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Council’s rubbish plan goes ahead

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THE COUNTY COUNCIL has given the go ahead to controversial plans to cut domestic rubbish collections. The Council’s scheme, to change from a weekly to a fortnightly collection for black bag rubbish, was this week rubber-stamped by the Council’s IPPG Cabinet.
The new regime, affecting black bag and glass waste, will be introduced in October.
Irate residents and concerned local Councillors have already voiced their fears that the changes are potentially hazardous. Questioned have been raised about the wisdom of the Cabinet’s decision and the impact it will have on the people of Pembrokeshire. Some Councillors are unconvinced that the cut in services was implemented to meet Welsh Government recycling targets, as the Council has claimed.
Speaking to The Herald, Councillor Huw George, Cabinet Member for Environment and Regulatory Services, claimed that fortnightly collections would reduce costs by an estimated £500,000 a year. In response to the question of whether or not this saving would be passed on as a rebate to residents who have already been billed for this year’s Council Tax, Cllr. George stated that:
“With regards to the question in respect of a reduction in Council Tax, you should be aware that the vast majority of funding for Pembrokeshire County Council services comes through the Welsh Government and they have announced very significant cuts to our income for future years, with greater reductions likely to come. We do therefore need to take some difficult decisions about the services we deliver and how we do so in order that we can continue to operate within the reduced budget available to us.”
He went on to say, “As you will be aware, the orange recycling bags and the food waste will continue to be a weekly service. Typically, over 70% of all domestic household waste is recyclable, which actually means that if someone is fully using the recycling services they will have less black bag waste to store over a fortnight than they were previously generating in a week. There is no compunction upon individual householders to recycle but, clearly it is their choice if they wish to minimize the amount of waste they have to store for up to two weeks.”
Lyndon Frayling, vice chairman of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, supported the new policy saying, “I make no apologies for doing so. This decision will help us achieve the huge savings we need to make (like every Council in the country) and make it easier to make the tough recycling targets set by the Welsh (Labour) Government. It will mean a change of routine for people but if the rest of Wales can cope with fortnightly collections, I do not believe it is beyond the scope of Pembrokeshire householders to do so as well.”
One angry parent, who wished to remain unnamed, spoke to The Herald by stating that she would face storing soiled nappies for up to two weeks in a small flat. Liberal Democrat Councillor for Dinas Cross, Bob Kilminster picked up her point:
“My biggest concern is for the large number of adults who receive social care packages and have to use incontinence or sanitary wear on a daily basis. These people are, by their conditions, rarely mobile and rely on the refuse collection service to dispose of the products they have to use on a regular basis. Going to a two week collection for these people may well cause huge problems. We could even experience increased social care costs as a result of this.”
Castle Ward resident, Dave Chalker, expressed his fear of a return to the scenes witnessed during the 1970s during the so-called ‘Winter of Discontent’, with rubbish building up in people’s yards and gardens, causing smells that could encourage scavengers and vermin.
That view was supported by Sarah Llewellyn, Town Councillor for Castle Ward, who was sceptical about the value of the policy as a cost cutting measure. She told The Herald, “I would have thought this is a real backward step. Many householders simply do not have the space to store their household waste for prolonged periods or the means to make journeys to the nearest civic amenity sites. Who is going to clear up the mess, and at what cost?”
The Herald sought a response from Keep Wales Tidy on the issue of the carbon footprint left by motorists making additional trips to municipal sites but, even though the action group’s website states they ‘research environmental issues and identify good practice at a local and national level’, they took the position that they were ‘declining to comment because it is a local authority issue’.
A Garth Ward resident, who wished to remain anonymous, was more forthcoming in her criticism of the idea of transporting waste to a municipal refuse tip, saying, “I’m so angry. How is a mother with no car supposed to just take their rubbish to a tip some miles away? In a pram? On the bus? It is ridiculous. I will simply find the nearest area for communal weekly collection and leave it there”.
On this point Councillor David Howlett, Conservative, attempted to reassure constituents by stating that, “At last week’s meeting of the Environment Committee, concern was expressed in relation to sanitary waste, and we voted on an amended proposal that will mean this aspect will be given further consideration. Also, I understand that for certain flats and multi-occupancy properties that do not currently have food and glass collections, they will continue with weekly black bin bag collections until a solution is found.”
Councillor David Bryan, of Haverfordwest Priory ward, who supported the shift to fortnightly collections, commented on this issue, saying that, “The only caveat that is needed is that there must be consideration given to the particular problems concerned with multi occupied properties and the need to collect soiled disposable nappies. It is also extremely important that weekly food refuse collections should be retained.”
Lyndon Frayling, Councillor for Garth Ward, stated that flats and multi-occupancy properties are not affected. However, when pressed on how the Council defined multi occupancy properties, in light of the fact that several housing estates have communal collection points for multiple households, he failed to respond.
Councillor Huw George further explained the need for voters to take personal responsibility, saying, “We do acknowledge that there will be varying levels of inconvenience for some households but this can be minimized by increasing the amount recycled and as we have seen from other areas across Wales, people do adapt their habits and do cope. I do not accept that if the rest of Wales can successfully introduce fortnightly collections for the black bag rubbish that Pembrokeshire cannot also do the same, but I appreciate that it will be more difficult for some than others”.
On the issue of transportation of refuse he merely stated that, “If an individual does have more waste than they can store between collections on any particular occasion then they will still be able to take their rubbish to their nearest civic amenity and recycling centre, but obviously they would have to get it there”.
Thomas Tudor and Paul Miller, from the Labour Group, both confirmed their support of the new policy, stating it was intended to encourage recycling, whilst acknowledging the resulting difficulties it would pose, promising electors that the situation would be monitored with an expectation that it should be ‘working’ in six months’ time.
Two Councillors expressing grave concerns over this issue were Vivien and Mike Stoddart, of Hakin and Hubberston respectively, who, speaking exclusively to The Herald, issued the following statement,
“We have expressed our concern to the County Council about the impact of fortnightly black bin bag collections on our constituents, particularly those living in flats and multi-occupancy properties. We have many such properties in our wards. Fortnightly collections of black bags (residual waste which, for family households, is a euphemism for nappies and sanitary waste) will bear down especially hard on our constituents, as storing this waste will be a problem for families living in flats. At the urging of a few opposition Councillors, the Council has agreed to consider the arrangements for dealing with sanitary waste, but the Council has also stated they will not provide additional collections; nor will they provide wheelie bins. So, we are not sure what these arrangements might be and if they will solve the problem for our families”.
Both Councillors, as of Wednesday of this week, were awaiting assurances from Cllr George that face to face contact would take place between flat dwellers, landlords and Council to ensure provision of suitable storage space.
Only last year, Eric Pickles, speaking as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, described weekly collections as a ‘basic right’ and accused Councils that were reducing the frequency of collections as actions which were both ‘lazy and unnecessary”.
From October 14th 2013 Pembrokeshire residents will have no choice but to see how this shift in policy affects them, their families, their neighborhood and their well-being.

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Cllr Beynon suspended as school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL said that they are unable to comment on the suspension of a Pembroke Dock councillor as a school governor.

Cllr Beynon confirmed that he has been suspended as a school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur.

“I’m looking forward until when the ombudsman throws out the complaints,” Cllr Beynon said.

Paul Dowson, a fellow Pembroke Dock councillor, recently resigned from the board of school governors of Ysgol Harri Tudur.

Cllr Dowson said after he resigned: “I feel a recent smear campaign reflects badly on the school even though its untrue.”

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Pembrokeshire man admits catalogue of sexual offences against children

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A HAVERFORDWEST man has pleaded guilty to a huge catalogue of sexual offences against children, including possession of more than 9,000 indecent images.

Kevin David John has admitted 20 offences in total – including the rape of a girl under 16 – following a three-month investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The 49-year-old, who appeared at Swansea Crown Court on June 23, came to police attention in April when he was arrested and a search carried out at his Prendergast home.

In total 111 different storage devices were seized – including tablets, laptops and mobile phones – along with almost 1,000 disks.

Specialist officers spent hours combing through huge amounts of data, uncovering substantial evidence of further offending, and John was charged and remanded into custody.

John initially appeared at Swansea Magistrates Court on April 24 where he pleaded guilty to five counts: recording a person doing a private act, sexual assault, causing a girl under 16 to engage in sexual activity, and two of taking an indecent photograph of a child.

He later admitted a further 15, which comprised sexual assault, sexual assault by touching, four sexual assaults of a child, rape, possession of Category A, B and C indecent photographs, making Category A, B and C pseudo-photographs of a child, possession of a prohibited image of a child, and possession of extreme pornographic images.

Detective Inspector Richard Lewis said: “This has been a detailed and harrowing investigation from the outset, involving a number of vulnerable victims and witnesses.

“Their courage in speaking out has been humbling, and the information they shared with us was invaluable in getting John to court,” he said.

Darren Mutter, Head of Children’s Services at Pembrokeshire County Council, said the council’s social services department had also worked closely with police to support the victims and their families, and ensure all safeguarding was addressed.

Added DI Lewis: “Police officers throughout Pembrokeshire played a role in this enquiry, and I would like to convey my sincere thanks to all staff involved for their professionalism and dedication in what has been a challenging and sensitive enquiry.

“Thanks also to Dyfed-Powys Police’s digital cybercrime unit, whose rigorous interrogation of a mammoth amount of potential evidence enabled us to build a robust case that demonstrated the severity of John’s offending.”

John will appear for sentencing at Swansea Crown Court on July 17.

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Jail for sleight of hand fraudster

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A MAN has been jailed for four fraud offences after purposely confusing post office and bank staff with sleight of hand techniques.

Costel Ventel visited four post offices and a bank in Pembrokeshire in one day, tricking staff into handing over a total of £930.

Just hours later, the 20-year-old from Birmingham was reported to Dyfed-Powys Police for trying to use the same technique in Llanelli.

PC Olivia Jones said: “We were called to post offices in Tenby, Saundersfoot and Kilgetty, as well as HSBC in Tenby, on May 17, 2019, where Ventel had committed or attempted to commit fraud.

“He’d asked staff to exchange bank notes, then purposely confused them by using sleight of hand techniques. Ventel passed notes back and fore, managing to pocket £450 from one and £480 from another without the member of staff noticing.

“We believed he had travelled from Birmingham for the purpose of carrying out these acts of fraud, and enquiries immediately started to locate him.”

Later that day, Ventel travelled to Llanelli, where he tried to commit further offences at HSBC.

PC Jones said: “Thankfully, staff at the bank were alerted to their unusual behaviour and recognised them from descriptions circulated following the incident at the Tenby branch, and called police.

“Both men were arrested on suspicion of fraud offences.”

Initially Ventel was released under investigation, but following extensive enquiries over a number of months, four charges of fraud by false representations were secured against him.

He was summonsed to appear at court June 30, where he was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison.

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