Monday's edition of the Western Mail carries a letter from Cllr Clive Scourfield (Independent) attacking Mrs Lesley Williams, a pensioner from Carmarthen, who had written in the previous week to criticise the Council's decision to fund an action for libel being brought by the council's chief executive, Mark James, against blogger Jacqui Thompson.
Mr Scourfield is a member of the council's Executive Board, or cabinet, where his responsibilities include the council's deeply controversial regeneration schemes and the Welsh language (another area in which Carmarthenshire has a truly abysmal record).
As a member of the Executive Board, Mr Scourfield approved the indemnity for the chief executive, a decision taken behind closed doors and approved, as always, unanimously. In so doing he authorised a blank cheque to cover legal costs which may well run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, or even more. Nobody knows, not even Cllr Scourfield.
In the next few weeks, the Council will finalise its budget plans for 2012-13, and these will include a whole series of cuts to all sorts of services. £33,000 will come off respite holidays for disabled children, for example, and Mentrau Iaith, the bodies which try to support and promote the use of the Welsh language in the community, will see their budget cut by 50% or £50,000 over the next three years. Put together, those would be a small fraction of the money which the council is now spending on top-flight London barristers in the James libel case.
But, let's hear Mr Scourfield in his own words. Here is the text of his letter in full:
SIR – I read with incredulity the letter from Lesley Williams of Carmarthen (Feb 6), regarding the use of taxpayers’ money.
Is this the same Lesley Williams who cost council taxpayers of Carmarthenshire £2.1m when she and a couple of her compatriots forced a completely unnecessary and wasteful public inquiry in their misguided efforts to stop what is now (thankfully) the highly successful, much admired St Catherine’s Walk town centre development in Carmarthen?
The people of Carmarthenshire have not so easily forgotten this monumental waste of money. The people of Carmarthenshire are also well aware of her intense dislike for the council and its officers, but given the fact that she has cost them so much, it is a bit rich for her to be writing indignantly about the use of a fraction of that amount.