South West Wales

Pembrokeshire council staff protest over chief's payments

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Media captionProtesters say the name of the council has been tarnished

Some staff at Pembrokeshire council have walked out in protest over unlawful payments made to its chief.

Bryn Parry Jones is currently under investigation by police over cash payments he received in lieu of pension contributions.

But despite calls for his resignation, he remains in post.

About 200 people, including staff, councillors and members of the public, gathered at County Hall in Haverfordwest on Friday to protest.

Unions representing council staff are currently balloting members in a motion of no confidence in Mr Parry Jones's leadership.

Unison branch secretary Vic Dennis "We organised a ballot very quickly, as a result of the reopening of the police investigation, and within a week we got over a 50% return on the ballot, during a peak holiday period, and 98% of those that returned said they had no confidence in the chief officer of this council.

"We want the county council to deal with what's happening at the top fairly and equitably, the same as all our members who come to work every day, We expect fairness. We're not looking for special treatment."

On Thursday councillor Stephen Joseph quit the council's ruling group over the row.

A Wales Audit Office (WAO) investigation carried out earlier this year ruled Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire councils acted unlawfully by letting Mr Parry Jones and Carmarthen chief executive Mark James opt out of a pension scheme to avoid tax payments.

An investigation by Gloucestershire Constabulary found no evidence to suggest any criminal offences, but a new police inquiry has since been launched following the discovery of new information.

In July, Pembrokeshire council said it would take no further action against Mr Parry Jones and another unnamed senior officer involved to reclaim the money.

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