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No confidence ballot ‘likely to go against Bryn Parry’, say unions

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backed brynTRADE UNIONS in Pembrokeshire, including UNISON, are continuing to mount the pressure on Pembrokeshire County Council’s chief executive, Bryn Parry-Jones, as the ballot over ‘no confidence’ in his abilities continues.

Vic Dennis, UNISON Branch Secretary, told The Herald: “Ballot papers went out to all our members in Pembrokeshire last week and the speed and size of response has been overwhelming.

“With days still to go we have already received over 500 responses and many members are on annual leave. The early indications are that the majority UNISON members employed by PCC will confirm that they have lost trust and confidence in their Chief Officer. We have never had such an immediate and overpowering response to a ballot on any other issue”
UNISON along with Unite and GMB are planning a major rally outside County Hall on Friday 8th support it. Vic Dennis added: “This is in direct response to calls from our respective membership to have their voices heard in relation to numerous failings in Pembrokeshire County Council. The continuing pension debacle is the last straw for our members, many of whom now say they are embarrassed to admit they work for PCC.
“The action is taking place at lunch time so members are at liberty to register their protest and we trust that no pressure is put on them not to walk out.”

“It is not only trade union members who welcome this opportunity to show their feelings but the community as a whole. We now ask them to join us on 8th at 12:30 to show their strength of feeling.”
On Friday, August 8 at 12:30 and many members have indicated that they will.
Last week union leaders said: “The Chief Executive has refused to repay and of the £45,000 pounds of pension payments he received directly to his bank account. In the meantime some of the lowest paid and hardest hit by the pay and grading review are suffering hardship whilst the appeals process drags on with no end in sight.”

“The joint unions are now planning to demonstrate their anger at a lunchtime protest on 8 August, similar to the action taken by employees of Caerphilly Council which highlighted the failings of their CEO”, they said.
Paul Miller, Labour leader on the Council, wrote to IPPG leader Jamie Adams when the news broke of the new investigation saying: “It would, in my view, seriously undermine public trust and the moral of the staff were Mr Parry-­Jones to continue in his position while these enquiries are undertaken.

“I appreciate that we have not seen eye to eye on this issue in the past (far from it) but I implore you now to show some courage and leadership. I implore you to break with the past and do what is right.

“Take the first step on what will admittedly be a very long journey, to restore some credibility and public trust to our local authority.”
The Herald asked for a copy of Councillor Adams’ reply to that letter, but we were told that he regarded his correspondence to the Council’s Labour leader as private.

The Council has declined to comment on the unions’ actions.

The Herald will be covering the protest with a live coverage on the newspapers website and Facebook feed.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Archie

    August 6, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I would love to attend and support the staff unfortunately I will be away, but if I was here I would join them. hope members of the public like myself will show their support. Good Luck, you will need it to get rid of Teflon man!

  2. Rockface

    August 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Some of the staff are scared to demonstrate outside county hall.

  3. anita d

    August 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    i would encourage as many of the general public as possible to go along

  4. tomos

    August 6, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Sorry to hear that Rockface but knowing what I know of his tricks and behaviour (folders “left” in cars, devious,nasty and spiteful in my humble opinion anyway) I can understand why some ppl will be scared after all look at Sue Thomas – indeed Jamie A is still spinning against her and for Bryn

  5. Becky Dyer

    August 6, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I used to work for PCC until 10 yrs ago and the culture was very concerning back then – failure was rewarded with promotion if your face fitted and no one above a certain grade was accountable. I now work for a very large English Local Authority and the difference is staggering. Our chief exec earns £100k a year less than BPJ and yet we consistently perform very well as a Local Authority. I attended a training session recently (I’m a Human Resources Advisor) and PCC was used as a bad example for safeguarding failings, HR policies, accountability and treatment of whistleblowers. I’m ashamed to put my 5 years at PCC on my CV for fear of being tainted by association. The senior exec needs shifting. New blood from OUTSIDE Pembrokeshire would be good. No more nepotism and blind eyes being turned. Time. For. Change. Pembrokeshire people deserve better!!

  6. Clive James aka clivebeca

    August 8, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    I would still like to know who ‘the other Senior Officer’ is? Why is he/she being protected?
    There is surely a case very soon for either various departments of PCC being placed into Welsh Government Special Measures, OR the entire Council. Never thought I’d say it, but ‘Bring back Dyfed’ or a western version of Dyfed i.e. Pembrokeshire/Ceredigion. The redundancy bill for Senior Staff, would probably be very high, but perhaps it would get rid of ‘Deadwood’. Surely we need/deserve democratic accountability, but all for the good of the Residents/Tax payers not for Senior Officers earning more than the PM of the UK ??

  7. Tomos

    August 10, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Well clivebeca I agree 100% with you, I believe I remember someone posted the name on another local newspapers web site but it was taken down pretty quickly by the administrators, I think it was the HR director who retired , was it a Mr McC something?

    Has he had some sort of injunction, or is he so highly respected that both papers decided not to infringe on his private life now that he’s no longer part of the sordid gang. 🙁

    BPJ has taken a lot of flack but looking at all the things have gone wrong then I suggest he has a heck of a lot to answer for too!

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Proposal to give firefighters a council tax discount to go to Cabinet

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PEMBROKESHIRE on-call firefighters could enjoy a reduction in council tax “in recognition of the vital work performed” by them if a call is backed by senior councillors.

At the July 18 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council, a Notice of Motion submitted by Newport and Dinas county councillor, and leader of the Independent Group, Cllr Huw Murphy was heard.

Cllr Murphy’s call stated: “There is currently a significant and severe shortage in suitable applicants coming forward to be on-call fire fighters (retained) for the Mid & West Wales Fire Service.

“Currently there are vacancies for on-call fire fighters at all fire stations throughout the region, which impacts considerably upon the safety of both residents and visitors who may need the assistance of the Fire Service. Pembrokeshire is heavily reliant on our on-call firefighters.

“In recognition of the vital work performed by our on-call fire fighters (retained not full time employees of the service) and to encourage others to consider undertaking this vital role within our communities this Notice of Motion proposes that Pembrokeshire County Council offers every retained fire-fighter working and living in Pembrokeshire a 10 per cent reduction in the council tax they pay after achieving a qualifying period of service annually, to be determined by the Chief Fire Officer.”

At the July 18 meeting, members agreed Cllr Murphy’s call be considered by the council’s Cabinet at a later date.

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Newly elected Labour MP reveals how she was raped, age 15

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NEWLY elected Labour MP Natalie Fleet has bravely revealed how she was raped at the age of 15.
In a harrowing GBNews.com interview to be broadcast this Sunday (July 21), Ms Fleet says she still has “weekly nightmares” about what happened two decades on from the attack.
After being raped, Ms Fleet fell pregnant but says the daughter she gave birth to is now the “love of her life”.
Sitting down with GB News’ Gloria De Piero in an exclusive interview she explains that she’s decided to speak about what happened because the actions of her attacker – who told her to have an abortion – were “not ok”.
Ms Fleet also fears many women are suffering and unable to get the support they need.
That’s why she plans to use her platform in Parliament to use her teenage experiences, which also saw her spent a period homeless, as a catalyst for change.
Reflecting on what happened to her two decades ago, Ms Fleet, now a mother-of-four, said: “Today, 23 years later, I look back and I think, it wasn’t ok. That was an older man. I didn’t know we were having unprotected sex. I was a child and (it) is statutory rape. At the time this isn’t something that we were talking about. It’s not how I saw myself. I still have weekly nightmares about it.
“I have a huge privilege and advantage to be in Parliament and I’m thrilled to be here. But what happened in my childhood still has a massive impact on me, which is why I’m so excited about what the next Labour government is going to do.
“At 15, you definitely think you’re old enough to do all these things. I wanted to give my daughter the best life. But another thing that I can do now I’m in Parliament is I want to be a voice for all of those people, all of those women that have children in far from ideal circumstances.
“That’s why I wanted to talk about where my daughter came from and about what happened. It was really difficult for me to say to her, ‘I don’t think this was entirely consensual, and I think I might have been groomed, and I don’t think this is an appropriate relationship’. She took it really well. I Googled in advance f0r some tips, just a fact sheet or ‘how to deal with this’ and I found nothing.
“I found absolutely nothing. I found there were fact sheets about rape being used as a war crime. But there was nothing else. There’s no acknowledgement that it happens in the UK. And the more research I’ve done, I’ve found that there are over 3,000 conceptions every year from rape. But there’s no charity to support those women.
“There’s no help, advice, or support helpline that you can go to. No help on ‘how do I tell my child, that I love, that is everything to me, that this is where they came from?’”
Explaining why extra support in this area is so desperately needed she continued: “It is biologically very clear what happened to me because I was 15 years old, and he was older. I can prove where she came from, so that’s statutory rape. But there are so many women that this happens too who don’t speak about it.


“They dare not speak about it because they know they won’t be believed. And then even if by some miracle, we move to a society where women are believed, once you say this is your child, then that man can come and have access to that child.
“Even if you prove it’s rape, that man can have access to that child and help bring it up. And that’s absolutely terrifying. This is a perpetrator that has hurt the mother, who can then have access to the child.
“He told me to have an abortion at the time. He’s never met her. He never wanted anything to do with it. And he was very dismissive. He told me many times that he knew lots of ways that he wouldn’t have to pay a penny towards her, because all his friends had already evaded the CSA.”
Describing the relationship she now has with her daughter, Ms Fleet said: “So she’s 23 now and is the absolute love of my life. I am so proud of everything she is. I am thrilled. She makes me proud every single day. But at the time, when I was 15, I felt full of shame and guilt and responsibility. And all I was determined to do was make sure that she had a life that was as good as she would have had to any age parent. That was what I was determined to do.”
Outlining how she plans to use her role as an MP to push for change, she said: “I am a product of the last Labour government. It wasn’t a perfect Government, but it changed my life and it was transformational. When I was younger, things were tough and I had a Labour government.
“When we were homeless, the Labour government made sure that there was enough housing stock for us to be rehoused. And then when I had my first child at a very young age, I could send her to a Sure Start nursery. I could carry on, go to university with a first in the family scholarship.
“I could work in a minimum wage job. I could send my children because I’d got two by then, to a Sure Start nursery, and it just felt like I needed the support of the state. And my God, I got it.
“And, before I became an MP, I worked for a trade union and I was absolutely desperate to give back to my teachers. My teachers had invested in me. The Labour government made sure that my teachers had time to teach me and look after me, and I then saw that I was paying taxes and they weren’t being invested in young children like me or teachers. That’s why we needed a new Government?”
“On my estate, the estate where we were rehoused, I looked around and people struggled. And I see now there are people that I was close to when I was younger who are now suffering with addiction and poverty scars.
“What poverty has done to me has meant that I work and work and work and work and work. If somebody knocks on my door, I won’t answer it because I’m still scared it’s the bailiffs. That’s what happens to you in your childhood, it stays with you. In areas of Bolsover it’s absolutely heart-breaking.
“But I could either be angry about what’s happened over the past 14 years, sad and feel powerless, or I could come into Parliament and try and do something about it. I mean, what an honour.”

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Second home numbers in Pembrokeshire drop after council tax hike

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THE NUMBER of second homes and self-catering holiday properties in Pembrokeshire has declined year-on-year, while those seeking council tax exceptions have, in one class, gone up 255 per cent.

A call for an update on Pembrokeshire County Council’s position on a potential relaxation of the ‘182-day’ rule, allowing self-catering accommodation to avoid paying a council tax premium was heard at the July meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council.

Last year, the rules on holiday lets in Wales changed; Welsh Government criteria saying holiday lets must be filled for 182 days a year – up from a previous 70 – in order to qualify for business rates rather than pay second homes council tax.

In Pembrokeshire, second homes, and self-catering businesses not meeting the criteria, are now paying a 200 per cent council tax premium in the county, effectively a treble rate of council tax.

At the July 18 meeting of full council, a question was submitted by Cllr Huw Murphy was heard, a follow-up from a previously unsuccessful notice of motion where he had called for a relaxation in the ‘182-day’ rules in the county down to 140 days.

After that notice failed last year, it was agreed the position be reviewed in 12 months, with Cabinet agreeing to write to Welsh Government to highlight concern over the 182-day occupancy rule.

In his question, Cllr Murphy said: “Can council be provided with an update of what data has been obtained since Dec 2023 to examine the impact of the 182-day occupancy rule for self-catering properties in advance of a review to be completed by December 2024 prior to any decision over what level of second home council tax to be levied for 2024/25 as it may be necessary to consider a reduction to support an industry under pressure?

“Have PCC received a reply from WG with regards to the concerns raised with regards to the 182-day rule and its impact on the Pembrokeshire tourism industry?”

In response, Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance and Efficiencies Cllr Joshua Beynon said a decision on future council tax premiums would be made by full council at its October meeting, after earlier committee discussions, adding that the council is currently undertaking a consultation on the second homes and long-term empty property premiums and has included questions on using its discretion on properties which did not meet the 182-day rule.

“In the interim, the Revenues team are monitoring the movement in second homes and self-catering units and the number of properties receiving an exception to paying the council tax premium,” he told members.

Members heard, as of July 1, the main increases in the level of exceptions related to Class 1 exceptions, properties that are up for sale, which had increased by 97 in the last 12 months, a rise of 255 per cent, and in Class 6 exceptions, properties that have a planning condition prohibiting year-round occupancy, which had increased by 78, or 21.6 per cent, with an overall increase in the seven classes of exemptions of 37.45 per cent.

Councillors were told the number of second homes had dropped year-on-year on that date from 3,364 to 3,271, roughly a 2.7 per cent drop; self-catering units dropping from 2,621 to 2,425, roughly 7.47 per cent.

Members heard, in response to Cllr Murphy’s second question, the-then leader Cllr David Simpson had received a response in May.

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