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Audit Committee in disarray



Questions: One of the properties in Meyrick Street, Pembroke Dock

Questions: One of the properties in Meyrick Street, Pembroke Dock

THE COUNCIL’S continuing reluctance to release correspondence relating to its relationship with controversial Irish property developer Cathal McCosker is raising fears of another cover up at County Hall. Mr McCosker, the so-called ‘Baron of the Bedsits’, received hundreds of thousands of pounds in grants to renovate properties in Pembroke Dock. Instead of allowing scrutiny of his bank accounts when pressed, however, Mr McCosker reached a deal with the Council to repay a rumoured £180,000 to the local authority. It is the correspondence between the Council and Mr McCosker which was the subject of a motion calling for its disclosure, which was debated at a meeting of the Council’s Audit Committee on Monday December 1.

The meeting began inauspiciously. Lay member of the committee and its Chair, retired Morgan Cole partner Peter Jones, was absent.Normally, when a committee chair is unavailable the vice chair takes over handling the committee’s business. In this case, the vice chair of the committee is IPPG councillor Mike James. In the normal course of things, one would expect him to step into the vacant chair. However, the Audit Committee is a special case.

The rules governing the Audit Committee are covered by a piece of legislation called the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2011. It is a piece of legislation that has its own Guidance Notes which councils and their legal officers must make sure they follow. “It is permissible for only one of the committee’s members to be from the council’s executive, and this must not be the leader (or elected mayor). The council must have regard to this guidance when determining the membership of its audit committee. The chair of the committee is to be decided upon by the committee members themselves.

It can be a councillor or a lay member but, in the former case, must not be a councillor who belongs to a group with members in the executive.” The purpose of the guidance is, therefore, to make it clear that whoever chairs the committee it cannot be a member of a group with an interest in preserving the status quo. As one of the roles of the executive is to scrutinise a council’s internal financial controls, having a member of the ruling group deciding how that function should be transacted is inappropriate.

East Williamston representative Jacob Williams challenged Mike James’ chairing of the Committee and pointed out that correct legal position. He pointed out that it was for the committee members to appoint a chair for the meeting and that the chair could not be a member of the ruling group. Acting Head of Legal Services, Claire Incledon, was summoned from her garret to help the Committee reach a decision. Ms Incledon took the view that there was nothing in the rules to prevent the blameless Mike James from taking over the committee’s transaction of business on Monday.

The IPPG councillors on the committee ensured that her view was followed on nothing harder than the basis that Ms Incledon was a lawyer who should know her stuff, regardless of what the law actually said. So, Mike James chaired the meeting: a move which calls into question whether any of Monday’s business was lawfully transacted. The substantive order of business before the Committee related to Cllr Mike Stoddart’s motion to ensure that councillors had the chance to scrutinise how and in what circumstances the authority had decided to settle up with Mr McCosker.

Detective Sergeant Lewis of Dyfed Powys Police, who was attending the committee to assist it with its enquiries, confirmed that no arrests had been made, no charges brought, and no court proceedings were pending. Claire Incledon intervened. This move, she told the Committee, would involve the council breaking the sub judice rules. Since March, Council Leader Jamie Adams and others on the IPPG benches have repeatedly and persistently misused the sub judice rule to stifle debate on the grants scandal.

Experienced newspaper proprietor that he was, Mike Stoddart pointed out with some force that the Contempt of Court Act and the sub judice rule it enshrines was not applicable. The Contempt of Court Act only bites when arrests have been made, charges brought and court proceedings are either pending or ongoing. As none of those circumstances applied, the sub judice argument was nonsense. While the police objected to the release of records under Article 6 of the Human Rights Act, it was argued that the limited circulation of the material to which Cllr Stoddart wanted access would not lead to any unfair trial, as the material would be treated confidentially.

In similar circumstances in January of this year, Monitoring Officer Laurence Harding was compelled to acquiesce in the request to release documents for councillors’ examination. On that occasion, of course, the Committee was under the robust leadership of John Evans MBE, who later resigned in disgust at the failure of the Council to respond responsibly to legitimate public concerns. Speaking to The Herald, Mike Stoddart said: “What an absolute shambles! First the IPPG members used their 4:2 majority to elect one of their own as chairman despite having it explained to them by Cllr Jacob Williams that such an appointment was clearly against the law. This constitutionally defective committee then went on to reject my Notice of Motion on the basis of what were clear misrepresentations of the Human Rights Act and the sub judice rules.”



  1. ieuan

    December 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    What does the IPPG have to hide??
    What does McCosker have to hide??

    Would Lawrence Harding do all of Pembrokeshire a big Favour and retire!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Flashbang

    December 19, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Finally we have a name to attach to the police “investigation” I hope DS Lewis reads all the paperwork involved and not just what the PCC hands over. As there is a conflict of interest in them handing over incriminating evidence it’s hard to see them doing just that. Will there be any witnesses interviewed or statements taken? There seems to be a lackadaisical approach by the police in the past when they have been called in about the goings on at PCC.

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Blue Lagoon to open to the public for one day only as charity fundraiser



A POPULAR leisure venue will be open to locals this summer with the aim of raising thousands of pounds for local charities.

The Blue Lagoon at Bluestone National Park Resort will throw its doors open to the public on August 27.

Six hundred tickets will be available for the local community to enjoy the tropical water park.

All ticket sales go to local charitable causes, with 75 per cent of funds going to a local charitable organisation and 25 per cent through the Bluestone Foundation.

On Tuesday, August 27, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home and Team Cruising Free will benefit from the fundraising created through ticket sales.

Paul Sartori provides end of life care and support at home for Pembrokeshire patients. Team Cruising Free will row the Atlantic in 2025, raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Paul Sartori.

The Bluestone Foundation, the charitable arm of Bluestone National Park Resort has generated funding totalling £17,500 for west Wales communities from its latest round of events and funding.

It has supported local groups with more than £250,000 since it was launched in 2010.

The Bluestone Foundation offers two avenues of support: the community events and the community fund. The community events at the Blue Lagoon raise funds and awareness for local charities.

This year, the foundation has already hosted events for Get the Boys a Lift and VC Gallery. As well as the August event, there will also be an event in October for Sammy Sized Gap, a local charity supporting young people with mental health issues.

“We are thrilled to see the positive impact our community events have on local organisations,” said Marten Lewis at the Bluestone Foundation. “The Blue Lagoon provides a unique and enjoyable setting for fundraising, and we are grateful for the community’s support.”

The community fund, which runs in three rounds this year, provides financial assistance to projects focused on economic, social, and environmental initiatives. The foundation recently allocated approximately £7,500 to three projects in its first round of funding and is currently reviewing applications for its second round which closes in July. A third round of funding will close on 17 October.

Among those to have benefited in the first round are the South Ridgeway Community Association in Manorbier to help develop a community garden and allotments; The Tenby Project, to support weekly sessions with a trained nutritionist on healthy eating for adults with learning difficulties; and Transition Bro Gwaun in Fishguard, to host community energy engagement events.

Tickets for the August event can be purchased at Eventbrite For more information about the Bluestone Foundation and its initiatives, visit

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Broad Haven’s Music Festival set to rock village



GET ready for an electrifying day of music and fun as the Havens Events Crew proudly presents the highly anticipated Broad Haven Music Festival. Scheduled for Saturday, July 20, from 3 PM to 11:30 PM, this event promises a vibrant mix of live bands, local talent, and a delightful BBQ, making it an unmissable occasion for music lovers and families alike.

The festival, at Broad Haven School Field, will feature an impressive lineup of performers. Attendees can look forward to the acoustic melodies of Cadence Acoustic, the energetic rhythms of Coastal Horizon, and the dynamic performances by Loose Change. These local bands are set to deliver a variety of genres, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

In addition to the musical performances, the festival will offer a range of delicious BBQ options, perfect for enjoying a summer evening outdoors. Whether you’re a long-time resident or a visitor, the Broad Haven Music Festival is an ideal opportunity to experience the local culture, connect with the community, and enjoy high-quality entertainment.

Tickets for the event are available for purchase at the Broad Haven Post Office and Lobster and Môr. Early acquisition is recommended to secure a spot at this popular event.

It promises to be a memorable day filled with music, food, and community spirit. The Broad Haven Music Festival is more than just a concert; it’s a celebration of local talent and a testament to the vibrant culture of our town. Don’t miss out on this fantastic event!

For more information, visit the Havens Events Crew’s official website or follow their social media pages for updates and announcements.

Event Details:

  • Date: Saturday, July 20
  • Time: 3 PM – 11:30 PM
  • Location: Broad Haven School Field
  • Performers: Cadence Acoustic, Coastal Horizon, Loose Change
  • Tickets Available At: Broad Haven Post Office, Lobster and Môr

Be sure to mark your calendars and get your tickets soon – we look forward to seeing you there!

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England’s Euro 2024 semi-final victory captivates millions



ENGLAND’S Euro 2024 semi-final victory over the Netherlands garnered a peak audience of 20.3 million on ITV, cementing its status as the most-watched television programme of the year. Broadcasters are now hopeful that Sunday night’s final against Spain will attract over 30 million viewers, surpassing the numbers that tuned in for England’s Euro 2020 final defeat.

The overnight viewing figures, provided by ratings agency Digital-i, do not account for the millions who streamed the match on ITVX or watched in public venues. The coverage of Euro 2024 in the UK is split between the BBC and ITV, with the channels alternating first choices for matches in each round. ITV executives celebrated Jordan Pickford’s crucial penalty save against Switzerland, which secured another high-profile England match and delivered a substantial advertising boost to the channel.

Both the BBC and ITV will broadcast the final, with approximately a fifth of viewers typically opting for ITV over the BBC. Euro 2024 has demonstrated the enduring appeal of live sports broadcasting, which continues to draw massive audiences, particularly when the events are free to watch. Even matches not involving home nations have attracted significant viewership, with the Spain v France semi-final on BBC One peaking at 11 million viewers.

The Euros are part of the UK’s “crown jewel” sporting events, which include the football World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Olympics, all mandated by law to be shown on free-to-air channels. In contrast, other sports have opted for the higher revenue available from pay TV channels, resulting in substantially lower audiences for international matches. The England and Wales cricket board successfully lobbied in the 2000s to keep England test matches off the free-to-air list. Consequently, Jimmy Anderson’s farewell match against the West Indies at Lords, broadcast behind a paywall on Sky, attracted a peak audience of only about 700,000 viewers.

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