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Rowlands criticises ‘negativity’ about council

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Ambitions for Johnston: Ken Rowlands.

Ambitions for Johnston: Ken Rowlands.

AN OUTSPOKEN email from Johnston Councillor Ken Rowlands to other County Councillors, in which he engaged in wide ranging criticism of perceived bias on the part of this newspaper and the negative’ approach of several councillors, was recently sent to The Herald. In a noisy member’s room at County Hall, our Assistant Editor Jon Coles met with Ken Rowlands.

Their conversation was wide-ranging and, in its course, Cllr Rowlands made a number of observations and trenchant criticisms both of media coverage of the scandals that have engulfed County Hall and his fellow councillors: “In local politics, I would say that national parties are redundant. Constituency parties have to be ‘on message’, and that message might have little to do with local communities. In 2008, I had been assured by the Labour Welsh Government that a new road, which was desperately needed, would be built. When it became clear that promise was to be broken I could not remain. My critics say I joined the Independent Group that I once criticised. That is wrong. When I joined the council, I had little time for the then executive group.

But that group changed, there was a real sense of working together across parties. The executive became much more inclusive and there was more camaraderie here. I was able to speak to people and get things done. What has happened since then, especially since 2012, is that things have been more confrontational. Nobody could really disagree that the executive should be held to account, but to be negative, negative, negative and not also say what is right is just wrong. The people have been wound up to feel that the Council is not representing them properly.

I honestly think that the whole picture is not being put before the people of Pembrokeshire. Some councillors are following a national political agenda and not serving Pembrokeshire. I am afraid that local issues are being used to further national political ends.” We put it to Cllr Rowlands that he had to accept that criticisms were justified, both in the light of events that had been brought to light and other issues that arose in the course of the last eighteen months: “I think what is tending to happen is that there has been a concerted effort among certain people who are rather negative and that those who have only the interests of Pembrokeshire and its people at heart have not responded to those criticisms as they should have done.

You are not arguing not only with another a member, but with another member and his blog followers and other members with their relationship to other media. Add all those together and it becomes bias. I am not making excuses, there were problems that had to be addressed. But if you look across Wales and the UK, there are other places where matters have been really unacceptable but they have not been criticised in the same way.

I am not saying there was not any reason for these criticisms, there have been some positive results. But there has no regard been given to the efforts of staff across Pembrokeshire to address these issues.” His departure from the Education brief in April has been the cause of a great deal of comment on social media and around County Hall. One version of events has Cllr Rowlands fuming at being removed from the Cabinet. His take on events is somewhat different: “When I left the Cabinet, we had been under a great deal of pressure during a period of upheaval in the County’s education and a corner had been turned.

The whole of our authority – officers, staff, and members – had worked closely together to change the situation. It had been a heavy period of time and when I came to the time I stood down, both Jamie and I felt I was unwell and we agreed I should take a back seat for a while. That does not mean that I will take a back seat forever!” We concluded by speaking about his own ward: “The Community Council and I are hoping to have meetings with Johnston Sports Association and other Village Stakeholders in the near future. The Community Council, with other organisations within the village, work closely together in order to enhance village amenities and we would be pleased to show the press that we have worked well together during this period of austerity. We have bucked the trend during difficult times.”

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Monkton: One person flown to Cardiff following incident

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THERE was a large emergency services presence in Monkton last night (May 25).

At around 7.30pm, emergency services were called to a report of an incident.

Back Terrace was temporarily closed off while officers dealt with the situation.

An Air Ambulance was dispatched and flew one person to The University Hospital of Wales.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at approximately 7.30pm yesterday, Wednesday 25 May, to an incident in the Monkton area of Pembroke.

“We sent a rapid response car, an emergency ambulance and an air ambulance to the scene, where the crew were also supported by a duty operations manager.

“One person was flown to the University Hospital of Wales.”

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Community

Nature is blooming at Withybush Woods three years after enhancement project

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THREE years after the launch of a project to enhance Withybush Woods, there are abundant signs that biodiversity is thriving.

Swathes of early purple orchid – a scarce wild flower – have been spotted in shadier parts of the tranquil woodlands while a pair of rare breeding stock doves have made the woods their home for the second year.

Song thrushes can be heard everywhere on the 1.5km accessible footpath together with chiffchaffs, willow warblers, nuthatch, woodpeckers, blackbirds, blue tits and many other woodland birds.

Mallards and moorhens and their young can be seen on the restored lower pond, together with the resident swans, and a new wetland area nearby is providing a new habitat for other species of invertebrates and pollinators.

The EU-funded improvement project was led by Pembrokeshire County Council, which owns the woods on the outskirts of Haverfordwest.

Dr Steven Jones, Director of Community Services, said: “Withybush Woods has always been a beautiful and special place to visit and even more so now, thanks to its increasing range of species and biodiversity habitats.

The enhancement work received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. 

The scheme also received funding through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, through the WCVA.

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Education

Top of the stops: Llangwm lollipop lady wins national award

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LLANGWM school crossing patrol officer Lisa Brock has won a Road Safety Wales award for 25 years of dedication to helping children cross the road to the village primary school.
To celebrate her achievement, a giant walk to school event took place this week with hundreds of pupils and parents taking part – much to Mrs Brock’s surprise!
The walk was followed by the presentation of a plaque in assembly, where Cleddau Reach VC headteacher Rhys Buckley thanked her for ‘keeping children safe and making a difference to their day with a smile and a kind word’.
“Lisa is someone who does her job because she cares,” said Mr Buckley. “She cares about the children, their families and her community deeply and you only need to look at the work produced by our pupils in tribute to her to see that this level of care and affection is very much reciprocated.
“Every community needs a ‘Mrs Brock’ and we’re very grateful that she’s ours!”

Mrs Brock receiving her award from Helen Luff from the Council’s Road Safety Team, with pupils Lottie, Leo, Tilly, and Mrs Brock’s grandsons Jacob and Oliver. Jacob and Oliver said they were very proud of their grannie. Also pictured are (left to right) Headteacher Rhys Buckley, Ziggy the Zebra – Pembrokeshire’s road safety mascot – and Chair of Governors Barry Childs.


Some of the tributes by the children included:
‘Mrs Brock is always smiling and happy even in the wind, rain, hail and even heat. You are the reasons we are not flat pancakes on the road. Thank you, Mrs Brock.’

‘We all love Mrs Brock. She is the best lollipop lady in the world!’
‘I will never forget when my sister dropped all of her things in the middle of the road and you stopped the cars from coming. Thank you for always being there.’

Mrs Brock started as school crossing patrol officer as her two boys were nearing the end of their primary education. She has since become a huge fixture at the school, also taking on roles as a higher level teaching assistant in the junior classes and lunchtime supervisor.

“It is the children that give me the most pleasure,” she said. “They are all so polite and keen to have a chat with me. It’s not just the current pupils either; past pupils and many of the local families all come and say hello to me too when they see me on the crossing.”
Chairman of Governors Barry Childs said Mrs Brock’s relationship with the children was ‘outstanding’.

“Every child past and present speaks of her with tremendous affection,” he said. “She has time and a smile for everyone. She is credit to the school.”

Kirstie Donoghue, Road Safety Officer for Pembrokeshire County Council, describes her as ‘one of the many unsung heroes guiding Pembrokeshire’s children safely across our roads”.
“Lisa has been a devoted school crossing patrol for 25 years,” she said.
“She is reliable, hard-working and a true asset of our team, and we are hugely appreciative of her commitment over the years.
“We are delighted and proud that Lisa has won this award for her service and contribution to road safety in Pembrokeshire.”

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