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BRYN ‘MUST RESIGN’

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must resignCouncil Chief In Unlawful Payments Scandal

AN EXPLOSIVE report by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) has decided that payments made by Pembrokeshire County Council to its controversial CEO Bryn Parry-Jones WERE unlawful.

The report concludes that the council did not have legal powers to implement its infamous tax-dodge scheme, and follows an investigation by the Assistant Auditor General for Wales, Anthony Barrett, who said (emphasis added):

“Pembrokeshire Council has acted UNLAWFULLY and URGENTLY needs to rescind the decision about pensions opt-outs and stop any further payments to senior officers. The public should be able to expect the highest standards of decision-making at local authorities and the Council MUST now address the procedural weaknesses I have identified in my report. It needs to demonstrate to its electorate that it is operating in accordance with the law and in line with good governance principles.”

• Bryn’s pension scheme “a pay supplement”

• Police now meeting with Audit Office

• Full Council to meet and consider report

• Payments must stop immediately

plaid callsPlaid Cymru calls for resignations

PLAID CYMRU representatives for Pembrokeshire have called on the leadership of Pembrokeshire Council to consider their position following a damning report by the Wales Audit Office report on ‘unlawful’ pensions opt out payments at the council.

Mid and West AM Simon Thomas, Shadow Education Minister for Plaid Cymru commented: “Over £50,000 has been paid to the Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire Council and one other senior officer. My Plaid Cymru colleague Rhodri Glyn Thomas and his team have worked to strengthen accountability over the remuneration packages of local authority chief executives, and have been successful in seeing changes to salaries being scrutinised by the independent remuneration board.”

“The Wales Audit Office is clear that the pension opt out payments at Pembrokeshire Council were ‘unlawful’. In light of this report the leadership of Pembrokeshire Council should consider their position. Pembrokeshire taxpayers will want the council to revoke the decision on pension pay-outs and halt any further payments to senior officers.”

Leader of Plaid Cymru on Pembrokeshire Council, Councillor Michael Williams, who sat on the council’s audit committee added: “I questioned the legality of these payments at the time. I’m sad that the Wales Audit Office has ruled that Pembrokeshire Council has acted illegally. “We have one of the highest paid senior management yet we stumble from one crisis to another. Pembrokeshire Council has failed our young people on education and let our most vulnerable down on social care. “Pembrokeshire Council was on the cusp of being put into special measures and we were only redeemed by the intervention and assistance of the Ministerial Board.

voices concernCllr Paul Miller voices concern

“THIS REPORT from the Audit Office backs up what I, the Labour Group, opposition Councillors and to be fair, the Pembrokeshire Herald, have said all along. The council never had the power to make this decision and never should have made it in the way it did.

Bryn Parry-Jones, with the assistance of 6 long standing Councillors, awarded himself a 5 figure pay rise. Discussions of complex and technical pension arrangements have always been a smoke screen for what is a back door pay rise, pure and simple.

A key question your readers may be asking themselves though is why? Why through the back door? This council have never been afraid in the past of simply declaring ‘you have to pay the best to get the best’. Well we all know the reason and that’s because in 2011 when this decision was taken the council was in the process of implementing its new pay model for staff. That pay model took thousands of pounds a year away from some of the authorities lowest paid staff and so instead of asking themselves if it was right, morally right, to give Bryn an extra £20,000 while taking thousands from someone cutting the grass on £15,000 a year the question became, well how can we get away with giving him £20,000, without it looking like a pay rise?

I was clear when this started that the arrangement should be terminated immediately and the chief executive suspended pending a formal investigation. We will be calling for an extraordinary meeting of council as soon as possible and insisting that motion is put to an all member vote!

Pembrokeshire’s council tax payers are going to be furious again and yet again feel powerless to act.

Well I can assure them that I will be acting and I would encourage them to talk, lobby, accost if necessary their local councillors, particularly their local independent group Councillors, and demand they put a stop to the shady, back door way this council is determined to operate!”

‘Petition for Change at Pembrokeshire Council’ page on facebook and my petition (over 350 signatories so far) at www.paulmillerpembrokeshire.com/councilchange

 

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Ambulance terror response fears in Wales over hospital delays

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Liam Randall, Local Democracy Reporter

AMBULANCE chiefs in Wales say they may not be able to respond properly to terror attacks because of hospital handover delays.

It follows a report highlighting the risk of “catastrophic harm” to the public if crews are busy at A&E departments during major incidents – this includes concerns about the availability of ambulances following a fire on a ferry heading to Fishguard last year.

The Welsh Ambulance Service service raised concerns after a mass-casualty simulation found it would have failed to provide an adequate response three out of four times.

The Welsh government said it expected health boards to prioritise cutting handover delays.

The tests were conducted after the Manchester Arena bombing public inquiry.

That found a host of failings by emergency services in the attack’s aftermath.

The warning follows the service’s claims some medics could not to respond to an explosion at Treforest Industrial Estate, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, in December 2023 because they were stuck outside Morriston Hospital, Swansea.

A major incident was declared after the blast in which a woman died.

Next week a report will be given to the ambulance service board alleging hospital officials failed to release crews from the hospital site.

Swansea Bay University Health Board denied this, saying ambulances were freed.

The ambulance service has questioned the effectiveness of release procedures.

Chief executive Jason Killens has written to Welsh health boards for assurances.

It fears it may not be able to respond to them properly because of hospital handover delays
The ambulance service fears: It may not be able to respond properly because of hospital handover delays

The ambulance report said if a major incident was declared there was a risk an “effective, timely, or safe response” may not happen.

“(This would result in) catastrophic harm (death) and a breach of the trust’s legal obligation,” it said.

The main reason for this was “lost capacity due to hospital handover delays”, over which, it said, it had no control.

It added it was not assured hospitals had plans to release ambulances effectively.

Welsh Ambulance Service operations chief Lee Brooks said it had plans to deliver an effective response to major incidents.

He recognised handover delays were a problem.

“Our ability to send a large-scale response to an incident may be hindered if our people and vehicles are not immediately released by emergency departments,” Mr Brooks said.

The report also highlighted two other occasions where the service had been concerned about ambulances not being released.

These included the fire on the Fishguard in 2023 ferry as well as a gas explosion in Swansea the month after.

Swansea Bay health board said it took its responsibilities seriously and had major incident plans.

Jason Killens
Welsh Ambulance Service boss Jason Killens says as many as 30,000 hours are lost each month due to waits to transfer patients to hospital

“These include agreed protocols to enable the rapid release of ambulances from the emergency department in the event that a major incident is declared,” it said.

“We can confirm that on the evening of the Treforest Industrial Estate fire our major incident plan was invoked and that we did release ambulances.”

Handover delays were raised in the Senedd last week after the health committee was told ambulance crews often see only one patient a shift.

Mr Killens said as much as 30,000 hours were lost monthly in Wales due to waiting to transfer patients to hospital.

Patient safety was at risk, he said, with handover times averaging more than two hours. The target is 15 minutes.

Sam Rowlands MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister said: “It’s not good enough for the Labour Welsh Government to just ‘expect’ Health Boards to solve handover delays.

“We need substantial reform of the entire health system to clear the backlogs of getting patients out of hospital as well as in.

“Our Welsh Conservative plan of NHS reservists, along with care hospitals will deliver that immediate support needed to enable the Ambulance Service to save lives.”

The Welsh government said it expected health boards to cut patient handover delays as a priority over the next six months.

It said this year it was investing an extra £180m to help health boards and regional partnership boards manage more people in the community and avoid ambulances and hospital admission.

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Joy as St Davids Cathedral Music Festival gets into full swing

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THE ST DAVIDS Cathedral Festival is in full swing, offering a captivating array of performances that have enthralled audiences and celebrated the rich tradition of music in the historic setting of St Davids Cathedral. The event bring world-class musicians in Britain’s smallest city, running from 24th-29th May.

The programme of events kicked off on Friday, May 24, with The Children’s Chorus and Band, and Vox Angelica, Vicars Choral and Choral Scholars by Candlelight.

On Saturday night, May 25, festival-goers were treated to a truly stunning performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) under the baton of renowned conductor Martyn Brabbins. The evening’s programme featured masterful renditions of works by Brahms, Sibelius, and Mathias, with the extraordinary violinist Inmo Yang delivering a particularly unforgettable performance.

Audience members and performers alike expressed their appreciation for the concert, with many calling it an evening to remember.

Photographer Chris Limbert captured the essence of the night, showcasing the cathedral’s breathtaking atmosphere and the musicians’ passion.

Earlier that same day, one of the festival’s most anticipated events took place: the ‘Choristers Unplugged’ concert.

This event, a favourite among the choristers, saw the young singers performing to a packed audience.

The concert featured a delightful and whimsical pink theme, with choristers donning costumes inspired by ‘Wonka’, ‘Barbie’, ‘Six’, and other popular themes.

The performance was a resounding success, demonstrating the choristers’ versatility and love for music of all genres. Special recognition was given to the Head Chorister, who was praised for expertly curating the programme.

Festival attendees Laurence and his companion expressed their joy at being part of the event, noting how the concert’s atmosphere allowed them to share in the choristers’ enthusiasm and appreciation for a wide variety of music.

The St Davids Cathedral Festival continues to be a highlight in the regional cultural calendar, bringing together talented musicians and appreciative audiences in one of the country’s most iconic and spiritually significant venues.

As the festival progresses, it promises more remarkable performances and memorable experiences for all who attend.

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Injured climber rescued from cliffs near St Govan’s Head

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AN INJURED climber was rescued from the cliffs near St Govan’s Head on Friday afternoon, May 24, in a dramatic operation involving multiple agencies. The climber found themselves stranded on the perilous rocks, prompting a swift response from coastguard rescue teams and an RNLI lifeboat.

At approximately 3.50pm, HM Coastguard Dale, St Govans, and Tenby teams, along with the Angle RNLI lifeboat, were paged to assist in the rescue. The lifeboat was the first to reach the climber, providing immediate casualty care. However, due to the climber’s precarious position, evacuation by boat was deemed impossible.

In a statement on their Facebook page, HM Coastguard Dale praised the collaboration, stating, “This was another great example of multiple agencies working together for a positive outcome.”

The coastguard teams then initiated a rope rescue operation. Using a rope rescue stretcher, they successfully extracted the injured climber to the top of the cliff. The climber’s partner, who was also on the cliffs, was safely recovered during the operation.

Once the casualty was safely at the top, paramedics took over, providing necessary medical care. The coastguard teams were subsequently stood down, concluding a successful multi-agency rescue effort.

The quick and efficient response highlights the vital role of coordinated efforts in emergency situations, ensuring the safety and well-being of those in perilous conditions.

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