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The devil is in the detail

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astonishingDOCUMENTS OBTAINED by Hakin Cllr Mike Stoddart and seen by The Pembrokeshire Herald seem to show an astonishing irregularity in the tendering process for works done under the Town Heritage Initiative and Commercial Property Grants Scheme in Pembroke Dock.

On this page are two tender documents for the same job. One is the tender document provided to local firm G & G Builders, the other one provided to others tendering for the same contract.

The documents suggest that Kinver Kreations, the firm which prepared the tender documents, provided G & G with a massive competitive advantage in the tendering process by only asking them to tender for a fraction of what their competitors were being asked.

G & G were selected for the contract even though they were not the lowest bidder. However, the tender documentation shows that a number of arithmetical errors totalling £11,500 are made in their tender submission. Combined with the difference in tender documentation, the firm’s bid would have been the second most expensive had they been asked to do the same job as their competitors.

Time to stop pussyfooting around”

Councillor Stoddart told The Herald:

“These documents provide the clearest possible evidence that the tender process had been slanted to favour of G&G.

“On Tuesday afternoon I came to the conclusion that I had unearthed some documents that were conclusive proof of the malpractice that I have long suspected and it was time to stop pussyfooting around.So, armed with the evidence, Cllr Jacob Williams and I presented ourselves at the offices of the Director of Finance.

“We left the director of finance’s office with a firm assurance that, first thing in the morning, the matter would be reported to the police and that an email would be sent to all members and the relevant officers apprising them of the situation. Indeed, at one time during the meeting it was even suggested that the police should be contacted there and then, but that was rejected because it was already past 5.00 pm.

“When the email failed to appear in my inbox the following morning, I immediately suspected that someone had decided on a change of plan. We are now told that the police have been “informed” and if evidence of fraud emerges a formal complaint will be lodged.

“If this patently corrupt tender process isn’t evidence enough of fraud, then I give up. I suppose news of another police investigation on top of the one announced into the pensions’ business would not be a welcome development. However, I am not happy with these delaying tactics hence my decision to put the facts into the public domain.”

HERALD COMMENT

The news is sure to be a body blow to the already damaged credibility of Cllr David Pugh and his leader Cllr Jamie Adams, who have both repeatedly ridiculed Cllr Stoddart and those seeking to probe the apparent scam.

The IPPG spent December’s Full Council meeting seeking to deny access to the documents on this page, even on a confidential basis.

We can all now see why they were so anxious.

The delay in referral to the Police can only be because of political considerations affecting the IPPG ahead of today’s crucial debate on the future of embattled CEO Bryn Parry Jones, the beneficiary of an unlawful IPPG-backed scheme to avoid tax on his pension.

In light of the seriousness of the allegations, The Herald has provided a copy of this material to Dyfed Powys Police and asked them to examine the issue as a matter of urgency.

Something doesn't add up, the Tender documents obtained by Councillor Mike Stoddart

Something doesn’t add up. The Tender documents obtained by Cllr Mike Stoddart.

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Crabb slams Barclays Post Office cash opt-out

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has criticised Barclays Bank’s ‘short-sighted’ decision not to allow its customers to withdraw cash from Post Office counters.

A new agreement has seen 28 banks and building societies sign up with the Post Office for three years from January. The agreement will see postmaster paid more to take in and dispense cash on behalf of these banks.  However, Barclays is the only bank to exclude cash withdrawal as part of the agreement.

Government ministers have been urging the banks to make greater use of the Post Office network so that bank customers will still be able to save and withdraw cash following a large number of bank branch closures.

Preseli MP Stephen Crabb, who has spoken out against bank closures and the shortage of free ATMs, said:

“This is another slap in the face from Barclays for its own customers.

“The Post Office has become essential to high street banking as banks have closed their doors, taking with them free ATMs. To not allow Barclays customers to withdraw money from the Post Office is a short-sighted decision, which will likely result in Barclays customers paying to take their own money out.

“Earlier this year I spoken in Parliament about the drive towards a ‘cashless society’ which goes against the needs of rural communities.

“I have now written to the Treasury Minister to ask him to challenge this decision by Barclays.”

Barclays customers currently make 1.2 million cash withdrawal from the Post Office each month.

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Pembrokeshire turns pink and blue for Baby Loss Awareness week

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CASTLE HILL Tenby, Manobier Castle and Pembroke Castle will be illuminated in pink and blue lights between 9 th and 15 th October to show Pembrokeshire’s support for Baby Loss Awareness Week 2019 (9 th to 15 th October).

The annual awareness week, now in its 17 th year, is an opportunity for bereaved parents, families and friends, to commemorate babies’ lives and break the silence around pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.

Nia Payne originally from Tenby, now living in Cilgerran, said: “We hope turning these landmarks pink and blue will spark conversations about baby loss and give local bereaved parents and families an opportunity to talk about their precious babies. Since our daughter
(Gwennie) was born sleeping in March of this year I have been shocked by the number of people that have experienced a pregnancy or baby loss, yet it is almost a taboo subject. I have reached a point were I enjoy sharing our story with people and keeping Gwennie's
memory alive. Trying to arrange these light ups has given me a focus while hopefully helping others to communicate about their personal experiences.”

All of the buildings and landmarks turning pink and blue for Baby Loss Awareness Week 2019 will be featured on the interactive map and the Facebook album Anyone in Pembrokeshire can share their photos of the landmarks on social media with the hashtag #BLAW2019.

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity), said: “Baby Loss Awareness Week is a unique opportunity for parents to commemorate their babies who died. I hope bereaved families in Pembrokeshire seeing these landmarks lit up pink and blue will feel less isolated and alone in their grief.

“Pregnancy loss or the death of a baby is a tragedy that affects thousands of people every year. It is devastating for parents and families and it’s vital they get the bereavement support and care they need, for as long as they need it.”

For further information about Baby Loss Awareness Week visit: www.babyloss-awareness.org

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Spooky celebrations and events at National Park

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THIS half-term a creepy concoction of events and activities will be taking place at all three visitor attractions run by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, Castell Henllys Iron Age Village and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre will all be hosting Halloween-themed events, from witch hunts to ghost tours and encounters with woodland fairies.

Events at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill will include Fireside Tales on 19, 20, 26 and 27 October, where guests will be invited to sit around a fire and listen to spooky tales and stories of brave knights and beautiful princesses.

For those interested in honing their sorcery skills, The Carew School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will open its doors to new pupils on 29, 30 and 31 October. The syllabus will include wand-making, discovering spirit animals, spell-casting and broomstick agility. For those in costume, there will be a competition at noon.
Ghost Tours of the Castle will also take place during this period.

At Castell Henllys the thinning of the veil between this world and the next will be celebrated on 31 October with Samhain – Haunted Henllys. With a variety of spooky activities on offer, including a Ghost Walk, the day will end with the spectacle of the burning of the wicker man.

Scary Fairy Fun on 28 and 30 October offers visitors the opportunity to meet the woodland fairies at Castell Henllys and take part in activities such as face-painting, storytelling and enchanted woodland crafts.
Those of a magical mindset might also be interested in attending Wizards and Witches on 29 October and 1 November, with magical crafty activities organised throughout the day.

Between 20 October and 3 November, Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St Davids will host a Halloween Trail around the grounds and centre. The Trail will cost £2 per sheet and will run between 10 am – 4 pm each day.

For those seeking a less hair-raising half-term experience, places are still available for the Wildfowl of the Western Cleddau walk arranged to take place at Little Milford between 1 pm – 3 pm on 26 October. Guided by a Ranger, this gentle stroll along the banks of the Cleddau will offer the opportunity to see wading birds, such as the curlew and redshank. Children must be supervised and no dogs are allowed.

If culture holds greater appeal than the occult, two exhibitions, A Celebration of Contemporary Welsh Painting and The Cabinet of Curiosities will be hosted at Oriel y Parc during October and November, featuring top contemporary Welsh artists and members of the Carmarthen Artists’ Network respectively.

For details of all the events taking place in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events.

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