Monday, 5 January 2009


The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.

Today the good citizens of Rhyl picked their way carefully across icy pavements and took a swipe at me in passing, being clearly of the opinion that we town councillors should see to it that county councillors should see to it that the relevant head of department at the county council should see to it that the staff throw grit on every inch of pavement across the entire county as soon as the temperature drops to zero.

Denbighshire County Council’s chief executive Ian Miller (pictured above doing a publicity stunt in Rhyl, January 2003) may or may not have agreed with the public on this point or commiserated, perhaps, with townspeople who went for a bus today and found the bus station closed for renovation (for ‘up to’ nine months) and buses departing from other locations. We’ll never know. Mr. Miller resigned last November.

Mr. Miller had an excellent prose writing style; it was almost a pleasure to receive from him – as I did on more than one occasion - a letter or email saying no. He resigned without explanation just before an inspector’s report revealed that the county authority was performing badly (blog posts passim). Mr. Miller offered no explanation for his departure, and he was not required to work a period of notice. What’s more he is said to have received a handsome pay-off.

Labour and Conservative MPs, AMs and councillors – and the press – found themselves in rare agreement that details of the settlement should be made public. Denbighshire refused on the grounds that the information was personal to Mr. Miller. That did not surprise me.

Once, I enquired of North Wales Police about the circumstances under which an officer had left the force; I was told that the police could not provide that information – even under the Freedom of Information Act ­­– because it was personal to the officer in question. Not long ago I phoned Denbighshire council offices to find out the salary of a particular council officer and met with a similar response:

‘I’m sorry I can’t tell you that. It’s personal, you see,’ explained a nice lady with a lilting Welsh accent. ‘In that case, what general grade or salary band would he be on?’ I asked.

‘I’m sorry I can’t tell you that, either. He’s the only one on it, and therefore the information would still be personal.’

I sighed and stabbed the wallpaper with my pen. ‘That information must have been in a newspaper advert for the job vacancy. Can you tell me what newspaper and when it appeared?’

‘I’m sorry I can’t tell you that.’

I drummed my fingers on the messed-up wallpaper and told her, ‘Well, I’m glad I didn’t marry YOU. You would never tell me ANYTHING. I’d say, did you have a nice day at the office dear, and you’d say: I’m sorry I can’t tell you that!’