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£130,000 for Bryn’s replacement

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THE MESSAGE from this week’s meeting of the Senior Staff Committee was clear: The days of high Chief Executive pay are over.

Unanimous: Senior Staff Committee votes to support a £130k basic salary for the man or woman who will succeed Bryn Parry-Jones

Unanimous: Senior Staff Committee votes to support a £130k basic salary for the man or woman who will
succeed Bryn Parry-Jones

However, while the seven members of the Committee were unanimous in voting through a salary of £130K to replace the pensioned-off Bryn Parry-Jones, the journey they took to reach that position was, by turns, tortuous and winding.

The decision of December’s council was to refer elements of the appointments process for Bryn’s successor to the Senior Staff Committee. The Committee’s objective was to refer back to Council questions about the job description, timetable, and salary: The council would consider the matter of salary, taking into account Committee’s recommendation.

Whether it was the pressure of the BBC being in attendance or the descent of a spirit of unity and bonhomie, the debate was noticeably less sharp-edged than might have been expected. Although perhaps after over two hours’ debate on the day, and with the finishing line of L’affaire Bryn in sight, councillors were happy to just get things done with little drama and all passions spent.

Council Leader Jamie Adams was, for once, nonplussed to find himself in an increasingly isolated minority of one on most of the key points under debate. His personal preference, for there being a Managing Director as one of a board of directors, was torpedoed by the Council’s head of human resources, Ceri Davies.

Prompted by a question for Cllr Tessa Hodgson (Lamphey, Unaffiliated), Mr Davies stated that his view was that while the model based around having a managing director was sustainable in the short term, he did not regard it as feasible beyond that. He continued with the observation that while Ian Westley was putting in long hours in fulfilling his acting Head of Service role with his broader portfolio responsibilities, it was inappropriate for that to long continue.

In addition, Ceri Davies suggested a possibly terminal flaw in adopting the managing director model. He told the meeting that: “Appointing a lead director would present an additional challenge to re-organisation; namely, how would one facilitate a directorate for that person to manage? If that individual’s skill set dictated, for example, a social care brief, how could we deal with making the current post holder redundant or subject to redeployment.”

His observations were supported by Cllr Rob Lewis (Martletwy, IPPG), former deputy leader of the authority and the Cabinet member responsible for Ian Westley’s technical directorate (highways, transportation and major events). Suggesting that the current arrangements were ‘detrimental to the authority’, Cllr Lewis went on to say that: “It has become extremely difficult to engage with Ian Westley due to him juggling his different roles. Ian has a capable team around him, but I think the current position would be unsustainable.”

While the concern about combining the executive role with a technical one was batted about, nobody seemed prepared to consider whether the combination of functions would include prevailing up current Deputy Chief Executive Ben Prykett to fulfil part of the Chief Executive’s functions while a technical director ‘doubled up’. Mr Prykett’s post is, if not unique in Wales, certainly anomalous.

Cllr Paul Miller (Neyland West, Labour) wanted to open up the debate regarding the appointment to embrace a wider review of the whole of the senior staff structure and senior staff pay and grading. He was resisted by Cllr Adams, who suggested that the question structure was one that could be dealt with by any new incumbent to the senior role, who could decide upon the structure they preferred. The leader’s opinion was developed by vice-chair David Lloyd (St Davids, Unaffiliated) who suggested that it was made express to candidates that they would be expected to work collegially and to consider the council’s management structure in conjunction with the Senior Staff Committee after appointment.

That left Cllr Adams facing rather a struggle to row back from the logical consequences of a position that he had advanced not long before. However, he was successful in resisting calls for an immediate review of the matter ahead of appointment of a new Head of Service.

Relieved by that success, he appeared to be caught off guard by Cllr Huw George (Maenclochog, IPPG) enthusiastically endorsing Paul Miller’s suggestion that the council set a ratio between any new Chief’s pay and the pay of the lowest paid members of the County Council’s staff. Again, Cllr Adams was keen to put this decision off to another day. While he succeeded, it will be difficult for the leader to resist such a motion if it went to Full Council, given the heads on his own side nodding in support of Cllr Miller’s idea.

The debate moved on to discuss the thorny issue of salary: the former post holder’s remuneration package attracted publicity for all the wrong reasons and the Council accepted it had to reduce the salary paid. The question was by how much.

The committee, unsurprisingly, were reluctant to endorse the status quo and remunerate a new post holder as generously as their predecessor. It would have taken a very courageous member indeed to suggest that option. Debate thereafter settled on one of three options: Follow the pay award suggested by the Independent Remuneration Panel (£130K); follow the suggestion advanced in-house of £147,000; Find a messy compromise figure in the middle.

Cllrs Miller, Lloyd and Hodgson firmly backed the £130,000 figure, especially after Cllr Hodgson teased out the information that with a car allowance now trimmed to £7,300 per annum and employer’s pension contributions the total package would be worth in excess of £156,000: On top of which would be the fees paid to the appointee as Returning Officer for elections (around £12,000).

With Cllr Tom Richards (Letterston, IPPG) agreeing with Cllr Lloyd’s suggestion that the council move to recruit on a salary of £130,000 with a review if the post attracts insufficient applicants of sufficient quality, Cllr Adams was left isolated in trying to find a compromise between the £130,000 and £147,000 figure and went with the flow of the meeting. The £130,000 figure was approved unanimously in a moment captured by Cllr Jacob Williams’ camera.

With the Welsh Government suggesting it could limit the term Chief Executives could be employed by local authorities, the question for certainty seems unending.

The next stopping point on this journey is March’s Full Council, where the committee’s recommendation will be debated. At that point, we shall see whether Cllr Miller advances his plan to ensure that the pay of the authority’s most senior employee is not out of sight of those at the bottom of the pay-scale.

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Brand new features unveiled at Scolton Manor Park

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ONE of Pembrokeshire’s best-loved family destinations has announced it will be unveiling several new attractions in June, ready for the summer holidays.  

Among the new features at Scolton Manor are an eco-explorer village, a 1.2km woodland cycle track, an outdoor pirate ship play area and a dedicated railway attraction complete with steam train locomotive ‘Margaret’ and ‘Scolton Express’ play train.

Mark Thomas, manager of Scolton Manor Park, said the team were looking forward to showing visitors the new attractions.

“We’re delighted with our new facilities and believe they will perfectly complement the attractions we have here already at Scolton,” he said.

The woodland eco-explorer village aims to give children more opportunities for outside play and spark their enthusiasm to discover more about the natural world.  

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Culture and Leisure, said the village is perfect for all young explorers from toddlers right through to older children.

“Children love playing outside and we want to inspire them through their play to not only find out more about biodiversity and the environment but also how to care for it,” he said.

“As well as eco-explorer areas, games and activities there will be fun tips on how they can reuse, reduce and recycle more and protect the environment.”

The eco-explorer village is funded by a £50,000 grant from the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme and £25,000 grant from Community Facilities Programme (Welsh Government), in partnership with the Pembrokeshire Beekeepers’ Association.

Mark Thomas said the current attractions at Scolton have also proved very popular since the outdoor areas at the park re-opened to the public earlier this spring.

As well as an adventure play area for older children which includes a 30-metre zip wire, a spinning climbing web and ‘super swings’,  younger visitors can enjoy the wooden playground, sensory musical play area and woodland play features.

“The many and varied attractions at Scolton enhance its role as a community facility while providing a wide range of countryside experiences at a lower cost,” said Mark.

“The new features in particular will also help to continue the development of the site into a must-visit tourist attraction within mid and North Pembrokeshire.”

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Public engagement exercise over new hospital between St Clears and Narberth

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HYWEL DDA is asking the people of Pembrokeshire to help it further shape and deliver future services by taking part in a six-week engagement exercise.

Since the publication of its strategy, A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well in 2018, the health board has worked with partners to provide care and develop services. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on health and care services. As a result, the health board now wants to learn from the public about how the pandemic has affected their health and care, and access to it.

This week, Hywel Dda UHB has been distributing a discussion document for the public to consider, along with a questionnaire for completion.

Hywel Dda UHB is also asking for the public’s feedback in relation to its long-term strategy to develop and build a new hospital in the south of the Hywel Dda area, somewhere between and including St Clears, in Carmarthenshire, and Narberth, in Pembrokeshire.

This location is the most central for most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area, and it was determined through the public consultation held in 2018.

The public is also being asked to nominate sites for a new hospital based four criteria:

The nominated site must be within the zone between and including St Clears in Carmarthenshire and Narberth in Pembrokeshire. This location is the most central to most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

The nominated site should be a minimum of 35 acres of reasonably developable land.

The nominated site should have realistic prospects of obtaining planning permission for a new hospital.

There should be appropriate transport infrastructure for a major hospital site.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The global pandemic has had a major impact on all areas of our lives so it’s crucial that the health board considers, reflects and learns from this extraordinary period. This engagement exercise will allow the public to tell us in their own words how COVID-19 has affected their health and care, and access to it.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to participate because the feedback we receive will play a major role in helping shape future services. This in turn will allow us to deliver on our long-term commitment for a healthier mid and west Wales.

“I would also stress that this engagement exercise is part of an ongoing process. Over the coming months and years, we plan to engage with the public, stakeholders and partners on a wide variety of issues, such as service models. Everyone will have their chance to give their views and opinions because we are committed to continuous engagement with the public to ensure we provide the best possible care.”

The engagement exercise will run until Monday June 21.

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Paul Sartori taking action to support climate with National Lottery grant of nearly £14,000

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LOCAL hospice at home charity, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, is taking action to support the climate with the installation of solar panels at its main head office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

The charity which delivers end of life care services across Pembrokeshire, has been awarded a grant to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels at Paul Sartori House, Winch Lane. This investment is part of an ongoing commitment to address the climate emergency and the charity joins many others who are taking action. Paul Sartori was one of 35 community groups, who were selected to take part in the Climate Action Boost scheme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Working alongside Renew Wales, a partner in the initiative, the group explored methods to help tackle the causes and consequences of climate change, and to operate more sustainably. A number of options were discussed to reduce their impact on the environment and Renew Wales helped the charity to develop an environmental action plan, which is to be implemented over the coming months. The scheme available to cover a variety of environmental reduction activities, including renewable energy, reducing consumption, local food and reduced or less impactful travel.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home wouldn’t normally be associated with environmental activity. Through regular consultation over many months, the charity has been really encouraged by what they have learnt.

“We have invested a lot of time in developing the plan; discussed a number of alternatives along the way, but feel that the solar panel installation will have the biggest impact for the charity in the long term”, said Sandra Dade, Charity Manager. “The National Lottery Climate Action Boost has really inspired our charity to minimise our impacton the environment and we will continue this journey,” added Sandra.

Jemma Nurse, Funding Manager at The National Lottery Community Fund said, “The climate emergency is everyone’s business, which is why The National Lottery Community Fund is acting to support and inspire communities to minimise their own impact on the environment. We are proud to be a significant funder of environmental projects and Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, along with the other groups participating in Climate Action Boost, will play a valuable part in building our knowledge so we can share our learning with other funders across Wales and the UK.”

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish.

All of the services are free of charge, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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