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Services to be cut beyond the bone



‘Giving the public what they want at a level that’s affordable’: Jonathan Haswell

‘Giving the public what they want at a level that’s affordable’: Jonathan Haswell

THE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD has been provided with a copy of the confidential report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) on the Council’s finances and where ‘savings’ can be made and ‘efficiencies’ found.

And it makes grim reading. Claims that the County Council has ‘taken the sting out of budget-cutting’, as was claimed in an article in Accounting and Business last November, appear to have the capacity to bite it on the backside and require industrial quantities of the local government equivalent of savlon for treatment.

As The Herald recently revealed, Pembrokeshire County Council’s has massively underspent on the standard spending assessment from the Welsh Government to the tune of £42m over three years. That policy was seemingly aimed at maintaining the IPPG’s fixation with the totemic claim of setting Wales’s lowest Council tax and obsession with pursuing a cuts agenda more in common with England than in Wales. The consequences of that policy are now coming home to roost as when it comes to cutting services, Pembrokeshire is now faced with cutting not to the bone but to the marrow.

The most massive cut will fall in social care. The social care budget has already taken a series of massive and slashing reductions under the stewardship of former Labour member Simon Hancock. The Herald can, however, report that there is more and worse to come for the most vulnerable people in our county.


Under the so-called cost reduction/ efficiency proposals for 2016/17, the Council is considering a cut of £750,000+ in day care provision and a £1.4m cut in home care services. Nursing home placements will be hit with a £119,000 cut and there is a massive cut of £922,000 in residential placements. The Council is being asked to swallow a £329,000 in supported accommodation and a £320,000 cut in unspecified ‘Other Services’ in Adult Care.

All in all the cuts to Adult Care amount to £4m in the next civic year. The situation is no less grim for the Council’s Child Care Services with £831,000 of projected cuts, including a £250,000 cut to the fostering service and £329,000 cut from other family services.

The planned cuts to Child Services are blandly noted as possibly impacting negatively on the Council’s prevention agenda.

Given Pembrokeshire’s ‘chequered’ track record on child protection, one has to wonder whether the Council really intends to jeopardise its already fragile reputation by creating a situation in which its will and ability to protect Pembrokeshire’s children is called into question.


Even while the County Council takes part in the largest, most ambitious, and potentially most chaotic and litigious schools reorganisation in Wales, it is planning to cut schools’ budgets. In the midst of a spending spree totalling tens of millions of pounds, with reserves syphoned from departmental budgets to support its grandiose ambitions, the Council is planning to cut funding for primary and secondary schools by almost £1.9m.

It has identified the potential risk of those cuts of being that ‘pupil outcomes do not improve’.

In other words, the Council is prepared to embrace a policy on the one hand that its 21st Century Schools programme claims to address. What that says about the Council’s confidence in its own schools programme and the good faith of assurances about improvements made during the course of its disorganised attempt at schools reorganisation is laid open to question.

£337,000 will be cut from the inclusion and complex needs budget for education, £187,000 from the school meals budget, and £194,000 from the schools effectiveness programme. A further £37,000 in savings will come from the music service, governors’ service, and sports development budgets. There is a scheduled £242,000 cut to Adult and Community Education and a further £52,000 cut to the youth service.

All in all, a reduction to the education budget in excess of £2.9m in one year. Just enough to cover the cost of the Council’s contribution to its favoured new 6th Form Centre at Pembrokeshire College.


£696,000 is to be shaved from the highways budget.

£32,000 of that money is to be pared from the coastal defence budget, while a further £28K is to be carved out of a maintenance review of flood defences and drainage. The Council is counting on mild winters and clement weather to justify the former cut, while crossing its fingers that cutting the latter will not result in its failure to fulfil a statutory duty.

While those figures are small compared to the £250,000+ cut in highways maintenance, about which the Council notes that ‘some works may not be done’, they are suggestive a desperate crossing of fingers about the elements.

Meanwhile, the Council proposes to shave £192,000 off the leisure budget by the expedient of closing them at bank holidays and reducing opening hours. It remains to be seen what impact this has on Pembrokeshire’s ability to offer anything for tourists to do on a rainy May Day or Good Friday. Although, it may be the case – as appears to be indicated by the cuts above – that the authority is in possession of remarkably detailed long range weather forecasts.

With £114,000 to be slashed off the library service and a further £59,000 about archives, it seems that Pembrokeshire is prepared to make a solid contribution to the decline of literacy and bury the past beyond retrieval.

However, Pembrokeshire continues to have the lowest council tax in Wales.

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent



A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50



EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea



A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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