Old Grumpy


July 23 20


Attila the Hen?

There was a fine old row at last Thursday's meeting of the County Council which culminated in Tory Leader Philip Llewellyn referring to leading Independent Roy Folland as "Attila the Hun - who has been masquerading as Chairman of Social Services for the past year".
As evidence that the age of chivalry is not dead, I should point out that Cllr Llewellyn's less than flattering assessment followed Cllr Folland's refusal to withdraw some rather offensive remarks he had made about Labour Leader Joyce Watson earlier in the meeting.
I will not bore you with the details of the earlier debate (next week, perhaps) except to say that it was about the future structure of local government in Pembrokeshire.
This issue had already been debated at Policy and Resources Committee where the Independent Political (sic) Group had deployed its huge majority to force through a proposal that Pembrokeshire should be ruled by an 8-10 person Cabinet chosen by the Leader of Council Maurice Hughes i.e. them.
Mrs Watson explained that she had been unable to attend P and R because her father had been taken ill, before expressing her opposition to the Independent's Cabinet plans.
Up jumped Cllr Folland.
He had heard all this "bumf" at P and R from Cllr Watson's Labour colleague Terry Mills, he declared.
She couldn't be bothered to attend the meeting herself, he blustered, so why should the Independents listen to her now.
Plaid Cymru Leader Michael Williams intervened to demand that Cllr Folland withdraw his "disgraceful remark" about Cllr Watson's non-attendance at P and R but Folland refused.
Even when the reason for Cllr Watson's absence was explained to him, he still stubbornly refused to back down.
"Why should I have known the reason for her absence?" he retorted.
Well, as I have said, Cllr Watson had already told the meeting why she had been unable to attend and, even assuming that Cllr Folland hadn't heard, he might have had the good grace to apologise once her explanation had been repeated for his benefit.
Cllr Llewellyn should count himself lucky that Attila is no longer around to sue.
Earlier, Cllr Folland had told Cllr Llewellyn that his problem was that he led a small group with only four members.
"You don't run this Council, it is run by the Independent Group and we have done very well since our conception" he told the Tory Leader with all the self-importance at his command.
Conception? Isn't that something to do with eggs? Maybe I misheard, and Cllr Llewellyn said Attila the Hen.
P S I noticed that Cllr Folland made no objection to his own Leader, Maurice Hughes, pontificating about matters discussed at P and R, despite the fact that he was in Australia supporting the Lions and didn't attend the meeting either.

Boundless generosity?

I fear that my brief history of the rise and rise of the salary of County Council Chief Executive Bryn Parry Jones(see July 9) was both erroneous and incomplete.
I reported that Mr Parry-Jones was entitled to 10% of his salary towards the lease of a car when, in fact, the correct figure is 12%.
This means that come January 1 2002, when his salary rises to £102,000, his car allowance will be £12,240; more than many people in Pembrokeshire have to live on.
Another thing I came across while looking though my library of past minutes was the report to the committee where the salary level was first decided in 1995 which contains a table showing that the salary payable to a Chief Executive in an authority with a population between 150,001-300,000 should be in the range £52,554-£73251.
Later in the report is a calculation of the County's population which includes a "projected" resident population of 117,700 which, together with the number of tourist bed spaces (including those in domestic premises used by friends and relatives visiting the County) 129,950 divided by four (32,487) gives a total population of 150,187 (Phew!)
You might have thought that, having just scraped into 150,000+ category, our elected representatives would have pitched the salary level near the lower end of the scale.
But, not a bit of it.
The salary agreed was £63,000 rising by two annual increments to £70,000. i.e nearly top whack.
Old Grumpy notices that, according to the recently published report recommending huge increases in Councillor's allowances (see July 16) Pembrokeshire's resident population is now 114,400 - down 3,300 from the 1995 figure - so, other things being equal, the county's population for salary calculation purposes is now below the magic 150,000.
Are we due a refund?
Another document that came my way last week is the survey of Chief Executive's salaries carried out by the body that negotiates pay on behalf of Local Authorities.
What this shows is a benchmark figure of £82,000 for Chief Executives in Unitary Authorities like Pembrokeshire with populations of 150,000-200,000 (£77,000 if the population falls below 150,000).
Looking down the scale, I see that a benchmark salary equal to that of Mr Parry Jones (£99,700) corresponds to a population of half a million.
On the face of it, the old boys in the ruling Independent Political Group seem to be a bit of a soft touch who just can't bring themselves to say no.
Old Grumpy wonders if their houses are stacked to the ceiling with Encyclopaedia Brittanicas and Kleeneze brushes, or does their generosity only kick in when other people's money is at stake.
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