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Council criticised over education plans



Results not good enough: Council Leader Jamie Adams said the county’s results should be better

Results not good enough: Council Leader Jamie Adams said the
county’s results should be better

THE COUNCIL has come under criticism from a number of councillors for its proposals for post- 16 education in mid and north west Pembrokeshire. At a meeting of the full council yesterday (Sept 10), councillors approved a number of recommendations but a number of councillors were unsure about how the council planned to move forward. The council discussed three matters for Haverfordwest, Welsh Medium Provision and Fishguard and St Davids as three separate items.

However, Cllr Mike Stoddart felt that all three were linked and that if they approved the plans for Haverfordwest they would be pointing the ship directly to the county town. He made an amendment on the final agenda item to get post- 16 education provided at a location in Haverfordwest, following further consultation, rather than at Pembrokeshire College. In a recorded vote, that amendment was defeated by 22 votes to 24 and the original recommendations were passed.

‘SHOULD BE DOING BETTER’ Council Leader Jamie Adams said: “We want all children to achieve their potential. I would like to congratulate all students from the county on their results but we should be doing better. In some areas the results are not good enough. “Estyn has previously challenged us on our slow progress and until me make decisions to address these matters, Estyn’s concerns will remain. “The fragmented approach is impacting on outcomes of our learners and a significant proportion of pupils are making wrong decisions at key points.”


Cllr David Howlett accepted that discussions needed to go on in Haverfordwest but added: “All options need to be considered to allay the fears of the community of Haverfordwest and surrounding area. It needs to be for the benefit of the children.”

Cllr Tom Tudor said that further consultation was a ‘good thing to do’ and added that although there hasn’t been much dialogue with Trustees they are willing to meet with members of the council to discuss ways forward. Before the meeting, members of the joint board of Trustees for Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker Milward schools gathered outside County Hall on behalf of the pupils to continue to protest against the changes.

Council Leader Jamie Adams said there had been considerable attempts to arrange meetings with the Trustees but that they had refused to meet. He added: “I am not sure what jurisdiction a governing body has. There is no statutory regulation that covers governing bodies. I don’t know whether these are the views of themselves or of the trustees; the lines are getting very muddied.

“Tasker Milward is seen as a better way forward, it is the best site but there are other opportunities. It is the gift of the council to move this forward.” Councillor Myles Pepper added that he could not support the plans as there was no opportunity available in schools and added: “We have to deliver quality, this is not fair, right, balanced or proper.”


Cllr Jonathan Nutting blasted the council and its cabinet for not listening to its residents and said that the council had ‘backed everyone into a corner’. He added: “We haven’t engaged with the real people of Pembrokeshire. No one challenges what is being said and this is becoming a real debacle.

“Everybody involved has their backs against the wall. We cannot blame the trustees, they are clear in what they say and we now know what the position is and we should discuss it with them. “The council is trying to railroad things through and we cannot honestly go the way we are being told to go.

“The people of  Haverfordwest have clearly said they don’t want their children educated in a college and we have got to listen to them.” Cllr David Simpson, appointed to the board of the college a number of years ago, said that the trust ‘were not dictating terms’ and described it as a chance to move forward. He added: “I was told by the college, when I was on the board, that they would never want sixth form education in the college because it would be bad for the people of Pembrokeshire.

“I still wonder why we are heading in this direction and I am confused as to the way we are going to go. “Pupils have said they would find it better if there was sixth form provision at the school because they have a choice of where they want to go.”


Cllr Stan Hudson said that the proposals would establish two tiers of education in the county whereby the people in the south have a choice and those in the north do not. Cllr Hudson went on to say: “A Level results were disappointing but most of those are going to university and I know of two who are going to Cambridge.

“I am against sixth form going to college and we would be driving the ship in a particular direction. “If we pass this, we would achieve in 25 weeks what the college has been unable to achieve in 25 years. “The choice is still there for them but these plans take away the choice for people at the age of 16.

“The Assembly government are thinking of giving 16 year olds the choice of voting and yet we are denying them the choice of where they go for post-16 education.” The recommendation to go out to further consultation for the Haverfordwest area was approved by a majority vote.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tomos

    September 24, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    I always thought that Carmarthenshire CC were very similar to Pembrokeshires in many ways and one of those ways was councillors were not allowed to comment unfavourably on council business as our public servants rule the roost – having said that Jamies getting quite good at this politicing business.

    He supposedly is the Leader of the Council that makes policy regarding education, BUT when parents actually engage in the political process i.e the IPIGs are scared of being thrown out at the next election Jamie actually criticises the decision that he made – or am I a BIG silly and have I got it all wrong?

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Proposal to give firefighters a council tax discount to go to Cabinet



PEMBROKESHIRE on-call firefighters could enjoy a reduction in council tax “in recognition of the vital work performed” by them if a call is backed by senior councillors.

At the July 18 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council, a Notice of Motion submitted by Newport and Dinas county councillor, and leader of the Independent Group, Cllr Huw Murphy was heard.

Cllr Murphy’s call stated: “There is currently a significant and severe shortage in suitable applicants coming forward to be on-call fire fighters (retained) for the Mid & West Wales Fire Service.

“Currently there are vacancies for on-call fire fighters at all fire stations throughout the region, which impacts considerably upon the safety of both residents and visitors who may need the assistance of the Fire Service. Pembrokeshire is heavily reliant on our on-call firefighters.

“In recognition of the vital work performed by our on-call fire fighters (retained not full time employees of the service) and to encourage others to consider undertaking this vital role within our communities this Notice of Motion proposes that Pembrokeshire County Council offers every retained fire-fighter working and living in Pembrokeshire a 10 per cent reduction in the council tax they pay after achieving a qualifying period of service annually, to be determined by the Chief Fire Officer.”

At the July 18 meeting, members agreed Cllr Murphy’s call be considered by the council’s Cabinet at a later date.

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Newly elected Labour MP reveals how she was raped, age 15



NEWLY elected Labour MP Natalie Fleet has bravely revealed how she was raped at the age of 15.
In a harrowing interview to be broadcast this Sunday (July 21), Ms Fleet says she still has “weekly nightmares” about what happened two decades on from the attack.
After being raped, Ms Fleet fell pregnant but says the daughter she gave birth to is now the “love of her life”.
Sitting down with GB News’ Gloria De Piero in an exclusive interview she explains that she’s decided to speak about what happened because the actions of her attacker – who told her to have an abortion – were “not ok”.
Ms Fleet also fears many women are suffering and unable to get the support they need.
That’s why she plans to use her platform in Parliament to use her teenage experiences, which also saw her spent a period homeless, as a catalyst for change.
Reflecting on what happened to her two decades ago, Ms Fleet, now a mother-of-four, said: “Today, 23 years later, I look back and I think, it wasn’t ok. That was an older man. I didn’t know we were having unprotected sex. I was a child and (it) is statutory rape. At the time this isn’t something that we were talking about. It’s not how I saw myself. I still have weekly nightmares about it.
“I have a huge privilege and advantage to be in Parliament and I’m thrilled to be here. But what happened in my childhood still has a massive impact on me, which is why I’m so excited about what the next Labour government is going to do.
“At 15, you definitely think you’re old enough to do all these things. I wanted to give my daughter the best life. But another thing that I can do now I’m in Parliament is I want to be a voice for all of those people, all of those women that have children in far from ideal circumstances.
“That’s why I wanted to talk about where my daughter came from and about what happened. It was really difficult for me to say to her, ‘I don’t think this was entirely consensual, and I think I might have been groomed, and I don’t think this is an appropriate relationship’. She took it really well. I Googled in advance f0r some tips, just a fact sheet or ‘how to deal with this’ and I found nothing.
“I found absolutely nothing. I found there were fact sheets about rape being used as a war crime. But there was nothing else. There’s no acknowledgement that it happens in the UK. And the more research I’ve done, I’ve found that there are over 3,000 conceptions every year from rape. But there’s no charity to support those women.
“There’s no help, advice, or support helpline that you can go to. No help on ‘how do I tell my child, that I love, that is everything to me, that this is where they came from?’”
Explaining why extra support in this area is so desperately needed she continued: “It is biologically very clear what happened to me because I was 15 years old, and he was older. I can prove where she came from, so that’s statutory rape. But there are so many women that this happens too who don’t speak about it.

“They dare not speak about it because they know they won’t be believed. And then even if by some miracle, we move to a society where women are believed, once you say this is your child, then that man can come and have access to that child.
“Even if you prove it’s rape, that man can have access to that child and help bring it up. And that’s absolutely terrifying. This is a perpetrator that has hurt the mother, who can then have access to the child.
“He told me to have an abortion at the time. He’s never met her. He never wanted anything to do with it. And he was very dismissive. He told me many times that he knew lots of ways that he wouldn’t have to pay a penny towards her, because all his friends had already evaded the CSA.”
Describing the relationship she now has with her daughter, Ms Fleet said: “So she’s 23 now and is the absolute love of my life. I am so proud of everything she is. I am thrilled. She makes me proud every single day. But at the time, when I was 15, I felt full of shame and guilt and responsibility. And all I was determined to do was make sure that she had a life that was as good as she would have had to any age parent. That was what I was determined to do.”
Outlining how she plans to use her role as an MP to push for change, she said: “I am a product of the last Labour government. It wasn’t a perfect Government, but it changed my life and it was transformational. When I was younger, things were tough and I had a Labour government.
“When we were homeless, the Labour government made sure that there was enough housing stock for us to be rehoused. And then when I had my first child at a very young age, I could send her to a Sure Start nursery. I could carry on, go to university with a first in the family scholarship.
“I could work in a minimum wage job. I could send my children because I’d got two by then, to a Sure Start nursery, and it just felt like I needed the support of the state. And my God, I got it.
“And, before I became an MP, I worked for a trade union and I was absolutely desperate to give back to my teachers. My teachers had invested in me. The Labour government made sure that my teachers had time to teach me and look after me, and I then saw that I was paying taxes and they weren’t being invested in young children like me or teachers. That’s why we needed a new Government?”
“On my estate, the estate where we were rehoused, I looked around and people struggled. And I see now there are people that I was close to when I was younger who are now suffering with addiction and poverty scars.
“What poverty has done to me has meant that I work and work and work and work and work. If somebody knocks on my door, I won’t answer it because I’m still scared it’s the bailiffs. That’s what happens to you in your childhood, it stays with you. In areas of Bolsover it’s absolutely heart-breaking.
“But I could either be angry about what’s happened over the past 14 years, sad and feel powerless, or I could come into Parliament and try and do something about it. I mean, what an honour.”

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Second home numbers in Pembrokeshire drop after council tax hike



THE NUMBER of second homes and self-catering holiday properties in Pembrokeshire has declined year-on-year, while those seeking council tax exceptions have, in one class, gone up 255 per cent.

A call for an update on Pembrokeshire County Council’s position on a potential relaxation of the ‘182-day’ rule, allowing self-catering accommodation to avoid paying a council tax premium was heard at the July meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council.

Last year, the rules on holiday lets in Wales changed; Welsh Government criteria saying holiday lets must be filled for 182 days a year – up from a previous 70 – in order to qualify for business rates rather than pay second homes council tax.

In Pembrokeshire, second homes, and self-catering businesses not meeting the criteria, are now paying a 200 per cent council tax premium in the county, effectively a treble rate of council tax.

At the July 18 meeting of full council, a question was submitted by Cllr Huw Murphy was heard, a follow-up from a previously unsuccessful notice of motion where he had called for a relaxation in the ‘182-day’ rules in the county down to 140 days.

After that notice failed last year, it was agreed the position be reviewed in 12 months, with Cabinet agreeing to write to Welsh Government to highlight concern over the 182-day occupancy rule.

In his question, Cllr Murphy said: “Can council be provided with an update of what data has been obtained since Dec 2023 to examine the impact of the 182-day occupancy rule for self-catering properties in advance of a review to be completed by December 2024 prior to any decision over what level of second home council tax to be levied for 2024/25 as it may be necessary to consider a reduction to support an industry under pressure?

“Have PCC received a reply from WG with regards to the concerns raised with regards to the 182-day rule and its impact on the Pembrokeshire tourism industry?”

In response, Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance and Efficiencies Cllr Joshua Beynon said a decision on future council tax premiums would be made by full council at its October meeting, after earlier committee discussions, adding that the council is currently undertaking a consultation on the second homes and long-term empty property premiums and has included questions on using its discretion on properties which did not meet the 182-day rule.

“In the interim, the Revenues team are monitoring the movement in second homes and self-catering units and the number of properties receiving an exception to paying the council tax premium,” he told members.

Members heard, as of July 1, the main increases in the level of exceptions related to Class 1 exceptions, properties that are up for sale, which had increased by 97 in the last 12 months, a rise of 255 per cent, and in Class 6 exceptions, properties that have a planning condition prohibiting year-round occupancy, which had increased by 78, or 21.6 per cent, with an overall increase in the seven classes of exemptions of 37.45 per cent.

Councillors were told the number of second homes had dropped year-on-year on that date from 3,364 to 3,271, roughly a 2.7 per cent drop; self-catering units dropping from 2,621 to 2,425, roughly 7.47 per cent.

Members heard, in response to Cllr Murphy’s second question, the-then leader Cllr David Simpson had received a response in May.

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