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Secret session discusses unlawful Bryn payments

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bpjIF you were one of the people trying to find out how controversial Council fat cat Bryn Parry Jones had responded to a Council request to pay back the unlawful payments he received, tough luck! Despite the fact the contents of the letter responding to the Council’s request were already in the public domain, the discussion of how public money had been spent on a public servant was held in private. Conservative group leader David Howlett told the Herald: “With David Bryan, I voted for a public debate which was lost and so we went into private session. We supported a Plaid amendment that it would be foolish to pursue court action due to costs but expressed regret that the money was not being returned. “Some IPPG members supported this and had Labour members also supported it, we would have won. Because Labour did not support the Plaid amendment, we had another vote to take no further action, from which I abstained. “Labour’s stance meant the end result was no further action would be taken. I have to ask whether (Labour leader) Paul Miller sees this as a result, because that is what he and his group made sure happened.” Labour leader Paul Miller told us: “On principle, the Labour group decided not to accept anything less than the Chief Executive being forced to pay back the money unlawfully paid to him. “The vote today is not the end of the matter. “I still firmly believe that the Council must take action to get the money back.” Accepting a request from Bryn Parry Jones’ union Councillors chose to discuss Bryn’s letter, which told his employer to get lost, behind closed doors and with the cameras turned off. That union’s request was backed by the Council’s Head of Legal Services, who said: “Members have strong feelings about this issue, it is the case, in my opinion, that all employees of the Council do have a legitimate and reasonable expectation, both in employment terms and in accordance with their human rights, that their relationship with their employer should be conducted in appropriate confidence. “ The letter’s content was reported online and reveals: • Bryn gave the unlawful payments he received to his wife for her to invest; • Bryn claims his employer acted unlawfully by ceasing to make unlawful payments to him; • Bryn alleges that he has suffered a detriment by not receiving the unlawful payments. In addition to the above, Mr Parry Jones relies upon advice given to the Council that it was doubtful whether he could be compelled to disgorge the unlawful payments back to his employer. That element of his response is likely to cause particular controversy, as the Council’s CEO did not contribute to the cost of the legal advice he now relies upon to buttress his refusal to repay the money he received from the Council. Mr Parry Jones, whose Porsche sports saloon is paid for and insured by Council Tax payers, claims that he was entitled to rely upon the unlawful payments continuing to help plan his retirement and alleges a breach of contract by the Council in failing to make contributions to his pension. However, if the Council had continued to make unlawful payments to its CEO then it would itself have been acting unlawfully. Mr Parry Jones’ suggestion that he should have continued to receive the unlawful payments not only flies in the face of reason, but also suggests that he would have preferred the Authority to spend more Council Tax payers’ money defending his RIGHT to receive unlawful payments in the High Court. Again, at NO cost to himself. In addition, the whole scheme was hatched in order to help the CEO avoid tax on his massive publicly funded pension. The Council did not force Mr Parry Jones to accept the unlawful payments. Instead, he voluntarily entered the scheme in order to avoid future tax payments on his seven-figure pension pot. That scheme was hatched after Westminster government changed the Local Government Pension Scheme rules when it became clear that the system of tax relief was being abused by a minority of senior officers across the UK. The Pembrokeshire Herald asked the County Council to comment both on the letter’s content and the fact that it had been leaked. A Council spokesperson told us: “The letter to which you refer is marked private and confidential. It is not appropriate for us to comment on its contents.”

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Roy

    August 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    The ruling IPPG kid themselves they have “turned the corner” and are improving services through “safeguarding” (from whom?) On the pension Bryn has become a liability – avarice and arrogance taking precedence in equal measure. We have the grants scheme in Pembroke Dock, there is more to it than just a slum landlord making a few bob, why else do they try to cover it up? Who’s in charge of the council and hence attempts at cover up?
    We have child abuse, possibly it could have been stopped 6 years before it was, who was directly warned about this?
    Bryn has had a very distinctive style of management over a number of years, the chickens are coming home to roost, and there are many more chickens still to roost!
    Who drives to work in an expensive sports care, on the taxpayer?
    Most councillors are well meaning and have good intent. They have simply tolerated this man because they try to tell themselves the bigger picture looks better. He is now a political liability far beyond what any potential cost of getting rid of him amounts to. Dismiss him and fight him in court if need be, or do they need to wait for the next turd to drop on county hall?

  2. woody

    August 2, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Good luck PCC and EMF in getting any money back, either from Bryn or Mccosker. There isn\’t a crow bar on earth big enough to prise a penny out of there greedy grabbing hands.

  3. tomos

    August 4, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Is Mccosker the infamous second person who benefitted from the illegal payment?
    I’m also guessing these two are on some sort of final salary pension scheme so Mr Mccosker pensions will have been based on an illegal final salary ?

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News

Pembrokeshire airport lease expected to be completed by end of year

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HAVERFORDWEST’S council-run airport, which had a circa £119,000 deficit last year, is expected to be leased out by the end of the year following “reasonably complex” negotiations, councillors heard.

Back in May, members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet supported the leasing of Withybush Airport as part of plans to make the facility cost-neutral to the authority.

Last year, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, members heard the financial position at the council-supported Haverfordwest/Withybush airport deteriorated in 2022/23, with an out-turn position for 2022/23 of £238,000.

That loss has been reduced to an expected £119,000 for 2023/24 “following an extensive review of the operations of the airport”.

At the July 18 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s full council, a series of submitted questions on the airport were heard.

Merlins Bridge councillor John Cole asked: “With the council leasing out the Haverfordwest airport, can members be assured that the lease is at comparable rent with similar airport facilities, and the airport being offloaded purely as a cost savings measure?”

He also asked a second related question: “Are current users protected and assured that their tenancy and rents currently payable to the authority are taken into consideration?”

Responding, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said the proposed letting was considered to be “best letting,” with restricted private documents detailing the figures available to all members.

On the second question, he said existing tenants had been involved throughout the process, and once the new overall lease was in place tenants would be protected through legislation.

However, he stressed the new leaseholder would be able to change conditions in the future and the council would “not dictate terms” in the future.

A further question was asked by Saundersfoot South councillor Chris Williams: “On a recent services meeting back in 2023, we had a productive meeting at Withybush Airport to look at the impact regarding costs to PCC and to consider options with regards to its future operation.

“Can you please clarify if the airport is still owned and operated by Pembrokeshire County Council and if so at what cost since April 1, 2024?”

Cllr Miller said the airport was still currently owned by the council following the Cabinet decision, with “reasonably complex” negotiations ongoing, complicated by land ownership issues and the need to obtain the civil aviation licence.

“Hopefully by the end of the calendar year we will have completed that transaction,” Cllr Miller said, adding that £25,000 had been spent since April 1.

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Farming

FUW sets out its key priorities at the Royal Welsh Show

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THE Farmers’ Union of Wales has set out its robust asks of the UK and Welsh Governments despite the challenges presented by navigating through a constantly changing political landscape.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show this week, FUW President Ian Rickman reiterated the fact that the Union’s stance remains constant and relentless in an ever changing political arena.

“Welsh farming is at an important crossroads which will determine our future for decades to come. Whilst our direction of travel depends heavily on the development of devolved agricultural policies, we must not forget how decisions made by the newly elected UK Government will effectively determine the degree of funding the Welsh Government has available to support agriculture and rural development.

“This, in turn, will have an impact upon the extent to which Welsh food producers can be expected to compete against producers in other UK nations and across the globe on various levels.

“Despite these challenges, our focus as a Union is to keep-on lobbying governments relentlessly for the best possible outcomes for our members, Welsh agriculture and our rural communities.

“The recent Senedd Cabinet reshuffle and UK General Election certainly brought about considerable change to the political landscape in Wales, not least the appointment of Huw Irranca-Davies MS as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and a new UK Labour Government holding a majority at Westminster.

“However, turmoil in Cardiff persists as Vaughan Gething’s resignation leaves the door wide open for yet another reshuffle within a matter of a few months.

At a UK level, the FUW is calling for a fair, multiannual funding settlement of £450 million per year in EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) legacy funding for agriculture and rural development in Wales.

“The role of this support in underpinning food production, environmental protection and rural communities in Wales cannot be underestimated.

“We also need to see a far more robust approach to future trade deals with other countries and trading blocs if we are to protect Welsh farmers and UK food security. Food imports and exports must be subject to the same customs and adherence to similar standards if we are to provide a level playing field for both UK and EU producers.”

The FUW is calling for incentives and support for farmers to invest in on-farm renewable energy production that benefits local communities. Food production should be recognised as a national asset and the use of productive agricultural land to meet tree planting and other environmental targets should be halted.

Procurement policies must prioritise public sector support for Welsh and British businesses, recognising the range of benefits such properly designed policies can deliver for society. The newly elected UK Labour Government must also protect and promote the UK’s high animal health and welfare standards and bring in a law that ensures that all dogs should be kept on a lead in fields near or adjacent to livestock.

“Despite the uncertainty in Cardiff, we call on the Welsh Government to build strong relations with the newly elected UK Labour Government to ensure that Welsh agriculture receives the attention it deserves. EU CAP legacy funding allocated for Welsh agriculture and rural development must be protected for this purpose and such funding should continue to be co-funded using national funds.

“The ongoing process of negotiating a revised Sustainable Farming Scheme that provides stability for our food producing family farms must also continue if the scheme is to be implemented in 2026. It is crucial that the scheme considers economic, social and environmental sustainability on equal footings and is accessible and achievable for all active farmers in Wales.

“We also want to see the adoption of practical and innovative technological solutions as a central part of the Control of Agricultural Pollution ‘NVZ’ Regulations review. The process must be based on robust data and evidence while seeking to address water quality issues through innovation rather than regulation.”

Mr Rickman added that the Welsh Government has to, now more than ever before, adopt a scientific and holistic approach to bovine TB eradication in Wales by working with the Technical Advisory Group in investigating the effectiveness of current testing regimes and methods for addressing disease transmission by wildlife.

“Finally, moves towards net zero must be sustainable and based on robust science in such a way that actions carried out in response to short-term targets are not reversed. Reducing our carbon footprint must be manageable and realistic, and must not compromise production or the economic viability of farming businesses.

“The coming days are a celebration of Welsh agriculture and the farmers who continue to produce high quality food and protect the environment against a constant backdrop of political uncertainty and challenge.”

Mr Rickman said that the impacts of such uncertainty across the UK and some fundamental policy questions would be the focus of the FUW’s seminars being held over the coming days, as panels of professionals tackle a diverse range of areas of concern for Welsh farming.

“As always, in addition to these events, our staff and Presidential Team will be meeting officials and stakeholders in order to highlight FUW’s farming members’ good news stories and industry concerns. Rest assured, despite navigating a constantly changing political landscape, our constant and relentless stance remains; to represent the interests of Welsh farmers,” concluded Mr Rickman.

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Health

Health Board to make decision about the future of St David’s GP Surgery

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THE FUTURE of Primary Care provision for patients registered with St David’s GP Surgery in Pembrokeshire will be discussed by Hywel Dda University Health Board at a meeting on Thursday, 25 July 2024.

An engagement exercise was undertaken to gather patient and local stakeholder views on the future of GP services following the decision of the one GP who runs the Surgery to resign his General Medical Services Contract, which takes effect from 31 October 2024.

The engagement with patients and stakeholders included a drop-in event St David’s City Hall in June. This event was well-attended and gave people an opportunity to discuss their concerns in person with the Health Board and Llais, the patient’s voice organisation for Wales.

Patients and members of the local community were also able to share their views via a questionnaire which was available at the engagement event, and also from the Surgery, the local Pharmacy, online, or by contacting the Health Board by phone or e-mail.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long-Term Care, at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to feed back their views to us. The Health Board is committed to listening to and engaging with our local populations and we would like to thank patients and stakeholders for their involvement in the process so far.

“We would like to reassure patients that we are working to find a sustainable solution from the limited options available so that services can be delivered as locally as possible for patients from the 1 November.

The main themes picked up during the engagement period include concerns about the impact on the community of St David’s if the Surgery were to close, continuity of care and also travel to another GP surgery, especially with regard to public transport.

“People at the drop-in event were provided with information about the frequency of public transport and other transport support available in the community,” said Ms Paterson.

“There was also much appreciation expressed for Dr Stephen Riley and his team and for the care that they have provided over the years. We very much appreciate the continuing support given by the Community to the team at St David’s Surgery throughout this challenging period.”

On Thursday, 25 July, the Board will consider the feedback received.

Ms Paterson continued: “We understand local people will want to know what the future of their GP services will look like, and we will be writing to all patients to inform them of the outcome once a decision is made by the Board.”

To read the Board papers and watch the meeting on the day, please visit: Board Agenda and Papers 25 July 2024 – Hywel Dda University Health Board (nhs.wales)

An update, following the Board’s formal decision on Thursday, July 25 will be shared with patients and stakeholders.

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