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Money for the boys: The mega salaries of our top council officers revealed

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THERE are nine council workers earning over £1,000,000 in wages between them at Pembrokeshire County Council, according to new figures released by the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

Each of them on over £100,000 a year.

But in Carmarthenshire County Council there are even more high earners, with 23 of its employees on a six-figure pay deal – that’s more than any other local authority in Wales.

While cuts are being made to local services, there are still plenty of officers with eye watering salaries it seems.

A shocked Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Local authorities that are providing more for less and delivering council tax cuts clearly have talented people at the helm, but taxpayers living in poorly performing areas will be furious at the scale of some of these massive pay awards.
“After more than a decade of reckless spending and council tax hikes, local politicians now have to make necessary savings and the pay and perks for the town hall elite have to come under the spotlight.
“We all deserve to know how our money is being spent, and taxpayers should have the right to decide if they are getting value for their money from public servants.”

The figures released cover the period 2013-14.

On the list is Pembrokeshire’s own Bryn Parry Jones, the former Chief Executive and Retuning Officer of our Local Authority who had a whopping pay package of £204, 795.

In the same period this was topped by only one other council employee in wales – the former Chief Executive of Gwynedd, Harry Thomas, who was on a staggering £306,813.
In the same year, Carmarthenshire County Council’s top officer – Chief Excecutive Mark James had earned £184, 473 – more than the prime minister.

A Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) spokesperson said they recognise that at a time when councils are making deep cuts to services it’s right that top pay should come under scrutiny.
A WLGA spokesman told The Herald: “Local government senior pay is not disproportionately high or ‘out of control’ and the TaxPayers’ Alliance’s figures show Wales is near the bottom of the league table on senior council pay.
“While we recognise that a salary of over £100,000 per annum is considerably more than many people earn, these are some of the most demanding public service jobs in Wales and council chief executives are responsible for managing incredibly complex, multi-million pound businesses in the most challenging period for public services in recent times.”

Bryn Parry Jones had a salary of £204, 795 when he quit his post

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Victim speaks out about the impact knifepoint robbery

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Teifion Lewis: Robbed the man at knifepoint

THE VICTIM of a knifepoint robbery has spoken out about the impact the incident has had on his life as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in a national knife amnesty aiming to get weapons off the streets.

The 24-year-old was approached by a man he didn’t know while walking his dog in Carmarthen on July 20 this year. A knife was held to his chest, and he was forced to hand over the money in his wallet.

His attacker, Teifion Lewis, of Llammas Street, Carmarthen, was arrested and charged with robbery within four days, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Looking back at the incident, the victim, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “At first, I didn’t realise he had a knife on him. I just assumed he was another man who was out partying, given he was young and it was late on a Friday night.

“Even when he was right in front of me with his hand on my chest, I assumed he must have had too much to drink and just stumbled into me. Once I saw he was brandishing a knife, though, that changed everything. It was at that moment that I realised I was in far more danger than I’d first thought.

“I suppose the only real thing that was going through my mind at the time was to talk to him, do as he says, and get out of there as soon as possible without becoming hysterical. I just had to keep as calm as possible for the time he was blocking my route.”

He explained that it was only when Lewis had taken his money and walked away, that he realised what could have happened had things gone wrong.

“I thought about how easily he could have stabbed me and I’d have been left out in an empty street, cold and alone, bleeding to death, without even a mobile phone on me to call my friends and family to tell them I love them,” he said.

“I’ve never given much thought as to what my inevitable death will be like, but I’d never have thought it could have ended that way.”

The victim had walked his dog every night for two years – using this particular route for seven months – with no issue. Since being robbed, he has become wary of going out at night and hasn’t been able to walk down the lane where he was stopped without suffering flashbacks.

“It’s not necessarily the whole event that comes back to me, but different parts, such as when he started to sob to me about his home life, or when he apologised for ‘having to mug me’,” he said.

“By far, what’s stuck with me the most are the words said to me as I was being mugged. The words ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ have been repeating in my mind every day since then, without failure.”

On September 2, at Swansea Crown Court, Teifion Lewis was sentenced for robbery and possessing a knife in a public place. The victim read out a statement directly addressing Lewis, urging him to get his life back on track and forgiving him for what he did.

“You asked me that night to forget that the robbery had ever happened,” he read. “My assumption is because you were fearful as for what might subsequently happen to you. I’m afraid though, that the image of a knife being flicked towards my chest, and the phrase ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ is something I will never be able to erase from my mind, no matter how much I wish for it to go.

“I want you, however, to improve. I want you to use your punishment as your wake-up call, and as a doorway to improving both your future and the future of those who you are close to. There is help available for you, even in prison, and even when it seems all hope is lost. If I can get my life back on track after my autism diagnosis, so can you.

“You’re young, you’re able bodied, and you still have time. Use it wisely. I can’t forget what you did, but just this once I will forgive you.”

The victim has spoken out about his experience as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in Operation Sceptre – a national week of action aimed at cracking down on the illegal possession of knives. A knife amnesty is taking place during the week (Sept 18-24), with people able to bin their knives at specific locations across the force no questions asked.

The 24-year-old has backed the operation, and the chance to get knives out of our communities.

“I’d prefer it if these people who carry knives with them be honest about who they are and why they have them on their person,” he said. “But it’s much more important that it’s an opportunity to get these weapons off the street.

“If the ability to do this anonymously is what gives these people the confidence to rid themselves of their weapons, then so be it.”

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Over £24,000 worth of fines handed out in first enforcement week

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IN the first week of new enforcement officers working across Pembrokeshire, 161 fines have been handed out, worth a possible £24,150.

160 of those fines are for littering, with 1 person fined for dog fouling, Pembrokeshire County Council have told The Herald.

Enforcement officers can give on-the-spot fines of up to £150 depending on the offence. This can be reduced to £75 if paid within 10 days.

If all 61 fines were paid within 10 days it would generate £12,075.

Fixed penalty notices can be given to people spotted dropping litter – including dropping cigarette ends – or allowing dog-fouling, as well as those responsible for fly-posting, graffiti, and anti-social behaviour.

The council has said that anyone who refuses to pay their fixed penalty will be prosecuted.

Cllr Paul Dowson told the Herald after the first 48 hours of the new policy: “This is a very big problem – we’ve been without enforcement for more than two years, so you’d expect people to get lacksey-daisy about it. Hopefully now with people being caught, it will cut it down.

“My overriding thought is you should know littering is bad, regardless where it is – so don’t do it.”

When questioned about the confusion over where the funds would go, Cllr Dowson told us that none of the profits would go to Pembrokeshire County Council: “As far as I’m aware, it’s a totally contracted out service where they self-fund and run like a regular business – if they don’t generate enough profit they will go bust. I’ve had info sent to me by the council that they are totally self-funded, there’s no money going back into the council.”

Cllr Dowson is pleased with the approach but is worried the focus is too much on littering: “My initial initiative was down to fly-tipping, not littering, I fought this one solo and nobody else is interested. It seems as though that’s not part of the remit, and I need to look into that because if it isn’t then my emphasis wasn’t listened to.”

Some members of the public have raised concerns that fly-tipping will only increase when black bag collections move to three-weekly.

Earlier this year, council plans were approved to move to three-weekly bin bags collections, on the basis that householders will need to place fewer items in black bags thanks to the increased recycling opportunities.

A maximum of three black bags will be collected per household every three weeks.

Any additional bags taken to the local civic amenity sites will not be charged for.

Additional containment will be provided for householders if required, upon request, for example for larger families.

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Minor tree incidents reported due to high winds

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THERE have been minor incidents involving trees around the county following high winds today (Sept 19).

Pembrokeshire County Council has reported three incidents, all relating to trees:

  • Large branch down in Bartletts Well Road, Sageston,
  • Tree in a precarious state in the grounds of Pennar Community School
  • Tree down in housing estate at Maes Hafren, Eglwyswrw

The last reported incident was at 11:45am.

A yellow weather warning is in place for Pembrokeshire tomorrow (Sept 20), with the Met Office warning of possible flooding and delays to bus and train journeys.

The warning is in place between 4am and 10pm.

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