Pembrokeshire is expected to retain a presiding member running full council meetings, despite a recent “entirely opportunistic political move” to remove the post.

Pembrokeshire County Council meetings have been chaired by a presiding member since 2020, first Cllr Pat Davies and latterly Cllr Simon Hancock.

The position replaces a role previously occupied by chair of the council, the role of council chairman now taking on more of a civic function.

At the October meeting of full council, members were asked to consider options for a financial allowance for the presiding member, but a sticking point emerged, giving the option to remove the role, the council chairman taking the position back; which sparked much debate on the legitimacy of including it.

An amendment, to the recommendation to support remuneration of the role, was put forward by Councillor Jamie Adams – leader of the previous council administration – to delete the role of presiding member from the next election, reverting to the previous chairman role.

“When I speak to members of my community, they are quite astonished that the chairman does not chair the council meetings,” said Cllr Adams, adding: “I don’t wish my words to be in any way derogatory to members that have undertaken the role of presiding member, but I think it should be the role of the chairman, and therefore move option five.”

Jamie Adams
Cllr Jamie Adams (PCC webcast)

However, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said the proposal by Cllr Adams was “an entirely opportunistic political move” to oust Cllr Hancock.

During a heated meeting, which attracted the ire of Councillor Alan Dennison and Councillor Aled Thomas – Cllr Miller said some previous elected chairman were ‘patsies’ elected by the-then ruling independent political group, under the leadership of Cllr Adams.

After the lengthy and – at times – heated discussion, Cllr Miller formally moved a closure motion, meaning the item would return to a future meeting, supported by 32 votes to 24.

Paul Miller
Paul Miller (Pic. supplied)

Following that meeting, the matter was discussed at the council’s Constitutional Review Committee of October 31, stating it had “absolute opposition” to abolishing the post.

The matter will now be heard at the December 14 meeting of full council, a report for members recommending the position be retained, and be remunerated at the level authorised by the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales, utilising one of the existing Cabinet Senior Responsibility Allowance allocations.