The Information Commissioner has ruled that Pembrokeshire County Council must disclose the cost of the Porsche after it refused a freedom of information request from the BBC. Let's hope that the council does not follow the lead taken by Carmarthenshire County Council which refused to disclose correspondence with Towy Community Church. When the council was over-ruled it changed tack and branded Jacqui Thompson's request as "vexatious".
Meanwhile Leighton Andrews, Labour's Public Services Minister, has gone on the war path with a warning that he would like to bring the days of over-inflated salaries and luxury perks for council bigwigs to an end. This puts the spotlight once again on Carmarthenshire which now has the highest paid Welsh council chief executive, although Leighton might want to ask Kevin Madge and other members of the local party why they have for years supported Meryl Gravell in her policy of peanuts and monkeys, and voted to approve more perks, pay rises and tax dodges for Mark James than you can shake a stick at.
So while a lot of attention has rightly been paid to Parry-Jones's Porsche, an interesting question is what perks are enjoyed by his former neighbour and other top council officers in Carmarthenshire.
Employee car leasing schemes used to be very popular until the taxman spoiled things, but accountants are nothing if not inventive when it comes to new ways of beating the system, and as we saw with the controversial pension scheme opt-outs enjoyed by Parry-Jones and James, councils - a branch of government when all is said and done - are up there with the best when it comes to finding ways of helping their top brass to pay less in tax.
One way of doing this is what is known as the "Salary Sacrifice Car Scheme". Here is a prominent car leasing company explaining how it works:
Salary sacrifice works by allowing employees to give up part of their salary under their terms of employment, in return for their employer providing the employee with a non cash benefit such as a car. Gross salary and cash allowances are usually subject to both Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions (NIC). By 'sacrificing' part of this gross salary for a new car, this part will not be subject to Income tax or National Insurance, resulting in lower tax and National Insurance being paid overall by the employee (and lower NICs paid by the employer) each month. In addition the employee takes advantage of any car manufacturer discounts offered to provide further savings. This means significant savings to employees can be made under salary sacrifice.
Champagne all round for everyone except the ordinary taxpayer.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information request (here) made earlier this year, we can get a pretty good idea of what Carmarthenshire County Council considers to be acceptable perks for its top brass.
Two lists were provided in response - one marked "Leased Vehicles Personal Contract Lease", and the second detailing vehicles leased by the council for work use, "Contract Leased Vehicles Corporate".
The corporate list comprises 91 vehicles, including two Mercedes limousines. One of those was ordered by Kevin Madge (Lab) when he became council leader so that he did not have to share with the Council Chair. It is now being proposed to axe one of these as part of cost cutting measures although Kevin Madge is understood to be very reluctant to let go of the keys
Other than the Mercs, one of the most popular vehicles on the corporate list is the VW Tiguan, a 4x4 which retails for around £20,000. There were around 20 of those.
The personal list is even more interesting, and comprised 87 vehicles back in April 2014. It seems that the council's car lease scheme operates for the benefit of roughly 1% of the workforce.
There were 4 BMWs, including a natty "3 Series Diesel Convertible 320d 2 door with extras". Not very practical in Carmarthenshire, you might think, but somebody obviously thinks that a flash convertible (retail price around £40,000) is essential.
Also on the list were two Mercedes A Class diesel A180 5 door efficiency "sport" runabouts.
Rather more popular were Audis. There were 7 on the list, including several A3 Sportbacks. One came with privacy glass and comfort pack (whatever that is), while another was a "special edition". One of those will set you back around £30,000.