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Secret session discusses unlawful Bryn payments



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.”

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MPs to examine opportunities for defence manufacturing and cyber security in Wales



THE WELSH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE has today launched (Mar 27) a new inquiry examining the defence industry in Wales, looking specifically at defence manufacturing and cyber security.

From Airbus to Kent Periscopes, Raytheon to Qioptiq, there are over 160 companies supporting the defence sector that are based in Wales. Wales’ defence sector is further enhanced by the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Defence and Electronics Components Agency (DECA), based in North Wales, which has a £0.5 billion contract with the US Department for Defense.

However, there are concerns that a decrease in investment from the MOD will erode the prominence of Wales’ defence sector. In recent years, the number of jobs and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the sector has declined and MOD spending in Wales has fallen by £300 million since 2018. The Committee is keen to examine trends in defence spending and how SMEs can benefit from available opportunities.

Over the course of the inquiry, MPs will look at how important the sector is to the Welsh economy, investigate the opportunities for growth and examine the role of the UK Government in further promoting the defence sector in Wales.

Welsh Affairs Committee Chairman, Stephen Crabb, said:

“From maintaining fighter jets to hosting one of the most advanced aircraft surveillance and intelligence systems in existence, in Wales we have a ground-breaking defence sector that is routinely punching above its weight.

“However, MOD investment in Wales has decreased, as have the numbers of jobs and SMEs in the Welsh defence sector. Over the course of our inquiry, we will be considering the future opportunities and challenges to ensure defence industries in Wales – from defence manufacturing to cyber security – thrive.

“The defence sector is a major employer and helps support local economies across our nation and it is in all our best interests to support Wales’ defence prowess.”

The Committee is inviting written submissions by Friday 5 May. These should focus on, but not be limited to:

  • What are the reasons underlying the trends in MoD spending in Wales since 2019?
  • What is the MoD’s understanding of how funding flows from prime contractors to small and medium sized defence sector businesses in Wales?
  • What is the relationship between Wales-based prime contractors, Welsh academic and research bodies, and the development of new defence technologies?
  • Can Wales play a role in enhancing the UK’s defence industrial capacity?
  • Do skills and knowledge exist within Wales’ workforce to support the growth of the Welsh defence sector?
  • How might the reorganisation of Wales’ defence estate affect employment in the defence sector in Wales?
  • Will the 10% social value weighting applied to MoD procurement support the Levelling Up agenda in Wales?
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Dog in difficulty rescued between St Nons and Caerfai Bay by RNLI



ST DAVIDS inshore lifeboat was tasked at 11am on Monday (Feb 27) to a dog in difficulty at the bottom of cliffs between St Nons and Caerfai Bay.

Marian and Alan Clayton made best speed to the scene where a HM Coastguard team from St Davids assisted the crew by locating the dog.

Once recovered from the base of the cliffs, “Bosun” was reunited with its relieved owners at Porthclais Harbour.

Pictured are crew members Ellen, Tom and Martin with Bosun.

The lifeboat returned to Station before a wash down and refuelling, ready for service by 12:42pm, according to an online report from the RNLI

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Economy Minister congratulates Celtic Freeport consortium on winning bid



ECONOMY MINISTE, Vaughan Gething, was in Port Talbot today to congratulate the Celtic Freeport consortium on their successful bid to be Wales’ first freeport, which is set to deliver tens of thousands of new, high-quality jobs in south west Wales.

Last week, the Welsh and UK governments jointly announced the Celtic Freeport in Milford Haven and Port Talbot, and Anglesey Freeport on Ynys Mon, have been chosen as Wales’ first freeports.

The two freeports aim to collectively create around 20,000 jobs in the green industries of the future by 2030 and attract up to £4.9 billion in public and private investments.

The Celtic Freeport will be based around the port of Port Talbot in Neath Port Talbot, and the port of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

The freeport plans focus on low carbon technologies, such as floating offshore wind (FLOW), hydrogen, carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) and biofuels to support the accelerated reduction of carbon emissions.

The freeport aims to attract significant inward investment, including £3.5 billion in the hydrogen industry as well as the creation of 16,000 jobs, generating £900 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2030, and £13 billion by 2050.

The Minister visited the port of Port Talbot earlier today, which will become one of the focal points of the new Freeport – which is expected to be operational later this year.

Speaking during a visit to Port Talbot, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “It was great to be in Port Talbot today to congratulate the Celtic Freeport team on their successful bid.

“From off-shore energy to advanced manufacturing, the Celtic Freeport will help create tens of thousands of new, high quality jobs in the green industries of the future. it will support our highly ambitious plans to reach net zero by 2050, while also supporting our young people to plan their futures here in Wales.

“All this will help us transform the economy of south west Wales, helping us create a stronger, fairer and greener future for local people and communities.”

Roger Maggs MBE, Chair of the Celtic Freeport consortium said: “Wales is on the cusp on an exciting green journey.

“The freeport decision will cause a chain reaction.

“Upgrading our major energy ports in Milford Haven and Port Talbot will enable floating offshore wind, create the cradle to nurture new green tech companies and take a step on the path to greening Wales’ steel industry.

“Now is the time for action so that Wales captures the renewable energy supply chain.”

Andrew Harston, Director, Wales and Short Sea Ports, Associated British Ports (ABP) said: “The roll-out of floating offshore wind, or FLOW, in the Celtic Sea provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Wales. Port Talbot is the ideal location for the deployment of FLOW, and ABP is ready to invest over £500m in new and upgraded infrastructure to enable this and to ensure first-mover advantage to capture this global market. The Celtic Freeport provides a huge opportunity, and not just for FLOW, but for sustainable fuels and hydrogen too.

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