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David Simpson gains support in PCC leader bid [UPDATED]

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LAMPETER VELFREY Independent councillor David Simpson is to bid to replace Jamie Adams as leader of Pembrokeshire County Council.

Cllr Simpson said: “The recent election results have sent a clear message that Pembrokeshire will not stand for the old way of doing things any more. The way the Council has been run in recent years has been unacceptable. Change is needed and nobody can pretend it’s not time for that change to happen.”

David Simpson continued: “I will not buy support for my leadership by promising Cabinet seats and cosy ‘jobs for the good old boys’. People are fed up by votes being bought by nods, winks, and the promise of position. Pembrokeshire’s electors are not daft – they’ve had enough of a flawed system. I am asking my fellow councillors to support me only if they think I am the best person for the job.”

Cllr Simpson said that his wide business experience, and his previous stint as Cabinet member for housing, equipped him to drive forward improvements in the way council delivered services.

And he promised a more open administration, involving all 60 members, with party differences set aside in the interests of providing better services and value for money.

“Under my leadership, Cabinet members will be appointed on merit. If you want the best for Pembrokeshire, you have to pick the best people – not just those who will nod things through without scrutiny. Ability will count and that is what I will be looking for if I am elected leader by those who feel like I do: the time for change is now.”

Cllr Paul Miller has announced he is supporting Cllr Simpson in his bid.

Mr Miller said: “Following a meeting this afternoon I can confirm that the Labour Group on Pembrokeshire Council will be supporting Cllr David Simpson in his bid to lead the authority.

“The last 5 years have been extremely difficult for Pembrokeshire Council, with the authority lurching from one scandal to the next. In last weeks election the voting public of Pembrokeshire placed the blame fairly and squarely with the ruling Independent Political Group and in my view made clear that they wanted to see real change.

“Cllr Jamies Adams’s time as leader of the authority simply must come to an end and both the Labour Group and I are committed to bringing about the change of leadership the voting public want to see.

“Pembrokeshire Council does not need to be run on patronage and favours, the only way Cllr Adams and the ruling Independent Group know how. There is a better way and we believe Cllr Simpson represents our best opportunity for an open and accountable Council.”

Conservatives have ‘no appetite for coalition’ 

Conservative members will meet early next week to decide whether to back the IPPG, the challenge to the status quo led by David Simpson, or to abstain on the identity of the next Pembrokeshire County Council leader.

Speaking to The Herald today (May 9), Conservative group leader in the last Council term David Howlett, said: “It is a fluid situation, which is changing all the time. I am pleased that all of those Conservative candidates who were at the count last Friday (May 5) have signed up to the Conservative group for the next Council term. None of them have given any sign of wanting to sign up to another group.”

Cllr Howlett continued: “I am delighted with the strong showing in the elections by Pembrokeshire’s Welsh Conservatives and, having had preliminary discussions with our new councillors, I can tell you that there is no appetite for a coalition with anyone.”

When pressed, David Howlett, said that the group would decide what steps to take at their meeting. However, he failed to deny that it was possible that a decision could be made to back an alternative nominee to Cllr David Simpson, who has already thrown his hat into the leadership contest. He continued to say, “It is not clear whether there will even be an IPPG grouping on the Council at this stage, so I don’t think we should commit ourselves to anyone at this stage. But, as I say, there is no appetite for entering into a coalition.”

Cllr Howlett concluded by saying: “When it comes to leadership, I will not be a candidate for leadership of the Conservative group on the County Council when we meet to elect a leader next week. Having seen the size of the group expand dramatically, and because of my other commitments away from County Hall, I have decided it is time for someone else to lead the group in what will be a much-changed council.”

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Masks now advised in all secondary schools

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PUPILS across Wales are now being advised to wear facemasks in all communal areas of secondary schools (including playgrounds), colleges and on transport to and from places of learning by the Welsh Government.

Although not compulsory, the new recommendations have been made by ministers to ensure a consistent approach in tackling COVID-19 across Wales.

People picking up and dropping off children are also advised to wear face coverings too to minimise the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.

The new guidance, aimed mainly at secondary schools, which the Education Minister has described as ‘easy to follow’ was announced today and now means that the only spaces where staff and pupils can safely remove their facemasks is in the classroom.

The majority of councils already require secondary pupils and staff to wear masks in corridors and on most school transport with those rules extended to primary pupils too in some areas.

Education minister Kirsty Williams said: “It is vital that young people, parents, adults and the workforce feel confident that all measures are being taken to ensure the educational environments are as safe as possible.

“We have been clear that we will keep every policy under review and will continue to follow scientific advice. The policy we are announcing today does just that”.

The new advice has been recommended by the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group (Tag), which has been looking at the “possibility of wearing face coverings for older age groups in more circumstances, including on public and dedicated transport” and could “even include in the classroom on a risk assessed basis…. balancing benefits with harms to overall wellbeing of students.”

Tag is also looking at how feasible a mass asymptomatic testing programme in schools and colleges could be, the Welsh Government has said it is considering that approach.

Debbie Thomas, Head of Policy at the National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru, said: “Face masks and coverings in communal areas could have serious consequences for Wales’ 2,500 deaf children, almost all of whom rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate.
“Socialising in corridors, break time chats and playground games are all rites of passage, but deaf young people now risk missing out because they can’t understand what others are saying. They’re also more likely to experience loneliness, isolation and bullying.
“Public health is the priority, but schools and colleges must move quickly to introduce reasonable adjustments to help deaf young people during this difficult time.”

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Two day centres to close temporarily as a precaution

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TWO north Pembrokeshire Day facilities for older people and people with learning disabilities are to close temporarily as a precaution following the rise in coronavirus cases in Ceredigion.

Bro Preseli Day Centre in Crymych and Wintern Day Centre, Goodwick, are to close temporarily from tomorrow (Tuesday, November 24).

The decision to close each site will be reviewed regularly.

It is emphasised that there have been no positive cases of Covid-19 detected at either site and the temporary closures have been put in place as a precaution.

 

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North Pembrokeshire schools remain closed

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THE SIX North Pembrokeshire schools which were closed today (Monday, November 23) as a precaution following the increased spread of coronavirus in South Ceredigion, will remain closed tomorrow (Tuesday, November 23).

The Pembrokeshire schools are:

• Ysgol Preseli
• Ysgol y Frenni
• Ysgol Llandudoch
• Ysgol Eglwyswrw
• Ysgol Cilgerran
• Ysgol Clydau.

The Pembrokeshire schools are closed as a precaution as they share services – such as transport – with the Ceredigion schools.

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