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Bid to suspend Bryn collapses

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The extraordinary meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council to decide if the Chief Executive, Bryn Parry Jones should be suspended has collapsed, amongst unprecedented scenes at County Hall today.pensions investigation

Opposition Councillors received legal advice from a top QC that they should withdraw from the meeting due to comments they had made in the press.

Tim Kerr QC, the lawyer advising the Council on the ‘tax-dodge’ pension arrangements read out a list of Councillors who he felt could not participate in the meeting due to negative comments they had made about Bryn Parry Jones to The Pembrokeshire Herald and The Western Telegraph.

In light of this, most members of the opposition walked out of the council chamber and the one remaining signatory to the notice of motion that Mr. Parry-Jones be suspended, Cllr Phil Baker, withdrew the vote.

Cllr. Phil Baker told the Herald just now: “I knew something was afoot when the QC was allowed to remain after the Wales Audit Office report was discussed.”

He added: “I think that a lot of IPPG members as well as opposition Councillors are not happy about what has happened today. Very shabby indeed, its like the old East Germany.”

PEMBROKESHIRE ALLIANCE

The Pembrokeshire Alliance Group have made a statement about the  meeting

A spokesman said: “This meeting was an insult to democracy. The people of Pembrokeshire deserve openness, transparency and good governance and this meeting was an example of what happens when these principles are quite deliberately not followed.”

The Pembrokeshire Alliance Group says it is now in discussions with other opposition groups and non affiliated Councillors as to what should happen next.

AM WANTS BRYN STRIPPED OF RETURNING OFFICER POWERS

reWELSH Labour AM Rebecca Evans has called for embattled chief executive of Pembrokeshire Council Bryn Parry-Jones to be stripped of his role as Returning Officer for Wales in the European elections this May until local Councillors are allowed to debate the issue properly and the police investigation has concluded.

This follows last week’s full council meeting that descended into farce after the council enlisted lawyer declared a number of people had pre-determined the outcome of the discussion which led to a walk-out and prevented a vote on suspending Mr Parry-Jones.

Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales said: “After the embarrassing spectacle that was Friday’s ‘extraordinary meeting’ of Pembrokeshire council, it is clear that the Pembrokeshire council leadership is content to allow the debate to descend into farce rather than grapple openly and in public with the serious issues presented by the Wales Audit Office reports.

“It would now be utterly preposterous for Bryn Parry Jones to preside over the European Ballot as Returning Officer while his pension payments are still under police investigation. The public must have complete confidence in the election process, and in all of the people involved. Until the police investigation is concluded, alternative arrangements must be made – and that means relieving Bryn Parry Jones of his Returning Officer role.”

Paul Miller, leader of the Labour group in Pembrokeshire said:
“Sometimes, particularly around planning issues, pre-determination rules help ensure fairness but last week it was worrying to see those rules used to stifle debate and silence critics in a totally unjust and undemocratic way. Many opposition Councillors felt cornered having a QC tell them that they had to leave. Having sought legal advice, I know that no Labour councilors pre-determined the debate. Pre-determination is a matter for individuals not lawyers. Enlisting a barrister in a crude attempt to undermine our roles as Councillors and prevent us from seeking to represent the views of our constituents on this hugely important issue is nothing short of Orwellian.

“The public deserve reassurance that this matter is being dealt with properly. I will not lie down and be silenced by the puppet administration running Pembrokeshire, and will continue to fight to ensure that full council are able to debate this.”

PLAID CYMRU SPEAKS OUT

Pembrokeshire Plaid Cymru leader Cllr Michael Williams has called on the Welsh Government to intervene in the running of Pembrokeshire County Council.

Cllr Williams told The The Herald: “The recent events are yet more evidence of the gross incompetence of the Independent Group which presently masquerades as the controlling group of the Council. We say “masquerade” as it is patently obvious that the authority is run by a small cabal of out of control senior officers orchestrated by the Chief Executive, who are bringing the Council into disrepute.”

He added: “After their appalling performance in the Council meeting on Friday, is it any wonder that PCC is the laughing stock of Wales? Pembrokeshire tax payers deserve better. We deserve honesty and integrity, and they have consistently failed to deliver.”

“This Council staggers from crisis to crisis, from travel claims which were years late from the Leader to the misuse of Council computers by Councillor Rob Lewis to produce Independent group election literature.  This together with failures to properly safeguard our children, a failed social care provision and recently dubious grant dealings in Pembroke Dock render them unfit.”

It was amazing to see on Friday their efforts to extricate themselves from their self inflicted problems. Legal advice of forty five pages. which we as elected Members were not allowed to see, and the costs of at least one Q C, with another expert flown in from Edinburgh. This plus the mysterious brown envelope left on the passenger seat of the Council vehicle which transported the Q C with information enclosed selectively identifying those Members who had stated that the CEO should go. The rulers of North Korea would be proud.

Mr Parry-Jones should step aside immediately, and take his poodle, Jamie Adams with him. The Welsh Government should immediately install Commissioners to take over the running of PCC” he concluded.

LEGAL ADVICE WAS  ‘WRONG’

The Pembrokeshire Herald took independent legal advice before publishing comments made by County Councillors this month, in the days leading up to the vote over the suspension of chief executive of Pembrokeshire council, Bryn Parry Jones.

During the extraordinary meeting of Full Council, members were given legal advice by a barrister appointed by senior officers and leaders of the authority.

Mr Tim Kerr QC told members that some of them had ‘crossed the line’ by showing predetermination over whether the chief executive should be suspended. Mr Kerr told members that this predetermination was demonstrated by comments made in the newspaper article.

Mr Kerr had been given photocopies of selected press cuttings from The Pembrokeshire Herald’s February 8 edition by the monitoring officer, Mr Laurence Harding. He told the meeting that the newspaper article had been ‘brought to his attention’ but refused to say by who. However, Deputy Leader, Cllr Rob Lewis told members that he also had copies of the same documents. He did not admit to giving them to Mr Laurence Harding, however.

Pembrokeshire Herald editor Thomas Sinclair said: “There is legislation regarding the issue of predetermination that was not brought up at the meeting. Section 25(2) of the Localism Act 2011 provides that ‘a decision-maker is not to be taken to have had, or to have appeared to have had, a closed mind when making the decision just because the decision-maker had previously done anything that directly or indirectly indicated what view the decision-maker took’.”

Mr. Sinclair added: “This legislation clearly applies to all County Councils in the United Kingdom, but this law was not followed at the meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council on Friday.”

He concluded: “In the newspaper’s view if Tim Kerr QC was acting in the best interests of all the members of the council, rather than just those on the side of Mr. Bryn-Parry Jones then, he would have advised members of the existence of this critical piece of legislation, which has been on the statute books for three years.”

 

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Teifion

    February 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    wonder how much Mr Kerr QC charged us the taxpayers for todays little fiasco?

    PS Anyone got the idea the rats will stop at nothing to ensure that their boat doesn’t sink including banning duly elected councillors from voting against the Bryn/IPPG coven – UNBELIEVABLE!

  2. V

    February 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    The collapse of democracy in Pembrokeshire! Yes they had made up their minds but they already had the evidence to do so! The next election will be a “night of long knives”, time for a cull of the old guard!

  3. Robin Howells (Chair, Preseli Pembs. Labour Party)

    February 14, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Great day for democracy and for open and transparent politics for this county. We should be concerned that an expensive Queens Counsel (funded by the taxpayer) has been able to prevent the course of public debate to take place and elected Councillors, such as from the Labour Group, have been excluded from these proceedings on the basis that some Councillors gave a comment to the press. Jamie Adams seems to go to extremes to protect his beloved Bryn. When the process of democracy is perverted to protect financial self-interest and mistakes – then I am very concerned by this development. Chairman Mao would have been proud.

  4. Welshman23

    February 15, 2014 at 7:25 am

    I am sure that this fiasco has been noted by the investigating polic force Adams speech was full of bull shit long words and no substance he is BPJ puppet. Go back to farming

  5. Heather Scammell

    February 15, 2014 at 11:01 am

    In terms of having ‘predetermined views,’ what is the difference between making your views known to the press and preparing a speech for the debate? Presumably Councillors were lined up to speak on both sides – so surely they should also have been excluded under the same ruling?

  6. Mike Stoddart

    February 15, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Having been advised by a leading QC that we should declare an interest and leave the meeting, those of us who had expressed an opinion were in a difficult position.
    Not only were we risking breaching the Code of Conduct, but there was also the possibility that any decision taken would be open to legal challenge because of our presence.
    Had that come about there could have been a claim for compensation that might have cost the taxpayer an awful lot of money.
    As it is, I am reliably informed that at the IPPG’s secret group meeting held on Thursday evening, wavering members of the ruling party were warned that any attempt to dismiss Mr Parry-Jones would cost the council in the region of £1.25 million.
    No pressure, then!

  7. Pembrokeshire Council Tax Payer

    February 15, 2014 at 11:31 am

    To make matters worse as Pembs taxpayers we’re paying for the cost of the barrister who provided the advice that elected members had to leave the meeting.

    A variation of the ‘Bring back Pembrokeshire’ campaign should be started – ‘Bring back Democracy in Pembrokeshire’.

  8. Kate Becton

    February 15, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Whilst the tactics of the IPPG were deplorable, I was surprised by the number of very experienced Councillors who had given their predetermined views to the Press – they have only themselves to blame for the fact that they were disqualified from taking part in a debate on a NOM that I felt, from watching the webcast, they might have won. Effectively it resulted in them being unable to represent the views of the Pembrokeshire people and that is to be regretted.

  9. Les

    February 15, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    mike – I watched the debate via web cam and to say I was disgusted is an understatement.I don\\\\\’t understand why making your general position known prior to a debate should preclude that person from taking part in that debate. It surely happens all the time in politics. A member of the public will know for example that a member of a political party will follow a particular policy position.What I found very very very unedifying yesterday was the sight of a London lawyer seemingly running our local democracy by saying who should toe and who should not.this situation can not be allowed to stand – procedurally what can be done to move the situation forward.Mr Kerr is due to attend a meeting of Carms CC soon. The cuttings in the brown envelope trick can only be pulled once . Is there some way that he can be prevented from speaking at the meeting ?

  10. Kate Becton

    February 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I can understand your frustration Les; however one’s ‘general position’ is slightly different to announcing which way you are going to vote before the debate. Mr Kerr was put in an invidious position by the IPPG – once he had the information he could’nt ‘not know it’. Clearly he had been set up to administer what my grandfather would call a ‘sucker punch’.

  11. John Hudson

    February 16, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Who mentioned “sacking”, I think the proposal was for suspension pending independent investigation, a procedure allowed for by legislation prior to dismissal.

    The threat of a £1.25m potential payoff was a bit premature, but very very effective. Who was responsible for throwing this into the non debate?

  12. Teifion

    February 17, 2014 at 9:40 am

    To John Hudson – I’m guessing part of BPJs plan to scare the councillors not to rock the boat?

    Added to the pressure that Pembs. CCs press office is putting on them about having to save 12 million next year (so that’s just in one months time as their year runs from April)

    When we’ve heard the mantra for years – pay the most to get the best – I’m surprised that Bryn hadn’t sorted that out before

    May I make a suggestion- sell the near 2 million share in a certain tourist camp ?

  13. malcolm

    February 17, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Again ,the leading group are ruling us with a rod of iron .Previous ruling bodies have done the same ,seen it at Milford Haven and all around the county.It is the people of Pembrokeshire that the councillors and employees should look out for not a Senior officer ,i do not comment on his salary as it is set down in statute but HE should have a bit of decency and agree to stand down and let the police do their duty.As far as the letter in the car is concerned i would be asking the driver if he or she check that vehicle aftre a job and before the next job as anything could be left in that vehicle ,another issue to the on going saga.

  14. John Hudson

    February 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Section 25 of the Localism Act 2011, introduced in England and Wales, clarifies the common law concept of Predetermination, i.e. where someone has a closed mind when involved in decision making.

    The section makes it clear that that if a councillor has given a public view on an issue, this does not necessarily show that the councillor has a closed mind. He/she is still able to participate in discussion and vote on an item of council business requiring a decision.

    At the decision making meeting councillors should carefully consider all the evidence put before them and must be prepared to modify or change their initial view in the light of arguments and evidence presented.

    I do not think this was properly explained at the meeting, where the QC was asked to rule on the current state of councillor’s minds at the meeting from old press cuttings.

  15. eckypemb

    February 18, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    As no doubt all councillors/politicians tow the party line you could easily come to the conclusion that every decision regarding which way they vote is predetermined, unless of course they are truly independent. Initially I thought the opposition “rolled over” too easily, but after reading Mike Stodarts comment I changed my mind.

  16. bendigaidfran

    February 19, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    It is beyond belief what our BuggerupPembrokeshireJack CEO and his mate Jamie(I’ll be the next CEO, Ha Ha!) Adams have been allowed to get away with. Am I right in fearing that BPJ could be allowed to walk away with (should the happy day actually come) over £1m for totally gutting and destroying Haverfordwest, wasting £x000 on the way, driving newcomers and potential businesses away because it is so dilapidated, skulduggery in the pensions department, total disregard and abrogation of responsibility in the serious education issues of the recent past, total apathy and lack of support for Withybush etc etc. The library looks like a mushroom factory.

    All this on top of his mountain of a Salary
    My next stop is the Welsh Assembly and I would hope that everyone who is sick of this dictator writes to them in a similar vein.

  17. Disappointed

    February 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Dispappointment all round I\’m afraid. 1. Local people who do not vote for their councillor. In some cases do not know who they are.2. Local people who vote for the\’nice guy\’3. Lack of integrity of the CEo, Jamie Adams to name just a few.4. Lack of transparency.5. Lack of AccountabilityThank you

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A boy on a scooter sustained minor injuries during the collision, which took place at around 4.20pm.

A red 4×4 is also believed to have been involved.

Anyone who was in the area of the St Peters Road pelican crossing, or nearby Langford road, and either witnessed the collision or who has CCTV that covers this area is asked to get in touch with Dyfed-Powys Police

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Know the signs:

Unusual numbers of vehicles, especially camper vans, vans or trucks, seen in the locality.
Illegal trespassers may recce sites in advance of any rave

People may approach landowners and ask around for land, in the guise of hiring it for acceptable activities such as gymkhanas or scout camps.

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