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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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. tomos

    February 18, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    I hope PCC and the HR director have a draft contract which we can all peruse and also “robust” procedures that apply to ALL PCC staff.

    We would like a contract where we can actually sack a poor non-performing Chief Exec or make redundant without fear of huge compensation especially as thanks to BPJ and Jamie PCC wont be in existance in a couple of years time

    As we’re on the subject of PCCs HR – maybe ensure that whistle blowers who report suspicions of paeophiles (or any criminal wrong doings) don’t get sacked!

  2. Flashbang

    February 19, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Jamie Adams still doesn\’t get it does he. The people of the county want senior staff positions to be reviewed vigorously because of the obvious shortcomings in the way they have advised council in the past. Propping up an incompetent regime by giving out the wrong advice, asking the wrong questions of lawyers and generally wasting taxpayers money needs to be scrutinised heavily and the incompetents weeded out. It\’s good to see the worms turning and lets hope Adam\’s house of cards collapses sooner rather than later.

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News

Pembrokeshire airport lease expected to be completed by end of year

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HAVERFORDWEST’S council-run airport, which had a circa £119,000 deficit last year, is expected to be leased out by the end of the year following “reasonably complex” negotiations, councillors heard.

Back in May, members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet supported the leasing of Withybush Airport as part of plans to make the facility cost-neutral to the authority.

Last year, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, members heard the financial position at the council-supported Haverfordwest/Withybush airport deteriorated in 2022/23, with an out-turn position for 2022/23 of £238,000.

That loss has been reduced to an expected £119,000 for 2023/24 “following an extensive review of the operations of the airport”.

At the July 18 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s full council, a series of submitted questions on the airport were heard.

Merlins Bridge councillor John Cole asked: “With the council leasing out the Haverfordwest airport, can members be assured that the lease is at comparable rent with similar airport facilities, and the airport being offloaded purely as a cost savings measure?”

He also asked a second related question: “Are current users protected and assured that their tenancy and rents currently payable to the authority are taken into consideration?”

Responding, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said the proposed letting was considered to be “best letting,” with restricted private documents detailing the figures available to all members.

On the second question, he said existing tenants had been involved throughout the process, and once the new overall lease was in place tenants would be protected through legislation.

However, he stressed the new leaseholder would be able to change conditions in the future and the council would “not dictate terms” in the future.

A further question was asked by Saundersfoot South councillor Chris Williams: “On a recent services meeting back in 2023, we had a productive meeting at Withybush Airport to look at the impact regarding costs to PCC and to consider options with regards to its future operation.

“Can you please clarify if the airport is still owned and operated by Pembrokeshire County Council and if so at what cost since April 1, 2024?”

Cllr Miller said the airport was still currently owned by the council following the Cabinet decision, with “reasonably complex” negotiations ongoing, complicated by land ownership issues and the need to obtain the civil aviation licence.

“Hopefully by the end of the calendar year we will have completed that transaction,” Cllr Miller said, adding that £25,000 had been spent since April 1.

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Farming

FUW sets out its key priorities at the Royal Welsh Show

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THE Farmers’ Union of Wales has set out its robust asks of the UK and Welsh Governments despite the challenges presented by navigating through a constantly changing political landscape.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show this week, FUW President Ian Rickman reiterated the fact that the Union’s stance remains constant and relentless in an ever changing political arena.

“Welsh farming is at an important crossroads which will determine our future for decades to come. Whilst our direction of travel depends heavily on the development of devolved agricultural policies, we must not forget how decisions made by the newly elected UK Government will effectively determine the degree of funding the Welsh Government has available to support agriculture and rural development.

“This, in turn, will have an impact upon the extent to which Welsh food producers can be expected to compete against producers in other UK nations and across the globe on various levels.

“Despite these challenges, our focus as a Union is to keep-on lobbying governments relentlessly for the best possible outcomes for our members, Welsh agriculture and our rural communities.

“The recent Senedd Cabinet reshuffle and UK General Election certainly brought about considerable change to the political landscape in Wales, not least the appointment of Huw Irranca-Davies MS as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and a new UK Labour Government holding a majority at Westminster.

“However, turmoil in Cardiff persists as Vaughan Gething’s resignation leaves the door wide open for yet another reshuffle within a matter of a few months.

At a UK level, the FUW is calling for a fair, multiannual funding settlement of £450 million per year in EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) legacy funding for agriculture and rural development in Wales.

“The role of this support in underpinning food production, environmental protection and rural communities in Wales cannot be underestimated.

“We also need to see a far more robust approach to future trade deals with other countries and trading blocs if we are to protect Welsh farmers and UK food security. Food imports and exports must be subject to the same customs and adherence to similar standards if we are to provide a level playing field for both UK and EU producers.”

The FUW is calling for incentives and support for farmers to invest in on-farm renewable energy production that benefits local communities. Food production should be recognised as a national asset and the use of productive agricultural land to meet tree planting and other environmental targets should be halted.

Procurement policies must prioritise public sector support for Welsh and British businesses, recognising the range of benefits such properly designed policies can deliver for society. The newly elected UK Labour Government must also protect and promote the UK’s high animal health and welfare standards and bring in a law that ensures that all dogs should be kept on a lead in fields near or adjacent to livestock.

“Despite the uncertainty in Cardiff, we call on the Welsh Government to build strong relations with the newly elected UK Labour Government to ensure that Welsh agriculture receives the attention it deserves. EU CAP legacy funding allocated for Welsh agriculture and rural development must be protected for this purpose and such funding should continue to be co-funded using national funds.

“The ongoing process of negotiating a revised Sustainable Farming Scheme that provides stability for our food producing family farms must also continue if the scheme is to be implemented in 2026. It is crucial that the scheme considers economic, social and environmental sustainability on equal footings and is accessible and achievable for all active farmers in Wales.

“We also want to see the adoption of practical and innovative technological solutions as a central part of the Control of Agricultural Pollution ‘NVZ’ Regulations review. The process must be based on robust data and evidence while seeking to address water quality issues through innovation rather than regulation.”

Mr Rickman added that the Welsh Government has to, now more than ever before, adopt a scientific and holistic approach to bovine TB eradication in Wales by working with the Technical Advisory Group in investigating the effectiveness of current testing regimes and methods for addressing disease transmission by wildlife.

“Finally, moves towards net zero must be sustainable and based on robust science in such a way that actions carried out in response to short-term targets are not reversed. Reducing our carbon footprint must be manageable and realistic, and must not compromise production or the economic viability of farming businesses.

“The coming days are a celebration of Welsh agriculture and the farmers who continue to produce high quality food and protect the environment against a constant backdrop of political uncertainty and challenge.”

Mr Rickman said that the impacts of such uncertainty across the UK and some fundamental policy questions would be the focus of the FUW’s seminars being held over the coming days, as panels of professionals tackle a diverse range of areas of concern for Welsh farming.

“As always, in addition to these events, our staff and Presidential Team will be meeting officials and stakeholders in order to highlight FUW’s farming members’ good news stories and industry concerns. Rest assured, despite navigating a constantly changing political landscape, our constant and relentless stance remains; to represent the interests of Welsh farmers,” concluded Mr Rickman.

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Health

Health Board to make decision about the future of St David’s GP Surgery

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THE FUTURE of Primary Care provision for patients registered with St David’s GP Surgery in Pembrokeshire will be discussed by Hywel Dda University Health Board at a meeting on Thursday, 25 July 2024.

An engagement exercise was undertaken to gather patient and local stakeholder views on the future of GP services following the decision of the one GP who runs the Surgery to resign his General Medical Services Contract, which takes effect from 31 October 2024.

The engagement with patients and stakeholders included a drop-in event St David’s City Hall in June. This event was well-attended and gave people an opportunity to discuss their concerns in person with the Health Board and Llais, the patient’s voice organisation for Wales.

Patients and members of the local community were also able to share their views via a questionnaire which was available at the engagement event, and also from the Surgery, the local Pharmacy, online, or by contacting the Health Board by phone or e-mail.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long-Term Care, at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to feed back their views to us. The Health Board is committed to listening to and engaging with our local populations and we would like to thank patients and stakeholders for their involvement in the process so far.

“We would like to reassure patients that we are working to find a sustainable solution from the limited options available so that services can be delivered as locally as possible for patients from the 1 November.

The main themes picked up during the engagement period include concerns about the impact on the community of St David’s if the Surgery were to close, continuity of care and also travel to another GP surgery, especially with regard to public transport.

“People at the drop-in event were provided with information about the frequency of public transport and other transport support available in the community,” said Ms Paterson.

“There was also much appreciation expressed for Dr Stephen Riley and his team and for the care that they have provided over the years. We very much appreciate the continuing support given by the Community to the team at St David’s Surgery throughout this challenging period.”

On Thursday, 25 July, the Board will consider the feedback received.

Ms Paterson continued: “We understand local people will want to know what the future of their GP services will look like, and we will be writing to all patients to inform them of the outcome once a decision is made by the Board.”

To read the Board papers and watch the meeting on the day, please visit: Board Agenda and Papers 25 July 2024 – Hywel Dda University Health Board (nhs.wales)

An update, following the Board’s formal decision on Thursday, July 25 will be shared with patients and stakeholders.

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