I spent an hour this morning listening to the Councillors of Powys in discussion. I also listened to the Chief Financial Officer make a statement about the Council's investments with Icelandic Banks - which amount to four million pounds. Two things shocked me. Firstly, I think I heard him say that an investment of one million pounds was made with Landbanksi on 5th September 08. 'Blimey' thought I to myself. The same CFO had just told councillors that Wrexham had decided not to re-invest money in Icelandic Banks last April - and I've been told that Ceredigion decided against such investments in the spring. I was expecting someone to leap to their feet, and ask for an explanation, when I was hit by the second surprise. The whole room burst into a round of applause for the jolly good work of its investment team. And that's before the 'internal inquiry' that is being set up to look at the issue has even met.
Now perhaps, I misheard the dates - but I don't think so. Ever since this issue broke two weeks ago, I've not criticised Councillors, because I realise that investments cannot be withdrawn until the due date is reached. This is the defence that I've heard the Welsh Local Government Association and Powys Council's Finance portfolio holder make on several occasions. Seems to me that this completely misses the point. The only issue of competence relates to the date that the investments were made. I do hope someone asks the question which should be asked.