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Consultation calamity continues

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Controversial: School shake-up plans were met with protests

FOLLOWING the Council’s decision to cease its consultation into the future of post-16 education in Haverfordwest, having also aborted its previous consultation, The Pembrokeshire Herald contacted the Welsh Government. We asked for information on its Schools Reorganisation Guidance and the extent of any difficulties local authorities had encountered in relation to it.

The Welsh Government refused to disclose the information requested. This was not on the basis that it did not have it, but on the principle that its publication would affect its role as the final arbiter of reorganisation proposals presented by Welsh local authorities.

Herald staff thereafter made a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to the other 21 Welsh local authorities to establish whether there was any pattern to the difficulties Pembrokeshire County Council has evidently encountered in both running the consultation properly and following the Welsh Government’s statutory guidance on its obligations.

Perhaps the guidance was just too complex for officers to follow. The results of our inquiry reveal that is not the case. We were surprised that a number of local authorities, notably Ceredigion, were able to respond to our queries not only well within the twenty-day limit but by return of email.

The Herald asked the following questions of individual councils:

· How many consultations has the Council carried out under the terms of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013?

· Has the Council discontinued or ceased any consultations once it has started?

· Has the Council received any legal challenge in respect of their proposals published under the terms of the Act and Code?

In relation to the first question, Councils (excluding Pembrokeshire) had held 85 consultations.

Only one other Council had discontinued or abandoned more than one consultation, Bridgend. Denbighshire also discontinued a consultation, having reassessed its business case.

Interestingly Bridgend Council has discontinued or abandoned three consultations. It pools its legal expertise with Pembrokeshire.

Three other Councils had received legal challenges, Bridgend, Denbighshire and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Unless the position is markedly and significantly different at the sole remaining Council to respond, Pembrokeshire and Bridgend are alone in having to halt or abandon consultations once started. Pembrokeshire IS alone in having to halt what amounted to a re-run of a previous consultation on the same grounds as it had discontinued the original.

It appears that the complexity of the regulations is not such that the legal and institutional minds of other local authorities are bewildered and bewitched by them.

Jamie Adams is fond of pointing out Pembrokeshire’s exceptional status as an authority, a county, and a brand. Now something else has distinguished Pembrokeshire County Council from other Welsh local authorities.

The Council is yet to embark on a further consultation about the future of Haverfordwest’s secondary schools. Events appear, however, to indicate that there are going to be few surprises when it is announced.

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Tragedy above Milford Haven takeaway

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DYFED POWYS POLICE has confirmed that a 20-year-old male passed away in Milford Haven last Saturday, April 17.

Police were called to the USA Fried Chicken store on Charles Street at around 1:30pm but have said there are no suspicious circumstances.

A Herald reporter was at the scene and witnessed a number of police cars and an ambulance while plain-clothed officers were also seen.

HM Coroner has been informed.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson added: “We were called to Charles Street in Milford Haven on Saturday 17 April at approximately 1.34pm to reports of a medical emergency. We attended the scene with one emergency ambulance where we assisted colleagues from the police.”

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Tavernspite School the ‘healthiest of schools despite the pandemic’

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THE STAFF, governors, parents, and of course, the children of Tavernspite Community Primary School are delighted to gain the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes National Quality Award for an incredible 5th time after a recent and very rigorous assessment.

The school is already well known and highly regarded for its outstanding work in developing the health and wellbeing of all members of its school community. To achieve this prestigious recognition in the midst of a pandemic is all the more impressive. 

Health and Wellbeing at the school is led by teacher, Lauren Arthur, who has done an incredible job preparing for this re-assessment and raising the profile of the Healthy Schools scheme.

The assessor Mrs Lynne Perry, enjoyed a virtual tour and presentation by Year 3 pupils who took great pleasure in proudly showing Mrs Perry all the wonderful work the school has done to ensure its children are safe, happy with high levels of emotional and physical wellbeing.

In her report, Mrs Perry wrote, ‘Tavernspite School continues to be an outstanding health promoting school. The health promoting school ethos is evident across the whole school population and it runs seamlessly throughout everything that the school does. Tavernspite School continues to give high priority to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the whole school community.’

The school received fantastic support from Mrs Liz Western, Senior Public Health Officer and Lead for Healthy Schools and Pre-schools, Pembrokeshire, to whom they are very grateful.

Head teacher Kevin Phelps said, ‘We were delighted to receive this award for the fifth time, particularly considering the experiences we have all been through these past twelve months. Health and wellbeing has never been so important and we are proud to be leading the way like this.’

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Joinery learner through to Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year Finals

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE joinery learner, Conor Ratcliff has made it through to the final ten in this year’s Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year competition.

Now in its seventh year, the competition celebrates the next generation of tradespeople as they start out on their career. With over 2,500 nominations, Conor was shortlisted to the top 30 where he had to deliver a video presentation to industry-leading judges and trade body representatives. Judged on professionalism, creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and knowledge of their trade, Conor impressed the judges and is now in the final 10.  

Simon Jackson, Screwfix Customer and Digital director, commented: “Every year we are amazed by the outstanding quality of entrants and, this year, we are on the lookout for apprentices who go above and beyond to succeed within their chosen trade.

“We’ve seen how this career-boosting accolade and £10,000 prize bundle helps kickstart an apprentice’s career. I’d like to wish everyone through to this stage the best of luck!”

The prize package includes everything a future tradesperson may need to start up their own business including £5,000 of tools, a £3,000 training budget and £2,000 worth of technology. The college where they study will also receive £2,000.

Conor is thrilled to have made it through to the finals and commented: “I am extremely honoured to have made it this far in the competition and I am very excited for the final event. It would be an amazing opportunity for me, if I won this competition.

“I hope it encourages more people to consider an apprenticeship in a trade, the Carpentry and Joinery department have been incredibly supportive during my studies.”

The Final is due to take place imminently where the judges will conduct an online interview with the ten finalists before selecting and announcing their overall winner.

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