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Are the officers revolting?

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Cllr Jamie Adams

Cllr Jamie Adams

COUNCIL LEADER Jamie Adams called an urgent meeting for 4pm Thursday February 26, to discuss a major legal issue arising from the recruitment process for the new Chief Executive.

It appears as though the consequence of overpaying Bryn Parry-Jones for many years has come back to bite the council, as heads of service, directors have lately become aware of the possibility that they have been UNDERPAID and have potential legal claims against the council for setting their pay at too low a level.

An email sent to group leaders and members of the Senior Staff Committee from Cllr Adams headed ‘Urgent Meeting at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday, 26th February 2015 in Leader’s Room’ reads: ‘Following discussions between myself and the Section 151 Officer (i.e. Jonathan Haswell, Head of Finance) I need to discuss with you the issue of the relationship between Chief Executive (sic) remuneration and that of the Chief Officers. I trust that you will make every effort to attend this meeting. If however you are unable to attend I would be happy to contact you by telephone later on Thursday evening. Please provide me with your contact details if you are unable to attend’.

The Herald is able to confirm that, despite clear advice given by two senior officers on two separate occasions, an issue is alleged to have arisen in relation to the pay differentials between the council’s chief and other senior directors.

At a council meeting in December, the issue of pay ratios was raised by Hakin councillor Mike Stoddart. At that meeting Cllr Stoddart referred to a pay rule adopted by the council which meant that no Director’s pay could not encroach within 77.5% of the Chief Executive’s pay.

Ceri Davies, Head of HR, told councillors on that occasion: “I can advise that, having looked into the matter East Williamston’s Jacob Williams then asked for confirmation of when the provision, which he had established was passed in 1995, was repealed.

Mr Davies replied: “I don’t have the exact date for members this afternoon, but I believe it was in 2004-2005, but I would need to look into that.”

On begin asked by Cllr Tom Richards to confirm whether or not the position was as he stated, Mr Davies ducked the direct question by saying: “That’s my understanding.”

At the meeting of the Senior Staff Committee which set the £130,000 salary for a new appointee on Tuesday February 3, councillors were again advised – this time by Mr Mark Woolgar, the Corporate HR Manager, gave similar advice to council. This time advising that, although not rescinded as previously advised, the policy was ineffective as the issue of encroachment had not arisen for many years.

However, it now appears that the advice given by officers to councillors was flawed, as the restriction meant that the top end of directors’ pay should have been within 77.5% of the chief officer’s pay. In other words, if the chief officer’s pay was £200,000 per annum, the top end of directors’ pay would be £154,000 instead of the c. £115,000 per year as at the moment.

On February 5’s Senior Staff Committee meeting, it was confirmed that senior officers’ pay was set at around 66% of Bryn Parry-Jones’ eye-watering pay packet.

The council potentially faces substantial claims for the senior staff cadre who will argue that their pay has not been set according to the Council’s own policy. As a result, it is alleged that the council has potentially operated in breach of its own policies and procedures for an extended period of time.

As the salaries involved are large, the sums involved are, likewise, considerable.

A council spokesperson told The Herald: “The report on the Chief Executive’s salary was due to be considered at next week’s Full Council meeting. However, this will no longer be the case due to a significant financial risk having been identified, following a matter raised by a County Councillor. The spokesperson explained: “The Chief Finance Officer, in his role as Section 151 Officer, has determined that the matter must be re-considered. A new report on the issue will be drafted for consideration by Council in the future.”

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Tragedy above Milford Haven takeaway

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DYFED POWYS POLICE has confirmed that a 20-year-old male passed away in Milford Haven last Saturday, April 17.

Police were called to the USA Fried Chicken store on Charles Street at around 1:30pm but have said there are no suspicious circumstances.

A Herald reporter was at the scene and witnessed a number of police cars and an ambulance while plain-clothed officers were also seen.

HM Coroner has been informed.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson added: “We were called to Charles Street in Milford Haven on Saturday 17 April at approximately 1.34pm to reports of a medical emergency. We attended the scene with one emergency ambulance where we assisted colleagues from the police.”

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Health

Tavernspite School the ‘healthiest of schools despite the pandemic’

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THE STAFF, governors, parents, and of course, the children of Tavernspite Community Primary School are delighted to gain the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes National Quality Award for an incredible 5th time after a recent and very rigorous assessment.

The school is already well known and highly regarded for its outstanding work in developing the health and wellbeing of all members of its school community. To achieve this prestigious recognition in the midst of a pandemic is all the more impressive. 

Health and Wellbeing at the school is led by teacher, Lauren Arthur, who has done an incredible job preparing for this re-assessment and raising the profile of the Healthy Schools scheme.

The assessor Mrs Lynne Perry, enjoyed a virtual tour and presentation by Year 3 pupils who took great pleasure in proudly showing Mrs Perry all the wonderful work the school has done to ensure its children are safe, happy with high levels of emotional and physical wellbeing.

In her report, Mrs Perry wrote, ‘Tavernspite School continues to be an outstanding health promoting school. The health promoting school ethos is evident across the whole school population and it runs seamlessly throughout everything that the school does. Tavernspite School continues to give high priority to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the whole school community.’

The school received fantastic support from Mrs Liz Western, Senior Public Health Officer and Lead for Healthy Schools and Pre-schools, Pembrokeshire, to whom they are very grateful.

Head teacher Kevin Phelps said, ‘We were delighted to receive this award for the fifth time, particularly considering the experiences we have all been through these past twelve months. Health and wellbeing has never been so important and we are proud to be leading the way like this.’

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Joinery learner through to Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year Finals

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE joinery learner, Conor Ratcliff has made it through to the final ten in this year’s Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year competition.

Now in its seventh year, the competition celebrates the next generation of tradespeople as they start out on their career. With over 2,500 nominations, Conor was shortlisted to the top 30 where he had to deliver a video presentation to industry-leading judges and trade body representatives. Judged on professionalism, creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and knowledge of their trade, Conor impressed the judges and is now in the final 10.  

Simon Jackson, Screwfix Customer and Digital director, commented: “Every year we are amazed by the outstanding quality of entrants and, this year, we are on the lookout for apprentices who go above and beyond to succeed within their chosen trade.

“We’ve seen how this career-boosting accolade and £10,000 prize bundle helps kickstart an apprentice’s career. I’d like to wish everyone through to this stage the best of luck!”

The prize package includes everything a future tradesperson may need to start up their own business including £5,000 of tools, a £3,000 training budget and £2,000 worth of technology. The college where they study will also receive £2,000.

Conor is thrilled to have made it through to the finals and commented: “I am extremely honoured to have made it this far in the competition and I am very excited for the final event. It would be an amazing opportunity for me, if I won this competition.

“I hope it encourages more people to consider an apprenticeship in a trade, the Carpentry and Joinery department have been incredibly supportive during my studies.”

The Final is due to take place imminently where the judges will conduct an online interview with the ten finalists before selecting and announcing their overall winner.

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