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Council discusses scrutiny



County Hall

County Hall

AT TUESDAY’S Democratic Services Committee, Councillors discussed a number of ways to help improve scrutiny. They discussed its effectiveness, ways to improve it, adequacy of support and public engagement. Cllr Owen James said: “There needs to be a recognition of how good they think scrutiny is. What measurement facilities are there?” Mark Elliot, Head of Public Protection, responded: “It’s very hard to define success criteria; the way it was done was all about a self-assessment process, identifying examples of good practice and areas for development. There is nothing previous to this but there is nothing set in stone other than the examples we have.”

Cllr Pat Davies said: “With my committee we evaluated where we were going and what we wanted to achieve. The task and finish group was set up as was the school standards. Each committee should be able to do a self-evaluation.” Mark Elliot added: “It is important to get member engagement. The starting point would be to begin with the template that the Welsh Audit Office has come up with and trial that. Then there can be some sort of judgement as to where we are.” Cllr Rhys Sinnett said: “I support trying it out and seeing if there are any gaps.

We won’t know unless we try it out.” Cllr James added: “With regards to member engagement – this is something that you need right across the authority. If everyone is involved it will be quite a pleasant environment, at the moment we don’t have that. You can’t do one without the other.” Huw Miller, Head of Legal & Committee Services, said: “The stance you are taking so far is good. There is a need to involve all members – members of scrutiny will change. You have to consider how you notify and involve all other members.”

He continued: “All chairs will produce annual reports and they will all be put on the website. The scrutiny website is building up quite nicely. Any member can see how scrutiny works.” Cllr Pat Davies said: “Scrutiny members sit in their groups; I don’t like that and I have switched names around in the past. They shouldn’t be there to sit in political groups.” Cllr John Allen-Mirehouse said: “I can see the point of this but it depends on the size of the committee and the size of the room and the business being discussed.”

Cllr Keith Lewis added: “I would always argue caution in terms of trying to over manage the situation. We are where we are, we’ve got to sit somewhere.” Cllr Allen-Mirehouse added: “Public engagement is very important; councillors are elected to represent their interests and views. It is very important that the public know what is happening. Somebody who does not know what is going on will come to a wrong decision. We are not trying to cut the public off; we all have a responsibility to our electors.”

Cllr Sinnett said: “We have to respond to our direct electors. The question is how we get their views of a topic we are looking at. We invite external views and this would be very useful to triangulate those. We are the ones who have to make the decision.” Cllr Keith Lewis said: “I agree with everything being said but you are missing out on one fundamental tier of government. “We should also consider the roles of community councillors. There are some which are very efficient and there are some which are useless.

“There have been examples recently like the public toilets; any decision we make will affect that area. “There have been different outcomes, other communities have said they would take them on but they haven’t”. Cllr Pat Davies said: “This could be a vehicle for trying to engage better with town and community councils”. Cllr Allen-Allen-Mirehouse added: “The community councils are very keen for the council to spend money in their wards. The town and community councils do not want a certain asset removed and this is where the role of the community council comes in. “It is good for democracy, that although a councillor may not get their way, their voice has been heard”.

Huw Miller then spoke about the adequacy of scrutiny support. He said: “This is the first report of adequacy of scrutiny. When the team was set up it was pointed out that there was a gap in terms of support for scrutiny. They have done a great job in taking the authority forward in terms of the scrutiny function. We are getting there, we are not there yet.

I don’t think there is perfect scrutiny and we’ve got to do our best to try and get as close to that as we possibly can.I’m certainly of the view that the current provision of staff is sufficient but it has to be kept under continual review.” Finally, Councillors spoke about public engagement, focussing on the forms that are available on the council’s website. Members of the public are free to submit their views on any agenda item that is being discussed and they can also submit a proposal for an agenda item.

Cllr Owen James said: “This is something new you’re engaging in. It may cause an awful lot of work. I think we should let this grow organically rather than push it out there.” Cllr Rhys Sinnett added: “It is down to the committee to decide whether or not and when to add it to its work agenda. It needs to be clear that you can suggest things but it won’t automatically be discussed. There is a process that has to be gone through by a committee.”

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Five shouts in five days for Lifeboat crews at Angle



ITS BEEN a really busy week for the crews at Angle with their first tasking to the 39 meter 300 tonne tall ship on Monday evening with engine failure and taking on water.

Crews then paged again in the early hours of Wednesday morning to a 11 meter sailing catamaran becalmed and low on fuel.

The training day Thursday was interrupted just after 12:30 PM with a tasking to a tender with three people on board that had upturned just off St Brides Haven.

Little & Broad Haven Lifeboat was also tasked along with Dale Coastguard.

Little and Broad Haven Lifeboat reached the three casualties and took them to shore where they were passed into the care of Dale Coastguard. Angle Lifeboat was stood down as it was passing through Jack’s Sound.

As the Lifeboat was returning from the shout another tasking request came through. A tanker had spotted an unmanned RIB approximately 10 miles SW of St Ann’s Head. Once on scene, after some investigation the RIB was believed to have come from a mooring and no people were missing. The Lifeboat towed the RIB back to Angle.

The Lifeboat was rehoused shortly after 4:00 PM

The 5th shout for Angle Lifeboat this week.

This was a large multi agency search.

The crew were paged at 09:35 AM to assist Tenby Lifeboats RNLI ALB and inshore Lifeboats to search for a missing person in the water following a report from a fisherman on rocks near Manorbier that he had lost sight of a person that had been rowing a dinghy toward shore and the occupant may be in the water. HM Coastguard Tenby had also been tasked to the search

The dinghy was handed over to Tenby inshore lifeboat crew after being picked up by a Range Safety boat who then brought it into the awaiting police at Manorbier Beach.

Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 187 from St Athan and St Govans Coastguard Rescue Team had now also joined in the search for the missing person.

After several hours searching a man approached police at Manorbier, stating he’d been on the vessel off Manorbier, had got into difficulty and ended up in the water.

With the casualty now safely ashore, all units were stood down at 12:27PM.

Angle Lifeboat then headed to Tenby Harbour to pick up some sustenance, a fizzy drink and a chocolate brownie, before heading back to Angle and rehousing at 2:31PM. The lifeboat was refuelled and given a well earned wash ready for the next tasking.

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A40 closed at Scleddau due to collision between car and motorbike



EMERGENCY SERVICES have shut the A40 at in Scleddau due to a serious road collision.

The accident happened just before 2pm. The Herald understands that the collision involved a motorcycle and car at a junction near The Gate Inn public house.

Police said: “Emergency services are currently on scene and dealing with the incident. Please find an alternative route if possible. Update to follow.”

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Moley’s Ambassador March to support those who have lost a child



ON SATURDAY (Jun 19), Andrew Cole (aka Moley) will set off on a 24 hour walk around Pembrokeshire with the aim of doing as many miles in as little time as possible. 

Moley is proud to have recently been made ambassador of the charity ‘2 Wish UponAa Star’ an organisation dedicated to supporting families that have lost a child under 25 years of age.

He will be setting off at 6am in the morning from Neyland and walking all day and night, finishing at 6am the following morning.

2 wish upon a star was set up by Rhian Mannings, who set up the charity after losing her own son.

By celebrating the lives of those lost, and offering support to families through their grief; Rhian and her team offer an essential service to the community and those families who have suffered the devastation of losing a loved one.

Appealing for support from the people of Pembrokeshire he said: “Please give generously to support the wonderful work of Rhian and her team. Also, if you happen to see me in the day, feel free to give me a beep of encouragement’

“If you would like to donate to Moley, and support the charity, you can visit his JustGiving page.”

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