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One third less for new Chief

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Shambles over pay-off: Bryn-Parry Jones

Former Chief: Bryn’s rate of £195,000 a year has been cut for the new chief

A REPORT from the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) has recommended a massive cut in pay for any new Chief Executive at Pembrokeshire County Council.

 Former Chief Executive Bryn Parry Jones’ rate of £195,000 a year, plus extra for his duties as returning officer, will be replaced with a significantly lower but still eyewatering salary of £130K per year.

The council had argued that the replacement salary should be £145,000 a year. The board, whose recommendations must be taken into account by the local authority when setting the pay for a new Chief Executive, have said that Pembrokeshire’s size does not justify paying even the Council’s proposed salary, itself £50,000 lower than that paid to Bryn Parry-Jones.

In relation to Chief Executives, the Panel’s role is limited to taking a view and making a recommendation. Although the Local Authority/ Authorities concerned must have regard to this opinion, they are not obliged to follow it. It is true other legislation will require any such decision to be made through a vote of full council.

It is also the case the decision would be open to scrutiny, not only by the authorities’ internal scrutiny processes, but also by external regulators such as the Wales Audit Office. The authority would need to explain why they did not agree with the Panel’s recommendation, if it set a different salary than that suggested by the Remuneration Panel.

QUESTIONS RAISED ON PAY 

The setting of the Chief Executive’s salary at a level a third lower than Mr Parry-Jones’ raises a number of questions about the way in which his salary and the salary of senior officers has been set. IPPG Leader Jamie Adams, and others within the governing group, have repeatedly claimed that to get the best the authority needs to offer large and attractive wage packages to senior officers. In the past, the same councillors have used IRPW recommendations as a basis for arguing that high pay was justified.

It would be, however, a remarkable situation indeed if the Head of Paid Service had a smaller remuneration package than staff notionally junior to them in the Council hierarchy. From an examination of similar roles in other authorities, The Pembrokeshire Herald has discovered that the salary of those staff at director level – for example, the same as Pembrokeshire’s own Director of Development Dr Steven Jones – are paid between 75% and 80% of a Chief Executive’s salary.

If that was followed through to its logical conclusion, setting the salary of the Chief Executive at £130,000 would produce director level salaries in the region of (at most) £104,000 a year, a pay cut of around one fifth of those directors’ current salary level.

The Pembrokeshire Herald has looked at a number of authorities in England of comparable size to Pembrokeshire and has noticed that salaries for senior officers in Wales appear to be significantly higher than those of comparators across the border. One noticeable factor in the ratio of pay between the lowest paid full-time council employees in England is that Chief Officers’ pay is often pegged to the pay of the authorities’ lowest earners.

In the case of Hertfordshire, for example, this means that the median Chief Officers’ pay of £127,000 is between seven to eight times the pay of the lowest (non-school) members of council staff.

If Pembrokeshire County Council set its pay on such a basis, this would mean that the lowest paid full-time worker at the authority when Mr Parry-Jones was its Head of Paid Service would have been approximately £26,000. Almost 3,000 of Pembrokeshire’s County Council’s 6,129 workforce are paid less than the so-called ‘living wage’ of £7.65 per hour. An hourly rate of £7.65 per hour equates to an annual wage of around £15,000 pa.

if worked on a full-time basis. Paul Miller told us: “The pay of the former Chief Executive was allowed to reach a level completely out of kilter with the lives of the ordinary people Pembrokeshire Council is elected to serve. Future Chief Officer remuneration needs to be much lower and needs to be very clearly related to the pay of rest of staff body.

I’m pleased that the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales has sought to significantly reduce the salary offered to the next Chief Executive. I will, at next weeks meeting, be calling for a much more wide ranging review of senior officer pay in Pembrokeshire.”

TIME TO MOVE FORWARD’ 

Bob Kilmister agreed: “On the basis of the evidence I have seen so far, the recommendation from the Remuneration Panel for Wales is in my view is extremely sensible. The Pembrokeshire Alliance said at its launch, ‘We want to see an end to the excessive pay of senior staff.’ It is clear the Remuneration Panel for Wales agree with this conclusion. How successive ruling administrations have allowed such excessive pay over a such a long period of time remains a mystery to me and I am sure most of the residents of Pembrokeshire.”

The issue of the high salary paid to former Chief Executive Bryn Parry-Jones was highlighted by Cllr Jacob Williams: “It would appear from the Panel’s recommendation that Bryn Parry-Jones was overpaid for his role for nigh on twenty years. With several pay rises during that time, there was plenty of scope to bring it back to a reasonable figure but as your readers know, the ruling independent party are easy with other people’s money.

Always have been, always will be.” Cllr David Simpson told The Herald: “I think that the Council should listen to the advice given from the Independent Remuneration Panel. When I was a Cabinet Member, we were told time and again that the Welsh Assembly Government ‘had it in’ for Pembrokeshire because the Independents were the ruling group! Look where this Group mentality thinking has got us.

The attitude that the Independent Group is always right is the reason that Pembrokeshire County Council is the laughing stock of Wales. The arrogance of members of the Independent Group has prevailed for far too long, when Education was put into Special Measures help and assistance offered to us by the Ministerial Board was constantly fought against.

The Chairman of the Ministerial Board, who was himself a retired Judge, could not believe the resistance he met. He once stated to me that whenever he pointed out a problem with the system the Council would retaliated with thirty excuses! It took the Council 12 months to realize that the Board was right and we either worked with them or they would take over the authority. The Panel’s knowledge is far superior to that of lay members of the Council and it’s time for us to put excuses behind us. It is time to move forward.”

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Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet endorses STEP Fusion application

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet have today endorsed proposals from Cllr Paul Miller (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) to further progress the nomination of a Pembrokeshire site to host a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power station in the county.

Working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the proposed site is adjacent to the existing energy facilities on the South Shore of the Haven waterway.

If approved, the facility will initially host research with the ultimate aim of developing this technology which could offer a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “I am pleased my Cabinet colleagues endorsed this important programme of work. The Haven Waterway has provided livelihoods, underpinned by fossil fuels, for thousands of Pembrokeshire families, mine included, for more than 50 years. It’s my job to help ensure the waterway continues to provide high skilled, engineering, science and technology jobs for the next generation of this county – and so linked to our focus on climate change (and in addition to our existing multi-million pound commitments to supporting wind, wave and tidal clean power generation) my team have been exploring whether we can also support the development of clean, green fusion technology.

“It’s very early days in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site selection process but we’ll provide regular updates as things progress.”

•       STEP is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant;
•       It is a UKAEA programme, currently with £222m funding from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024: https://step.ukaea.uk/

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Re-opening of indoor hospitality and attractions at Milford Waterfront

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RESTAURANTS and indoor visitor attractions in Milford Waterfront are welcoming the return of indoor services from today.

The re-opening of indoor dining allows all restaurants at Milford Waterfront to seat customers indoors. As well as all restaurants on the Waterfront now being able to offer this service, the brand-new Foam Domes overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway are able to open, with bookings being taken from the 19th May.

Indoor visitor attractions are also allowed to re-open. This includes the Waterfront Gallery, which is open today and Phoenix Bowl & Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play which is making preparations to open from Wednesday 19th May. Also, Milford Museum, which has had a new rendered exterior finish, is preparing to open for the end of May.

Lucy Wonnacott, Marketing Manager for Milford Waterfront commented: “We are delighted to see the re-opening of indoor hospitality and visitor attractions here at Milford Waterfront. Each business has their own safety and social distancing measures in place and we kindly ask that you respect and adhere to these for your own safety, and that of others. We hope you enjoy your visit to Milford Waterfront and stay safe!”

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