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Reports damning for City Deal management

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THE PUBLICATION of two reports on Friday, March 15, has shone a light into corners of the Swansea Bay City Deal.

The first report released, prepared on behalf of the UK and Welsh governments, written by Actica Consulting, suggests a combination of concerns over funding and of the “much-publicised concerns on the wellness village (Delta Lakes, Llanelli, the single largest project) could cause a loss of confidence within the region”

In the meantime and, The Herald understands, over the anguished objections of the Regional Office/Carmarthenshire County Council, the second report – an internal review – was circulated to county councillors in Pembrokeshire this morning.

The second report makes for grim reading.

The report lays bare the amount of distrust between the City Deal partners, particularly between Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire councils on the one side, and Carmarthenshire County Council on the other.

Each report highlights deficiencies in the management of the Deal, which Carmarthenshire County Council and its controversial CEO Mark James are meant to lead.

Familiar to those who have kept a close watch on the activities of Carmarthenshire County Council are complaints of a lack of transparency and openness in the way the City Deal has been managed to date.

Particular criticism is made of two key aspects of the project: that under Mr James’ leadership the Deal has failed to consider the City Deal as a truly regional opportunity and focussed on building individual, local projects of limited regional value; the second major criticism is the failure of leadership given to the project and an abject lack of clear financial processes and accountability.

In spite of an attempt to spin the ‘success’ of two elements of the deal, Swansea Waterfront and Yr Egin, it is worth noting that Yr Egin was only tacked on to the City Deal when already underway because UWTSD revealed it couldn’t afford to complete the project on its own as it had promised.

Cllr Rob James, the Leader of the Labour Group on Carmarthenshire County Council told The Herald late on Friday afternoon: “I am pleased that this review has highlighted many of the concerns that we have raised on governance.

“Frankly, the report validated our actions to date.

“Trust has broken down between partners and public confidence in one of the projects, in particular, has taken a big hit.

“There are clear lessons that need to be learnt and this report highlights several of them. I now hope that the administration in Carmarthenshire consider the review in full and ensure that radical changes on governance are delivered immediately.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee, said: “This review was carried out alongside the UK and Welsh Government’s independent review of the City Deal programme and sought to assure that it will deliver full economic benefits for the region.

“The findings and recommendations of the internal review will be formally considered by the SBCD Joint Committee at the next meeting.

“Looking to ensure governance is as robust as possible reflects that we’re still in the very early stages of a 15-year programme, but we’re ready to support any recommendations that would benefit the region’s economic prosperity in future by speeding up the City Deal’s delivery.”

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Council’s cannon stolen from outside Cleddau Bridge Hotel

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A LARGE cannon has been stolen from the now closed Cleddau Bridge Hotel in Pembroke Dock in the last few days.

A local councillor and the police have appealed for information which will lead to the safe return of the gun.

Ward councillor Joshua Beynon said: “Dyfed-Powys Police have just telephoned me to say they are investigating the cannon that was stolen from the former Cleddau Bridge Hotel. It is believed to have gone missing sometime between the evening of Wednesday 20th March to the morning of Thursday 21st March.”

The police said in a statement: “If anyone has any information then can I urge you to call the police on 101 and quote the crime number: DPP/0064/21/03/2019/01/C as soon as possible.”

The cannon, one of two dug up from the ground at Hobbs Point and later restored, used to stand outside Llanion Park, the former offices of South Pembrokeshire District Council, which is now the head office of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The canon is the property of Pembrokeshire County Council and was given to the hotel on loan.

The hotel’s management neglected to make arrangements for its return to the local authority on closing down.

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How to get a refund for unused Cleddau Bridge tickets after April 1

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has announced details on how it plans to refund Cleddau Bridge users left with unused books of bridge tickets after it becomes toll-free.
From 1st April until 30th June refunds will be available from the Cleddau Bridge office itself and the North Wing Customer Service Centre in County Hall, Haverfordwest.
Refunds for all three classes of tickets will be available at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The classes are:

Class A blue-coloured tickets (for motorcycles)
Class B red tickets (cars and light commercial vehicles)
Class C orange tickets (HGVs).

Refunds at the office will be available round-the-clock from 12 noon on 1st April and will be paid – wherever possible – back to the original debit/credit cards up to a maximum of £150 with cash refunds up to £30.

Any refunds over £150 will be made by BACS transfer unless otherwise agreed in advance.

Only Class B red tickets will be refunded at the North Wing Customer Service Centre in Haverfordwest.

Here, refunds will be paid back to the original debit/credit card up to a maximum of £90 (ie three books of 50 tickets)

The maximum cash refund at this location will be £30 (ie one book of 50 tickets).

Refunds at the North Wing Customer Service Centre will be available weekdays between 9 am and 1 pm and 2 pm until 5 pm.

Organisations which have previously purchased tickets with a value exceeding £400 will be contacted during the week commencing Monday, 25th March with instructions on how to reclaim their refunds on an appointment basis at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said: “I am delighted to announce that bridge users who have unused tickets due to the cessation of tolls will be reimbursed and not find themselves out of pocket.”
Those who qualify for refunds are asked to wait a few days before making a claim so as to avoid a long wait. This particularly applies to refunds at the Cleddau Bridge office.

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Council issue ‘rave alert’ to farmers, landowners and local communities

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and Dyfed-Powys Police are asking farmers, landowners and local communities to be on alert over the coming weekend (23rd and 24th March) for warning signs of any illegal raves planned for their land.

Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the police, especially if there are unusual numbers of vehicles – in particular, camper vans, vans or trucks – seen in the locality.

Illegal trespassers may recce sites in advance of any rave, or people may approach landowners and ask around for land, in the guise of hiring it for acceptable activities such as gymkhanas or scout camps.

Raves can cause anxiety to the community they are held in and, if not dealt with swiftly, are difficult to stop due to the sheer numbers of people involved. There is also a safety concern involved in breaking up such events.

Anyone with concerns should call Dyfed Powys Police on 101 and ask to speak to the Duty Sergeant or Duty Inspector at Haverfordwest Police Station.

Alternatively, please call Pembrokeshire County Council’s out-of-hours service on 01437 775522.

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