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Shameful display at full council meeting

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county hall• Angry exchanges at full council
• Grant investigation panel blocked
• Pugh and Adams turn on Stoddart

THE COUNCIL CHAMBER was the scene for a series of bitter and personal recriminations made by members of the Cabinet against Councillors seeking information on the conduct of two grant schemes in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock.

In what appeared to be a concerted effort by the controlling IPPG to undermine those seeking to examine information on how the Council had administered large amounts of public money, Council Leader Jamie Adams and Cabinet member David Pugh were permitted by Chair Arwyn Williams to suggest that Labour leader Paul Miller was a puppet having his strings pulled while Independent Councillor Mike Stoddart was pursuing a hidden agenda and had misrepresented important data.

Miller requests balanced approach In the face of continuing controversy over the Council’s administration of the grant schemes, Cllr Miller made an appeal that a politically balanced panel be formed to look at the way money has been allocated by the County Council.

Cllr Miller told the members: “If funds controlled by this council have in some way been misappropriated then this needs to be looked at. I accept in the recommendation that the audit committee will review this but that is not till the end of February.

“I want a politically balancedpanel to investigate this, nothing is to be feared.

“I am not pushing an opinion on what has or hasn’t happened. This is the quickest way to get to the facts.” Adams attacks Miller Flanked by Cllr Brian Hall, Leader Jamie Adams said:

“Cllr. Miller is quite correct, in his supporting submission, that much has been said by the grant schemes in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock. I concurred that much has been said, but I comment to the chamber: is that much has been said by one person. Who is leading the agenda of the Labour group? It seems to me, Chair that Cllr. Miller is acting in a way that is if you like, strings are being pulled by someone else.

“I would suggest the way that the authority could look to the facts is before us and within our control. The Audit Committee is politically balanced, there are six members. The Audit Committee are in a position to determine its own investigation. The recommendation is clear in that, and on that basis I move the recommendation.

Cllr Mike Stoddart criticised Jamie Adams’ personal attack on the Labour leader:

“The idea that I may be pulling Cllr Miller’s strings is ridiculous. I have little contact with him. He is a highlyeducated man capable of pulling hisown strings!

“In Cabinet last week, Cllr Adams made a slur against me, and now he is attacking Cllr Miller. He needs to deal with the arguments. It’s time to play the ball and not the man.”

Paul Miller continued: “In terms of the Audit Committee the time scales are one of my concerns. I think that it’s critical in restoring the faith of grant funders and the public. All I can say is that I have had 14 phone calls. If he thinks that Cllr Stoddard is the only one interested in this grant scheme he is wrong. I am not going to get involved in the nasty political game that Cllr Adams wants to play. All I know is that my motion gets things done in the quickest way possible.”

After a vote, the Council voted to remit the matter to the Audit Committee in February and Cllr Miller’s motion failed. Pugh continues attack on Stoddart.

The Council then considered Cllr Mike Stoddart’s motion to permit Councillors to inspect the information in confidence.

Responding for the IPPG, Cllr David Pugh suggested that Cllr Stoddart had made leaks to the media and derided Cllr Stoddart’s “selfproclaimed” expertise. He suggested that Cllr Stoddart’s calculations were wrong and the product of “sheer incompetence on his behalf … comparisons on different projects are both wrong and extremely misleading…” Apparently forgetting the major redevelopment scheme in Meyrick Street, Pembroke Dock approved by the Council, Cllr Pugh suggested, “This unseemly campaign has driven away investors.”

Councillor Pugh’s harangue continued amid rising boos, when he suggested that:
“Cllr Stoddart reminds me of Don Quixote, who in his madness tilted awindmills. Sancho was his sidekick, I will leave it to members to work out who Cllr Stoddart’s sidekick is.”

Councillor Paul Miller, interrupting, asked Cllr. Arwyn Williams:

“What on earth is this nonsense? Can you do your job, please, Chair?” Kilmister leads calls for “transparency” Cllr Bob Kilmister of the newlyformed Pembrokeshire Alliance Group followed Cllr Pugh, saying: “I attended cabinet. I witnessed a highly unprofessional spectacle, clear to all to see. The conduct displayed at the meeting has brought the council into disrepute. The issue of this motion was not addressed, if we believe in openness and transparency. Easy words, but we are not walking the walk. If any councillors break the confidence they are allowed they clearly break the code of conduct and are open to sanction, serious sanction. If we have a need to know we have a right to information. You can dispute what Councillor Stoddard says, but if he has the information he can come to a proper conclusion and therefore there is a real risk that we are getting innuendo and intrigue as a result of not giving him information. We have a common law right and need to know. Officers can see documents but councillors cannot. I think that this argument is clearly made.”

Cllr Michael Williams from Plaid Cymru told the full Council:

“I wasn’t at the cabinet meeting but what I read in the press was shameful. Cllr Pugh, your outburst this morning was not much better than the Leader shouting people down. Cllr Pugh made a direct accusation that investors have been driven way. But who? That’s a figment of his imagination.

Publish the figures, that would make everyone happy. Publish all the documents not ridiculously redacted reports. Openness and accountability. The ruling group should realise that our job is to hold to account and that they are making that difficult in the way they are operating.

Pembroke Dock Councillor Brian Hall, who has publicly denied any links with developer Cathal McCosker, said:

“The majority of people in Pembroke Dock are delighted with what the grants have done for the town. Because of these innuendos there is a possibility that this could be withdrawn.”

East Williamston Councillor Jacob Williams said:

“There has been enough evidence to suggest that members need to see this information. Cllr Pugh at cabinet raised his voice against Stoddard and it was embarrassing. For Cllr Stoddard to admit errors or mistakes, we need to know that he is wrong.”

Cllr David Lloyd told the meeting:

“We have no greater duty thanto protect the integrity of public expenditure. We can spend a considerable amount of time talking about something I know nothing about. Corruption destroys the organisation which it infests. There is no way we can solve this problem in an adversarial way. May I ask you to be at your best and publish these documents and let’s get to the bottom of it for the good of the people of Pembrokeshire?”

Cllr David Bryan said:

“I, too, was at the cabinet meeting. I was ashamed and embarrassed. The people need to know that we have got control what is going on at Pembrokeshire County Council.”

Senior IPPG member, Cllr John Allen-Mirehouse opposed the motion with a further attack on Mike Stoddart:

“We are losing sight of a key issue. Cllr Stoddard has published that there is impropriety and therefore it should be looked into. He has not produced any actual facts and facts are what we need to go on. I would say to Paul Miller and Cllr Stoddard if there are facts tell us. He (Cllr Stoddart) won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

Pembroke Dock Labour Councillor, Alison Lee, said

“I have found it difficult to get information. How can we fulfil our functions without it? The deck is stacked against those seeking to scrutinise the material. Cllr Mirehouse says we haven’t provided facts, but we cannot get at them. I don’t see what the authority has to lose by the release of this information.”

IPPG suggest calling the Police The Chair, IPPG member Arwyn Williams, then allowed five IPPG members, Jamie Adams, David Simpson, Stephen Joseph, Sue Perkins and Simon Hancock to close the debate: Cllr Perkins told the meeting that she has heard no complaints about the grant scheme and its administration Cllr David Simpson assured members that public scrutiny by them was unnecessary because Cllr David Pugh had discussed any concerns with him and he had also spoken to council officers responsible for the schemes. Cllr. Adams re-iterated his position that the proper forum for scrutiny was the Audit Committee and suggested that Cllr Stoddart should report his allegations to the Police. Spontaneously echoing their leader’s suggestion, Cllrs Joseph and Hancock also suggested reporting the matter to the local constabulary.

Cllr Mike Stoddard asked for a recorded vote of the decision. 32 members voted against the motion to allow Councillors access to information on how public money had been spent and 27 voted in favour.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Rockface

    January 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    “The majority of people in Pembroke Dock are delighted with what the grants have done for the town” said Councillor Hall? One only has to go and look inside these buildings and the shoddy workmanship will shine through. For example, the Old Coronation School flats are damp and mouldy as with other properties Mr McCosker owns and rents out, most complaints are ignored and its rare that any repairs are carried out leaving tenants at risk of respiratory problems or even death.

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Business

West Wales firm fined £75,000 after man killed by escaped cow

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A WEST WALES company has been fined £75,000 following the death of a 75-year-old man, Huw Evans, who was killed by a cow that had escaped from a livestock market. The incident occurred on November 19, 2022, at Whitland Livestock Market in Carmarthenshire, operated by J.J. Morris Limited.

Father-of-two Mr Evans was crossing the junction at North Road and West Street in Whitland when the cow, which was being auctioned, escaped from the market pen. The animal attacked Mr Evans, knocking him down and trampling him. He suffered multiple injuries and was airlifted to the University Hospital of Wales, where he succumbed to his injuries six days later.

A worker from J.J. Morris Limited was also injured during an unsuccessful attempt to recapture the cow. The cow eventually made its way towards Whitland Rugby Club and a railway line before being subdued and put down by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the incident and found that J.J. Morris Limited had failed to implement essential physical control measures to prevent cattle from escaping. The HSE concluded that the company’s risk assessment was inadequate, referencing control measures that were not in place at the market.

J.J. Morris Limited, based in Haverfordwest, admitted to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £5,047.55 in costs by Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, June 20.

In court, Mr Evans’ son, Dafydd, expressed his grief, saying: “Dad was my best friend, and I miss him terribly. He was taken from us too soon. Losing dad has had a tremendous effect on both myself and my brother. Because of this incident, dad’s grandsons will never fully know him personally, and he will not see them grow up.”

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Rhys Hughes remarked, “This tragic incident was foreseeable and preventable. The risk posed by cattle escaping from the livestock mart should have been identified, and effective control measures implemented. The case highlights the importance of following industry guidance, which is readily accessible and outlines the requirements to safely manage cattle.”

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Wales international Johnny Williams signs new Scarlets contract

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THE SCARLETS said this week that they are delighted to announce that Wales international centre Johnny Williams has signed a new contract with the club.

The 27-year-old joined the Scarlets from Newcastle Falcons in 2020 and after just four appearances earned his first Wales cap, against Georgia in Llanelli.

A powerful-carrying presence in the Scarlets midfield, he has since made 46 appearances, scoring six tries, including a memorable interception in last season’s Challenge Cup quarter-final win over Clermont Auvergne.

He has won seven caps for Wales, featuring at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “Johnny has been a key member of the side in recent years. He’s a player who is a dynamic carrier, is physical with and without the ball, has a good skill set and has an impact on every game he’s involved in.

“He is an important cog in how we look to play and it’s fantastic that he has agreed a new contract with the club. I know the fans will be thrilled with this news and, along with the likes of Eddie James, Joe Roberts and with Macs Page coming through, we have a lot of talent in that midfield pool for the coming years.”

Johnny Williams said: “I am delighted to have signed a new contract. It has been a frustrating season in terms of results, but I am excited by the potential of the squad we are putting together.

“A lot of young boys have put their hands up and we showed during the final few games of the season the kind of rugby we can produce.

“Pre-season will be around before we know it and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in, ready for a big start to next season.”

Johnny is the latest player to recommit to the Scarlets ahead of the 2024-25 campaign, following Tonga lock Sam Lousi, Wales internationals Tom Rogers and Harri O’Connor and back-rowers Dan Davis and Ben Williams.

Scarlets have also strengthened their squad with the addition of hooker Marnus van der Merwe (Toyota Cheetahs), prop Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), full-back Ellis Mee (Nottingham), lock Max Douglas (Toyota Canon Eagles), Wales international prop Henry Thomas (Castres Olympique) and back-three player Blair Murray (Canterbury).

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Business

Tata workers call first strikes in 40 years to stop steel destruction

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HISTORIC strikes in Port Talbot as Labour vows emergency talks with Tata after general election

Around 1,500 Tata workers based in Port Talbot and Llanwern will begin all-out indefinite strike action over the company’s plans to cut 2,800 jobs and close its blast furnaces.

The strike action, which begins on 8 July, will severely impact Tata’s UK operations. It is the first time in over 40 years that steel workers in the UK have taken strike action.

The escalation in industrial action comes after the workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, began working to rule and an overtime ban on Tuesday (June 17).

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tata’s workers are not just fighting for their jobs – they are fighting for the future of their communities and the future of steel in Wales.

“Our members will not standby while this immensely wealthy conglomerate tries to throw Port Talbot and Llanwern on the scrapheap so it can boost its operations abroad. They know South Wales is ideally placed to take advantage of the coming boom in green steel – if the right choices are made.

“The strikes will go on until Tata halts its disastrous plans. Unite is backing Tata’s workers to the hilt in their historic battle to save the Welsh steel industry and give it the bright future it deserves.”

Labour has called for Tata to halt its plans and wait until after the general election to engage in talks with the government, saying there is a ‘better deal to do’. Labour has pledged £3 billion for UK steel if elected next month, a commitment secured by Unite. Labour has also made emergency talks with Tata a priority if it wins the election.

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