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Edmunds wants inquiry into COASTAL

Called for a public enquiry: Jeff Edmunds
Called for a public
enquiry: Jeff Edmunds

AT WEDNESDAY’S (Dec 9) meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council, Labour leader Jeff Edmunds raised concerns regarding the council’s involvement in the COASTAL care scheme. Referring to revelations in the last two weeks’ editions of the Carmarthenshire Herald, reporting instances of mismanagement and financial irregularities in the scheme’s operation. By reference to a cache of internal council documents, The Herald was able to demonstrate that the Council was well-aware of instances of mismanagement and embarked upon a policy of falsification of time and staffing records in an effort to obscure its maladministration of millions of pounds of public money.

Following a spiky exchange between himself and Council Chair Peter Hughes Griffiths, Cllr Edmunds asked Executive Board Member Jane Tremlett to facilitate a public inquiry into financial and management irregularities in the County Council’s management of the Coastal Care Programme as a matter of urgency. Responding to Cllr Edmunds, Jane Tremlett provided background before answering: “There were monitoring visits and compliance audits. In accordance with practice, claims were adjusted. I have seen no information that would lead me to investigate further.”

Pressing home his point, Jeff Edmunds asked Cllr Tremlett whether she would provide councillors with documents relating to the instances of whistleblowing reported by The Herald. Councillor Tremlett failed to answer the question asked at all and merely referred Cllr Edmunds to her previous answer, inviting Cllr Edmunds to submit new evidence, if he had any. It appeared as though a line had been agreed with council officers and Cllr Tremlett was unprepared and therefore unable to answer any supplemental questions of substance. As Chair Peter Hughes Griffiths moved briskly on to the next point on the agenda, there was no opportunity to point out Cllr Tremlett’s bare-faced evasion of the question.

Following the meeting Cllr Edmunds expressed his frustration at the stonewalling offered: “They (the council) have denied everything and said that there is no wrong doing. They also say that it has all been audited externally. I was stopped by the chair of council from giving substance to my questions. They also appear to deny the existence of whistle-blowers.” Following the webcast of the council meeting, a staff member with knowledge of the efforts the Council has made to cover up any wrongdoing in relation to Coastal told The Herald: “I am concerned that the council seem to be denying any of this happened and I am concerned that should an inquiry take place that evidence provided to the authority flagging the irregularities and mismanagement will no longer exist and that staff may be held responsible for the Council’s actions.”