THE Leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price AM has written to the Plaid Cymru Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Emlyn Dole to ask the council to consider an ex gratia payment to Patricia Breckman who risks being evicted from her home in Maesybont.
Mrs Breckman and her Partner Eddie have spent years battling their claim with the council alleging that the planning department allowed her neighbour to breach planning conditions and operate a haulage business at the neighbouring farm and quarry on a site of special scientific interest.
Mrs Breckman was also the victim of harassment from her neighbour but it was Mrs Breckman who was arrested by the police. She eventually received an unreserved apology from the then Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon. Mr Salmon who was subsequently not re-elected referred to the council as a ‘Sicilian Cartel’.
The story has at its root the claim by the then CEO Mark James that this was a ‘neighbour’s dispute’, which Mrs Breckman challenged, producing documented evidence including video footage showing the industrial operation at her neighbour’s farm, clearly, she claimed in breach of planning regulations and laws protecting the countryside.
In the latest episode, which has Mrs Breckman with bags packed waiting for the Mortgage company to foreclose and evict her, Adam Price has once again intervened to try and persuade his political ally to get the council to end Mrs Breckman’s misery and make the ex gratia payment allowing the Breckmans to keep their home.
Readers may remember the case of Mark James v Jacqui Thompson whereby the then CEO was covered by the council for his case against the blogger ‘Caebrwyn’, which resulted in Mr James winning the case and having a charge placed on the home of Mrs Thompson.
There ensued discussion as to why the CEO was ever allowed to have court proceedings paid for by the tax-payer. When that episode had finished it was never made quite clear if we would ever see the same stance being taken by the council to protect its staff.
It was placed in limbo, until recently when Cllr Caiach claims that at a meeting between Adam Price, Emlyn Dole and Plaid Councillors the officers themselves were admitted to proceedings to highlight that any ex gratia payments made to the Breckmans would lead to the council’s Liability Insurance being withdrawn.
In an added twist to this extraordinary story the Breckmans could be deemed as having made themselves wilfully homeless and end up on the streets.
Councillor Sian Caiach popped in to Llanelli Online’s offices at 1A John Street to express her concerns over this latest twist in proceedings. Cllr Caiach said:
“Personally I feel this is a disgraceful case where two elderly people have been persecuted by their neighbours with the compliance of the county council. Why the council took the side of the Thomas family who were quarrying and running a haulage business without permission, is not clear. The Breckmans were bullied, their access road obstructed and narrowed, their windows blocked by the neighbours parking lorries across them, terrible noise nuisance and the council asked the police to arrest Patricia Breckman on several occasions. The police have apologised, the council have not.
“This couple have l;lost their entire life savings and are left with an unsaleable home and can look forward only to destitution. All they wanted was a quiet retirement owning and running a cattery. They have not only had to face ‘neighbours from Hell’ but a council who were unwilling to enforce the rights of these residents, but supported their neighbours instead.
In the face of all this, the Plaid Cymru leader of the council, Emlyn Dole, even refused a request from the leader of his own political party to help these vulnerable people. The Plaid Cymru councillors appear to have decided to throw this elderly couple ‘under the bus’ on the advice of council officers who claim that an ex gratia payment would lose them their insurer. I have written to Emlyn Dole and had no reply.
“Something must be done for these people. Their only ‘crime’ was to retire to Carmarthenshire. They do not deserve the punishment dished out to them by our own council. Plaid Cymru are a political party devoted to improving Wales and working towards Independence. Most of its members are in my experience, decent people. For some reason the Plaid councillors in county hall have decided that the Breckmans do not deserve their help or respect.”
We contacted council leader Emlyn Dole for a comment. We will publish that response as soon as we receive it.