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29 Councillors back Bryn’s bonanza  

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Cashing in: Bryn Parry Jones

Cashing in: Bryn Parry Jones

THIS WEEKS Pembrokeshire Herald will continue to give readers unrivalled coverage of Thursday’s (Oct 16) unprecedented events at County Hall.

Our reporters were at County Hall all day covering debates that ranged from the future of our County to the future of the Council’s most senior employee.

The payroll vote of the IPPG ensured that the public were excluded from the debate on the terms of a pay-off proposed for controversial CEO Bryn Parry-­Jones.

As we first revealed in an on-line exclusive on Wednesday, October 15, Councillors were today presented with the option of approving a settlement in excess of £320,000.

An impassioned debate took place inside the chamber after the public were excluded. At its end, we spoke with Council Leader Jamie Adams, who told us that he hoped the Council could now move on to face serious challenges over the next few months.

vote

Result: How the councillors voted (Pic J Williams)

With 29 voting in favour and 23 voting against the settlement proposal, the Council divided again along partisan lines, with only Cllr Stan Hudson from the opposition benches supporting the IPPG.

The Herald understands that one sticking point in approving the deal was Bryn Parry­Jones’ assertion of a claim for breach of contract in relation to the Council’s refusal to continue to pay the ‘pay supplement’ ruled unlawful by the Wales Audit Office.

A proposal by unaffiliated councillor Mike Evans to amend the agreement was voted down.

Opposition parties are furious. Plaid Cymru has expressed its disappointment with the decision to pay off the Chief Executive. The Plaid group voted against the recommendation, and argued that the investigation currently being undertaken by the disciplinary committee should have been allowed to conclude its work.

In a statement, Plaid’s leader Cllr Michael Williams said: “The committee had earlier resolved to appoint an Independent person to continue the investigation, and no decision to pay off the CE should have been taken until this work had been completed. There are very serious matters, some of which are known, that should have been brought to a proper conclusion. By agreeing prematurely to this huge pay-off the people of Pembrokeshire will never know of the extent of the allegations of inappropriate behaviour which should have been properly investigated.”

He added: “Once again the IPPG Party which currently runs the County Council have let everyone down by block voting through this immoral agreement.”

Council Labour leader Paul Miller said: “I am pleased that for the first time the people of Pembrokeshire have forced the hand of this council’s ruling elite. They didn’t want to part company with the chief executive, the people forced them to and I’m delighted to see the signs of real democracy returning to Pembrokeshire. I would like to thank people for their support.

“That said, I am bitterly disappointed at the level of the settlement which is completely out of kilter with the lives of the people we represent (and which we are forbidden to report publicly). There was a disciplinary process underway and that process should have been allowed to reach a conclusion. In my view, if it had been allowed, the people of Pembrokeshire would not be so much poorer this afternoon.

“I will continue to fight for change here in Pembrokeshire but tonight, we must celebrate that Bryn Parry Jones will leave and that is solely down to the pressure put upon this administration by the people of Pembrokeshire.”

East Williamston Councillor, Jacob Williams, told The Herald: “As usual at County Hall, this has been a total stitch-up. The disciplinary investigation committee was all a front, witnesses were put under pressure and the process was a sham from beginning to end. I suspect that the leader, Cllr. Jamie Adams, supported the setting up of the disciplinary committee to facilitate behind-the-scenes negotiations enabling the highest pay-off possible to be pushed through the council chamber by his ruling party, the IPPG. This might be the end of Bryn Parry-Jones, but it is certainly not the end of this whole episode.

“IPPG councillors made sure yesterday’s debate was held behind closed doors, where it transpired that the offer on the table we were being asked to approve had been carved out with the chief executive two weeks ago, and crucially, it was agreed before the disciplinary committee had decided that the chief executive’s conduct should be referred for formal independent investigation.”
Cllr Williams added: “Following the decision to refer the chief executive’s conduct for an independent inquiry, his hand was seriously weakened, yet the deal remained unchanged, it wasn’t revised at all. This shows quite clearly to me that the negotiators – Cllr. Adams included – were looking out for Mr. Parry-Jones and what was best for him, and not what was best for taxpayers who will be paying for it.”
“Yesterday’s huge pay-off was about the best deal he could ever have been given, and there was no justification for it. The debate and advice given to councillors was extremely biased in favour of the chief executive’s position rather than the council’s, and the public are rightfully incensed. The councillors who supported this huge pay-off and whose actions stopped dead the possibility of getting any justice against Bryn Parry-Jones’s depraved conduct, should hang their heads in shame. It’s easy to play with other people’s money. If every councillor who voted to support this diamond-encrusted gold-plated deal gave up their councillor salary for a year, it would more than cover the pay-off. I suggest they should give this consideration.”
Delyth Evans, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for South Pembrokeshire, said: “It is hard to understand how a discredited public official could walk off with such a massive pay-off, when the Council refuses to agree even a 1% pay rise to its own poorly paid workforce.  The rules for appointing and dismissing senior council officials need to be changed to ensure this scandalous situation can’t happen again, and I am writing to the Minister for Public Services in the Welsh Government, Leighton Andrews, to this effect.  I hope we can now close the door on this unhappy period in the life of Pembrokeshire County Council.  There needs to be a complete change of culture at the Council, with an end to secret meetings and deals done behind closed doors.  I commend Councillor Paul Miller for his tireless efforts to expose the failings of the Chief Executive and the current Council leadership.  We all need to keep up the pressure on the Cabinet and senior officials to start giving us a local authority the people of Pembrokeshire can be proud of.”

 

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Man, 22, charged with murder of John William Bell in Cardigan

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A CARDIGAN man has been charged with murder after a man’s death in Ceredigion.

John Bell, 37, and also from the town, was found on the road to Cardigan Bridge in the early hours of Wednesday.

Dyfed-Powys Police said 22-year-old Ashley Keegan, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with his murder.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that Ashley Keegan, aged 22, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with the murder of John William Bell.

Victim: John Bell

“Keegan will appear at Swansea magistrates court on Saturday 24th July 2021.

“John’s family continue to be supported by specialist officers and the investigation is grateful for the support of the community whilst enquiries were conducted.”

This is the second major incident in the same area this month.

Another man was charged with making threats with a knife, he is again from Golwg y Castell.

Dyfed-Powys Police said they received a number of calls reporting a man brandishing a knife towards another man in Maesyfelin, Cardigan, at around 4.20pm on Wednesday (July 14).

Several police units swiftly made their way to the area, but the suspect had fled.

Dean Thomas, aged 25, was quickly located at his home in Golwg y Castell, where he was arrested on suspicion of affray and taken to custody.

Mobile phone footage was gathered from people at the scene, and statements were taken from witnesses.

Cardigan Inspector Owen Williams said: “Thanks to the swift attendance of officers, there were a number of people present who were able to provide evidence to assist with our enquiries.
“Thomas also made a significant statement linking himself with the incident, and was charged within hours of being arrested.

“I hope the speed with which we carried out enquiries into this incident reassures people living in Maesyfelin, who were naturally very concerned by what had happened.”

Thomas was charged with threatening a person with a blade or sharply pointed article in a public place and appeared at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, July 15 where he admitted the offence.

He will be sentenced on July 29 at Swansea Crown Court.

In relation to the murder, 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 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101 and quoting Op Reedham. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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‘Plan ahead this summer’, says Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE FOLLOWING is a message from the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson:

Hello everyone, I hope you are well and enjoying this lovely weather.

My key message this week is about planning ahead.

This week we have experienced very hot and sunny days and beaches have been full and everyone is enjoying the outdoors.

We are experiencing a high volume of visitors to the county which can at times add additional pressures on our services.

This week, for example, we have seen high demand for car parking spaces, beach clean ups, litter picking and toilet cleaning.

Due to the high footfall please consider where you are going and what you will do when you are there. Some coastal car parks on nice sunny days are filing by mid-morning.

We all also need to be patient when out and about. We are all working together to move forward after the lockdowns, businesses still have to work differently and some are struggling with staff shortages, so please be patient.

As many of us will be staying local for our time off why not consider doing a ‘not visited yet list’.

Consider places in Pembrokeshire you have not explored but would like to – make this the year you go to those places you have always wanted to go to but not had a chance.

Our front line teams are working hard to support our communities and ensure we deliver key services. I would ask for your support to help us to keep Pembrokeshire open and welcoming to all.

I’m aware of issues reported to us regarding litter being left on beaches and grass verges. Leaving litter behind is not acceptable – we have adequate litter bins out and about. Please help us keep Pembrokeshire clean.

Another issue being reported to us is fires being lit in the countryside and beauty spots while people eat and drink in the warm weather.

It goes without saying how dangerous a fire could be given the exceptionally dry weather we have had recently.

If you are thinking about lighting a fire while you are out I would just appeal to you to please think again. The potential consequences are just not worth it.

As you will know, this week we have had an Amber weather warning for heat, so just a gentle reminder to take care when out and about and please take care of your pets.

Our furry friends need extra attention in the heat. Please do not leave dogs unattended in cars and remember the walkways will be hot on their feet.

I’d like to finish this week by thanking everyone involved in our education teams and wish them all a well-deserved summer break.

I hope all our children enjoy the summer – the weather is definitely helping!

Stay safe everyone.

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Devastated family’s tribute to ‘loving and devoted’ son

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THE FAMILY of the 37-year-old man who died in Cardigan in the early hours of Wednesday morning (Jul 21) have said he will be “hugely missed by all that loved him”.

John Bell, who lived in the town, was found on the road to Cardigan Bridge at around midnight.

His family has issued this statement: “We are devastated at the loss of John.

“He was a loving and devoted Son, Brother, Father and Uncle and he will be hugely missed by all that loved him. 

“We ask for privacy at this time.”

John’s family is being supported by specially trained officers.

A 22-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder remains in police custody.

Detective Superintendent Paul Jones said: “Our thoughts go out to John’s family at this very difficult time.

“We are currently focussing our investigation in Golwg Y Castell and the road between there and Cardigan Bridge, where Mr Bell was located.

“We are appealing for any witnesses who may have seen or heard an altercation in that area during the evening of Tuesday, 20 July, particularly the latter part of the evening, after 10pm, before police attended at around midnight.”

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 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org. Quote reference: DP-20210720-458.

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