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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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Police officer was assaulted on Christmas Day

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A 25-YEAR-OLD woman from Haverfordwest appeared before the town’s magistrates on Tuesday (Jan 15) to face a charge of assault by beating against a police officer.

Tiffany Rowlands, of West Court, pleaded guilty to assaulting PC Gareth Potter on Christmas Day.

Prosecutor, Sian Vaughan said: “The officer was at the defendant’s property searching the childrens’ bedrooms.

“Rowlands pushed the officer to the chest, and after she calmed down apologised following the incident.”

Defence solicitor, Mark Layton, said: “There’s no record of any injury. They were upstairs, the lights were off so it was dark, and she realises it was wholly inappropriate.”

Magistrates fined Rowlands £40 for the offence and ordered her to pay £85 prosecution costs and £30 victim surcharge.

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Milford Haven: Booms to be removed following oil spill

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BOOMS installed earlier this month to contain an oil spill in the Milford Haven waterway will be removed tomorrow (Jan 17).

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and partner agencies have continued to survey the affected areas since the incident on 3 January and are satisfied that they have contained as much oil as possible.

Where oil has been found on local beaches, Valero’s clean up team have removed it under advice of NRW officers.

The investigation into how this incident, and the previous oil spill in December 2018, happened is ongoing.

Following further assessments and an inspection of the affected fuel pipelines, Valero now believe that no more than 500 litres of oil was released during the incident on 3 January – significantly less than originally feared.

But the pipelines will remain closed after NRW took action last week to suspend their use. NRW will not allow Valero to reopen the pipelines until it is satisfied they can operate without causing further damage to the local environment.

Andrea Winterton, Operations Manager from Natural Resources Wales, said: “Following a swift response from everyone involved, much of the pollution has been contained and cleaned up quickly, reducing the impact it could have had on wildlife and the environment.

“Along with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation and will respond to any further reports of oil washing ashore in the coming weeks.

“Valero continue to support our efforts and cooperate with our enquiries into how the incidents happened. Our investigation also continues as we consider what further action we need to take to stop this happening again.”

NRW is asking people who live in the area to report any signs of pollution to their 24/7 incident hotline on 03000 65 3000.

The multi-agency response to this incident has involved the following organisations: NRW, Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Milford Haven Port Authority, Marine and Coastguard Agency, Public Health Wales, Food Standards Agency.

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Fishguard: Sex offender caught trying to flee to Ireland

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A sex offender from Bow Street near Aberystwyth who tried to move to Ireland without telling anyone has been jailed.

Dennis Bull, aged 67, was caught trying to drive a van onto the Fishguard–Rosslare ferry with his belongings in the back ready for a new life in the Republic.

Bull, of Nirmit, admitted failing to comply with the conditions of registration as a sex offender and was jailed for 16 months.

Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court it was the third time he had breached the order, imposed at Caernarfon crown court in February, 2016, for possessing indecent images of children.

That conviction was on top of earlier offending in New Zealand that included indecent exposure, outraging public decency and gross indecency with a child.

Mr Thomas said Bull had been jailed for 16 months in 2016 and ordered to register with the police. The restrictions imposed included a requirement to tell the police if he intended to change address.

On November 13 last year police at Fishguard harbour became aware of a Ford Mondeo registered to Bull.

A few minutes later Bull was arrested as he attempted to drive a van onto the Stenna ferry, which was loaded with household items.

Bull told the police he had made arrangements to move to Ireland “lock, stock and barrel” because he understood the monitoring of sex offenders was less strict.

In particular, said Mr Thomas, Bull did not like prospective employers being told about his convictions.

Judge Geraint Walters told Bull, “This was a planned and determined attempt to avoid detection. It was only the eagle eyes of the authorities that brought you to book.

“Your record is troubling and you present a risk of committing more offences of a sexual nature.

 “You are defiant of court orders that are there to protect others and it is truly disturbing that you are so keen to breach them.”

Bull was warned that the 2016 order remained in place for a further seven years.

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