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Badger and the new motto



badger knows bestTHIS WEEK, Badger wants to invite you to Join him on a journey through one of the most famous sayings in English: Namely that if you provided an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters (or, in these go-getting times, so-called ‘laptop’ computing devices), and an infinite amount of time then one of them would eventually come up with the works of Shakespeare. Or perhaps Frederick Forsyth. Badger forgets. Badger has written before about the County Council’s European Manager, Gwyn Evans. Mr Evans has a string of letters after his name which suggests that, whatever his failings in putting in place adequate guidance for the proper operation of a multi-million pounds grant scheme, he could re-arrange his qualifications into a formidable score at Scrabble. Hiding behind a cloud of verbiage and ink is, perhaps, an appropriate image for the Council’s own ‘Captain Euro.’ The kudos afforded to the ‘highly qualified’ European Team at Pembrokeshire County Council at a time when this week’s Audit Committee revealed that so convinced of their own expertise were its members that the basic stuff of doing their job passed them by. Having ticked the right box they were able to say everything was okay with its administration of millions of pounds of public money. Except it wasn’t. Bearing in mind the extent to which the report has been filleted at the desperate behest of County Council officers desperate to cling to their jobs and their pensions, what remains is striking enough. Imagine, readers, imagine what the unexpurgated version would have looked like had it been prepared by an independent assessor instead of the Council’s own officers. Assuming, of course, that an

independent assessor had been given access to the documents as they existed at the time they were created and not as subsequently ‘amended.’ Gwyn Evans knows all about ‘amending’ things to make the record look better. Remember, readers, Gwyn is the notorious ‘minutes-meddler,’ whose identification in this newspaper caused Bryn to summon senior officers, senior councilors and the former Audit Chair John Evans MBE and tell them he had ‘vays of making zem tok.’ However many changes an: made, readers, no number of weasel words can hide the fact that the procedural guide used to administer grants was — well, readers, Badger apologises for the crudity — crap. It did not provide adequate safeguards to ensure that scarce public funds were being spent as they were supposed to be spent. Or, perhaps, it was not the manual which was crap, just those charged with using it. In either circumstance, Gwyn might well look grim. As Badger’s dear old friend Grumpy has revealed — Grim Gwyn knew everything about the original grant manual. He was an authority on it. He told Grumpy that he knew he was an authority on it as he wrote it. It’s an interesting dilemma: Either Gwyn’s manual was useless and needed amending, or the manual was adequate but his fellow officers believed that be and it could be safely ignored. In his shoes, readers, would you rather your work was useless or that your co-workers thought it valueless? On the face of the Internal Audit Report, readers, all those letters, wit and skill managed to miss out pretty obvious steps, like requiring officers junior to him to establish that work for which payment was made had actually been done. And, readers, in case you

are dubious that such a highly expert and qualified individual could be that daft, here is what the Internal Audit Report actually says what should be in the revised manual it proposes: Detailed photographic evidence of all proposed grant funded work (internal and external) should be captured and retained prior to work commencing, at each site visit and on completion of works; The frequency of site visits should be stipulated and the exact checks undertaken should be clarified (i.e. cross-referenced to the specification and signed off as satisfactorily completed); Payment should only be made when the authorising officer is satisfied that the checks have been undertaken to verify the completion of work and evidence of defrayment has been obtained: Checks should be undertaken to verify the authenticity of infonnation provided, e.g. hazardous waste disposal certification. What does this all mean, readers? Look at what it says must happen in the future. Working backwards, and proceeding on the basis that those bullet points refer to deficiencies in the previous procedure, allows us to posit that: No detailed photographic information exists of projects that claimed hundreds of thousands of pounds; Site visits were haphazard and checks on works ineffective; Payment was made when no evidence of payment had been received. They never even got bank statements as evidence at the time claims for payment were made. Please note, readers, when asked after the proverbial hit the fan, the developer Cathal McCosker refused to provide them. He is said to have been willing to pay back £125,000 to make it all

go away rather than let the Council or WEFO examine his bank statements. Statements that the Council’s own procedure manual say should be provided before payments out are made; Checks were not carried out — or were inadequately performed – to validate whether substances such as asbestos (for example) had been safely removed and disposed of. Imagine not handling or disposing of asbestos (for example) safely. You would have to be mad, bad or both to even contemplate such a thing. Asbestos (for example) is lethal stuff and can cause all sorts of nasty problems: mesothelioma (for example). You can’t just bury it (for example) under a handy backyard, garden, or car parking area and hope for the best. Can you? And, of course, this is only one grant scheme: The Commercial Property Grants Scheme, funded by the European Union. The Town Heritage Initiative, funded by Lotto, did not even have a manual. Badger will restate that point, readers: So arrogant were officers in the Council’s Regeneration Department that they did not think they needed something as basic as a procedural manual to manage hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money. When Jamie Adams says he thinks it is about outcomes not processes, Badger hopes Jamie understands that there are occasions when procedures are important. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and has many benefits. The problem with Mr Evans and his colleagues is that they were told what the problems were by Mike Stoddart a long time ago. The response of the Council was to try and rubbish Councillor Slot!dart. Officers briefed against him, a fatuous – and demonstrably wrong – FAQ document was prepared to contradict him to the

general public; no effort was spared to help the IPPG claque try to knock him of course. Officers effectively stuck their fingers in their ears and shouted: “La-la-la” to stop the truth getting to them. Grumpy, Mike Stoddart may be, but he was right at the time, right all along in all important respects, and he is owed an apology by all of those who would not listen to an inconvenient truth when first told. So, readers, who is at fault? The answer, you might be surprised to learn, is not the man at the top: The Council’s own Dr Dolittle, Steven Jones. He is not to blame. He made it clear that the buck wouldn’t stop with him when this whole shebang kicked off in January. Badger notes that elsewhere in this paper he is still convinced the buck stops elsewhere. And it probably —almost certainly — won’t stop with Grim Gwyn, whose gyroscopic sense of his own importance and intelligence might actually have persuaded other officers that he is almost as clever as he thinks he is. No readers, some other patsy will retire on ill health and grab a pension before he is given a stern wigging and told not to do it again. Perhaps those wheels are already in motion, readers. Say no more. After all, readers, at Pembrokeshire County Council — and to Dr Dolittle’s relief — with great power does not come great responsibility. Let’s go back to those monkeys tip-tapping away on those typewriters, readers. In under five minutes, Bongo, the Macaque in the far corner, has come up with a new motto for the Council’s Regeneration Office and its ‘highly regarded and expert’ European Team. Let’s have a peek, shall we? What has Bongo come up with? “It matters not whether you win or lose but where you place the blame.” How true readers. How true.


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Buckingham palace announces Prince Philip’s funeral arrangements



PRINCE PHILIP’S royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The 99-year-old duke, who died Friday, also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.

“Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth,” a palace spokesman said Saturday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Prince Harry, Philip’s grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service along with other members of the royal family. His wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been advised by her doctor not to attend.

Palace officials said the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with the British government’s COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of people attending funerals to 30. They declined to say whether the royal family would be required to wear masks.

The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor, and for those who wished to pay their respects to Philips to stay at home instead.

“While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects,″ the palace spokesman said. “The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”

The announcement comes after military teams across the U.K. and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes Saturday to mark the death of Philip, honouring the former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth II whom they considered one of their own.

Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the U.K. and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at midday. Ships including the HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.

“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said in a statement. “A life well-lived. His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty.”

Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch, were also invited to honour Philip. The Australian Defence Force began its salute at 5 p.m. local time outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.

Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and once had a promising military career. In 1941, he was honoured for his service during the battle of Cape Mattapan off the coast of Greece, when his control of searchlights aboard the HMS Valiant allowed the battleship to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark. Philip rose to the rank of commander before he retired from active duty.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. Philip’s naval career came to an abrupt end when King George VI died in 1952 and his wife became queen.

At the queen’s coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” and settled into a life supporting the monarch. The couple had four children — Charles, the heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Before he retired from official duties in 2017, the prince carried out more than 22,000 solo public engagements and supported over 780 organizations, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people.

Members of the public continued to honour Philip’s life of service on Saturday, leaving flowers outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle despite appeals from authorities and the royal family to refrain from gathering.

“I think everyone would like to pay their respects,” Maureen Field, 67, said outside Windsor Castle. “Because of the virus, a lot of people have to stay away. He didn’t want a big funeral. He wanted a very private time with his family to say their goodbyes. So, we’ve all got to respect that.”

Mike Williams, 50, travelled from his home in Surrey, southwest of London, to Buckingham Palace to honour the prince.

“He’s a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted to come and pay respects,” Williams said. “I don’t know what it achieves, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

(Associated Press, London – by James Brooks and Tom Rayner)

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Police: RNLI ‘most likely saved man’s life’ following tombstoning incident



POLICE have issued an urgent warning following a tombstoning incident Tenby on Saturday evening (Apr 10).

A multi-agency operation was launched just after 6pm following reports of a man in difficulty after jumping from cliffs into the sea.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys police told The Herald: “We were called to the beach opposite St Catherine’s Island at around 6.15pm today, where a man had got into difficulty after jumping off the cliff into the water.

“On the arrival of officers, RNLI were at the scene and were administering CPR to the 23-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing.

“Fortunately, he regained consciousness shortly after and was taken to hospital for assessment.

Inspector Gavin Howells added: “This incident highlights the serious danger posed by tombstoning or cliff jumping, and the potentially life-threatening consequences.

“We urge people not to take part in this sort of activity anywhere along our coastline, and not to put themselves or the emergency services at risk for a thrill.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at the RNLI for their swift response to this incident, and for their actions which most likely saved this man’s life.”

RNLI Tenby posted on Facebook the following: “The Georgina Taylor was launched after person seen in difficulty in water

“Tenby’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at around 6.25pm on Saturday, following a report of somebody in difficulty in the sea off Castle Beach.

“The volunteer crew were quickly on scene and immediately saw the casualty, who had been pulled from the water and was on the rocks.

“The casualty was taken from the rocks and into the lifeboat, where Casualty Care was administered whilst the helmsman made best speed to the harbour.

“As the lifeboat was entering the harbour, an ambulance was arriving at the slipway.

“The crew then assisted the ambulance personnel in getting the casualty onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, before re-housing the lifeboat.

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Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin



POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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