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
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
"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.
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
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.