Connect with us


Badger and the appliance of science



badger84imageECONOMICS, readers, was described by Thomas Carlyle as “the dismal science”. Of course, the fact he coined the phrase in the context of a pamphlet supporting the reintroduction of slavery in the Caribbean demonstrates that one has to have an eye on the context in which they were originally offered up to posterity when considering the wisdom of aphorisms. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” is often handed down as though it was an immortal truth: one carved in stone; one to be heeded at all times and in all circumstances. Its appeal to authority is often followed by a nod to its origin in Shakespeare. Polonius, the character who offers the advice in Hamlet, is generally regarded as being as thick as mince and his counsel of as little use as a chocolate fireguard. So, readers, bear in mind t h a t wh e n e v e r you hear someone q u o t e t h a t line; their advice should be given as much weight as Hamlet ends up giving to Polonius’. By the way, and while Badger does not want to spoil the surprise, Hamlet stabs poor old Polonius by way of a farcical mistake resulting from Polonius own idiocy.

But it is of economics that Badger wants to write this week readers. In a way, it is inevitable that Carlyle, who subscribed to the dictum above. He believed in the “great man” theory of history which persisted for a surprisingly long time in scholarship. Economics, and more particularly economic history, is less about the individual poised at the moment of decision than about demography and long term trends. Badger is prepared to concede a great deal to those who think that the answer to the questions of the past can be divined from financial history and the study of markets and the masses. Much can be learned about the way in which some countries rise to positions of pre-eminence less because of the individual genius of its inhabitants than by their ability to exploit and more efficiently organize resources.

But when it comes down to it, readers, there are far fewer artworks devoted to the heroism of Keynes, Friedman and Galbraith t h a n there are to Napoleon, Frederick the Great or Churchill. Badger prefers to consider that there is a form of synthesis between the approaches of the different schools of thought. Otherwise how can one go about explaining the economic illiteracy, foolishness and pig-headed ignorance of Pembrokeshire’s county councillors – and more particularly the IPPG – when it came to Bryn Parry-Jones. Badger had hoped that the Brynmeister had made his last appearance in his column, but the eagerness of the national media to suddenly discover details of Bryn’s work car revealed in this paper over six months ago, thrust him and Pembrokeshire County Council’s profligate pay policy for senior officers into pin sharp focus.

That, combined with the news that the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales wants to cut his successor’s pay by a third to a measly £130K all in, behoves Badger to once more return to the longest running punchline to the longest running joke in Welsh local government. £195K readers. Toy with that fi gure. Roll it around in your head. £195,000 of our council tax paying pounds is what was bunged to Bryn by way of an annual remuneration package. How did anyone, let alone people charged with custody of public money, come to believe that one man was worth so much? Badger has a theory. It is only a notion borne out of Badger’s observations of the way you lot behave up there on the surface, but he offers it for your consideration. Hard as it might be to believe, readers, Bryn was regarded as a bit of whizz kid in his past.

He had been the youngest chief executive of a council in Wales (Llanelli) before the great local government shake-up that returned unitary authority status to our county eliminated Llanelli Borough Council and merged it with Carmarthenshire. So it was to Pembrokeshire – pretty much the last resort – to which Bryn turned. One fl ashy presentation later and Bryn jumped on the gravy train and rode it right up until it ran into the buffers. Thereafter, all Bryn had to do was to consolidate his grip on power and then play up to councillors’ vanity and insecurity to ensure that his pay escalated from the merely very comfortable to the stratospherically lunatic. Councillors, it has been written elsewhere by this newspaper’s deputy editor, were encouraged to believe that they were clever because they had appointed Bryn, who appeared clever.

Councillors, particularly those from the so-called Independent Group, liked feeling clever – or at least possessed of the secret knowledge of their own cleverness. But their misplaced self-confi dence was accompanied by insecurity. If Bryn left, their cleverness would evaporate; worse, their brilliance would be revealed to be as illusory as the emperor’s new clothes. So it was, readers, that slowly but surely Bryn was put into a position where he could apply the screws and chisel more money out of his employers. The vanity and insecurity of a few councillors, over time allowed Bryn to grab more and more. But it is worse than that, readers. The corollary of paying the Grand Panjandrum a large sum of money, means that all his subordinate mandarins’ pay becomes inflated simply to stay in step.

They are all worth more, because the Grand Panjandrum is worth more. The senior offi cers – heads of service – become less likely to proactively act on problems. There are two pressures at play here. There is the risk of killing the goose that has laid golden eggs. And, of course, if the Chief is clever they must also be clever. That is the species of thought that allows heads of service to re-write care home fees without reference to rational external criteria and allow the use of punishment cells in our county’s schools. They cannot be wrong, because they are clever. They can show how clever they are by reference to their pay cheques. Readers, what we have there is a perfect storm of wilful ignorance and self-interest fuelling grotesque pay infl ation. Every chief officer and senior officer in Wales wanted Pembrokeshire’s gravy train to keep on running to maintain the South Sea Bubble of senior staff’s pay.

But no more: the Remuneration Panel has decreed that Pembrokeshire’s size and staff complement cannot support a wage more outrageous than the £130,000 a year it proposes. Such is the infl ated pay that the Council pays to its individual heads of service, a new chief executive could end up being paid less than those notionally their underlings. So, Jamie Adams has a problem, readers. Whether he settles for what the Panel proposes or insists that £145,000 is the minimum to attract someone who will make his friends on the “Independent” benches feel clever again, he will be acknowledging that it was under the “Independent” group’s stewardship that this council (our council, readers!!) not only threw away hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money on overpaying its chief offi cer and his lackeys, but continues to do so. The economic science the “Independent” group understands, readers, is the economics of the madhouse. It’s dismal, indeed.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Approval recommended for dockyard plans



A CONTROVERSIAL plan to develop part of Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard comes before the County Council’s Planning Committee next week.

Despite many objections from heritage organisations, Council planning officers recommend the development’s approval.

However, the Planning Committee will only indicate whether it is ‘minded to approve’ the proposal instead of giving it the go-ahead.

The Welsh Government has called in the application for decision by the next Welsh Government minister responsible for planning and infrastructure developments.

That means the Welsh Government will consider the Report presented to the Committee and weigh it against the objections received.


The application is to develop a brownfield site within the former Royal Dockyard.

It seeks outline planning permission for the demolition or part demolition and infill of various buildings and structures, modification of existing slipways, erection of buildings and ancillary development. 

The development is intended for port-related activities, including the manufacture of marine energy devices, boat manufacture, repair and erection of plant.

The application is for outline planning permission. All matters relating to access, appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale are reserved for consideration as part of reserved matters applications. In practice, as many councils – including Pembrokeshire – have discovered, once outline planning is granted, reserved applications tend to proceed despite potential negative impacts.

A similar situation arose with Milford Haven Port Authority’s hotel development at Milford Marina, where councillors’ concerns were largely overruled by the existence of outline planning permission for the development.

Part of the proposal would see the former graving dock and timber pond infilled, the part demolition of existing slipways, and some buildings on site.

Both the graving dock and timber pond are Grade II listed. Buildings near the development are also listed, including the iconic Sunderland flying boat hangars.

The existing caisson gate currently in situ at the dock’s southern end would be removed and conserved. It is unique in Wales and a rare example. The planning report states that the caisson gate would remain within the marine environment without development and deteriorate. 

The development would include a new ‘super slipway’ built over the land extending into the River Cleddau and the construction of massive new industrial sheds to accommodate new marine technology.


The planning report claims the facilities erected will support anywhere between 288 and 975 full-time equivalent jobs in Pembrokeshire and make a substantial contribution to the local economy. However, the report also notes that the numbers of jobs claimed cannot be corroborated.

This proposal is linked to the establishment of the Marine Energy Test Areas (META), the Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) and the Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone (PDZ). These collectively comprise the Pembroke Dock Marine (PDM) project. 

The project forms part of the Swansea Bay City Deal to facilitate the next generation of marine renewable energy technology.

Companies who could potentially gain from the development have signalled their support from the proposal.Although their enthusiasm is predictable, the economic potential for local businesses cannot be ignored.


However, a raft of objections also exists.

The Council received representations from, among others: The Victorian Society; The Georgian Group; Hywel Dda University Health Board;  Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre; Pembrokeshire Historic Buildings Trust; Pembroke Civic Trust; Naval Dockyards Society; The Commodore Trust; Ridgway History Group.

Not all of those organisations objected to the principle of development. For example, Hywel Dda expressed concern about the potential effect on access to South Pembs Hospital and patient care. However, most criticised the impact on the historic environment of the Royal Dockyard. Individual objections also expressed the same concerns.

The Naval Dockyard Society points out that the Dockyard construction was the reason for Pembroke Dock’s creation as a town. Without it, the town would not exist.

The Society continues: ‘The proposed scheme would severely damage Pembroke Dock Conservation Area and crucial listed buildings. 

‘The Grade II* Graving Dock would be infilled and partially built over, the Grade II Timber Pond infilled and built over, and the Grade II Building Slips Nos 1 and 2 partially demolished and removed. It would also be detrimental to the adjacent Grade II Carr Jetty setting, which adds to the group value of these threatened structures at Pembroke Dockyard.

‘These structures are the last and most important features of the magnificent and unique assemblage of thirteen slips, graving dock and timber pond constructed and functioning 1809–1926. 

‘Pembroke Dock specialised in building warships during the transition from wood to iron and steel, sail to steam and turbines. 

‘While the eastern slips were sacrificed in 1979 for the Irish ferry terminal and the deep-water berth Quay 1, we now live in a more responsible era, when significant community assets merit planning protection.

‘The Royal Dockyard established at Pembroke Dock from 1809 was unique: the only one in Wales, the only one on the west coast of Britain, and the only one created solely as a shipbuilding facility. 

‘It built over 260 warships for the Royal Navy, including many of the most prestigious warships of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as five royal yachts. Many of these vessels were built on the two large slipways at the western end of the yard threatened by the current development proposal’.


William Gannon represents Pembroke Dock Town Council on the Milford Haven Port Authority. Mr Gannon recently hosted an online event that reviewed the application and gave local people the chance to express their views.

We asked him what the public had to say about the plans.

Listening to the community: David Gannon (photo credit: David Steel)

William Gannon told us: “The feeling of the Community following our Zoom Meeting was that we welcome the 1800 jobs and the £63 Million of investment that the Pembroke Dock Marine Project has promised. 

“However, the Community is concerned about the Pickling Pond and The Graving Dock’s loss, which will be buried beneath the new slipway. Both The Pickling Pond and The Graving Dock are Grade 2 Star listed heritage assets.

“The Community are also concerned about the size of the two ‘super sheds’ that may be built. It is felt that these sheds are both too large and ugly, and they will damage the appearance of the Dockyard and The Haven and could damage Pembroke Docks plans to develop Tourism in and around the Dockyard.

“Our Community is looking to strike a balance between the need to develop the Dockyard and to preserve our Heritage Assets. 

“We believe that we can do this by working with The Port to develop a solution that allows for both.”

The Port Authority plans to infill the dock and pond in such a way as to preserve the structures and excavate them in the future. Once they are built over, however, the circumstances that would be possible or even likely are unclear. 

The Port Authority also proposes to use digital media to provide an ‘augmented reality’ experience to show visitors what the Royal Dockyard looked like before its development.

The Port says that part of the land, the Carriage Drive, would be enhanced and restored under its plans for the site.
The balance between preserving heritage and creating future jobs in one of its pet project areas is one the Welsh Government will wrestle with on this application and others.

Continue Reading


Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears



A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said in Swansea Crown Court.

In total, 11 former pupils, who were all under 13, have come forward and accused James Oulton, 34, of sexually assaulting them.

Oulton denies all the charges – saying the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he had behaved appropriately all times.

One of the pupils, who was in year four at the time, opened day four of the trial by giving evidence via a video link.

The girl told the court: “He would put his arm around by back and backside.”

Under cross examination Chris Clee QC, for the defence, asked the witness: “Did you tell the police that you were touched in an inappropriate way?”

The witness answered: “Yes, teachers should not be touching in that way.”

James Oulton

Asked if what he was doing wrong, the witness replied:

“Yes, very wrong”

In cross examination letters and cards were produced, made the witness whilst in school, where she had said Mr. James Oulton was “the best teacher in the whole world.”

One of the cards said: “You’ve made my life complete”.

Another card said: “Thank you for being so nice, and thanks for everything that you’ve done for me.”

The witness added: “Despite what he did do, he was a good teacher.  

“He used to buy us treats.

“He was nice caring and a sweet and fun teacher – but not what he was doing.

Referring to the cards, she said: “I would definitely not be saying that stuff now.”

Explaining how she told her parents the witness said: “Once I realised that [x] was in his class, I asked her ‘did he do this stuff to you?’

“She said yes.

“I realised more and more it was wrong and it was time to grow up now, and to speak.

“As soon as I found out that this was happening to [x] I stood up and told my parents.

Asked if she had seen inappropriate behaviour happening to anybody else the witness answered: “He did it to most of the girls in the class, but he had his favourites.

Asked if she had spoken to other girls about the touching, the witness said: “Yes, I was just curious was it just me, or was it normal?”

“Teachers should most definitely not be doing that to students.

“Doing what?”, the witness was asked, “You said in your police interview that he would pull you off your chair and make you sit on his lap, is that true?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

“Did you try and stop him?” she was asked.

“Yes, I tried to push him off sometimes and said, ‘get off its weird’, but I didn’t want to make a scene.

“He would make me sit on his lap whilst he was marking my work.”

When asked by the defence barrister how she was sat on her teacher’s lap, and if it was under a desk, the witness answered: “No, not under the desk, as both of our legs wouldn’t fit under.”

The witness also said that when she was sat on the defendant’s knee he would make “a low grunting noise.”

Asked if she had spoken others about this case, the girl said: “Police told my mum and dad that there were very many people involved in the case.

“I thought it was just me and [x] that was going to be at court, I only recently discovered that others had come out.”

A second female pupil was also giving evidence via video link. She was 9-years-old at the time of the alleged offending.

Firstly, a pre-recorded interview was played in court in which the witness said: “My teacher, Mr. Oulton always put his hand up my leg like that and up my t-shirt.”

She added: “If he calls you over and he pulls you onto his lap, if you don’t, he pulls your chair over and makes you.”

“How would he make you?” the QC asked.

“He would grab your arm, push you, and then pull you in”, she replied.

When asked if this was a one off, the witness said that the defendant “did it every day.”

“How would you be sat on his lap?”, she was asked.

“He would have one arm on my stomach, then the other arm would be rubbing my leg.”

“He would swap arms and then put one arm up my t-shirt.”

When asked to clarify if it was under her t-shirt the girl explained: “Yes it was under my t-shirt rubbing his hands up and down.”

The witness added: “If I tried to get up for work, he would just grab my arm.”

“He would make a funny sound like a hissing airplane.”

“We had a helper in the class, and when he came in, he would stop, and then I could go and sit down.”

The trial continues.

Continue Reading


New trees planted to help town



SEVERAL new trees have been planted on Riverside Avenue in Neyland.

They were planted by Grandiflora, courtesy of the Town Council which recently pledged to plant more trees in the town in an attempt to help the environment.

As well as helping the environment, the trees will prevent vehicles from being parked on the grass verges on Riverside Avenue, which had been severely churned up over the winter and looked unsightly.

The Town Council will be working with Pembrokeshire County Council regarding parking issues in Neyland.

The trees will be tended and watered over the summer period to ensure they reach their maximum potential and enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

Continue Reading
News12 hours ago

Approval recommended for dockyard plans

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to develop part of Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard comes before the County Council’s Planning Committee next week. Despite many...

News1 day ago

Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears

A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said...

News1 day ago

Golden goodbye report likely to be critical

A REPORT by Audit Wales into the departure of former CEO Ian Westley is very likely to contain criticism of...

News2 days ago

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...

News3 days ago

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...

Entertainment4 days ago

BAFTA winner Sir Anthony Hopkins visits St. Davids

CELEBRATING his BAFTA win, Sir Anthony Hopkins has been vaccinated and returned to his native country of Wales where he...

News4 days ago

Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court

A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a...

News4 days ago

Kill the Bill protest to take place in Haverfordwest on Saturday

INDIVIDUALS and activists from local groups, including Extinction Rebellion Pembrokeshire, Stand Up to Racism West Wales, Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly and...

News4 days ago

Everything you need to know about the current coronavirus restrictions in Wales

THE GOVERNMENT guidelines in Wales are changing today (Apr 12). There are major changes coming into force today across the...

Health4 days ago

New Covid vaccine arrives first in West Wales

THE FIRST person in the UK to receive the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 got their jab at 8:30 in the...

Popular This Week