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Police called in on grants scandal

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county hallTHE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD understands that Dyfed Powys Police will be called in by Pembrokeshire County Council to probe payments made under the Town Heritage Initiative and Commercial Property Grants Schemes in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock. The schemes are the subject of an ongoing investigation by the County Council’s own Audit Committee, chaired by independent lay person John Evans MBE.

The news that the Police are to become involved is a further body blow for the beleaguered IPPG party, which spent much of last December’s Full Council meeting making personal attacks on unaffiliated independent member Mike Stoddart, who wanted Councillors to have the chance to examine documents relating to the scheme.

The storm of protest that followed the meeting, which included the discoveries that Cabinet member David Pugh had attacked Cllr Stoddart on the basis of a viewing of the wrong building and that a visit to 29 Dimond Street by IPPG leader Jamie Adams did not include actually entering the shop premises, led to the Council’s Audit Committee allowing all Council members to examine documents relating to the schemes’ administration.

The grants scheme came to prominence in two feature length articles in Pembrokeshire’s Best Magazine in 2012 and 2013. The magazine’s investigation had discovered that the majority of grants by value had gone to a single property developer, Cathal McCosker – whom it christened “The Baron of the Bedsits”. In addition, the magazine discovered that the developments headed by Mr McCosker had employed one local building firm and – latterly – one local architect’s practice to carry out the grant aided projects.

Councillor Mike Stoddart continued to harry the Council with requests for information and clarification, culminating in his discovery of a Bill of Quantities and other documents in the public examination of the Council’s accounts held annually at Thornton Business Park.

A site visit to Pembroke Dock by the Audit Committee in January of this year raised more questions than answers for its members. An examination of the Paul Sartori charity shop in Dimond Street, caused some members to question the way in which in excess of £53,000 had been purportedly paid for works on the retail premises.

There is absolutely no suggestion that the Paul Sartori Foundation are implicated in any potential or alleged wrongdoing in relation to the premises, of which they are only commercial tenants.

The news of the referral to the Police could scarcely come at a worse time for the IPPG, which has spent enormous political capital backing the Council’s conduct of the schemes at the same time as supporting the Council’s decision to allow controversial CEO Bryn Parry Jones to receive a so-called “pay supplement” which has cost the Council around £45,000 over the last two years.

The so-called “pay supplement” was part of a scheme hatched to help Bryn Parry Jones avoid tax on his publicly funded Local Government Pension.

The Pembrokeshire Herald contacted Pembrokeshire County Council and requested a statement. A Council spokesperson told The Herald:

“We can confirm that we have been in contact with the police. In the event that we are satisfied that a fraud has been committed against the Council, we will formally refer the matter.”

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Bryn the Merciless

    February 12, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I shall have my revenge upon you all! Hahahahahahaha!!!!

  2. Teifion

    February 14, 2014 at 8:33 am

    To Bryn the Merciless – LOL (I hope it’s a joke anyway:)

    Regarding Police Investigations into Pembs. CC they are just like buses, waiting for ages (AND AGES) and suddenly they’re all coming

  3. John Hudson

    February 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I was under the impression that this had all been given the all clear by the Council’s Internal Auditor, and those Auditors of the other grant bodies.

    Mike is to be congratulated for his persistence or bloody mindedness, and for going against the ruling of the Council’s Monitoring Officer to the extent that he had to change his advice and allow members to see ALL documents.

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Former Chequers nightclub to reopen

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AN APPLICATION for a new premises licence for the former Chequers night club succeeded at a meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Licensing sub-committee on Thursday (Aug 22).

The former nightclub closed its doors for the last time in 2003, when it ran as a private members’ club, having had an application for a full on-licence rejected.

After failing in an attempt to close the club on that occasion, Pembrokeshire County Council became the only local authority in Wales to classify mobile homes as permanent residences in an effort to shut down the club once and for all.

The new applicant, Mrs Carmen Clemas applied for a new premises licence in respect of the club, which will be renamed the Queen of Clubs.

The Committee heard objections to the licence from local residents and heard representations from both the Police and Fire Service which pointed out that the building would need significant remedial works to it before it could re-open.

While Penally Community Council objected on the basis of events and problems at the premises almost twenty years ago, neither the Police nor Fire Service had an objection to the Club’s re-opening in principle.

Both emergency services emphasised that, even though they had no objections, they had concerns that had to be addressed.

The Committee granted the application, refusing permission for licensable activities at the Club on Sundays, apart from Sundays before Bank Holidays, and imposing strict noise control measures.

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St Davids RNLI to feature in new series of a popular TV documentary

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THE volunteer lifeboat crew of St Davids RNLI will be taking to the small screen next week as they will feature twice in the first episode of the BBC TV series Saving Lives at Sea.

Now in its fourth season the documentary series, which showcases the lifesaving work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), will be aired on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 8 pm, as well as being available on the BBC iPlayer following the broadcast. The new 10-part series features real rescues carried out by the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards around the UK and Ireland – including St Davids RNLI.

Each programme gives a unique insight into the lives and work of the charity’s lifesavers who are needed more than ever before, rescuing thousands of people and saving hundreds of lives around our coastline and on inland waterways every year. The new series features more dramatic real-life rescue footage, accompanied by emotive testimonials from the volunteer crews, lifeguards and the people they rescue and their families.

This forthcoming episode, on 27 August, sees St Davids RNLI launch to a crashed plane in one shout, and tow a yacht stranded in a shipping lane in another. These shouts are shown alongside rescue stories from their colleagues at other stations and beaches around our coasts.

Judd Kohler, Station Mechanic at St Davids Lifeboat Station, said: “The first episode of Saving Lives at Sea shows two very different shouts that St Davids RNLI responded to. The programme is a great chance for RNLI supporters to catch a glimpse of the work that their kind donations go towards. We want to say a huge thank you to supporters of the RNLI, who help us to save lives at sea.”

Filming took place over the past year, with lifeboat crews and lifeguards carrying special cameras and welcoming film-makers into their day-to-day life. Rescues from the RNLI’s archives are also revisited, and we get a glimpse into the everyday lives of the thousands of men and women who give up their time to save lives.

Last year alone, RNLI lifeboat crews around the UK and Ireland rescued 9,412 people, saving 211 lives, while the charity’s lifeguards aided 32,207 people and saved 118 lives on some of the UK’s busiest beaches.

Saving Lives at Sea begins on Tuesday 27 August at 8 pm on BBC Two, and will continue throughout August, September and October.

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Pembrokeshire schools celebrate GCSE results

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S schools are celebrating students’ success in this year’s GCSE exams.

 

“On behalf of staff and governors at Milford Haven School, I would like to congratulate all Year 11 pupils on their GCSE results, reflecting the efforts and commitment they have shown over the last two years and also thank their parents/carers for their support and cooperation,” said the Head Teacher, Ceri-Ann Morris.

 

“We are pleased with a number of individual successes, in particular, our top performers include, Izzy-May Solomon (10A*, 3A’s and B), Megan Owens (12A* and A), Megan Clarke (8A* and 4A’s), Finlay Ryder, Gareth Maclachlan, Evan Price, Molly Griffiths, Elanor Evans, Beth Lewis and Lucie Mathias.

 

The school is pleased to say that all pupils left school with qualifications which will help support them to follow the path of their choice, whether that be into the sixth form, college, apprenticeships or employment.

 

We wish you all good luck in your future careers.”

Among those receiving their results was Joseph Jenkins, a 14-year-old Year 9 student, who achieved a Distinction in Advanced Mathematics.

At Ysgol Y Preseli 100% of pupils achieved qualifications equivalent to 5A*-G; 91% 5A*-C and 37% achieved at least 5A*-A grades.

Across the core subjects, the pupils achieved the following results at A*-C – Welsh 86%; English 91%; Mathematics 82%; Science 84%.

The Head Teacher, Mr Michael Davies, commenting on the results stated: “We are very proud of all the young people who have worked tirelessly to achieve these results. I would also like to thank the staff for their willingness to go the extra mile to ensure that all pupils fulfil their potential at Ysgol y Preseli.”

Amongst the top performers were: Seren Allen – 13 A*, 1 A; Nuala Camplin – 8 A*, 4 A, 2B; Cerys Chadwick – 14 A*; Annest Davies – 6 A*, 4 A, 1B; Thomas Elliott – 9 A*, 4 A, 1 B; Gethin Greenhalgh – 9 A*, 5 A; Cara James – 5 A*, 8 A; Casey Lambert- 7 A*, 7 A; Alexander Larsen – 10 A*, 4 A; Tom Palfrey – 9 A*, 3 A, 1 B; Kate Thomas – 5 A*, 5 A, 3 B; David Varney – 7 A*, 4 A, 3 B
Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has congratulated GCSE students on their results, as overall performance across Wales has improved.

This summer’s results mark the end of the significant GCSE reform journey undertaken in Wales. The last seven of reformed GCSE subjects are awarded this year including History, Computer Science and Welsh Second Language.

Speaking during her visit to King Henry VIII School in Abergavenny, Kirsty Williams said: “Today we have seen an improvement in overall performance across Wales. I would like to congratulate all learners receiving their results today and to thank the teachers who have worked so hard to deliver these new qualifications.

“Last year we saw a dramatic increase of 50% in entries for science GCSEs. I am pleased to see that entries and results are continuing on the upward trend, with more pupils gaining A*-C and more achieving the very top grades in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

“This increase in learners being entered means more young people are accessing qualifications that lead to greater opportunities for further science study and careers, paving the way for the future scientists of Wales.”

Following the publication of yesterday’s GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate results David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union said: “We congratulate all students who have collected their GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate results from today and wish them all the very best for the future. It is particularly pleasing to note that overall GCSE performance in Wales has improved by 1.2% especially given the fact that all examinations have been subject to reform in recent years. This progress is a testament to the time and effort put into their studies by pupils across Wales and the unstinting dedication of education professionals in our schools.”

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