dog fouling duties and Plaid's Cefin Campbell leads on rural affairs and countering terrorism.

Dai Jenkins (Plaid) retains the portfolio for money, Hazel Evans (Plaid) retains roads and rubbish and Jane Tremlett (Ind), social care. Plaid's Linda Evans will be back in charge of housing once the Standards committee have given their nod of approval, due to the fact that she is Emlyn Dole's sister-in-law.
She might also be grateful for advice from the Chief Executive, now expanding his own portfolio with business interests in property management in Cardiff...

Emlyn Dole delivered his carefully crafted leader's speech which rambled on for some time, those listening to the English translation (it's very good btw) might have noticed the sound of a yawn half way through. Most of it was spin and naturally, with the general election only a couple of weeks away, resembled a party political broadcast on behalf of Plaid Cymru. Still, he was hardly going to say things were actually all a bit cr*p. To give an example of the spin, the wonderful new mobile library service with it's up-to-date vans was mentioned when, in actual fact, the service is being drastically cut and people will have to travel miles to one of the designated stops, so not so 'mobile' any more. And so on.

Much was made of the Swansea Bay City Deal of course with pictures of the cosy signing ceremony with Theresa May. No mention was made, however, of the as yet unknown millions the council will have to borrow to attract the (also as yet unknown) private investors.

The Labour leader Jeff Edmunds responded to the speech by reminding Cllr Dole that Plaid were just carrying on the policies started by Labour. True to form it wasn't exactly an inspiring response but was, he explained, without the benefit of a script. He sounded one warning bell over the £7m earmarked for a new care home in Llanelli. Was this £7m now going towards private health care in the Wellness Thing? A good question..

Everything else breezed through apart from a small hiccup during the amendments to the constitution item. Plaid Cllr Alun Lenny, clearly referring to the public speakers and the row over Llangennech School, wanted 'public questions' to be limited to a question plus a supplementary. Any preamble would be on the agenda but not spoken. It was not fair, he said, members of the public acted disgracefully, giving long speeches, and elected members were unable to respond.

In actual fact, elected members have numerous ways of responding, access to their own press team for one thing. His amendment, which will be passed on the Constitutional Review Working Group (CRWG) for consideration, is disappointing. Whilst allowing public questions might be occasionally challenging, there have been very few public questions at all and until 2015, when I popped into the Chamber with a question about that curious case of the car park deal, there'd been none for ten years.

The constitution itself (See Standing Orders Part 10) already restricts public questions to a question and a supplementary. I suggest extreme caution over any further restrictions and I suspect that such an amendment would never have been suggested whilst Plaid were in opposition.

Linda Rees Jones was 'embarrassed' as she'd forgotten to add to the rule book, back in June 2015, that members of the public were only allowed to film or record meetings which were already being webcast by the council. She thanked Cllr Darren Price (Plaid) for drawing it to her attention...
This leaves a ridiculous filming ban on all scrutiny meetings and the Audit, Democratic Services and Standards Committees. Presumably prison awaits any who dare record any of those.

It seems her shame didn't extend to the unlawful libel costs amendment which, for the third year running, remains, as I mentioned last week, in the constitution in suspended form, but maybe she's got her boss to thank for that. Something else for CRWG to consider...

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Revisiting that car park deal...


Sian Caiach reminds us yesterday of that mysterious car park deal back in 2013, and the financial, erm, ingenuity with which, in the words of the former Police Commissioner, our very own Sicilian cartel in County Hall "extracts vast amounts of money from residents which it showers on favourites, hoards property, bullies opponents, co-opts friends and answers to no one, least of all local councillors."

With the prospect of millions being poured into a luxury spa and private health care down on Delta Lakes, it's worth revisiting the tale of the car park, if nothing else, for the importance of transparency. As Ms Caiach points out, it's not just the initial investment in County Hall pet projects which sail through, despite questionable viability, but the ongoing costs and bailouts.

To give just a couple of examples, the Parc Y Scarlets stadium doesn't have to pay any rent to the council for the land until such time as it makes a substantial profit, so far this hasn't happened and isn't ever likely to. So, instead, the council pays rent to Scarlets Regional Ltd for office space and functions in the stadium. The Eastgate Centre in Llanelli was another council led project where not only did the council give many millions to the developers in land deals etc it cut a deal to provide the private owners with £5m rent, for more office space, over the next twenty years.

It's only a matter of time before the council rents 'office space' in the evangelical bowling alley for compulsory morning prayers...or the 'Wellness Village' for Executive aromatherapy sessions...

But back to the car park. Adjacent to the stadium and surplus to requirements, the car park was owned by the council but leased to the Scarlets Regional Ltd. To provide the company with some cash, and after some planning 'adjustments', the car park was sold off to Marston's Inns to develop a hotel.

The land was sold for £850,000 and with the split in the proceeds declared as 50/50, you might expect, after some minor deductions roughly £400k apiece for the council and Scarlets Regional.

This wasn't the case.

Efforts to get to the actual details of the deal went on for some time but to no avail. In 2013 Cllr Jeff Edmunds, who was the Exec Board member for resources finally decided to reveal the details to Sian Caiach. As she points out, 'When I walked into his office to hear the explanation he was actually on the phone to chief executive Mark James who, even at the last minute, was trying to talk him out of spilling the beans.'

It turned out that out of the £850,000, roughly £650,000 was going to Scarlets Regional, a private company, in 'allowable expenses' and their share of the proceeds.

Eventually, the following year, during Mr James' 'gardening leave', a series of emails were released under FOI. What they revealed, very clearly, was that two senior officers, one who was delegated to finalise the deal and the other being the now retired Director of Resources, had been deeply opposed to most of the 'deductions', especially a hefty £280,000 to pay off a third party debt for the company.

One of the officers stated that the debt was "a private matter for the Scarlets from their share of the proceeds..and is nothing to do with the Council" and the Director of Resources was crystal clear; "I cannot support any of the deductions put forward"

Unfortunately, they're protestations were to no avail and at the last minute, the day before the deal was struck, the chief executive got on the blower to the delegated officer to ensure that his, Mark James', 'instructions' that the council got £200k went through, leaving Scarlets Regional Ltd with £650,000, the lions share, quietly shortchanging the taxpayer by a few hundred grand.

I wrote about all this is detail at the time, The Council, the Scarlets and the 'Allowable expenses', How this payment was ever considered appropriate, never mind legal, beggars belief and the more cynical amongst us might consider it a favour. After all, how many other businesses could rely on the council pulling out the stops to pay off one of their debts?

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Agenda; Carmarthenshire Council AGM


The agenda has now been published for the council's AGM, which will be held on Wednesday (24th) at 11am. Act One of the proceedings is entirely missable and involves the pomp and nonsense of swapping chains of office in front of several guests in military fancy dress. Following that, the Chair of Council and Leader are 'elected'. Like children taking it in turns to sit in the front seat of the car (mine used to 'shotgun' it) each group takes it in turns to be Chair each year. This year it's the Independent Group's turn with Cllr Irfon Jones taking the front seat (although we all know who the driver is).
Subject to any post-election surprises or subterfuge and anyone else being nominated, Cllr Dole is likely to be re-elected as leader of the council.

Things become slightly more interesting after lunch, in Act Two, when the Executive Board is announced (see my comment below previous post here), and the lucrative (£22,100) posts of committee Chairs are divvied up.

All but one of the 'new' Chairs up for nomination are councillors re-elected on May 4th, the one interesting exception being newcomer, and deputy leader of the Labour group Cllr Rob James (Lab) who up for the post of Chair of the Democratic Services Committee. Alun Lenny (Plaid) will return as Chair of the Planning Committee.

One of the annual items for the AGM is to approve changes to the constitution. This bit always interests Caebrwyn, since a few years ago when buried deep within the unread pile of documents was an alarming and unlawful addition to provide indemnities to sue...

This time round there's a little backward step via a change to the time limit to submit questions, motions, petitions etc by the public and councillors. All will have to be on the chief executive's desk a full seven working days before the meeting (not including the day it's received, nor the meeting day itself), some used to be a straight five days.

All in all, once you've factored in a bank holiday or two and possible rejection on spurious legal grounds, it's probably best to start preparing your question a good six months prior to a meeting...

The decision a couple of years ago, enthusiastically promoted by the chief executive, to remove urgent business and to list all committee minutes 'for noting' at full council, effectively removed any spontaneous, and therefore uncomfortable questions from the public glare. The plan was for councillors to put formal, vetted, questions forward, days in advance, based on the minutes of committees. In practice this rarely happens and it doesn't help that sometimes the minutes 'for noting' are not even available, as I noticed at the last full council with regards to the Audit Committee minutes. The delay in publishing minutes has been solved by a get-out amendment adding the word 'normally';



Due to Welsh Government legislation there will no longer be substitutes on the planning committee. For purposes of probity this is probably a good idea. The rather fluid arrangement whereby a member can duck out of a meeting (for a multitude of reasons...) to be replaced by his or her nominated, and suitably primed, substitute is an area open to abuse, not that that would happen in Carms of course...

Another little gem is about to be immortalised in the constitution and that concerns the filming of meetings by the public, a controversial topic at the best of times. Those councillors who included a drive for 'transparency', less control-freakery, and all that jazz in their election leaflets might want to raise an objection to the bit marked in red?


Caebrwyn was disappointed that yet again there is no removal of the illegal libel indemnity clause mentioned above. It remains suspended for the third year running due to the intransigence of Mark James and his legal rubber stamp Linda Rees Jones; you'd almost think their jobs depended on it.... It will clearly remain as a lasting memorial to local government idiocy and unlawfulness, or perhaps it's just easier to leave it there...less of a palaver to 'unsuspend' it perhaps, should they want to sue someone. Caebrwyn will continue to push for its complete removal and challenge the implications of it all, even if it forms part of my last will and testament...

 

It's perhaps worth remembering what the Welsh Government had to say on the matter, let alone the Wales Audit Office;
"...in terms of the situation in Carmarthenshire, we as a Government have said that it is not right to provide any sort of indemnity in terms of what has happened there.." 
First Minister Carwyn Jones, June 2014

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Email to the Chief Constable


Update 18th May;
Response received this morning - seems like a standard reply...

Dear Ms Thompson,

Thank you for your email which I have read with interest. From the details you have provided I will liaise with the Officer dealing with your case and request that they contact you and update you with the current position of the enquiry as soon as possible.

Kind Regards
A------ E----
Inspector / Arolygydd
Staff Officer to Chief Constable / Swyddog Staff PG
Dyfed Powys Police / Heddlu Dyfed Powys

-----------------------------------------------


Email as sent this morning, 17th May;

To; Mr Mark Collins, Chief Constable
Dyfed Powys Police

Dear Mr Collins,

In January, 2016 I was reported to the police by the chief executive of Carmarthenshire Council, Mr Mark James. After eight months, I was finally given a letter, a warning letter I believe, which I then challenged. An investigation into a further allegation made by Mr James had, I discovered, been discontinued several weeks earlier.

In March of this year I was contacted again by Dyfed Powys police and asked to attend interview as the chief executive had made another complaint. If I didn't agree to attend voluntarily I was told I would be arrested. I attended the voluntary interview on March 16th. I was told by the officer in charge that he would inform me, by phone, whether or not matters would be taken further or not, within a week or so.

Several weeks passed and on the 21st April, I contacted Dyfed Powys Police and was told by the officer in charge that the police were not able to make a decision and he was preparing a file for the CPS.
A further four weeks have now passed.

I find this prolonged delay completely unacceptable and I fail to understand why a decision has not been made.
I have been under investigation, in some shape or form, on and off, for 16 months. Whilst I appreciate that your officers have a job to do, the delay seems to me to be completely unnecessary.
I am considering making a complaint of criminal harassment against the chief executive as his actions with regards to the police have, in my view, been made in direct relation to various enforcement proceedings he has taken against me in the civil court.

If the matter has in fact been passed to the CPS, please tell me exactly when this was and provide me with a reference number so I can make my own enquiries.

If the matter is still with Dyfed Powys Police please explain why this has been such a drawn out matter, given the extended period going back over a year, and inform me when this process will be concluded and when I will finally be informed of your decision.

I do not wish this correspondence to be treated as a formal complaint yet as I do not want another protracted investigation, I just want an explanation which I believe is a reasonable request under the circumstances.

As I was told by Dyfed Powys Police that the chief executive made his initial allegations in a letter direct to the Chief Constable, I believe it entirely appropriate that I address my concerns to you.

Please kindly acknowledge this correspondence and I look forward to your very prompt reply, preferably via email.

Yous sincerely

Jacqui Thompson

Monday, 15 May 2017

After the local election - a few thoughts


Despite the general election campaign lurching along for a couple more weeks, played out on social media, all round, like some sort of pantomime, the local election is over. We've got what we've got for the next five years, pending any dramatic mid-term changes, which, as we saw with Plaid taking over in Carmarthenshire in 2015 was more akin to a quietly revolving door rather than a 'political reboot'.

I haven't got any party axe to grind and most residents and voters will not really be interested in the general background of their councillor, what they may have tweeted five years ago (within reason) nor what their wives/husbands or children do, or did. In politics, no matter who is accused of what, there is usually an equal measure of 'baggage' to be found trailing behind the accuser, it all depends on who can shout, or tweet, the loudest.

The issue of manipulating the postal vote, which, as usual, gets a mention at local election time, is an interesting one as it has gone on for years, pretty much everywhere and practised, in varying degrees, by all sides.
If your ward is blessed with, for instance, a care home for the elderly, a sheltered housing complex, or a substantial ethnic population, the potential is there to 'help' postal voters with the forms and in return gain a few extra crosses just for being the kindly, thoughtful candidate who provided 'assistance', maybe even popping along to the post box on the voter's behalf.

After the rapid rearguard action by Plaid to retain power by joining up with the remnants of the Independent group within hours of the end of the count (did voters realise their 'Independent' candidate was going to join with Plaid?), Labour are consigned once again to the opposition bench.

The importance of a strong opposition cannot be underestimated. Opposition for oppositions sake; for political point scoring or personal attack is counter-productive, even if it means a few column inches in the local paper. All parties should strive for the good of the whole county, and all communities, and should work together to achieve this. Well, in theory anyway.

A good opposition in any council chamber, in my view, provides checks and balances and most of all scrutiny of decision making by those in power (whether it is elected or, in the case of Carmarthenshire, unelected power). This is why no executive board members sit on scrutiny committees, and why transparency is so vital.
All parties have good and bad ideas depending on your viewpoint but the general direction of travel is laid down by the financial constraints on the authority balanced against the demands and demography of the population.

Take for instance the proposed Wellness Village at Delta Lakes, Llanelli (please search this blog for earlier posts). This has actually been in the pipeline for around five years. The council have been paying consultancy firms (mainly Arup in this case) since 2012 to devise various masterplans; they've chosen a preferred developer and even made preparations in the hope that the whole development won't be under water in a few years time, a perfectly realistic possibility.

We don't know how much has been spent on any of this as the council refuses to publish its spending details. Neither has there been any public consultation.
We also know that money set aside for a new care home in Llanelli has been withheld as the movers and shakers in Wellness try and shoehorn it into Delta Lakes instead. This has been to the detriment of elderly and vulnerable who didn't have time to wait for unknown private investors to possibly sign joint ventures with public authorities, arrangements entirely dependent on those public authorities borrowing a shedload of extra cash.

Take this with the fact that the emphasis for development in the Wellness Village is for private health care (mentioned in Arup's brief and the Local Development Plan) and it's quite incredible that both Plaid and Labour have swallowed the spin, described the project as an unmissable opportunity and signed up to invest your money in private health care. I don't think that appeared on anyone's manifesto.

What the whole Swansea Bay City Deal will mean for Carmarthenshire, apart from, undoubtedly, a couple of well paid jobs for the boys, is a completely unknown level of borrowing, adding to the near £400m it already owes. Extra borrowing, or any spending for that matter, to reel in private investment should always be treated with extreme caution and at least be the subject of proper, transparent procedure and efficient scrutiny, especially when it comes to promises based on spin rather than evidence.

If nothing else it doesn't appear to be a development based the demands and demographics of the population

A good opposition group should ensure that they are very well informed, and, to put it simply, cut though the spin and expose policy, plans and even masterplans for what they are. Get back to the basics and look at the evidence, look at the costings, the business plans, the projections etc Check that the independent advice is actually independent and not provided by a consultancy firm looking simply to further it's own financial interests. Never accept that there's 'No other option' as there always is, even if it's in how the target is reached and not just the hoped for outcome.

The problem facing most elected members is how to deliver promises made on the doorstep. In a 'pothole' analogy there are only a certain number which will be fixed in any given year, it will depend on the persistence of your local councillor, and the refusal to take no for an answer which will determine whether your particular pothole will be fixed any time soon. Promises made concerning wider, and more intangible policy issues such as the delivery of affordable housing, social care or education can be safely abandoned to the slowly turning wheels of local government once the votes have been safely cast.

What cannot be avoided is the perception that councillors, and not just the opposition, are nothing more than nodding donkeys. No one wants to oppose plans to provide more affordable and social housing of course and the Plaid group, and Labour before them have tried to improve the housing situation by starting to build a few council houses, removing the Right to Buy, local lettings policies, buying derelict houses etc etc which is all well and good.

What I am trying to point out is that, in the case of housing for instance, how much more could have been done, and could be done, without funnelling millions into a boggy field in Llanelli for the past five years, a rugby stadium for the past ten, or, for that matter, quietly bailing out Llanelly House to the tune of  £350k a few weeks ago. That in itself would have provided enough cash to build four council houses. These decisions, whilst officer-led, were happily endorsed by both Labour, Plaid and the Independent Group. Some spending decisions, as we know, were downright illegal.

Councillors have rights to access a wealth of information and this includes a system to ask officers questions relating to ward issues, or anything in fact related to council matters or decisions. A few years back Sian Caiach had her access to officers restricted for asking too many questions. I also came under criticism, from the same source (guess who), for making too many Freedom of Information requests. The fact that the questions and requests related to a variety of topics, and all related to council business didn't seem to matter, in the present culture, exercising such rights are seen as intrusive.

The problem in Carmarthenshire has been that those who challenge, and those who demand proper and open scrutiny regarding the more fanciful officer-led projects are labelled as misled and misinformed, or as troublemakers acting against the interests of the communities in which they live or represent. This culture needs to change, particularly before the county is unceremoniously plunged into a 'once-in-a-generation' (to use the 'Wellness' hype, of which there is plenty), black hole.

So to conclude, I guess the message for new councillors, the public, the opposition, and even backbench councillors from the 'ruling' groups, is to be informed and never be afraid to challenge anything which even faintly whiffs of spin. You were not voted in to be a useful, pliant, democratic rubber-stamp for the benefit of senior management.
If you find yourself accused of asking too many questions or suddenly depicted as an obstacle to the greater good of Carmarthenshire, you're quite possibly on the right track.

(previous post - Carmarthenshire Council election results, 5th May)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The December demo - and the role of the council press office


Back in December the local press reported on a small, peaceful demo held at County Hall to protest about the enforcement actions brought by the chief executive, and the council, concerning myself. As reported, and as part of the demo, an attempt was made to deliver a 'pound of flesh' to the chief executive. At the time, I was preoccupied in Carmarthen County Court trying (unsuccessfully) to stop a charge being put on my home for £191,000.

However, I have since learned that it wasn't just a couple of bods from the local press who chanced upon the little gathering on a cold winter's day, but the council's press officer as well.

The press officer, either on his own initiative, or 'under orders', hot-footed it out of the building and proceeded to film the handful of folk gathered at the bottom of the steps.

Now, we have become used to the idea that the police film political demonstrations, usually large gatherings which may, or may not, have the potential for trouble. This is often a highly contentious issue and peaceful, law-abiding activists have sometimes found themselves on police databases, and, essentially, marked as a potential 'troublemaker' for many years, with no recourse to clear their name.

This raises a very interesting question as to why the council, and I use the word 'council' loosely, felt it necessary to record the very small gathering (four or five people) last December, and what exactly it intended to do with the footage; This wasn't an angry mob bearing pitchforks.

Clearly the purpose of filming was to identify who was there and what was said; it was evidence gathering. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. A MI5 complex? To add mugshots to the council's database of known troublemakers? It beggars belief.
It certainly wasn't for the purpose of providing a video for the 'news' section of the council's website.

Whether the footage is still held or not doesn't matter, (I would hope it is not..) it all raises some very interesting issues; from the right to peaceful protest to the principles of data protection. But most of all it raises, yet again, the role of the council's well funded press office, and those blurred responsibilities between telling the public about their bins, and being, all too often as reported on this blog, the eyes and ears of the Presidential Suite, dutifully servicing the toxic culture, and control freakery, of County Hall.


Friday, 5 May 2017

Carmarthenshire County Council election results 2017 - live blog - updated


Later post 15th May; After the election - a few thoughts


Update 8th May 21:18

In an interesting development, the Labour group on the council have chosen the newly elected councillor for Lliedi ward, Rob James, as deputy leader of the group. Cllr James made the announcement on Twitter. The position was formerly held by Tegwen Devichand, who lost her seat. Jeff Edmunds remains as leader of the group, for now.

Update 8th May;

.Only 30 out of 72 Town and Community Councils were contested, the election results are here.

Update May 5th 18:14

Emlyn Dole has already headed off to the council press office to confirm that Plaid will continue to lead the council in coalition with the Independent 'Group', now led by Mair Stevens. Apparently 'negotiations' with the Indy Group took place immediately after the election. Instead of five seats each on the Executive Board, Plaid will have seven and the Indies three.

Sounds like business as usual then...pretty much as we were before, minus Meryl

No change of control at the council... 

-----------------------------------


Counting is underway for the 74 seats (58 wards) on Carmarthenshire Council so I will update this blog as the results are declared. Well, that's the plan anyway.

The average turnout for the county as a whole was 46.81%. In sleepy Cilycwm, Caebrwyn's home turf, it was a remarkable 67.85%, not so sleepy after all.
The current make up of the council is Plaid 29 seats, Labour 22, Independent group, 20, unaffiliated independents 2 and People First, 1.
Three Plaid candidates and one Independent have already been returned unopposed in Llanddarog, Trelech, Llanybydder and Llanfihangel-ar-arth.

Abergwili

A gain for Plaid's Dorian Williams (622) over Indie hopeful Lisa Fearn (448) for former Independent Group leader Pam Palmer's old seat.

Betws

Plaid's Betsan Wyn Jones takes seat from Labour's Ryan Bartlett, 402 votes to 309

Quarter Bach, Llanfihangel Aberbythych, Llangunnor & Cenarth

Plaid hold for Glynog Davies, Cefin Campbell, Elwyn Williams and Hazel Evans respectively

Llandovery

Plaid's Handel Davies gains seat from Independents, former seat of Ivor Jackson

Bynea

Labour's Derek Cundy holds on to Bynea for Labour with 539 votes against closest rival Ian Wooldridge (Plaid) with 373.

Cilycwm

Independent Arwel Davies (307), farmer, wins in a three way contest between him, Maria Carroll (284) for Labour and independent Matthew Paul (191)

Ammanford, Llanegwad, Llangynderyn, Cynwal Gaeo & Llangeler

Deian Harries, Mansel Charles and Tyssul Evans, Eirwyn Williams and Ken Howells hold all five wards for Plaid respectively.

Dafen

A shock result for Labour as veteran councillor Tegwen Devichand (452 votes) loses her seat to independent Rob Evans (508)

Glanaman

Dai Jenkins holds the seat for Plaid in a close contest with Labour rival, also called Dai Jenkins by 430 votes to 413

Felinfoel

Independent group stalwart Huw Richards loses his seat to Labour's Bill Thomas (a different Bill Thomas to previous councillor)
A Labour gain.

Garnant & Pontamman

Kevin Madge and Colin Evans hold both wards for Labour

Elli

Unaffiliated independent John Jenkins holds his seat against Plaid and Labour, the Labour candidate, David Darkin is also the parliamentary candidate for Carms East and Dinefwr.

Cynwyl Elfed, Swiss Valley and Llandeilo

Hold for Independent Irfon Jones, who will now be the next Chair of the council, incidentally, Giles Morgan and Edward Thomas respectively.

Llangennech

This two seat ward saw an acrimonious campaign but Labour's Gary Jones and Plaid's incumbent Gwyneth Thomas were elected. This is a Labour gain as it was formerly a two Plaid ward.

St Clears and St Ishmael

Independent group members Phillip Hughes and Mair Stevens have both held their seats. Philip Hughes saw off opponent, former Plaid AM, Rhodri Glyn Thomas.

Penygroes & Hendy

A Plaid hold for new candidate Dai Thomas who takes over from his wife, and a Plaid hold for Gareth Thomas in Hendy

Glyn, Manordeilo and Salem, Laugharne, Whitland & Llangadog

Independent hold for Jim Jones, a member of the Indie Group along with Indie colleagues Joseph Davies in Manordeilo, Jane Tremlett in Laugharne, Sue Allen in Whitland and Andrew James in Llangadog.

Carmarthen Town South, North and West

Each ward;

Alan Lenny re-elected for Plaid along with fellow party colleague Gareth John (two member ward)

Plaid's Peter Hughes Griffiths holds his seat now joined by Ken Lloyd for Labour in this two seat ward instead of Plaid's Gareth Jones who has lost his seat.
A second Labour gain.

Plaid hold with Alan Speake and new boy Emlyn Schiavone in this two seat ward.

Tycroes & Bigyn

Labour hold for Calum Higgins former seat, now held by Tina Higgins, a relation perhaps (it's his mum) and in the two seat ward of Bigyn, Labour group leader and veteran Labour colleague Eryl Morgan held their seats.

Llanboidy

Plaid hold for Dorian Phillips after Roy Llewellyn stepped down.

Kidwelly

Jeanette Gilasbey for Plaid - a gain from Labour

Burry Port

Labour's John James holds his seat and is now joined by Amanda Fox, also for Labour, replacing Pat Jones who has stepped down.

Llandybie

Bit of a shock result in this two seat ward, Anthony Davies held his seat for the Indies but Labour's Anthony Jones loses out to Plaid's Dai Nicholas.

Llwynhendy

Sharen Davies (Tegwen's daughter) returned for Labour along with Labour colleague Fozia Akhtar,who takes the seat of Independent Theressa Bowen.

Pembrey

Shirley Matthews (Lab) and Hugh Shepardson (Ind) both back in.

Gorslas

Darren Price holds the seat for Plaid, along with new Plaid member Aled Owen.

Hengoed

This is another two member ward, Penny Edwards is back in for Labour but Plaid's Susan Phillips takes the seat from Sian Caiach.
Huge commiserations to Sian, a massive loss to the Chamber.
The vote was close with 408 for Labour, 394 for Plaid and Sian third with 372.

Saron

Plaid's Alun Davies is returned along with Carl Harris for Plaid, ousting Labour's Peter Cooper.
Plaid gain

Lliedi

Another hotly contested ward, with Rob James elected for Labour, replacing Bill Thomas who was deselected. Also elected for Labour is Shahana Najmi.

Llannon

Emlyn Dole elected for Plaid, so I guess he'll be back as leader, dear me, and Dot Jones for Labour, defeating fellow Labour candidate and incumbent, Kim Thomas

Pontyberem

Plaid hold for Liam Bowen who replaces Joy Williams who has retired

Tyisha

Suzy Curry and Andre McPherson both elected for Labour. Formerly held by Jeff Owen, unaffiliated independent and Keri Thomas for Labour.
Labour gain.

Glanymor

Louvain Roberts keeps her seat for Labour and Labour's John Prosser takes the second seat previously held by Plaid. The Plaid candidate lost by one vote.
Labour gain.

Trimsaran

A gain for Plaid as Kim Broom takes the seat formerly held by Independent Meryl Gravell.

And that's it.



I haven't checked the figures yet but according to the BBC there is no overall control, Plaid have 36 (+8) seats, Labour have 22 (-1) and the Independents 16 (-7).

What will happen next is a scramble for power with Plaid a shade (2 seats) short of a majority; we'll have to wait and see what happens, maybe Plaid will tempt a couple of Indies to join them with the promise of a lucrative Chair or two, who knows, another coalition maybe.
All might be revealed at the first gathering of full council, for the AGM, on the 24th May.

Meryl will still be hovering in the background, heavily involved in the Wellness Thing, still prising   ££££s out of the council taxpayers to fund it, with a hotline to the chief executive.

The only one I'm sad to see go is Sian Caiach for the way she has continued, against the odds, to hold the executive, and particularly the chief executive, to account.
I trust the new administration will take on that particular task with the utmost urgency?

I would also suggest that new members treat any legal advice/threats from the chief executive, or legal eagle Linda Rees Jones, with extreme caution. Readers may recall the opinion of eminent lawyer Sir David Lewis who described the council's 'internal' legal advice as 'cavalier' and 'incompetent'.
You might also recall the opinion of the former Police Commissioner who, after a four year stint, likened County Hall to a Sicilian cartel "..it extracts vast amounts of money from residents which it showers on favourites, hordes property, bullies opponents, co-opts friends and answers to no one, least of all local councillors".”

The Council website was worse than useless throughout the count, a complete disaster in fact, but the voting figures have finally appeared here.
I will link to the results for the Town and Community Councils,when they are published.