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Badger goes to the farm

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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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Five shouts in five days for Lifeboat crews at Angle

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ITS BEEN a really busy week for the crews at Angle with their first tasking to the 39 meter 300 tonne tall ship on Monday evening with engine failure and taking on water.

Crews then paged again in the early hours of Wednesday morning to a 11 meter sailing catamaran becalmed and low on fuel.

The training day Thursday was interrupted just after 12:30 PM with a tasking to a tender with three people on board that had upturned just off St Brides Haven.

Little & Broad Haven Lifeboat was also tasked along with Dale Coastguard.

Little and Broad Haven Lifeboat reached the three casualties and took them to shore where they were passed into the care of Dale Coastguard. Angle Lifeboat was stood down as it was passing through Jack’s Sound.

As the Lifeboat was returning from the shout another tasking request came through. A tanker had spotted an unmanned RIB approximately 10 miles SW of St Ann’s Head. Once on scene, after some investigation the RIB was believed to have come from a mooring and no people were missing. The Lifeboat towed the RIB back to Angle.

The Lifeboat was rehoused shortly after 4:00 PM

The 5th shout for Angle Lifeboat this week.

This was a large multi agency search.

The crew were paged at 09:35 AM to assist Tenby Lifeboats RNLI ALB and inshore Lifeboats to search for a missing person in the water following a report from a fisherman on rocks near Manorbier that he had lost sight of a person that had been rowing a dinghy toward shore and the occupant may be in the water. HM Coastguard Tenby had also been tasked to the search

The dinghy was handed over to Tenby inshore lifeboat crew after being picked up by a Range Safety boat who then brought it into the awaiting police at Manorbier Beach.

Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 187 from St Athan and St Govans Coastguard Rescue Team had now also joined in the search for the missing person.

After several hours searching a man approached police at Manorbier, stating he’d been on the vessel off Manorbier, had got into difficulty and ended up in the water.

With the casualty now safely ashore, all units were stood down at 12:27PM.

Angle Lifeboat then headed to Tenby Harbour to pick up some sustenance, a fizzy drink and a chocolate brownie, before heading back to Angle and rehousing at 2:31PM. The lifeboat was refuelled and given a well earned wash ready for the next tasking.

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A40 closed at Scleddau due to collision between car and motorbike

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EMERGENCY SERVICES have shut the A40 at in Scleddau due to a serious road collision.

The accident happened just before 2pm. The Herald understands that the collision involved a motorcycle and car at a junction near The Gate Inn public house.

Police said: “Emergency services are currently on scene and dealing with the incident. Please find an alternative route if possible. Update to follow.”

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Moley’s Ambassador March to support those who have lost a child

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ON SATURDAY (Jun 19), Andrew Cole (aka Moley) will set off on a 24 hour walk around Pembrokeshire with the aim of doing as many miles in as little time as possible. 

Moley is proud to have recently been made ambassador of the charity ‘2 Wish UponAa Star’ an organisation dedicated to supporting families that have lost a child under 25 years of age.

He will be setting off at 6am in the morning from Neyland and walking all day and night, finishing at 6am the following morning.

2 wish upon a star was set up by Rhian Mannings, who set up the charity after losing her own son.

By celebrating the lives of those lost, and offering support to families through their grief; Rhian and her team offer an essential service to the community and those families who have suffered the devastation of losing a loved one.

Appealing for support from the people of Pembrokeshire he said: “Please give generously to support the wonderful work of Rhian and her team. Also, if you happen to see me in the day, feel free to give me a beep of encouragement’

“If you would like to donate to Moley, and support the charity, you can visit his JustGiving page.”

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/moleycole

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