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Councillor reveals the shocking cost of Parry-Jones’ departure

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Bryn Parry-Jones: Still creating a stir

Bryn Parry-Jones: Still creating a stir

A COUNTY COUNCILLOR has revealed that the shocking cost of getting rid of controversial chief executive Bryn Parry Jones.

Cllr Jacob Williams told The Herald: “On my website (www.jacobwilliams.com) I reveal that in excess of a staggering £150k of your money was spent by the council on fees in connection with Bryn Parry-Jones’ pension debacle and the eventual golden handshake, which itself cost £280k.”

In his detailed report, the East Williamston representative reveals that in addition to the bumper £280K plus pay-off, the Council spent over £150K on first defending the former Chief Executive and then getting rid of him.

Cllr Williams reveals that:

  • Pembrokeshire County Council paid £5,800 +VAT for Tim Kerr QC’s help in drafting a letter to the Wales Audit Office (WAO), which was sent by the council’s now retired head of legal services, begging him to reconsider issuing a public interest report about the Council’s pension payments, ruled unlawful by the WAO;
  • The Council also paid a further £10,289.22 for Mr Kerr’s attendance at the notorious Council debate of February 14 last year, which descended into chaos when reference was made to an envelope of newspaper cuttings provided to him by Monitoring Office Laurence Harding, who appeared to have been tipped the wink by then Deputy Leader Rob Lewis;
  • Stuart Watson, a director at London-based pension consultants and financial planners Chartermarque, was there solely for the debate on Mr. Barrett’s report. His report and attendance set the Council back a heady £12,450.
  • Solicitors Eversheds have billed the Council a staggering £106,354 for “employment advice” relating to the process which led to the end of Mr Parry-Jones’ employment;
Digging for the truth: Cllr Williams

Digging for the truth: Cllr Williams

Councillor Williams said: “You have to remember that all of the above is ON TOP of that the Council spent £25,000 on paying the additional fees of the WAO relating to the pensions debacle brought upon it by the members of the Senior Staff Committee.”

He concluded: “Had it not been for the WAO’s second intervention, the biggest sum – the £280k golden handshake – would have been £332k. So keen were councillors from the ruling party to soften Bryn’s fall from grace they stuffed his safety mat with unlawful sums. In time, the public can hold them to account in its own way.

“The costs lavished on Tim Kerr QC, Chartermarque and Eversheds are a different case. They weren’t sanctioned by councillors but by officers.

“Your money is often being spent – and as can be seen, wasted – in the interests of a select few who have a lot at stake, and often by those who are not even accountable to you directly.”

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Community

County Hall to offer space for community banking

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A CALL for Pembrokeshire County Council to potentially change its banking arrangement with Barclays, after it closed its Haverfordwest branch has been turned down, but County Hall is to offer space for community banking.

Barclays Bank, on the town’s High Street, is to close on May 10.

The council has had a banking services contract with Barclays since 2013.

Councillor Huw Murphy, in a notice of motion heard by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet meeting of April 22, asked the council to review its banking arrangements with Barclays following the announced closure.

e said the loss of a branch “not only impacts upon town centres and businesses but also disproportionately impacts the elderly who are less likely to embrace on-line banking options”.

A report for Cabinet members said, in terms of the impact on Pembrokeshire residents, Barclays has said that it is “not leaving Haverfordwest and [will] continue to provide face-to-face support for those who need it” via community locations.

Two options were presented to Cabinet: to retender the banking services contract, and, the favoured, to work with Barclays to ensure a community location is set up in Haverfordwest.

Members heard the costs associated with moving to a new banking service provider could be in excess of £50,000.

For the second, favoured option, members heard Barclays was in discussions with the council about a location for potential community banking.

Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack, after outlining the risks in the report for members, and moving the notice be not adopted, said he had “considerable sympathy” with Cllr Murphy’s notice.

He told councillors there was a glimmer of light for banking arrangements in the county, with an agreement now signed for two ground floor rooms at County Hall, Haverfordwest, to be used for community banking.

From April 25, the rooms will be available on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, members heard.

Cabinet Member for Planning & Housing Delivery Cllr Jon Harvey also said he had “a lot of sympathy” for the motion, adding: “It’s excellent news a deal has been struck to occupy the ground floor rooms three days a week; hopefully this will mitigate, to a certain amount, the closure.

“If we can work with the respective banks to get a community-type approach let’s move forward.”

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Haverfordwest interchange: Next stage of £19m project backed

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The second stage of building Haverfordwest’s near-£19m transport interchange has been backed, with senior councillors hearing it could cost the council more to not support it.

The transport interchange, which includes an integrated bus station and construction of a new multi-storey car park, is part of a wider series of regeneration projects in the county town.

The total cost of the scheme in the approved budget is £18.881m, £1.987m from Pembrokeshire County Council; the remainder, £16.894m, from an already-awarded Welsh Government grant.

To date, £3.425m has been spent on advanced works, including the demolition of the old multi-storey car park and a temporary bus station.

Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on April 22, were recommended to approve the award of the Stage 2 construction contract for the Haverfordwest Transport Interchange.

The report for members listed two simple options for Cabinet, to authorise the award of a contract, recommended, or to not.

For the latter it warned: “It is envisaged Welsh Government will withdraw the funding awarded and the council would need to repay grants received to date; £10.322m has been received to date of which £3.376m has been offset against expenditure.”

It added: “Cost to cease this project could cost PCC more in terms of grant repayment and any capital work required to make good. PCC match contribution for the project is forecast as £1.987m of the £18.881m.”

Planning permission for the interchange was granted in 2022, with a temporary bus station constructed that year and the old multi-storey building demolished in 2023.

That year, members of the county council’s Cabinet agreed a temporary car park will be sited on the demolished remains of the old multi-storey car park until the Haverfordwest Public Transport Interchange – delayed as no compliant tender had been found at the time – is built.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said: “The interchange is an important part of the regeneration of Haverfordwest, it will not regenerate Haverfordwest on its own, it is part of a wider process. The alternative to us being engaged is we simply allow it to decline and fail.”

He said the interchange was about “making it easier to visit Haverfordwest,” making parking provision “really straightforward, making it easy and convenient as possible”.

Cllr Miller said not progressing with the scheme would risk the grants already obtained, meaning the council could potentially foot the bill for costs to date, at a greater level than progressing.

He said the cost options were a near-£2m subsidised council involvement for the whole scheme or the £3m-plus spent to date if the scheme was ended, which would leave the car park as it is now.

“It’s pretty reasonable that if they give us the money and we don’t build a transport interchange they’ll be looking for that money back,” Cllr Miller said.

He said previous figures from parking revenue – back in 2019 – amounted to £100,000 a year; and could be expected to at least double on a “like-for-like” basis following the increase in parking charges.

Members, after a private and confidential session over the actual contract details, agreed to proceed with the scheme, awarding the contract to Kier Construction Western and Wales.

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Charity

RNLI prepare for summer with medical training exercise in Pembrokeshire

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RNLI lifeguards from the north Pembrokeshire team, volunteers from St Davids RNLI and St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team came together at Whitesands beach on Thursday (18 April), for a multi-agency medical training exercise. Pembrokeshire RNLI lifeguards and St Davids volunteer lifeboat crew took part in a multi-agency medical training exercise alongside St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team in preparation for the upcoming summer season.

The Coastal Medicine programme was set up six years ago at the suggestion of clinicians from Hywel Dda University Health Board. The aim of the programme is train lifeguards, lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard teams in working collaboratively when responding to medical incidents on the coast.

Clinicians from Hywel Dda work with RNLI staff to design exercises simulating mass-casualty incidents on land and afloat. The exercises allow lifeguards, lifeboat crews and Coastguard teams to practise and test their rescue response and casualty care.

The simulated incident at Whitesands involved a medical incident at sea leading to a boat going out of control and ploughing through a group of swimmers causing multiple injuries. RNLI lifeguards responded to casualties on the beach while St Davids inshore and all-weather lifeboat crews dealt with the situation at sea. St Davids Coastguard Rescue supported RNLI colleagues as they would in a real-life scenario.

In total there were six casualties to treat, all of whom were given the immediate medical care by the teams on scene. As in a real-life scenario, they were then prepared to be handed over to the care of the Ambulance Service.

Roger Smith, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager said: ‘The scenario was based on a real-life incident, it’s so important that we train in dealing with challenging situations.

‘The RNLI lifeguards, lifeboat crew, and the Coastguard rescue team worked really well together collaborating together to achieve the best possible result.

‘The feedback from all the participants was really positive, and our medical colleagues were very complimentary about the competence shown and the inter-agency co-operation.

‘This scenario training gives confidence to our lifeguards and lifeboat crews, and ensures the teamwork and communication is already in place ready for real-life incidents.’

Martin Charlton, an RNLI lifeguard in north Pembrokeshire said:

‘Last night’s exercise was a great opportunity for me and my colleagues on the lifeguard team to upskill ahead of the summer season.

‘We regularly attend incidents in the season that require a multi-agency response. These scenarios are a brilliant opportunity to prepare for the the most challenging situations.

‘The team and I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise and feel better prepared for the season as a result.

‘It’s always a pleasure working alongside the Coastguard rescue team and the lifeboat as one crew.’

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