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Questions to answer for Narberth Town Council



MON MONTGOMERY, opinions editor, for OneNarberth, the independent community platform in the town writes: ‘News that five times mayor of Narberth Council, Colin Williams, admitted to theft from Narberth Football Club on February 18 at the start of proceedings at Swansea Crown Court, has put the spotlight on Narberth Town Council, where Mr Williams still serves as a councillor. Town Council minutes show that he is still presiding over decision making with regard to financial matters and the disbursement of money to organisations in the town’. One town councillor told us ‘there is no basis on which to question his role as a councillor, we have checked’.

There is, in fact, every basis on which to question the role of Colin Williams as a town councillor. There is a good argument to be made that it was last August when action should have been taken by Narberth Town Council to protect itself and the interests of the town. In the circumstances, it was for the corporate body of the council to consider the matter. The corporate body of Narberth Town Council is represented by the work of the clerk to the council, Caroline Coaker. Where will we find another example in Wales of a situation with regard to a pending criminal case, involving the theft of a large sum of money from a local organisation, in which a councillor continued to preside over matters related to the disbursement of monies to local organisations? There isn’t one: Or, at least, OneNarberth cannot find one.

There is probably a good reason why this is the case. The Good Councillor’s Guide, issued to all town councils in Wales by the Welsh Assembly in 2012, looks to these kinds of eventualities and its guidance is clear. The right thing, in these circumstances, would have been for the clerk, on behalf of the corporate body, to have advised councillors that Colin Williams should ‘step aside’ whilst proceedings were underway. This is particularly the case since the court case against him involved local monies and the question of theft. That did not happen.

The obvious question to ask is: Why not? Cllr Williams has participated in decision regarding the payment of monies to organisations in the town since the case against him became a matter of public record. That simply cannot be right, can it? There is every reason that the town council should have considered the situation with regard to the role of Colin Williams as a councillor. The relevant information is delivered in the Welsh Assembly Good Councillor’s Guide (2012). Part 2 (Due Care and Attention), 4.

The Rules, explains that community and town councils have an obligation to demonstrate ‘that they have identified and managed the risks to public money arising from their work’. An impending criminal court case against one of the town councillors involving an alleged theft of £6,000 from the football club in the town should have alerted the council to the possibility of some risk with regard to its decision making; particularly on financial questions. Since 2012 Narberth Town Council has made strides to see that it is conforming to the guidelines laid out under directives issued to councils in England and Wales. We now have minutes online, clearly delineated and easily accessible to local people.

Nobody can question the lead role that the council has taken in issues related to the closure of the swimming pool and the advent of a new era and the planned arrival of Sainsbury’s to the town. The statements with regard to the fact that there has been no public consultation of any description in relation to the developments planned for the Moor were clear and searching. They carried weight and continue to carry weight. Individual councillors also played a full role in making this point clear. Mayor Sue Rees, through her sheer guts and determination, was pivotal, along with the local team, in utilising her office to promote the share offer to see that Narberth Swimming Pool was taken into community ownership. This is the role of a pro-active, forward thinking town council that is a textbook example of what councils do best when they work.

Cllr David Norcross also has a steadfast, creditworthy record of service of long standing to the town. His role in arguing the case for community ownership of the site on the Moor was a sterling effort, for example, as was the role he played in ensuring that the voice of the town council was heard in relation to the development planned for the Moor. We should be grateful to have people that have the interests of the community at heart in their role as councillors and the ability and experience to deliver insightful decision making. A new generation of councillors is beginning to emerge, represented by people like Donna Hole. This new wave is adding energy to the organisation, which is beneficial. Caroline Coaker, as town clerk plays a full professional role. Her advice to the council, preparation of materials and dissemination of information about the activities of the council, is first class. Here though, there is a question of the council as a corporate body that is unanswered. Town clerk, Caroline Coaker, placed on the public record a view on behalf of the council that; ‘the town council is unable to make any comment at this stage’.

The town council as a corporate body is in a position to make a public comment now. There is a good argument to be put that it should be making a public comment now. Colin Williams has admitted to theft from a local organisation. This, as Judge Peter Haywood said, is a major breach of trust. Who could possibly argue now that Colin Williams should be allowed to continue to act as a councillor on behalf of the town? Having acknowledged his guilt and accepted that he stole £400 from Narberth Football Club, is it not now time for him to acknowledge that he cannot be a councillor for the town any longer? The time to ask why he did not step aside during the proceedings from his role as a town councillor has now passed, together with the question of why the town council as a corporate body, did not take steps to consider the matter.

But surely now residents in the town have the right to expect that something will to be said and done now with regard to questions about his continued role as a town councillor? Judge Peter Haywood said yesterday that Colin Williams was someone of previously good character. This may well be the case. To begin to repair his good character, Colin Williams could help the situation. It can be argued that it is in the interests of the town, and in his own interests, for him to offer his resignation from Narberth Town Council. This has been a rather sorry case. There is so much at stake in the town. Perhaps it is time that the minutes of the town council record that the matter has been resolved so that we can all move on with what is a full agenda.

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Mark Drakeford says: ‘Thank you Wales for going red’



LABOUR is staying in power in Wales after matching its best-ever Senedd election result. It won exactly half of the 60 seats in the Welsh Parliament with all results now declared

Labour has 30 seats, with the Conservatives on 16, Plaid Cymru on 13 and the Liberal Democrats one.
Mark Drakeford thanked Wales for “going red” and has vowed to be “radical” and “ambitious” in government, as Labour looks to solidify its leadership in Wales.

Labour’s Vaughan Gething, health minister in the Welsh government, told the media that the party didn’t “have to look at a formal coalition” because they had done so well.

“We do, however, have to talk to other groups within the Senedd,” he said.

Mr Gething said Labour had a “strong mandate to govern” with 30 of the Senedd’s 60 seats.

The Wales Green Party failed to win a seat in the Senedd elections but they say they recorded their highest-ever result in Wales. Leader Anthony Slaughter said the “results demonstrate the appetite for change” across Wales.

A very happy Mark Drakeford on Saturday, May 8 (Photo Welsh Labour/Twitter)

Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party, said: “We seem to be getting votes from all of the parties and support on that regional list as people increase their knowledge of the voting system.”

Adam Price, who held Carmarthen East and Dinefwr with a reduced majority, said he would not stand down as Plaid Cymru leader.

Despite no gains, Mr Price said the party had increased its share of the vote and its stance on independence had been a “net positive”.

“I’m not walking away from anything, because this is the moment when Wales needs leadership,” he said.

“This is a historic challenge, because of the way that the politics is moving in this island, but it’s also a historic opportunity for us.

On the campaign trail, Plaid leader Adam Price (Pic Plaid Cymru)

“We can move our nation forward and I’m looking forward to playing my part, it’s not something that anyone can do on their own.

“I have a role to play, we all have a role to play and that’s what’s exciting about politics at the moment. Wales is on the move Wales is on the march. I’m going to be part of that.”

Later, on social media, Adam Price said: ” I extend my congratulations to Mark Drakeford on securing a mandate to lead the next government. Although disappointed not to be returning more Members to the Senedd, I am proud that we ran a positive campaign based on a transformational programme.

“Our Senedd group will bring renewed energy and fresh ideas and I look forward to working with all my colleagues as we continue to build the case for independence. We will be a constructive but forensic opposition as we enter a crucial period of pandemic recovery.

“However, the sixth Senedd will be poorer without one of Wales’s most remarkable politicians. No one has given more to the party or to her community than Leanne Wood – an inspiring role model for so many.

“Leanne’s commitment to the Rhondda is unparalleled and I know she will continue to make an important contribution to the future of our nation and the pursuit of social justice which always has and always will drive her politics.

“Westminster’s attack on devolution is only just beginning and Wales needs a plan – that plan must focus on taking our own future into our own hands so we can build a nation that is fair and free.


The Welsh Conservatives say that they have secured the party’s best ever result in a Senedd election, winning 16 seats in the Welsh Parliament.

In a statement to the press the party said: “Today’s final election results have seen the Welsh Conservatives secure two regional list seats in both South Wales Central and South Wales East.

“Welsh Conservatives polled 289,802 votes (share up 5.0) across 40 constituencies – 26.1% of the vote – winning eight seats including gains in both the Vale of Clwyd and Brecon and Radnorshire.

“On the five regional lists, Welsh Conservatives secured 278,560 votes (share up 6.3), winning eight seats. The result will see the Senedd return its first ever female from a BAME background, with Welsh Conservatives’ Natasha Asghar making history with election in South Wales East.

Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies with Joel Williams on election day (Pic RT Davies/Twitter)

Commenting, Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies said: “Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to our outstanding set of Welsh Conservative candidates, activists and staff who’ve worked incredibly hard throughout this campaign and secured the party’s best ever Senedd result.

“The team has gone above and beyond and deserve great credit for the positive campaign we’ve run right across Wales, and I am thrilled to see Natasha Asghar make history in South Wales East by becoming the first female from a BAME background to be elected to the Senedd.

Newly elected Conservative member of Senedd, Sam Kurtz, talking to BBC reporter Aled Scourfield (Pic J Coles/Herald)

“As a party we are also delighted to have secured constituency seats in the Vale of Clwyd and Brecon and Radnorshire, and increased seats on the regional lists, resulting in our highest ever representation in the Senedd with 16 members.

“It’s been an unconventional campaign and it’s clear incumbency and continuity has played a significant part. To that end, I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Mark Drakeford and Welsh Labour on a successful campaign.

“The election has been fought in good spirit by political parties in Wales and I would like to pay a final word of thanks to the many officials across the country who’ve allowed this election to take place in a safe and effective manner.”


Ian Price, director of CBI Wales, congratulated Labour. He said: “This is a critical time for the Welsh economy and the new parliament must have a laser-like focus on rebuilding from the devastating impact of the pandemic,” he said.
“That means all parties pulling together and working with business to protect jobs, rebuild livelihoods and create a fair and sustainable recovery that addresses the longstanding structural challenges our economy faces.”

Royal Town Planning Institute, largest professional body for town planners in the UK and Europe, commented on the election result saying: “The Welsh Labour Manifesto meets many of the issues raised by the RTPI, including tackling climate action, investing in public transport and active travel, and the delivery of quality affordable homes, including a focus on strengthening Welsh language communities.

“The manifesto commits to strengthening the autonomy and effectiveness of local government to make them more successful in delivering services. We have highlighted the need to invest in planning services to enable the delivery of Welsh Labour’s priorities.”


Speaking to the BBC, political commentator Prof Roger Awan-Scully said: “I think it’s been an astonishingly resilient performance by the Welsh Labour Party, amidst disasters for Labour elsewhere in the UK.

“The Conservatives are also performing strongly, but not quite bringing it home in terms of the number of constituency victories that they might have expected.

“For Plaid Cymru I think this has to be said to be a deeply disappointing election.”

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Conservatives hold on to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat



THE CONSERVATIVES have held on to their Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat despite Labour closing the gap.

Sam Kurtz will take over the seat from the outgoing Angela Burns who held a majority of 3,400 at the last election.

This time, the gap was just 936 to Labour’s Hassan Riaz who picked up 10,304 votes.

Plaid Cymru’s Cefin Campbell picked up 6,615 votes.

The turnout in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire was slightly up to 52.12% from 51.2% in 2016.

However, with a larger electorate thanks to votes for 16/17-year-olds, the number of votes cast went up by almost 3,000.

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Paul Davies re-elected as Conservatives hold Preseli Pembrokeshire



PAUL DAVIES has been re-elected to represent the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency.

He won with 12,295 votes, while there were 10,895 votes for Labour’s Jackie Jones.

Plaid Cymru candidate Cris Tomos gained just over 6,000 votes and there were also 1,239 for Reform UK candidate Alan Dennison.

There were over 3000 more votes cast in 2016, down largely in part to the fact that 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote in this election.

Both the Conservatives and Labour received more votes than before while the gap to Labour closed to just 1,400.

After being elected, Paul Davies said he would continue to ‘fight for Pembrokeshire’ and thanked those who had been involved in his campaign.

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