Wales Audit Office report rocks Pembrokeshire County Council

Under pressure: Bryn Parry-Jones

Under pressure: Bryn Parry-Jones

First published in News
Last updated

PEMBROKESHIRE County Council has paid out more than £50,000 to its chief executive and another senior officer in UNLAWFUL payments in a scheme to help them avoid pension tax liabilities, a bombshell report has said.

The damning report published today (Thursday) by the Wales Audit Office says that allowing Bryn Parry-Jones and another senior officer to opt out of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) and receive the equivalent to the employers pension contributions in direct payments was unlawful.

The decision of the council’s Senior Staff Committee to allow the move was also unlawful because senior officers, including Mr Parry-Jones, took part in the decision making process - including the meeting when the scheme was actually approved.

Up to the end of March 2014, more than £51,000 will have been paid to Mr Parry-Jones and another officer.

The payments made to them– so they could make their own arrangements for saving for retirement - were contrary to law, according to the Appointed Auditor, Anthony Barrett.

Throughout the report, Mr Barrett refers to the payments as “a pay supplement”.

The Western Telegraph understands that while there is no obligation to pay the money back, any recovery of the money would be a matter for the council to decide upon.

Dyfed-Powys Police are aware of the reports and said they were making an assessment of whether any appropriate action can be taken.

The auditor’s report, running to 16 pages, concludes that the decisions taken by Pembrokeshire County Council were unlawful on a number of grounds.

They include the fact that the council did not have the legal power to pay staff to mitigate the effect of changes to pension legislation.

The scheme also failed to take into account public sector equality and amounted to indirect discrimination by only being available to a small selection of well-paid, senior staff.

Today’s report also concludes that the payment made in 2012 -2013 (£22,269 to Mr Parry-Jones) was not in line with the Senior Staff Committee decision that the arrangement would be on the basis of no additional cost to the council.

The claim that the opt-out option would not incur the council any additional costs has often been used by the council to defend the move against criticism over several months.

But Mr Barrett says he believes that there would be additional costs to the council from the scheme.

The report to the Senior Staff Committee ahead of the decision to allow the opt-out scheme is also criticised.

“No evidence was provided to demonstrate that a failure to approve the pay supplement would have adverse consequences for the council in terms of the recruitment and/or retention of senior staff.”

Mr Barrett added: “Pembrokeshire Council has acted unlawfully and urgently needs to rescind its decision around pensions opt-outs and stop any further payments to senior officers.

“The public should be able to expect the highest standards of decision making at local authorities and the council must now address the procedural weaknesses I have identified in my report.

“It needs to demonstrate to its electorate that it is operating in accordance with the law and in line with good governance principles.”

The Labour leader on the council, Cllr Paul Miller, said the report could not be any more damning and has called for the immediate suspension of Mr Parry-Jones while a full investigation takes place.

Cllr Miller said: “This report backs up everything we have said all along. This is essentially a pay rise through the back door for the chief executive, one that we know now is unlawful.

“I have said before that this must, absolutely must cost the council money and that has been denied and denied - and today, thankfully, that has also been confirmed.

“I will be laying down a motion for the chief executive to be suspended and the payments stopped immediately. We need to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible.”

Responding to the report, Pembrokeshire County Councillor Rob Lewis, the Authority’s Deputy Leader, said: “This report deals with a number of complicated issues.

“While I note the Auditor’s views in relation to the decision taken, I am pleased he has concluded the council could take a lawful decision once a number of procedural matters have been addressed.”

Pembrokeshire County Council must now meet within one month to discuss the report.

In a separate report a similar pension opt-out scheme set up by Carmarthenshire County Council was also declared unlawful, as was a decision to grant an indemnity to the Chief Executive, Mark James, to bring a libel counterclaim against local blogger Jacquie Thompson.

Chair of National Assembly Public Accounts Committee expresses concern

The Chair of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, Darren Millar AM, has released the following statement in response to reports from the Wales Audit Office concerning Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire county councils.

“The findings of the Wales Audit Office are deeply disturbing and come at a time when front line services are under threat, and valuable, hard-working public sector staff are facing the prospect either of losing their jobs or long term pay freezes,” said Mr Millar.

“Now more than ever senior managers should be leading by example and wringing every last drop of value out of each pound of public money spent.

“Unfortunately it appears that, at Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire county councils, they have fallen well below the high standards the people they serve should expect from them."

“The Public Accounts Committee will consider these findings as part of its wider inquiry into senior management pay in the Welsh public sector.”

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Comments (32)

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7:32am Thu 30 Jan 14

Hyper-injunctions says...

Lol. Just saw bjp on the news.
Lol. Just saw bjp on the news. Hyper-injunctions
  • Score: 14

7:52am Thu 30 Jan 14

Welshman23 says...

Now the fraud squad must get involved and investigate the whole issue including who authorised these payments. If these payments are illegal then the monies should be repaid in full plus interest.
Now the fraud squad must get involved and investigate the whole issue including who authorised these payments. If these payments are illegal then the monies should be repaid in full plus interest. Welshman23
  • Score: 51

8:00am Thu 30 Jan 14

Welshman23 says...

A number of people have written for some considerable time that the goings on at the Kremlin were suspicious it didn't need a professional from the audit office to highlight, however as his investigations have identified irregularities what powers does he have to flush out the people who authorised and received these payments. Can he call in the fraud squad suspend officials etc.
A number of people have written for some considerable time that the goings on at the Kremlin were suspicious it didn't need a professional from the audit office to highlight, however as his investigations have identified irregularities what powers does he have to flush out the people who authorised and received these payments. Can he call in the fraud squad suspend officials etc. Welshman23
  • Score: 33

8:05am Thu 30 Jan 14

Welshman23 says...

Well done WT for printing story immediately perhaps you will know understand that lots of people have been saying that things were not right at the Kremlin. Now get on the front foot and investigate speak to employees etc. This judgement today is fantastic news for the Pembrokeshire people leave no stone unturned.
Now let's get the truth.
Well done WT for printing story immediately perhaps you will know understand that lots of people have been saying that things were not right at the Kremlin. Now get on the front foot and investigate speak to employees etc. This judgement today is fantastic news for the Pembrokeshire people leave no stone unturned. Now let's get the truth. Welshman23
  • Score: 28

9:02am Thu 30 Jan 14

teifion says...

Councillors in similar cases have been made to pay back the money from their own pocket - look up Shirley Porter who sold cemeteries for 15p - so I wonder will BPJ pay back this money or will Adams and those other few councillors with their "public meeting" in BPJs private office stump up ?

Fairly sure the Police or the Senedd don't want to dirty their hands sadly
Councillors in similar cases have been made to pay back the money from their own pocket - look up Shirley Porter who sold cemeteries for 15p - so I wonder will BPJ pay back this money or will Adams and those other few councillors with their "public meeting" in BPJs private office stump up ? Fairly sure the Police or the Senedd don't want to dirty their hands sadly teifion
  • Score: 28

10:18am Thu 30 Jan 14

KeanJo says...

If the Chief Executive has any respect for himself or his employers,he will advise the abandonment of the scheme, repay the money paid to him and seriously consider resignation. This Administration seems to lurch from crisis to crisis and they need seriously to consider whether they have a mandate to continue.
If the Chief Executive has any respect for himself or his employers,he will advise the abandonment of the scheme, repay the money paid to him and seriously consider resignation. This Administration seems to lurch from crisis to crisis and they need seriously to consider whether they have a mandate to continue. KeanJo
  • Score: 41

11:03am Thu 30 Jan 14

PembrokeshireMan says...

These people have no shame. They feel they are entitled to that money as they feel that they are worth it. They are a criminal cabal helping themselves to as much public money as they think they can get away with.
These people have no shame. They feel they are entitled to that money as they feel that they are worth it. They are a criminal cabal helping themselves to as much public money as they think they can get away with. PembrokeshireMan
  • Score: 28

12:26pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Welshman23 says...

Job seekers allowance is £71 per week, and you have to sign on every 2 weeks.
Hope the people who are proved guilty will be prosecuted and sent to prison.
New Dick Turpin tactics steal from us to give to the highly paid.
Shame on you resign now and meet your punishments if found guilty.
Job seekers allowance is £71 per week, and you have to sign on every 2 weeks. Hope the people who are proved guilty will be prosecuted and sent to prison. New Dick Turpin tactics steal from us to give to the highly paid. Shame on you resign now and meet your punishments if found guilty. Welshman23
  • Score: 17

1:23pm Thu 30 Jan 14

PembrokeshireMan says...

Do we, the people, have any means of communicating with Mr Parry-Jones?

Does he ever talk to people, face-to-face?

Is he ever available for interview to explain his actions?

Maybe he believes there is nothing to be explained.
Do we, the people, have any means of communicating with Mr Parry-Jones? Does he ever talk to people, face-to-face? Is he ever available for interview to explain his actions? Maybe he believes there is nothing to be explained. PembrokeshireMan
  • Score: 28

1:58pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Cymru bach says...

Never mind resigning, as this act is illegal and as I understand it Mr Parry Jones was party to the decision to make it, then surely this is a matter for dismissal for Gross Misconduct?

This should also apply to all others involved.
Never mind resigning, as this act is illegal and as I understand it Mr Parry Jones was party to the decision to make it, then surely this is a matter for dismissal for Gross Misconduct? This should also apply to all others involved. Cymru bach
  • Score: 30

5:34pm Thu 30 Jan 14

chizy says...

I wish I could express in words the sound of the............

S**T HITTING THE FAN!!!!!!

Oh dear, what a kerfuffle. Best get on your best Teflon suit to get out of this one Bryn.
I wish I could express in words the sound of the............ S**T HITTING THE FAN!!!!!! Oh dear, what a kerfuffle. Best get on your best Teflon suit to get out of this one Bryn. chizy
  • Score: 11

5:52pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Welshman23 says...

Look at BJP photo at the top of the item looking smug makes you sick that he has taken our money when all the employees were facing cuts in salaries and services you are a disgrace you only care about yourself.
Look at BJP photo at the top of the item looking smug makes you sick that he has taken our money when all the employees were facing cuts in salaries and services you are a disgrace you only care about yourself. Welshman23
  • Score: 22

6:43pm Thu 30 Jan 14

teifion says...

PembrokeshireMan wrote:
Do we, the people, have any means of communicating with Mr Parry-Jones?

Does he ever talk to people, face-to-face?

Is he ever available for interview to explain his actions?

Maybe he believes there is nothing to be explained.
BPJs defence can be summarised thus Nah NAH NANANAH CAN'T HEAR YOU, NAH NAH NAH
[quote][p][bold]PembrokeshireMan[/bold] wrote: Do we, the people, have any means of communicating with Mr Parry-Jones? Does he ever talk to people, face-to-face? Is he ever available for interview to explain his actions? Maybe he believes there is nothing to be explained.[/p][/quote]BPJs defence can be summarised thus Nah NAH NANANAH CAN'T HEAR YOU, NAH NAH NAH teifion
  • Score: 7

6:47pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Bluestone says...

There is only one word to describe it - Greed!
There is only one word to describe it - Greed! Bluestone
  • Score: 19

7:39pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Rockface says...

Looks like his lift is going down!
Looks like his lift is going down! Rockface
  • Score: 12

8:20pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Harrygrayballs says...

SURPRISE,SURPRISE...
..............the law of the land
does apply to Pembrokeshire!!!!!!!
SURPRISE,SURPRISE... ..............the law of the land does apply to Pembrokeshire!!!!!!! Harrygrayballs
  • Score: 16

9:13pm Thu 30 Jan 14

teifion says...

saddened there aren't HUNDREDS of votes on this story, I suggest you tweet,facebook and send the link to this story to your friends and families 'cos as sure as eggs is eggs the IPPG will be doing that!!!
saddened there aren't HUNDREDS of votes on this story, I suggest you tweet,facebook and send the link to this story to your friends and families 'cos as sure as eggs is eggs the IPPG will be doing that!!! teifion
  • Score: 3

11:17am Fri 31 Jan 14

Welshman23 says...

teifion wrote:
saddened there aren't HUNDREDS of votes on this story, I suggest you tweet,facebook and send the link to this story to your friends and families 'cos as sure as eggs is eggs the IPPG will be doing that!!!
Teifion 2 votes against I wonder who these people are.
[quote][p][bold]teifion[/bold] wrote: saddened there aren't HUNDREDS of votes on this story, I suggest you tweet,facebook and send the link to this story to your friends and families 'cos as sure as eggs is eggs the IPPG will be doing that!!![/p][/quote]Teifion 2 votes against I wonder who these people are. Welshman23
  • Score: -4

11:34am Fri 31 Jan 14

iheartpembs says...

There is no other word for this other than 'corruption'. While other council staff have had to take large pay cuts, the people at the top have looked after themselves to the highest degree. BJP is a vile man who treats all those around him as if they are sh*t under his shoes! And while we watch our public conveniences close, our swimming pools, our market towns crumble to the ground...the fat grinning cats at the top are licking their greedy, creamy whiskers!! It's high time the top was toppled and justice for Pembrokeshire is done! Get.Them.Out!
There is no other word for this other than 'corruption'. While other council staff have had to take large pay cuts, the people at the top have looked after themselves to the highest degree. BJP is a vile man who treats all those around him as if they are sh*t under his shoes! And while we watch our public conveniences close, our swimming pools, our market towns crumble to the ground...the fat grinning cats at the top are licking their greedy, creamy whiskers!! It's high time the top was toppled and justice for Pembrokeshire is done! Get.Them.Out! iheartpembs
  • Score: 19

2:10pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Welshman23 says...

WT please remove that smug picture of BJP from the top of this article . Like if you agree
WT please remove that smug picture of BJP from the top of this article . Like if you agree Welshman23
  • Score: 1

4:20pm Fri 31 Jan 14

teifion says...

Welshman23 wrote:
WT please remove that smug picture of BJP from the top of this article . Like if you agree
He really does have a smile that's only on his lips, it's not spread to his eyes or the rest of his face, it is IMHO a little bit smug and scary
[quote][p][bold]Welshman23[/bold] wrote: WT please remove that smug picture of BJP from the top of this article . Like if you agree[/p][/quote]He really does have a smile that's only on his lips, it's not spread to his eyes or the rest of his face, it is IMHO a little bit smug and scary teifion
  • Score: 2

7:26pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Welshman23 says...

If the people who have received monies with PCC are looking to pay the money back here are a couple of web sites that may help.
www.quick quid.co.uk
www.wonga.com
If they are going to resign then here is help with your spelling
This is the correct spelling for resign.
Hope these people have a sleepless weekend
If the people who have received monies with PCC are looking to pay the money back here are a couple of web sites that may help. www.quick quid.co.uk www.wonga.com If they are going to resign then here is help with your spelling This is the correct spelling for resign. Hope these people have a sleepless weekend Welshman23
  • Score: 3

7:48pm Fri 31 Jan 14

malcolm calver says...

I am sure I just witnessed on BBC Wales news, both BPJ and his sidekick Cllr Rob Lewis at the meeting in Cardiff today,held to discuss the reforms proposed for reorganisation..

The pair are obviously concerned over their future or if they have a future.
I am sure I just witnessed on BBC Wales news, both BPJ and his sidekick Cllr Rob Lewis at the meeting in Cardiff today,held to discuss the reforms proposed for reorganisation.. The pair are obviously concerned over their future or if they have a future. malcolm calver
  • Score: 4

10:24pm Fri 31 Jan 14

teifion says...

malcolm calver wrote:
I am sure I just witnessed on BBC Wales news, both BPJ and his sidekick Cllr Rob Lewis at the meeting in Cardiff today,held to discuss the reforms proposed for reorganisation..

The pair are obviously concerned over their future or if they have a future.
If it's correct then we're all lost for - the lunatics really are runnibg the loony bin and they're fighting change!.

Seriously, once again it just proves they have no shame
[quote][p][bold]malcolm calver[/bold] wrote: I am sure I just witnessed on BBC Wales news, both BPJ and his sidekick Cllr Rob Lewis at the meeting in Cardiff today,held to discuss the reforms proposed for reorganisation.. The pair are obviously concerned over their future or if they have a future.[/p][/quote]If it's correct then we're all lost for - the lunatics really are runnibg the loony bin and they're fighting change!. Seriously, once again it just proves they have no shame teifion
  • Score: -2

11:03pm Fri 31 Jan 14

KeanJo says...

Jamie once said that the Welsh Auditop did not understand the law. Big ,big mistake Jamie.Big big mistake!
Jamie once said that the Welsh Auditop did not understand the law. Big ,big mistake Jamie.Big big mistake! KeanJo
  • Score: 6

7:46am Sat 1 Feb 14

daryl1957 says...

....well...well...we
ll....no surprises that yet more local government officials have been caught in criminal acts......everyone in Pembrokeshire should go to Council chamber and physically throw the whole lot into the street.
....well...well...we ll....no surprises that yet more local government officials have been caught in criminal acts......everyone in Pembrokeshire should go to Council chamber and physically throw the whole lot into the street. daryl1957
  • Score: 2

9:30am Sat 1 Feb 14

Welshman23 says...

Welshman23 wrote:
If the people who have received monies with PCC are looking to pay the money back here are a couple of web sites that may help.
www.quick quid.co.uk
www.wonga.com
If they are going to resign then here is help with your spelling
This is the correct spelling for resign.
Hope these people have a sleepless weekend
I wonder who are people that voted against my post if they feel that strong why don't they put their comments on this page. And we could understand their opinions. If they feel the cannot contribute then put up and shut up.
[quote][p][bold]Welshman23[/bold] wrote: If the people who have received monies with PCC are looking to pay the money back here are a couple of web sites that may help. www.quick quid.co.uk www.wonga.com If they are going to resign then here is help with your spelling This is the correct spelling for resign. Hope these people have a sleepless weekend[/p][/quote]I wonder who are people that voted against my post if they feel that strong why don't they put their comments on this page. And we could understand their opinions. If they feel the cannot contribute then put up and shut up. Welshman23
  • Score: -6

9:36am Sat 1 Feb 14

Welshman23 says...

KeanJo wrote:
Jamie once said that the Welsh Auditop did not understand the law. Big ,big mistake Jamie.Big big mistake!
Totally agree he was a farmer so questioning the audit office bad idea. I am sure the employees at the audit get their expenses in on time not 4 years late. Perhaps the next port of call is to look at Councillors expenses.
Has the mystery benefactor in this pension fiasco been identified rumour around is that it's Lord Lucan
Come on WT you must have an idea get off the fence and spill the beans, you will get better circulation by supporting the people of Pembrokeshire.
[quote][p][bold]KeanJo[/bold] wrote: Jamie once said that the Welsh Auditop did not understand the law. Big ,big mistake Jamie.Big big mistake![/p][/quote]Totally agree he was a farmer so questioning the audit office bad idea. I am sure the employees at the audit get their expenses in on time not 4 years late. Perhaps the next port of call is to look at Councillors expenses. Has the mystery benefactor in this pension fiasco been identified rumour around is that it's Lord Lucan Come on WT you must have an idea get off the fence and spill the beans, you will get better circulation by supporting the people of Pembrokeshire. Welshman23
  • Score: 8

9:36am Sat 1 Feb 14

Welshman23 says...

KeanJo wrote:
Jamie once said that the Welsh Auditop did not understand the law. Big ,big mistake Jamie.Big big mistake!
Totally agree he was a farmer so questioning the audit office bad idea. I am sure the employees at the audit get their expenses in on time not 4 years late. Perhaps the next port of call is to look at Councillors expenses.
Has the mystery benefactor in this pension fiasco been identified rumour around is that it's Lord Lucan
Come on WT you must have an idea get off the fence and spill the beans, you will get better circulation by supporting the people of Pembrokeshire.
[quote][p][bold]KeanJo[/bold] wrote: Jamie once said that the Welsh Auditop did not understand the law. Big ,big mistake Jamie.Big big mistake![/p][/quote]Totally agree he was a farmer so questioning the audit office bad idea. I am sure the employees at the audit get their expenses in on time not 4 years late. Perhaps the next port of call is to look at Councillors expenses. Has the mystery benefactor in this pension fiasco been identified rumour around is that it's Lord Lucan Come on WT you must have an idea get off the fence and spill the beans, you will get better circulation by supporting the people of Pembrokeshire. Welshman23
  • Score: 1

10:41am Sat 1 Feb 14

hardcheese says...

Bryn Parry-Jones and another senior officers have no interest for the people in Pembrokeshire. BPJ only interest is MONEY, just remember he is earning more than the Prime Minister. The rates have gone up by 3.4% and it is the people of Pembrokeshire who are filling his pocket. It is time for the people of Pembrokeshire to say to BFJ WE DON"T WANT YOU, WE HAVE NO RESPECT FOR YOU, IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO GO !!!!
Bryn Parry-Jones and another senior officers have no interest for the people in Pembrokeshire. BPJ only interest is MONEY, just remember he is earning more than the Prime Minister. The rates have gone up by 3.4% and it is the people of Pembrokeshire who are filling his pocket. It is time for the people of Pembrokeshire to say to BFJ WE DON"T WANT YOU, WE HAVE NO RESPECT FOR YOU, IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO GO !!!! hardcheese
  • Score: 11

8:22am Sun 2 Feb 14

Welshman23 says...

KeanJo wrote:
Jamie once said that the Welsh Auditop did not understand the law. Big ,big mistake Jamie.Big big mistake!
Jamie questioning the audit office it took him 4 years to sort out his expenses, I wonder if the person (whoever he is) who authorised the payments is the other mystery benefactor with BJP. How much did the legal advice cost and will this be reclaimed from the benefactors.
[quote][p][bold]KeanJo[/bold] wrote: Jamie once said that the Welsh Auditop did not understand the law. Big ,big mistake Jamie.Big big mistake![/p][/quote]Jamie questioning the audit office it took him 4 years to sort out his expenses, I wonder if the person (whoever he is) who authorised the payments is the other mystery benefactor with BJP. How much did the legal advice cost and will this be reclaimed from the benefactors. Welshman23
  • Score: 7

8:36am Sun 2 Feb 14

teifion says...

Let's not forget the similar situation in Carmarthenshire, bet they're worried and looking at the fact that Gwent Police are investigating that council.

If you're interested I suggest you look at this blog

http://carmarthenpla
nning.blogspot.co.uk
/2014/02/county-hall
-meltdown-police-par
allel.html
Let's not forget the similar situation in Carmarthenshire, bet they're worried and looking at the fact that Gwent Police are investigating that council. If you're interested I suggest you look at this blog http://carmarthenpla nning.blogspot.co.uk /2014/02/county-hall -meltdown-police-par allel.html teifion
  • Score: 2

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