CONFUSION surrounds the status of a settlement agreement for chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones, yesterday declared unlawful by the Wales Audit Office, as the council denies there is any problem.

Following yesterday’s announcement that an Advisory Notice had been issued to Pembrokeshire County Council by auditor Anthony Barrett that blocks the payment of more than £330,000 agreed by Full Council, a council statement said concerns had been resolved.

It added that the Advisory Notice would be withdrawn today (Thursday).

However, Mr Barrett was questioned by at least two county councillors yesterday and both were told the interpretation was incorrect.

A Pembrokehire County Coucnil spokesman issued a statement earlier today which said: "Pembrokeshire County Council Leader, Councillor Jamie Adams, has spoken to the Appointed Auditor, Anthony Barrett, today (Thursday, 30th October).

"Mr Barrett has confirmed that there are a number of relatively simple steps the Council could take to resolve the position, at which point he would withdraw the Advisory Notice."

Cllr Jacob Williams issued a statement online that said: “I spoke to Anthony Barrett this evening from the Wales Audit Office, and he confirmed that contrary to a statement issued by a council spokesperson, no agreement had been reached with him to resolve the impasse, but that 'a number of options' were available which may require an extraordinary meeting to be arranged for all councillors to re-ratify a new deal.

“Mr Barrett also told me, among other things, that he raised his concerns over the content of the settlement agreement with officers prior to the meeting on the 16th where the golden handshake was approved. Needless to say, councillors were not informed about this during the secret debate, despite several questions being asked - I can say this with some certainty as I was one of the councillors who queried this very topic.”

In his statement on the Advisory Notice Mr Barrett said: "After careful consideration, I have reason to believe that Pembrokeshire Council will incur unlawful expenditure if it continues its current settlement agreement with the Chief Executive, Bryn Parry-Jones.

“For this reason, I feel have no option but to exercise my statutory responsibilities and take this unprecedented action.”

Pembrokeshire County Council’s response read: "Pembrokeshire County Council and its legal advisers have been in discussion with the Wales Audit Office since before the meeting of Council on the 16th October and have reached a consensus on the phrasing of the Settlement Agreement with the Chief Executive.

"This resolves the concerns of the Auditor.

"The Council has been advised by the Wales Audit Office that the Advisory Notice will be withdrawn tomorrow, Thursday, 30th October.

"The Council will not be incurring any unlawful expenditure."

Cllr Paul Miller also questioned Mr Barrett, who is now on leave and was unavailable for comment when the Western Telegraph phoned his office today (Thursday).

“After speaking with Anthony Barrett (the Appointed Auditor) on the telephone tonight, he informed me that his concerns over unlawful payments focused specifically around the pension contributions that formed part of the settlement. Contrary to reports by the council that a deal had been struck, he also confirmed that it had not and that he still sees the payoff as unlawful.

“As I said in my response to Jamie Adams' comments that he believes the payoff was the right thing to do - the payments were unlawful, nothing has changed and Bryn should finish being investigated for gross misconduct.

“Bryn’s position is clearly untenable while this sorry saga drags on but we now have a chance to make sure this unjust and "unlawful" payoff doesn't go ahead. It was the people of Pembrokeshire that got this campaign where it is now, please keep signing and sharing my petition online at and demand that Bryn pays our money back,” added Cllr Miller.

Serious questions now must be asked about the legal advice given to councillors ahead of the pay-off to Bryn Parry-Jones being agreed.

A Wales Audit office spokesman confirmed to the Western Telegraph that the advisory notice would not simply be withdrawn and it awaited an official response from Pembrokeshire County Council.

“The Appointed Auditor is waiting for a decision from Pembrokeshire County Council on its response to the Advisory Notice before deciding what if any further action to take,” a spokesman added.