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Pembrokeshire Council first in Wales to achieve ‘disabled’ accreditation

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PEMBROKESHIRE County Council has become the first local authority in Wales to achieve the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Disability Confident Leader accreditation.

The Disability Confident campaign is about creating a movement of change, encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people.

As a Disability Confident Leader, the Council is leading the way to support its staff, the employment of people with disability and the support it provides to other employers.

The Authority’s Chief Executive, Ian Westley, said: “There are around seven million working age people with a disability or long-term health condition in the UK, yet only around one half of them are in work.

“As a Council, we recognise the social justice case that we cannot afford to ignore this huge pool of untapped talent.

“Through a positive and inclusive approach to managing disability, we hope to reap the benefit of increased loyalty and commitment from staff. They also need to feel they have a voice in the organisation to allow their different perspective to be heard.

“As one example of what we’re doing, we’re continuing to promote mental health awareness and support at work.

“Mental health awareness training has been rolled out across our workforce. We want our staff to feel as comfortable talking about mental health as physical health.”

DWP’s senior employer and partnership manager, Jonathan Feild, said: “Many congratulations to Pembrokeshire County Council on becoming the first local authority in Wales to achieve the Disability Confident Leader Accreditation.

“As one of Pembrokeshire’s largest employers, this accreditation sends out a strong message to all employers and businesses across the county – it shows that Pembrokeshire County Council is leading by example and can now ‘champion’ Disability Confident across the county and beyond.”

Pembrokeshire County Council’s journey to Disability Confident Leader began in December 2018 when two Learning Disability Champions, Rachel Bailey and Rhys Eynon – employed by the Authority to promote volunteering and employment for people with a learning disability – gave a presentation at a DWP event attended by over 80 people.

Rachel and Rhys are just two of around 50 people with a disability employed by Pembrokeshire County Council who benefit from its supported employment programme run by Norman Industries and Workways+ and which is supported by DWP’s Access to Work scheme and the Welsh Government’s Integrated Care Fund.

As well as recognising the ongoing support for people with disability offered by the Human Resources and Occupational Health teams, the assessment acknowledges the support provided by Norman Industries, the Workways+ and Experience 4 Industries projects.

This support includes help to apply for jobs, work experience, a paid work opportunity or supported employment. Workways+ Employer Liaison Officers are also working with the Learning Disability Champion for Employment, Rachel Bailey, to develop the skills of local employers in employing people with disability.

Through the assessment process, the County Council has taken a hard look at itself.

It has already made changes to its recruitment practices and as a result, now offers a guaranteed interview to anyone declaring a disability who meets the essential requirements of the person specification of the jobs it advertises.

It will also be sharing good practice across its departments and improving the opportunities for people with disability across the whole Authority.

For more information on how to register for the Disability Confident Scheme, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/disability-confident-campaign or contact Fred Hatton (01646 483431) or Diane Phillips (01437 823204) at Jobcentre Plus in Pembrokeshire.

Caption: Jonathan Field (second from left) presents the accreditation certificate to the County Council’s Director of Social Services and Housing, Jonathan Griffiths with them Rachel Bailey and Karen Davies of Norman Industries.

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Milford Haven: Concerns over council refuse collection staff using drugs on duty

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL have confirmed that they are conducting an ongoing internal investigation.

The probe is relating to “illegal drug use by on-duty refuge collection crews” operating from the Thornton Refuge Depot in Milford Haven.

The Herald understands that following suspicions being raised, drug testing was carried out on refuse crews on Monday (May 10) – all before they left their depot.

This newspaper has been told that a number staff, which includes bin lorry drivers, tested positive for drug use, and that the council called in the police.

That information was passed to The Herald by someone who we have confirmed to be a member of staff working at Pembrokeshire County Council, who did not want to be named.

After a request for a statement, a spokesperson for the council has stressed that none of their vehicles were involved, suggesting that, on the day in question, positive tests were arrived at before any bin lorries had left the depot.

As part of the multi-agency operation the police were called and attended Thornton Refuse Depot, but did not make any arrests, and said they had little involvement in the operation.

Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that there is an ongoing internal workplace investigation and can clarify that there was no police involvement on the day in question – no Pembrokeshire County Council vehicles were involved.

“We are not in a position to comment any further at this time.”

Dyfed Powys Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “At the request of Pembrokeshire County Council, officers attended Thornton Refuse Depot to provide [them with] support on the morning of Monday, May 10.

“Officers attended; however they were not utilised.”

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Council’s Planning Committee approves ambitious dockyard plans

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’s Planning Committee this morning (Tuesday, May 18) approved an application for the construction of a new marine engineering project at Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard.
The plans, vociferously opposed by local heritage groups, passed unanimously.

The matter will now go to the Welsh Government, which has reserved its position on the scheme’s approval.
Committee members expressed the view that the balance between heritage and economic development were balanced, with strong views expressed on either side. They decided the balance of the application favoured economic development subject to conditions regarding aspects of the site’s preservation and its ability to be restored in the future.

The Committee members who attended a site visit on Wednesday, May 12, said it was the most informative and best site visit they had this council term. Visiting the site gave them a clearer idea about what was planned and the scale of the project, which would not have been gained from a paper exercise.

While the approval of the scheme was unanimous, one element of the reserved matters caused some members concern: the height and size of the proposed massive new sheds which would be built at a later phase of the project.
Cllr David Pugh, seconded by Cllr Steve Alderman, moved an amendment which would approve the project and delegate reserved matters to officers apart from the sheds’ construction, which would return to the Committee for detailed approval.

Cllr Tony Wilcox and Cllr Mark Carter emphasised the need for certainty regarding the project’s development, a position supported by Cllr David Howlett, Cllrs Pugh, Alderman and Cllr Stephen Joseph said that little delay would be caused to the scheme by bringing the sheds’ development back to the Committee. They noted the significant intrusion of the sheds into the landscape for miles around.

Planning Officer Mike Simmons advised that the project would proceed in five phases and that the applicant, Milford Haven Port Authority, was keen to proceed with the first phase as soon as possible. The first phase would be the infilling of the docks and pool, removing a caisson gate and preserving it, before the building of new slipways.
The Port Authority already accepted the sheds would only be built if there was commercial demand for them.
The amendment proposed by Cllr Pugh passed by six votes to five with two abstentions.

It means before the sheds are built, the Committee will decide the detailed application relating to them.

All other aspects of the development will be decided by officers.

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Business

Further Covid-19 business support packages to become available soon

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PEMBROKESHIRE businesses that remain affected by Covid-19 restrictions can check their eligibility for a new package of support from the Welsh Government.

This latest support package will help those businesses eligible to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.

Businesses that stand to benefit include:

  • nightclubs and late entertainment venues
  • events and conference venues not covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF)
  • hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions

An eligibility checker has opened on the Business Wales website so businesses can find out how much support they are likely to be entitled to and how to apply.

See more information and check your business’ eligibility at: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under.

Businesses will be able submit applications to the Welsh Government from 24th May 2021 for grants of up to £25,000 and by the end of the month to Pembrokeshire County Council for smaller fixed Discretionary Grants.

To keep up to date and see the future application process for the Discretionary Grants please see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

The above link will be be updated with the latest information.  

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