Monday 5 May 2014

Pay-back time - Updated

Update 5 May 2014

Cllr Jacob Williams has now provided his account of last week's meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council in which it was decided to ask the chief executive, Bryn Parry Jones, ever so nicely if he would mind paying back the pension pay supplement which the WAO ruled was contrary to law.

The motion was approved despite strong opposition from the ruling Independents, and Jacob's piece includes a very interesting comment from a former council employee contrasting the gentlemanly treatment of Bryn Parry Jones with their own experience when the council overpaid some salary.

All eyes will now be on Carmarthenshire where an eagle-eyed member of the public recently spotted another beneficiary of a pension pay supplement at the wheel of a brand new and very expensive silver 4x4 in Llanelli, the 4x4 capability presumably being needed to negotiate the increasingly cavernous potholes in Carmarthenshire's roads.


 It will be interesting to read accounts of this morning's meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council from Old Grumpy and Jacob Williams (age before beauty), but in the meantime we will have to make do with the BBC's offering (here).

In short councillors voted to instruct the council to write to chief executive Bryn Parry Jones and one other officer to ask for repayment of £51,000 in pension payments ruled unlawful by the Wales Audit Office.

The spotlight will now turn to Carmarthenshire where the chief executive, Mark James, received unlawful payments under an identical scheme.

Although the scheme was withdrawn in Carmarthenshire, the council has so far not asked for repayment of the money. Expect a lot of wringing of hands from Kevin Madge and others involved as they tell us that it's all a bit complicated and that contractual issues are at stake.

Neither of the two men will be asked to pay back the eye watering cost of employing Timothy Kerr QC to defend the schemes, nor will anyone be censured for this spectacularly self-indulgent waste of public money.

On the record

Unfortunately Pembrokeshire's councillors voted not to extend the filming of council proceedings beyond meetings of the full council.

Meetings of scrutiny committee meetings, etc. are unlikely ever to be ratings successes, but as councillors and officers (some to their cost) as well as the public have discovered, filming meetings provides the best record of who said what. It also allows voters to see their elected representatives at work (or not in the case of Carmarthenshire's Independents).

Ironically a majority of Pembrokeshire's councillors voted not to extend filming in the middle of a row about the doctoring of meeting minutes.

This could never happen in Carmarthenshire where it is taken for granted that minutes are unlikely to reflect the meetings they record.


Anonymous said...

Ask him to pay money back? They wouldn't dare! Not to the Grand Poohbah! There would be apoplexy in the begonia beds.
If they were to have the temerity to do so, it would certainly signal that the days of the absolute monarchy might well be coming to an end, regardless of the outcome of the investigations of Gloucestershire's finest.

Anonymous said...

I have attended numerous meetings within the County Council and have always been dismayed at the lack of accuracy in the subsequent minutes. Surely the way around this would be to have digital recordings of all meetings to ensure honesty and transparency – that’s probably the reason it won’t occur. Many of the bosses are frightened that this would make them more accountable for their crass decisions.

Redhead said...

We had digital recording. A councillor made a racist remark which was removed before publication!

madaxeman said...

Do you have further details Redhead?

If things have deteriorated to the point where even the archived recordings are being tampered with, does that not say something in and of itself?

Do we need to resort to recording the live transmission now?