A former council leader has called for Pembrokeshire’s current most senior councillor to “make way” in the wake of a report into a £95,000 pay-off.

A review of the handling of last year’s departure of the county council’s then chief executive Ian Westley– and the £95,000 payment he received – was published by spending watchdog Audit Wales this week. It highlighted a “serious breakdown in governance”.

Former leader Cllr Jamie Adams responded to the report – while on a trip to South Africa – calling it “a damming judgement against the current coalition administration and its Leader.”

He said as a result leader Cllr David Simpson, who is one of 21 councillors on the 60 member authority 'not affiliated to any group', to step down.

The pay-off is the second time in less than 10 years the coastal county has given its outgoing most senior officer a payout.

Cllr Adams, leader of the 13-strong Independent group at County Hall in Haverfordwest, added: “The report clearly highlights unlawful decisions,  blatant lack of accountability and transparency  overseen and instructed by Cllr David Simpson and his administration.

“When you read the report it is blatantly obvious that Cllr David Simpson is doing his utmost to finger point the blame on others, whilst holding a smoking gun on the other hand, a clear sign of a guilty and weak leader.

“Cllr Simpson now needs to go and make way to someone who commands the respect and confidence of the electorate and of the council’’.

Cllr Adams' tenure as leader included the period of former chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones' £330,000 pay-off in 2014.

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The local democracy reporting service contacted Cllr Simpson for a response.

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesman said: “The council meeting which is scheduled for February 1 is the appropriate forum for this matter to be democratically debated in an open, public session. It would be inappropriate for further questions to be taken until that process has been followed.”

Cllr Paul Miller, who leads the seven member Labour group and is a member of the ruling cabinet, said his group is backing the council leader.

He said: "Cllr Simpson has and is doing an excellent job leading Pembrokeshire Council and he retains our full and absolute support and confidence. The electorate of Pembrokeshire will not have forgotten Cllr Adams tenure as leader of the authority".

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Cllr Miller added: "It’s very disappointing that the process of agreeing the departure of the former chief executive was evidently flawed and disappointing also that the advice relied upon by the leader to reach that agreement was, in the view of the auditor, also flawed.

"We’re obviously committed, as a Labour group, to ensuring the council accepts and takes on board the auditor's findings in order that we prevent mistakes in process like this from happening again.

"That said, it’s critical the authority has the right people, with the right skills, in the right roles to take the county forward and we’re encouraged at the team being assembled under the new chief executive."

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