Meic Sullivan Gould, who as acting monitoring officer was responsible for keeping Sandwell council and councillors within the law is on his way out. At last week’s Audit Committee, as usual, he gave clear unambiguous advice to its members and refused to back down when his advice was disputed.
Even Cllr Jaron, whose medical qualifications mean that she should know her asprin from her diazepam and be intellectually streets ahead of the average Labour councillor, found it difficult to accept Meic’s legal advice that a distinction has to be drawn between councillors acting as such and going about their daily business.
Perhaps Meic should have put it more bluntly and asked if, when Cllr. Hackett was so Brahms and Liszt that he urinated in a bus shelter, he was doing so in an official capacity. That might have clarified things for the dumbos.
Truth is Sandwell’s Labour councillors are an arrogant lot, used to officers kowtowing to them and not welcoming of contradiction. Much less do they care to be reminded, as Sullivan Gould told them at the meeting, that a too cosy relationship between long serving officers and an entrenched dominance of Labour councillors is productive of problems and...... corruption?
The approach which finds favour with Sandwell’s Labour councillors is that of home grown head of audit, Peter Farrow, who has tugged his forelock so frequently that he’s scalped himself and who, last week, when challenged, by councillors, on a point of legal advice was quick to volunteer to “take it back” for reconsideration.
So bye bye Meic.
Among a raft of issues before Audit was Wednesbury Celebrates. The committee was told it had no power to investigate Wednesbury Celebrates because that organisation is an independent body with no connection to the council. Not surprisingly, because Wednesbury Celebrates has always been a front organisation for Wednesbury Labour party and received privileges accordingly, this took the committee somewhat by surprise. So they discussed it anyway.
Cllr Liam Preece making his first appearance, wittered on about structures while remaining silent about his own operations from Wednesbury Town Hall.
Cllr. Bob Piper, in, what seems to be, his mission on the Audit committee to discredit his colleague Cllr. Ian Jones, wanted to assign some responsibility to the latter for doings at Wednesbury Celebrates, despite Cllr Ian jones having no management or officer role at the organisation.
On the other hand, Piper passed over the role of Cllr. Elaine Costigan who, it is understood, was secretary of Wednesbury Celebrates for much of its existence. Whether he ignored her role because he considered her incapable of running anything, (Piper once described Costigan as clueless as a monkey with a rubic cube), out of political considerations or because she has, with simpering deftness, managed to pass the buck was unclear.
What is crystal clear is the degree of infighting, malice and spite among the comrades and the incapacity of this committee to address issues objectively.