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New council group will tip balance of power

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Councillors outside the meeting on Sunday night (August 3)

THE HERALD can exclusively reveal that a meeting took place at the Milford Haven home of IPPG County Councillor Stephen Joseph tonight at which members of Pembrokeshire council’s ruling independent group (IPPG) discussed plans to form a new party.

Cllr Joseph has said that his new party will be called ‘Pembrokeshire First’ and will have the slogan ‘people not politics’.

A number of County Councillors were spotted entering Cllr Joseph’s home and a tip off led to Herald Editor Tom Sinclair heading to the scene of the get-­together.

As a result, we are able to disclose that attending the rendezvous were IPPG County Councillors Lyn Jenkins (Solva), Mark Edwards (Haverfordwest: Prendergast), and Labour member Alison Lee (Pembroke Dock Central).

POWER SHIFT

The new group would take notional overall control of the authority away from Jamie Adams’ IPPG coalition and could significantly affect the balance of power on the Council, including the ability of the IPPG leaders to use patronage to persuade disaffected members to remain under the IPPG umbrella.

While the IPPG would remain the largest group on the Council, the new grouping would be able to assert a right to seats on key Council committees.

The Herald has previously reported growing disquiet within the IPPG about the group’s defence of embattled CEO Bryn Parry Jones and the series of scandals that has engulfed the Council under his stewardship. In recent key votes the IPPG has depended upon the support of supposedly “unaffiliated” Councillors ­ such as Phil Kidney (Manorbier) and Owen James (Scleddau) ­ to boost its backing in key votes. Cllr James votes so frequently with the IPPG that he seems to be a “banker” vote for the Group in close calls.

The IPPG has also been able to rely on the occasional support of former Tory leader Stan Hudson (Milford Haven North), who sat on the Senior Staff Committee that made the decision to make unlawful payments to the Council’s CEO.

Speaking exclusively to The Herald, Cllr Joseph said: “At the present time no councillors have decided to join my new party. I called a meeting of friends and collegues to discuss my plans to launch Pembrokeshire People First. The wise man takes counsel from many advisors.”

MUDSLINGING AND SELF-PRESERVATION

He added: “My reasons for starting this party is that there is too much mud slinging at the council, and not enough positive stuff goes on. The culture at county hall is just self preservation, mud slinging, and people there for their own political gain. These are not the reasons why people should be county councillors. I made it clear to the councillors who came to the meeting tonight that I was not trying to recruit them. I wanted them to see my plans and then go home and sleep on it. They will make their decisions in their own time.”

Speaking about who will lead the new party, Cllr Joseph said: “After Pembrokeshire First has been operational for a few months I will hold an election to decide who the leader of the group will be.”

stevej

Cllr Joseph wants positive change for Pembrokeshire

Cllr Joseph told The Herald: “When implementing change we need to focus on building the new, and not fighting the old.”

Herald Editor, Thomas Sinclair, asked Cllr Joseph if he thought that the change in the balance of power would mean the end for Bryn Parry Jones. Cllr Joseph replied: “Yes, I hope so – that would be a positive step. But Bryn Parry Jones is not the only problem at County Hall – there are other things that need to be put right too.”

ASHAMED TO BE A COUNCILLOR

Cllr Joseph said: “I recently was wearing my Council ID badge whilst buying petrol. I don’t often wear it but for some reason I had it on that day. I noticed a woman looking at the badge and reading it. I felt ashamed and took it off. I want to be be proud to represent Pembrokeshire County Council, not embarrassed. Hopefully with this new party I will be able to proud to be a Councillor again. I want people to feel proud about Pembrokeshire.”

He added: “I voted for secrecy at the last council meeting when Bryn’s pension was being discussed because it would have been legally incorrect to discuss it in public. He is legally entitled to privacy, just like any other council employee. However, that does not mean that I am supporting Bryn Parry Jones’ pension in any way. I did receive criticism for that, but was voting for what was legally correct.”

FACEBOOK ANNOUNCEMENT

Cllr Joseph made an announcement on his personal Facebook page. He wrote: “I joined the Independent Group as I believed it was the right thing for my ward and for Milford. I have been banging my head against a brick wall, arguing for change for many months now. This has been both in private meetings and in public. Today I decided to leave the Independent Group and have written to every county councillor inviting them to join me. If I stand alone, so be it but hopefully some will decide to stand with me. The invitation has gone to all councillors because I am not starting a political party but want to work with a group of councillors who want to do what is right for their towns and Pembrokeshire as a whole.”

“The group is called Pembrokeshire First – people not politics. The first challenge is to get rid of the captain on the ship but the whole culture of the council needs to change. Some councillors are very vocal on fb but are just interested in promoting their own political careers and that needs to change too. Pembrokeshire Council needs to be about the people not about politics.”

“My phone number is 07785 685 035 if anyone wants to talk further about where I stand or how they can support this new revolt!”

REACTION FROM THE PEMBROKESHIRE ALLIANCE

Cllr Bob Kilmister of The Pembrokeshire Alliance was one of the first with a reaction to the news. Posting on social media, he said: “I welcome any Councillors who leave the IPPG and there is no doubt they are doing the right thing. What confuses me though is the statement from Steve Joseph which says, ” The ‘Pembrokeshire First’ party is not a political party. In my view, politics has no place in the council and I am not proposing myself as the ‘leader’ but merely facilitating change. A leader can be elected by those that come forward in the coming months. We should all be making decisions for the best for our wards and the county not for political reasons.”

Cllr Kilmister added: “The first thing you have to do when starting a new group within the council is elect a leader. You cannot wait. The other issue is what do they want to see happen, there is no vision but I fully accept that could come later. We set our Group up last November and it has taken a great deal of time and effort and money to get where we are now. Our Group was set up to allow disgruntled IPPG Councillors find another home, so I really hope they talk to me as we have so much in common. I have written to the Councillors mentioned and hope to speak with them soon.”

CLLR JOSEPH IS ABANDONING A SINKING SHIP, SAYS PLAID

Council Plaid leader Cllr Michael Williams said: “It must have been very clear to Cllr Stephen Joseph well before he joined the IPPG what he was getting in to.”

“What we see now is a person with no principles abandoning a sinking ship as the entire corrupt edifice begins to crumble, he is simply seeking to save his own skin. He has looked very at home with his IPPG colleagues, who include Rob lewis who misled the ombudsman ,and used electoral practises which wouldn’t be allowed in a banana republic, together with Jamie Adams, the ultimate master of the half truth, and one must not forget that that paragon of virtue, Brian Hall was a leading light of this group well before Stephen Joseph jumped ship the first time.”
He added: “He claims that his motive is concerns about Bryn Parry Jones. The problem goes well beyond the CEO, it comes from a complete lack of political leadership, which has allowed senior officers to set the agenda.”
Cllr Williams went on to say: “Time for a change? Certainly – but are the likes of Cllr Kilmister and Cllr Stock the answer? Cllr Stock has since 1996 been a bulwark of a corrupt system, and is another that seeks self preservation by seeking to reinvent himself.”

Plaid’s leader concluded by saying: “Cllr Stephen Joseph has let down his electorate. He replaced Mrs Anne Hughes, and just what did Milford get? I will leave that question for others to answer.”

THE LEADER SPEAKS OUT

In a prepared statement, Cllr Jamie Adams, Council Leader said:

“I am sorry that Steve has decided to leave the Independent Plus Group. I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with him, but I respected his commitment to achieve a more positive position for the residents of Milford Haven, which I share.

Needless to say, I don’t accept the picture that Steve has sought to create in his letter to all councillors. Pembrokeshire has good and improving services, the lowest Council Tax in Wales and, compared to others, low charges for many of its services.

I am thankful that the majority of my colleagues on the Council have demonstrated their ability to rise above the petty vendettas pursued by some and maintain a focus on the long-term. I am also grateful to those Members who have sought to engage in our attempts to improve personal relationships within the Authority. Pembrokeshire’s future must come before any desire to satisfy the headline writers.”

 

A LETTER TO ALL COUNCILLORS

The Herald can bring you the full text of a letter that Cllr. Joseph has sent to all councillors:

Dear Councillor,
Tonight I have decided that I cannot continue being a councillor in Pembrokeshire as long as the current culture exists.  I cannot be a part of a regime that continues to support Bryn Parry Jones. He is the captain of our ship and after hitting so many ice bergs, there comes a time when the captain has to take responsibility for the series of mistakes. 
On one hand we are told that we cannot discuss his pension openly because he is an employee with employee’s rights (which is why I voted as I did), yet on the other hand there is an investigation into him and yet he maintains his position. Any other employee would be suspended pending the outcome of the inquiry.
This is obviously a huge issue which needs to change but there is also a wider issue for me. The current culture is one of fear & frustration, people being bought with promises of positions and others opposing right decisions merely because of who proposes them or for individuals own political gain. 
There should be a culture of doing what is right with integrity and moving forward. Given the budget cuts, we have huge issues to discuss and these are not being discussed because of the unhealthy situation we have in the chamber.
For as long as I’m not standing against the current situation, by default I am contributing to it, so I have to make a stand for what is right. I will be leaving the IPPG group this evening, not to join another political group but to stand with anyone who wants to join me in making right decisions for the people of our wards and the people of Pembrokeshire. 
The ‘Pembrokeshire First’ party is not a political party. In my view, politics has no place in the council and I am not proposing myself as the ‘leader’ but merely facilitating change. A leader can be elected by those that come forward in the coming months. We should all be making decisions for the best for our wards and the county not for political reasons.
The biggest issue is obviously Bryn as captain of the ship but this is not just about him, it’s about the cabinet system and the culture that currently exists in the council – a culture of control and preserving peoples positions of power.
I want to work for a change of culture. The long term goal is to see 60 councillors having equal say, in all the important issues facing. I know it is a big task changing the system but unless someone takes a stand, it will never change. There are a lot of positives in PCC, which aren’t even acknowledged, let alone celebrated. The current situation is rotten to the core. I have tried my hardest to fight the status quo but to no avail. Socrates said “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” So that’s what I intend to do. The people of Pembrokeshire are crying out for change, the morale amongst employees of PCC is rock bottom. It is time to draw a line in the sand.
If you want to make a stand too, no matter what your political allegiances are, then let me know. I firmly believe that each one of us became a councillor for the right reasons.
It is time again for all of us to do what is right. 
Steve Joseph

 

 

 

 

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Andrew Lye

    August 3, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Hasnt Cllr Joseph heard of the Pembrokeshire Alliance?
    Seems to be a total duplication.
    The opposition to the IPPG should be uniting, not splintering when the aims and policies are probably fairly similar.
    Come on Cllr Joseph. Go and talk to the Pembrokeshire Alliance, instead of relying on your former buddies in the IPPG that you are, or have been a part of since May 2012.
    Instead of splitting, join a recognised group.

  2. David Gardner

    August 3, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    The iniquitous and indefensible behaviour of Mr Parry Jones and the IPPG has long been a matter of shame for the PCC and for all the people of Pembrokeshire. Steve Joseph has put the case well and I hope that many now make the move to disband the IPPG and to establish a new truly democratic Council that will serve Pembrokeshire as it deserves to be served and will undo the harm that has been done in so many areas and restore our trust. What Steve omits to say for some reason is that there is already a group of Councillors working to create change in the Council. Councillor Bob Kilmister and others have been bravely making a difference for a while already through the formation of the Pembrokeshire Alliance so the wind of change is truly blowing through the Council halls. A new democratic dawn approaches at last!

  3. Mike Jackson

    August 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Wondered how long it would be until some Councillors decided to abandon ship! Seems utterly pointless to form another grouping though. Far better to join the existing alliance one would have thought?

  4. Peter Warrender

    August 3, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Many of our councillors have recently proved themselves unfit for purpose,they must be removed by Pembrokeshire people standing against them in the next election. It is not going to be difficult to get them out.

  5. tomos

    August 3, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    at the risk of repeating myself IPG cannot be proud of what has happened in their name in the last few years ,incompetenre,greed,corruption even hiding paedophiles from the Law –

    DISGUSTING

  6. Steve Evans

    August 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    With everything that has gone on in recent months at PCC, I Have no confidence whatsoever in either the council management hierarchy or the County Councillors.If anyone has an idea as to how we, the public, can move for a motion of no confidence in our council, then please advise me.From observing the \’antics\’ within the chamber, it is evident that every councillor within the cabinet \’cowtows\’ to Paary-Jones\’whims.I would remind each and every one of you ladies and gentlemen that you, in what er capacity you represent Pembrokeshire Council, are funded from public purses and as such, I will remind you that you are public servants. You have a duty and responsibility to work for the people of our county and to take forward their opinions, not your own. I know many of the councillors who sit within the cabinet at PIC. I use the word \’within\’ because it describes what one does with a cabinet, one hide things away, secretively. Should any of these councillors wish to discuss my opinions, please feel free to contact me.We do not need another party within the council. We need to immediately dissolve the current council and re-elect our representatives before any further damage is done. The current directorate at PCC must also be considered. Be warned, we will lose Pembrokeshire again if something isn\’t done now. The jungle drums are already rumbling.

  7. wayne king

    August 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I think that we should storm the council offices with pitch forks and burning torches and drown all the dirty cheating counselors who think that its ok to rob the local population!

  8. Karen Chandler

    August 4, 2014 at 11:31 am

    As an independent charity called Pembrokeshire People First, we are a little concerned about the naming of this “alliance”, particularly as, when it is discussed, the word “people” is often included (as in Pembrokeshire First – People no politics”).
    We would like to make it very clear that we have no affiliation to any political party or grouping, and would ask Cllr Joseph to reconsider the name of his new grouping to avoid confusion.

  9. michael williams

    August 4, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    It must have been very clear to Stephen Joseph well before he joined the IPPG what he was getting in to. What we see now is a person with no principles abandoning a sinking ship as the entire corrupt edifice begins to crunble, he is simply seeking to save his own skin. He has looked very at home with his IPPG colleages, who include Rob lewis who misled the ombudsman ,and used electoral practises which wouldnt be allowed in a banana republic, together with Jamie Adams, the ultimate master of the half truth, and one must not forget that that paragon of virtue, Brian Hall was a leading light of this group well before Stephen Joseph jumped ship the first time. He claims that his motive is concerns about Bryn Parry Jones. The problem goes well beyond the CEO, it comes from a complete lack of political leadership, which has allowed senior officers to set the agenda. Time for a change? Certainly. But are the likes of Kilmister and Stock the answer? Stock has since 1996 been a bulwark of a corrupt system, and is another that seeks self preservation by seeking to reinvent himself.

    Stephen Joseph has let down his electorate. He replaced Mrs Anne Hughes, and just what did Milford get? I will leave that question for others to answer.

    Michael Williams. Plaid Cymru.

  10. David Gardner

    August 4, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    All very interesting, Mr Williams, but you don’t tell us what actions you have been / are / will be taking to remove the bad guys and right the wrongs that have been going on for so long now. We would like to know.

  11. michael williams

    August 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Mr Gardner.
    What I have done? Put down the first motion of no confidence in the CEO the first time some ten years ago, an almost lone voice at that time. Are doing? Always voting to support openness in all matters, particularly when it comes to the CEOs salary arrangements. Will do? Continue to question and expose the ongoing unlawful practices in County Hall orchestrated by the IPPG. Despite in the past being threatened with legal action by outside consultants employed by PCC, which was orchestrated by the then Chief Officers Management Board.All of which is documented on Old Grumpy.

  12. David Gardner

    August 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you for your reply, Michael, and for taking the action you have to date. I note that you voted against a secret ballot in the recent Council debate on the repayment of the CEO\’s pension pot and I thank you for that.I also note however that in your stated current and future actions you make no mention of joining with others to work together to oust the current IPPG and bring about the necessary changes. Being a lone combatant is far less effective than joining with others as I am sure you will agree so will you be joining the Pembrokeshire Alliance or another group to add your weight to their efforts and make things happen faster?David

  13. Jacob Williams

    August 5, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    I’m not sure what collaborative approach Mr. Gardner thinks can overcome the majority of votes the ruling party has at its disposal, and why on earth did he feel the need to bring up the Pembrokeshire Alliance?

    Even if all opposition councillors formed a single group they would still be in the minority, so I can’t see the added value. I also happen to disagree in that I believe on matters of principle, opposition councillors are largely collaborative when it comes to opposing the ruling party, which has lent its support to some highly controversial (and close-run) decisions over the years.

    Interestingly, the very words suggested by Mr. Gardner for opposition councillors to bring about the end of the IPPG (“working together”) are the very words now being used in the latest ploy by the IPPG, only when they say councillors should work together they mean something very different.

    The vision I get every time I hear them talk about cohesion and pulling together is that they wished opposition councillors would “work together” with ruling group councillors by peeling back the rug whilst the ruling group councillors sweep the scandals under it.

    No chance!

  14. Bill Khan

    August 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Having followed this story, and now the comments above, it seems as though much council time is spent either fighting each other, or feathering nests. Also obvious is the lack of women in the cabinet. Ridiculous salaries paid to senior staff, and pittances to the workers….. Just start by reducing that CEO wage to a maximum of around 5x lowest paid worker, and insisting on a 50 % female cabinet…..

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Pembroke Dock: Man hospitalised after ‘jumping through pizza shop window’

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A PEMBROKE DOCK man has been taken to hospital after becoming injured by glass in Pembroke Dock.

According to a passing motorist a male was seen shouting and screaming in the street – he was being restrained by others.

He then jumped into the glass window of the PizzaTime take away in Meyrick Street, cutting his stomach on the glass.

Multiple police vehicles and an ambulance attended the incident which took place at around 15.30 HRS.

The road was temporarily blocked.

Once police car remains on scene (16:49 HRS)

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Welcome for rail investment pledge

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TRANSPORT FOR WALES has announced the details of the £194 million investment plan to improve all 247 railway stations across Wales.

The Station Improvement Vision highlights what improvements customers and communities can expect to see at their local stations over the next fifteen years.

The ambitious programme will deliver free WiFi, improved shelters, CCTV, improved provision for cycle storage and improved passenger information, at every station.

Where possible, Transport for Wales will also create new retail facilities, presenting opportunities for local businesses and work in partnership to develop community spaces at stations.

The improvements include expanding the Secure Station Accreditation programme, a UK accreditation in conjunction with the British Transport Police, which will make stations safer and more welcoming for customers.

Demonstrating their commitment and supporting Welsh Government’s plans to create a more sustainable Wales through deduction in carbon emissions generated through transport, TfW will create at least 1,500 additional car parking spaces across the network, making it easier for people to leave their car and use public transport.

The Vision also highlights how accessibility will be enhanced across the network with the delivery of eleven Access for All schemes by 2024, with the installation of footbridges with lifts or ramps, partly funded by the UK Department for Transport.

As part of their plans to reinvest into the communities they serve, TfW has held events and workshops aimed at small and medium enterprises in Wales, providing opportunities for them to bid for work linked to the Station Improvement Vision.

James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said: “Transport for Wales is transforming transport throughout Wales and the launch of our Station Improvement Vision indicates the start of a £194 million investment programme. This investment into all our 247 railway stations will improve the way they look, make them safer and provide more commercial and community opportunities.

“We want to improve the overall customer experience and also work collaboratively to develop partnerships with local businesses and communities.”

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy and Transport said: “I warmly welcome Transport for Wales’ Station Improvement Vision, which will see a £194 million investment in railway stations the length and breadth of Wales and the Borders. Over the next 15 years, this huge investment will vastly improve important gateways to our cities, towns and villages.

“The vision has been launched in Swansea – as it celebrates its 50th year as a City – where it will contribute to the development of a metro system ready to meet the transport needs of the future. There are ambitious plans to deliver an improved railway and public transport network across all of Wales and the investment announced today will be a significant step towards that.”

In July this year, Carmarthenshire County Council leader Emlyn Dole welcomed the announcement of a new parkway station at Felindre.

Speaking at the time, Cllr Dole said: “This is very welcome news, which will benefit Carmarthenshire businesses and residents. An initial 14-minute reduction in journey times to Cardiff and onto London will make a significant difference to passengers travelling that route.

“New infrastructure, with supporting additional rail journeys to West Wales, is essential to boost the regional economic prosperity. And with traffic continuing to grow on key trunk roads across West Wales, an improved offer from rail both in journey time, frequency and quality of service is vital to help tackle congestion and improve connectivity.

Labour Assembly Member, Eluned Morgan also welcomed the investment.

Ms Morgan said: “This is an ambitious plan from the Welsh Government and Transport for Wales to improve the passenger experience at railway stations across the Welsh network. There is a sharp focus on making railway stations cleaner and safer for passengers.

“Lighting is already being upgraded at many stations including Clunderwen and new litter bins and local area maps will be coming – in an answer to calls made to improve Pembroke Dock station.”

Carmarthen station, earmarked as an ‘interchange station’, will benefit from new retail facilities, information screens and accessible toilets for all.

Marc Tierney, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire added: “The announcement today is positive for communities across the area, bringing them up to date and maximising their potential as transport hubs in the heart of our towns and villages. There is also the prospect of a brand new station at St. Clears.

“The Welsh Government feasibility study into reopening a railway station at St. Clears has put plans for the station through to the next stage.

“Re-opening a station at St. Clears would complete a missing piece in the network in West Wales. I trust the UK Government will make the necessary funding available as soon as possible.”

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Haverfordwest’s Regeneration Plans Unveiled

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Haverfordwest’s Regeneration will be the order of the day today as Pembrokeshire County Council releases its initial plans for the redevelopment of the town centre.

The consultation event at County Hall (2pm – 7pm) today will enable members of the public to view and discuss the plans with designers and council officers, together with Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Regeneration.

The plans, which include the Ocky White site and the Riverside area of the town centre, have been created to give the public a glance of what can be achieved in Haverfordwest. The Council are also clear that the plans sit at a stage where public suggestions and contributions can influence the final outcome.

“We want to create a new Haverfordwest experience that is for everyone and one that enables residents and tourists to enjoy the experience of a revitalised County Town,” said Cllr Miller.

“Public consultation isn’t lip service – it’s about seeking opinions and feedback on the current plans and encouraging those with great ideas to come forward and contribute to the redevelopment of their town. The opportunity is there and we are looking forward to engaging with those in attendance.”

The project design team will be in attendance this evening, together with representatives from Welsh government; an example that Pembrokeshire’s regeneration plans are gaining traction and awareness on a national stage.

“We are proud of the progress now being made on our county-wide regeneration and we are finally starting to see plans become reality, delivering what we feel is a value-for-money investment in our communities, towns and marketable tourism assets,” said Cllr Miller.

“Regeneration will be inclusive of those who want to work with us to build a new, vibrant and successful Pembrokeshire.”


To attend the event, report to County Hall Main Reception where you will be directed to the Consultation Event. (2pm – 7pm, Thursday 19th September)

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