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Badger enjoys the sweet smell of ‘success’



badger_2087377bIt worries Badger that an administration so committed to cutting public services is headed by a man who finds remembering to file his expenses on time difficult and is a self-confessed bad book-keeper. All those alleged efficiency savings and service improvements (a.k.a. ‘cuts’) swimming around in the head of a man who forgot to claim £4649 in expenses; it cannot be easy for him, poor dab!

All the talk of those supposed service improvements, alleged efficiency savings and being kind to our environment cannot obscure the fact that Pembrokeshire County Council has embarked on a course of slashing low paid workers’ pay while preserving the obscene salaries paid to upper management as a reward for their collective past and continuing failure; on a policy (cutting bin collections) that will ensure that Pembrokeshire households will be regular stopping off points for Badger’s woodland chums Ratty and Foxy; and a policy that means that if you are caught short in a public place, you will be doing your bit for the environment by wearing reusable nappies.

How lucky we are then that the Council was this week able to announce that ‘Latest figures show that Pembrokeshire County Council’s performance improved again last year and was well above average when compared to other local authorities in Wales … Pembrokeshire’s performance was particularly positive in adult and children’s social care.’

Now that is good news, to an extent. If success is going to be measured as not failing as badly as everyone else, Jamie Adams’s breast must be swelling with pride.

We can all be proud of the Council’s achievement in closing a library before finding out how much it would cost to replace it and then having to back track on its plans for it; that its own estimate of capital works required to the education estate was wildly incorrect; that the Council’s view of success is maintaining ‘the lowest Council Tax in Wales’ by slashing public services and showering European grant money on a few private landlords and property speculators.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the figures that escaped Cllr Adams’s attention:

Cllr Jacob Williams’s motion about traveller pitches in Pembrokeshire and the need for the Council to ensure its procedures were appropriate rightly received widespread attention. The Council now has the chance to right a wrong and put its money where its mouth is. When the Council has an estimate for a requirement for expenditure of £1m in this financial year and has since the start of it spent £6,000, the need for rapid review instead of mere lip service is underlined.

Pembrokeshire County Council takes 78.6 days to discharge its primary duty to households determined to be homeless. That is 78.6 working days. Add in the weekends, because people don’t stop being homeless on Saturday and Sunday, and Pembrokeshire is proud to keep the homeless without a permanent roof over their heads for over four months. That is against a Welsh average of 128 working days and a target of 66 days. Hurrah. We are not the worst!

The Council’s desired ‘Key Outcome 1’ is that ‘Children, young people and families in Pembrokeshire have the opportunity to lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.’ Not if you are a child with special needs, however: for those children, Pembrokeshire’s performance is woeful. Out of 23 statements of Special Educational Needs, only 3 – 13% – were issued within 26 weeks. For the sake of clarity, the same period last year produced an 88% performance against the same target. Success, indeed, then! No explanation is given for this pathetic failure in the papers recording the Council’s performance for special educational needs assessments other than that reports are ‘awaited’ from Health and Social Care.


Rocking on for six months after the end of the year to which those figures relate, the Council is STILL awaiting an explanation? Perhaps there is only one manual typewriter in County Hall and the typist is on long term leave.

Perhaps best value for money in education could be achieved by making an effort to recruit the best available permanent staff for Pembrokeshire’s schools instead of the below, a response to a Freedom of Information Act request:


Staff on fixed term contracts 7,014,631.23
Supply staff 1,546,187.07
Agency staff 119,098.76
Total 8,679,917.06

Mind you, Social Care and Education are responsible for every Compromise Agreement the Council confirms entering into since 2009. Think of those agreements as ‘we pay you to go away, not make a fuss and keep your lip zipped’ ways of ending employment. Note the startling figures for the current and immediately past financial years.

01/04/13 2 @ £48,720 + Payment in Lieu of Notice
01/04/12 – 31/03/13 2 @ £35,200 + PILON
01/04/11 – 31/04/12 0
01/04/10 – 31/03/11 1 @ £7,000 + PILON
01/04/09 – 31/03/10 1 @ £3,672 + PILON

Three of those agreements were in senior management positions.

We can all take comfort in the thought that scarce resources are being spent wisely and well and not ploughed into rewarding failure and mediocrity.

Something smells sweet around Jamie Adams and the IPPG. Perhaps it is success, after all.

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Haverfordwest: Police appeal for information following high-value theft from Boots



HAVERFORDWEST Police are appealing for any information following a high-value theft from Boots.

The theft occurred on Tuesday (Jul 7), anyone with information is asked to contact 101.


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Busy return to Welsh beaches for RNLI lifeguards as the charity urges parents to be beach safe



RNLI LIFEGUARDS have had a busy return to service in Wales with two lives saved in the opening weeks. Now with further easing of Welsh Government restrictions this weekend, lifeguard teams are expecting the beaches of Wales to get busier again and are urging visitors to take responsibility for their safety.

On Whitesands beach in Pembrokeshire, a female body-boarder was pulled to safety by RNLI lifeguards after she was found separated from her board and struggling to stay above water. Lifeguards at Whitmore Bay saved the life of a swimmer who got into difficulty in the turbulent waters off Nells Point and on Langland Bay, Swansea, RNLI lifeguards have had a busy fortnight dealing with 16 major incidents, coming to the aid of 27 people.

With self-contained holiday accommodation expected to open in Wales from Saturday (11 July), the RNLI and HM Coastguard are today calling for anyone visiting the coast to take extra care and be beach safe this summer.

RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling on 26 beaches in Wales this weekend but lifeguards can’t be everywhere this summer, so the charity is urging beach-goers to be aware of the dangers at the coast, and to know what to do should they or a member of their family get into trouble.

If you can, please visit a life-guarded beach. But wherever you are;

  • Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
  • Don’t allow your family to swim alone
  • Don’t use inflatables
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float
  • In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard
  • Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead for Wales, said: ‘We have now got RNLI lifeguards on far more beaches than we originally planned after the easing of lockdown rules. Our ability to do this has been helped by the regular dialogue between the RNLI and Welsh Government, the approach to easing restrictions and the caution and responsibility shown by the people of Wales.’

‘But our lifeguards still can’t be absolutely everywhere this summer.’

‘That’s why we are urging everyone to take extra care of themselves and their families whenever they are in or near the water.’

‘No one ever goes to the coast expecting to be rescued, yet RNLI lifeguards and lifeboat crews rescue thousands of people each year. And the fact that we have been so busy already this summer shows us that some people are not taking these warnings seriously enough.

‘If you get into danger in the water, relax and float to give yourself time to recover before swimming to safety or calling for help. If you see someone else in danger, please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard said: ‘We know from sad experience that whether you’re local or not, whatever your ability of experience in your chosen sport or leisure activity, the sea can still catch you out and be unmerciful when it does

‘We know how beautiful the coast is but it’s deadly if you get it wrong and your choices might put your family, friends and our frontline responders at risk as well as yourself.

‘Check tide times and remember the sea has currents and rip tides that can’t easily be seen. Look out for each other and if you get into trouble call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

‘Don’t make your trip to the coast memorable for all the wrong reasons.’

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Hospitality businesses gear up for post-lockdown season



AS THE COUNTDOWN is on to hospitality reopening, over 40 pubs, cafes and restaurants from across Preseli joined Stephen Crabb in a digital discussion.

In a Zoom call hosted by Stephen Crabb MP, a number of pubs, cafes and restaurants took time away from getting ready to reopen to discuss how they can make best use of the season ahead of them, after a difficult few months due to lockdown.

Joining Crabb was local MS Paul Davies, representatives from Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and UK Hospitality, and an array of hospitality businesses from across the constituency including Martha’s Vineyard in Milford Haven, The Royal Oak in Fishguard and The Ferry Inn in St Dogmaels.

On Monday (Jul 13) hospitality businesses are able to reopen in Wales, following strict guidelines including outside only, 2m social distancing with pre-booking advised. Many establishments in Pembrokeshire without large outdoor spaces will be unable to open, but those who can are working hard to make it as enjoyable and safe for customers as possible and also commercially viable.

Only on Thursday evening, four days ahead of reopening, did Welsh Government publish guidance to help businesses reopening. This delayed support has left some hospitality businesses feeling left behind.

Speaking following the forum, Stephen Crabb said: “I’m delighted to have been able to bring together so many hospitality businesses in what was the largest digital business forum I’ve hosted. There has been huge interest from the sector and I’m really grateful to Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning, licencing and tourism team for joining the call, along with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and trade body UK Hospitality.

“There is a real sense of a ‘Team Pembrokeshire’ approach to the reopening of this important sector, with businesses happy to share ideas and good practice to ensure the local visitor economy opens safely and successfully.”

“All the signs are pointing to a ‘staycation’ boom for British tourism this summer and there is potentially a real prize waiting for Pembrokeshire businesses. But there is a lot of work to be done in the next few days to adapt to new ways of working and it is essential for Welsh Government to issue detailed guidance.”

Paul Davies MS said: “Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses are the backbone of our local economy and so it was extremely useful to hear more about the challenges they’re facing and how Governments at all levels can do more to support them. The Covid-19 pandemic will continue to have an impact on the industry for the foreseeable future and whilst businesses have worked extremely hard to adapt their business models, the fact remains that if further support isn’t forthcoming, then many hospitality businesses simply won’t survive. I will of course, do everything in my power to challenge the Welsh Government on its lack of support for the sector and encourage Ministers to use the levers at their disposal, to better support the sector before it’s too late.”

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