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Badger smells more than a rat

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Readers will have read exclusively in this newspaper about the collusion of certain Councillors in a scheme intended to help top boss Bryn Parry-Jones avoid tax.

There are times when even Badger is astonished by the way in which some members of the Council, having found one level, appear to find murkier depths to plumb with ease.

Look at the six faces opposite: The leader of the Council, his predecessor, a former deputy leader of the Council, a former cabinet member, a current cabinet member and the former leader of Pembrokeshire’s Conservatives: there they are.

These are the faces of the Councillors who sat behind closed doors in a meeting that, in a time of brutal cuts to Council services, decided that a man paid more than the Prime Minister needed a big tax break to make ends meet in his retirement.

Well that condensed milk and those tinned pilchards won’t buy themselves, will they?

Let’s look at some of the sorts of figures involved in the calculations of the Staff Remuneration Committee to see if we can get close to the size of Bryn’s Big Break. The Council, as is usual, have decided that such is Bryn’s importance and magnificence that the public should not have the details of the pot of public money he gets for his part in bringing such shame to Pembrokeshire that the Welsh Government had to intervene in the Council’s operations.

Readers may be surprised to learn that not only is Bryn’s salary actually a matter of public record – although Pembrokeshire County Council held out against revealing his hefty salary for many moons– but calculations used in other local authorities are widely available online.

In 2011, Haringey Council produced the following figures for someone on a salary of £150,000 (much less than his Bryn-ness):

Salary at beginning of year £150,000
Service at beginning of year 25 years
Pre-2008 service at beginning of year 22 years
Increase in Pay 6.6%
Salary at end of year £160,000
Service at end of year 26 years
Pre-2008 service at end of year 22 years
Inflation over year (Consumer Price Index) 2.5%
Pension  accrued at beginning of year £48,750
Lump Sum accrued at beginning of year £123,750
Pension accrued at end of year £54,667
Lump Sum accrued at end of year £132,000
Value of “pension savings” £80,323
Excess over annual allowance of £50,000 £30,323
Tax  charge if 40% £12,129
Tax charge if 45% (from April 2013) £13,645
Tax charge if 50% £15,161

 

Local government pensions work on the basis that employers and employees make contributions to the scheme. In order to permit Bryn to avoid tax what the IPPG led Committee did was to make it possible for Bryn Parry-Jones – as well as his fellow highest-paid officers – to choose to salt away the equivalent value of the Council’s contribution to their pensions to somewhere the tax man wouldn’t be able to get his mitts on it.

The change in the tax laws which brought about this tax dodge “arrangement” only affects those described as ‘very high earners.’ In fact the reason the change was brought in, ostensibly, was because of a quarter of all pension tax relief was going to only 1.5% of members of the pension scheme.

Bryn is one of the 1.5%.

These members – and take a good look at the mug shots opposite – thought that in a period when services were being cut and the wages of the lower paid employees were being slashed, they would give the best paid of their best paid employees a chance to avoid paying tax.

They have colluded to give those most able to afford tax to avoid it at the expense of everyone else.

Cosy and complacent: it appears they sat around a table in secret session to carve out a sordid tax dodge.

They should be ashamed. They won’t be.

Five of these sat together and decided to cut low-paid workers’ pay knowing that Bryn is trousering a big tax-free wodge of Council Tax payers’ cash.

It stinks.

The members of this Committee have colluded to let their very well remunerated Chief Executive avoid tax.

The Welsh Audit Office don’t seem to like it. Why should we?

Let’s also put this in context. At the time this meeting took place, the Council had just been the subject of the report that led to Welsh Government intervention in Pembrokeshire’s affairs. That report said this about our County Council (emphases added):

“The absence of effective governance in relation to safeguarding and protecting children REFLECTS FAILURES WITHIN THE CULTURE OF THE AUTHORITY AS A WHOLE. The shortcomings with the authority’s arrangements to safeguard and protect children are longstanding and systemic. This is indicative of the deep-seated nature of these problems and failings within the authority … THIS IS INDICATIVE OF A CLOSED, NOT AN OPEN OR TRANSPARENT CULTURE.”

So it was – as the minutes of the meeting put it – to aid the retention of the person in charge at the time the Council failed most spectacularly in its duty to us that the Committee members opposite decided that so essential was Bryn’s contribution that he needed an annual five-figure sweetie to stay.

Shortly after the child safeguarding issue came to prominence, a vote of no confidence in Bryn was tabled by Councillors who were, to say the least, “disappointed” in his management. He survived the vote as ‘Cwmbetws’ and his cohorts rallied round him.

Smell a rat?

It stinks of other odours, too: those more associated with the dairy farming with which John Davies and Jamie Adams will be familiar.

Badger was thinking of illustrating this point with the quote from Animal Farm about some animals being more equal than others. Instead, he remembered something he read when being taught history by former Director of Education, Graham Longster.

Senator Joseph McCarthy was notorious for helping create the ant-communist hysteria in America during the early 1950’s. His claims became more outrageous and vindictive as time went on. He finally met his come-uppance before a Senate committee in 1954.

Joseph N. Welch, Counsel for the US Army, finally – exasperatedly – asked McCarthy the lethal: ‘You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?’

Shut a library. Close a school. Cut bin collections. End public toilets. Slash workers’ wages. Tell everybody the cuts are unavoidable. But for God’s sake give Bryn the Merciless a tax break.

Look at the faces opposite again.

Ask Joseph Welch’s question of them.

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Charity

Calls for help over VHF radio may have been a hoax, say RNLI

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THE ANGLE All-Weather Lifeboat was requested to launch on service at 10:23am this morning, Monday (July 22).

Following a call to the Coastguard from Milford Haven VTS, the crew were tasked after the VTS operators overheard a female voice calling for help on VHF channel 12.

After narrowing down the transmission to having been received on the Pembroke aerial site, the crew were requested to conduct a search.

Launching at 10:30am, the lifeboat made best speed to the moorings at Hazelbeach, and a hasty search was requested by the Coastguard of any moored vessels. The crew began making their way amongst the moorings, heading up to the moorings off Neyland. With nothing untoward sighted, the crew proceeded to search the moorings off Hobbs Point, Barnlake Point, Burton, Llanion and Rudders Boat Yard.

With nothing found, the Coastguard requested that the crew continue their search up river to Picton Point. The lifeboat continued searching up the western shore encompassing Llangwm before altering course just past Landshipping and searching the eastern shore back down the river, calling in to Lawrenny on the way to check any vessels moored there.

The RNLI said that the search continued back down as far as the Cleddau Bridge.

On Facebook the organisation posted :”Following a thorough visual, communications and radar search the crew were subsequently stood down when no further information or calls had been received.

“The tasking was therefore deemed to be a hoax call.

“The lifeboat was back alongside and readied for further service by 1pm.”

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Crime

Police investigating after man injured during altercation in cemetery

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POLICE have confirmed that they are investigating a report of an altercation which occurred in the cemetery off Gelliswick Road, Hakin, Milford Haven sometime between 4.30 and 5.00pm, Wednesday 17th July, 2024.

Following the incident, a 32-year-old man went to hospital for treatment and was later released.

A 19-year-old male has been arrested on suspicion of assault and released on bail pending further police enquiries police have confirmed.

The incident caught the attention of locals, who said there was a large police response to the incident included armed officers.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected], or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Quote reference: 394 of the 17th

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

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Crime

West Wales man jailed for rape after victim’s cries heard

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A WEST WALES man has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for raping a woman in an attack that ended only when her cries for help were heard by others. Charlie Evans, a 22-year-old former Exeter University student, ignored his victim’s repeated pleas for him to stop during the 45-minute ordeal.

The incident took place after Evans and his victim had attended a party, where both had been drinking. The court heard that after kissing, the pair left together, with the woman under the impression that Evans lived in a flat with her friend.

Upon returning to the flat, the woman used the toilet before Evans raped her, despite her repeatedly saying no. The prosecutor described the victim as crying hysterically and added: “She did not want these things to happen.”

During the attack, one student testified they could hear the victim not consenting and begging Evans to stop. Another person said they were so concerned they inquired about what was happening.

Police were alerted after the incident was reported to campus staff, who then contacted the emergency services. Evans was told to leave his flat and was subsequently removed from the university. He denied the offence during his police interview.

Evans, of Victoria Avenue, Mumbles, Swansea, was convicted earlier this year at Exeter Crown Court of rape and sexual assault. He was sentenced on July 12. In a victim statement, the woman said her life had been forever changed by Evans’s actions. She expressed feelings of fear, confusion, and shame during the incident and continues to suffer from nightmares. She now feels distrustful of men and has sought support to cope with her trauma, the court heard.

Christopher Quinlan KC, defending, presented multiple good character references for Evans, describing him as a “kind and respectful” young man who was “always positive, compassionate and thoughtful.” He argued that his client’s life was “in ruins” as a result of his actions.

However, Judge Stephen Climie told Evans he had “completely misrepresented” his victim’s position, adding: “She was so far away from wishing to engage in your sexual activity that the only explanation for your attitude and approach was alcohol that blinded you to what was clearly and obviously the word ‘No’.” He continued: “So far as your life is concerned you will be crushed as a result of the sentence I’m required to impose.”

Following the sentencing, DC Michele Hicks from Devon and Cornwall Police’s major crime investigation team praised the victim for her courage and resilience throughout the investigation. She said: “I hope this case reassures the community how seriously the police take reports of sexual violence against women and girls and gives people the courage to come forward in future.”

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