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Councillor questions ‘cover-up’ over former headteacher



A COUNCILLOR has said that Pembrokeshire County Council attempted to ‘cover up’ allegations against former Saundersfoot CP School Headteacher Helen Lester.

Cllr Jacob Williams submitted a late question to the meeting of Full Council that was held on Thursday, December 14, and Chairman Cllr Paul Harries allowed the following questions to be raised.

In his submission Cllr Williams said: “The Education Workforce Council’s Fitness to Practise Committee recently determined that Helen Lester, “acted with unacceptable professional misconduct” by, among other things, changing pupils’ test results in an effort to “make the school look good.”

“During the hearing it was claimed that concerns were brought to the attention of Pembrokeshire County Counil’s education department by the new Headteacher, Nick Allen, ten days after he started at the school, who was told there was no need for an investigation as the Headteacher in question had left.

“As a matter of urgency, under requisite powers, could the leader or cabinet member please respond to this incident, specifically addressing:

“When concerns were first brought to the education department’s attention, how these were treated, what the outcome was and if this is now being reviewed?

“Whether any efforts are being made to establish if similar practices have occurred at other schools, and to try and prevent future occurrences?”

Cllr David Lloyd, Cabinet Member for Education, responded saying: “This is a very serious matter. Initial concerns were raised by the new Headteacher with the Education department. However no evidence was provided to substantiate those concerns.

“Following consideration within the education department, the Head was advised that a re-test could be done to see if they were able to answer the questions. The Head notified the Education Department of the outcome but no further action was taken.

“On June 17, 2016, the Education department was contacted by someone making allegations against the former head. A further email was received by the chief executive with more detailed allegations were made under the association of headteachers and following conclusion of the investigations, the matter was referred to the Education Workforce Council for Wales for their consideration.

“The National Test Results were examined for all Schools in Pembrokeshire where there was any association to Helen Lester but no more concerns were raised.”

Cllr Lloyd went on to say that since that had taken place all schools were reminded of their duties by the Counter Fraud Awarness and training for Headteachers was also taken up.

Cllr Jacob Williams said: “This serious allegation had gone, so far, uncommented on by Council and I thought that the public were due a statement on this to reassure that a cover up hadn’t happened or that it had happened and it would be looked in to.

“Cllr Lloyd’s reply was quite helpful but deeply concerning. The concerns were brought to the Council’s Education department two years ago and rather than look at the allegations that test results had been fiddled or improper practices had been undertaken, their response was to put right the test results.

“It wasn’t until 2016 when further whistleblowing that this was investigated and it seems the right thing did happen. I do intend to take this further and I am quite clear now that there was an attempt to cover this up, it’s totally unacceptable.”

Cllr Williams went on to ask who it was that dealt with the allegation when they were first made in 2015 and if there was a policy in place that was followed.

Cllr Lloyd responded stating he did not know the answers to those questions.


Milford Haven: Concerns over council refuse collection staff using drugs on duty



PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL have confirmed that they are conducting an ongoing internal investigation.

The probe is relating to “illegal drug use by on-duty refuge collection crews” operating from the Thornton Refuge Depot in Milford Haven.

The Herald understands that following suspicions being raised, drug testing was carried out on refuse crews on Monday (May 10) – all before they left their depot.

This newspaper has been told that a number staff, which includes bin lorry drivers, tested positive for drug use, and that the council called in the police.

That information was passed to The Herald by someone who we have confirmed to be a member of staff working at Pembrokeshire County Council, who did not want to be named.

After a request for a statement, a spokesperson for the council has stressed that none of their vehicles were involved, suggesting that, on the day in question, positive tests were arrived at before any bin lorries had left the depot.

As part of the multi-agency operation the police were called and attended Thornton Refuse Depot, but did not make any arrests, and said they had little involvement in the operation.

Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that there is an ongoing internal workplace investigation and can clarify that there was no police involvement on the day in question – no Pembrokeshire County Council vehicles were involved.

“We are not in a position to comment any further at this time.”

Dyfed Powys Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “At the request of Pembrokeshire County Council, officers attended Thornton Refuse Depot to provide [them with] support on the morning of Monday, May 10.

“Officers attended; however they were not utilised.”

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Council’s Planning Committee approves ambitious dockyard plans



PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’s Planning Committee this morning (Tuesday, May 18) approved an application for the construction of a new marine engineering project at Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard.
The plans, vociferously opposed by local heritage groups, passed unanimously.

The matter will now go to the Welsh Government, which has reserved its position on the scheme’s approval.
Committee members expressed the view that the balance between heritage and economic development were balanced, with strong views expressed on either side. They decided the balance of the application favoured economic development subject to conditions regarding aspects of the site’s preservation and its ability to be restored in the future.

The Committee members who attended a site visit on Wednesday, May 12, said it was the most informative and best site visit they had this council term. Visiting the site gave them a clearer idea about what was planned and the scale of the project, which would not have been gained from a paper exercise.

While the approval of the scheme was unanimous, one element of the reserved matters caused some members concern: the height and size of the proposed massive new sheds which would be built at a later phase of the project.
Cllr David Pugh, seconded by Cllr Steve Alderman, moved an amendment which would approve the project and delegate reserved matters to officers apart from the sheds’ construction, which would return to the Committee for detailed approval.

Cllr Tony Wilcox and Cllr Mark Carter emphasised the need for certainty regarding the project’s development, a position supported by Cllr David Howlett, Cllrs Pugh, Alderman and Cllr Stephen Joseph said that little delay would be caused to the scheme by bringing the sheds’ development back to the Committee. They noted the significant intrusion of the sheds into the landscape for miles around.

Planning Officer Mike Simmons advised that the project would proceed in five phases and that the applicant, Milford Haven Port Authority, was keen to proceed with the first phase as soon as possible. The first phase would be the infilling of the docks and pool, removing a caisson gate and preserving it, before the building of new slipways.
The Port Authority already accepted the sheds would only be built if there was commercial demand for them.
The amendment proposed by Cllr Pugh passed by six votes to five with two abstentions.

It means before the sheds are built, the Committee will decide the detailed application relating to them.

All other aspects of the development will be decided by officers.

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Further Covid-19 business support packages to become available soon



PEMBROKESHIRE businesses that remain affected by Covid-19 restrictions can check their eligibility for a new package of support from the Welsh Government.

This latest support package will help those businesses eligible to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.

Businesses that stand to benefit include:

  • nightclubs and late entertainment venues
  • events and conference venues not covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF)
  • hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions

An eligibility checker has opened on the Business Wales website so businesses can find out how much support they are likely to be entitled to and how to apply.

See more information and check your business’ eligibility at:

Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under.

Businesses will be able submit applications to the Welsh Government from 24th May 2021 for grants of up to £25,000 and by the end of the month to Pembrokeshire County Council for smaller fixed Discretionary Grants.

To keep up to date and see the future application process for the Discretionary Grants please see:

The above link will be be updated with the latest information.  

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