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Badger and the appliance of science

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badger84imageECONOMICS, readers, was described by Thomas Carlyle as “the dismal science”. Of course, the fact he coined the phrase in the context of a pamphlet supporting the reintroduction of slavery in the Caribbean demonstrates that one has to have an eye on the context in which they were originally offered up to posterity when considering the wisdom of aphorisms. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” is often handed down as though it was an immortal truth: one carved in stone; one to be heeded at all times and in all circumstances. Its appeal to authority is often followed by a nod to its origin in Shakespeare. Polonius, the character who offers the advice in Hamlet, is generally regarded as being as thick as mince and his counsel of as little use as a chocolate fireguard. So, readers, bear in mind t h a t wh e n e v e r you hear someone q u o t e t h a t line; their advice should be given as much weight as Hamlet ends up giving to Polonius’. By the way, and while Badger does not want to spoil the surprise, Hamlet stabs poor old Polonius by way of a farcical mistake resulting from Polonius own idiocy.

But it is of economics that Badger wants to write this week readers. In a way, it is inevitable that Carlyle, who subscribed to the dictum above. He believed in the “great man” theory of history which persisted for a surprisingly long time in scholarship. Economics, and more particularly economic history, is less about the individual poised at the moment of decision than about demography and long term trends. Badger is prepared to concede a great deal to those who think that the answer to the questions of the past can be divined from financial history and the study of markets and the masses. Much can be learned about the way in which some countries rise to positions of pre-eminence less because of the individual genius of its inhabitants than by their ability to exploit and more efficiently organize resources.

But when it comes down to it, readers, there are far fewer artworks devoted to the heroism of Keynes, Friedman and Galbraith t h a n there are to Napoleon, Frederick the Great or Churchill. Badger prefers to consider that there is a form of synthesis between the approaches of the different schools of thought. Otherwise how can one go about explaining the economic illiteracy, foolishness and pig-headed ignorance of Pembrokeshire’s county councillors – and more particularly the IPPG – when it came to Bryn Parry-Jones. Badger had hoped that the Brynmeister had made his last appearance in his column, but the eagerness of the national media to suddenly discover details of Bryn’s work car revealed in this paper over six months ago, thrust him and Pembrokeshire County Council’s profligate pay policy for senior officers into pin sharp focus.

That, combined with the news that the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales wants to cut his successor’s pay by a third to a measly £130K all in, behoves Badger to once more return to the longest running punchline to the longest running joke in Welsh local government. £195K readers. Toy with that fi gure. Roll it around in your head. £195,000 of our council tax paying pounds is what was bunged to Bryn by way of an annual remuneration package. How did anyone, let alone people charged with custody of public money, come to believe that one man was worth so much? Badger has a theory. It is only a notion borne out of Badger’s observations of the way you lot behave up there on the surface, but he offers it for your consideration. Hard as it might be to believe, readers, Bryn was regarded as a bit of whizz kid in his past.

He had been the youngest chief executive of a council in Wales (Llanelli) before the great local government shake-up that returned unitary authority status to our county eliminated Llanelli Borough Council and merged it with Carmarthenshire. So it was to Pembrokeshire – pretty much the last resort – to which Bryn turned. One fl ashy presentation later and Bryn jumped on the gravy train and rode it right up until it ran into the buffers. Thereafter, all Bryn had to do was to consolidate his grip on power and then play up to councillors’ vanity and insecurity to ensure that his pay escalated from the merely very comfortable to the stratospherically lunatic. Councillors, it has been written elsewhere by this newspaper’s deputy editor, were encouraged to believe that they were clever because they had appointed Bryn, who appeared clever.

Councillors, particularly those from the so-called Independent Group, liked feeling clever – or at least possessed of the secret knowledge of their own cleverness. But their misplaced self-confi dence was accompanied by insecurity. If Bryn left, their cleverness would evaporate; worse, their brilliance would be revealed to be as illusory as the emperor’s new clothes. So it was, readers, that slowly but surely Bryn was put into a position where he could apply the screws and chisel more money out of his employers. The vanity and insecurity of a few councillors, over time allowed Bryn to grab more and more. But it is worse than that, readers. The corollary of paying the Grand Panjandrum a large sum of money, means that all his subordinate mandarins’ pay becomes inflated simply to stay in step.

They are all worth more, because the Grand Panjandrum is worth more. The senior offi cers – heads of service – become less likely to proactively act on problems. There are two pressures at play here. There is the risk of killing the goose that has laid golden eggs. And, of course, if the Chief is clever they must also be clever. That is the species of thought that allows heads of service to re-write care home fees without reference to rational external criteria and allow the use of punishment cells in our county’s schools. They cannot be wrong, because they are clever. They can show how clever they are by reference to their pay cheques. Readers, what we have there is a perfect storm of wilful ignorance and self-interest fuelling grotesque pay infl ation. Every chief officer and senior officer in Wales wanted Pembrokeshire’s gravy train to keep on running to maintain the South Sea Bubble of senior staff’s pay.

But no more: the Remuneration Panel has decreed that Pembrokeshire’s size and staff complement cannot support a wage more outrageous than the £130,000 a year it proposes. Such is the infl ated pay that the Council pays to its individual heads of service, a new chief executive could end up being paid less than those notionally their underlings. So, Jamie Adams has a problem, readers. Whether he settles for what the Panel proposes or insists that £145,000 is the minimum to attract someone who will make his friends on the “Independent” benches feel clever again, he will be acknowledging that it was under the “Independent” group’s stewardship that this council (our council, readers!!) not only threw away hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money on overpaying its chief offi cer and his lackeys, but continues to do so. The economic science the “Independent” group understands, readers, is the economics of the madhouse. It’s dismal, indeed.

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Crime

Pembroke Dock residents ‘terrified’ as chaos and violence erupts in streets

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PEMBROKE DOCK was thrown into chaos on Saturday afternoon (Jun 16) as violence erupted in Pembroke Street, leaving residents terrified and questioning the safety of their community.

Eyewitnesses reported a man waving a samurai sword or machete and two other men attacking an individual, leaving him beaten and wounded on the ground.

The shocking incident drew a swift response from emergency services, with six police cars and two ambulances rushing to the scene.

Videos circulating on social media showed chaotic scenes, with one clip capturing the man brandishing the sword while another depicted two men assaulting a third, leaving him bloodied and on the pavement. Witnesses identified the assailants as local individuals, further fueling fears about escalating violence within the community.

Natalie Newton, the owner of The Dolphin Hotel, described how one of the men allegedly involved, ran into her establishment seeking refuge. She said: “He came in out of breath, couldn’t even breathe to tell me what was happening. He looked off his face on drugs, so I told him to get out,” Newton recounted. “At that time, I didn’t know what was happening in the street with the guy and the sword. I had a lovely group of ladies enjoying an afternoon of food and drinks when some crackhead walks in off his face! But it’s not the first time! Something needs to be done about the crackheads across the road negatively impacting mine and the Tavern’s business! Two days ago, there were around 12 police officers marching in the street with tools to break down their door at midday! Why aren’t they being sorted out?”

Some customers at The Market Tavern at 15 Pembroke Street said they were ‘locked in’ whist the drama unfolded.

Residents reported that the police arrested at least one male at the scene, though details remain unconfirmed by official sources. Comments from residents indicated a mixture of anger and disbelief. “Absolute fools,” remarked Marie Stacey, while another resident, Sarah Gambold, mused, “Must be something in the water.”

The presence of emergency services sparked further debate among locals. Maria Rigby noted, “Look at the ambulance there for them makes me sick. They’re straight away while others got to wait hours for one.” Shanice Riley echoed this sentiment, criticizing the perceived misuse of resources, “What a waste of resources and taxpayers’ money.”

The incident has left many Pembroke Dock residents feeling unsafe and demanding action. “It’s about time we all did something to protect our loved ones,” urged Michelle Scott, reflecting the community’s call for greater security measures.

Dyfed Powys Police have yet to release an official statement detailing the events or confirming arrests. The Pembrokeshire Herald has asked for a comment and will publish an update soon as this story develops.

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Community

Two Pembrokeshire residents honoured in King’s Birthday List

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PEMBROKESHIRE is celebrating the achievements of two distinguished locals who have been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours. John Fletcher, a dedicated farmer, and Professor Andrew Campbell, a prominent academic, have both been awarded the MBE for their respective contributions.

John Fletcher: Champion of Shire Horses

John Fletcher, 70, the founder of Gentle Giants Shires in Moylegrove, has been honoured with an MBE for his services to the conservation of shire horses. His journey with these majestic animals began at the tender age of nine on his parents’ farm at Penrallt Uchaf. Inspired by his father, who had previously used a shire horse for ploughing, young John developed a lifelong passion for the breed.

In 2003, following the sale of the farm’s milking herd, Gentle Giants was established. Today, the organisation boasts a global following of 69,000 on Facebook and provides shire horses for weddings, funerals, and other events across the UK. The Gentle Giants have also featured on several television shows, including “Don’t Tell the Bride” and “Coast and Country”, as well as in the award-winning film “Calon Gaeth”.

John’s dedication to shire horses has not gone unnoticed. In 2021, during a Royal visit to Nevern, he and his shire horse, Prince George, met His Royal Highness. The future King praised John’s efforts, expressing his gratitude and interest in the farm’s breeding programme.

Gentle Giants remains a family-run venture, and the Fletcher family took to social media to celebrate John’s accolade. They expressed immense pride in his tireless work and commitment to training and promoting shire horses. “Not one to take things easy, he always has a new project on the go,” they shared. “Buyers often return due to the high standards achieved by the horses he has trained.”

John’s influence extends beyond the UK, with his horses working and competing as far afield as Norway and Italy. He is passionate about educating the public on the versatility of shire horses and enjoys welcoming visitors to the farm in Pembrokeshire.

Professor Andrew Campbell: Advocate for Tourism

Also honoured with an MBE is Professor Andrew Campbell of Goodwick, recognised for his services to tourism. Professor Campbell, who describes himself as “passionate about tourism, cake baking and swimming in the sea,” has made significant contributions to the field.

A professor of practice in tourism with the University of Wales, he is currently the chair of the Welsh Government’s Economic Ministerial Advisory Board. Until September 2021, he served as chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance, representing over 6,000 tourism businesses throughout Wales. The Welsh Government describes him as “a respected academic within tourism, a key economic sector,” noting his valuable insights into the challenges facing the tourism and skills sectors.

Living and working in north Pembrokeshire, Professor Campbell is known for his hands-on approach and commitment to enhancing the region’s tourism landscape. His recognition in the King’s Birthday Honours underscores the importance of his work and his dedication to the community.

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News

Businessman enters political arena amid ambitious Reform Party campaign

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STUART James Marchant, a well-known local businessman, has announced his candidacy with the Reform Party, marking his debut in the political landscape. He standing in Mid and South Pembrokeshire.

Born in Croydon in January 1981, Marchant spent his formative years in Orpington, Kent. He attended Darrick Wood Secondary School and Orpington College, where he first demonstrated his work ethic with a part-time job at Tesco.

Following his education, Marchant took up a retail position at PC World, before making a significant career change in 2001 by joining the private parking sector. His dedication quickly saw him rise through the ranks. By 2005, an opportunity to work in Wales beckoned, allowing him to reconnect with his maternal roots in Carmarthen.

He spent several years in Swansea before returning to the South East in 2008 to manage a substantial portfolio of car parks.

By 2020, Marchant had amassed a wealth of experience across various roles, demonstrating his ability to adapt and lead within different teams. Currently, he operates a small business near Carmarthen, embedding himself further within the local community.

An avid traveller, Marchant has explored numerous global destinations, fostering a deep cultural competence. Locally, he is known to indulge in occasional hockey games and has recently begun learning to para-glide.

Marchant’s political journey began in 2009 with his membership in the Conservative Party. However, earlier this year, he made a significant shift to the Reform Party. As a staunch supporter of Brexit, he believes South West Wales stands to gain substantially from this historic decision. Marchant is convinced that the Reform Party is best positioned to deliver these benefits.

The Reform Party UK is aiming for a strong performance in Wales during the upcoming general election on July 4th. Here are the key points regarding their prospects in Wales:

Reform targeting all 32 Welsh seats

The Reform Party has declared its intention to field candidates in all 32 parliamentary seats in Wales, with a particular focus on the north-east, border areas with England, the south Wales valleys, and Pembrokeshire. This ambitious “reverse Cymru” strategy aims to secure a significant presence across various regions of Wales.

While the Reform Party will criticize the Conservative government, they are also targeting Labour’s traditional strongholds in Wales. Nigel Farage believes Reform can take seats from Labour in working-class communities like the Welsh valleys, which voted to leave the EU in 2016. The party plans to highlight the “disaster of the devolved Labour government” in these “left-behind” areas.

Both the Liberal Democrats and Reform UK have expressed a desire to see a Conservative party “wipeout” in Wales, aiming to take Tory seats. The Lib Dems’ Jane Dodds stated that “kicking the Tories out of Wales” would be a good election night for her party.

While Reform UK’s vote share is still within the margin of error, recent polls suggest they are neck and neck with or even slightly ahead of the Conservatives. This rise poses a significant threat to the Tories, as Reform could potentially force a merger with the Conservatives, as Farage has suggested.

In summary, the Reform Party UK is mounting an ambitious campaign in Wales, targeting Labour’s heartlands as well as challenging the Conservatives. Their performance could significantly impact the political landscape in Wales and potentially lead to a Tory wipeout in the region.

With his extensive professional background and commitment to the community, Marchant aims to bring a fresh perspective to the political scene, promising to champion the interests of South West Wales.

_____________

The following people have been nominated for election as a member of the UK Parliament for Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency:

Hanna Andersen (Women’s Equality Party);

Alistair Cameron (Welsh Liberal Democrats);

Stephen Crabb (Welsh Conservative);

Stuart Marchant (Reform UK);

James Purchase (Green Party);

Vusi Siphika, (Independent);

Cris Tomos (Plaid Cymru);

Henry Tufnell (Welsh Labour).

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