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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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Broad Haven: Car overturns in wet weather on B4341

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A CAR overturned in the wet weather on the B4341 Haverfordwest to Broad Haven road on Friday evening (Jul 3).

First on the scene, local Stephen Hughes told The Herald: “I was driving along and noticed a car had overturned on the Broad Haven Road past the left turning for Tiers Cross. I stopped and checked to see if everyone as okay.

“No one was injured, and I stayed until the police arrived.”

Police directed traffic and assisted with the recovery of the vehicle.

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County Hall in NHS blue lights tribute

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COUNTY HALL in Haverfordwest was lit in blue last night (Friday, 3rd July) and will be again tonight and tomorrow night as a tribute to NHS workers and social care staff throughout the country.

The illumination also marks the 72nd anniversary of the NHS on Sunday.

Said Pembrokeshire County Council Chairman, Dr Simon Hancock: “We owe these workers a great debt which will never be fully repaid and this gesture by the Council is richly deserved.”

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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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