Pembrokeshire County Council is considering hitting residents with a 12.5 per cent rise in council tax this month.

The proposal was leaked to Blasting News by Forge Wales, a pro-liberty and enterprise group in Wales. Pembrokeshire County Council is due to hold a full council meeting in December to debate whether a 5 per cent rise or a 12.5 per cent rise in council tax is necessary to raise any lost revenue.

"It is an option which is being explored"

Unaffiliated Pembrokeshire County Council Leader David Simpson told Blasting News: "The County Council has not decided to introduce a 12.5 per cent council tax rise for residents.

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It is an option which is being explored. At a meeting earlier last week, the Council's Cabinet members asked for two alternative budgets to be presented to the meeting of full council in December 2017 for full consideration.

"One will be based on on council tax by raising 5 per cent and the other will be based on a rise of 12.5 per cent."

The proposals have caused an uproar with Forge Wales. Their spokesperson told Blasting News: "Pembrokeshire County Council has also unnecessarily spent £3 million on the purchase and renovation of their Cherry Grove Offices, despite any issues with capacity at County Hall.

"The council needs to ensure it has cut any non-essential spending before looking to take an extra 12.5 per cent from local residents."

The county council is seeking to discover how they can retain £16.7 million in savings in the 2018/19 budget.

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Councillor Simpson said the council has already identified £10.7 million worth of funds and that an additional £2.4 million would be raised from a 5 per cent council tax rise.

He said there is still a shortfall of £3.64 million, which is why a potential rise of 12.5 per cent is being explored.

The Council Leader added that no final decisions have been made yet.

"Any amount of council tax that is due to go up is being used to help compensate the huge drop in funding"

Conservative councillor Aaron Carey said any amount of council tax that is due to go up is being used to help compensate the huge drop in funding from the Welsh Government and the cost of supplying services.

He refused to comment on what the Pembrokeshire Conservative Group's position on the council tax proposals is without further information on the consequences to both low income households and the amount of service provision available.

Pembrokeshire County Council came under scrutiny in October 2014 by Wales Online for wasting council tax on paying former chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones with a severance package of around £280,000, which was smaller than the original £330,000 sum being suggested at the time.

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The Wales Audit Office objected to the original figure after ruling that any cash payments he received were unlawful in lieu of pension contributions.

Then Labour leader Councillor Paul Miller applied for a High Court injunction against the settlement.

"This is the same county council that treated its former chief executive to a severance package of £277,000 on top of his annual salary of £190,000"

A Forge Wales spokesperson said: "Forge Wales are concerned about Pembrokeshire County Council over the consideration to raise council tax by 12.5 per cent. This is the same county council that treated its former chief executive to a severance package of £277,000 on top of his annual salary of £190,000."

#Labour councillor Josh Beynon said even though he was not a councillor when Bryn Parry Jones was chief executive, he has always been against Mr. Parry-Jones' "ridiculous" severance package and the Porsche he was also awarded with.

He added: "Workers on lower pay scales wouldn't get a car, so why should the chief executive?"

Councillor Simpson defended the council's decision at the time, saying: "Pembrokeshire County Council members approved a settlement figure during a private session, in relation to the departure of Mr. Parry-Jones in October 2014. We have no comment about the make and model of the car used by him.

"The current Chief Executive is Mr. Ian Westley, who was appointed on an interim basis in October 2014, and a permanent basis in July 2015." #Politics #Conservative Party