South West Wales

Pembrokeshire chief executive pay-off injunction bid fails

Bryn Parry-Jones
Image caption Bryn Parry-Jones was due to leave his job on Friday

A pay-off for Pembrokeshire council chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones is set to go ahead after an opposition bid to block it through the courts failed.

He is due to leave his job on Friday in a row over cash payments in lieu of pension contributions which the Wales Audit Office judged unlawful.

Auditors had warned against a proposed £330,000 pay-off on similar grounds until the deal was cut by £52,760.

Opposition councillors failed to obtain an injunction to halt the pay-off.

Labour group leader Paul Miller said he had sought an intervention from the courts, objecting to a revised deal being made "in secret" and saying he wanted to call an extraordinary meeting of the council to discuss whether to approve it or not.

Mr Parry-Jones has been in the top job at Pembrokeshire council for nearly 20 years and earns £192,000 a year plus benefits in kind.

Councillors voted in favour of a severance deal on 16 October following the fallout from cash payments made to him in lieu of pension contributions that the Wales Audit Office (WAO) said were unlawful.

Those additional payments had been used to calculate a proposed pay-off of around £330,000 and it is that which concerned the auditors.

Conduct allegations

The WAO said the council was given this advice before the pay-off was agreed, but some councillors claimed they were not made aware of the warning in advance of that meeting.

Appointed auditor Anthony Barrett served an advisory notice on the council on Tuesday to block the deal, and the council says he spoke to leader Jamie Adams on Thursday to resolve the issues.

On Friday Mr Barrett said he was withdrawing the advisory notice after being told the council had removed what he considered to be potentially "unlawful expenditure".

The revised settlement - which the auditor said had been agreed by all parties - has been cut by £52,760 to a figure now thought to be around £280,000.

"I am pleased that Pembrokeshire Council has removed items of unlawful expenditure from its settlement agreement with the Chief Executive, Bryn Parry-Jones," Mr Barrett said, adding that the council was now "free to proceed".

On Friday, Pembrokeshire council said it had "no comment to make at this stage" but would be issuing a statement next week.

My Parry-Jones was facing the prospect of an independent investigation into allegations about his conduct before the council voted in favour of a severance deal.

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