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Complaint follows council carve up

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A VETERAN former local councillor has suggested that Council Leader Jamie Adams and his Cabinet broke the rules when they took part in a debate at a Full Council meeting on Thursday, December 11. William Rees MBE, who spent twenty-nine years as a community, district and county councillor has threatened to refer the conduct of the IPPG Leader and his Cabinet at a Council meeting that took place on Thursday December 11 to the Public Services Ombudsman.

Mr Rees was in the public gallery in County Hall and made a vocal interjection pointing out that Council Leader Jamie Adams had failed to declare a pecuniary and personal interest in a matter being debated on the floor of the Chamber. The key point to which Mr Rees has taken objection arose during the debate on Councillor Jacob Williams’ motion seeking to put in place a process that could lead to the annual election of the Council Leader. In Pembrokeshire, the Council Leader has wide and sweeping powers of patronage. With very little, or any, oversight the Leader has the power to appoint Cabinet members to their remunerated posts; the power to appoint councillors as the remunerated chairs of some committees; the power to appoint councillors to remunerated positions on public bodies outside the authority.

In the most blatant instance of gerrymandering positions outside the authority, when Cllr Peter Stock left the Independent Group he was replaced as the authority’s representative on the Dyfed Powys Police Authority by Independent Group loyalist Steve Yelland. When Cllr Adams had been challenged on the appointment of Cllr Stock shortly before he left the Independent Group, he claimed he had appointed Cllr Stock on merit as the best man for the job. It is apparent, therefore, from his subsequent act that Cllr Adams felt Cllr Stock’s then m e m b e r s h i p of the Independent Group Cllr Adams leads was the most merit-worthy of his qualities.

The issue of patronage and remuneration is important to Mr Rees’ point. In a letter addressed to Council Monitoring Officer Laurence Harding, he makes it clear that, as the current incumbent who could face loss of post if Cllr Williams’ motion was passed, Cllr Adams had, in his view, an interest in the outcome of the vote that he should have declared.

In addition, the members of Cllr Adams’ Cabinet also had an interest in the outcome both on the vote regarding the annual election of the leader and on an amendment proposing that the appointment of Cabinet members be vetted by the full Council. Neither Cllr Adams nor any member of his Cabinet declared an interest in the outcome of the vote. Monitoring Officer, Laurence Harding was challenged on the issue of whether Cllr Adams or his Cabinet had an interest in the votes’ outcomes.

Mr Harding told disbelieving councillors that as all of them were potential Cabinet members, Cabinet members were in no different a position than of other councillors. Mr Rees, who is a former Chair of South Pembrokeshire District Council, headmaster and schools inspector for Estyn, disagrees with Mr Harding and regarding Cllr Adams wrote: “Jacob Williams’motion, currently, is directly applicable to him but there was no declaration of interest.

As the position is salaried then surely there is a direct pecuniary interest. “There was an amendment to the motion [proposed by Cllr Paul Miller] that called for all members of cabinet to also be subjected to a vote at the AGM. A councillor asked for advice regarding members of cabinet being able to vote on a matter in which they had a direct pecuniary interest. You advised that as all councillors could be members of cabinet that all were entitled to vote. Surely the issue is not who could be members of cabinet but those who actually are.”

Mr Harding’s interpretation of the rules has been shown to be flawed in the past. In January, he was compelled to back down and release documents relating to the grants scandal in Pembroke Dock. In the month before last week’s Council meeting, Mr Harding was also forced into a humiliating public climb down – coincidentally by Cllr Jacob Williams – over his interpretation of the constitution affecting the election of the Council Leader. Mr Rees’ letter makes it plain that his letter is a formal complaint and that his letter has been seen by the Ombudsman’s office who regarding it that it should be treated as such. The Ombudsman has confirmed that Mr Harding has a twenty day period to reply prior to Mr Rees making a referral.

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Pembrokeshire residents can quickly check symptoms for variety of conditions on NHS 111 Wales online

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NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker can save Pembrokeshire patients time by helping them find the right NHS service for treatment. Symptoms can be quickly checked for a variety of conditions and advice given on the best way to treat them by visiting www.111.wales.nhs.uk which is hosted by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The way we access NHS services has changed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more options now becoming increasingly utilised, including the NHS 111 Wales online service which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be used for both health information and advice and to access urgent primary care in Welsh and English.

In a recent YouGov survey, a third of Pembrokeshire residents had not even heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker and only 19% had used it during the past 12 months.

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are asking everyone to help us by reconsidering the way you access NHS services. The methods available have changed but we are still here for you. It is worth getting to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker with your first port of call being NHS 111 Wales.”

According to the YouGov survey, carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign, only 67% of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker. However, 86% said they felt it was important to have access to the service.   

NHS 111 Wales online can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. The way it works is: You answer questions about your symptoms on the website and depending on the situation you will:

  •           Get self-care advice
  •           Be told how to get any medicine you need
  •           Find out what local service can help you
  •           Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  •           Get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  •           Be given an arrival time if you need to go to A&E – this might mean you spend less time in A&E

For those who don’t have confidence going online to seek advice, there is the NHS 111 Wales phone service. This is also a free service where patients can contact the NHS by dialling 111 to receive advice on the best way to manage their issue or gain further assistance if needed. The bilingual telephone service is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Eighty-four percent of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales phone service when asked for the recent YouGov survey but only 20% had used the telephone service during the last 12 months.

 

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Trial date for son accused of killing mum

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THE SON of Judith Rhead, 68, who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Feb 20 will now appear in Crown Court again in October.

Dale Morgan, 43, said to be a scout master, appeared in court only to confirm his name, date of birth and address – which was listed as Honeyborough Green, Neyland.

A plea and trial preparation hearing date was set for March 26 with a provisional trial date set for October 4.

He was remanded in custody.

In court papers it stated that the alleged murder took place between December 10, 2020 and February 21, 2021.

The paperwork demonstrates that the police are unsure of the exact date that Ms Rhead died. The large date range, two months, points to the likelihood that this will be a challenging case for all those involved.

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Launch of Haverfordwest Castle Conservation Management Plan

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MEMBERS of the public are being asked to help shape the future of Haverfordwest Castle as a draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is launched.

One of Pembrokeshire’s most important historical assets, the Castle is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which has produced the CMP.

The plan:

▪ sets out the significance of the castle and describes how the building will be protected with any new use, alteration, repair or management; 

▪ will help with the planning of maintenance, conservation and repair work and adaptation of the site to meet new or changing uses; 

▪ will help promote understanding of the site and look at improving public access and activities for local people and visitors; 

▪ will support proposals to conserve the castle and adaptations of the site in response to climate change; 

▪ and underpin funding applications to support improvements

An engagement exercise has been launched alongside the Plan, giving members of the public with an interest in the historic and/or environmental significance of the castle an opportunity to comment on the document and share their views.

To take part in the engagement exercise, please click on the following link: 

https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/regeneration-communities

The deadline for responses is Sunday, March 28, 2021.

 

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