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Badger and the pay-off

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brynWELL, readers, what do you think of that? The Investigatory Committee into Bryn has met to no great effect and now it emerges that all along Jamie Adams has been beavering away in the background to settle up with Bryn. We can safely assume that Cllr Peter Morgan’s brief engagement with the truth is not likely to be repeated; after all, it wasn’t before the Investigatory Committee. Peter didn’t even have the good grace to knife David Simpson in the back: He did so in the front, knowing that the terms of his betrayal could not be fully reported. David Simpson laid down his cabinet position for Peter Morgan.

When it came down to the test of friendship, Peter Morgan laid down his honor. That is not to say that the line of questioning that led to that point was at all relevant to the committee’s terms of reference. The Committee had to determine whether allegations particularised were worthy of investigation by a designated independent person (a Q.C., in this case). They did not have to express an opinion, only assess whether the information they had was sufficient to shuffle it off to a third party to decide. The question the committee had to resolve was not whether pressure was applied to Peter Morgan – we already have enough evidence to suggest it was – but whether the tirade directed against him and Mark Edwards reported exclusively in this newspaper were sufficient to be investigated by a third party.

Any lawyer knows that it is not only enough to ask only questions to which you know the answer, but to ask them only when you have a very good idea about the answer you will get. Unless you are certain that a witness will approximately respond as you expect, asking questions is a very risky business. But even then, Peter Morgan’s macho words to the committee about ‘not doing pressure’ amount to nothing. They neither add nor subtract from the strength of his testimony in relation to Bryn Parry-Jones. Let’s boil it down to the essential elements, readers. It was confi rmed that Bryn had sworn at two councillors because of the way they voted. It is implicit in Bryn’s action that he expected ‘loyalty’ to him from them and that they should do and vote in accordance with his wishes.

Arguments within the committee that the above was not enough – ON ITS OWN – to refer the matter are self evidently cods wallop. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Equally too many people who have more than one agenda spouting irrelevancies and asking too many of the wrong questions produces a mess. Keep it simple, stupid, is a good method to adopt when approaching a diffi cult decision. Then the committee were faced with Bryn’s refusal to attend for questioning. He claimed he had not had enough time to consider the allegations. The amount of irrefutable material in the public domain – largely placed there by this newspaper, Jacob Williams and Old Grumpy – has apparently escaped Bryn’s attention since his long vacation began.

The key allegation was in this paper on the day he ‘took a period of absence’ in mid-August. It is now October. Either Mr Parry-Jones is a very slow reader indeed, or he was counting on the committee backing down. To Badger, the committee seems to have taken a pragmatic course of action. It is better to reach a position in which the effect of suspension can be achieved without confrontation than to engage in grandstanding for other purposes. Just because he is unpopular, divisive, overpaid, over-powerful, overbearing and the worst manifestation of the culture of secrecy and self-interest that has consumed Pembrokeshire’s local government, does not mean that Bryn Parry-Jones has no contractual rights and a complex statutory regime underpinning his appointment.

In light of that, readers, anyone with any ounce of common sense must know that it is far more likely than not that this matter will be resolved by some form of agreement between the parties. That is not to say that Badger agrees that an agreement is the best route, but it is simply the most likely to be cost-effective in the short and medium term. With the cameras probably off when any settlement is discussed at next week’s full council, Badger suspects that, denied an audience, those inclined to spout most effusively when the public is present and the camera is on will restrain themselves and keep it brief.

You can have all the principles you want, as long as you are prepared to pay the price of pursuing them, readers. Q.C.’s ain’t cheap: Look at the bill from the barrister engaged to defend the council’s unlawful payments to Bryn Parry-Jones. One Kerr by name, he was, and his bill was a very tasty five figure sum. Is it worth spending the same again, readers, in order to drag on the uncertainty and back-biting about the Chief Executive’s role? The only other ground that occurs to Badger upon which the chief could be removed is following a finding that an irredeemable breakdown in mutual trust and confidence had taken place between Bryn Parry-Jones and his employer, or vice versa. In those circumstances, he could be dismissed on notice.

If the designated person is appointed, conducts an investigation, and concludes that the necessary relationship between employer and employee has irretrievably broken down, then poor Bryn will have to wait for his pension pay out and be paid off with three months’ salary in lieu of notice. Having opted out of the Local Government Pension Scheme, Bryn would not be able to draw down his pension straight away. He would need the council’s permission. Oh the irony, readers! Let’s hope that the council’s negotiators have that card in mind, when it comes to working out the risks of simply proceeding with the investigatory process. T h e calculation of risk is what is important h e r e , readers. There are risks on both sides, and for the soon to be former Chief Executive, whatever happens, the economic and reputational risks for him should cause the council to drive a hard bargain. Otherwise, it is time for Bryn to take his chances.

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Park Authority Committee tours successful carbon reduction projects

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MEMBERS of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) Committee made a tour of local projects recently that have benefitted from SDF funding.

Since 2000, over 200 projects have been supported by the Fund. Over the past year, the Fund has changed its focus to support community-led projects that mitigate the climate emergency by contributing to a reduction in carbon.

Coppicewood College, which promotes and supports sustainable woodland management, was one of the successful applicants visited by Committee Members. After entering into talks with the West and South Wales Wildlife Trust and securing a new home in Pengelli Forest on a 25-year lease, an application was made for SDF funding to build a workshop using sustainable building methods. Both the College and the Wildlife Trust will benefit from this new partnership, as the College now has a brand new home in a prestigious SSSI woodland and the Trust will be able to have a programme of woodland management tailored to the needs of local wildlife.

SDF Committee Members also paid a visit to Clynfyw Care Farm, where funding has been used to pay for equipment, set-up costs and training in a new vermicomposting (worm composting) project. This creates a sustainable and high quality compost, which can be used to improve soil conditions organically for local vegetable produce growers, while sequestering carbon during the process.

Bwlch-y-groes village hall also formed part of the itinerary for Members, who were shown where the SDF-funded photovoltaic panels and electric vehicle charging point, which are set to complement the new building, will be positioned.

The tour came to an end with a talk from the Cwm Arian Renewable Energy Project, which has received an SDF cash injection to help with the Pembrokeshire Energy Efficiency Programme (PEEP) – a project that aims to engage with communities across North Pembrokeshire in order to understand behaviours in energy reduction.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, said: “It’s been hugely rewarding to see so many innovative climate solutions coming to fruition as a result of SDF grants.

“We are now inviting applications for the next round of funding. If you are part of a community-led group or organisation based in or around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and have a project that would help reduce carbon and/or respond to climate change, please consider applying.”

Projects can include:

·       Installing renewable energy generation facilities, such as solar panels, to a community building

·       Transport initiatives that promote reduced carbon emissions

·       The installation of community facilities that minimise waste, such as water fountains

·       Any other community-based carbon reduction initiatives.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Friday 10 September

Further information on how to apply and an application form can be found at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/sustainable-development-fund/.

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Firefighters respond to industrial unit fire at Rope Walk, Hakin, Milford Haven

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EMERGENCY SERVICES are responding to a fire at an industrial unit off the Rope Walk in Hakin, Milford Haven this morning (Tuesday, July 27).

The fire broke out just after 10am. Witnesses at the scene told our reporter that they beleived the fire was linked to welding work which going on a the time on the premises.

Three fire applicances are engaged with fighting the fire.

Another person close to the scene said: “Black smoke could be seen from quite a distance, and there were popping sounds and small bangs coming from inside the warehouse as the fire took hold.”

No injuries have been reported.

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Trial bathing water testing project makes a splash

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A TRIAL project is making waves in the way the quality of bathing water is recorded and how that information is presented to those thinking of taking a dip.

Launched during the baking hot weather and at the start of the school holidays, the project run by Pembrokeshire County Council aims to develop an information platform for local people, visitors and activity groups to detail the bathing quality away from Blue Flag beaches.

As an Authority, Pembrokeshire County Council is very proud to have the most Blue Flag beaches in the whole of the UK, and this is testament to the fantastic water quality that we have.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the coast is blessed with these conditions and water quality can change on a regular basis

For the project, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Pollution Control Team will take up to six samples, across the period of the school summer holidays.

The team will then provide weekly information on bathing water results, framed against the EU Bathing Water Standards.

Pollution Control Lead Officer, Nathan Miles, said: “To achieve Blue Flag status, it is pretty well known that beaches must meet strict criteria on bathing water quality.

“But we understand that people like to swim right around our coast, not just at Blue Flag beaches, so we thought this trial could provide the bathing water quality information where there’s interest in open water swimming.

“The project is centred around water quality and water safety and linking up with local community councils and interested groups such as the Bluetits Chill Swimmers.

“We are looking for community partners or local councils to develop signage and noticeboards as well as use social media to provide information on water quality and safety in their area.”

Members of the Bluetits were on hand this week to launch the project as Council Pollution Technician Scott Findlay took a sample from Solva Harbour.

That sample will be analysed in the lab and the Bluetits informed of the water quality at the harbour.

Bluetits Chill Swimmers Director Sarah Mullis, said: “We as an organisation believe in giving swimmers the information and tools to increase their knowledge of their local waters in order for them to make choices and take responsibility for their own safety so that they can access all of the benefits that we know open water swimming brings. 

“Up until now this has been in the form of short films on rip currents, waves, tides etc. The data that has already come from this water testing scheme, and talking to Scott about what affects the readings has been fascinating, and we are learning new things about the water we swim in every day.

Pollution Technician: Scott Findlay takes a sample for testing from Solva Harbour (Pic PCC)

“We intend to share this knowledge with our community of 15,000 Bluetits, so this scheme won’t just help Solva Bluetits, but those worldwide to be aware of what may affect the quality of the waters that mean so much to us.”

Cllr Mark Carter, County Councillor for Solva added: “It is great to see this initiative between PCC and the community of Solva that gives local and visiting open water swimmers the information and confidence to make the most of the beautiful area that is Solva harbour.” 

Bruce Payne, Clerk of Solva Community Council said water is the driving force of nature and Solva’s bathing water is precious and must be protected.

He added: “The water testing scheme is very important to the community council. It helps safeguard the water quality for everyone.

“Water sports is also a vital component of village and harbour life. We care about our shared harbour environment and want everyone to be safe and to enjoy the clean seawater of Solva.”

For more information and to get involved in the trial project, contact Nathan Miles on 01437 764551.

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