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No breach of Westley agreement found

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• Solicitors’ advice rejects Jamie Adams’ allegations
• Officers need to learn to live with criticism
• Advice received before key Committee meeting

LEGAL advice commissioned by the Council states no breach of confidentiality took place regarding the settlement agreement between the local authority and former CEO Ian Westley.

The settlement agreement covers derogatory statements by an employer about employee and by an employee about an employer.

A copy of the advice arrived at The Herald’s offices by Royal Mail on Wednesday, February 2. The envelope containing it had no other enclosure, and the envelope was not written by a person with whose handwriting he is familiar.

The Council asked Eversheds to advise it after Cllr Adams alleged a breach of the agreement took place. Jamie Adams claimed the breach occurred during discussions at a Senior Staff Committee meeting on October 2 last year.

In his formal request, Cllr Adams asked that Eversheds ‘specifically give opinion(s) individually on Cllr Michael Williams and Cllr Paul Miller’s comments relating to the Chief Executive’ at the Committee meeting.

Mike Williams suggested that the conclusion of a corporate restructure was overdue and raised a query about the cost of employing external consultants to advise the Council.

The advice reveals that at least two solicitors from Eversheds separately viewed the Committee meeting’s recording before discussing their conclusions about its content.

In Cllr Williams’s case, the advice states that the advice’s authors do not consider his words are derogatory and do not violate the settlement agreement.

The advice goes further and states that: ‘Given the nature of the relationship between the Council and its officers, with the latter being required to implement decisions taken by the Council, some criticism of officers is to be expected from time to time, just as is the case in any other working environment, however unfair that criticism might be perceived by those officers’.

The advice then addresses Cllr Miller’s comments.

Councillor Miller made what the advice describes as ‘obvious criticism of the outgoing Chief Executive’. The advice states ‘the criticism may have been unfair but would not amount to a derogatory statement’.

The advice adds that: ‘Councillor Miller clearly has concerns regarding performance management at the Council, generally, and is expressing (disappointment) that a corporate restructure has (in his view) nor been undertaken’.

The solicitors then turn their attention to whether the Council Leader, Cllr David Simpson, should have corrected the comments made by both Cllr Williams and Cllr Miller at the time they made them.

The advice points out the difficulty of interjecting in an online meeting and continues that there was ‘no reason for the Leader to intervene’. It continues to provide a broader context for Cllr Miller’s remarks, including technical problems during the webcast and Head of HR Ceri Davies’ contribution, to whom Cllr Miller addressed his remarks.

As far as Cllr Simpson’s involvement goes, the advice states it does not believe there was much Cllr Simpson could have done at that point without ‘blowing the matter out of proportion’.
The advice adds that Cllr Simpson responded to a direct question on the issue put by Cllr Jacob Williams, six days after the meeting. David Simpson confirmed a corporate restructure took place on Mr Westley’s watch.

The advice was circulated to all councillors this week. It will have been seen before its release by several senior Council officers.

That last point raises a further one.

The copy of the advice we have is clearly dated a week BEFORE the Council’s Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee which discussed Cllr Adams’ notice of motion. However, it is apparent from that meeting’s content that the advice was not disclosed to members before that meeting. Had it been disclosed, the meeting’s consideration of Cllr Adams’ notice of motion would certainly have been better informed.

Committee Chair, Cllr Brian Hall, will not be amused by not having the fullest possible and most up-to-date information to hand when considering the notice of motion. It’s hard to credit that any other Committee members, once they realise the advice was with Council officers before their considerations, will be delighted at the failure to give them the full picture.
Two questions arise, therefore:

Firstly, which officer or officers had the advice in their possession before the Overview and Scrutiny meeting took place; and,

Secondly, and crucially, why they sat on it for a protracted period until it was sent to all councillors this week.

Whoever sat on the report will almost certainly be asked to account for their inaction.

We asked Jamie Adams whether the advice given by Eversheds addressed his concerns about any alleged breach of the settlement agreement with Mr Westley.

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Pembrokeshire Leisure welcomes back school swimming

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PEMBROKESHIRE Leisure is welcoming back school swimming lessons around the county for the first time since March 2020.

Swimmers from over 20 schools will be attending in their class bubbles to enjoy learning vital water competency skills in Pembrokeshire Leisure’s six swimming pools.

In a county which is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coastline, being safe in and around water is a potentially life-saving skill.

The programme of school swimming lessons helps to achieve the Welsh national priority that every child is a swimmer by the time they leave primary school.

The National Curriculum requirement which has been designed in line with this is that every key stage 2 child should be able to:

  • Swim 25 metres with clothes on (shorts and t-shirt), then tread water for 30 seconds and demonstrate an action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P)
  • Demonstrate a shout and signal action to attract attention.

The first school to return was Ysgol Glannau Gwaun at Fishguard Leisure Centre and there are now 20 primary schools which will be attending swimming lessons around Pembrokeshire.

On Monday 14 th June, Coastlands County Primary School attended and their Head Teacher Sonja Groves said: “We are delighted to finally get back to swimming after such a long time away. The children were so happy to be back in the water learning and enjoying. Swimming is a vital life skill which helps to keep the children of Pembrokeshire safe in and around all types of water.”

Leisure Services Manager Gary Nicholas said: “It is fantastic to be able to safely welcome back school swimming to our facilities. Primary school aged children have missed over a years’ worth of swimming lessons and Pembrokeshire Leisure are committed to supporting the aim of every child a swimmer by age 11.

“We will continue to do this by delivering quality school swimming lessons following the Swim Wales Nofio Ysgol programme, using the Free Swimming Initiative to provide targeted sessions for the most deprived swimmers and by continuing to provide swimming lessons at all sites in our Learn to Swim programme.”

For more information about how you can book your child swimming lessons and support their journey to becoming a competent swimmer, contact your local leisure centre.

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Landmarc flies the flag at local training camp to celebrate Armed Forces Week

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TO CELEBRATE Armed Forces Week 2021 and the contribution made by local military personnel, Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) has raised the Armed Forces Day flag at Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire.

Following an unprecedented year for the UK’s troops as they responded to the challenges raised by the pandemic, Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), wanted to extend an extra special thank you, by flying the official Armed Forces Day flag at military training estates across the UK, including local camp, Castlemartin.

Landmarc employees were joined by Armed Forces personnel and staff from DIO to witness the raising of the flag, where it will fly proudly until Armed Forces Week comes to a close on the 28th of June.

This Armed Forces Week, Landmarc has pledged its support and sponsorship of Team Emotive in its mission to complete one of the world’s most difficult ocean rowing challenges – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – all in the name of raising money for mental health charity, Veterans at Ease.

Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, including one Landmarc employee, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally. 23 rd June 2021

In addition, Landmarc has also announced its official partnership with the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, working together to support veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc, comments: “Each year, every one of us at Landmarc gives thanks to our troops during this special week. As part of the 25 per cent of veterans and reservists that make up Landmarc’s workforce, I know first- hand how important this event is for morale within the Forces community.

“It’s always fantastic to see so many people and organisations come together each year for Armed Forces Week, but the events of the last fifteen months have heightened our gratitude. The efforts from our servicemen and women have been immense and impossible to ignore in the nation’s fight against COVID-19; with our own staff working alongside the military to support the demands of the training estate as it hosts troops from across the country.”

For more information on Landmarc Support Services, please visit www.landmarcsolutions.com.

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Endurance runner tackles Pembrokeshire Coast

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ENDURANCE runner Sean Conway has successfully completed his epic series of marathons in the UK’s National Parks.

On Thursday, June 17, Sean tackled the Pembrokeshire coast, running from Newport to Dinas Head and back, fuelled by sports nutrition brand ‘Grenade’.

Sean, who is from North Wales, has ran the length of Britain before but says this was the longest stretch of days where he has had to constantly do a marathon every day.

Speaking of his run in Newport, Sean said: “It was so hilly. Honestly, the weather was amazing. It wasn’t too hot and there were some nice views along the way. At Dinas Head, it was amazing looking down at the lagoons and there are some amazing rock formations.”

He took six hours to complete his marathon but there was little time for recovery as he moved on to his final run in Snowdonia the day after.

“This was my second-last marathon so my body was feeling pretty battered and I’ve had to do it fully self-supported so I was doing one run out then back to the car and then out again”, Sean added.

“With covid we’ve all been staying at home more so I wanted to show off how amazing the National Parks are.

“There will be more of us visiting as restrictions are eased but we don’t want to ruin it by being silly.”

Sean was provided with his nutrition for the runs by Grenade and he said he ‘would not have been able to survive without them’.

In the morning he would have an energy drink which contained vitamins and electrolites and he would also mix this in with his water for some of his runs.

Sean would also have protein bars to give him an extra boost as he tried to keep on top of his protein intake.

“Pembrokeshire was so scenic. When I announced the runs this was the run that stood out online and I was really looking forward to doing it. We’ll definitely be coming back soon” Sean concluded.

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