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£130,000 for Bryn’s replacement



THE MESSAGE from this week’s meeting of the Senior Staff Committee was clear: The days of high Chief Executive pay are over.

Unanimous: Senior Staff Committee votes to support a £130k basic salary for the man or woman who will succeed Bryn Parry-Jones

Unanimous: Senior Staff Committee votes to support a £130k basic salary for the man or woman who will
succeed Bryn Parry-Jones

However, while the seven members of the Committee were unanimous in voting through a salary of £130K to replace the pensioned-off Bryn Parry-Jones, the journey they took to reach that position was, by turns, tortuous and winding.

The decision of December’s council was to refer elements of the appointments process for Bryn’s successor to the Senior Staff Committee. The Committee’s objective was to refer back to Council questions about the job description, timetable, and salary: The council would consider the matter of salary, taking into account Committee’s recommendation.

Whether it was the pressure of the BBC being in attendance or the descent of a spirit of unity and bonhomie, the debate was noticeably less sharp-edged than might have been expected. Although perhaps after over two hours’ debate on the day, and with the finishing line of L’affaire Bryn in sight, councillors were happy to just get things done with little drama and all passions spent.

Council Leader Jamie Adams was, for once, nonplussed to find himself in an increasingly isolated minority of one on most of the key points under debate. His personal preference, for there being a Managing Director as one of a board of directors, was torpedoed by the Council’s head of human resources, Ceri Davies.

Prompted by a question for Cllr Tessa Hodgson (Lamphey, Unaffiliated), Mr Davies stated that his view was that while the model based around having a managing director was sustainable in the short term, he did not regard it as feasible beyond that. He continued with the observation that while Ian Westley was putting in long hours in fulfilling his acting Head of Service role with his broader portfolio responsibilities, it was inappropriate for that to long continue.

In addition, Ceri Davies suggested a possibly terminal flaw in adopting the managing director model. He told the meeting that: “Appointing a lead director would present an additional challenge to re-organisation; namely, how would one facilitate a directorate for that person to manage? If that individual’s skill set dictated, for example, a social care brief, how could we deal with making the current post holder redundant or subject to redeployment.”

His observations were supported by Cllr Rob Lewis (Martletwy, IPPG), former deputy leader of the authority and the Cabinet member responsible for Ian Westley’s technical directorate (highways, transportation and major events). Suggesting that the current arrangements were ‘detrimental to the authority’, Cllr Lewis went on to say that: “It has become extremely difficult to engage with Ian Westley due to him juggling his different roles. Ian has a capable team around him, but I think the current position would be unsustainable.”

While the concern about combining the executive role with a technical one was batted about, nobody seemed prepared to consider whether the combination of functions would include prevailing up current Deputy Chief Executive Ben Prykett to fulfil part of the Chief Executive’s functions while a technical director ‘doubled up’. Mr Prykett’s post is, if not unique in Wales, certainly anomalous.

Cllr Paul Miller (Neyland West, Labour) wanted to open up the debate regarding the appointment to embrace a wider review of the whole of the senior staff structure and senior staff pay and grading. He was resisted by Cllr Adams, who suggested that the question structure was one that could be dealt with by any new incumbent to the senior role, who could decide upon the structure they preferred. The leader’s opinion was developed by vice-chair David Lloyd (St Davids, Unaffiliated) who suggested that it was made express to candidates that they would be expected to work collegially and to consider the council’s management structure in conjunction with the Senior Staff Committee after appointment.

That left Cllr Adams facing rather a struggle to row back from the logical consequences of a position that he had advanced not long before. However, he was successful in resisting calls for an immediate review of the matter ahead of appointment of a new Head of Service.

Relieved by that success, he appeared to be caught off guard by Cllr Huw George (Maenclochog, IPPG) enthusiastically endorsing Paul Miller’s suggestion that the council set a ratio between any new Chief’s pay and the pay of the lowest paid members of the County Council’s staff. Again, Cllr Adams was keen to put this decision off to another day. While he succeeded, it will be difficult for the leader to resist such a motion if it went to Full Council, given the heads on his own side nodding in support of Cllr Miller’s idea.

The debate moved on to discuss the thorny issue of salary: the former post holder’s remuneration package attracted publicity for all the wrong reasons and the Council accepted it had to reduce the salary paid. The question was by how much.

The committee, unsurprisingly, were reluctant to endorse the status quo and remunerate a new post holder as generously as their predecessor. It would have taken a very courageous member indeed to suggest that option. Debate thereafter settled on one of three options: Follow the pay award suggested by the Independent Remuneration Panel (£130K); follow the suggestion advanced in-house of £147,000; Find a messy compromise figure in the middle.

Cllrs Miller, Lloyd and Hodgson firmly backed the £130,000 figure, especially after Cllr Hodgson teased out the information that with a car allowance now trimmed to £7,300 per annum and employer’s pension contributions the total package would be worth in excess of £156,000: On top of which would be the fees paid to the appointee as Returning Officer for elections (around £12,000).

With Cllr Tom Richards (Letterston, IPPG) agreeing with Cllr Lloyd’s suggestion that the council move to recruit on a salary of £130,000 with a review if the post attracts insufficient applicants of sufficient quality, Cllr Adams was left isolated in trying to find a compromise between the £130,000 and £147,000 figure and went with the flow of the meeting. The £130,000 figure was approved unanimously in a moment captured by Cllr Jacob Williams’ camera.

With the Welsh Government suggesting it could limit the term Chief Executives could be employed by local authorities, the question for certainty seems unending.

The next stopping point on this journey is March’s Full Council, where the committee’s recommendation will be debated. At that point, we shall see whether Cllr Miller advances his plan to ensure that the pay of the authority’s most senior employee is not out of sight of those at the bottom of the pay-scale.

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The Pembrokeshire man on the Titanic



ON the morning of April 15 1912, in the North Atlantic some 450-miles south of Newfoundland, the RMS Titanic slowly slid beneath the sea just two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg.

Stories from that night are famous, from the lookouts misplacing their binoculars to the ship’s band playing even as the sea washed over their feet, the sinking of the Titanic holds a special place in the public consciousness and continues to grab our attention some 109 years after the ‘unsinkable’ ship sank.

Over 1500 people lost their lives in the biggest maritime naval disaster at that point.

Among the dead were American and British millionaires, White Star Line employees and countless anonymous immigrants from across Europe who were all seeking a better life in America.

908 crew were on board the Titanic when it left Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, one of the crew was a man called Charles Essex Edwards, 38, who sometimes gave himself the first name of ‘Clement’.

Charles was born in 1862 to John and Harriet Edwards of St. Martin’s Place, Haverfordwest.

He worked as a carpenter as a 19-year-old man and would end up moving out of Pembrokeshire and going to sea.  By the time he married a lady called Lavinia Ann Poulter, from Llanstadwell, in May 1892 he was living in Newport.

Lavinia, a Pembrokeshire woman herself, was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Poulter who lived on Lawrenny Terrace in Neyland.

By 1895, Lavinia had returned to Pembrokeshire following the death of her mother. Charles and Lavinia’s marriage suffered but Charles would continue visiting Lavinia and stayed at his father-in-law’s house when he was on shore leave.

Although still married in the eyes of the law, Charles and Lavinia were basically separated by 1901.

Charles signed on to work on the brand new RMS Titanic after it had completed its sea trials in Belfast Lough, he gave his address as 7 Brunswick Square, Southampton. He worked on the Titanic as an assistant pantry-man steward who earned a monthly wage of £3 15s on his previous ship the SS Zeeland.

SS Zeeland: The ship Charles worked on before the Titanic

When RMS Titanic left Southampton a massive crowd had gathered to see the newest addition to the White Star Line fleet depart. Charles Edwards was there. He was there when the ship picked up more passengers at Cherbourg and Cobh.

He would’ve been working during the day, his job entailed keeping the ship’s pantries stocked with food and wine, a vital job on a ship with such a high-class passenger list as the Titanic.

He was, more than likely, sleeping when Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg in the ship’s path at 11:40pm on Sunday, April 14. He would’ve been woken by the noise of metal on ice and the ship shuddering as it was torn open on the starboard side.

As the ‘unsinkable’ ship took on water Charles, as a White Star Line employee, would’ve been given the unenviable task of waking up passengers, informing them of what happened and getting them to put on their lifejackets.

Once the scale of the situation on the Titanic became apparent, the command structure effectively disintegrated.

Captain Edward Smith would’ve cut a forlorn figure as he wandered around near the wheelhouse and his last words to his crew, according to reports at the time were:

“Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you.

“You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.”

This would’ve been around 2:10am, at that point Charles would’ve faced a literal up-hill battle with male members of the crew only having a 24% chance of survival and many people gathering ‘like bees’ on the stern of the stricken liner which, experts say, raised to a 12 degree angle.

The Pantryman-stewards from the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic

Many male crew members elected to stay at their posts as, according to Victorian culture it was better for men to die than to live and be perceived a coward, so the lights of the ship remained on until about 2:18am, just two minutes before Titanic broke apart and began its journey to its final resting place some 12,000ft below on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But now you know there was a man named Charles Edwards who was born in Haverfordwest and who died when the Titanic sank in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. His body, if it was recovered, was never identified and we don’t even have a picture of him.

When news of the disaster broke, The Pembroke County Guardian described the tragedy as ‘one of the most appalling calamities in the long history of shipwreck’.

Four men from Maenclochog, it was later revealed, had a lucky escape as their plans to emigrate that April on the Titanic were thwarted by one of their number being unable to travel, so the group decided to wait for their friend. That decision saved their lives.

Pembrokeshire responded to the sinking by raising money for the Titanic Relief Fund, Pembroke Dock raised £12 2s 0d through a collection at the Royal Dockyard and, in Haverfordwest, Sidney White, who would later go on to own The Palace Cinema, hosted benefit performances to packed houses which raised £5 15s.

Lavinia, after a legal battle with Charles’ brother William, was given £192 in compensation for Charles’ death and went on to look after her father at Railway Terrace, Neyland until he passed away.

Lavinia went on to move to Middlesex where she lived until 1934. She left her estate to her chauffeur.

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Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case



A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week.

Derek Lister, 72, of Marloes is accused of making indecent photographs of children.

He appeared before the bench, on Tuesday (Apr 13).

Lister was represented by Redkite Solicitors.

The court heard that between June 2009 and November 2019 in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, Lister allegedly created 3 indecent category A images of a child, 14 indecent category B images of a child and 152 indecent category C images of a child.

He will now appear at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am for the next hearing after the local court declined jurisdiction.

Lister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Derek Lister: Accused of making child abuse images
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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial



A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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