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£130,000 for Bryn’s replacement



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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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms



A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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Pembrokeshire residents urged to take a virtual GP consultation when offered



PEMBROKESHIRE residents are being urged to take up the offer of a virtual consultation, over the phone or video call with their GP, to help Keep Wales Safe during the current lockdown ‘stay at home’ restrictions.

The way we access local NHS services is changing, with more ways in which you can consult your doctor or nurse. Most surgeries now offer telephone as well as electronic advice consultations in the first instance. Following your advice call, a face to face appointment may be organised, but video consultations are also available. You can now speak to a doctor or healthcare professional using the video camera in your smartphone, tablet or computer and a connection to the internet. This is often more convenient and can save you time, as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. The system used is confidential and secure.

In a recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign only 27% of residents in Mid and West Wales had made use of the GP virtual service over the past 12 months with just 57% having heard of the service. However, 88% believed it was important to have access to a remote GP consultation once they had learnt of its existence.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “If you are offered a video consultation appointment this is because your Health Care Professional has indicated that is it safe and appropriate to do so. Your video appointment will be confidential and will not be recorded. If you require support please contact your GP surgery using the number provided in the appointment confirmation.”

She continued: “By putting off small problems or regular appointments you could potentially be putting more strain on NHS emergency services so please, help us to help you, do not put anything off. Local GP surgeries are open and are there to offer medical advice and consult patients.”

After being offered a video consultation you will be sent a letter, email or text with details of your appointment. This communication will contain details of the service that has requested to see you by video and have provided a web address link. You can type or copy the web address link into a web browser via an internet enabled device and this will take you to the video clinic waiting area.

  • In order to access your virtual appointment, you will need:
  • Access to a device that will allow you to access the internet. You should use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser on a desktop or laptop, or on an Android tablet or smartphone or Safari web browser on an Apple iMac, MacBook, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Your device will need a webcam (camera), speakers and microphone.
  • A good internet connection (if you can watch a YouTube video, this is good indication that you have a good connection).
  • An internet usage plan that is sufficient to cover the data consumption of a video call – ideally use a Wi-Fi connection if you have this available.

Sixty two percent of those surveyed by YouGov in Mid and West Wales said they will continue to access NHS services using the new ways that have been introduced as a result of the pandemic. The new methods include making more use of pharmacists; virtual GP consultations and using the NHS 111 online and telephone services.

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‘Cautious optimism’ for county’s tourism sector – but clarity still needed



‘GIVE us clarity’ is the overriding message from the County’s tourism and hospitality businesses as the sector looks forward with cautious optimism to another busy season.

In a meeting hosted by Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, thirty key local businesses were able to share their views with Paul Davies MS, Pembrokeshire County Council, the National Park and Visit Pembrokeshire.

The meeting focussed on the need for business support measures so long as uncertainty remains over the timetable for re-opening the economy in Wales.

Stephen Crabb said: “There is a lot of belief around that this summer will see another ‘staycation’ boom so long as the vaccination programme continues to make good progress and infection rates fall. Pembrokeshire has had a lot of national media coverage in recent months and could experience a bumper season but it’s crucial we get the re-opening right. There is a clear need for some kind of timetable to help businesses prepare appropriately and for clear rules to avoid confusion and contradictory messages.”

Paul Davies said: “It was a pleasure to hear from tourism businesses across Pembrokeshire about some of the challenges that they’re currently facing. The message was pretty clear – they want clarity from the Welsh Government and some timescales by which they can start to plan for reopening. I’ll certainly be taking back the concerns highlighted during the meeting and raising them with Welsh Government Ministers at the Senedd.”

Emma Thornton from Visit Pembrokeshire added: “Great to attend the Hospitality and Tourism Round table event today and to have the opportunity to discuss the ongoing challenges our industry faces over the coming months but also to share a collective optimism for what we believe will be a really strong year for tourism in Pembrokeshire when we are able to reopen and welcome our visitors back.

“Visit Pembrokeshire as the new Destination Management (DMO) for Pembrokeshire will be working closely with local stakeholders and businesses to help realise this opportunity in a sustainable and responsible way mindful of protecting what makes our beautiful county so special”

Stephen Crabb: Wants clarity for tourism businesses

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