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Badger goes to the farm



potofgoldHELLO READERS! WELL, just when you thought that the aff airs of Pembrokeshire County Council could not slip any deeper into the realms of Whitehall farce (keep your trousers on, Huw!), we had the fi nal act in the saga of ‘A Funny Th ing Happened on the Way to the Dole Queue’, which Badger can only describe as not only being beyond parody but almost beyond belief. Back when Badger wrote his last column, our hero – Bryn Parry-Jones – was on his way out of County Hall, borne aloft on the narrow shoulders of the IPPG along a path strewn with palm fronds and rose petals, while Unison members sobbed with laughter. And then there was a surprise last minute twist of the type beloved by fi lm directors like Alfred Hitchcock, David Fincher and Peter Rogers (the last being an auteur of the genre, being behind classic crime thrillers like Carry on Constable).

Rather like Banquo’s ghost rocking up at the feast, the Auditor made an appearance and threw over the council’s ‘best off er’ possible deal. Now, readers, to understand this you have to ask yourself a very straightforward question based upon events at County Hall over the last calendar year. Let us swift ly recap the situation, readers: • In September 2013, this newspaper exposed the fact that Bryn Parry- Jones had entered into a scheme designed to help him avoid tax on his seven-fi gure pension pot.

Instead, Mr Parry-Jones would receive the grossed up equivalents of the council’s contribution to his pot for him to invest as he wished for his retirement. • In January, the Assistant Auditor for Wales ruled that the payments handed to Bryn Parry-Jones in lieu of pension contributions were unlawful.

• In February, the council held an extraordinary meeting at which the council agreed to stop making the payments. • In May the Chief Executive was invited to repay the pay supplements.

• In July, the Chief Executive said, through his representatives, that not only would he not pay back the money he had received but that he was considering his position about suing the council to make it continue the unlawful payments.

• In August, the Chief Executive took a ‘period of absence’ aft er this paper revealed how he subjected two councillors to a tirade of abuse for not voting in accordance with his wishes and interests in relation to his repayment of the unlawful payments. • On October 16, the council agreed a £330K settlement package. Crucially, that settlement package included compensating the Chief Executive in respect of the unlawful payments he had not received since February and the unlawful payments were taken into account when calculating other elements of the compensation package. Several councillors parroted the view that, while it was a lot of money, the £330K was a triumph for tough negotiating and was the best the council could do.

• Last Tuesday, the Assistant Auditor for Wales stepped in and pointed out the logical fl aw in Baldrick Adams’ cunning plan. Can you guess what the Wales Audit Offi ce thought of compensating an offi cer for unlawful payments made to him? I bet you can, readers! But, apparently, the assembled brainpower of the council, its own legal team and their external advisors had not considered the Auditor might look askance at the prospect. For a few desperate hours, the carefully laid plans of mice and men (well, readers, certainly those of rodents) lay in tatters all about them. Contrary to the spin the council tried to put on events, this was not a case of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to the Auditor’s satisfaction. Th e Auditor made it clear that there was no agreement between him and the council to sign off on a deal which contained elements he had earlier this year ruled unlawful.

Drawing a comparison with modes of travel: it appeared as though that the council was in a small canoe on a well known brown and smelly waterway without a means of propulsion. Several issues arose: if the agreement was not signed, would Bryn return? Put another way: How could Bryn return when the leader of council, in an earlier interview, had related how much better things were now he had gone? More to the point, would the council need to call councillors together to vote on any revised deal? (Almost certainly) And what were then the risks of no deal being approved? Would the council allow the Investigatory Committee to meet and to potentially suspend Bryn to avoid him appearing at County Hall on Monday (Nov 3), like a cross between last night’s dodgy curry and Fu Manchu? But a deal was announced on Friday (Oct 31).

The council had appeased the Auditor by shaving the unlawful elements out of the deal. Bryn had taken a hit of £52K and would now receive a paltry £280K for piloting the council to public ignominy and to levels of ridicule that s u c c e e d e d in giving the impression that the council were to government what Laurel and Hardy were to piano moving. Now, readers, Badger has it from an impeccable source that his Royal Bryness’ opening gambit in negotiations was for a settlement around £550K in value. In the end, he has copped just over half that fi gure. And here, readers, here is the big question that arises from all of this?

If – on short notice – the former CEO of our council was prepared to shed over £50K from his pay off , what confi dence can we have that this was best settlement possible? Because the fact Bryn accepted over £50K less than the council agreed on October 16 suggests that, unless the council put another sweetener on the table to sugar taking £50K off the settlement, the £330K plus deal agreed originally was signifi cantly more than he would have settled for. The question for the thinking councillor is not whether or not they should have had the chance to scrutinise the lower deal, but rather whether they can have any faith whatsoever in the bland and blithe assurances of the council’s leadership that everything necessarily is as they are being told.

It is remarkable, readers, that a supposed group of independent councillors can come together – without whipping or direction – and as one not only back “the best deal possible” but churn out the same line of re-assuring drivel, self-justifi catory nonsense, and abuse of those who questioned whether £330K was the best deal possible. Pull the other one. It’s got bells on. No doubt another magnum opus from the council’s own Beria, former PC Rob Summons, is headed for the pages of another local newspaper explaining how – rather like the desperate propaganda put about by Squealer in Animal Farm – black is really white and that Boxer really was only taken to the hospital and not to the knacker’s yard. If Orwell shone the same light as on the Kremlin on the Cleddau, which animal would represent your councillor, readers?

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Sensational music event thrills the crowds at Scolton Manor



AN UNFORGETTABLE evening of live jazz, classical, rock, and film score music captivated hundreds of attendees at the enchanting ‘Music at the Manor’ event. Presented by the esteemed Pembrokeshire Music Service, this musical extravaganza took place amidst the picturesque grounds of Scolton Manor, offering young talents from across the county a chance to showcase their skills in a relaxed setting. For many of these budding musicians, it marked their debut performance in front of a live audience.

The event witnessed outstanding displays of talent from a myriad of ensembles, including the County Brass Band, Training Orchestra (featuring the Second Steps group), Concert Band, Rock and Pop bands, Rock Strings, Symphonic Wind Band, Pembrokeshire’s Community Choir, and the esteemed Cleddau Chamber Orchestra.

Among the delighted attendees was Patricia Mawuli Porter OBE, who attended the event alongside her family. She described the evening as “a wonderful demonstration of community, music, family, caring, and just what an amazing part of the world we live in.” Mawuli Porter OBE was particularly impressed with the diversity of performances, ranging from youth bands belting out energetic renditions of songs like ‘Teenage dirtbag’ to the majestic classical and movie-themed scores, which added depth and variety to the musical tapestry.

“We can only applaud the team at Pembrokeshire Music Service for putting on the most incredible community event and look forward to next year’s event with great anticipation!” Mawuli Porter OBE exclaimed with enthusiasm.

Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, expressed his gratitude to the Pembrokeshire Music Service team for organizing such an excellent evening of entertainment. “It was a lovely concert, and so good to see it full of local people enjoying themselves,” he commended. “Credit must go to the brilliant participants, be they playing an instrument or singing songs, they were excellent.”

Vivienne Ward from the Newport Music Society also offered her congratulations to all the performers, acknowledging the impressive talent pool in Pembrokeshire. “What impressive young musicians there are in Pembrokeshire, and what a wonderful variety of different bands/orchestras are available for the young to choose from; they are indeed lucky,” she praised.

The event drew overwhelming praise from parents in attendance, with one parent raving, “The standard was exceptional, and a wonderful evening was had by one and all. Well done, everyone! A massive thanks to everyone involved, and much appreciation to Pembrokeshire Music Service – we are so lucky to have you!”

Philippa Roberts, the head of the Music Service, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to all those involved in making ‘Music at the Manor’ a resounding success. “A huge thank you from the team at Pembrokeshire Music Service to everyone who contributed to making Music at the Manor a wonderful community event,” Roberts said. “Working in partnership with Valero, the Friends of Pembrokeshire Young Musicians, and Scolton Manor, I am grateful to everyone who helped and supported the performers to provide a special evening of live music.”

With its remarkable performances and celebration of musical diversity, ‘Music at the Manor’ proved to be an extraordinary showcase of Pembrokeshire’s vibrant musical talent. As the echoes of this magnificent event fade away, anticipation for next year’s edition continues to build, promising an even more spectacular musical spectacle for all to enjoy.

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Police confirm body found in search for Huw



POLICE said than a frantic search for Haverfordwest man Huw Phillips, 56, has been called off after the body of a man was discovered in the local area.

Police said that Huw’s family have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers, after the body was found on Saturday afternoon (Jun 3). 

Huw’s son Kenes Phillips took to Facebook to share the sad news. He bravely said: “Thank you everyone for sharing, showing your love, helping with the search and just doing whatever you could to offer the slightest bit of help.

“But unfortunately, my father was found dead.”

Huw’s good friend Mark Llewhellin paid tribute. He said: “Huw was born of the 4th July. He was kind, sensitive, a good laugh and one of my very best friends.
“I was lucky to have had him as a close friend.
“See you on the other side my friend, but not yet, not yet.”

The police posted on Facebook at 4pm on Saturday saying: “Thank you for sharing our appeal earlier to find Huw, missing from Haverfordwest.

“Sadly, a body has been found during the search, and therefore we are no longer appealing for information.
“Officers are supporting Huw’s family and our thoughts are with them all.”

Earlier on Saturday, the police found Huw’s abandoned car in Clay Lane, Haverfordwest.

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Ironman Wales in Tenby becomes second UK event of 2023 to sell out



THE HIGHLY anticipated Ironman Wales event in Tenby has captured the attention of athletes, becoming the second race in the UK this year to sell out well before the season kicks off.

Scheduled for Sunday, September 3, Ironman Wales has now joined the Ironman 70.3 Swansea event as another sold-out competition in the country.

The popularity of the Tenby event should come as no surprise, as it was the only race to feature in the top 10 globally in eight out of nine categories in the Ironman Athletes’ Choice Awards. This prestigious recognition is based on votes cast by triathletes from around the world.

The captivating swim start at Tenby’s North Beach, the picturesque bike ride passing by stunning beaches and castles, and the exhilarating finish line on streets filled with cheering spectators have made Ironman Wales internationally renowned.

Sam Brawn, the regional director for UK & Ireland at The Ironman Group, expressed his delight, saying, “Ironman Wales continues to attract a tremendous following from our athletes year after year. Whether they are returning participants or newcomers eager to conquer this iconic course, the event remains immensely popular.”

“We take great pride in the fact that the race has been acknowledged as one of the finest events in the global Ironman Series. It secured a spot in the top 10 across multiple categories in the Global Ironman Athletes’ Choice Awards, including a second-place ranking in both the ‘Will Recommend To A Friend’ and ‘Overall Host City’ categories.”

For those who were unable to secure a spot in Tenby, Mr. Brawn highlighted Ironman Cork as an exciting alternative. The inaugural event in Cork, Ireland, took place last year and will return on Sunday, July 2.

“It’s also thrilling to witness the growing popularity of new races, such as the festival weekend in Cork, Ireland, which has gained traction after just one year,” he added.

The official UK and Ireland race season will commence in just over a week with Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire on June 11. The organizers eagerly anticipate an exhilarating few months of racing, regardless of the weather conditions that the British summer may bring.

Athletes looking to complete their race calendar for 2023 can find the full schedule of events at

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