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Seminar to debate Health Board in special measures

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A SEMINAR, closed to members of the public, will be called to discuss the Hywel Dda University Health Board being placed into special measures.

Members of the Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday (Jan 10), had been discussing Cllr Paul Dowson’s notice of motion, which called on the council to recommend to the Health Minister that the Health Board be put into special measures.

In his supporting statement, Cllr Dowson highlights a number of targets which he says the Health Board has failed to meet.

The motion was previously discussed at the last Council meeting in December where members debated the spirit in which it had been made.

The Health Board’s 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.


At the meeting in December, Cllr Dowson 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.”

On Thursday, however, his motion was not supported and it was instead suggested that a seminar be called to discuss the Health Board with members of the board being invited to intend.

Speaking passionately about his motion, Cllr Dowson said that Hywel Dda was ‘incompetent’ and added that there was ‘no excuse’ for the Health Board being in deficit by £69.6m.

He said: “Hywel Dda is responsible for more than 40% of the total overspend by Welsh health boards. They have missed A&E waiting times, this is not good enough. What’s very concerning is that they have missed the target for patients starting cancer treatment, it is unjustifiable. Planned operations is 90.9%, it is not good enough.

“I am in this position as the people of Pembrokeshire voted for me to represent their views and that is what I am going to do. They had consultations which they have ignored.

“They are failing the people of our county and they don’t care. We should write to them and suggest they take over the Health Board.”

Cllr David Bryan questioned why Cllr Dowson was not at the committee in October when the Health Board attended a meeting of the committee and why he did not ask any questions to a Board representative on an earlier item.

Cllr Dowson said the time for questions was over saying questions just come back with answers but with no justification.

Cabinet member Tessa Hodgson said that Cllr Dowson spoke with a lot of passion but added that she felt it was nothing they have no jurisdiction over and that it was up to the Health Minister for them to intervene if they saw fit to do so.

Cllr Michael Williams added: “I am not entirely happy with putting the Health Board into special measures. Betsi Cadwaladr has been in special measures for three years and nothing much has happened.

“I share Cllr Dowson’s concerns, something is not right but I am not convinced that special measures is the answer.”

Cllr Stephen Joseph said he agreed with Cllr Dowson adding: “I don’t envy anyone representing the Health Board. The public don’t seem to believe a word they say. I was initially against it thinking it was up to Hywel Dda to sort themselves out but the only people above them are the Welsh Government.”

Cllr Phil Kidney said: “I applaud Cllr Dowson for his passion, other than the improvement in Tenby it has been a shambles. I am not sure if this would speed up the process but we have to agree there are problems. We haven’t got the power but I would take this to full council to have a good debate there.”

Cllr Pearl Llewellyn said she had had numerous requests from the public in her ward including a phone call from Germany asking her to support the motion.

Members were of the view that as it was an important subject but that it needed to go to the full council. The committee was told it was up to them to decide whether it should go to the Council or the Cabinet.

Cllr Bryan said they were wasting their time discussing the motion and instead suggested inviting the Health Board in for a meeting.

Cllr Dowson said they would just give more excuses while Cllr Williams further added that he had no faith in Welsh Government to improve the situation.

Cllr Simon Hancock asked what had gone fundamentally wrong since the meeting in October when the Committee had agreed to work with the Health Board on delivering a new model of care.

When Cllr Dowson’s motion was put to the vote it was supported by four members with six voting against.

Cllr Bryan then put forward a motion that a seminar be held to which the Health Board would be invited and that the results of that would be brought back to full council.

That was supported by a majority.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dowson said: “If it achieved nothing, it achieved publicity. Hopefully it will have drawn Welsh Government’s attention.

“Regardless of the outcome, it brought the matter to the public’s attention and hopefully the Welsh Government as well.”

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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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