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BRYN ‘MUST RESIGN’

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must resignCouncil Chief In Unlawful Payments Scandal

AN EXPLOSIVE report by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) has decided that payments made by Pembrokeshire County Council to its controversial CEO Bryn Parry-Jones WERE unlawful.

The report concludes that the council did not have legal powers to implement its infamous tax-dodge scheme, and follows an investigation by the Assistant Auditor General for Wales, Anthony Barrett, who said (emphasis added):

“Pembrokeshire Council has acted UNLAWFULLY and URGENTLY needs to rescind the decision about pensions opt-outs and stop any further payments to senior officers. The public should be able to expect the highest standards of decision-making at local authorities and the Council MUST now address the procedural weaknesses I have identified in my report. It needs to demonstrate to its electorate that it is operating in accordance with the law and in line with good governance principles.”

• Bryn’s pension scheme “a pay supplement”

• Police now meeting with Audit Office

• Full Council to meet and consider report

• Payments must stop immediately

plaid callsPlaid Cymru calls for resignations

PLAID CYMRU representatives for Pembrokeshire have called on the leadership of Pembrokeshire Council to consider their position following a damning report by the Wales Audit Office report on ‘unlawful’ pensions opt out payments at the council.

Mid and West AM Simon Thomas, Shadow Education Minister for Plaid Cymru commented: “Over £50,000 has been paid to the Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire Council and one other senior officer. My Plaid Cymru colleague Rhodri Glyn Thomas and his team have worked to strengthen accountability over the remuneration packages of local authority chief executives, and have been successful in seeing changes to salaries being scrutinised by the independent remuneration board.”

“The Wales Audit Office is clear that the pension opt out payments at Pembrokeshire Council were ‘unlawful’. In light of this report the leadership of Pembrokeshire Council should consider their position. Pembrokeshire taxpayers will want the council to revoke the decision on pension pay-outs and halt any further payments to senior officers.”

Leader of Plaid Cymru on Pembrokeshire Council, Councillor Michael Williams, who sat on the council’s audit committee added: “I questioned the legality of these payments at the time. I’m sad that the Wales Audit Office has ruled that Pembrokeshire Council has acted illegally. “We have one of the highest paid senior management yet we stumble from one crisis to another. Pembrokeshire Council has failed our young people on education and let our most vulnerable down on social care. “Pembrokeshire Council was on the cusp of being put into special measures and we were only redeemed by the intervention and assistance of the Ministerial Board.

voices concernCllr Paul Miller voices concern

“THIS REPORT from the Audit Office backs up what I, the Labour Group, opposition Councillors and to be fair, the Pembrokeshire Herald, have said all along. The council never had the power to make this decision and never should have made it in the way it did.

Bryn Parry-Jones, with the assistance of 6 long standing Councillors, awarded himself a 5 figure pay rise. Discussions of complex and technical pension arrangements have always been a smoke screen for what is a back door pay rise, pure and simple.

A key question your readers may be asking themselves though is why? Why through the back door? This council have never been afraid in the past of simply declaring ‘you have to pay the best to get the best’. Well we all know the reason and that’s because in 2011 when this decision was taken the council was in the process of implementing its new pay model for staff. That pay model took thousands of pounds a year away from some of the authorities lowest paid staff and so instead of asking themselves if it was right, morally right, to give Bryn an extra £20,000 while taking thousands from someone cutting the grass on £15,000 a year the question became, well how can we get away with giving him £20,000, without it looking like a pay rise?

I was clear when this started that the arrangement should be terminated immediately and the chief executive suspended pending a formal investigation. We will be calling for an extraordinary meeting of council as soon as possible and insisting that motion is put to an all member vote!

Pembrokeshire’s council tax payers are going to be furious again and yet again feel powerless to act.

Well I can assure them that I will be acting and I would encourage them to talk, lobby, accost if necessary their local councillors, particularly their local independent group Councillors, and demand they put a stop to the shady, back door way this council is determined to operate!”

‘Petition for Change at Pembrokeshire Council’ page on facebook and my petition (over 350 signatories so far) at www.paulmillerpembrokeshire.com/councilchange

 

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Crabb slams Barclays Post Office cash opt-out

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has criticised Barclays Bank’s ‘short-sighted’ decision not to allow its customers to withdraw cash from Post Office counters.

A new agreement has seen 28 banks and building societies sign up with the Post Office for three years from January. The agreement will see postmaster paid more to take in and dispense cash on behalf of these banks.  However, Barclays is the only bank to exclude cash withdrawal as part of the agreement.

Government ministers have been urging the banks to make greater use of the Post Office network so that bank customers will still be able to save and withdraw cash following a large number of bank branch closures.

Preseli MP Stephen Crabb, who has spoken out against bank closures and the shortage of free ATMs, said:

“This is another slap in the face from Barclays for its own customers.

“The Post Office has become essential to high street banking as banks have closed their doors, taking with them free ATMs. To not allow Barclays customers to withdraw money from the Post Office is a short-sighted decision, which will likely result in Barclays customers paying to take their own money out.

“Earlier this year I spoken in Parliament about the drive towards a ‘cashless society’ which goes against the needs of rural communities.

“I have now written to the Treasury Minister to ask him to challenge this decision by Barclays.”

Barclays customers currently make 1.2 million cash withdrawal from the Post Office each month.

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Pembrokeshire turns pink and blue for Baby Loss Awareness week

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CASTLE HILL Tenby, Manobier Castle and Pembroke Castle will be illuminated in pink and blue lights between 9 th and 15 th October to show Pembrokeshire’s support for Baby Loss Awareness Week 2019 (9 th to 15 th October).

The annual awareness week, now in its 17 th year, is an opportunity for bereaved parents, families and friends, to commemorate babies’ lives and break the silence around pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.

Nia Payne originally from Tenby, now living in Cilgerran, said: “We hope turning these landmarks pink and blue will spark conversations about baby loss and give local bereaved parents and families an opportunity to talk about their precious babies. Since our daughter
(Gwennie) was born sleeping in March of this year I have been shocked by the number of people that have experienced a pregnancy or baby loss, yet it is almost a taboo subject. I have reached a point were I enjoy sharing our story with people and keeping Gwennie's
memory alive. Trying to arrange these light ups has given me a focus while hopefully helping others to communicate about their personal experiences.”

All of the buildings and landmarks turning pink and blue for Baby Loss Awareness Week 2019 will be featured on the interactive map and the Facebook album Anyone in Pembrokeshire can share their photos of the landmarks on social media with the hashtag #BLAW2019.

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity), said: “Baby Loss Awareness Week is a unique opportunity for parents to commemorate their babies who died. I hope bereaved families in Pembrokeshire seeing these landmarks lit up pink and blue will feel less isolated and alone in their grief.

“Pregnancy loss or the death of a baby is a tragedy that affects thousands of people every year. It is devastating for parents and families and it’s vital they get the bereavement support and care they need, for as long as they need it.”

For further information about Baby Loss Awareness Week visit: www.babyloss-awareness.org

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Spooky celebrations and events at National Park

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THIS half-term a creepy concoction of events and activities will be taking place at all three visitor attractions run by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, Castell Henllys Iron Age Village and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre will all be hosting Halloween-themed events, from witch hunts to ghost tours and encounters with woodland fairies.

Events at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill will include Fireside Tales on 19, 20, 26 and 27 October, where guests will be invited to sit around a fire and listen to spooky tales and stories of brave knights and beautiful princesses.

For those interested in honing their sorcery skills, The Carew School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will open its doors to new pupils on 29, 30 and 31 October. The syllabus will include wand-making, discovering spirit animals, spell-casting and broomstick agility. For those in costume, there will be a competition at noon.
Ghost Tours of the Castle will also take place during this period.

At Castell Henllys the thinning of the veil between this world and the next will be celebrated on 31 October with Samhain – Haunted Henllys. With a variety of spooky activities on offer, including a Ghost Walk, the day will end with the spectacle of the burning of the wicker man.

Scary Fairy Fun on 28 and 30 October offers visitors the opportunity to meet the woodland fairies at Castell Henllys and take part in activities such as face-painting, storytelling and enchanted woodland crafts.
Those of a magical mindset might also be interested in attending Wizards and Witches on 29 October and 1 November, with magical crafty activities organised throughout the day.

Between 20 October and 3 November, Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St Davids will host a Halloween Trail around the grounds and centre. The Trail will cost £2 per sheet and will run between 10 am – 4 pm each day.

For those seeking a less hair-raising half-term experience, places are still available for the Wildfowl of the Western Cleddau walk arranged to take place at Little Milford between 1 pm – 3 pm on 26 October. Guided by a Ranger, this gentle stroll along the banks of the Cleddau will offer the opportunity to see wading birds, such as the curlew and redshank. Children must be supervised and no dogs are allowed.

If culture holds greater appeal than the occult, two exhibitions, A Celebration of Contemporary Welsh Painting and The Cabinet of Curiosities will be hosted at Oriel y Parc during October and November, featuring top contemporary Welsh artists and members of the Carmarthen Artists’ Network respectively.

For details of all the events taking place in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events.

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