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Are the officers revolting?

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Cllr Jamie Adams

Cllr Jamie Adams

COUNCIL LEADER Jamie Adams called an urgent meeting for 4pm Thursday February 26, to discuss a major legal issue arising from the recruitment process for the new Chief Executive.

It appears as though the consequence of overpaying Bryn Parry-Jones for many years has come back to bite the council, as heads of service, directors have lately become aware of the possibility that they have been UNDERPAID and have potential legal claims against the council for setting their pay at too low a level.

An email sent to group leaders and members of the Senior Staff Committee from Cllr Adams headed ‘Urgent Meeting at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday, 26th February 2015 in Leader’s Room’ reads: ‘Following discussions between myself and the Section 151 Officer (i.e. Jonathan Haswell, Head of Finance) I need to discuss with you the issue of the relationship between Chief Executive (sic) remuneration and that of the Chief Officers. I trust that you will make every effort to attend this meeting. If however you are unable to attend I would be happy to contact you by telephone later on Thursday evening. Please provide me with your contact details if you are unable to attend’.

The Herald is able to confirm that, despite clear advice given by two senior officers on two separate occasions, an issue is alleged to have arisen in relation to the pay differentials between the council’s chief and other senior directors.

At a council meeting in December, the issue of pay ratios was raised by Hakin councillor Mike Stoddart. At that meeting Cllr Stoddart referred to a pay rule adopted by the council which meant that no Director’s pay could not encroach within 77.5% of the Chief Executive’s pay.

Ceri Davies, Head of HR, told councillors on that occasion: “I can advise that, having looked into the matter East Williamston’s Jacob Williams then asked for confirmation of when the provision, which he had established was passed in 1995, was repealed.

Mr Davies replied: “I don’t have the exact date for members this afternoon, but I believe it was in 2004-2005, but I would need to look into that.”

On begin asked by Cllr Tom Richards to confirm whether or not the position was as he stated, Mr Davies ducked the direct question by saying: “That’s my understanding.”

At the meeting of the Senior Staff Committee which set the £130,000 salary for a new appointee on Tuesday February 3, councillors were again advised – this time by Mr Mark Woolgar, the Corporate HR Manager, gave similar advice to council. This time advising that, although not rescinded as previously advised, the policy was ineffective as the issue of encroachment had not arisen for many years.

However, it now appears that the advice given by officers to councillors was flawed, as the restriction meant that the top end of directors’ pay should have been within 77.5% of the chief officer’s pay. In other words, if the chief officer’s pay was £200,000 per annum, the top end of directors’ pay would be £154,000 instead of the c. £115,000 per year as at the moment.

On February 5’s Senior Staff Committee meeting, it was confirmed that senior officers’ pay was set at around 66% of Bryn Parry-Jones’ eye-watering pay packet.

The council potentially faces substantial claims for the senior staff cadre who will argue that their pay has not been set according to the Council’s own policy. As a result, it is alleged that the council has potentially operated in breach of its own policies and procedures for an extended period of time.

As the salaries involved are large, the sums involved are, likewise, considerable.

A council spokesperson told The Herald: “The report on the Chief Executive’s salary was due to be considered at next week’s Full Council meeting. However, this will no longer be the case due to a significant financial risk having been identified, following a matter raised by a County Councillor. The spokesperson explained: “The Chief Finance Officer, in his role as Section 151 Officer, has determined that the matter must be re-considered. A new report on the issue will be drafted for consideration by Council in the future.”

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Business

Further Covid-19 business support packages to become available soon

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PEMBROKESHIRE businesses that remain affected by Covid-19 restrictions can check their eligibility for a new package of support from the Welsh Government.

This latest support package will help those businesses eligible to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.

Businesses that stand to benefit include:

  • nightclubs and late entertainment venues
  • events and conference venues not covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF)
  • hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions

An eligibility checker has opened on the Business Wales website so businesses can find out how much support they are likely to be entitled to and how to apply.

See more information and check your business’ eligibility at: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under.

Businesses will be able submit applications to the Welsh Government from 24th May 2021 for grants of up to £25,000 and by the end of the month to Pembrokeshire County Council for smaller fixed Discretionary Grants.

To keep up to date and see the future application process for the Discretionary Grants please see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

The above link will be be updated with the latest information.  

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£50,000 funding windfall for low carbon community projects

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OVER £50,000 of funding has been awarded to local projects through the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF).

Since June 2020, the Fund has focussed on supporting community-led projects that contribute towards a reduction in carbon and help respond to the climate emergency. These 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.

Tenby RFC were among those to benefit from the most recent round of grants with an initiative to install recycling bins and litter pick stations at each of the sports facilities in the town.

There were two successful applications from the Solva area – one for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels at Solva Community Clubhouse, and the other from the Community Organised Allotment for Solva Tenants (COAST) to help with set-up costs.

Others to be awarded an SDF grant were the Paul Sartori Foundation and the EcoDewi community group. The Paul Sartori Foundation’s project involved fitting of tracking devices onto warehouse vans to enable route optimisation and increased fuel economy; while EcoDewi secured funding to support a part-time role organising community engagement events and volunteering activities, and developing wider community partnerships.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust said: “It’s been wonderful to see such variety in the applications we’ve received, and the innovative climate emergency solutions suggested by communities in the National Park.

“We look forward to receiving the next round of applications, and would encourage any community-led group or organisation that needs support to fund projects that will help reduce carbon and/or respond to climate change to apply as soon as possible.”

The next deadline for SDF applications is Friday 10 September 2021.

To find out more about SDF grants, and to apply online or download the application form please visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/sdf.  

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News

Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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