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Bid to suspend Bryn collapses

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The extraordinary meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council to decide if the Chief Executive, Bryn Parry Jones should be suspended has collapsed, amongst unprecedented scenes at County Hall today.pensions investigation

Opposition Councillors received legal advice from a top QC that they should withdraw from the meeting due to comments they had made in the press.

Tim Kerr QC, the lawyer advising the Council on the ‘tax-dodge’ pension arrangements read out a list of Councillors who he felt could not participate in the meeting due to negative comments they had made about Bryn Parry Jones to The Pembrokeshire Herald and The Western Telegraph.

In light of this, most members of the opposition walked out of the council chamber and the one remaining signatory to the notice of motion that Mr. Parry-Jones be suspended, Cllr Phil Baker, withdrew the vote.

Cllr. Phil Baker told the Herald just now: “I knew something was afoot when the QC was allowed to remain after the Wales Audit Office report was discussed.”

He added: “I think that a lot of IPPG members as well as opposition Councillors are not happy about what has happened today. Very shabby indeed, its like the old East Germany.”

PEMBROKESHIRE ALLIANCE

The Pembrokeshire Alliance Group have made a statement about the  meeting

A spokesman said: “This meeting was an insult to democracy. The people of Pembrokeshire deserve openness, transparency and good governance and this meeting was an example of what happens when these principles are quite deliberately not followed.”

The Pembrokeshire Alliance Group says it is now in discussions with other opposition groups and non affiliated Councillors as to what should happen next.

AM WANTS BRYN STRIPPED OF RETURNING OFFICER POWERS

reWELSH Labour AM Rebecca Evans has called for embattled chief executive of Pembrokeshire Council Bryn Parry-Jones to be stripped of his role as Returning Officer for Wales in the European elections this May until local Councillors are allowed to debate the issue properly and the police investigation has concluded.

This follows last week’s full council meeting that descended into farce after the council enlisted lawyer declared a number of people had pre-determined the outcome of the discussion which led to a walk-out and prevented a vote on suspending Mr Parry-Jones.

Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales said: “After the embarrassing spectacle that was Friday’s ‘extraordinary meeting’ of Pembrokeshire council, it is clear that the Pembrokeshire council leadership is content to allow the debate to descend into farce rather than grapple openly and in public with the serious issues presented by the Wales Audit Office reports.

“It would now be utterly preposterous for Bryn Parry Jones to preside over the European Ballot as Returning Officer while his pension payments are still under police investigation. The public must have complete confidence in the election process, and in all of the people involved. Until the police investigation is concluded, alternative arrangements must be made – and that means relieving Bryn Parry Jones of his Returning Officer role.”

Paul Miller, leader of the Labour group in Pembrokeshire said:
“Sometimes, particularly around planning issues, pre-determination rules help ensure fairness but last week it was worrying to see those rules used to stifle debate and silence critics in a totally unjust and undemocratic way. Many opposition Councillors felt cornered having a QC tell them that they had to leave. Having sought legal advice, I know that no Labour councilors pre-determined the debate. Pre-determination is a matter for individuals not lawyers. Enlisting a barrister in a crude attempt to undermine our roles as Councillors and prevent us from seeking to represent the views of our constituents on this hugely important issue is nothing short of Orwellian.

“The public deserve reassurance that this matter is being dealt with properly. I will not lie down and be silenced by the puppet administration running Pembrokeshire, and will continue to fight to ensure that full council are able to debate this.”

PLAID CYMRU SPEAKS OUT

Pembrokeshire Plaid Cymru leader Cllr Michael Williams has called on the Welsh Government to intervene in the running of Pembrokeshire County Council.

Cllr Williams told The The Herald: “The recent events are yet more evidence of the gross incompetence of the Independent Group which presently masquerades as the controlling group of the Council. We say “masquerade” as it is patently obvious that the authority is run by a small cabal of out of control senior officers orchestrated by the Chief Executive, who are bringing the Council into disrepute.”

He added: “After their appalling performance in the Council meeting on Friday, is it any wonder that PCC is the laughing stock of Wales? Pembrokeshire tax payers deserve better. We deserve honesty and integrity, and they have consistently failed to deliver.”

“This Council staggers from crisis to crisis, from travel claims which were years late from the Leader to the misuse of Council computers by Councillor Rob Lewis to produce Independent group election literature.  This together with failures to properly safeguard our children, a failed social care provision and recently dubious grant dealings in Pembroke Dock render them unfit.”

It was amazing to see on Friday their efforts to extricate themselves from their self inflicted problems. Legal advice of forty five pages. which we as elected Members were not allowed to see, and the costs of at least one Q C, with another expert flown in from Edinburgh. This plus the mysterious brown envelope left on the passenger seat of the Council vehicle which transported the Q C with information enclosed selectively identifying those Members who had stated that the CEO should go. The rulers of North Korea would be proud.

Mr Parry-Jones should step aside immediately, and take his poodle, Jamie Adams with him. The Welsh Government should immediately install Commissioners to take over the running of PCC” he concluded.

LEGAL ADVICE WAS  ‘WRONG’

The Pembrokeshire Herald took independent legal advice before publishing comments made by County Councillors this month, in the days leading up to the vote over the suspension of chief executive of Pembrokeshire council, Bryn Parry Jones.

During the extraordinary meeting of Full Council, members were given legal advice by a barrister appointed by senior officers and leaders of the authority.

Mr Tim Kerr QC told members that some of them had ‘crossed the line’ by showing predetermination over whether the chief executive should be suspended. Mr Kerr told members that this predetermination was demonstrated by comments made in the newspaper article.

Mr Kerr had been given photocopies of selected press cuttings from The Pembrokeshire Herald’s February 8 edition by the monitoring officer, Mr Laurence Harding. He told the meeting that the newspaper article had been ‘brought to his attention’ but refused to say by who. However, Deputy Leader, Cllr Rob Lewis told members that he also had copies of the same documents. He did not admit to giving them to Mr Laurence Harding, however.

Pembrokeshire Herald editor Thomas Sinclair said: “There is legislation regarding the issue of predetermination that was not brought up at the meeting. Section 25(2) of the Localism Act 2011 provides that ‘a decision-maker is not to be taken to have had, or to have appeared to have had, a closed mind when making the decision just because the decision-maker had previously done anything that directly or indirectly indicated what view the decision-maker took’.”

Mr. Sinclair added: “This legislation clearly applies to all County Councils in the United Kingdom, but this law was not followed at the meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council on Friday.”

He concluded: “In the newspaper’s view if Tim Kerr QC was acting in the best interests of all the members of the council, rather than just those on the side of Mr. Bryn-Parry Jones then, he would have advised members of the existence of this critical piece of legislation, which has been on the statute books for three years.”

 

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Inquest opened into tragic death of Ianto Jenkins, 3, at family’s farm

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THE CORONER has opened and adjourned the inquest into the tragic death of a three-year-old boy who died after being hit a vehicle at the family farm.

The inquest, in Llanelli, was adjourned with a date to be fixed in four months.

Ianto Cerwyn Sior Jenkins was sadly pronounced dead at Rhosfach Farm near Efailwen, which is north of Clunderwen, at about 19:40 HRS on August 3.

He had been playing with his sister and cousin at the time.

It was explained Ianto was struck by a pick-up truck and trailer while playing on his bicycle.

Coroner’s officer Hayley Rogers said the emergency services were called to the farm at 19:00, after reports that a child had been in a crash with a piece of farm machinery but he died at the scene.

Coroner Paul Bennett extended his “belated personal condolences” to the family and told them the coroner’s service would conduct its enquiries with the “appropriate diligence and propriety”.

Ianto’s mother, Chloe Picton, previously paid tribute to her “blue-eyed boy… who was always smiling and laughing. He loved being out on the farm and going on the tractor with his daddy. Ianto and I had a very strong bond, he was ‘mummy’s little boy’ and was always by my side everywhere we went, now that’s been taken from me.”

Inquiries by the Health and Safety Executive and police are still ongoing.

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A40 accident leads to three people being airlifted to hospital

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POLICE are appealing for witnesses following a serious accident on the A40 on Friday (Sept 25) near the turning for Trecwn. The accident happened just before midnight .

Three people were airlifted to hospital with suspected life-threatening injuries, and a further four people were injured.

Dyfed-Powys police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We are appealing for witnesses following a serious collision on the A40.

“Three people were airlifted to hospital with suspected life-threatening injuries, and a further four people were injured.

“Ambulance and fire service also attended, with Coastguard helicopter assisting.

“The road was closed overnight as investigations took place.

“If you saw what happened, or noticed a white Skoda or red Chrysler travelling along that stretch of road in the time before the collision, please contact police by calling 101, or share what you know anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A spokesperson for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue told The Herald: “We can confirm that two fire engines were on the scene with the first call received at 11:55pm.

“We had two engines there with crews from Fishguard and Haverfordwest at the scene. There were numerous casualties with two vehicles involved. Casualties with numerous injuries were transported to hospital by ambulance crews on the scene.

“One person was trapped and there were two walking wounded.”

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Pembrokeshire pensioners set to be hit by removal of triple lock pension

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THE WELSH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have published figures showing that Pembrokeshire is set to be hit hard by the Government’s decision to break its manifesto promise and suspend the triple lock on pensions after Conservative MPs voted to approve the change.

Figures released by the Party show Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire is set to be the 9th hardest-hit area in Wales with 18,753 people or 23.9 percent of the constituency consisting of state pensioners. 

Meanwhile Preseli Pembrokeshire will see 18,244 people or 22.9 percent of the constituency hit, ranking 12th hardest hit in Wales. Both of Pembrokeshire’s Conservative MPs, Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb voted in favour of ending the triple lock.

The figures are based on analysis by the House of Commons Library commissioned by the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats had tabled an amendment to the Social Security Bill that called for additional support to address the impact of the pandemic on the two million pensioners currently living in poverty and making the uplift to Universal Credit permanent. However, the Conservatives, including Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb, voted against the amendment.

Commenting, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Mid & West Wales MS, Jane Dodds stated: “The Conservatives have broken yet another manifesto promise that will hit people in the pocket.

“With so many pensioners living in poverty, the triple lock was a guarantee that vulnerable elderly people were relying on. Yet this winter the Government will instead turn its back on the poorest pensioners, some of whom risk no longer being able to heat their homes as energy costs spiral.

“The Conservatives claim that suspending the triple lock is just a temporary move, but how can pensioners have any faith that this is the one promise ministers will keep?

“I and the Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to demand that the Government doesn’t leave pensioners living in poverty high and dry and that we don’t return to the days of the derisory 75p rise to the state pension.”

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