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Badger and the rule book

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badger84imageIT IS an important principle of public life, readers, that citizens have certainty as to the meaning of the law. Even in private law it is well-established, for example, that where there is ambiguity in the words of a contract then the interpretation of the contract — provided it can be rectified — must be in favour of the party upon whom the burden of performance falls under its terms. Similarly, even statute law can be put to the test that words bear their normal meaning in the event that the law, regulations or guidance given under powers devolved to public txxlies (like Pembrokeshire County Council) are unclear.

The Pembrokeshire Herald has had cause to look at the Council’s European Manager, Gwyn Evans, before. He is the senior officer who was disciplined for rewriting the report of a meeting to make himself and other officers appear in a favourable light. He is also the senior officer, who Badger knows from his pal Moley in Cardiff, has claimed to WEFO that this newspaper had apologized to him for misreporting what he said to the Audit Committee in January. it seems that when it comes to rewriting history, Mr Evans knows no bounds. We did not apologize.

Mr Evans’ words to the Audit Committee speak for themselves and any gloss he wants to put on them on the basis of semantics and an after-the-fact realization of his mistake in saying -categorically — the Audit Committee would find nothing wrong with the grants schemes he administered and for which his department had responsibility — is a matter for his conscience and his employer’s judgement. in the light of his subsequent conduct in seeking to manipulate a public record, perhaps the weight given to his words by usually supine and tame Cabinet members should be tempered. Mr Evans clearly does not believe that words carry their normal meaning.

Rather like Humpty Dumpty and Jamie Adams, he believes that a word means what he means it say, neither anything more nor anything less. As an illustration of the above point, Badger noted a few words on Old Grumpy’s website about Mr Evans’ approach to how language should be interpreted. Grumpy reported that Mr Evans’ interpretation of the English language shows that he uses a very special dictionary indeed.

For example, guidance he prepared reads: “The specification should be agreed PRIOR to the applicant obtaining quotations [my emphasis] in order to avoid the need for revision. It MUST be sufficiently detailed to enable a full understanding of the proposed works and the methods and materials to be used. This level of detail will help contractors to quote accurately and prevent problems and misunderstandings occurring when the work is in progress. “Conditions in the offer letter should only be used to adjust minor omissions or details of the proposal and should never be relied upon to make substantial adjustments to a specification, therefore the specification should be agreed & approved PRIOR to going out to tender [my emphasis]. 5.3 Submission and agreement of specification and plans.

(a) An itemised and detailed specification should be submitted at this stage. Plans should also be submitted if these are required e.g. to show the details of lost features to be reinstated. (

(b) Carefully assess the specification and establish which items are eligible and which are ineligible.

(c) Agree the itemised specification with the applicant/agent and ask them to seek at least three independent itemised quotations…” It was pointed out by ClIr Jacob Williams that the procedure adopted to manage the grants process did not match the procedure. He asked the Council’s Monitoring Officer, Lawrence “brown envelope” Harding to explain the Council’s failure to follow its own policy manual.

Climbing astride his high horse, Gwyn Evans told Councillors “I shall answer your e-mail because AS THE AUTHOR of the Commercial Property Grant Scheme Procedure Manual I KNOW Bk. I I kR THAN ANYONE how it should be interpreted.” Before going on to claim that the words: “(b) Carefully assess the specification and establish which items are eligible and which are ineligible.” And ”

(d) Agree the itemised specification with the applicant/agent and ask them to seek at least three independent itemised quotations…” didn’t mean that there should be agreement PRIOR to going out to tender as to what is ineligible and what is not. Mr Evans can only mean that the word “prior” does not mean “BEFORE”. Badger has checked his dictionary, Readers. “Prior” damn well does mean “before”. Its opposite is “subsequent” (or “after”). If Badger is right, readers, when Gwyn Evans uses the words “CAREFULLY ASSESS” he cannot mean “cautiously evaluate”. Those words must bear another and entirely separate meaning known only to Mr Evans.

What Badger does know is that there have been major and substantial revisions to works attracting grants. The guidance is supposed to avoid that. It has failed miserably to ensure that end and the failure begins and ends with the person responsible for it. if you claim the credit, you have to bear the blame. It follows, therefore, that there are three plausible or possible interpretations of the position Mr Evans has adopted. Either:
• Mr Evans used the word “PRIOR” when what he meant to write was “WHEN YOU AND ME FEEL LIKE IT”: or • Mr Evans does not know what the word “PRIOR” means; or • Mr Evans is possessed of such arrogant certainty
that he will never be challenged by councillors or other officers that he just winged it.
Badger is quick to point out that he does not for a minute believe Mr Evans is arrogant. Ignorance is quite bad enough. And so we go back to the beginning, readers. Citizens are entitled to expect certainty when dealing with public authorities. They should not be obliged to guess what passed through a council officer’s mind while he sat on the privy scribbling on his note pad. If you were tendering on the basis of the procedure manual and followed it you would be at a disadvantage, all because you do not possess Evans Sensory Perception: the ability to read the mind of an officer who evidently believes the rules of language and its construction do not apply to him.

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Castell Howell Foods highlights sector concerns over Covid recovery

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THE HOSPITALITY sector may be opening up, but transport and supply issues are hampering the industry’s recovery – according to Castell Howell Foods.

One of the UK’s largest independent food wholesalers, Castell Howell, has taken the step of contacting customers to highlight the significant challenges faced by the sector as it recovers from the pandemic.

While there is relief at easing lockdown and optimism for a busy summer with bookings for UK ‘staycations’ and leisure activities, pressing issues remain.

Shortages of key staff and problems faced by some suppliers have resulted in the Welsh wholesaler being forced to make some “uncomfortable” decisions and changes to its operation, including having to pass on some supply chain price increases.

In particular, a shortage of qualified delivery drivers has meant the Cross Hands based business has had to be resourceful to maintain its delivery frequency to its customers. To help bridge the gap in the short term, other Castell Howell staff who hold an HGV licence have been temporarily redeployed to the transport department. Among them are area sales managers.

Castell Howell Sales Director, Kathryn Jones, said “Unfortunately, due to the drastic reduction in sales in 2020, our workforce decreased by over 100 colleagues. Whilst we now need most to return to the workplace, many have found alternative employment; this is a common theme across the supply chain.

“We have been actively advertising and recruiting for several months. However, as highlighted in the press, there are over 75,000 vacancies across the UK for HGV drivers alone.

“We too are currently short of drivers, especially Class 2 HGV. Driving a multi-drop vehicle for Castell Howell is a very different proposition to driving a limited drop schedule. Consequently, as you can imagine, it has been challenging to fill these vacancies.”
Stock availability is also an issue, as some suppliers struggle to manufacture under new social distancing rules. Delivery to Castell Howell from suppliers is also being affected by the UK-wide shortage of haulage drivers.

Kathryn Jones said, “To build up buffer stocks, we are increasing our volume of orders, especially for commodity lines. We aim to mitigate future stock shortages the best we can. We are constantly seeking substitute products from manufacturers who have the capacity to deliver. However, this is becoming increasingly more difficult.”

Castell Howell has made changes to its ordering process to improve its own deliveries, with earlier cut-off times.

“These changes go against the grain and were extremely difficult decisions to take. However, it is imperative to implement these in order to continue operating under these difficult circumstances whilst still maintaining a high level of service. We are very grateful to our customers for their support, patience and understanding.”

For Castell Howell, the difficulties arising from the pandemic were exacerbated by the loss of business with SA Brain & Co. This loss occurred following the Welsh company’s deal with brewery giant Marston’s to operate SA Brains pubs from January 2021.

Before that date, Castell Howell had been the sole supplier to SA Brain since 2008, including supplying 80 of the Welsh brewery’s managed public houses.

Kathryn Jones said, “However, despite the challenges in the supply chain and deliveries, we remain optimistic that the sector in the UK will work together to navigate through these unprecedented times and have a successful summer.”

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Port boss: Pembroke Dock development full permission an ‘important step’

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THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Port of Milford Haven has welcomed a decision of “non-intervention” by the Welsh Government over plans to re-vamp Pembroke Dock’s historic port facilities.

The redevelopment scheme, approved by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Planning Committee in May, will see some areas such as a dock covered with sand and “infilled”.

Plans also include the demolishing of some buildings, erection of buildings and ancillary works.
Despite planning being granted at council level, full authorisation to go ahead with the development was not to be issued until the Welsh Government made its decision regards the matter.

More about the planning application can be read here: https://www.herald.wales/west-wales/pembrokeshire/major-marine-project-causes-concern-about-visual-impact-and-heritage-loss/

Now that the Welsh Government has decided not to interfere with Pembrokeshire County Council’s grant of planning permission, the Port’s boss, Andy Jones, expressed his delight, saying: “This marks an important step forward in the development of Wales’ clean energy centre at Pembroke Dock.

“It will provide sustainable opportunities for the many people who rely on the activity along the Milford Haven Waterway for employment.

CEO: Port Authority’s Andy Jones (Pic MHPA)

“Pembroke Dock Marine will unlock new opportunities for young people to enter the maritime, renewable and engineering sectors, build resilience within Pembrokeshire’s business community, and make a positive contribution to our natural environment as we transition to a low carbon energy generation.”

Tim James, head of commercial and energy at the Port of Milford Haven called the project a “once in a generation opportunity to improve Pembrokeshire’s economy for years to come”.

Objectors had complained that the plans were too large and would damage the historic dockyard, as well as having a visual impact on the dock.

The was opposition from local heritage campaigners, with complaints over the size of two huge proposed hangars which the project’s critics said would impact adversely the landscape.

The economic benefits of the £60 million marine energy “far outweigh” any impact on the historic environment, a report earlier this year to council planners said.

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Medical evacuation from LPG tanker off St Ann’s Head

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ANGLE Lifeboat was launched on service at 12:59pm on Thursday afternoon (Jun 10) to assist in a medical evacuation from a LPG tanker 13 miles SSW off St Ann’s Head.

The coastguard helicopter from Newquay in Cornwall was also on route. With the poor visibility due to fog, Angle all-weather lifeboat was to stand by the vessel to provide an alternative route for evacuation if needed.

After a choppy route in the poor visibility the RNLI volunteers arrived on scene at 2:07pm.

At the time of their arrival, the paramedic from the coastguard helicopter was aboard the vessel preparing the casualty to be winched to the helicopter.

In less than ten minutes the casualty was winched up to the helicopter and flown to hospital, at which point the lifeboat and crews were stood down and headed back to the station.

After rehousing shortly after 3:30pm the lifeboat was washed fuelled and made ready for service shortly after.

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