Jacob Williams
Monday, 10th February, 2014

UPDATED: Agenda published for ‘Pensions Arrangements’ meeting

UPDATED: Agenda published for ‘Pensions Arrangements’ meeting

The agenda has today (Monday afternoon) been published for Friday’s extraordinary meeting at which councillors will consider the public interest report issued by the appointed auditor, Anthony Barrett, into the controversial ‘Pensions Arrangements’ scheme introduced in 2011.

You can browse the full agenda document (a 6 MB file size) at the following link:

http://mgenglish.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/Published/C00000384/M00003121/$$ADocPackPublic.pdf

Readers will note that the matters requested to be discussed by Cllr. Paul Miller have also been included within the agenda.


Update

Just a short update to last night’s post, I have been busy with another, unrelated pressing council matter today.

I suspect those of you who care to have downloaded and read the agenda document will have gone through it, cover to cover, and made of it what you will. For those wondering where the legal advice is, you won’t find it.

That’s because nobody – not even councillors – are being allowed access. The legal advice in question was provided jointly to both Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire County Councils by Tim Kerr QC.

Councillors have been told that the documentation: “has been designated as Legally privileged as it contains information relating to another council and information that relates to possible formal legal action.”

However I can now reveal that, ‘because of the need for clear legal advice,’ Mr. Kerr has been asked – and has agreed – to attend Friday’s meeting, where councillors can ask questions and receive the benefit of his advice first-hand.

Speaking of privileged information, the author of that other website revealed last week that members of the ruling party, the IPG, have exclusively been circulated an email by their party leader, Cllr. Jamie Adams, acting in his capacity as leader of the council, asking if they wanted to discuss the pensions fiasco with him, to get in touch. No such offer was extended to other members, and I now understand that a pre-meeting briefing by Cllr. Adams has been arranged at County Hall on Thursday, again, exclusively for the benefit of ruling group councillors.

The IPG aren’t the only ones to be privileged, either. Last week Cllr. Adams also extended an invite to the county’s four national politicians, Simon Hart MP, Angela Burns AM, Stephen Crabb MP and Paul Davies AM, all Conservative, where, having taken to Twitter, Angela Burns revealed that the pensions fiasco was one of the topics of discussion.

I guess Joanna Lumley was right all along. You don’t have to be posh to be privileged, but it helps!


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12 Comments...

  • Lobsterman

    Reading the defence case, under S117 (or whatever it is) they claim it means the Chief Exec did not have to declare an interest in the meeting which allowed him and others to avoid tax because the interest was self evident and therefore that decision was lawful…

    …It should follow then that the same applies to Friday’s meeting and that he won’t have to declare an interest or leave the chamber. That’ll add a little spice to proceedings…

  • John Hudson

    Arising out of the “council’s” letter of 29 November 2013, said to be a collective response from 5 officers, (who were they?) was the Council’s political “Leadership” (if there is such a thing) involved at all?

    When did the Consultation with the Leader take place in the matter of advice from Chartermarque? I note their report is dated 9 January 2014, well after the officers’ collective response.

    At last, the former Leader’s advice given at the meeting has been disclosed. This was not included in the formal minutes of the meeting. I do hope that the Council, who or whatever this is, will address this basic administrative oversight.

    Are we to get to hear the views of the 5 Committee members? Does anyone know what the HMRC’s view of all this is?

    I would like to know whether the Government Agency condones these arrangements. After all, we are all in this together.

  • Tony Wilcox

    Timely article in the Western Mail Today highlighting Pembrokeshire as having the highest paid Chief Executive in Wales. Despite Pembrokeshire being 14th out of the 22 authorities by size of population.

    Some cynics may well be of the opinion that the current spat with the Auditor could well be linked to greed. Given the already generous salary surely this cannot be the case!!!

  • Gareth Jones

    And our education system is classed as unsatisfactory by Estyn.

  • Mike Cook

    I agree with Tony, it’s about greed. While hard working council employees have lost money, through cut backs, the chief executive has been caught with his face in the trough.

    Hopefully on Friday, fairness and a sense of what is right can return to Pembrokeshire politics.

  • Ianto

    Having paid for an opinion from a QC, I would think paying for his attendance is a little over the top in these days of cost cutting. Why cannot the written opinion be available to councillors?

  • Morgi

    Jacob, thanks for keeping us as much in the picture as possible. If the legal advice is confidential even to our councillors, a number of questions come to my mind:

    1) Is it likely that Mr. Kerr is going to enlighten you upon his attendance because the Carmarthen issue is still a legal factor regarding disclosure?

    2) If Mr. Kerr is in effect on the opposite side of the fence to the WAO legal opinion and people like myself who believe actions have been unethical and wrong, is the case going to be jeopardised or a legal spanner thrown in the works?

    3) If Mr. Kerr actually wants to be more forthcoming, is it likely that the public will be thrown out and the webcast cameras switched off?

    4) Mr. Kerr’s original legal advice was given to both PCC and CCC – so who is actually in receipt of this advice that we ratepayers have coughed up for?

    5) If the public are thrown out of the meeting, will they be accompanied by those AMs and MPs that have been invited or are they in some way privileged?

  • John Hudson

    The Independent Political Group have been in the majority since PCC was established, why have they seen fit to elevate the salary of their Chief Executive beyond what most people in Wales, and especially in Pembrokeshire, might consider reasonable?

    Given the record of this council over the past few years, will it and its independent thinking members continue to support the Head of Paid Service, responsible for the operational management of the Council?

    What are councillors responsible and accountable for?

  • Malcolm Calver

    Whilst agreeing with Tony regarding the excessive amount it is deemed necessary to attract the right person for the top position in local government, all those down the ladder should also be examined as to me they also seem excessive. Time to check out not just the salary of the man at the top.

    Please do not mix the failures in the education of our children with this issue as many parents should take some responsibility for their failures.

  • Keanjo

    Why indeed Ianto, and if there is genuinely some reference to other Authorities it could be omitted. Once they are in office, these people seem to forget the people they were elected to represent and who pay the bills. Four years is far too long. We need elections more often so that we can get rid of them if they don’t govern in a responsible way.

    Jacob, you’ve given me a 9 x 6 verification sum. You are forgetting the Estyn rating for Pembs is Unsatisfactory. Pay the most get the best my…

  • Keanjo

    I notice the meeting today was titled Extaordinary Council and after watching the webcast I must agree it is very, very, extraordinary.

  • Al

    Did I hear correctly (online) Mr Barrett of the WAO stating that it was the ‘procedure’ that was unlawful and if it had not been then the council could lawfully have agreed the ‘opt-out’?

    If so, why does the Council not re-commence the procedure, getting it correctly recorded, and then allowing the ‘opt out’ as before. End of problem it seems to me!

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