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Councillor’s call to put Health Board into special measures will be debated

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MEMBERS of Pembrokeshire County Council have decided that they will debate if they should recommend to the Welsh Government that Hywel Dda University Health Board should be put into special measures in a committee hearing.

One councillor, Michael Williams, said he wished that the Council could subpoena members of Hywel Dda health board to attend a debate to give them “a really good grilling” in regards to their hospital shake up plans.

The Health Board plan to close the A&E in Haverfordwest, downgrade Withybush Hospital and build a new centralised hospital between Narberth and Whitland has been highly controversial.

The matter has been the subject of protests, demonstrations and a petition signed by nearly half the residents of Pembrokeshire being delivered to the Welsh Government earlier this year.

The Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee will now debate the matter which was sparked by a Notice of Motion submitted by Pembroke Dock councillor, Paul Dowson.

During the debate at Full Council, Cllr Jon Havery seemed to be Cllr Dowson’s biggest supporter over the issue. He said: “We need to look at the spirit in which this has been made. We represent the people. We are elected, the health board is not. I do not think that for one minute that if we recommended that the Health Board be put into special measures that the Welsh Government would do it; but what it would send out would be a strong signal to the residents of Pembrokeshire, whom we represent, that we are not happy with the proposals with Withybush at the moment”

He added: “It’s clear that the downgrading and the loss of A&E are very high in the public’s hearts and mind-sets. What more can the people do? The people have petitioned, campaigned and protested and they are still being ignored. We should be supporting this motion!”

There was loud clapping from the public gallery when Cllr Harvey concluded by saying: “We should be showing to the people of Pembrokeshire that we are not happy with the health board!”

Cllr Jon Harvey said: “This is a very important notice of motion so far as I am concerned. We have members of the public in the gallery here who have come to listen to this. I would suggest that we should be debating this in some shape or form. It is important that Cllr Dowson is allowed to explain the rationale behind his Notice of Motion”

Cllr Dowson spoke next, saying: “Yes, as Cllr Harvey said this is a very important issue in Pembrokeshire – I do not think it can just be passed off to a committee without being debated. It’s an unusual Notice of Motion as we have no authority over the health board, it’s just asking for a recommendation. I feel that Full Council should debate it really.”

It was Cllr Aden Arthur Brinn who questioned if the Local Authority had the remit to carry out the Notice of Motion. Miss Claire Jones, the Monitoring Officer, agreed that the Council did have the authority to make a recommendation to the Health Minister and this possibly could be heard at a future committee meeting

Cllr Dowson replied saying that he thought that was problematic.

He said: “The public have been to Hywel Dda themselves and made their thoughts clear and the board haven’t listened. We are really the only recommending authority that they can go to… so they have to come to us

Cllr Samuel Kurtz said: “I fully appreciate the notice of motion and the concern that this chamber has with Health Provision in west Wales. I just want to make the chamber aware that there is currently one health board under special measures with the Welsh Government – that’s Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board – and it’s performance has decreased under the Welsh Assembly. The former Health Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford has just taken over as First Minister. He was the one himself who started moving services away from Withybush Hospital. I fully understand the need for scrutiny and a voice for Pembrokeshire people. 45,000 people did sign that petition supporting A&E in Withybush. But I am not sure that this is the best way to go ahead with the Welsh Assembly’s current outset on health provision in Wales.

Cllr Simon Hancock was concerned that the matter, which he admitted was important, was being discussed ‘at the end of a very long day’ and he was concerned about a lack of documents submitted by Cllr Dowson.
He criticised Cllr Dowson saying: “This is, I fear, an exercise in popular-ism.”

He went on to say that the person to escalate intervention should be the Cabinet Secretary, not any council.

However, following discussions the Notice of Motion was carried to committee.

Farcical scenes: The Council Chamber last Friday

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Pembrokeshire engineering company is expanding with the creation of 22 new jobs

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INSITE TECHNICAL SERVICES, who are based at the Pembrokeshire Science and Technology Park, provide engineering and design services to a wide range of clients in the oil, gas, metals, chemicals and renewable industries.

The company, which is located within the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone, has grown rapidly, nearly doubling its turnover in the last two years and has been awarded £160k funding support from the Welsh Government.

This is enabling the company to move from its current premises at a Pembrokeshire incubation hub, to a new, company owned, site and offices, that they plan to expand. The move to the new premises is set to take place at the end of March.

The expansion is expected to create 22 new, highly skilled and well paid jobs over five years, with an average salary of £42K. Founded after the closure of the Murco Pembrokeshire Oil Refinery, InSite has expanded from six founding directors in 2014 to its current workforce of around 80 personnel.

Economy Minister, Ken Skates said: “I am delighted that Welsh Government funding is enabling this thriving engineering company to create 22 highly skilled and well paid, new jobs in Pembrokeshire.

“InSite have an Economic Contract in place with the Welsh Government, which means they are committed to the principles of growth, fair work, health, skills and learning and decarbonisation and, of course, these are principles that are more important than ever as we prepare for life outside the EU.

“With their provision of work placement graduate position apprenticeships, their commitment to developing the local workforce and their close work with Swansea University, InSite exemplify many of the business behaviours we are seeking to encourage. I wish them every success with their expansion plans.”

Jean Martin, Managing Director at Insite Technical Services said: “Since start-up in January 2015, the company has grown from a handful of engineers to a 50-strong team with over 20 supporting contractors and we are now poised to move to larger premises, to allow for further growth.

“InSite Technical Services provide engineering design services and operational experience to the energy sector in Wales, the UK and abroad. We have built our team from the engineering talent already in Pembrokeshire and West Wales, and now are recruiting from further afield.

“We’re proud to count the major sites on the haven among our customers, including the local refinery, oil storage terminals and both LNG sites. Our overseas consulting activities have taken us as far afield as Canada, Saudi and the UAE, and we have just placed an engineer for a longer-term contract in Switzerland.

“The support we receive from Welsh Government in managing that growth, including their Accelerated Growth Programme expert advice, has been critical to our success. We are also grateful to Pembs County Council whose Bridge Innovation Centre has been the perfect base from which to launch our enterprise.”

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Former MP calls on Pembrokeshire councillors to back final say

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THE MP who was the first minister to resign in protest at Theresa May’s handling of Brexit has written to every Conservative councillor in Pembrokeshire asking them to support a call for the public to be given a final say.

Dr Phillip Lee is chair of Right to Vote, a campaign group which claims the ‘only sensible and pragmatic solution is to put the final decision on Brexit back to the people’.

With less than two weeks until the UK is due to leave the EU on Friday March 29, MPs last Tuesday again rejected Theresa May’s deal.

In the letter, Dr Phillip Lee tells Pembrokeshire Tory councillors, “The services you provide and scrutinise day in day out will seem far more relevant to most people’s lives than the elaborate debates at Westminster, and I fully understand that most voters – however they voted in the referendum three years ago – will be fed-up with the distraction.
“I understand that frustration, and I don’t think a short delay can solve anything. There is clearly no majority for the Prime Minister’s compromise nor for the default no-deal departure which is still a terrifyingly real possibility. A long delay of two years or more would also cause anger and uncertainty and might send the whole Brexit project into the long-grass, unresolved.
“This poses a menacing threat to our economy and to local employers such as South Hook LNG Terminal Company and Dragon LNG Group. Every day there is more news of companies not committing to the UK or worse, moving their operations abroad.

In Preseli Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituencies, the UK Trade Policy Observatory, a collaboration between Chatham House and the University of Sussex, has predicted that 1295 local jobs will be lost in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The potential economic harm this deal will cause should further focus our minds.”

Earlier this month, Right to Vote polled 5,500 voters across 31 constituencies nationwide – and the research found that in the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency, 60% of voters who expressed an interest want a final say on Brexit, with 40% against.

Dr Phillip Lee, who quit the Government in June 2018, adds in the letter to local Tory councillors: “Right to Vote believes we need to stop the clock with a purpose. Government and Parliament need time to agree a coherent, credible and compelling case for an orderly exit from the EU.
“With clarity of purpose, sincere intent and collective willpower, I believe MPs could break the deadlock by the autumn, and present it to the people for the final say. This process began with the people and it should end with the people.
“If they vote for a practical and realistic proposal agreed in Parliament that would end this matter for ever. If they choose to reject it, MPs would have to respect their wishes. Either way – we get closure on Brexit by Christmas.”

Right to Vote was formed in January by several high profile MPs in response to what it describes as the Government’s failure to navigate Brexit. Co-founders include Dominic Grieve, Justine Greening, Sam Gyimah and three MPs who resigned from the Conservative Party last month: Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Dr Sarah Wollaston.

Last month, Dr Phillip Lee was invited to meet with the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street to discuss the campaign’s calls for a pause in the process and a final say vote.

Demonstration for People’s vote

Campaigners from across Pembrokeshire will be making their way to London on Saturday, March 23, to join a mass demonstration to demand a People’s Vote on Brexit.
Hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK are expected to take part in the People’s Vote “Put It To The People” march in central London.
People will travel to London from every corner of the UK including Gwynedd, the Highlands of Scotland and Gibraltar.
More than 100 coaches, including 1 from Pembrokeshire and a train have already been booked by People’s Vote supporters travelling across the UK.
Some of the coaches being used to get demonstrators to the capital will be sponsored by local celebrities.
Many UK citizens living abroad are also planning to travel home to take part in the march, including Australia, the US, Malaysia, Africa and hundreds from across the EU.
The government is still desperately trying to secure the backing of the UK Parliament for its heavily criticised Brexit plan and the mass demonstration in London takes place just days before the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.
Last October, more than 700,000 people marched through central London to demand a People’s Vote on Brexit.
The event, beginning at the Wales meeting point at 11am at Hyde Park Bandstand, before joining the main march at 12pm – “High Noon” – on Park Lane on March 23, will see people march to Parliament Square for a mass rally and keynote speeches.
Young and old from all walks of life, will be marching side by side, through the centre of London, including families pushing buggies, grandparents, teenagers, students, office workers, celebrities and Members of Parliament.
Alistair Cameron from Pembrokeshire for Europe said: “Brexit is already causing deep damage to Wales, threatening jobs, businesses, the NHS and living standards in Pembrokeshire.
“The Put It To The People march may very well be our last chance to demand a democratic final say on this mess, before it’s too late. This is High Noon for Brexit.
“Anyone who cares about the future, anyone who feels betrayed by broken promises in the last referendum, anyone who wants to prevent years more of this madness is welcome to join us to make their voice heard. It’s now or never.”

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Cat rescued from derelict building roof in Haverfordwest

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A CAT trapped on a derelict roof in Haverfordwest has been rescued, with RSPCA Cymru appealing for information to find an owner.

The tabby male cat was stuck on the roof of a four storey building on High Street, with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service being called for assistance on Saturday (16 March).

RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Ellie West said: “It was thought that this cat had been trapped up there for a couple of days – he must have been so cold up there in the pouring rain.

“The fire crew from Haverfordwest were brilliant and used their specialist equipment to reach the cat at the rear of the building, while I stayed at the front in case he became frightened and attempting to come down the other way on his own.

“He was soaking wet but not injured. He’s a friendly cat and is fit and healthy, but isn’t neutered or microchipped. He could be a stray or he could be owned, so we’re appealing for information to try and find out if someone is looking for him. For the meantime – he’s in private boarding while we make enquiries.”

ACO West added: “I’d once again like to thank the fire service for their help and assistance on this rescue. I did feel extremely guilty as it pulled them away from watching Wales win the Grand Slam title – but they were absolutely fantastic as always.”

Anyone who may have information about this cat and knows who his owner is should contact the RSPCA inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018. Calls are treated in confidence.

The RSPCA would like to remind people to get their pets microchipped to give their lost pets the chance of returning home. It is also important to register the chip with a national database and update your contact details if you move or change phone number. More information can be found at www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/pets/general/microchipping

If you wish to help RSPCA Cymru, you can donate online. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.

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