Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

Grants tender process ‘corrupt’

Published

on

tender process

COUNCIL IN CRISIS

THE 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.

East Williamston Councillor Jacob Williams wrote on his website:

“The grant scheme documents are stored in a room known as the ‘data room.’ I booked an appointment to view them on Tuesday afternoon, where Mike Stoddart joined me.

“Mike revealed an alarming discovery he had made, which we took to the director of finance and leisure, who decided it was time to refer the matter to the police.

“All I know so far is that the police have been ‘called,’ but I do not know if this constitutes a ‘referral’ of the matter, but it was ‘referral’ of the matter to the police that was pledged by the director.”

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.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News

Two arrests following disturbance inside Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre

Published

on

THERE was a large police presence at Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre on Tuesday afternoon, after what police are describing as a ‘disturbance involving a small group of people.’

The emergency call went out at lunch time, and thirteen police vehicles responded to the incident, a resident of Penally confirmed.

At first the police said that one person had been arrested, but later on Tuesday evening the police released a second statement saying that two people had been taken into custody.

It is understood that both the persons arrested are asylum seekers staying at the former army training camp.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Herald in it’s latest emailed statement: “We were called to a disturbance involving a small group of people within the Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre at around 1.45pm on Tuesday (Oct 20).

“Two people have been arrested, a 22 year old man and a 25 year old man. The 22 year old was arrested on suspicion of affray, and the 25 year old was arrested on suspicion of assault. No one was taken to hospital.

“The investigation is ongoing.”

Our reporter was at the scene just after 7pm on Tuesday and the area was quiet.

There was no visible police presence remaining outside the former army camp, and just a handful of protestors outside the main gate.

Continue Reading

News

Follow lockdown rules, public leaders in Pembrokeshire urge

Published

on

PULBIC leaders in Pembrokeshire are urging people to comply with the latest measures introduced by the Welsh Government under its ‘firebreak’ scheme.

Councillors David Simpson and Paul Harries – Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council and Chairman of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority respectively – have echoed the sentiments of First Minister Mark Drakeford’s “come together” call.

“It is imperative for the safety of all of us that we follow the regulations which come into effect on Friday” Councillor Simpson emphasised.

“Although the number of coronavirus cases in Pembrokeshire is relatively low compared with other areas across the nation, the figures here are on the rise. Undoubtedly measures would have to be taken sooner or later in our county to halt that increase.

“The thinking is that introducing a 17-day long ‘firebreak’ now and across the nation will slow the spread of the virus and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases.

“This could potentially prevent hundreds of deaths.

“So I appeal to everyone to comply with the restrictions being introduced and follow the safety advice of wearing face coverings in confined public spaces, observe social distancing and regularly wash your hands.

Councillor Paul Harries said : “We appreciate that people will want to access the National Park and the outdoors more than ever as we head into the firebreak lockdown, but we are asking people to follow the guidance and only exercise from home, whilst following the Countryside Code.

“We understand that the restrictions are challenging for people, but keeping Pembrokeshire safe is our utmost priority and we will do all we can to support Welsh Government in following the guidance.

“When the time is right we look forward to welcoming visitors back to Pembrokeshire and most importantly doing this at a time when we can keep everyone safe. For now, we urge everyone to follow the firebreak guidance and stay home to stay safe.”

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions go to: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-circuit-break-frequently-asked-questions

Continue Reading

News

Pembrokeshire lockdown ‘disproportionate’ as cases locally were below trigger-point

Published

on

PEMBROKESHIRE was plunged into the Welsh Government’s ‘fire-break’ lockdown even though the County does not meet the criteria for a local lockdown.

The Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Cell, which advises it on responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, published the information and data relied upon to support the lockdown on Monday, October 19.

The paper highlights that Wales has crossed the threshold of circuit breakers agreed ahead of summer’s easing of restrictions. It expresses high confidence that others will be breached in the next 2-3 weeks.

It states: ‘The Welsh Government aim of protecting both lives and livelihoods requires a balancing of harms, and action is now required to maintain the balance’.

However, Pembrokeshire – along with Ceredigion and Powys – are below the threshold for restrictions’ imposition. Pembrokeshire, in particular, not only has a low incidence of cases but also consistently low positive tests.

Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament and Senedd Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, called the lockdown “not-proportionate”

He said: “The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.”

In Pembrokeshire, there are 33 cases per 100,000 of population. In Cardiff, that figure exceeds 250 per 100,000. When the Welsh Government imposed local and hyperlocal lockdowns in other local authority areas, the basis for imposing them was a persistent and rising infection rate over 50 per hundred thousand.

In Carmarthenshire, the number of cases had begun to decline following the local lockdown in Llanelli.

In Ceredigion, the rate per 100,000 of population is even lower than in Pembrokeshire.

All Welsh local authorities are above 5% positivity, apart from Pembrokeshire (3.7%).

The rate of incidence is rising fastest in over-60s.

Pressed on why the Welsh Government imposed a national lockdown at a press conference on Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said controlling the virus’ spread was a national priority and that the Welsh Government had taken into account a shortage of intensive care beds in all areas of Wales.

Although the number of COVID cases in hospital is not above expectations, because of underlying critical care needs there is an insufficient number of critical care beds and/or staff to handle a large COVID outbreak, and maintain existing non-COVID intensive care treatments.

The Welsh Government is also contending with a critical shortage of Intensive Care staff as it approaches its busiest period of the year.

The Welsh Government faces an avalanche of criticism from business groups and Conservatives who claim that while a lockdown might be the only option in urban areas in South Wales and North

East Wales, there is no need for one across rural Wales, where local economies took a massive hit from the loss of tourism during the summer season.

Stephen Crabb MP said: “The scientific evidence for so-called circuit-break or firebreak lockdowns is pretty weak. When it comes to locking down Pembrokeshire and other parts of Wales where rates of infection are low, I think the Welsh Government have not made a very strong case at all.

“Local people have worked incredibly hard to follow rules and keep infections low but we are now paying the price for the fact that Welsh Government lost control of the virus in the Valleys and South East Wales.”

Continue Reading
News15 hours ago

Pembrokeshire lockdown ‘disproportionate’ as cases locally were below trigger-point

PEMBROKESHIRE was plunged into the Welsh Government’s ‘fire-break’ lockdown even though the County does not meet the criteria for a...

News2 days ago

Everything you need to know about the two week lockdown for Wales

BELOW is everything you need to know about the new lock down being introduced in Wales from Friday, as supplied...

News2 days ago

Pembrokeshire County Council considering ‘Fire-break’ implications

FOLLOWING the First Minister’s announcement at lunchtime today (Oct 19) of an all-Wales ‘firebreak’ commencing on Friday, Pembrokeshire County Council...

News2 days ago

Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at...

News3 days ago

Cardiff and London at loggerheads over who will pay the bill for the Wales-wide lockdown

THE PLANNED national lockdown for Wales still has many details to finalise before any final announcement of its terms and...

News5 days ago

Sageston: Sex offender who was chased from street by protestors jailed

A SEX offender who was removed from his home to get him away from a protest over his release, breached...

News6 days ago

Magistrates issue thousands of pounds worth of fines for lockdown breaches

A MAN who travelled from Swansea to Pembrokeshire to buy five sacks of potatoes has been fined for breaching Covid...

News6 days ago

Shell fisheries closed after train crash can reopen

COCKLE and shell fisheries that were closed as a precaution following the Milford Haven oil train derailment in Carmarthenshire on...

News1 week ago

Covid-19 case confirmed at Ysgol Bro Gwaun, Fishguard

A CASE of Covid-19 has been confirmed in Year 11 at Ysgol Bro Gwaun, Fishguard. As a precaution Year 11...

News1 week ago

Portfield School in Haverfordwest to remain closed for the rest of week

PORTFIELD SCHOOL in Haverfordwest will remain closed for the rest of this week. Positive cases of Covid-19 were identified at...

Popular This Week