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Chairman ‘disgraceful’ at AGM

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Council AGM

THE ANNUAL General Meeting of the Local Authority descended into chaos, when opposition members walked out following a controversial decision by the new Chairman, IPPG stalwart Tom Richards, to ignore the nomination of Tony Brinsden (unaffiliated) to the Licensing Committee by another unaffiliated Councillor Vivian Stoddart, electing instead to close nominations made by fellow IPPG Councillor Daphne Bush.

The decision followed on hot on the heels of the IPPG, including Labour turncoat Sue Perkins, blocking the nomination of Alison Lee (Labour) to the post of Licensing Committee Chair and passing the £9K a year Special Responsibility Allowance to IPPG loyalist Daphne Bush.

Cllr Paul Miller stood up and said that the vote had not been properly counted and therefore Cllr Stoddart’s nomination should stand.

The involvement of Cllr Richards in the process was eclipsed by the intervention of CEO Bryn Parry Jones who claimed a vote had been taken, even when he could not provide a tally of those who had voted for, against, or abstained the retention of the existing Licensing Committee deputies.

Backing the CEO, Cllr Richards again refused to accept Cllr Brinsden’s nomination.

His decision prompted a comment from Cllr Miller that the decision reached was “outrageous” and “disgraceful”. Members of the opposition then left the Chamber,

IPPG leader Jamie Adams then rose to offer an entirely spontaneous and sincere apology to IPPG Cllr Richards for Cllr Miller’s words toward him, which in no way was intended to score the type of sarcastic and insincere political point that has become the Leader’s stock-in-trade. As usual, his deputy, Maenclochog minister Huw George, nodded piously alongside him with a look of tight-lipped mock-indignation.

After the meeting, Cllr Vivian Stoddart told the Herald:

“I walked out of the council’s annual meeting on Friday as I could no longer sit through what was the travesty of democracy.

“The Independent Political Group (IPG sic) and their cronies used every tactic to ensure their place men and women were voted on to positions on the council’s committees, regardless of their ability.

“”This might be acceptable if the IPG acknowledged that:  if it votes like a political party, talks like a party, and acts like a party, then the so-called IPG is a political party.

The only problem is that when canvassing support from their electorate, most of the IPG members neglected to tell voters that once they entered the hallowed portal s of County Hall  they would join the majority IPPG party-oops group, and act as the majority party.

“The final straw for me was the breath-taking speed with which the final allocation of vice chairmanships was allocated, and Cllr Tom Richards’ graceless refusal as the new chairman, to accept what was a further nomination. “

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Last chance to have your say on National Park’s new Local Development Plan

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority is seeking your views, having made amendments to its forthcoming Local Development Plan following the recent Examination Hearing Sessions.

These amendments are called Matters Arising Changes and any comments received will be passed on to the Inspector for consideration.

The relevant documents and representation form are available on the National Park Authority’s website: www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/haveyoursay and in paper format at Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre, St Davids and the Authority’s main office in Pembroke Dock.

Copies of the documents are also available for inspection free of charge on publicly accessible computers at local libraries during their normal opening hours.

Representations should be sent by 4.30pm on Friday 13 March 2020, either by email to devplans@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk or in writing to:

Park Direction
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Llanion Park
Pembroke Dock
SA72 6DY.

For further information or assistance, email devplans@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk or call 01646 624800 and ask to speak to someone in the Park Direction Team dealing with the Plan.

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Education

No opt-out for learning about religion, relationships and sexuality

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PARENTS will not be able to prevent their children from learning about religion, relationships and sexuality in the new curriculum.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams made the announcement this week, emphasising the need for ‘careful and sensitive implementation’ of the decision.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams told The Herald: “Our responsibility as a government is to ensure that young people, through public education, have access to learning that supports them to discuss and understand their rights and the rights of others.

“It is essential that all young people are provided with access to information that keeps them safe from harm.

“Today’s decision ensures that all pupils will learn about issues such as online safety and healthy relationships.

The announcement was made following an eight-week Welsh Government consultation on ensuring access to the full curriculum, including the teaching of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Religious Education (RE).

Kirsty Williams added: “I recognise this is a sensitive matter and the consultation responses reflected a wide range of views.

“There is clearly a need for us to work with communities and all interested parties in developing the learning and teaching for RSE and RE – this work will be vital to enable everyone to have trust in how the change is implemented.”

The Minister outlined plans for implementation which include the creation of clear guidance, resources and professional learning for schools and the creation of a Faith/BAME Community Involvement Group to hold its first meeting this February.

The group will engage in the development of RSE guidance, develop a shared understanding of the new curriculum and address the concerns raised by faith and community groups during the consultation.

The Minister continued: “It is vital that we continue to work with communities across Wales to ensure parents have the right to develop, care for and guide their children into adulthood while allowing our schools to provide a broad and balanced education.  

We will build on the community engagement which accompanied the consultation with a long term investment in listening to our communities and finding ways to address the issues which concern them.

The Minister also confirmed plans to establish a new RSE Working Group that will oversee the refinement of the new RSE statutory guidance to form part of the new curriculum guidance.

The Minister added: “I want to take the opportunity in 2021 to test the approach for RSE prior to it being made statutory in the new curriculum.  

This will provide valuable intelligence to inform the refinement of our approach and will also enable learners, parents and carers and communities to see it working in practice and to feedback their views.”

Further details on this approach will be announced over the coming weeks.  The consultation also showed support for renaming the subject ‘Religious Education’.

The most popular choice from respondents was ‘Religion, Values and Ethics’ and, as a result, the Minister confirmed the subject name would change when the new curriculum comes into effect. The Terrence Higgins Trust said that the news was something they very much welcomed, and said that they have been campaigning for this for a number of years. The Trust said that Wales has very much lead the way on this one as the UK Government has resisted calls to remove the parental opt-out for lessons when RSE lessons become compulsory in England from September. Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy at the trust said: “By guaranteeing access to Relationships & Sexuality Education lessons for all pupils, Wales is leading the way. We’ve campaigned for compulsory RSE lessons for nearly four decades and until now far too many young people have learned about sex through whispers in the playground. 
“This decision by the Welsh Government will go some way to fixing this. It’s absolutely vital lessons are LGBT+ inclusive and have a strong focus on HIV and sexual health so all young people have the knowledge they need to form healthy and fulfilling relationships. We are now looking to the Welsh Government to continue leading the way by providing all schools with the resources and training they need to deliver these new lessons to the highest standard across the board.” 

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Business

Air Link Wales now flying from Haverfordwest

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AVIATION company Flitestar Private Air have launched their new Air Link Wales Programme connecting Haverfordwest, Caernarfon and Cardiff with other regional airports in the UK and Europe.

The company has opened an office in Menai Bridge on Anglesey – managed by James Blackler – and said it is particularly committed to improving air connectivity from North Wales.

The Air Link Wales network currently offers flight charter services from Caernarfon Airport to destinations such as Isle of Man, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Southampton as well as London for connections to and from Gatwick and Heathrow.

They believe Southampton will be particularly popular for passengers connecting to cruises who wish to avoid the long road or rail trip down south.A flight to the south coast for two passengers from Caernarfon would cost £1,820 per person on a Piper PA34 Seneca plane.

Neil Baines, CEO of the Chester based company, said: “As a resident of Wales myself, I’ve often been frustrated by the lack of air connectivity and we are pleased to start to address this through our new Air Link Wales Charter programme which is ideally suited to both leisure and corporate customers.“Flying private can save hours of travel time which is of particular value to Wales-based organisations.”

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