Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Serious questions for Anglesey County Council management

Back in April, IoACC Interim MD David Bowles sent a letter to all councillors in which he completely denied that the Council had in anyway acted incorrectly with regards to a Housing Renovation Grant and Town Improvement Grant obtained by Gwynfor Pierce of Holyhead. In fact Bowles went so far as to call the allegations "smears". Many long-term readers of this blog will be aware of the case in question as Gwynfor Pierce is a regular commenter on this site.

Anyway, together with other Anglesey residents who have had similar experiences, Gwynfor has continued to press his case and, thanks to the intervention of Mark Isherwood AM, he was recently able to arrange a meeting between himself, Mark Isherwood, Cllr Peter Rogers, and PricewaterhouseCoopers  who are IoACC's auditors. In a letter sent today to David Bowles and copied to all councillors, Gwynfor explains the outcome of this meeting:

Dear Mr Bowles,                   
RE; Meeting with PWC / 88 Market Street, Holyhead
I am informing you that my accountant, two other couples, Cllr Peter Rogers, Mark Isherwood Shadow Minister for Justice and myself attended a meeting with three people from PWC [Pricewaterhouse Coopers - District Auditors] in Holyhead three weeks ago.
I worked through my extensive paperwork and I presented to PWC, -  altered and false invoices, the e.mail to the builders secretary asking for an excuse to silence my accountant, the partly hidden Internal Memorandums, the false financial summaries and numerous other documents. The auditors were shocked. Cllr Rogers was similarly shocked as were the other couples. Mark Isherwood had of course seen these before – which was why he arranged the meeting.
I certainly got the impression that PWC were referring matters to the police and were taking the matters I raised very seriously as it all points to collusion/conspiracy to commit fraud by some involved and a failed attempt to cover it up.
I am not surprised that IOACC officers are denying that they have done anything wrong and are seeking to avoid responsibility, their letters contain financial inaccuracies, contradictions, reports based on inaccurate information and suggest that invoices have been altered or even falsified..
It is clear from your letter to all Councillors in April, that you believe the allegations to be “smears” and “if there were concerns they were not within the Council” You confirmed to all Councillors that “no evidence had been found to substantiate the allegations” and that you were “unaware that Cllr Durkin has any evidence to substantiate such serious allegations” which you described as “heinous” 
I can confirm to you that the evidence that I presented to PWC with Cllr Rogers, Mark Isherwood and the two couples present, was the same evidence that I presented to yourself, Cllr McGregor and Cllr Durkin prior to your letter to all Councillors.
You claimed that “the investigations in respect of this case have raised questions with regard to the applicant” because “some terms of the grant have not been complied with” 
Point 2.8 in the latest of three reports published by your Internal Audit Services highlights the terms to which you refer claiming the Council may have been misled. 
Two Internal Memorandums from the Corporate Director of Housing to the Corporate Director of Finance that were discovered in November 2009 under FOI,  which were forwarded to yourself and Cll McGregor, show that that either the officers concerned were aware that the terms were not being complied with, or aware the terms were being complied with misleading the applicant. They show an applicants contribution of £NIL and that your Internal Auditors failed to report their significance..
The Internal Memorandums were previously furnished to the applicant in February and September 2008 but both had been photo copied with another document over the top, covering the £NIL and its corresponding wording. I find it disturbing that officers of the Council did this and that other senior officers, aware of these memorandums, are quite willing to allow the applicant to be blamed of misleading the Council into paying two grant payments of which he had no knowledge had been made, direct to the builder.
Yours sincerely
John G Pierce

Now I personally cannot say definitively whether the allegations regarding this grant are true or not  however, considering the reaction of both PWC and Cllr Peter Rogers, it appears that David Bowles' April letter to all councillors may have been a little too hasty. 

Gwynfor, and the other residents who have suffered from similar experiences, deserve to have their allegations investigated soberly and at arms length from the council itself. It is now incumbent on all councillors to ensure that we get to the bottom of this affair. Furthermore, in addition to the intervention by PricewaterhouseCoopers, I understand that at least one media organisation with a reach far beyond this humble blog has also today been in touch with Gwynfor regarding this matter, meaning that shortly it may well become impossible for IoACC to continue to sweep it under the carpet.


Comments Moderation: as always comments which name names and make allegations will be deleted.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr Pierce`s statement sounds very persuasive. He appears to have powerful support for his complaint.
The matter can not and should no longer be swept under the carpet.
It may be that grant officers are complicit in something, or not.
But the root cause of this issue must surely lie at the door of the Grant Agent who had conduct of the grant application and its process ??
Let the truth come out.

Anonymous said...

Why would a Grant Agent act in such a manner..to maximise the grant for his client....to minimise the client`s contribution...and maximise his own fees in the process ?

Anonymous said...

Why would the Council go to such extraordinary lengths by attacking and abusing the messengers and generating three different reports in their attempts to create a cover-up if there is nothing wrong?

Anonymous said...

None of this could have happened without the collusion of Grant Officers, Agents and the Builders knowing all about it.

As in any organisation, those alleged to be involved, not only with the alleged deed, but those involved in the attempted cover up should be suspended from duty pending the out come of a full inquiry.

Groundhog Day said...

It is to be hoped that this matter will be thoroughly investigated by the police and any wrongdoing be punished in a court of law. Perhaps this is the thin end of the wedge which will finally bring out all the skeletons hiding in IoACC cupboards. Furthermore, it brings into focus the acting MD's actions in attempting to defend the indefensible. He should go - and no compensation should be paid if he is found to be complicit in covering up any wrongdoings by either council staff or councillors.

Anonymous said...

It is thought that the contempt for the people of Anglesey, in continuing to cover up dishonesty within the Council has got to the stage where having played a leading role over the last 12 months, both Clive McGregor, and David Bowles, should go immediately, hoping if they don't, then the councillors have the democratic power to do it for us.

Y cochyn sais said...

i was discussing the issue of corrupt council behaviour with someone today who moved to the island from Lancashire 20 or so years ago - his comment was it was like it was in Lancs then - they cleared this sort of mess up there about the time he moved here he and he thought it would improve here but he seems to think its as bad now if not worse
How long do planning applications take - 3 months normally NOT 12
Why is it planning is refused repeatedly by the planing executive when recommended for approval by the planning department
and this can continue until the property is sold to someone "in favor" with the council and then gets passed?
Why do social service ignore policy and service level agreements
Why does housing benefits regularly report papers having gone behind a filing cabinet???

Roll in the National Assembly's take over - a new broom is needed to sweep clean and start again - too much history and vested interests in sweet old Anglesey

The Great Councillini said...

"Mr Pierce`s statement sounds very persuasive. He appears to have powerful support for his complaint"

Whilst we only have Mr. Pierce's version of events so far, I have to say I agree. He has always presented his case methodically and without recourse to much, if anything that could be called personal attacks. That is the mark of a man with a true case.

It is not the first, nor second time that Mr. Bowles has issued what appear to be 'stop, we'll have no criticism here' responses to genuinely-held concerns; he himself has considered that his letters warrant clarification. I did not consider that part of his remit was to stand at the gates and defend all staff, no matter how sincere the concerns of the public, or how true their case proved to be. But that is what he seems to have taken as an approach from the outset, and words from his past appointments reinforce this view.

The simple question is this: if Mr. Bowles has been sent here to improve Anglesey Council, why has he acted to defend it and its staff against any and all concerns the public have? After all, it was an inability to properly engage and consider the public by IoACC that partly brought him here in the first place. This is a profound question, especially when it comes to well-documented cases like Mr. Pierce's. It is not at all an academic matter, nor one that Mr. Bowles should consider will be forgotten. At best, it could be seen as an ill-judged attempt to appear a valiant leader. At worst, it might lead us to ask whether defending the indefensible means that someone might have inappropriate influence over him. All conjecture, but this blanket protection of all at the Council really is misguided, and must stop.

I hope the BBC, Rebecca and other respected media investigators will examine Mr. Pierce's case, amongst others I know they already are.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that, if the councillors really have changed their spots, then this is the chance to prove it.

So, which one or several of them will pick up this grants issue and do all in their power to ensure a proper, external investigation without bias? Anyone? At all?

Anonymous said...

"Seems to me that, if the councillors really have changed their spots, then this is the chance to prove it".

Lets not forget that Cllr Durkin raised this issue with Bowles and McGregor in March this year and has been abused and threatened in public constantly ever since.
The alleged offences are but one thing, but the way Bowles handle's complaints is madness showing that he is really unfit for office.

The Red Flag said...

I Think Bowles may very well have finally shot himself in the foot.

His only hope of salvation I feel is to have all these allegations dealt with very openly and very publicly. It has now reached the stage that the minute he and the other Officers try to damp things down or restrictthem, then they appear gulty of fraud straight away.

I think Bowles has stupidly boxed himself in now in that if he knows these things have been going on and is shown to have known and has tried to minimise public knowledge and also not removed the guilty from office and/or employment, then he is little more than accessory to fraud - in short, a criminal and his position is not only untenable but he should face an open and public investigation as well. As a result, I fear he may be actually developing Berlin Bunker mentality in that he probably is still deluding himself that if he ignores it and tries to shut people up it will go away.

No it won't Mr Bowles and hopefully Rebecca is going to drop a steaming pile of fraud and unanswered questions right in the middle of the public domain.

Prometheuswrites said...

I attended the meeting with Mr Pierce and PWC and can verify his statement.

Likewise, I have correspondences that show that either the executive/monitoring functions are either covering up and/or ignoring grant applicants concerns; OR ; that the executive are being misled/misinformed by their own staff.

This isn't a case of making accusations about any person. It is a case of something badly wrong with internal procedures and checks and measures. When correspondences about internal documentation contained in IOACC files are logically contradictory statements it's not good enough to blame the agents. Even the current executive cannot prove that black is white by merely stating that they consider it to be so.

The problem that IOACC are going to end up with, is answering for breaches of the Human Rights Act along with failures under WAG procedures, protocols and
standards - and the attendant financial and political costs of correcting their mistakes.

The faucet is opening and a steady drip drip of allegations is turning into a flow of documentation.

Unfortunately those in positions of responsibility appear to pay more attention to negative media attention rather than accept positive and proactive suggestions to improve their less than acceptable performance.

Bring on the 4th estate!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Druid of Anglesey said...

comment made at 12:46 deleted for naming names.

Anonymous said...

"Even the current executive cannot prove that black is white by merely stating that they consider it to be so. "

Indeed. And my experience with the IoACC's officers is precisely that: trying to redefine the meanings of words and making counterattacks on members of the public instead of answering properly the complaint made.

Good luck to those working hard to expose all this stuff. You deserve a medal for your perseverance and unwillingness to let things slip by unchallenged; an example to us all.

Puck said...

Has anybody noticed the similarities between all this and the denials about the Andy Coulson affair, (NoW phone hack)?

"As above, so below"

Anonymous said...

Denials are a way of life in the public sector. You'd think it easy for someone on these people's salaries to say 'yup, I got it wrong, very sorry'. But no. It's about the loss of power, so you can stuff your apology. Once, when I pointed out some obviously wrong stuff going on, I was told by a head of department that if I pursued it, some other stuff against me might come out. Sure enough, they tried, but none of it stuck.

Anonymous said...

This further revelation only goes to show why Clive McGregor formed another Group and made its members sign a no whistle-blowing pact or else.

Anonymous said...

This statement, and the PWC meeting with its carefully selected witnesses !!, is as credible as anything, and should be believed.
It shows apparent grant fraud on the part of some people in both IACC, and the private sector.
Those in the private sector will most likely have instigated it.
The issue should make DB realise that he cannot bully his way around, ridiculing and insulting anyone who dares to raise legitimate complaints against officers.
Let the truth come out.
Let DB eat humble pie !

dave said...

The ongoing problems with our rotten borough never seem to bring forth comment from our erstwhile AM and MP they are too busy promoting Energy! sorry Fantasy Island.

Anonymous said...

The problems we have with Anglesey County Council is David Bowles and Clive McGregor. Both have shown themselves to be bullying Liars and until they go, Anglesey County Council will only get worse, if that is at all possible.

dave said...

I think the problems run a lot deeper than these two individuals,

Anonymous said...

my own personal opinion is that the entire IoACC is corrupt ,the sooner they are removed from office the better .
they have had there greedy fingers in all the pies for years ,problem is that they all have something on each other ,so not one of them will speak out against another for the fear that their misgivings will be brought to light

The Great Councillini said...

Two notable postings:

"Let's not forget that Cllr Durkin raised this issue with Bowles and McGregor in March this year and has been abused and threatened in public constantly ever since. "

Yes, you're right to pick me up on that. Cllr. Durkin seems to be subject to the same 'set to kill' policy that Capt. James T. Bowles has set.

"problem is that they all have something on each other"

Yep. I'd be very surprised if, as time rolls on, this failed improvement of the Council throws up some criminal investigations. It happened during Ceri Stradling's report in 1996/7, and that looked at a surprising range of people, including the most 'senior' officers.

Anonymous said...

Having read Phil Fowlie's letter to the Welsh Audit Office, I should dam well think there's some serious questions that need to be asked of Anglesey County Council and David Bowles.

Anonymous said...

The best cure for the people of Anglesey would be a jail sentence handed down to any one of the monkeys that run this zoo.

Anonymous said...

The law of the land of Anglesey and the corrupt way of administering Government here is the biggest joke, but whose laughing now. For years, these fools have drawn their wages of sin, and now we realise that they have taken, abused and threatened to get their own way. I hope that we will soon see, someone taken away, someone suspended, someone sacked,someone jailed, for if they have ignored the law, and have commited a crime to line their own pockets, isn't that the price they should pay?

Anonymous said...

David Bowles has agreed that his idea of bullying the Council into agreeing to his way forward of wiping clean the slate of greed and dishonesty may well find this greasy slimy slate sat firmly in his lap, Oh what a web of lies we weave MR Bowles, did you think your cover up for the past would actually be allowed to happen?

McGregor will have to explain why these cover ups where made to disappear when they were trying to hide them and protect the corrupt and guilty, it only made their own positions untenable in the end.

The people of Anglesey NO longer have faith in these wrongoing cover up idiots.

Anonymous said...

David Bowles is the beneficiary of the worst kind of politics. politics for profit!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Druid of Anglesey said...

Comments made at 20:55 and 21:09 deleted for being overly abusive and/or threatening violence.

Glyn Pritchard-Jones said...

I have a few comments:

Andrew Hughes, the Holyhead-based accountant acting for the grant applicant contacted me some months ago to discuss the matter. He was somewhat "convicted" to the issue of a thorough investigation. My understanding is the job contractor was interviewed by the police but IoACC's accounts department was unable to yield up any information on invoices and payments. In fact, historical payments could not be traced!

I'm not saying this to join the bandwagon, it's fact.

As mentioned on www.ynysmon.com , it is astonishing that senior management never "gave ownership" of the problem to WAG or an independent third party such as, for instance, Grant Thornton to investigate (could not be PWC)

There is some control freakery here as well as a "policy of containment" which is extremely naive bearing in mind MD and Leader are caught in the mess.

The Leader displays remarkably poor judgement and having been so Machiavellian, he may have bitten off more than he can chew.

As for the MD, he reminds me of Capello, just signing up in time....

Alas, we only want jobs and homes in Anglesey although these basics seem incidental to WAG and their overpaid luvvie puppets.

Anyone wants to contact me about the above please feel free to do so.

Anonymous said...

some good comments on here , with regards to the corruption and deciet which is by all accounts rife in ioacc,
is it possible for the druid to put up a recap of what this thread is all about
(some people reading this blog for the first time might not know what the original complaint was about unless they trawled the site )

The Great Councillini said...

"In fact, historical payments could not be traced!"

Ah! That old favourite! What they never remember is the story the whole affair will tell. Saying to a judge 'however much we tried, we coulnd't find the papers, guv' rarely brings any favour...

The Red Flag said...

'however much we tried, we coulnd't find the papers, guv'

Utter something like that to a Judge and you will invariably lose on the spot. Shoddy administration is not an acceptable legal defence in part or whole in any Court at any level in this country.

Even trying it is tantamount to pleading Guilty but lacking the courage to do it outright.

The Great Councillini said...

From Bowles' response to the Durkin allegations concerning this grant:

"It should also have been clear from that reply that if there were concerns they were not within the Council."

So that says it all, then. The concerns were not within the Council, but the cause of the concerns, it seems, were very much within the Council!

Anonymous said...

TGC.
"From Bowles' response to the Durkin allegation concerning this grant"

Sorry to sound a bit dim, but could you emphasize on that comment a bit further?

Anonymous said...

10:57

Click on the 'sent a letter' highlighted link at the top of Druid's post on this topic, and it'll take you to some elaboration...

Anonymous said...

"Sent letter"
Quite. the key word is "Concerns" and that is precisely what Cllr Durkin was showing. I still cannot find where Cllr Durkin has made any allegation that fraud involving Grants had taken place. I raise this point as David Bowles is saying that he did.

Anonymous said...

Both letters now on ynysmon.com show that in fact the purchase of "Graigwen" was unlawful and that Clive McGregor did encourage members of his Group to help expose dishonesty within the council.
O'h what a twisted net we weave.

Anonymous said...

They ( IOACC) are the best at hiding documents, evidence of wrongdoing is so well hidden, even the victim will believe that he is a criminal, just ask the victims. There are hundreds. The stench of corruption drowns the cries of the deprived, the deprived of justice and a fair hearing by the most Corrupt council in Wales.

Prometheuswrites said...

I've just viewed the documents recently posted on ynysmon.com

Particularly interesting in Councilor Mcgregor's letter of Dec22nd 2008 are the following passages:

"Graigwen is only one of several issues highlighted by PWC where this authority has serious corporate governance issues"

"It may be that we require a police investigation into the issues as offences of malfeasance in public office would appear to be made out"

"... If that is correct it is a matter of grave concern that the impartiality of the Senior Offiers have been compromised"

This is in a similar vein to the letter of Philip Fowlie when Council Leader to the minister.

It does beg the questions of;
What are the other issues referred to by PWC?
What allegations of malfeasance have been made?
In what way would senior officers have compromised their impartiality?

As earlier comments have observed it would seem that Mr McGregor has faced that same existential dilemma as the Prince of Denmark in that famous Soliloquy:

" To be or not to be– that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them" ...
Or not to be.

Good to see your contributions ynysmon.com - keep it up.

Apologies if this uncovers old ground.

Anonymous said...

"This is in a similar vein to the letter of Phil Fowlie when Council Leader to the minister"

That's because Clive McGregor wrote both letters the one to the minister was sent on 18 December 2008 and Cllr McGregor's to DJ was sent on 22nd December 2008.

Anonymous said...

corupption corupption corupption ,its rife amongst ioacc ,but i ask myself this question after reading the different blogs on this well informed site ,
WILL ANY ONE EVER BE PROSECUTED FOR WRONG DOING ,OR WILL IT BE ALL BRUSHED UNDER THE CARPET ,HOW MANY COUNCILORS HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OVER THE YEARS AND GET AWAY WITH IT AND STILL IN OFFICE ?

Anonymous said...

ynysmon.com tonight

Is this the start of Anglesey County Council's 9/11?