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Cabinet asked to re-think cuts to Youth Service

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Milford Haven Mayor: Cllr Eric Harries addresses the community, Cllrs Viv and Mike Stoddart sit either side.

Milford Haven Mayor: Cllr Eric Harries addresses the community, Cllrs Viv and Mike Stoddart sit either side.

THE COUNCIL’s Cabinet has been asked to re-consider its decision to make cuts to the youth services across the county. The chair of the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny committee, Cllr Pat Davies, called in the decision that was made by Cabinet in September and her committee discussed the issues on Wednesday (Oct 8). Much of the debate centred on the proposed closure of the community centre in Hubberston and Hakin but concerns were also raised about centres in Neyland, Manorbier and Solva. The head of performance and community, James White, said: “We were required to save £125,000 and this led to a review of open access youth provision. We visited all youth clubs and spoke to young people attending and we spoke to staff as well. We had a set list of questions such as – what’s good about your youth club? What’s not good, if you could go anywhere else would you?

We made a decision sooner rather than later to give us more time to mitigate the impact of the decision.” Cllr Jonathon Nutting said: “It’s slightly worrying that overview and scrutiny is one port of call that isn’t looked at straight away.” James White acknowledged that the issue should have come to the Scrutiny committee. Cllr Guy Woodham said: “Were cabinet fully informed of evidence and information in order for them to make an informed decision? I don’t think so, and I think we should send this back to Cabinet to review this decision.

We have to ensure that the service maintains a county-wide presence. Putting Hakin and Hubberston Youth Club into the same youth club doesn’t take into consideration how local people feel about that. What about the capacity of the Milford Haven centre? You are proposing to relocate people who have a local connection to somewhere where they haven’t got that. There are also concerns from parents that the child would be going further away than normal.” James White responded: “There weren’t any background documents to the report in the week leading up to the Cabinet meeting.

The data around attendance was provided to Cabinet as was information around costs and mapping work. I appreciate there is an element of separate communities. When we looked at mapping, we looked at the addresses of those attending. Roughly one third of those who go to Hubberston live in Milford Haven and one third of people who go to the Milford Haven centre live in Hubberston or Hakin so there is significant crossing between the two youth clubs.The Milford Haven centre will be able to cope, it is the second newest in Wales and it has a wide area which isn’t split into different rooms.

They could easily handle the additional numbers.” Cabinet member Cllr Sue Perkins said: “We were talking about this for some time so it wasn’t something that was new to us but the information should have been in the cabinet papers.” Cllr Reg Owens said: “This is very sad that we are thinking of closing the centre at Hubberston. I have had a very close association with the youth centre and an awful lot of money went in to the development of it. The youth club there was booming. Hubberston Community centre is right in the heart of a densely populated community.

I accuse the authority of making Hubberston second class to Milford Haven Youth Club. It seems they are deliberately running down the youth service in Hubberston. It doesn’t seem to be open when people need it. It just wouldn’t be practical, parents are very wary about their children walking over from Hubberston or Hakin to Milford Haven – that’s going to put a lot of people off. It is obvious that youngsters do mix but this is going to be a sad blow if this centre is going to close. I beg the management team and the Cabinet to really re-think this.

The community centre is part and parcel of that community.” Hubberston Cllr Viv Stoddart endorsed the comments made by Cllr Owens and Cllr Woodham and added: “The proposal to remove youth services will have a huge impact. Out of all the youth centres 3 of 13 will potentially be closed. Hakin and Hubberston is the only one that serves what is classed as a deprived area. The review that went to Cabinet said there was an emphasis on not continuing provision which is well used, cost effective and valued by young people and if you look at the comments from young people who attend Hakin and Hubberston, they do value that youth club.

The centre is extremely well used; it’s used in the morning, afternoons and in a few evenings. The net costs actually represent good value for money for this authority.” “There was a public meeting on Friday and there were around 70 people who attended. There are two rooms in that centre and the lower of those was full. There was a huge range of ages and they were unanimous that they want to keep the hall and they want Pembrokeshire County Council to keep running it and the cost to this authority would be minimal. Of all the centres, Hakin and Hubberston is unique as it is housed in a multi-purpose building.”

Hakin Cllr Mike Stoddart added: “It is completely unfair to budget all the money against the youth service.” Cllr Jonathon Nutting added: “I don’t think you’ve made a very good case at all. It comes over as knee-jerk reaction. I can’t see that there is any thought of bringing in other things. There seems to be no breadth here. You seem to be stuck in one place with one idea. Are there other ways we can bring in provision? I can’t see where we’re thinking outside the box. Is this based on the needs of the child or other things?”

James White said: “We would have to close other services as a result of keeping Hubberston open.” Cllr Wynne Evans commented: “That is coming across as a clear threat.” Cllr Paul Miller, Leader of the Labour Group, addressed the committee and attacked the authorities priorities citing the £17,000 potential saving in Hubberston and £13,000 potential saving in Neyland against the £2m spent at Cherry Grove providing office accommodation and well over £1m spent in Prendergast building yet more offices together with an archive building.

Cllr Miller challenged cabinet to define their priorities asking – ‘was it their priority to empire build with office accommodation in and around county hall or was it, as it should be, to provide real services to real people out in Pembrokeshire communities?’ Cllr Miller went on to say he felt provision for young people in Pembrokeshire was vital and should be right at the bottom of the list of things to be cut. Service Manager for youth services, Steve Davies said: “This was a young person centred approach. We asked ourselves, what’s the least-worst decision we could put forward? We don’t want to be managing retreat. We are looking at developing a model with the youth consortium.”

James White added: “The tendencies may not be as good as they were and we may need to look at ourselves and we may be doing something wrong. We have not been involved in any kind of attempt to run down things since we have become involved. We want to raise the quality right across the service.” Cllr Daphne Bush said: “We have a responsibility to safeguard the needs of all users. Taking that facility away is life changing. We have to think about human beings and I really think a way of working with communities must be found to keep this open.” James White went on to say: “The belief is this is the best we can do with what we’ve been given. These proposals are the most equitable that we can do.” The committee decided that they would refer this back to cabinet where they would be asked to re-consider their decision.

Cllrs came up with four reasons why they wanted the cabinet to reconsider which were:

• There was insufficient information available at the time when Cabinet made its decision.

• New information has come to light since that decision was made, specifically in relation to Hubberston Community Centre and the objects of the charity of which the local authority is a trustee and this should inform the decision in relation to Hubberston Youth Centre.

• The closure of the centre would have a devastating effect on the youth and community that is already suffering from deprivation.

• There hasn’t been enough careful consideration given to finding alternative provision across the board and the wider community. The next meeting of the Cabinet is scheduled for November 3.

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Man, 22, charged with murder of John William Bell in Cardigan

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A CARDIGAN man has been charged with murder after a man’s death in Ceredigion.

John Bell, 37, and also from the town, was found on the road to Cardigan Bridge in the early hours of Wednesday.

Dyfed-Powys Police said 22-year-old Ashley Keegan, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with his murder.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that Ashley Keegan, aged 22, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with the murder of John William Bell.

Victim: John Bell

“Keegan will appear at Swansea magistrates court on Saturday 24th July 2021.

“John’s family continue to be supported by specialist officers and the investigation is grateful for the support of the community whilst enquiries were conducted.”

This is the second major incident in the same area this month.

Another man was charged with making threats with a knife, he is again from Golwg y Castell.

Dyfed-Powys Police said they received a number of calls reporting a man brandishing a knife towards another man in Maesyfelin, Cardigan, at around 4.20pm on Wednesday (July 14).

Several police units swiftly made their way to the area, but the suspect had fled.

Dean Thomas, aged 25, was quickly located at his home in Golwg y Castell, where he was arrested on suspicion of affray and taken to custody.

Mobile phone footage was gathered from people at the scene, and statements were taken from witnesses.

Cardigan Inspector Owen Williams said: “Thanks to the swift attendance of officers, there were a number of people present who were able to provide evidence to assist with our enquiries.
“Thomas also made a significant statement linking himself with the incident, and was charged within hours of being arrested.

“I hope the speed with which we carried out enquiries into this incident reassures people living in Maesyfelin, who were naturally very concerned by what had happened.”

Thomas was charged with threatening a person with a blade or sharply pointed article in a public place and appeared at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, July 15 where he admitted the offence.

He will be sentenced on July 29 at Swansea Crown Court.

In relation to the murder, anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101 and quoting Op Reedham. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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‘Plan ahead this summer’, says Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE FOLLOWING is a message from the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson:

Hello everyone, I hope you are well and enjoying this lovely weather.

My key message this week is about planning ahead.

This week we have experienced very hot and sunny days and beaches have been full and everyone is enjoying the outdoors.

We are experiencing a high volume of visitors to the county which can at times add additional pressures on our services.

This week, for example, we have seen high demand for car parking spaces, beach clean ups, litter picking and toilet cleaning.

Due to the high footfall please consider where you are going and what you will do when you are there. Some coastal car parks on nice sunny days are filing by mid-morning.

We all also need to be patient when out and about. We are all working together to move forward after the lockdowns, businesses still have to work differently and some are struggling with staff shortages, so please be patient.

As many of us will be staying local for our time off why not consider doing a ‘not visited yet list’.

Consider places in Pembrokeshire you have not explored but would like to – make this the year you go to those places you have always wanted to go to but not had a chance.

Our front line teams are working hard to support our communities and ensure we deliver key services. I would ask for your support to help us to keep Pembrokeshire open and welcoming to all.

I’m aware of issues reported to us regarding litter being left on beaches and grass verges. Leaving litter behind is not acceptable – we have adequate litter bins out and about. Please help us keep Pembrokeshire clean.

Another issue being reported to us is fires being lit in the countryside and beauty spots while people eat and drink in the warm weather.

It goes without saying how dangerous a fire could be given the exceptionally dry weather we have had recently.

If you are thinking about lighting a fire while you are out I would just appeal to you to please think again. The potential consequences are just not worth it.

As you will know, this week we have had an Amber weather warning for heat, so just a gentle reminder to take care when out and about and please take care of your pets.

Our furry friends need extra attention in the heat. Please do not leave dogs unattended in cars and remember the walkways will be hot on their feet.

I’d like to finish this week by thanking everyone involved in our education teams and wish them all a well-deserved summer break.

I hope all our children enjoy the summer – the weather is definitely helping!

Stay safe everyone.

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Devastated family’s tribute to ‘loving and devoted’ son

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THE FAMILY of the 37-year-old man who died in Cardigan in the early hours of Wednesday morning (Jul 21) have said he will be “hugely missed by all that loved him”.

John Bell, who lived in the town, was found on the road to Cardigan Bridge at around midnight.

His family has issued this statement: “We are devastated at the loss of John.

“He was a loving and devoted Son, Brother, Father and Uncle and he will be hugely missed by all that loved him. 

“We ask for privacy at this time.”

John’s family is being supported by specially trained officers.

A 22-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder remains in police custody.

Detective Superintendent Paul Jones said: “Our thoughts go out to John’s family at this very difficult time.

“We are currently focussing our investigation in Golwg Y Castell and the road between there and Cardigan Bridge, where Mr Bell was located.

“We are appealing for any witnesses who may have seen or heard an altercation in that area during the evening of Tuesday, 20 July, particularly the latter part of the evening, after 10pm, before police attended at around midnight.”

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, 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. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org. Quote reference: DP-20210720-458.

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