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​Legal action threat on Health Board consultation​



THE HEALTH BOARD could face a legal challenge over its conduct of the consultation on the future of healthcare services across west Wales.

In a post on the Facebook group ‘Pembrokeshire Council Watch’, Hayley Wood of Pembroke Dock has revealed that she has received advice from ‘a leading solicitor’ that there are good prospects of success for a Judicial Review of the Board’s conduct of the consultation on the basis it does not include the possibility of A&E services remaining at Withybush Hospital.

In order for an action to be brought, campaigners are now seeking a so-called ‘straw-man’ to act as a litigant in a test case and receive Legal Aid.

Following a previous consultation, Watkins and Gunn solicitors were involved in an action brought by SWAT using a young mother from Monkton who it was claimed would be adversely affected by the transfer of consultant-led neonatal care to Glangwili.

That action failed, not least because evidence provided by SWAT head Dr Chris Overton confirmed that clinicians had been consulted over the service change but that he hadn’t taken it seriously.

Proceedings for Judicial Review will not look at the merits of a decision, so the proceedings are not a popularity contest, instead a judge will look at whether or not the process by which the decision reached was fair. A judge can also consider whether a fair process would deliver the same result as an unfair one anyway.

In addition, it would be open to the Board to simply rerun the consultation by correcting any unfairness identified in the process by a Judge – in this case including retaining A&E services at Withybush – and still decide to close A&E. The challenge for campaigners is not only to derail any decision by the Board to downgrade services at Withybush, but also to find a way for the Board to staff and afford A&E services in Withybush to convince the Board that those services can be kept.


Legal advice about former councillor convicted of rape to be released



THE COUNCIL’S legal advice relating to former councillor and convicted rapist Dai Boswell will be released into the public domain.

In a recorded vote at Thursday’s (Dec 13) Full Council meeting, 41 members voted in favour of the documents being released with just seven voting against.

Cllr Jacob Williams submitted a notice of motion calling for it to be made public and the matter was discussed by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee before coming back to council.

He stated that having seen the documents and providing sensitive information isn’t divulged, that the public has every right to see them.

Boswell was elected in 2017 but did not take up his seat for the first month and the council instructed legal advisor James Goudie QC to give his advice on the matter.

The Council spent over £2000 in doing so and had recommended that the information should not be released.

At Thursday’s meeting Cllr Brian Hall said: “On November 15, the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny committee discussed releasing instructions and evidence which was called for a month after the 2017 election.

“The leader made it clear at a meeting on July 26 that the instructions and advice would be made available to members. The council is now seeking general publication. The recommendation was that the instruction and advice should not be made available as Cllrs could view documents on a need to know basis in order to satisfy themselves in their councillor capacity.

“Two members spoke in support saying the documents contained matters of public interest and that it should be in the public domain.”

Cllr Jacob Williams added: “The legal advice seeking to be published relates to a period of time after Dai had been elected and before he was found guilty. The council were preventing him from taking his seat despite him not being charged.

“Well over £2000 was spent that the council hadn’t been made aware of. I did get it so that councillors were able to see that advice and what I read was a real eye-opener.

“The Monitoring Officers’ report objecting had a number of red herrings and straw men. She said it will create a precedent but I am not seeking to create that. This is just to release two specific documents.

“She also said that approving any request would open up a can of worms if the interest and advice was publicised and that anything that appears in the media would lead to the council conducting business with its hand behind its back.

“This is just this set of legal advice which reflects poorly on senior members of this authority. I am one of the most vocal councillors in opposing the whim of officers when they find themselves in a bind, they go to lawyers to get themselves out of a pickle. This has been a very expensive lesson.”

Cllr Michelle Bateman asked how many councillors had asked to see the legal advice and the Monitoring Officer Claire Jones said that just two had asked, one of which was Cllr Williams.

Cllr Mike Stoddart said: “The Monitoring Officer states that it is not advisable to proactively publish this but we are not proactively publishing. This has been dragged out by the notice of motion. This will be reactive.

He went on to say that there were occasions when the council should keep its advice close to its chest but said this was not one of those occasions.

The debate took a different turn when Cllr Mark Carter asked the leader if views expressed on social media bordered on ‘workplace bullying’ but Council Leader David Simpson said he was not a policeman and that he could not close down a Facebook page.

Cllr Mike Evans added: “I don’t want to see this advice but this is about the principle of whether the public should be allowed to see the advice. The officers are here to give us the whole picture and not the windows they wish us to look through.”

Monitoring Officer Claire Jones gave a lengthy speech about the possible publication of the documents stating that her recommendations to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were to do with responsible publication and that it was not to be done lightly.

Claire Jones added that Cllr Boswell’s appeal remains live and that there were still victims at the heart of this.

She went on to say that safeguarding was a matter for everyone and that her door was always open to members to come in and discuss issues and that due to the amount of social media interest it was moving towards the documents being in the public interest.

Cllr David Simpson said he was concerned that only two members had seen the advice and that others were discussing without having seen it.

Cllr Williams summed up saying that the speech the Monitoring Officer gave was one of the most ‘memorable’.

In the recorded vote 41 members voted in favour of the advice being released with seven voting against and six abstaining.

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New police recruit works first Christmas Day shift



CHRISTMAS DAY is not a day off for Dyfed-Powys police officers and staff who are rostered to work.

PC 117 Damian Arthur will be working his first Christmas Day as a response officer In Tenby, and plans to celebrate with a family dinner before heading in to work for an evening shift.

“My shift is working evenings on Christmas Day. You know when you become a police officer that you might have to work on Christmas day. It is the nature of a frontline public service role. We are there to help keep our communities safe every day of the year.

“I am lucky really to be working the evening shift as I will be able to open the presents and have Christmas lunch with my family first. I will probably have eaten enough at lunchtime to take me through my evening shift!

“It will be normal policing duties of preventing crime and helping the public for us, although there are Christmas decorations up in the office for a bit of a festive feel.

“Our job is to ensure that if the public need help we are there to provide it, even if it is Christmas. It is business as usual.”

If you need police assistance over Christmas, call handlers will be available 24/7. Call 999 if there is an immediate threat to a person or property, or 101 to make a non-urgent report.

You can also email for slow-time, non-emergency queries or advice.

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Local photobooth business wins national award



EVENTZ PHOTOBOOTH, the Pembrokeshire-based entertainment business, recently won the Best Photobooth category at The Best of Welsh Wedding Awards 2018.

The business, which operates across south west Wales, has only been going for just over two years, and in that time owners Tara and David have developed a successful entertainment business for all occasions.

With more than five different booths, a unique selfie mirror, dance floor, large variety of 4ft signs, venue decor service and large chocolate fountain, Eventz Photobooth is suited to any occasion.

Tara is also known for her alternative makeup and body art, which completes a package they can offer to any party, wedding and corporate event.

Eventz Photobooth was also shortlisted for the National Welsh Wedding Awards, where they were in the top three for the region.

Tara and David were overwhelmed to have actually won at The Best of Welsh Wedding Awards in Cardiff, and are so grateful to all the support they have received, stating that they cannot thank everyone who voted enough.

There is also a special deal for Herald customers, with 20% off for all bookings when booking any booth for three hours or more. Simply contact 07896199479 and quote the ‘Herald Photobooth Deal’.

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