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Officer ‘presiding over the ministry of cuts’ approved



screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-12-20-11PEMBROKESHIRE C OUNTY COUNCIL has approved a new post entitled Head of Transformation.

However, at last Thursday’s council meeting (Dec 8), many councillors criticised the move while Cllr Jacob Williams said he did not support a ‘person presiding over the ministry of cuts’.

Some councillors said there was a need to change the way things were done and that the council was in need of a shake-up.

The Council also approved a new post of Deputy Chief Education Officer while a third post, Head of Adult Care, will be discussed by the Senior Staff Committee.

Council Leader Jamie Adams said: “Consideration has been given to the fact that there are demands being placed on officers within the council who perhaps go above and beyond the call of duty on some occasions.

“The Head of Transformation will enable capacity within the organisation. I believe that the ability is in council but I have questioned whether that capacity is always available to us and that’s as a result of significant budgetary cuts within senior management of the authority.

“We have before us the opportunity to consider a post which will lead that transformation agenda from within. We know our strengths and weaknesses, they’ve been well identified, externally by the report from PWC, but also are informed by our public engagement opportunities, engagement with stakeholders.

“We are half way through taking out between £80-100million of financial capacity within the organisation and we are still expected to improve standards and we are still expected to provide the services that people value in Pembrokeshire.

“We cannot simply continue to salami-slice our budget and there has been a fair acknowledgement of that in terms of members’ seminars and externally in discussions with Wales Audit Office. We are at a new juncture and I believe we do need focus and capacity in terms of ensuring that we have a lead role within the authority to take that forward.”

Cllr Tessa Hodgson said: “I spoke against this appointment for a Head of Transformation at the last meeting (of the Senior Staff Committee) and I’m afraid nothing since then has convinced me to change my mind.

“I think the people of Pembrokeshire will find it very difficult to understand why, in the face of deep budget cuts, the best that this administration can come up with is to appoint yet another highly paid manager, when they are facing cuts to their frontline services.

“We already have a team of highly paid directors, heads of service and departmental managers who should surely be tasked with making these savings in their departments. They are the ones who know best how their teams work, what their customer expectations are and where savings could be made or revenue increased.

“The salary advertised is up to £100,000; this is bad enough but when you add in the company car, pension, the admin team that a job of this stature comes with, the final figure will be much higher.”

Cllr Jonathan Nutting said: “I’ve got a certain feeling, yes there is need for more staff within the education side. We’re looking at two posts here, not just one, the Head of Transformation and a Deputy Chief Education Officer. We have to explain to our schools and our children how we are using our money and if it is transformational, the clue is in the name, then possibly, yes it has a place, but two posts at once seems to be a bit over the top to me and I would suggest one and see if the other is necessary.”

Cllr Keith Lewis added: “We meet in seminar to discuss a way forward in terms of the pressures that face this authority and we agree that we’ve come to the end of slicing bits off budgets and we say we need to think outside the box, we need to be inventive, and here we are with an idea before us, this is not a full term appointment, it’s for two years, where we create a situation where somebody can have oversight over the whole organisation, I think it’s a sound move.

“We can totally change the way in which Pembrokeshire Council County works, reducing our cost base and hopefully improving our level of service. Let’s adopt the same view in Council as that which we give to our officers in seminar. To identify and isolate this post as being a waste of money is very negative of us.”

Cllr Jacob Williams said: “I don’t think this sends out the right message. The suggestion that we could create over a £100,000 salary, I just don’t support. What it would be is a person presiding over the ministry of cuts. I don’t support the Head of Transformation creation and there are two entirely different roles and I think it’s been deliberately designed to bundle them all into one.”

Cllr Viv Stoddart pointed out that two roles, Heads of Housing and Revenue, where recently combined and asked why this wouldn’t be possible for the role of Head of Transformation.

Cllr David Simpson said the council needed a shake-up but said he didn’t want to spend £100,000 on creating a new post.

Chief Executive Ian Westley said that something radical had to change and that in his opinion this would be the best £100,000 the authority has ever spent.

Cllr Mike Stoddart added: “The leader said ‘we need somebody to think outside the box’. Is he suggesting that the present directors can’t think outside the box? The Cabinet should be driving this transformation process.”

Cllr Jacob Williams had tried to get each post voted on separately and also called for a recorded vote for the Head of Transformation but that was not supported.

After a lengthy debate, the two new posts were approved by a majority.

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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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Tenby’s famous walrus ‘Wally’ has been spotted again



TENBY’S most famous marine animal has been spotted again after fears she had been scared away.

Wally was spotted on Friday evening by the seaside town’s Lifeboat station.

Thought to be a two-year-old male, the walrus’s return comes after it was feared she had been disturbed by people flocking to catch a glimpse of her and “getting too close”

The animal has attracted hundreds of people to the seaside town now that the travel restrictions with Wales have been lifted to coincide with the Easter school holidays.

Wally was last seen on Monday, but  members of the public were warned it was in the animal’s “best interests” to be “left alone” as much as possible and they were urged to “avoid the temptation to get near and disturb” her.

A joint statement was issued by the RSPCA, Tenby harbour master Chris Salisbury, Welsh Marine Life Rescue, Tenby lifeboat coxswain Phil John, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Natural Resources Wales and CSIP Marine Environmental Rescue said that they were concerned to hear that people had tried to get close by using personal watercraft or paddle and surfboards.

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