JUST BEFORE Christmas, the Herald reported that Cllr David Pugh, Cabinet member for economic development, had been forced to issue an “unreserved apology” to Hakin councillor Mike Stoddart for comments he made at the council meeting on December 12.
The offending remarks came during a debate on Cllr Stoddart’s notice of motion calling for information on property grants in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock to be made available to all elected members on a confidential basis.
Mike Stoddart has posted several articles casting doubt on the probity of some of these grants on his website oldgrumpy.co.uk.
One issue was the apparent discrepancy between the amount of external render (125 sq metres) and painting (300 sq metres) in the tender for No 25 Dimond Street Pembroke Dock compared to the 50 square meters shown on the drawings.
During the December meeting, Cllr Pugh launched into a savage personal attack on Cllr Stoddart who, he claimed had failed to take into account “a third side elevation” at No 25, which, when included, brought the tender into line with the area on site.
Not content with pointing out this alleged error, Cllr Pugh then asked members to decide “Whether this was a deliberate untruth, or sheer incompetence on his behalf by not checking the facts?”
However, Mike Stoddart posted pictures on his website that proved that this “third side elevation” didn’t exist outside of Cllr Pugh’s imagination and the cabinet member had no option but to apologise.
Although the apology was said to be “unreserved”, there was a sting in the tail because Cllr Pugh insisted that Cllr Stoddart should withdraw all his other allegations regarding these grants.
The Hakin councillor was having none of that, however, because he had issues with other claims Cllr Pugh had made, particularly with regard to No 29 Dimond Street which is currently occupied by the Paul Sartori charity shop.
According to the final account for this project £53,000 had been spent on refurbishing the retail space, but on visiting the premises Cllr Stoddart, an experienced former building contractor, could see nothing that would justify this level of expenditure.
The walls of the shop were still covered in the original wood-chip wallpaper and the ceilings still sported the Artex that had obviously been there for years.
And the lighting, which was supposed to have been renewed, comprised three ancient, blackened fluorescent fittings.
However, Cllr Pugh told the December meeting that, had he bothered to look more carefully, Cllr Stoddart would have seen that “most” of the retail space was given over to storage and cleaning clothes and it was here that the £53.000 had been spent.
Mike Stoddart wrote to Cllr Pugh pointing out that what he described as “most” was a partitioned-off area to the back left rear of the shop measuring roughly 2.5 meters square, or 7 sq metres in all.
As the total floor area was 50 sq metres this made up less than 15% of the whole.
He asked the Cabinet member for an explanation, but Cllr Pugh has replied that he doesn’t wish to continue with the “dialogue”.Mike Stoddart told the Herald: “I can understand why Cllr Pugh would want to keep his head down over this.
Having already been forced to issue one apology, to have to issue a second would destroy what little is left of his credibility.
He had plenty to say for himself at full council when he though he had the upper hand, but now the boot is on the other foot he has taken a vow of silence.
During his speech at full council he said of me: “But then getting at the truth is not on his agenda. Your readers can judge for themselves who is being cavalier with the truth.”