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Council reforms latest: Are we looking at a return to Dyfed?

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mapWALES moved a step closer to a massive Local Government reform today, following an announcement by Leighton Andrews.

Mr Andrews was responding to the results of the consultation on the Reforming Local Government White Paper published in February.  Over 700 responses were received, while more than 3,000 people took part in the opinion poll.

The major announcement concerned the shift from 22 local authorities down to eight or nine – two potential maps have been put forward.  Under both of the proposed maps, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire would amalgamate in a reformation of Dyfed.  

As a result of these changes, the existing cap of 75 elected members per local authority would be replaced by a higher cap, to avoid elected members serving an unfeasibly large number of people.  It has not been stated what the future cap would be.

9 Local Authorities

  • Isle of Anglesey and Gwynedd
  • Conwy and Denbighshire
  • Flintshire and Wrexham
  • Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire
  • Swansea and Neath Port Talbot
  • Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil
  • Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan
  • Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Newport
  • Powys

8 Local Authorities

  • Isle of Anglesey, Gwynedd and Conwy
  • Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham
  • Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire
  • Swansea and Neath Port Talbot
  • Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil
  • Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan
  • Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Newport
  • Powys

Proposals made by the White Paper which received strong support in the consultation process included giving a general power of competence to Local Authorities, and the establishment of a Public Services Staff Commission.

However, the idea of limiting the period of time that elected officers can serve for, and allowing officers to stand for election in their own authorities both attracted a strong negative response, as did the proposal that community councils should pass a competency test by demonstrating a turnover of at least £200,000, thus creating a two-tier system.  As a result, Mr Andrews announced that he would be scrapping these proposals.

Mr Andrews emphasized that this was not a final decision, but the next phase in discussions.  A draft Mergers and Reform Bill will be published in the autumn, which will include further formal consultation on the proposals for Local Authority mergers, as well as a Regulatory Impact Assessment.

Pembrokeshire County Council Leader, Jamie Adams, said: “Seeing the maps for the first time this morning it is difficult to comment without some explanation of the rationale behind it. My position has always been: will the change improve the services we deliver to the public while at the same time reducing costs?

“If it doesn’t tick those two boxes, I think it is right to question the validity of this exercise.

“Apart from the obvious loss of local decision-making and accountability, I also have concerns about the real damage reorganisation could do to a very successful brand.

“I am referring to the Pembrokeshire name which is instantly recognisable to those living far outside our County and even beyond Wales.

“A large number of local businesses in tourism, agriculture, food and energy depend on, and identify strongly, with brand Pembrokeshire for their livelihood.

“I fear they will inevitably suffer if amalgamation goes ahead and in these trying times I believe it would be foolish to gamble with the health of our local economy.

“However I do welcome some of the measures that the Minister is apparently not pursuing having taken onboard the views of local government.

Preseli Pembrokeshire Assembly Member Paul Davies has criticised the Welsh Labour Government’s plans for local government in Wales, which could see the number of Welsh councils cut from twenty two to single figures. The plans also include a return to the old Dyfed model for people living in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

Mr Davies said, “Bigger is not always better and the proposals brought forward by the Welsh Labour Government do not show any evidence that this new map would result in an improvement in the delivery of public services in Pembrokeshire. Any change in the structure of local government in Wales must be locally-led and representing the will of their local communities.”

He added, “There are huge concerns that communities across west Wales could lose their local identities. The Pembrokeshire brand is synonymous across the globe with tourism and food produce and we need to do everything we can to protect that, as it will be lost under these merger plans. Many people fought long and hard against the old Dyfed model and so we must not lose Pembrokeshire in the Welsh Government’s drive to centralisation across Wales. There is no evidence to show that these plans are wanted by the people of Pembrokeshire and I want to make it absolutely clear that I will continue fighting to protect our Pembrokeshire brand.”

More details will be published in this Friday’s Herald.

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Health

Health board: COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only from end of this month

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THE LOCAL health board has announced that from August 31, access to Mass Vaccination Centres (MVCs) in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire for COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only in preparation for the start of the winter vaccine programme.

Anyone wishing to drop-in for their first or second dose during August is advised to check opening times on the day before travelling by visiting hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccination-programme/mass-vaccination-centres or calling 0300 303 8322 as these are subject to change. If you still require a booster, please wait to be offered an appointment.

From 31 August 2022 onwards, please book an appointment by calling 0300 303 8322 or by emailing COVIDEnquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB), said: “Throughout the vaccination programme we’ve aimed to make the vaccine easily accessible through a combination of drop-ins and appointments. This change will allow us to deliver the COVID-19 in partnership with primary care and minimise the risk of duplication or vaccine waste.

“If you are eligible for an autumn COVID-19 booster, please wait to be invited by either your GP or the health board. Everyone eligible will be offered an appointment by November.

“GP practices are also preparing to invite eligible patients for their seasonal flu vaccine and aim to offer an appointment to everyone eligible by December. Again, please do not contact your GP practice at this time, you will be invited when it is your turn.”

Scheduled drop-in sessions for children and young people who are home-educated or not in education to access childhood vaccinations routinely offered through school nursing teams will continue as advertised at selected MVCs.

The remaining drop-in sessions for children aged 5 to 17 years of age will be held between 12pm and 6pm in the following locations:

Aberystwyth MVC (Thomas Parry Library, Llanbadarn Campus, SY23 3AS) – Tuesday 30 August
Carmarthen MVC (Y Gamfa Wen, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, SA31 3EP) – Friday 2 September
Cwm Cou MVC (Ysgol Trewen, SA38 9PE) – Monday 22 August
Haverfordwest MVC (Pembrokeshire Archives, SA61 2PE) – Wednesday 31 August
Llanelli MVC (Dafen Industrial Estate, SA14 8QW) – Tuesday 23 August
These drop-in sessions are also open to any Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire or Ceredigion school attendees who may have missed their vaccinations.

If you are unable to attend one of these sessions and have any queries or wish for your child to receive their scheduled vaccines, please complete the form available here hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/services-and-teams/immunisation-and-vaccination/childhood-and-young-people-vaccinations/vaccine-access-for-home-schooled-children or call 0300 303 8322 to be contacted by a member of the health board’s immunisation nursing team.

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Police appeal for information after man ‘was slapped on the back of the head’

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POLICE in Pembroke Dock are appealing for information after an alleged assault.

A male was slapped to the back of his head outside Lloyds Bank on Monday, August 8, 2022 between 5pm and 5.15pm following an argument with another male.

If you have any information please contact the Police on 101, quoting reference DPP/3231/08/08/2022/02/C

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Gareth Mann from Milford Haven sentenced to seven years in prison for drug offences

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DRUG dealer Gareth James Mann, aged 46, from Bunkers Hill, Milford Haven has been sentenced to a total of 7 years in prison.

A Misuse of Drugs Act search warrant was executed at Manns’ home address on 17th March 2022, where he was found to have controlled drugs including Heroin, Cocaine, Cannabis, Morphine, Pregabalin, Buprenorphine and Diazepam with a combined street value of up to £3660. Cash totalling £3430 was also found in his possession.

He was arrested and later charged with possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and with possession of criminal property.

Garth Mann: Drugs worth £3660, and cash totalling £3430 was found in his possession.

Mann appeared at Llanelli Magistrates court on Friday, March 18 where he entered a not guilty plea. He was remanded in custody to appear at Swansea Crown Court.

Following a 6-day trial Mann was found guilty of all counts by a majority verdict on Monday 15th August 2022 and sentenced to a total of 7 years in custody.

DS Vinny Barrett said told The Herald: “Tackling the supply of illegal drugs is a priority for police in Pembrokeshire and the misery that illegal drugs bring to local communities will not be tolerated.

“We are taking a positive approach in targeting those that supply illegal drugs, and I would encourage anyone with information about the misuse of drugs to contact police.

“This information will be acted upon and will help us in preventing the supply of illegal drugs and the criminality that can be associated with them.”

To report suspicious behaviour in your community, visit https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, email 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or call 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111, or visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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