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Harding bungles on constitution

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Got it wrong: Monitoring Officer Laurence Harding pictured centre

Got it wrong: Monitoring Officer Laurence Harding pictured centre

IN AN EMBARRASSING incident at a Corporate Governance Committee meeting on Monday( Nov 17), Council Monitoring Officer Laurence Harding was forced to withdraw an objection he had raised to a proposal for the annual election of the Council Leader. In a deathly hush, in which a pin could have been heard to drop, Mr Harding flicked desperately through the pages of the folder in front of him after being repeatedly asked to justify the advice he had tendered to councillors to reject a proposal for an annual leadership ballot presented by East Williamston’s Jacob Williams.

The quiet was a welcome respite from lengthy and sometimes testy exchanges between councillors on the opposition and IPPG sides of the committee. The meeting started badly with recriminations about the lack of trust between the opposition leaders and Council Leader Jamie Adams, with the matter being batted back to a meeting of the leaders’ group to try and move on. The level of nit-picking debate scarcely improved over the following two hours. The last item of business, on the annual election of a council leader, divided members sharply.

Jacob Williams’, whose proposal it was, first addressed the issue of the objection to his proposal by council officers. He told the meeting that having spoken with Acting Head of Paid Service Ian Westley, he was happy to clear any misapprehension about his motion and was happy to agree a minor amendment to its wording to progress the matter. Bizarrely, there then followed a protracted discussion about the existing constitutional provision which Cllr Williams wanted to replace.

After long and tortuous discussion which resembled a debate about how many angels danced on the head of a pin, Cllr Williams fixed Monitoring Officer Harding with a direct challenge to advice he had given that the present rules already encompassed the substance of Cllr Williams’ proposal.

Cue a very, very long silence. At the end of his reverie, Laurence Harding was – to his evident mortification – compelled to concede Cllr Williams’ point that the current constitution did not permit the leader to be subject to annual election on a normal notice of motion. With that fox shot, the IPPG representatives finally got the crux of their objections to Cllr Williams’ plan.

They were unanimously concerned that such an arrangement would prevent the strong leadership upon which they felt the Council depended. The self-interest of their group to divvy up allowances and positions was more important than a Leader having the confidence of Council members. Cllr Jamie Adams said that he could not imagine anyone willing to take up the leadership on the “temporary and short-term” basis proposed by the motion.

Bob Kilmister pointed out that the IPPG’s stance was the same as prevented the Council following its working together agenda, from which he and others had withdrawn due to a lack of trust between the opposition leaders and IPPG leader Adams. Keith Lewis from the IPPG, while admitting he had lost track of the debate, argued that the Council needed consistency and continuity.

Responding that Cllr Lewis appeared to envisage a position in the cause of continuity where a leader was a lame duck without backing from the Council’s membership, Jacob Williams pointed out that Jamie Adams was quite prepared to go along with Laurence Harding’s position, which if it had been correct would have amounted to the same, if not a less secure position. Paul Miller pointed out that Councillor Adams’ only mandate as leader came from arrangements within the ruling group, without any manifesto or input from the people of Pembrokeshire.

The Committee’s arguments on the point were brought to an unsatisfactory close by the expedient of calling a vote which proceeded to divide on party lines. The “Independent” group carrying the day by acting together to defeat the proposal 7-6.

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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Pembrokeshire residents urged to take a virtual GP consultation when offered

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PEMBROKESHIRE residents are being urged to take up the offer of a virtual consultation, over the phone or video call with their GP, to help Keep Wales Safe during the current lockdown ‘stay at home’ restrictions.

The way we access local NHS services is changing, with more ways in which you can consult your doctor or nurse. Most surgeries now offer telephone as well as electronic advice consultations in the first instance. Following your advice call, a face to face appointment may be organised, but video consultations are also available. You can now speak to a doctor or healthcare professional using the video camera in your smartphone, tablet or computer and a connection to the internet. This is often more convenient and can save you time, as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. The system used is confidential and secure.

In a recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign only 27% of residents in Mid and West Wales had made use of the GP virtual service over the past 12 months with just 57% having heard of the service. However, 88% believed it was important to have access to a remote GP consultation once they had learnt of its existence.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “If you are offered a video consultation appointment this is because your Health Care Professional has indicated that is it safe and appropriate to do so. Your video appointment will be confidential and will not be recorded. If you require support please contact your GP surgery using the number provided in the appointment confirmation.”

She continued: “By putting off small problems or regular appointments you could potentially be putting more strain on NHS emergency services so please, help us to help you, do not put anything off. Local GP surgeries are open and are there to offer medical advice and consult patients.”

After being offered a video consultation you will be sent a letter, email or text with details of your appointment. This communication will contain details of the service that has requested to see you by video and have provided a web address link. You can type or copy the web address link into a web browser via an internet enabled device and this will take you to the video clinic waiting area.

  • In order to access your virtual appointment, you will need:
  • Access to a device that will allow you to access the internet. You should use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser on a desktop or laptop, or on an Android tablet or smartphone or Safari web browser on an Apple iMac, MacBook, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Your device will need a webcam (camera), speakers and microphone.
  • A good internet connection (if you can watch a YouTube video, this is good indication that you have a good connection).
  • An internet usage plan that is sufficient to cover the data consumption of a video call – ideally use a Wi-Fi connection if you have this available.

Sixty two percent of those surveyed by YouGov in Mid and West Wales said they will continue to access NHS services using the new ways that have been introduced as a result of the pandemic. The new methods include making more use of pharmacists; virtual GP consultations and using the NHS 111 online and telephone services.

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‘Cautious optimism’ for county’s tourism sector – but clarity still needed

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‘GIVE us clarity’ is the overriding message from the County’s tourism and hospitality businesses as the sector looks forward with cautious optimism to another busy season.

In a meeting hosted by Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, thirty key local businesses were able to share their views with Paul Davies MS, Pembrokeshire County Council, the National Park and Visit Pembrokeshire.

The meeting focussed on the need for business support measures so long as uncertainty remains over the timetable for re-opening the economy in Wales.

Stephen Crabb said: “There is a lot of belief around that this summer will see another ‘staycation’ boom so long as the vaccination programme continues to make good progress and infection rates fall. Pembrokeshire has had a lot of national media coverage in recent months and could experience a bumper season but it’s crucial we get the re-opening right. There is a clear need for some kind of timetable to help businesses prepare appropriately and for clear rules to avoid confusion and contradictory messages.”

Paul Davies said: “It was a pleasure to hear from tourism businesses across Pembrokeshire about some of the challenges that they’re currently facing. The message was pretty clear – they want clarity from the Welsh Government and some timescales by which they can start to plan for reopening. I’ll certainly be taking back the concerns highlighted during the meeting and raising them with Welsh Government Ministers at the Senedd.”

Emma Thornton from Visit Pembrokeshire added: “Great to attend the Hospitality and Tourism Round table event today and to have the opportunity to discuss the ongoing challenges our industry faces over the coming months but also to share a collective optimism for what we believe will be a really strong year for tourism in Pembrokeshire when we are able to reopen and welcome our visitors back.

“Visit Pembrokeshire as the new Destination Management (DMO) for Pembrokeshire will be working closely with local stakeholders and businesses to help realise this opportunity in a sustainable and responsible way mindful of protecting what makes our beautiful county so special”

Stephen Crabb: Wants clarity for tourism businesses

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