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Pembroke: Councillor charged with child sex offences to retain seat

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THE COUNCIL ward of Pembroke St Mary North still has a representative after it was revealed that Cllr Dai Boswell, referred to in Thursday’s (Mar 8) Full Council meeting as Cllr X, has complied with the attendance requirements.

It was believed that Cllr Boswell had not been present at a meeting of the council since August 14, 2017 and the Council had been urged to declare his seat vacant.

However, the council took external advice from James Goudie QC, who believed that a meeting, held on November 22, 2017, which Cllr Boswell attended, did constitute a council meeting.

Members went along with the recommendation of the Monitoring Officer who stated that Section 86 of the Local Government Act could not lawfully be invoked.

Dai Boswell was elected as Councillor for the Pembroke St Mary North Electoral Division in 2017 but has failed to attend the legal minimum number of meetings in order to keep his seat.

Mr Boswell is also facing trial for historic allegations of child sex abuse, a completely separate issue to his failure to comply with attendance requirements.

The Council’s Monitoring Officer has taken the position that a seminar and other meetings, which Mr Boswell has attended, does count as a council meeting, and therefore he should remain a councillor, something which was questioned by the Association of Labour Councillors.

They have sent two letters to the Council, urging them to declare Mr Boswell’s seat vacant, but have yet to have a reply from the Council’s legal department.

If seminars were Council meetings, the Council’s Legal Department would have been able to provide minutes of those meetings.

Council meetings, by law, are subject to rules in relation to publishing the agenda, setting out the timetable, clear rules in regards to voting, and minute taking but these rules do not apply to seminars.

Councillors have also been a sent a document by the monitoring officer, warning them not to say anything which might prejudice criminal proceedings.

The matter was brought to a head at the Full Council meeting on Thursday (Mar 8), where a question from a Mr D Edwards was read out.

He asks: “Does the Leader agree with the Monitoring Officer’s view that non advertised, informal, unminuted, private, members only seminars are meetings as described in Section V para 85 (2) of the Local Government Act 1972?”

The leader, Cllr David Simpson responded saying that it was difficult to recognise the members seminar as a meeting as set out by the Local Government Act of 1972.

But, he went on to say that having received the advice of QC Mr James Goudie he was contempt to accept that attendance at Seminars does satisfy the attendance requirements.

Cllr Simpson also referred to a meeting hosted jointly by the Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in November 22, 2017, which Cllr Boswell attended.

Later on in the meeting, members were asked to discuss the Pembroke St Mary North Electoral Division in private session.

Councillors instead decided that the matter should be held in public and in a recorded vote, 26 voted to go into private session, with 31 voting against.

Cllr Josh Beynon said he disagreed with the Monitoring Officer’s opinion and said the matter was all about interpretation.

Cllr Mike Stoddart said if the Richardson case was correct anyone could get elected, never come to a meeting and after five years pick up a salary of £65,000 for attending 10 meetings of a planning committee as a spectator, adding: “If that is the law, it needs changing.”

Cllr Jacob Williams said: “The first set of advice was very unclear but there was a complete change of tone in the second one. The Monitoring Officer was not aware of the Green Infrastructure meeting and the budget seminar that Cllr X attended.

“What’s happened since is an attempt to bolster this council’s view.

“The Green event is the one the QC is pinning the most weight on. The LUC was appointed to advise the council and the QC places a lot of weight on this as an important event. This was not open to the public, not open to councillors, it was a select few that were invited by the company.”

Cllr Mike Stoddart concluded by saying that Cllr X had complied with the law and therefore section 85 of the Local Government Act should not be invoked.

That was supported by all but one member, Cllr Rhys Sinnett, who abstained from the vote.

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Mount Estate: Man arrested after gas explosion threat

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Armed police: In the Mount Estate (pic. Herald)

ARMED POLICE have arrested a man on the Mount Estate in Milford Haven this afternoon (Oct 16) after responding to reports of a man who is threatening to set a fire using the gas supply in his flat.

The windows of the first floor flat, in Birch Mead, were smashed and a man was shouting to officers below threatening to cause an explosion.

Threatening: To cause an explosion (pic. Herald)

A Herald reporter at the scene had counted at least a dozen Dyfed-Powys Police vehicles, including vans and undercover cars.

Nearby residents have been evacuated and a cordon has been set up.

Emergency services: Gathered by the flat (pic. Herald)

Police asked residents and a Herald reporter at the scene to move back further after the arrival of the armed officers.

Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue, as well as specialists from the gas board, are also at the scene.

Watching: Locals were evacuated (pic. Herald)

A large crowd has gathered by the cordon.

MORE TO FOLLOW.

Armed officers: Locals were asked to move back upon their arrival (pic. Herald)

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Work goes on for NRW in aftermath of storm

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AFTER a weekend of heavy rain and floods which hit South West Wales particularly hard, the clear up has begun.

For Natural Resources Wales officers this means inspecting flood defences and other assets to assess and repair any damage caused by the high river levels and volumes of water.

Jeremy Parr, NRW Head of Flood and Incident Risk Management said:

“Our sympathies go out to anybody impacted by these floods and Storm Callum, it is an unwelcome reminder of the damage that severe weather can do.

“While some communities were significantly affected, for many the flood defences did their job and reduced the worst of the impacts.

The weekend storm caused 80 properties to flood across south west Wales and led to major disruption of businesses and transport across the whole of the country.

The River Teifi at Llandysul reached its highest level since records began in 1971 and the Towey above Carmarthen was at its highest since 1987.

NRW officers were on duty around the clock ensuring defence structures were sound, operating flood gates, erecting temporary defences and clearing trash screens.

In Abergwili, in the Tywi Valley, the flood gates were closed and prevented flooding despite the water level rising to within 180mm of the top of the gate, just short of the evacuation trigger of 150mm.

More people than ever visited NRW’s website to check the latest flood warning information. Before and during Storm Callum NRW’s flood pages received more than half a million-page views, while warning and informing messages on social media reached over 110,000 people.

Jeremy added: “After any major flooding event there are lessons to be learned and Storm Callum is no exception, so we will review what took place and how we responded to identify where improvements can be made.

“As is usual after any flood event, we now have our people out and about checking our defences for any damage, and to ensure they can continue to help protect people and property.”

“We won’t just look at the flood defence network, but also at our incident response and our warning and informing before, during and after the incident.

“While there were significant impacts in some areas, the initial indications are that these elements worked well.

“We will be working with our partners in local government and the emergency services to ensure we continue where possible to reduce the impacts of incidents like this.”

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Police appeal following five burglaries

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for information that could help their investigation into five burglaries in the Solva and St Davids areas.

They are thought to have happened between 8pm and midnight on Sunday, September 30. Cash, jewellery and a mobile phone were stolen.

A witness has described seeing a man wearing tracksuit bottoms in the area at the time. He may have been a passenger in a small silver car.

A man (aged 32) and woman (aged 39) from Cardiff have been arrested on suspicion of burglary. The woman has been released under investigation while the man has been recalled to prison for a separate offence.

The investigation is ongoing, anyone who saw anything, or has any information is asked to contact Sgt. Huw Watson at Haverfordwest Police Station by calling 101.

If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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