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Motions ‘kicked into the long grass’

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County Hall

County Hall

MEMBERS of the Corporate Governance Committee felt that two notices of motion were being ‘kicked into the long grass’ on Monday.

Cllrs Viv and Mike Stoddart both saw their motions sent to the Constitutional Issues Working Group, a group which has not met since April 2014.

The working group was the subject of much debate and Council Leader Jamie Adams stated that he was happy to commit to the group meeting by the end of February but other councillors were not convinced.

Cllr Mike Stoddart proposed that a person putting forward a Notice of Motion, if he/she wishes, could propose that it be debated on the day and the council would vote on the matter.

Cllr Michael Williams said: “I find the recommendation a bit strange because in the leaders’ meeting last week there was a general acceptance that the Constitutional Issues Working Group was at best in a state of complete torpor. When did it last meet? This is certainly a boot into the long grass”.

Acting Head of Paid Service Ian Westley added: “This particular issue was raised by myself because whilst I understand there are issues about how often this group has met and how affective it might have been, the issue that was raised at that meeting was in fact that it is still in place and we should bring it back on track and use it for its intended purpose. This is nothing to do with kicking things into long grass”.

Cllr Kilmister added: “We already have a constitution which says how a notice of motion should be dealt with and that should be that it goes to this committee for a decision and then it goes on to council. This committee is being used in the wrong way. We need to put it back to council and stop referring these things. We shouldn’t be extending this process. We need to determine this and if it goes to the working group it will be lost for months to come. They haven’t once looked at the notices of motion and it is a complete farce!”

Cllr Jacob Williams said: “These issues do not need to go off to a Constitutional Issues Working Group, which is, in my opinion, kicking it into the long grass and I would also disagree that this committee should be able to kick it there without it going back to council”.

Cllr Viv Stoddart proposed that non-executive members should be allowed to ask questions or comment on an agenda item at an executive meeting.

She said: “My motion seeks to close the gap at Pembrokeshire County Council. A non-executive member can send representations to the Cabinet member who may inform the Cabinet of the issues brought to his or her attention. The key word there is ‘may’. Non-executive members should not have their representations subject to the whim of the Cabinet member. This discretion affords the Cabinet member an opportunity to abuse their positions of power.

“If we go back to autumn 2013, when the proposed merger of schools in my ward was on the agenda for the November Cabinet meeting, I emailed my contribution to all members; did the cabinet member raise my email? There wasn’t a word from the cabinet member.

“There is no equality of arms between the non-executive member and the cabinet member. The Cabinet member, during the debate, can make the case for his ward. This gives them an unfair advantage over the non-executive members.

“When it comes to scrutiny, in September, the leader accepted that Cabinet members needed to be more inclusive in the way they dealt with members.

“If this is accepted it will be seen by the public as being more open and transparent”.

Council Leader Jamie Adams said: “We need to recognise that the process of undertaking a complete review of the constitution is the way forward to provide a firm footing for the council to operate.

“The opportunity is with us to shape how we operate in the future; we’ve got an opportunity in our grasp within three months we could have that on the table. I would suggest our efforts be concentrated on that rather than adopting well-meaning aspects of change when we can have a fundamental review”.

Cllr Jacob Williams said: “I completely support the proposal and it is interesting as the leader says it’s got merit so I can’t see why he would be keen to kick it into the long grass. We’ve got to grab the bull by the horns and get on with it”.

Cllr Kilmister stated that Cabinet should be more accessible and that it was time for councillors to speak for themselves.

Ian Westley added: “I share your frustrations. As officers we are being told of the need to redraft elements of the constitution, it’s in all of our interests to do. You’ve heard the leader commit to calling a meeting of the Constitutional Issues Working Group before the end of this month and his commitment to attempt to get the constitution redrafted by the annual council which is not four months away”.

Speaking earlier in the meeting, he stated that he saw the recommendations for the two agenda items as a positive way of moving forward.

Council Leader Jamie Adams added: “It has proved difficult and we’ve probably got bogged down which is why we agreed a set of principles to guide the council forward. If we’re chipping away at the current constitution I don’t believe we would be doing ourselves much of a service and I gave the commitment at the leaders meeting and I am happy to do it again here that I see a real opportunity to get a new working constitution to council by the AGM this year. I’d like to think that is a far better way forward”.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Flashbang

    February 14, 2015 at 2:24 am

    The sooner this dysfunctional and obstructive council is put into administration the better. What are the reasons it is run in such an underhanded and deceitful way? Who gains from the bizarre decisions made by cabinet? Questions need to be asked at the highest level as to why this council is allowed to continue unchecked.

  2. John Hudson

    February 15, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Has this “working Group” ever agreed a plan as to how it is to proceed? This at least should be reported to its parent committee and perhaps Council so that it can be held to public account.

  3. ieuan

    February 17, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    The sooner this bunch of idiots are removed from office (the IPPG) the better for us all.

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Community

Wales hurtling towards 10,000 care home bed deficit over next decade

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EXPERTS have warned there will be desperate shortage of 10,000 care home beds in Wales over the next decade.

The alert has been raised specialist business property adviser Christie & Co who say there is a growing need for new, “future proof” care homes to meet the need.

Their prediction comes at a time when demand is spiralling upwards, with the over 85 population set to double over the next 20 years.

According to sector champions Care Forum Wales (CFW) the “alarming figures” illustrated the need for social care to be funded properly for existing homes to survive and encourage the development of new ones.

CFW warned that Wales was “sleepwalking into disaster” because the growing shortage of care home beds would pile pressure on the beleaguered NHS when hospitals were already virtually at breaking point.

Building new care homes is a costly business as Gwynedd and Flintshire county councils have shown recently.

They have plans to build two new facilities with a total of around 100 beds between them at an estimated cost of more than £250,000 per bed.

If their figures are correct that would mean it would mean it would cost £400 million for the extra beds needed in North Wales and £2.5 billion for the whole of Wales over the next 10 years.

Worryingly, Christie & Co also revealed in the report  that 40 elderly care homes in Wales closed and only four opened between 2020 and 2023 – with no new ones in North Wales.

Among the closures in North Wales were Trewythen Hall in Gresford, Bay Court in Kinmel Bay, Gwastad Hall in Cefn y Bedd and Morfa Newydd in Greenfield with the loss of more than 160 beds.

CFW Chair Mario Kreft MBE said: “The report from Christie & Co paints a bleak picture an illustrates how the existing crisis is going to get even worse, creating a double whammy for our overstretched hospitals which have rows of ambulances queuing outside and patients on trolleys in corridors.

“Instead of being able to build more care homes to meet growing demand, we are seeing more and more care home closures.

“The cost of building new care homes and replacing the beds we are losing now is absolutely eye-watering.

“Our public finances in Wales are already under pressure so where is this money coming from?

“The way care homes are funded in Wales is a total postcode lottery with 29 variations on a theme, with most of social care being commissioned by the 22 local authorities and seven health boards.

“Within that there is a gaping North-South divide with five of the six county councils in North Wales paying the lowest fees, arrived at by a fee-fixing cartel known as the North Wales Regional Fees Group.

“The one shining exception is Conwy Council where earlier this year announced inflation-busting plans to increase fees by up to 20% after warnings that care homes were at risk of financial meltdown and closure.

“Following a long-running campaign by Care Forum Wales they have introduced fairer fees which reflect the actual cost of providing care for vulnerable people in privately run homes, including those with dementia.

“That came about because Conwy broke away from the North Wales Regional Fees Group and took our advice by  commissioning leading healthcare economists Laing & Buisson to analyse the true costs of care providers for the current year.

“It’s and internationally recognised tool to ensure that and those living and working in care homes can receive the best care, while at the same time, ensuring that the

“This is something we have been calling for over many years. All we want is fairness in line with the Welsh Government’s ‘Let’s agree to agree’ guidance.

“The fundamental issue threatening the viability of care homes is the unrealistically low fees that the vast majority of councils and health boards pay, fees that come nowhere near covering the true cost of providing care.

“Economically, it would make a lot more sense to ensure the financial security of our existing care homes instead of just relying on the forlorn hope that somebody is going to magically build enough new ones to  meet current needs and the increasing demands for social care.

“We’ve had a generation of injustice and it’s a generation where the institutional prejudice and discrimination against the private care sector in Wales has meant that those living and working in these fantastic community assets have not been valued.

“The problems we have in social care lead to the pressures in the NHS which lead of course then to extra costs being placed on the NHS which would largely be alleviated if local authorities had a more enlightened approach to social care.

“If Conwy can do it, the other five local authorities in North Wales can and should do it and of course, the money has always been there. It’s how you politically choose to spend it.

“Across the famous Foryd Bridge, which links Kinmel Bay and Rhyl, Denbighshire County Council is budgeting announced  much smaller increases of around 8% on rock bottom fees which have been immediately wiped out by inflation and the cost of living crisis.

“The vastly differing rates mean that Denbighshire will be paying £9,224 a year less per person than Conwy towards the cost of giving exactly the same level of nursing care to residents.

“It is simply an outrage. It’s an affront to the families that that bridge spanning the mouth of the River Clwyd can mean such a massive difference for vulnerable people, including those with dementia.

“The families of those people, who will often be expected to make up the difference,  need to ask why and quite frankly, it is a bridge too far.

“This is undoubtedly a stealth tax on families and quite frankly, the people making these decisions in those authorities should be utterly ashamed of themselves in the way they are betraying vulnerable people including those with profound dementia and their families.

“What this demonstrates is that there is an urgent need for us to look again at the way social care is funded.

“We need a national approach to eliminate this iniquitous postcode lottery so that the people for whom we provide care and our staff are treated fairly.

”This is too important to be left to local authorities and health boards alone – it has to be driven by the Welsh Government.”

Pictured: Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales

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Entertainment

A toadi-tastic guest at the Torch! Poop! Poop!

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IT’S not every day the Torch Theatre is graced with the company of a living, breathing toad for one of its productions. But this July, as the Torch Youth Theatre performs Wind in the Willows, it’s only fitting that a Toad should make an appearance at the Torch Theatre Box Office for all to admire!

Borrowed from Dragon Reptiles and Aquatics in Pembroke Dock, our Toad will be in full view for those attending the Torch Youth Theatre production. This fascinating amphibian won’t make a stage appearance but Toad of Toad Hall will, along with his fellow riverside and woodland friends – Badger, Ratty and Mole.

We’re also providing a bilingual fact sheet for all explaining how to look after a toad, what he eats and where he likes to live.

“POOP POOP! We can’t wait to welcome this TOAD-ely fabulous amphibian to the Torch. We’re keeping our fingers cross that this one isn’t quite as untamed as the one on stage. Come and see if we’re proven right or if there ends up being two Toads on the loose!”

Toads, of all kinds, are very popular, especially here in Pembrokeshire. Thousands have been seen on Skomer Island and many can be seen at Whitesands Bay making a qwark-qwark-qwark sound.

And as Claire Morris owner of Dragon Reptiles and Aquatics explains, she was delighted that Toad could go on holiday to his local theatre.

“I think it’s a great idea. Children will be able to relate to the main character when they see Toad in his vivarium. They are such interesting and friendly amphibians and our Toad can’t wait to travel from Pembroke Dock to the Torch for his short stay,” explained Claire.

Wind in the Willows will be on the Torch Theatre stage on Monday 22 July, Tuesday 23 July and Wednesday 24 July at 6.30pm. Ticket price: £10 / £8 concessions. The Youth Theatre will be joined by The Torch Voices Community Choir. To book your tickets or for further information, contact the Box Office on01646 695267 or visit torchtheatre.co.uk.

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News

BBC Cymru Wales announces new line-up of sports content

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BBC Cymru Wales has announced an exciting new fixture list of content for the forthcoming sporting season. With sports fans looking for immediate coverage of their team, keeping up to date with the latest news and analysis, the broadcaster will be introducing new content on iPlayer, Sounds and online.

Under the Scrum V and Feast of Football brands BBC Cymru Wales will be launching two new digital first, multi-platform programmes – designed for audiences to watch or listen to on their phones, tablets and laptops as well as on television or BBC iPlayer.

The multi-platform Scrum V show will feature big names talking rugby in a relaxed and no holds barred environment, presented by Lauren Jenkins.

And of course there’ll be plenty of live action as Scrum V’s first URC game of the season kicks off on Friday, 20 September when Cardiff take on Zebre. Sarra Elgan will bring all the action from the Welsh clubs every Friday evening on BBC Two Wales, following all four Welsh regions in their quest for this year’s title.  

With audiences wanting their highlights quickly, Scrum V’s evening highlights show will no longer be on Sunday nights.  Instead, highlights will be available shortly after the final whistles of all Welsh regional matches online and on Scrum V’s social channels.  These highlights will also be combined and shown as one comprehensive package on BBC Wales TV and iPlayer. And the Scrum V Podcast continues weekly on BBC Sounds with Gareth Rhys Owen.

Other new shows under the Scrum V banner this season include Scrum V Top 5s which sees Mammoth star and diehard rugby fan Mike Bubbins inviting guests to choose iconic moments and characters from the game. Among those featured in this eight-part series is Sam Warburton who reveals some very unlikely choices for his Top 5 Teammates.

Football fans also have a new multi-platform show. With a bumper autumn of international football approaching, an eight part series of Feast of Football will have unparalleled access into the national squad – capturing all the excitement and the big talking points of the Welsh game.

Presented by former Wales captain Ashley Williams, this will be a must watch for football fans and will tap into the spirit and passion of the Red Wall.  Filmed at the Football Association of Wales’s headquarters on the eve of the men’s and women’s internationals, the show will feature interviews and exclusive access to players from both camps, as well as short films from around Wales.

Ashley Williams said: “I’m really excited to be presenting Feast of Football. We’ve got great access to the squads and we’ll be giving fans a brilliant insight into Welsh football and talking about the things that matter to them. We want them to feel they’re right at the heart of the camp and part of the story.”

BBC Cymru Wales is also increasing its online sports coverage with more team topic pages and live text pages while a new BBC Radio Wales and BBC Sounds series this autumn – Iconic: The Rise of the Women in Red – presented by Wales’s most capped footballer Jess Fishlock will chart the growth of women’s football.

Carolyn Hitt, Head of Sport at BBC Cymru Wales said: “Scrum V is our iconic rugby brand and will remain at the heart of our sports coverage, with content throughout the week offering analysis and predictions, timely highlights as well as marking the remarkable moments. BBC Wales is proud to have brought Scrum V to audiences for almost 30 years and our aim is to capture the interest and imagination of a new generation of rugby fans as well as rewarding our longstanding audiences with new content.”

“As the game evolves and the way we consume sport changes, we’re looking to provide more instant coverage, courtesy of our new digital formats. Rugby and football fans can rest assured that the new offer will bring the latest news, views and analysis to their laptop, smart phone and TV.

“I’m delighted that from next season we can bring more football to fans across Wales.  Feast of Football will expand with a podcast and iPlayer and TV versions. Feast of Football will talk Welsh football in all its glory and in the slightly less glorious times. 

“It’s also true that the BBC, like other broadcasters is having to cut its cloth in line with its budgets. Increased costs across the board, as well as our ambition to cover a broader range of sport means we’re having to focus where we spend our money and ensure we’re giving our audience the sport coverage they want in the places they want to enjoy it.”

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