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Pembroke Dock: Council staff walk out of meeting

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THREE members of staff of Pembroke Dock Town Council walked out of their meeting last night (Nov 2).

Cllrs had been discussing a vote of no confidence in three councillors caught up in bullying claims against council staff.

Town Clerk Sarah Scourfield resigned from her position last month because of the alleged bullying she has received.

Cllr Phil Gwyther stated that some people had said something the staff didn’t like and it was that point that Sarah, Deputy Town Clerk Amanda Dillaway and Admin assistant Mandy Hart got up and walked out of the meeting.

It left the Mayor, Cllr Jane McNaughton, with no option but to call the meeting closed.

Cllr Brian Hall said that they needed to show they were not happy with the three members by a vote of no confidence.

He said: “We need to resolve this problem of so-called bullying, harassment in this Town Council. Hopefully it will be resolved full stop. This has been going on and on.

“I personally think that the three councillors who are involved in this could have resolved this by apologising after the debate at the last meeting.

“We’ve got to draw a line under it so I will move that we have a vote of no confidence in them councillors.”

Cllr George Manning seconded the motion put forward by Cllr Hall.

Cllr Hall continued: “I really feel sorry for these ladies. There were loads and loads of emails relating to continual harassment and I couldn’t work in that situation.

“I did make a begging plea that Sarah the Town Clerk stays, I think we will drastically miss her and what’s made matters worse is the last town clerk, she’s already made a similar accusation that that is why she left and that is two, I don’t want to see a third, I don’t want to see it ever again.”

However, Cllr Stephen O’Connor said: If councillors act below the standard that is expected, they should be reported to the Standards Committee. This is an ongoing investigation at the moment. Until that investigation has concluded I don’t think we can take any action.

“The public have elected them so the vote of no confidence has no relevance to it.”

Cllr Dilys Burrell said she didn’t feel they could make that judgement before it was looked at by the ombudsman.

Cllr Manning said: “I have no problem in supporting the vote of no confidence, we won’t be sacking anybody, and they won’t be off the council. All we are saying is that we are not happy with what has gone on. Why can’t we establish that?”

Cllr Hall said most councillors feel they are doing a good job and that they didn’t want to be tarred with the same brush.

Deputy Mayor, Cllr Gordon Goff added that he agreed with Cllrs Hall and Manning and that it was the actions of the three councillors and what they had done to the town in blatantly lying, that made him think he had no confidence in them.

Cllr Phil Gwyther said: “We have three councillors who have complaints issued against them by staff members and what the councillors have said is that they have seen things going on that preceded this council that they think are wrong. Those councillors have spoken out on a number of occasions and the staff have not liked it.”

It was at that point that the three staff members got up and walked out.

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Union wants council investigation into Councillor Paul Dowson’s conduct

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PEMBROKESHIRE County Councillor Paul Dowson’s public statements criticising the Black Lives Matter movement should be formally investigated by the council, according to UNISON.

The trade union said Mr Dowson’s use of a phrase adopted by the racist Klu Klux Klan was deeply offensive when people around the world were united in protest at police brutality and the murder of George Floyd.

UNISON questioned whether the councillor is fit to hold public office.

Mr Dowson used his Facebook page to attack Labour councillor Josh Beynon’s suggestion Pembrokeshire County Hall could be lit up in support of Black Lives Matter’s commemoration of Mr Floyd’s death.

Cllr Dowson posted that “White lives matter” a White supremacist phrase which originated in 2015 as a racist response to protests against police brutality against Black-Americans in the USA. Councillor Beynon received an online torrent of racist and homophobic abuse.

Manuela Hughes, UNISON Pembrokeshire branch chair said: “The Black Lives Matter movement has shown everyone that racism is rife in society. Black people are more likely to have been subjected to police brutality, more likely to live in poverty and more likely to be unemployed as a result of systemic racism. Their contribution is often written out of the history of this country.

Black workers have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and in the NHS, care and transport sectors, Black people have paid with their lives for caring for the whole community.

“This is the climate in which Councillor Dowson made his comments. He has brought Pembrokeshire County Council into disrepute. It is important that everyone stands together against racism and the council must formally investigate his behaviour.”

Mr Dowson was criticised for his Facebook comments in April last year that former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, should commit suicide.

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Advice for businesses re-opening

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AS LOCKDOWN restrictions are expected to ease, businesses and building owners are reminded to check the maintenance of their premises as they re-open.

People who manage or own buildings are being asked to follow the latest advice from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Health and Safety Executive (CIEH).

Particular attention should be paid to water systems not used during the lockdown to help minimise the risk from Legionella bacteria as they prepare to reopen following the lockdown period.

Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted by breathing in small droplets of water suspended in the air which contain Legionella bacteria. Symptoms include fever, a non-productive cough and pneumonia.

Prevention work includes flushing through cold water systems with fresh mains water as well as increasing the temperature of hot water systems to above 60°C if possible to achieve thermal disinfection of the hot water system.

This should be undertaken as part of a thorough risk assessment and may require other works to be done.

More information is also available from the Health and Safety Executive website.

The Food Standards Agency also has guidance for food businesses re-opening their operations. It includes information relating to food safety issues as well as COVID-19 expectations. The link is: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/reopening-checklist-for-food-businesses-during-covid-19

To confirm your business has taken the necessary measures and is operating in line with the Government guidelines click on:

https://goodtogo.visitbritain.com/your-business-good-to-go-wales

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Man charged with two robberies a day apart

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A MAN has been charged with two attempt robberies in Pembroke Dock a day apart.

Jamie Rawlinson, of Colley Court in Monkton, is alleged to have committed the second offence just three hours after being released from police custody.

Dyfed-Powys Police arrested the 28-year-old on June 26 on suspicion of attempted robbery after receiving a report he had demanded a man give him money. It was reported that he held a sharp object against his chest. Searches were carried out, but no weapon was found.

Rawlinson was bailed with conditions for the offence, but less than three hours later, police were approached by a vulnerable man who said he had tried to rob him.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted robbery. He has been remanded to appear at Swansea Crown Court on July 31.

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