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Police step in to pensions row

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county hallDyfed-Powys Police and South Wales police forces are seeking legal advice from the Crown Prosecution Service about whether there is any evidence to support criminal charges in relation to unlawful pay supplements made to Pembrokeshire County Council chief executive Bryn Parry Jones and Carmarthenshire County Council chief executive Mark James.

With the county council due to hold a special meeting to consider the report within the next three weeks, it is unclear whether the intervention of the authorities will have any effect on the timing of such a meeting.

County councillors across the political spectrum have already been in touch with The Pembrokeshire Herald giving their views as to the future of controversial chief executive, Bryn Parry Jones. The majority of those who have provided their opinion are in favour of the Council setting up its own investigation into the affair and the suspension of the CEO while the investigation takes place.

Some Pembrokeshire councillors have also called for the suspension of those of their fellows who sat on the staff remuneration committee that approved the unlawful payments to Bryn Parry Jones in September 2011.

The Pembrokeshire Herald understands that the referral to the police was made by Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards, who wrote to the chief constables of Dyfed Powys and South Wales police forces.

Pembrokeshire County Council has continued to refuse to reveal the identity of the second officer who has benefited from the unlawful payments agreed by the staff remuneration committee.

A Council spokesman told The Pembrokeshire Herald:

‘We are not prepared to identify the second staff member who took up the new pension arrangements agreed on September 28, 2011.’

The Council’s refusal to disclose the identity of the second staff member, The Pembrokeshire Herald understands, is simply delaying the inevitable revelation of the employee’s identity when it publishes its annual accounts. It was the appearance of the Chief Executive’s name in the authority’s accounts that gave rise to the current and ongoing scandal.

One question that has yet to be resolved is whether Bryn Parry Jones will be compelled to repay the unlawful pay supplement he has received over the last two years. While the county council has the power to request repayment of any and all sums paid under the tax dodging scheme, it is not clear whether it will – in fact – do so. In addition, it is not clear whether any personal tax penalties will have accrued to the tax dodge’s beneficiaries.

With widespread disquiet about the tax dodging scheme across the county, it remains to be seen whether the IPPG-led Council will take decisive action to end the growing scandal.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Teifion

    February 7, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Bryn jones and all those people in the meeting held in BPJs office where his tax scheme was approved really should be suspended while any Police investigations are carried out.
    In the “real world” If a teacher or a police officer are being investigated they are suspended from work – It’s not an admission of guilt or innocence – It’s how things are done.
    May I also say the Senedds Local Gov minister failure to do or say anything constructive is really cowardly and useless

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Coastal car parks at beauty spots remain closed

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THE RECENT changes in regulations reinforce that movement is restricted to your local area.

This has been identified by the Welsh Government as an approximation of a five mile radius from your home.

Members of two separate households from the same local area (not travelling more than five miles) can now meet outdoors, as long as they maintain social distancing.

You should aim to meet another local household as close to your home as possible. Always take care to maintain social distancing and hand hygiene.

Pembrokeshire County Council car parks at attractions and beauty spots (including public toilets) currently remain closed so you should check before travelling.

They remain closed as a clear message that travel remains restricted, and associated tourism amenities remain closed.

A critical point for all to note is that lifeguards are not currently patrolling beaches and toilets and other facilities are not open.

Full details of the car parking facilities which remain open for the local community can be found on the Council’s website:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/emergency-planning/service-changes

Councillor Phil Baker, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure said: “The emphasis is on careful, structured unlocking, and not to put in danger any of the recovery measures that relate to public health and not to undo the safeguarding that lockdown has delivered.

“We will continue to review and monitor this carefully and take cautious, measured steps only to provide the benefits of the eased regulations without putting our residents at risk.”

Motorists are reminded not to contravene parking restrictions – such as yellow lines – where they exist as parking enforcement is still being undertaken.

As with other service areas, car parks will be reviewed in line with current advice.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Leaders coronavirus update

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PEMBROKESHIRE County Council Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Tuesday, 2nd June, as follows:

‘I want to thank everyone for the continued support to myself, Elected Members and officers of the Authority.

‘We have all experienced many challenges over the years but this continued struggle is very testing for all. We continue collectively to work together to ensure we, in Pembrokeshire, remain safe and avoid catching Covid-19

‘It is clear that we still have to remain “local”. There is no remit for travelling outside our local community. You will have read and heard clear guidance on only travelling five miles from home.

‘As always and where you can, please exercise from your home. The more we can do to reduce the spread of the virus, the better we will all fare in the long term.

‘I want to highlight that today marks the 50 th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge. This was indeed a tragedy as lives were lost and it is a sad chapter in Pembrokeshire’s history.

‘As in any incident, people can, and do, rebuild and also learn lessons. After Covid-19 the new “normality” will look different from what we were used to. But we will all move forward and regain Confidence.

‘I’m sure, like you, I question how I should be tackling this issue. Should I be doing more? The answer is simple and direct – we need to ensure social distancing is maintained; wash our hands regularly and listen to the advice given by experts.

‘Remember: ‘Stay Strong and Stay Local.’

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‘Check in, Catch up and Prepare’ All school’s in Wales prepare to enter next phase

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ALL children will have the opportunity to “Check in, Catch Up, Prepare for summer and September”, the Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced today as she published details of the next phase for schools in Wales.

It is proposed that all schools will start the next phase on 29 June, with the term extended by a week, therefore ending on 27 July.

In the next academic year, beginning in September, the intention is that the autumn half-term break will be expanded to two weeks.

In each school there will be a phased approach. Year groups will be split into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks. It is expected that this will mean, at most, a third of pupils present at any one time, though schools may need time to reach this level of operation.

There will be much smaller classes, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates. This time will include online and personalised classroom experience, getting children and teachers ready for a similar experience in September.

Next week, the Welsh Government will publish guidance to support schools, as well as further and higher education institutions. This will include information on managing their facilities and logistical arrangements, including buildings, resources, cleaning and transport.

The Government is also today publishing a paper from its COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, representing the latest understanding of the virus with respect to children and education.

Further Education colleges are ensuring that appropriate measures are being taken to re-open for face-to-face learning from 15 June. They will prioritise those students requiring licence to practice assessments and vulnerable learners. This follows close working with Government and the joint trade unions.

Guidance for childcare providers will also be published in the next week, supporting them to increase the numbers of children in attendance alongside schools.

Kirsty Williams said:

“My announcement today gives schools three and a half weeks to continue preparing for the next phase.

“We will use the last weeks of the summer term to make sure pupils, staff and parents are prepared – mentally, emotionally and practically – for the new normal in September.

“29 June means there will have been one full month of test, trace and protect, which will continue to expand. I can also announce that teachers will be a priority group in our new antibody-testing programme. As we continue to keep Wales safe, this approach will be critical.

“The evolving science suggests that warm weather and sunlight gives us the best opportunity to ensure more time in school. Waiting until September would mean almost half a year without schooling. That would be to the detriment to the wellbeing, learning progress and mental health of our young people.

“This is and has been a worrying period for us all. I know that many will feel apprehensive. We have not rushed this work and this decision.

“The three and a half week period before the next phase also gives us time to keep watch on developments elsewhere and provides further check-points to review evidence and the roll-out of testing.

“This is the best practical option that meets my five principles which underpin my decision making.

“I am also convinced that it is only by returning to their own school that we will see increased attendance from our more vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

“Working together we will secure equity and excellence for pupils as they check in, catch up, and prepare for summer and September.”

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