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Is the Audit Committee ‘fit for purpose’?

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AT LAST Friday’s (Jan 16) Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Bob Kilmister questioned whether or not the council-bgCouncil’s Audit Committee was fit for purpose.

Cllr Kilmister raised the issue during discussions on authority arrangements to support safeguarding of children.

The Wales Audit Office has put forward three proposals they think will help improve safeguarding; the second of those is to strengthen the link between the Audit Committee and other Overview and Scrutiny Committees.

Jeremy Evans from the Wales Audit Office said: “The second proposal is to strengthen the links between the Audit Committee and overview and scrutiny committees. This is something that is broader than just this committee; it’s for all of the overview and scrutiny committees to have better links with the Audit Committee. There needs to be some sort of mechanism put in place where the Audit Committee refers specific risks to the appropriate overview and scrutiny committee.”

Cllr Bob Kilmister challenged Jeremy asking: “Do you think that our Audit Committee arrangements are fit for purpose?”

Jeremy Evans replied: “There is no specific review in terms of what they are doing. We have observed some of the meetings. There is a slightly more complicated arrangement to your Corporate Governance Committee. There is potentially work to do for those two committees.”

Cllr Kilmister added: “This report is something we should be taking on board extremely seriously. Since we started the Audit Committee I have been very concerned about the way it is set up. We need to look at this in a totally different way. The structure is wrong, it is out of date. The committee structures that we’ve got are so old now they are coming to the point where I don’t think they are fit for purpose any longer. This report is something that we can’t influence. What it highlights is the constitutional working party that we’ve got doesn’t work. It’s absolutely urgent that we do something about this because we are frankly not fit for purpose. What we’re doing isn’t good enough at the present moment. It’s a criticism of all the councillors here that we need to make sure that what we do is good value for money.”

Cllr Sue Perkins added: “We should look at how we do things all the time. I agree that some of our committee structures should be looked at and I agree that the Audit Committee should be one of them. We have reached a stage where, after being in this format for a while, that it should be looked at.”

Cllr Kilmister then put forward a recommendation saying: “We should write a letter to the leader saying that we are unable to do anything as it stands, but we agree with the conclusion and would like to see urgent action taken to address that particular issue.”

Cllr Ken Rowlands added: “As chair of the Corporate Governance Committee, I will be discussing these matters with officers, come up with concerns that have been expressed and come to a conclusion so that these things are properly addressed. Things are changing all the time and we have to adjust as time goes on and I think it is time we did it now.”

Cllr Mike James said: “As vice chair of the audit committee I would like to say that we have been concentrating on one item. Maybe going forward the agenda will be bigger but that doesn’t mean that I don’t agree that things should be looked at.”

Jeremy Evans said: “We have often said that this committee’s activities are good examples of effective scrutiny. From your perspective you’re definitely on the right path of delivering what you need to do.”

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Funding secured for volunteering support at Paul Sartori Hospice at Home

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PAUL SARTORI Hospice at Home, a Pembrokeshire-based charity, is delighted to announce that they were recently awarded £29,814.00 by the Pembrokeshire County Council Enhancing Pembrokeshire Scheme. The charity has been awarded a grant to develop the “We Care: Volunteering Support” project, which will improve the volunteer infrastructure and support the volunteer community.

The project will combat issues around Second Home ownership by increasing community engagement and opportunities to connect people through training, open days, new social events and wider community outreach and communication. The first phase of the project has been completed with the successful recruitment of Eleanor Evans, the We Care: Project Officer. Eleanor joins this part of the charity, on a secondment basis, and brings a wealth of
experience, not only within the charity but also working with volunteers throughout the county.

The charity has experienced challenges over the last 12 months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new project will enhance the existing volunteer structure within the charity, develop incentives to increase volunteer engagement; support volunteers by providing increased training opportunities and develop a new social culture to decrease loneliness and isolation. Recognising that the pandemic has been a difficult time for many, improving and increasing community communication will also be a key aim.

Furthermore, the Sartori Stores throughout Pembrokeshire, have been through a difficult year, closing, opening and closing again. Most volunteers have gracefully assisted the charity, often at the drop of a hat, to open the stores.

Unfortunately, the charity has witnessed a decrease in the number of available volunteers to help, due to the pandemic. So therefore, another key objective will be to recruit and train more volunteers to assist in generating vital income and supporting areas within the clinical services.

“I am very excited to join this area of the charity and am looking forward to this new role. Having worked within the retail sector previously, I know how a lack of volunteers within a store can have a detrimental effect on the opening days and times. This will be where I will be concentrating my recruitment efforts on initially,” stated Eleanor Evans, We: Care Project Officer.

“Here at Paul Sartori we work hard to deliver a rewarding volunteer experience – we
ensure that adequate training is given to all volunteers. Our managers provide training and invest time with our volunteers to ensure they have the skills to work in many areas across the charity. Our stores can be a very busy, fast-paced environment, which offers a great opportunity for the environmentally conscious individual who wishes to help out a local charity selling pre-loved goods,” added Eleanor.

Cllr Bob Kilmister, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said the Council were pleased to support Paul Sartori deliver their We Care: Volunteering Support project.

“This project will add to the wide range of essential services Paul Sartori already provide to people in Pembrokeshire, improve their volunteer infrastructure and support the volunteer community,” he said.

“This is such a difficult time for charities and local organisations to maintain their services and volunteer activities and it is important to support them to strengthen their volunteer base, especially at this time when Covid is increasing the incidence of isolation and loneliness.”

The Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant, using funds raised via the Second Homes Tax is available to provide funding for new projects that help address the negative impact of second homes and in doing so adds value to our communities.

“This grant has come at a good time for the charity. Assisting our valued volunteers; recruiting more active volunteers and investing more in our existing training programme will ensure that the charity is financially sustained for many years to come,” said Judith Williams, Grants Coordinator at Paul Sartori Hospice at Home.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home provides a range of services to Pembrokeshire people living in the final stages of a life-limiting illness, including home nursing care, equipment loan, complementary therapy, bereavement and counselling support, under 18’s anticipatory grief and bereavement support, physiotherapy, advance care planning and training.

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish. All of the services are free of charge and are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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Police at scene of RTC – officers seeking witnesses

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POLICE in Milford Haven are making door to door enquiries in the Great North Road area following an accident involving a pedestrian and a vehicle.

It is understood that CCTV in the area was not pointing in the right direction so police are appealing for help with the case.

There is still a large police presence in the area as of 11.20am this morning (Feb 26).

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We were called to a collision in Great North Road, Milford Haven, at around 11am today.

“A vehicle pulling out onto the road has come into contact with a pedestrian.

“No-one was injured.”

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Crime Commissioner continues to secure funding for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual violence

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police is again making the offer for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual abuse to bid for additional funds.

Funding was made available last year, in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on organisations supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence.

It was part of a £76 million package of support made available by the UK Government.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “Thanks to this additional funding, we can ensure that victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Dyfed-Powys can access specialist services for support, at a time when they are needed the most.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in domestic violence during the pandemic and victims need help now more than ever and I am grateful for the work of all the service providers across the Force area that help these men, women and families who are most in need.

“I want to reassure anyone who is in an abusive situation or relationship that you do not need to suffer in silence, and I urge anyone to report abuse to the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“This funding is open both to providers whom I currently commission and those that I do not currently fund. However, unlike the extraordinary Covid-19 funding provided in 2020/21, organisations do not need to be a registered charity, a charitable incorporated organisation, or a social enterprise to be eligible for this funding. They must, however, provide support services which have the purpose of helping victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse cope with the impacts of crime and, as far as possible, recover from the harm they have experienced. We would also encourage applications from small specialist organisations that support groups with protected characteristics.

“If you wish to submit a request for this funding, further guidance is available on my website, and can be requested via the office e-mail address.”

Closing date for submissions is close of play on Friday, March 12, 2021.

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