A COUNTY Assembly Member is calling for both the Pembrokeshire County Council leader and chief executive to stand aside as the ‘unlawful’ pension payments scandal shows no sign of letting up.
South Pembrokeshire Assembly Member Angela Burns said the farcical scenes at the extraordinary meeting on February 14th prompted her to speak out.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Western Telegraph, Mrs Burns said that unless things changed dramatically within County Hall she would urge the Welsh Government to move in.
She said “something is rotten at the heart of Pembrokeshire”.
Mrs Burns added: “I have always tried to find the benefit of the doubt for the council but when I saw that meeting something changed, it snapped some elastic inside me.”
“[Council chief executive] Bryn Parry-Jones needs to be suspended by the council if he won’t step aside. I say aside, not down, as there has to be a proper process and proper judgement.
“We need a full independent investigation of scrutiny and governance arrangements; there needs to be an overhaul of council process and procedures for meetings so we don’t have farces where people who have legitimately raised concerns out of the council cannot them raise those concerns inside the council.
“Bryn needs to stand down as election returning officer as well, or aside, until investigations are complete and a final determination is made.
“And –[council leader] Jamie Adams needs to step aside while all this is going on. Let’s be very clear, all the focus is on Bryn but he is doing what he is doing because the ruling Independent Plus Group are letting him do it. So basically our councillors are not doing what they should do.
“Now I can’t call for all of them all to step aside but I think either Jamie steps aside or the cabinet opens themselves up and allows the entire council to monitor and be part of the decision making process – one or the other.”
Mrs Burns said she believed that some members of the ruling group had gotten too close to senior officers.
“The lack of responsibility by councillors in this instance has been really shocking,” the Conservative Assembly Member said.
“ I think that effective scrutiny can only happen when you have really clear water between you and what it is you are scrutinising and there is no clear water here - the chief exec and some of his team work very, very closely with the ruling Independent Plus Group and this has led to this awful mess where they won’t actually stand up to each other and say this isn’t right. They are confusing loyalty and friendship with actually doing what is right and doing what they are there to do – represent the people of Pembs.”
Asked what should happen if her calls for change were ignored, Mrs Burns replied: “I have already asked the Welsh Government to consider what action they are going to take and if none of these things happen then I will be asking Welsh Government to intervene to sort out his mess.
“I would like to make the point that I have absolutely no desire to see the Welsh Government fiddling around in Pembrokeshire but, to be frank, we need somebody with some guns to come in and sort it out.”
See the full interview in Wednesday's Western Telegraph.