Jacob Williams

Golden goodbye for Bryn Parry-Jones

Monday 20th October, 2014
Golden goodbye for Bryn Parry-Jones

• Chief exec shown the door with diamond-encrusted gold-plated package
• Ruling party’s councillors push through three-pronged deal worth £332k
• Formal disciplinary inquiry into gross misconduct allegations bypassed
• Outgoing CEO’s long-awaited last day will be Halloween

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Behind the closed doors of Thursday’s meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council, twenty-nine councillors chose to pay-off Bryn Parry-Jones with a third of a million pounds, in order to cease his employment as the authority’s controversial and long-serving chief executive.

Not only did councillors pave the chief executive’s path out of County Hall with slabs of diamond-encrusted gold, but Thursday’s vote also brought the disciplinary proceedings into his conduct to an abrupt end, denying the possibility of a conclusion on what many consider to be very serious allegations.

For two months, Mr. Parry-Jones has been based at home, in exile from County Hall following the publication in the Pembrokeshire Herald newspaper on Friday 15th August of an allegation that he had scornfully rebuked two councillors – with foul language and a temper – after they voted to ask him to voluntarily repay sums of cash he received under the dodgy pension opt-out scheme that he and one other unnamed officer had made use of.

The scheme was introduced during a September 2011 meeting of the council’s senior staff committee off the back of a less than one-page report written by two potential beneficiaries of the scheme. Despite being required to be accessible to the public, the meeting was convened in the chief executive’s private office and in his presence. The committee resolved to enter into private session for this agenda item, during which Mr. Parry-Jones and one of the report’s authors, who were both potential financial beneficiaries of the scheme, remained throughout.

It transpired that there were actually no legal grounds for the committee to go into private session to make its decision as required by Section 100 of the 1972 Local Government Act. The justification for doing so relied upon the potential disclosure of “information relating to a particular individual” however no individuals were named and they never could have been because the policy’s stated intention was to improve the future ‘recruitment’ and ‘retention’ of senior staff whose identities couldn’t possibly be known.

The scheme allowed only the highest paid staff of the authority to receive what the Wales Audit Office branded ‘pay supplements’ – effectively a pay rise – in lieu of the council’s (employer’s) contributions if they opted out of their local government pension schemes. Before the introduction of this ruse, those in the highest pay brackets of the authority who chose to opt-out of their pensions had to forego their employer’s contributions – in the chief executive’s case this meant losing out on many thousands of pounds per year. No such opt-out scheme has ever been considered for lower paid staff.

On February 14th the Wales Audit Office’s highly critical public interest report made its way to a hastily-convened extraordinary meeting of the council which featured star barrister, Tim Kerr QC. It was extraordinary in all senses of the word, and has become popularly known as the ‘Valentine’s Day massacre’ due to the shabby brown envelope ambush stunt. During this shameless showdown, councillors voted to abolish the opt-out scheme. We also resolved to make no further payments under it. These were both requirements of the WAO report.

On May 1st, at an another extraordinary meeting of the council requisitioned by opposition councillors, Cllr. Paul Miller laid down a notice of motion for the council to investigate possible methods of legally pursuing the chief executive for the recovery of the sums he received under the scheme which the appointed auditor, Anthony Barrett, deemed were made ‘contrary to law.’

During the meeting I proposed an amendment to the effect that, before considering any formal legal action to recover the cash, the chief executive and the other unnamed officer should first be invited to voluntarily repay it, minus national insurance and tax deductions. The latter part of my amendment was on the basis of legal advice suggesting that these deductions may not be recoverable even through successful court action.

With the support of eight councillors from the ruling IPPG, my amended motion was successful by 32 votes to 21. As well as giving the two officers the opportunity to return the sums voluntarily, my amendment also contained the proviso that the responses from Mr. Parry-Jones and A. N. Other would be reported back to the July meeting of council so that Cllr. Miller’s originating motion – to consider legal avenues for pursuing the money – could be considered afresh. In the event, Mr. Parry-Jones never returned the money and a response was provided by his trade union representative setting out why he shouldn’t be required to repay the sums. The other officer – whose identity is still protected by the authority – failed to respond to the request.

Skipping forward over two months, the Pembrokeshire Herald’s 15th August front page explosive exclusive was the shocking allegation against the chief executive that he had used untoward conduct against two councillors, following their decision to support my proposal to ask him to repay the cash sums.

Cllrs. Mark Edwards and Peter Morgan, both members of the ruling IPPG, revealed in the Herald’s exposé that, following the May-day meeting, they were told by the then deputy leader, Cllr. Rob Lewis, that Mr. Parry-Jones was “not very happy” with them for voting the way they had, and that it might be “a good idea” for them to go and see him.

Shortly thereafter they went up to Mr. Parry-Jones in his office where they claim they were subjected to a foul-mouthed tirade. The Herald reports the pair as saying Mr. Parry-Jones was “absolutely bouncing” about the way they had voted, with Cllr. Edwards saying: “Bryn was swearing a lot, effing and blinding. He was clearly angry and upset at what happened,” whilst Cllr. Morgan, when asked about the chief’s use of language, said: “Well you can imagine.”

Whilst it might appear, on the face of it, that the seriousness of this allegation lies in the chief executive’s use of bad language, my amendment on May 1st also provided for the chief executive’s and the other officer’s response to be presented to councillors at the July meeting, where we would re-consider the potential legal routes of pursuing the money. This gave rise to the prospect that, by his actions, Mr. Parry-Jones had sought to influence the two councillors’ future democratic votes on this matter in which he had a direct pecuniary interest.

Within hours of these revelations going into print came an announcement from County Hall that Cllr. Jamie Adams, leader of the council, had mutually agreed with the chief executive for him “to take a period of absence with immediate effect.” As Old Grumpy posted yesterday, the authority on which the leader took such action remains unclear, however Mr. Parry-Jones never returned to his office – and following Thursday’s vote, he never will.

Shortly after going on gardening leave, a third extraordinary meeting was called for, again by opposition councillors, to debate motions of no confidence in both the leader and the chief executive. After two date changes it was held on Friday 12th September. Another motion on the agenda of this meeting was laid down by Labour leader, Cllr. Paul Miller, to set up a formal disciplinary investigation into various elements of the chief executive’s conduct plus the authority’s breakdown of trust in him.

The leader survived his brush with no confidence but the vote against the chief executive was resounding – of the 52 present, only 3 voted for confidence, 46 said they had none, and three weren’t sure and abstained. After dropping his previous fervent support for Mr. Parry-Jones at the door of the council chamber, as well as voting for no confidence in him, Cllr. Jamie Adams also put forward a successful amendment to Cllr. Miller’s bid to set up a disciplinary investigation into the chief executive’s conduct, but with the twist that, in the meantime, he – as the authority’s leader – should be given delegation to negotiate with the chief executive.

Thursday’s meeting

Cllr. Jamie Adams said that many councillors had waited “a long time” to see the back of Mr. Parry-Jones, for whom, he hinted, the opportunity was too good to miss.First of all came a vote to exclude the public and press. What little debate that took place on this is available to be watched on the webcast. The leader and legal officers recommended councillors should exclude the public and press and turn off the webcam on the basis that there was likely to be the disclosure of legally privileged information, and that this, in the wrong hands – i.e. the chief executive – could be lethal to the council’s case.

I pushed for some further clarification on this, as well as voicing my support for the public and press to be allowed to see the discussion of such an important and potentially costly decision with taxpayers’ cash.

When it came to the vote, thirty were in favour of convening in secret session and 24 were against. Among those who wanted to turf out the press and public were three opposition councillors: Stan Hudson, Owen James and David Lloyd. Only Cllr. Wynne Evans from the ruling group failed to toe the party line by voting to allow them to remain.

Cllr. Tessa Hodgson reminded councillors that there was a need for some “justice” and that a settlement would deny the disciplinary committee coming to a conclusion.And so we got down to business. Also present were two lawyers from the council’s external legal firm Eversheds: Huw Rolant Jones and Sally Isaacs, and a representative from the Local Government Association, Adam Barker. The floor was firstly handed over to Mr. Barker. Following a long presentation in which he set out the legal protection and various hoops that are put in place to safeguard the position of statutory officers such as Mr. Parry-Jones, and an explanation of the process that had been necessary to follow, councillors were allowed to ask questions of him.

Mr. Jones and Ms. Isaacs also provided their own opinions on the council’s and the chief executive’s strengths and weaknesses. For well over an hour councillors were prevented from entering debate by the chairman, Cllr. Tom Richards. Those who dared to venture off questions and into debate, including me, were told that this was the opportunity to ask questions, the vast majority of which came from the opposition benches.

It was clear to me that the meeting was steered from the outset towards the approval of the settlement, and debate – when it was allowed by the chairman – was curtailed at every turn. I am unable to recount legal advice, but what I can say is that the meeting featured distinctly more emphasis on the potential negative consequences of not approving the deal and positive consequences of approving it, as opposed to the potential negative consequences of approving the deal and the positive consequences of refusing it. That said, I lost count of how many times the line: “it’s entirely up to councillors whether or not to approve the deal” was uttered. Woolly words, if ever I heard any.

So what deal did the 29 councillors approve?

1) £48,600 – Payment in lieu of three months’ contractual notice.
2) £266, 721 – Severance package based on council’s redundancy policy.
3) £16,695 – Compensation for ‘breach of contract’ over missed opt-out pension contributions since February.
TOTAL: £332,016

Cllr. David Lloyd seemed particularly keen to bite the bullet and support the pay-off without risking the disciplinary route and the prospect of an unfavourable result and associated extra expenditure, ending on the note that “it’s easy to gamble with other people’s money.”You’d be forgiven for thinking that this package is extremely generous. Indeed, if, for a second, we can forget about the misconduct allegations, save for a few thousand pounds that could have been added on top of the second element, plus added sweeteners relating to holiday pay, car and other perks, Thursday’s resolution was not far shy of the best possible deal the chief executive could ever have received – under even the best circumstances.

You may well ask, as I did during the meeting, why was the sum so big? What happened to the supposed negotiations?

You will recall earlier on I mentioned that when council set up the disciplinary committee to investigate allegations against the chief executive at the 12th September extraordinary meeting, the leader, Cllr. Jamie Adams, was also given delegation to conduct negotiations with the chief executive and his people whilst the disciplinary investigatory committee ran its course.

To all intents and purposes the disciplinary committee got on with its task. At its second meeting on 29th September, committee members heard testimony from Cllrs. Peter Morgan and Mark Edwards. At the very end of its third meeting, held on October 6th, the disciplinary committee decided that a sufficient case for the chief executive to answer had been established and that the formal process should be followed whereby the allegations and investigation of them were to be put out of the authority’s hands and into those of a completely independent person known as a ‘Designated Independent Person’ or ‘DIP.’

The appointment of a DIP to conduct a full inquiry is a statutory requirement as part of robust framework of legislation designed to protect certain senior officers – including Mr. Parry-Jones in his role as the authority’s head of paid service – from the whims of councillors across the country who may wish to sack senior staff on unstable or baseless grounds.

Cllr. Mike Stoddart was originally a member of the committee from among the unaffiliated members. He felt he had no option but to stand down in order to ensure that the chief executive received a fair hearing, after discovering in evidence an allegation that the chief executive had referred to him in particularly unpleasant terms.

Cllr. David Lloyd was the other committee member from among unaffiliated councillors, though for its second and third meeting he was abroad on holiday.

Despite being these two opposition members down, the DIP referral squeaked through by a vote of 7 to 6. All remaining opposition members voted for the formal referral to the DIP (Cllrs. Paul Miller, Tony Wilcox, Michael Williams, David Howlett and Jonathan Nutting.) They were joined by only Cllrs. Michael John and Wynne Evans from the controlling group, the IPPG.

Cllrs. Keith Lewis, Sue Perkins, Ken Rowlands, Elwyn Morse, Mike James and Steve Yelland presented the IPPG’s otherwise united front, refusing to take their socks off and DIP their feet in the water.

Even by a slim margin, the committee’s decision to make the formal referral can have been nothing but a devastating blow to Mr. Parry-Jones’ negotiating position. It still seems to have escaped some councillors that this decision will have left Mr. Parry-Jones with little doubt: the allegations against him were not going to be swept under the carpet and were being treated so seriously that they were to receive proper independent scrutiny, even if the conclusions ultimately exonerated him. Furthermore, the committee had pencilled in a prospective fourth and final meeting for Friday 17th, where a vote to suspend him was a real possibility.

Since Thursday’s meeting I have been approached by both the Pembrokeshire Herald and the Western Telegraph newspapers to give my views on the outcome. Nobody can deny that justice has been avoided. Had the disciplinary route not been discontinued by those 29 councillors’ votes, the chief executive could have been found guilty of gross misconduct and sacked without any golden pay-off, or he could have been completely exonerated – or anything in-between.

Just as some of them did during Thursday’s secret session, they will, no doubt, claim that they voted in support of the deal to safeguard against the possibility of a DIP concluding that the chief executive had done nothing wrong, or that he only deserved nothing more severe than a slap on the wrist; in such a scenario, having shouldered the costs of the DIP and an unfruitful disciplinary process, the council would be even more worse off as an expensive settlement would then still be the only way forward, they’ll claim.

I have had time since Thursday to think about the whole affair, and, whilst I was sceptical from the start, I am now of the firm opinion that the disciplinary committee’s investigation into the chief executive’s conduct was put in place with the support of the leader with no real intention of being allowed to continue to a conclusion. My opinion is that it was a front, which, thanks to the leader’s amendment at full council, facilitated behind-the-scenes negotiations to enable the best possible pay-off to be handed to Mr. Parry-Jones, come hell or high water.

There was a blip in this plan when two of the leader’s cherry-picked members of the committee, Cllrs. Michael John and Wynne Evans, both voted with the opposition councillors to refer the allegations for formal investigation by the DIP. This result, as I said, should have seriously strengthened the council’s hand, and weakened the chief executive’s.

This takes us to, by far, the most shocking revelation to come out of Thursday’s meeting.

It transpired that the three-pronged deal worth £332,000 – as relayed above – was cobbled together BEFORE the disciplinary committee had voted to refer the allegations of the chief executive’s conduct to the DIP. It was also confirmed to councillors that, in the wake of the DIP referral bombshell, NO re-negotiations took place with Mr. Parry-Jones or anybody acting on his behalf, and the deal remained unchanged.

Readers will come to their own conclusions about this revelation, and also question why despite this knowledge the deal was still pushed through. A serious question must be asked of the leader and those councillors who supported his proposal: were they looking out for the best interests of the public’s purse or the chief executive’s?

I printed the recorded voting list on my post on Thursday evening, and I reproduce it below. There were in fact three votes taken over a pay-off, two of which failed. The first was put forward by Cllr. Paul Miller, that there should be no settlement and the disciplinary committee should be allowed to run its course to a conclusion. All councillors voted along the same lines as they did in the final vote, with only one difference – on that occasion, the IPPG’s Cllr. Myles Pepper lent his support.

Before councillors took the final vote on Cllr. Jamie Adams’s settlement proposal, in a last ditch-effort to stop it being approved, Cllr. Mike Evans moved that councillors should approve only the first and second recommendations of the printed agenda, leaving out recommendation two.

Cllr. Mike Evans said that a refusal to support the deal on the table “will send a very firm message” to the chief executive.The three recommendations, numbered 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3, are printed on a document branded ‘legally privileged,’ however I can say that the second recommendation which Cllr. Evans removed – numbered 5.2 – related to both the financial settlement and the termination of the chief executive’s employment.

What will be recorded in the printed minutes for this part of the meeting is anybody’s guess, as Cllr. Evans was denied the opportunity to sum-up or even explain his amendment at all by the chairman, Cllr. Tom Richards. Cllr. Evans’ insistence that the public and press be allowed back into the gallery to witness councillors voting no doubt played a large part in Cllr. Richards’ flustered composure, and the meeting had turned into a state of disarray at this point, however it doesn’t appear that the webcam was turned back on.

Amid much head-scratching and the chairman’s unwillingness to allow any councillors to debate it, Cllr. Evans’ proposal was defeated soundly, following which Cllr. Richards swiftly moved onto the final vote which was put forward by Cllr. Jamie Adams.

Cllr. Adams moved that the deal which I have stipulated above be approved, and that the chief executive’s employment be terminated on 31st October with all contractual ties severed, all of which is to be recognised within a legally-binding severance agreement.

CLICK HERE TO SHOW VOTING LIST


UPDATE Monday PM: BBC Wales news and WalesOnline among others, are reporting that the settlement is being examined by the Wales Audit Office. In a statement from the WAO, the assistant auditor general is said to be “currently examining the detail of the severance arrangements before deciding what, if any, further audit action to take.”

What next?

Amid the unrest caused by Thursday’s costly pay-off, further questions have also surfaced about the probity of the disciplinary committee and the allegation that undue influence was put on key witness Cllr. Peter Morgan before his appearance to testify against the chief executive’s conduct.

I intend to revisit this at a future date. In the meantime, I reproduce a comment, below, posted here on my website’s previous article on Saturday evening by Cllr. David Simpson.

The comment speaks mainly for itself, however by way of some background, Cllr. Simpson resigned from his cabinet post a few weeks ago following his horror when he claims he was told by Cllr. Peter Morgan that, before his appearance to give evidence to the disciplinary committee he was put under pressure by the IPPG’s fix-it man, Cllr. Rob Lewis not to attend.

Cllr. Simpson was so horrified that, not only did he resign from the cabinet and the ruling IPPG over it, but he told the Pembrokeshire Herald about what he saw as this extremely serious matter. Cllr. Peter Morgan even gave a quote to the newspaper himself, when approached, confirming: “Rob Lewis has spoken to me about appearing before the investigatory committee. My position is that pressure won’t work on me” however he has subsequently backtracked to a point where he denies telling this to Cllr. Simpson and that what he told the Herald was not correct.

For those readers who are not sure whether to believe Cllr. Simpson or Cllr. Morgan’s denials, it may assist you to learn that Cllr. Simpson says that Cllr. Morgan spilled all in the presence of Cllr. Mark Edwards, who he had travelled with to Cllr. Simpson’s house for an impromptu gathering.

Old Grumpy has blogged about this matter twice, at length, here and here and I can highly recommend you read them for a fascinating account of this claim.

Cllr. Edwards has been particularly quiet on this, but I don’t think he’ll be able to sustain his silence for much longer.

Cllr. David Simpson’s comment:

(Click here for a direct link to the comment and others before it.)

Mike Stoddart is correct, either myself or Cllr Peter Morgan is not telling the truth regarding the pressure Cllr Rob Lewis was exerting on Cllr Morgan not to testify to the disciplinary committee investigating alleged wrongdoings by BPJ.

However we must remember that not only did Cllr Mark Edwards attend the meeting at my home with Cllr Morgan, making him witness to events, but that after my resignation as a Cabinet member the following day, the Pembrokeshire Herald spoke to Cllr Morgan and these were his comments as printed in the Herald on Friday September 26th:

“David is the straightest and best man on the whole Council. If there was ever anyone you want to talk to about a problem you are having, it is him, everyone on the Council will tell you that about him. PCC can’t afford to do without him. I spoke with David last night and said that Rob Lewis has spoken to me about appearing before the investigatory committee. My position is that pressure won’t work on me. I will do what is right. When I spoke to Jamie Adams last night I told him the same thing.”

Do these sound like the words of a man not being pressurised? We must also remember that I was not the only councillor that Cllr Morgan confided in, there were others he told whilst in the County Hall coffee room.

I know who is telling the truth and I can assure you my conscience is clear. As Mike Stoddart has said, let’s hope Cllr Mark Edwards finds his conscience and steps up because Cllr Peter Morgan has completely lost all sense of decency.


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105 Comments...

  • Keanjo

    It should not be forgotten that BPJ will also pocket a further lump sum of about £300,000 related to his pension and will retire on an annual pension approaching £100,000. Not bad for someone who masterminded a pay reduction for some of the Council’s lowest paid workers.

    Frankly, under the circumstances, this settlement stinks. By the way, Jacob, what happens to the Porsche?

  • Welshman 23

    You have to admit that this was a planned and well executed move. BPJ is laughing all the way to the bank with his handshake and pension. I am so bloody angry 29 people voted for this scheme I don’t feel like paying rates for the next 3 months.

  • Ray Roberts

    What next for BPJ? Which company will take his ‘experience and connections’ on board? We may not have seen the last of this parasite!

  • Pembrokeshire Exile

    What I have always found hard to fathom is why members of the IPPG are so loyal to BPJ. What is it about the man that they can’t say boo to a goose? What hold does he/did he have over the ruling group and hangers on?

    Pembrokeshire is a small local authority, how could BPJ be Wales’ highest paid chief executive is beyond me. It is obvious that there have been a catalogue of errors on his watch. I would have preferred that the Councillors take the chance at a disciplinary hearing rather than pay such a colossal sum to BPJ. It is a disgusting waste of taxpayers’ money and I hope it will not be forgotten when election time comes around.

  • Jeanette Poole

    I’d like to know why these councillors voted for the pay-out, what does BPJ have on them etc etc? Is anyone brave enough to comment and stick up for their decision or will these people who are supposed to support the people of Pembrokeshire keep their lips tightly shut and wait the storm out in the vain hope that people will forget???

  • John

    Reading the above would I be correct in saying that the £16,995 in missed opt out pension payments would be the same as the previous pension payments that were declared unlawful by the Wales Audit Office?

    Well done Jacob for writing this report and printing it.

  • Hi John, yes you are correct, that element of the pay-off was as compensation for the council’s breach of contract to the chief executive for failing to pay him his employer’s opt-out contributions since the February 14th meeting.

    The reason the authority ceased these payments was because it was a requirement, along with the abolition of the scheme, of the Wales Audit Office, whose appointed auditor, Anthony Barrett, said resulted in unlawful payments being made.

  • John

    I am given to understand that BPJ has other employment lined up.

  • Flashbang

    I hope there is a recording of the meeting after the webcam was switched off so if there is any legal action the conspirators behind this can be identified and prosecuted.

    Can the people of Pembrokeshire take any civil action to recover this money and get the conspirators in front of a court? Jamie Adams appears to be acting well above his remit and way beyond his abilities. As he appears to be the main instigator of this payout he should carry the can when the s**t hits the fan.

    BPJ certainly should not have escaped the disciplinary action against him. The Pembrokeshire taxpayers have been taken for mugs by PCC for far too long and it’s about time they had a say in this farce.

  • Dave Edwards

    Was the redundancy agreement used as a calculating yardstick or was BPJ actually made redundant? If he was made redundant it at least means that the post cannot be refilled on a like for like basis so we have at least one senior earner less.

  • Flashbang,

    Both the recording equipment and the webcast were switched off. I did suggest on a previous occasion that the proceedings should be recorded, but not broadcast. Not surprisingly, that idea didn’t get a very enthusiastic reception.

    However, I intend to return to the subject at the December meeting because there will be occasions when the reasons for going into private session will be time-limited and it seems to me that, once the reasons for secrecy have expired, the public have every right to know exactly what went on.

  • John Hudson

    Are there any “gagging clauses” or terms attached to this agreement? As we are paying, we should we know what they are.

    If these stables are to be cleaned out, the full statutory disciplinary hearing procedure should have been allowed to take its course, no matter what the outcome or cost. The nasty smell remains that it must have been in someone’s interest that this was not allowed to happen.

    In my view, a minority of participants in this sorry mess come out of it with any integrity and the confidence in the future of PCC, and that it can sort itself out, must be questioned.

    What relevance are medieval geographic areas to the requirements of modern day administrative regions. We heard on Friday that Hywel Dda is working on the basis of 7 regions which includes north and south Pembrokeshire regions. These health “regions” will be working closely with local social service providers. Are the social services in these regions to be provided by one or two social service “authorities”? How will we be democratically represented in Pembrokeshire? If that’s not a sour joke already.

  • The Rock

    Jacob, when you say the pension opt-out scheme was only available to senior staff this goes against what Leader Jamie Adams said at the extraordinary meeting on Feb 14th at 1:39:36, Council Leader Adams stated with regard to the pension/ additional remuneration/pay supplement arrangements: “These arrangements have and are available to ALL members of staff, not just senior staff.”

    Either the leader was not telling the truth or you have got your facts wrong. So I asked two low paid employees if they had ever been offered the deal. Surprise surprise, they had not, yet I believe employment regulations require them to be advised in writing of any such modifications to their contracts. Who then other than senior staff who were offered the arrangements, clearly not ALL members of staff.

    Now who can you believe? If I’m right either the leader did not tell the truth or the PCC probably broke Employment Law. Whoops.

  • The Rock,

    That is a very interesting observation. As you suggest, this scheme provided senior officers the opportunity to exercise a contractual perk to which they were not previously entitled, otherwise there would obviously be no need for the scheme to be introduced.

    I have just watched that part of the webcast back and the leader is wrong to say that this scheme was made available to all members of staff. It may be true to say that there is no reason why it could not be introduced, but that isn’t the same as the option being available.

    It’s just another example of Jamie Adams and his regard for the facts, I’m afraid.

  • Flashbang

    Thanks Mike, I somehow knew they would cover their tracks but I know that once the truth starts coming out they won’t hesitate to start pointing the finger at each other to shift the blame. All we need is a little leak and a bit of evidence here and there to start the avalanche. We can still live in hope.

  • Martin Lewis

    Did somebody say JAMIE ADAMS TOLD A LIE?

  • Malcolm Calver

    Does Mr Bryn Parry Jones still have access to all material held at County Hall? What is being done to secure files/information held at county hall that could be useful in any further investigations?

  • Dave Edwards

    The reason I asked about redundancy was that if the payment was in relation to a redundancy payment, the first £30,000 is tax free, so Bryn will trouser £12,000 more than if it is not.

    Also, the Council agreed that the pension payments were unlawful. The Council agreed to pay compensation for not paying unlawful payments. Therefore the Council were acting ultra vires. QED.

  • Kate Becton

    I am in agreement with a number of others that, whilst BPJ is a very expensive scapegoat, this shifts the blame from where it truly belongs, the senior members of the IPPG. The idea that the CEO can summon two Councillors to his office to berate them is beyond belief – they should have said ‘If you want to see us we will be in the tea room’.

    On the night that I was first elected I was sitting outside having a cigarette with Old Grumpy, I remember expressing my concerns that I hoped that I would be able to do a really good job for the people of Pembroke Dock Central and was given the following advice: ‘Always remember, you are not the Council you are the Councillor’ – it never failed!! – Thanks Mike and it’s such a shame that so many Councillors have no idea what it means.

  • Tony Wilcox

    There was never any intention to follow any other route than the one dictated by the soon to be ex Chief Executive, as predicted by previous comments of ‘let the pay-offs begin’.

    The initial disciplinary case was perhaps not the strongest being based mainly upon witness statements by Cllrs Morgan and Edwards, however additional information I feel certain would have emerged which could have possibly strengthened the case for misconduct.

    Mike Stoddart’s recent comments amongst others over the reappearance of Cllrs Keith Lewis and Peter Morgan into the Council Chamber during the Valentine’s Day Massacre, having already declared an interest, requires a full investigation. It emerged during the Disciplinary Committee that the pair were told to go back into the chamber after being told to do so by the Deputy Chief Executive. Was he acting under instructions and if so, who from?

  • Antony Glynn

    It has struck me that I have not seen any significant comment on BPJ’s extreme and offensive remark about Mike Stoddart.

    During my years as a child protection social worker, investigating, interviewing and writing reports on abusive men, I was quite frequently subjected to angry, aggressive, verbal attacks, even to the extent of explicit death threats, and the more egregious the offence I was dealing with the more extreme were these attacks likely to be.

    Regarding the extraordinary remarks by Malcolm Calver, among others, about Michael Williams’s absence from a most important vote, it turns out that Michael did not have food poisoning (the restaurant is blameless) but a gastro-enteric bug from which he is still suffering.

    But regardless of this, it is impossible for anyone to genuinely believe that Michael would have voluntarily absented himself from such an important vote – a vote particularly important to Michael himself. He frankly admits to the mistake of having voted to hire BPJ but he realised this mistake and was at one time about the only voice speaking out against the iniquities being perpetrated by the cabal of BPJ and his Pembrokeshire Independent Group cronies.

    There was a time when Michael was in genuine fear of losing his home because of the extreme legal threats that were being made against him for having the courage to stand up and put honest, necessary and proper questions.

    So there can be only two reasons for Malcolm Calver’s and others’ remarks, one is terminal stupidity but the other, more likely one, is small-minded, evil malice hidden behind a front of disingenuousness.

  • Michael Williams

    Hi John, I have heard a rumour that BPJ has another job lined up, but I can’t think of anyone that would appoint him. By the way I feel much better now, and thank you for your concerns. I don’t know you, but it is comforting to know of your caring nature and medical expertise!

  • Kate Becton

    Antony Glynn – Whilst agreeing that the comment Bryn Parry-Jones made about Mike Stoddart was extremely inappropriate, I have expressed the view to Mike that it was the ultimate compliment – 15 years on and he’s done it – game over – and with another couple of years to play!

    Mike, you’ve played a blinder – even for an Englishman!! And I know you will be disappointed at the cost of the victory – but I think you are right – I think they are running out of road.

  • Dave Edwards

    The more I hear of last Thursday’s meeting the more incredulous it becomes. My mole tells me that the settlement was voted on without members having full knowledge of what they were agreeing to! Is there a gagging clause? Must PCC give a glowing reference? What documents can he keep? What will he be doing until 31 October?

  • Malcolm Calver

    Two Plaid Cymru county councillors (half of the party’s members at County Hall) failed to turn up and vote. One member suggested he had work commitments even though he is paid as a councillor and the other said he was sick.

    In my post I stated that at Westminster MPs were known to be wheeled in on stretchers, I am sure Cllr Williams was not that sick that he needed a stretcher, especially as it has now come to light that he was seen around the local primary school the next morning.

    I am quite aware of the legal threats that could have caused Cllr Williams to lose his house, as I was put in a similar position for speaking out myself.

  • The point about whether the pension dodge was available to all staff is interesting. Carmarthenshire County Council, which it will be remembered ran a carbon copy of the scheme, was adamant that it was open to all in response to criticism from the WAO. What they didn’t say was that it only made sense to opt out if you were on around £120k or more. So it was open to all in the sense that we could all drive around in a Rolls if only we had the dosh.

    I suspect that Adams and Madge (Carmarthenshire’s allegedly socialist leader) were just parroting a line fed to them by Tim Kerr QC.

  • The Rock did make a very good observation Cneifiwr, and what I omitted to say in my reply to that comment is that one of the several reasons the scheme was deemed unlawful by the WAO auditor, Anthony Barrett, was the fact that both authorities had failed to carry out or even consider an equalities assessment.

    This breach of the “public sector equality duty” was probably the least arguable reason why the scheme was unlawful, along with the associated “indirect discrimination” “against women and/or younger employees.”

    The PCC public interest report can be read here and the CCC report here.

    I quote this sentence which appears exactly the same in both reports:

    Both younger employees and women employees are put at a disadvantage as they are treated less favourably than older employees and male employees, in that younger employees and/or women employees are less likely to be eligible to benefit from the approved ‘pay supplement’.”

  • Welshman 23

    It’s about time we move on, it seems BPJ is untouchable and the system is a failure. Foul and abusive language against Morgan and Edwards, calling Old Grumpy an evil b*****d, no confidence vote, it all resulted in nothing.

    It seems that no one can stop these payments so let’s move on and concentrate on the people that helped secure this golden handshake. BPJ earned approx £15k per month before deductions as CEO, and his pension will be about £8k per month so I am sure he will have to struggle to make ends meet. I hope as part of the settlement it does not include a reference.

  • Dave Edwards

    Malcolm, your comments about Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Rod Bowen seem well directed but your continuing diatribe against Cllr Michael Williams is unwarranted and ill-conceived.

    I know that your visceral hate of all political parties, and their members, with whom you disagree leads you to make these comments but in the context of today’s subject matter you demean yourself and the relevance of your views by making them.

  • Bayard

    Jacob, perhaps you could explain why Thursday’s vote brought the disciplinary proceedings to an abrupt end? Surely, if he did wrong, his ceasing to be an employee of the council doesn’t undo that deed. Or was the motion so worded as to include an exoneration?

  • Lobsterman

    So the Wales Audit Office is now investigating the legality of BPJ’s ‘negotiated’ payoff. The auditor will surely be of the view that the £16k pension back-dated lump sum is contrary to law as that followed on from the scheme which he previously looked at and pronounced upon.

    So what then? It should go back to full Council to be fully debated in the light of that judgement and presumably thrown out.

  • Bernard

    Looking at the voting list. Quite obviously gang warfare. Disgusting!!!

  • Robin Wilson

    So, just to get this clear; is this money to be paid as: A. Redundancy? B. Termination? or C. Buying out of remaining contract?

    All three have different legal ramifications, surely. As just one example, if a role is made redundant, can one then advertise/appoint a replacement for the same role?

    The Leader of the Council has professed himself to be more concerned about outcomes, rather than processes. Surely this matter should have been all about process? In the commercial world if you start disciplinary proceedings you complete the PROCESS…not give in and pay off! Unless there is something we know nothing about?

  • John Hudson

    Here we go again. Was the decision taken by councillors made in the light of all relevant considerations and with disregard of all irrelevant considerations? Are there agreement conditions that members are unaware of? What about undeclared interests from “friends” who over the years may have enjoyed hospitality, or those perhaps subjected to “pressure?

    I hear the tills jangling with the sound of our money being used to defend the Council’s case, yet again, rather than to protect us.

    There seem to be enough uncertainties over this. Can it be put on hold until it is determined whether the Council decision was lawful or perhaps the Disciplinary Procedure could be put back on track. Does this decision become operative at the next Council meeting (11 December) when the decision is ratified by the approval of the minutes?

    In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, the Investigation Committee appointed by the Council had apparently determined that an allegation of misconduct should be further investigated by the Designated Independent Person. In this case, IT MUST appoint a DIP to carry out this investigation. There does not seem to be any role for the Council to interfere with this procedure. No doubt members were legally advised that Council could, but it would be interesting to see on what basis this is possible.

  • There once was a fellow called Bryn,
    Who sported a permanent grin.
    Said: “Got a third of a million,
    It’s not me who’s the silly’un,
    But those who said no discipline.”

  • Mike Evans

    Like all other councillors, I was approached by the Western Telegraph’s reporter Katy Woodhouse for a comment following Thursday’s decision. This is the reply I sent:

    Dear Katy,

    Thank you for your message on Friday 17th October. I make the following statement in respect of the severance settlement, on the proviso that you print it in full with no abridgement or editing.

    Kind regards,
    Mike Evans.

    Last Thursday’s decision by Jamie Adams and the rest of the IPG, to allow Bryn Parry-Jones to leave on such generous terms is an affront to the people of Pembrokeshire.

    The package included: £50,000 to stay at home until 31 October; £332,000 in a golden handshake; being allowed to keep the unlawful payment of £45,000 cash instead of pension contribution; a pension for life of £120,000 every year.

    It also included a clean reference and therefore an untarnished CV, allowing this former employee to walk straight into another highly paid job elsewhere.

    This package was gifted to him, without any recourse or natural justice in respect of the numerous allegations which were brought to light at the disciplinary hearings into Bryn Parry-Jones’ behaviour.

    Would any of the other 6,000 employees of the council be treated in this lavish and lenient way? I leave your readers to decide.

    The whole episode has been nothing short of scandalous. I do hope that the Welsh Audit Office and/or our local AMs see fit to call in this decision of PCC.

    What was particularly galling, at last Thursday’s meeting, was the look of near glee on the faces of those who carried the motion, as if they were achieving something of a victory on the part of the County Council.

    If I were a resident in any of the wards of Sue Perkins, Brian Hall or Alison Lee in Pembroke Dock for example, every time for the next 10 years that I duly paid the toll for the Cleddau Bridge, I would feel hugely aggrieved that my money was going straight into Bryn Parry-Jones’ pocket.

    As you will see from the strength of my comments, I feel it was a most shameful and regrettable decision.

  • Indepedant

    I want to write a haiku to match Mike’s limericks but I’m struggling to contain my syllables.

  • Weasel

    I am led to believe that once in receipt of this severance payment, it would be nigh on impossible to recover the monies from BPJ should the Wales Audit Office deem the payment, or any part thereof as unlawful.

    It is a different case however with the members who voted it through, and who would become liable for the whole amount, not just any potential unlawful element. With 29 members in the frame, that’s just north of £11,000 each, and that would certainly hurt them where they are most vulnerable. Hey ho, maybe Farmer Adams will bail them all out.

    A few comments have mentioned BPJ’s pension. As he opted out of the Dyfed Pension Scheme he deferred all benefits until his normal retirement age, which I believe is 66 in BPJ’s case, and PCC have no powers, discretionary or otherwise to override this.

    Lastly there are rumours that BPJ has other employment lined up, possibly over the Severn Bridge. If so, not only Pembrokeshire, but Wales could now be well rid.

  • Weasel, some would say it’s unfortunate that the days of surcharging councillors for unlawful expenditure of public funds came to an end with the introduction of the Local Government Act 2000, so none of the 29 councillors will need bailing out whatever happens.

    It was a gamble with other people’s money without personal financial risk for those 29 councillors who supported the bloated package, and, equally without personal financial risk to those who, like me, wanted to refuse the pay-off and allow the disciplinary proceedings to run their course.

    I know what I think was the biggest gamble.

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Mike, a concise and honest appraisal. Shameful to a man (or woman) those who voted it through. Socialist values and virtues? Perkins, Hancock and Lee will have no red flag welcome anymore. Membership rescinded and Paul Miller just wouldn’t and couldn’t look them in the eye. Their feathering of their own nest has left a long and open wound in Pembrokeshire people’s hearts.

    Individual politicians just don’t work on our council anymore. There wouldn’t be any transfer of sides in a political administration and a BPJ scenario wouldn’t have arisen. He would have been held accountable.

    Welshman wants to move on post-BPJ which is fine but in reality how many jobs has his pay off cost? This will only be seen once the budget has been passed through council. Are there any compulsory redundancies earmarked for the next six months in Pembrokeshire? If so then this pay off is despicable and the impact will only grow. I wonder just how many of our elected members would get returned if the election was tomorrow?

    Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘The Ode of Remembrance’ is prevalent as we lead towards the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. I’m not too sure I’d want many of the IPPG alongside me in any trench, least of all our comrades who are deserters from their own party. Cowardice, one and all who stand for the IPPG. All done behind closed doors. I hope you haven’t got the affront to publicly pay respects come November 11th. Cowards and hypocrites. Ultimately, however, losers at the next election.

  • Weasel

    Jacob, you may find the following extract of interest from a legal briefing note on Councillors’ liabilities I came across. The last point may have some relevance in this instance:

    “However there are a few circumstances where a council member, or officer, can incur such liability. For example, if a member votes on a matter in which he has a personal financial interest then he may incur a penalty. Members may also incur a liability if they are present at a meeting, which discusses any proposed expenditure which is contrary to law, and they don’t vote against the proposals.”

  • Welshman 23

    Mike Evans, excellent letter. Negotiating while the investigation process was being carried out surely cannot be right. Who negotiated it, Jamie Adams? If this case had been in the commercial world there would have been a different outcome.

  • Quill

    Based on the 2011 census Pembrokeshire’s population is 122,400. Divide the £332,016 payment by 122,400 means Bryn Parry-Jones has cost every man, woman and child of this county £2.71.

    In contrast, the Queen costs every British person just 56p.

    That seems a real bargain to me because for that 56p earlier this year we got to see a photo of her maj’ shaking Brian Hall’s hand down in Pembroke Dock.

    Even at almost five times the price, I’m sure BPJ wouldn’t dream of being photographed doing the same!

    Queen and Brian Hall

    Picture: Pembrokeshire Herald Facebook page.

  • Lobsterman

    If Weasel is right the 29 supporters of the diamond encrusted golden handshake may be liable if it’s unlawful, but what about those in the inner cabal who voted unanimously for the original ruse which was contrary to law allowing a wad of cash instead of pension contributions? That would put a big hole in their SRA payments…

  • Welshman 23

    Jon Bon Jovi, I take on board your comment. It seems that another issue has been raised this evening, some time ago the council lost a case regarding equal pay. These payments are still outstanding to the people affected, this was agreed in 2011.

  • Fox

    Jacob – What happened about the issue raised a few weeks ago in the Pembrokeshire Herald about the election nomination paper irregularities? Has it been reported to the relevant authority?

  • Gogledd

    Succinctly, I agree that he is a very expensive scapegoat for the failings of the IPPG over many years. I believe they have got exactly what they want as any unfavourable outcome of the disciplinary process could have pulled them down with him.

  • Flashbang

    Can the next council in 2017 look into this and push for legal action when the facts come to the surface? In the meantime I’m hoping the staff at the Kremlin sabotage all the shredding machines. Any whistleblowers feel like making an appearance, I’d rather they got compensation for blowing the lid off the toilet that is PCC.

  • Keanjo

    Weasel, unless things have changed, LA employees can draw their pension after 40 years of service or earlier if their Authority agrees to buy back years, so I would think our Bryn can draw his pension immediately although he will not get his £8,000 a year state pension until he is 66. I’m sure we will all sympathise with him on that.

  • Malcolm Calver

    I would agree that the package received by Mr Parry-Jones, due to the generosity of his IPG party members, seems extortionate and totally out of order considering the average salary received by the many hard working residents of Pembrokeshire.

    There is much much talk, especially from the socialist members of Plaid Cymru and Labour, regarding how beneficial it would be if we had political party control of Pembrokeshire County Council. Although we now find ourselves in a mess I do believe that Pembrokeshire needs Independent councillors, who would not be party controlled.

    I am afraid David that both your party and Plaid Cymru selected many candidates, who after being elected, jumped ship, when perhaps it would have been better if truly independent candidates had been elected.

    A point raised by Quill was that the Queen only costs us 56p per year each, perhaps he could inform us how he came to that figure.

  • Flashbang

    Does Mike Stoddart have a case for suing BPJ for slander? Five hundred thousand should cover the embarrassment of being known as “the most evil bastard in Pembrokeshire.” Go for it Mike, you deserve the money for exposing the mongrels and their corruption.

  • Indepedant, I’m not familiar with the haiku poetic form, but after looking it up on Wikipedia I think it goes something like:

    Crisp fifty-pound notes
    Borne on October winds
    Falling like autumn leaves.

  • Weasel

    Keanjo, my understanding, which has been confirmed by a member of staff in the Dyfed Pension Fund, is that if a member chooses to opt out, their benefits are deferred until normal retirement age. This is different to a member ceasing employment who can under certain circumstances draw an immediate reduced pension. The employer also has discretionary powers to enhance the payment or avoid reductions but these only apply for current members.

    Bryn Parry-Jones when signing his opt out form will have been made aware that his pension would be deferred, or alternatively if he obtains new employment he could request that the deferred benefits are transferred to the new employer’s pension scheme.

  • Keanjo

    Flashbang, being called the most evil bastard in Pembrokeshire by BPJ should be considered a great compliment for Mike – an acknowledgement of Mike’s role in bringing about his demise.

  • Dave Edwards

    If Bryn decides to opt back in before 31/10/2014 he could claim untainted back contributions from PCC and draw his pension at 60. Don’t put it past him!

  • Indepedant

    I salute you Mike. Great haiku skills. (Though strictly it’s a 5, 7, 5 syllable rule).

    Still, inaccuracy is a great feature in our county. 🙂

  • Bayard

    Indepedant, how about this then?

    Crisp fifty-pound notes
    Carried on October winds
    Fall like autumn leaves.

  • Bigboy61

    Whilst I can’t stomach all of these fat cats feathering their nests at the expense of council tax payers, do we not still have one of the lowest council taxes in Wales due to BPJ?

  • Casual Observer

    Bigboy61, whether you actually have the lowest council tax depends on what you factor in.

    Add in the cost of failing schools, social services etc and then see where you come out. Add solicitors expenses, redundancy payments which are “beyond the pale”, mis-management…low staff morale = low output…

  • Welshman 23

    Did Councillors Morgan and Edwards tell the investigation committee everything they knew regarding the meeting in BPJ’s office? If they didn’t then this may have put a different take on the legal advice and the outcome.

    Comments given to the Western Telegraph from the Councillors who supported the settlement say the legal advice given by Eversheds was to settle. How much did this advice cost?

  • Jonathan Nutting

    The stealth tax on the south west of the county known as the Cleddau Bridge Toll provides a rates subsidy of £2 million per year. (This is illegal as the bridge ruling document, the Dyfed Act, does not provide for this to happen!) The services provided by PCC have been very lean for years. The money for meaningful intervention and investment has been near enough non-existent. These are just some of the reasons we have the lowest council taxes.

    PCC now has to cut where there is no fat. This means that there will be real pain in the county as people lose their jobs. Fewer jobs means less money in our local economy. Having the lowest council tax in Wales is not an asset. It buys votes from the short sighted and gives excuses to those who only care about their own pockets. These are the main legacies of our CEO and his foot soldiers. Look around you. Our county is only a shadow of what it could be because of poor handling by this group.

    For those who enjoy my religious analogies, the story of the talents is very apt! 🙂 Pembrokeshire is the one who buried them and returned them just the same, no gain no lose, expecting to be told what a good job they had done. Let’s hope in 2017 voters actually tell them loud and clear what they think!

  • The Rock

    Our children are forced to leave this county in search of work. To have a future for themselves they are leaving. With their energy and talent leaving we will slowly wither on the vine. The process is gathering pace. Funding to improve our towns centres is being misappropriated. Priorities like keeping children safe have become secondary to controlling embarrassing information.

    The upper echelons of the council have put their energy into self aggrandisement and securing more cash for themselves. The people they represent have become an irritation to be fobbed off with excuse after excuse and minimal services a developing country might consider inadequate. We no longer have justice – we have law after law that fails to serve its citizens.

    We have a county full of people that those in power are seeking to reduce to a form of medieval serfdom. But we have low Council Tax apparently and that is the price we are forced to pay for it.

  • John Hudson

    I wonder to what level our council services will have to be reduced, to make them unviable and not worth providing and supporting via the lowest council tax, unless we can afford to pay the full cost directly as “customers”.

    Its about time we had a debate about who benefits most from having the lowest Council tax, and having to pay full cost charges for services. Based on a based on a Band D average Council Tax, we are led to believe we all do, but is this true? Bands below D pay less but those above pay significantly more; the differential being greater the higher the Band.

    It is already anticipated that the estimated council tax income for 2014/5 will be exceeded, although the amount was not quantified in the 3 Month monitoring report. This of course could be put to good use in funding legal costs and undeserved payoffs.

  • William Rees

    The decision of Lee, Perkins and Hancock not to take their new opinions to the electorate is a total disgrace.

    I am amazed at some of the comments made about Michael Williams. I followed him as chairman of South Pembs District Council, he was, and is, a man of honour and integrity and I am very proud to call him a friend.

    Let it not be forgotten in this whole debacle that the longest and most strident voice of protest was that of Michael Williams. There were attempts to bully and intimidate him that caused real pressure, but he stood firm.

    When we see some of the most amazing self serving behaviour from some of our representatives, his support of local democracy shines through as an example of what a councillor should be. Thank goodness for Michael Williams.

  • Black Sheep

    Morally may not equal legally. As an employer, I know that in order to dismiss an employee ALL of the procedures must be carried out correctly, otherwise I could be lose a constructive dismissal claim by the dismissed employee.

    I would be very interested in the terms of employment of BPJ under which he was contracted. My guess is (and its only a guess) that this contract (made many years ago) may contain items which would give rise to a contractual obligation on termination. Would it not be correct to attribute some of the blame with the persons who actually agreed to the initial contract? (And of course, where there’s blame there’s a claim).

    Obviously, Eversheds have given a professional opinion as to the likely outcome of any possible claim by BPJ against PCC. Given that this is their field of expertise, I would suggest that they probably have some information that would make their case slightly weaker in a court of law.

    Notwithstanding this, it does not make the situation right, but it is a case of morally he should face the music, but is it at any cost? As far as BPJ obtaining any high ranking (!) employment outside Wales, I would expect his legacy (!) to follow him around like a bad smell.

    Now we need to collectively ‘keep an eye’ on our councillors, every one of them, and use any opportunity to challenge any decision they make, in order that the common good be obtained for all residents of this fine county. We are all responsible for letting them ‘get away with it’ for so long; now it’s time for them to explain to us what they actually bring to the table.

  • Malcolm Calver

    John, I would suggest to you the council tax/community charge is one the most unfair taxes we have. Do you really think it is right that a property with five resident wage earners should pay the same council tax as a married couple raising a family in similar size houses?

    We must ask the question “who benefits most out of the county council community charge”, I would suggest it is the county council employees. Perhaps we should be given details of how many households in Pembrokeshire do not pay any council tax.

    I am quite happy to benefit from the lowest council tax in Wales, but the only problem I have is comparing it with other councils as I do not know what they charge for the “direct charge services”.

  • Dave Edwards

    Malcolm, 1843 properties pay no council tax in Pembrokeshire.

  • John Hudson

    Following another herring which reflects the ethos of our council, through Freedom of Information I have been able to obtain the Council’s own Evaluation Report on the Haverfordwest Town Heritage Improvement Phase 1 programme on which some £3.9m of Public funding was spent. This contains the rather telling comment:-

    “However the THI programme did attract the attention of new owners and investors and as a result there has been a significant change in the ownership of properties within the THI area. Some of these ownership changes followed a very active interventionist role on the part of the County Council, for instance on occasion serving or threatening to serve substantial repair notices.”

    I am not sure whether the process adopted by the Council is justified by the outcome, but I would like to know whether our councillors were aware of this and what their views were, or are. I am tempted to ask whether the Council “threatened” to serve a notice on itself for its neglect of Foley House, a Grade II listed building owned by the Council.

    Malcolm/David, I would like to open the council tax debate a bit further with some figures, if Jacob will permit.

  • Welshman 23

    BBJ’s last day is next Friday, as his payment is being looked at by the Wales Audit Office will the amount be withheld until this process has been completed, or will he be paid next week?

  • Dave Edwards

    John, I am happy to enter into a debate. We should start with the misconception that Pembrokeshire residents pay the lowest council tax bills in Wales. We have the lowest Band D rate in Wales but when you look at what householders actually pay, Blaenau Gwent is the cheapest.

    County Councils affect three separate elements in your bill viz: their own levy, the police precept and the town/community charge and these three together constitute your bill. Factor in the relative value of houses in each Local Authority and you get a very different idea of our position vis a vis other councils.

    A quick look at property values will illustrate the point. In Pembrokeshire the mean average bill falls in Band D (£1004.83) whilst in Blaenau Gwent the mean average is in Band A (£884.83). As with all statistics comparing like with like is difficult, but ultimately illuminating!

  • Goldingsboy

    Dave Edwards, please enlighten those of us who are completely bewildered by your assertion that properties built in 1843 are exempt from council tax in our county.

  • Brian

    Well I think that the tenor of this discussion reflects a mean spirited streak running through many in Pembrokeshire with respect to this payment. I doubt if any of you fully appreciate the costs associated with self funding a recuperative break at the ‘Sir Fred Goodwin home for the misunderstood’.

  • Welshman 23

    Have a look at Farmer Adams’ comments in the Telegraph regarding the payment to BPJ.

  • Dave Edwards

    Goldingsboy, the concept of time expired qualification is a fundamental principle of Tory taxation, after all, their mates own most of the expensive properties likely to be liable for mansion tax. They even exempted older cars from road tax so why are you surprised about 1843 as a relevant date?

  • Old Speckled Hen

    Cllr. Adams attributes considerable weight to the strength of the legal advice given to Councillors. As this was in private session the vast majority of us are in the dark. Can a statement of clarification be made as to what this advice was?

    Mr Parry-Jones didn’t put in any formal grievance against the Council to my knowledge so this advice must have been missing from the disciplinary committee for them to consider as they went down the direction of engaging an independent person to investigate.

    The process Cllr. Adams followed in negotiating with his CEO before any formal investigation had begun must throw into jeopardy any decision made. I didn’t see a declaration of interest from Cllr. Adams in this matter. The outcome is displeasing to all but 30 people in Pembrokeshire and those that matter do mind!

  • Peter Stock

    Goldingboy, what David Edwards has said is that there are 1,843 properties in Pembrokeshire that pay no Council Tax, not those that were built in the year 1843.

  • Les

    Just read OG’s last post. My goodness – this seems really serious and some people need to feel really ashamed of themselves.

    It’s getting to such a point now that there are so many I can’t recall who is to blame for all of this. It’s absolutely horrendous and heads need to roll.

  • Goldingsboy

    Oooops!

  • Malcolm Calver

    It’s a good job we have Peter Stock (Mr Pembrokeshire) keeping an eye on us as I was just about to go up the attic to examine the title deeds to my house.

  • Indepedant

    Valiant effort Bayard. 🙂 I’m not going to insist on an ode to BPJ or a sonnet on Jamie Adams. I hope there will be poetic justice though.

    Having read Old Grumpy’s latest missive I’m close to hysteria at the thought (and the fact it was recorded) of brave Peter Morgan pretending to rugby tackle Bryn to ‘break the ice’…I don’t think he attended the corporate team-building seminar…

  • Keanjo

    I find it unbelievable that two Councillors were summoned to the Chief Executive’s office because he was annoyed with the way they had voted and even more amazing that they went and allowed him to address them in that manner.

  • Rosieone

    I’ve just read Old Grumpy’s latest, and I must say I’m appalled at the way Cllr Mark Edwards is living up to his Haverfordwest nickname of ‘CHICKEN Eddie’!

    He should have been shouting from the rooftops about what sort of a man BPJ really is. It’s high time that he and and his colleagues think about parting company with Herr Adams and the ‘I’ love ‘P’ower cos ‘P’ower is ‘G’reat party.

    It really is heartbreaking to watch the way they are making a laughing stock of this county. So Carwyn, send in your Cardiff Bay Stormtroopers – because what hope have us plebs got with this shower running the show…

  • Bayard

    Malcolm Calver, the council tax is not an unfair tax. Who decreed that every fair tax should be related to the income of the taxpayer? Why is it fair that the harder you work, the more money you have taken off you by the government?

  • Rosieone, while Cllr Mark Edwards gave his version of events to the Pembrokeshire Herald, he has yet to explain why three months elapsed before he summoned up the courage to blow the whistle.

  • Rosieone

    Mike, it’s my opinion (as an outsider looking in) that anyone with a shred of self worth or common sense when subjected to a torrent of abusive language such as this would lodge a very formal, very strident complaint. I’m guessing that you or any other councillor not hindered by IPPG membership would have done just that.

    Anything other than this immediate reaction only goes to lay bare the murky, secretive and overlapping relationship that existed between the IPPG and the Chief Executive (tail wagging the dog?). One can only conclude that the current IPPG councillors, who have had their antics laid bare by yourself, Jacob and the webcasting of meetings have decided they may as well just stick with it until polling day and enjoy it while it lasts.

    One final point, it’s quite amusing (and disturbing) to read some of the reasoning on display in the Western Telegraph from the IPPG, particularly their digital watchdog Rob ‘Cujo’ Summons who asserts that it’s the rest of you who should take a long hard look in the mirror for your populist stance over the payoff! Give me strength…

  • Martin Lewis

    Bayard, some of the hardest workers in our county earn considerably less than those who are paid extortionate amounts from the public purse for doing sweet FA.

  • MoribundKapitalism

    Does anyone know whether Mr Parry-Jones retains his position as Regional Returning Officer for Wales? Can this position still be tenable?

  • Pembs. Exile

    A plea to Pembrokeshire County Council: Please do not switch off the webcast cameras. I enjoy watching the hilarious comments and antics of some of the cast of this, the best comedy on screen at moment!

    Suggested title for the show: “Carry on up the Cleddau”!

  • Timetraveller

    Dave,

    As you say, stats are dangerous. 75% of authority funding comes in the form of the block grant. This in turn is calculated in great detail from assessed needs as set out in the Green Book. The balance comes from council tax, based on how many “Band D equivalent” households are paying the “standard” rate set out in the Green Book. If an authority has poorer residents, then its Band D equivalent figure is lower and the total needed to be raised should be lower.

    Whilst an authority isn’t obliged to spend up to its spending assessment, it is generally at a cost to the quality of services. ESTYN for example thought it significant to note Pembs had a slight underspend on its education budget when giving the authority a “D-” for its performance a few years ago. The implication being that Pembs funded its low council tax by short-changing its schools.

    I believe a rate is set, with authorities having no latitude to gerrymander the bands, so if Blaenau Gwent’s Band D is higher, its Band A will be also. Mr Adams is quite right about having the lowest tax, just as he is, presumably, proud of how children and social services have been short changed to fund it.

  • Keanjo

    If dismissing a Chief Executive involves so much hassle, may I suggest the solution is not to employ one in the first place.

  • Rosieone, I must try to get out of the habit of agreeing with you.

    IPPG members are caught between: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately” (Benjamin Franklin) and “Nothing better concentrates a man’s mind than the sight of the gallows” (Samuel Johnson).

    As the next election draws closer, don’t be surprised if Dr Johnson’s analysis prevails.

  • Welshman 23

    Pembs. Exile, great idea, what about some other Carry on titles. How about ‘Carry on up the Kremlin.’

  • Bayard

    Martin Lewis, agreed, in the public sector there seems to be an inverse correlation between effort and reward but I don’t see the relevance of this to my point.

  • Rosieone

    Here’s one for Old Grumpy, which I think neatly sums up the IPPG doctorine: “Those are my principals. If you don’t like them, I have others” – Groucho Marx.

  • Brwlan

    Mike, many political quotes to compare with goings on with IPG. In particular one that you and I spoke about a few weeks ago. To put a slant on what Lyndon Johnson said about J. Edgar Hoover, I should quote to Cllr Lee – she would have been more effective “outside the tent pissing in than inside the tent pissing out”.

  • Malcolm Wood

    As far as the lease Porsche is concerned, the penalty to return a lease car is 50% of remaining lease and mileage calculations and vehicle needs to be in perfect condition on return.

  • Dave Edwards

    Timetraveller, you misunderstand my point. To effect a true comparison we must compare like with like and in housing terms it is no good comparing a six bedroomed detached house in grounds with a three bedroomed semi in a town street.

    So, comparing a Band D house in Pembrokeshire (the mean average house) with a Band D house in Blaenau Gwent (just 4.8% of properties) is not a fair comparison. To emphasise this point, I live in Band H house so how do I compare with a Band H house in Blaenau Gwent? I don’t know, because there have been no Band H houses in Blaenau Gwent since 2004!

    Statiscally, therefore we must look at the comparison between a typical Blaenau Gwent house (Band A) at £884.83 with a typical PCC house (Band D) at £1004.85. must, therefore, conclude that the average Council Charge payer in Blaenau Gwent pays less than an average Council Charge payer in Pembrokeshire.

  • Welshman 23

    I’m not sure about the cost of getting out of the company car agreement. Is the lease in the name of BPJ or is it in the name of PCC? Normally there is insurance in place to account for situations like this. The use of the Porsche was covered by PCC insurance, I hope this ends on Friday and he will have to go to a comparison website for quotes.

  • Keanjo

    The CC could retain the lease and make it available to the Leader, Chairman, etc for official duties. Alternatively, they could pay the penalty and release the car. Then BPJ could do a deal with the lease company and drive away into the sunset on Halloween. Trick and treat!

  • Welshman 23

    The BPJ fiasco seems to be losing momentum, I wonder how long will it take the Wales Audit Office to review the payoff. The payroll department in the Kremlin must be busy this week processing BPJ’s payment. Next thing to be removed is the IPPG.

  • Goldingsboy

    Jacob, I suggest you look again at BPJ’s package and, rather than the gold being plated as you assayed, I think you will find it’s more like the 24 carat solid stuff.

  • Malcolm Calver

    It would be interesting to see how the salary for the CEO, which on appointment I believe started out at approximately £60,000 ended up at over £160,000. I wonder is there any need to employ another Chief Executive on such a large salary or even employ one when we now have the Director of Transportation Mr Ian Westley taking on the role.

    Surely with a position paying I believe a salary of £140,000 pa I would have thought Mr Westley would not have had any spare time to give to the role, he has been given by Cllr Adams.

    I do believe Mr Pykett had been given the position of Deputy Chief Executive and if that is correct, as it is now obvious that he did not take on the role, what reduction did he receive in his salary?

    Come on councillors, a closer eye needs to be kept on all expenditure which must include the salaries paid at County Hall.

  • Steve

    Malcolm, you raise a few very good points which in turn raise some questions. Is there a need to (rush) appoint a new Chief Exec – are the council required to fill the slot in a given timeframe?

    If Mr Westley earns £140k in his role as Director of Transportation, based on his salary you would imagine he is a very busy man so how can he possibly in a working week have the time to do both jobs. Perhaps his existing role is not a full time commitment and it requires a full review to see if there is a necessity to pay such a reward for that post.

    Mr Pykett was being paid as Deputy Chief Exec yet was not used to fill the vacancy when it arose. Why was he given (and paid) the job if he is obviously not up to the role. In any walk of life, if the main player goes down for whatever reason his Deputy takes over. Should the council not now review this individual to see if he is able to fulfil the role he was appointed to. If he is not suitable for the position he holds then start proceedings to dismiss him.

  • John Hudson

    Is this the same Deputy CEO who was implicated in directing councillors to get back into the Council Chamber on the vote about pre-determination/predisposition?

    I am still not convinced that the Leader has the legal authority to do several things that he has apparently undertaken. I do hope that the WAO is looking closely into his actions. The question of the Council’s (majority group’s) decision and ability to abandon the disciplinary procedure, should also be looked into.

    All of this may be another example of incorrect/unlawful procedure, as in the case of the original pension arrangements.

  • Mayday

    A salary increase of £60k to £160k over 19 years equals 5% pay rise every year or approximately 3% over the average annual inflation. I wonder if the rest of the staff at PCC saw similar rises in their pay packets.

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