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Labour leader calls for action over chief

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paul millerAT a public meeting last night (Aug 19), concerned Pembrokeshire people were urged by Cllr Paul Miller to ask their councillors to taking action against Bryn Parry-Jones.
The Pembrokeshire Herald caught up with the  Labour leader at the County Show, who said: “There has been a lot talk and speculation in the media about the future direction of the council. Lots of people are angry about whats been going on, and this was the chance to talk to me and ask any questions of me about the situation. The only thing that is going to change the thinking of the council leadership and force them to act is the public coming together and making their voices heard. The Pembrokeshire public need to lead this campaign, and make sure we get real change for the county.
Our correspondent asked Cllr Miller how the meeting went last night, and he said: “We discussed the scandals which  have plagued the council over the last few years, including Mik Smith, Bryn Parry Jones’ pension, and the recent accusations in the press about Bryn Parry Jones conduct in office.”
When asked if the meeting was a success Cllr Miller replied: “Yes, there was tremendous support for action from the public, over one hundred attended, and I have every confidence that the public will force change in Pembrokeshire County Council.”
He added: “There were lots of people with questions, and lots of people were angry about what has gone one. There is a feeling that people are being ignored.”
What are the next steps.
The Labour group on the council is today calling for Bryn to be formally suspended, not just to be enjoying additional paid holiday, and for the formal disciplinary process to be started. This will investigate the numerous allegations.
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USAF and RAF fighter jets roar over Pembrokeshire

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A FIGHTER JET was most of the day on Tuesday circling in the clouds above Pembrokeshire as part of a RAF training exercise

The F-35 flew in from RAF Marham in King’s Lynn in Norfolk and while the weather made it impossible to see the aircraft due to cloud cover it was heard by many locals.

The noise had subsided by Tuesday afternoon. However, on Wednesday, it was two US F-15s from RAF Lakenheath making all the noise as part of a different training exercise.

The two USAF F15 jets have now departed Pembrokeshire to head back home to their base, with more expected later, weather dependant.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence told The Pembrokeshire Herald that the exercise was not hosted by the Castle Martin Range in Pembrokeshire. They said: “We can confirm a RAF F-35 Lightning from RAF Marham was conducting routine training in the area on the day in question (Jan 19).”

(Image by Andy Jones USAF F-15E Strike Eagle – Stock photo)

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Teachers to decide GCSE, AS and A-level grades in Wales

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TEACHERS are set to decide GCSE, AS and A-level grades in Wales after a system replacing end-of-year exams was axed, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams told The Herald in a statement that the pandemic had left her “no choice” in scrapping the classroom assessments.

It has now been decided that grades determined by schools and colleges based on the work covered would be “simple and clear”

The following has been confirmed:

Schools and colleges will now be able to use a range of evidence to determine the grades to be awarded to their learners, including coursework and mocks. The WJEC exam board will also offer a set of adapted past papers to enable schools to carry on assessing their pupils

Schools and colleges can access an assessment framework set by Qualifications Wales to help set grades and their plans will be quality assured by WJEC

Deadlines for coursework or “non-exam assessment” are being removed and will not be moderated by WJEC

WJEC will publish guidance and oversee schools and colleges’ internal quality assurance processes and will have a role in quality assuring their implementation. Teachers and lecturers will be offered training so they are applied “consistently, equitably, and fairly”

The grades are then submitted to the WJEC who will not change them. Appeals about grades will go to a school or college
Learners in Year 12 will also be awarded a “Centre Determined” grade but it won’t contribute to the final A level. It won’t apply to Year 10 unit assessments, but will apply if they are finishing a qualification

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Committee stalls on council tax rise as Covid-19 impacts discussed

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A PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL committee has decided not to commit to giving their preference on the rise of council tax in the county because of the knock on effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillors have been discussing the potential rise in council tax as part of their budget setting process for 2021-22.

Cabinet member Cllr Bob Kilmister explained that the settlement they had been expecting from the Welsh Government had been ‘better than anticipated’.

Prior to Christmas the council was looking at a funding gap of £25m but after the settlement from Cardiff, they were looking at a gap of £14.5m.

It was suggested that the improved figure could help the council alleviate the pressure felt by families when it came to paying their council tax.

Around 3% of the population are exempt from paying council tax but Cllr Kilmister added that they did not want to hit those people again by reducing the services that they used.

The council’s interventions with looked after children has also gone up by 50% as a result of the pandemic.

Rises of 3% and 5% have been put forward but the council’s Policy and Pre-Decision Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which met on Tuesday, January 19, decided not to commit to giving their preference.

Councillors said they were cautious about imposing a 5% increase as families across the county had been hit hard by the pandemic.

Cllr Tony Baron asked if a 3% increase in council tax could be fully costed adding: “We see a very dramatic improvement in the position we had before Christmas.

“Perhaps it would be useful to consider whether a fraction of that improvement should be used to take pressure off residents in the form of council tax increases.”

Cllr Tom Tudor added: “I am cautious about increasing council tax by 5%. Pembrokeshire has the second highest percentage of furloughed workers in Wales and that does not include those who are not eligible for the furlough scheme.”

“If we are in a better position than we were predicted I am rather cautious about taking on an increase of 5% at this point in time and I think families who have been affected by the pandemic have been, I think Bob said, in ‘dire straits’.”

Cllr Kilmister went on to say that he was ‘extremely confident’ that the council’s board that was set up to look at the budget would be able to deliver on its challenges.

Speaking on child poverty, Cllr Mike James said that there was poverty throughout Pembrokeshire and added that there would need to be a lot more debate on the rise in council tax before a decision could be made.

Cllr Kilmister added: “I don’t want to put up council tax. The poorest people who are not paying council tax are the ones who are using our services more. If you lower the budget you are affecting them again.

“Child poverty is huge, our interventions with looked-after children has gone up by 50% this financial year as a result of the pandemic.

“There are massive challenges. We have to make sure that those who have been affected badly aren’t affected even more.”

Committee chair Cllr Josh Beynon said: “If we don’t increase council tax and we cut services instead, what happens to those looked after children in twenty years’ time?”

Cllr Rhys Sinnett proposed that the committee should not commit to giving a preference to a rise in council tax.

Seven members voted in favour while two, Cllrs Tim Evans and Josh Beynon, voted against.

The council’s Cabinet will make a final decision on the budget on February 15.

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