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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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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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