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Council improve report published

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Pembrokeshire County Council has become the first local authority in
Wales to publish a Corporate Peer Challenge Report.

The report – compiled by the Local Government Association (LGA) –
will inform measures for the Council’s improvement in the future.
In the past decade around two-thirds of councils in England have
undertaken a Corporate Peer Challenge.

A small team of peer officers and councillors, compiled by the LGA,
spent a week with the Council in mid-February.

The process involved engaging with elected members, employees
and a wide range of people connected with the Authority to get views
and perspectives.

The report highlights a number of areas of good practice while also
identifying areas for improvement.

For instance, the peer team was impressed with the Council’s delivery
in relation to social care integration which the Authority’s partners
view as being ‘leading-edge’ within Wales.

Partners also pointed to an improved set of relationships with the
County Council.

The peer team found that the Cabinet’s Programme for Administration
provided increased clarity around priorities and noted delivery of the
vision.

Examples included removing the tolls on the Cleddau bridge; plans to
enhance digital infrastructure and related broadband connectivity
across the county and building new council housing.

The team complimented the Council on how it has addressed the
budget gap to date and the bold decisions taken – including raising
Council Tax – and noted the progress its transformation programme,
especially the technology element and the much-enhanced ability for
staff to work in more agile ways.

The report includes twelve recommendations including building on the
locality planning model used for health and social care; tackling
relationship issues and strengthening corporate processes including
decision-making, transformation, organisational development and
communication.

In a joint statement Council Leader, David Simpson, and Chief
Executive, Ian Westley, said: “We are both very grateful to the peer
team for facilitating and sharing the review and making
recommendations that they believe can improve how the Council is
run.
“We are as one in recommending to all senior leaders – members and
officers – that the report and its recommendations should be accepted
by the Council as a whole.

“The team noted the real commitment, extensive goodwill and huge
pride our employees have in serving their communities.
“The current crisis has underlined the dedication of employees and
elected members to Pembrokeshire and its communities. This
dedication, working alongside the resources of our public, private and
third sector partners, cannot be underestimated.”
The statement added: “The peer challenge and the resulting report
has held up a mirror to the Council and highlighted the need for it to
tackle some difficult issues. We know that Pembrokeshire County
Council can, and will, address the report’s recommendations.”
Councillor Neil Prior, Cabinet Member for Transformation and IT,
said: “I welcome the constructive challenge that the report brings and
the Council will develop a detailed action plan to address the report’s
recommendations.
“Of course, at the moment we must devote our efforts to tackling
Covid-19 and keeping all our communities safe but that doesn't stop
us from being absolutely committed to our improvement journey.”
A copy of the report is available at:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/improvement-planning/how-do-we-
know-whether-or-not-we-are-improving

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Flo Evans: Was Cooper responsible?

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‘THE PEMBROKESHIRE MURDERS’ has brought the crimes of local man, John Cooper, back to the forefront of our minds.
A notorious and brutal man, his crime spree, which could have started as early as 1961, would go on to leave 4 people dead, 30 homes burgled and 2 serious sexual assaults.

But now many local people worry that Cooper, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2011, may have been responsible for more.

This weeks ‘The Pembrokeshire Herald’ printed edition takes an in-depth look at 2 mysterious deaths in Llangolman, but there’s another death far closer to Cooper’s former stomping ground that the family believe could be connected to ‘The Bullseye Killer’.

At the time of her death in 1989, the same year that the Dixon’s met their grisly demise on the coastal path near Little Haven, frail 77 year old Flo Evans lived in Jordanston, a stones throw from Cooper’s house and well within his patch, in fact Mrs. Evans was mentioned by Cooper during police interviews.
It was later revealed that both John and Pat would visit Flo and John would do odd-jobs around her home.
Flo, it’s believed, liked the couple so much that she tried to help them secure land nearby for a small-holding.

Days after telling her friends that she was unable to find her house keys, Flo Evans was found dead in her bathtub, fully clothed.

Mrs. Evans death was, at the time, believed to be the result of her slipping and banging her head before falling into the bath and drowning.
Flo’s family never believed that version of events, talking to The Sun, Flo’s great-niece Rena Murphy said: “Aunt Flo was very set in her ways, she did things in a particular fashion.
“But the way she was found fully clothed in a cold bath and with no money in the house . . . we knew it was suspicious.”

Flo’s niece, Jean, said “Cooper knew my aunt. He visited her regularly and would have known there was always money in her handbag and more hidden upstairs.
“He lived across the fields from her and that fits with the way he approached his other victims.

“We could never understand why Aunt Flo was found dead in the bath with all her clothes on.
“She always lit a fire in the kitchen to heat the water before taking a bath and that fire wasn’t lit.”
“Money was missing, she didn’t have her false teeth in, the TV wasn’t switched off properly and the front door was open.”
Jean went on: “Hopefully, the police will now reopen the case. It would give us some closure.”

Rena finished by saying: “Even if they never charge him, we will still have the satisfaction of knowing he is locked up for good.”

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Puppies and ‘large quantity’ of alcohol stolen from Bramble Hall Farm

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DYFED POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of four puppies and a large quantity of alcohol from Bramble Hall Farm, Pembroke Dock, at approximately 5pm on Sunday, January 10.

It is understood that one of the puppies, believed to be blind, was found wandering in Monkton and has been recovered.

A source close to the farm said they believed that the culprit or culprits may have driven to the farm in a retired local taxi.

Anyone with information about the theft or knows the whereabouts of the dogs please contact PC 773 quoting reference DPP/0053/10/01/2021/01/C.

This can be done online at: http://orlo.uk/0GKuU, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

(Photo: Police at Bramble Hall Farm as part of a previous investigation into animal welfare. Herald photographer)

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Business grants: Find answers to frequently asked questions

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A SERIES of frequently asked questions (FAQs) relating to Covid-19 business grants has been put together by Pembrokeshire County Council.

It is hoped the FAQs will answer many of the queries being received from local businesses.

Understandably, given the number of different grants schemes that have been announced by the Welsh Government over the last year there have been a lot of questions about which grant to apply for, how the money will be distributed, anticipated timescales for payments etc.

The current grants being processed are the Restrictions Grants. The Firebreak grants have now closed.

One of the most frequent questions received is about the automatic payments of the Non Domestic Rates related grant.

The FAQs explain that where possible automatic payments for the Restrictions Grant were made at the end of December and start of January.

All automatic payments have now been processed.

If you have not received an automatic payment relating to the Non Domestic Rates grant then you will need to apply.

The Council has a dedicated team working hard to process the grants to ensure that the money reaches Pembrokeshire businesses as soon as possible.

The FAQs can be found here https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support under the Restrictions Business Fund heading.

Further information on business grants and how to apply can be found via the same link.

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