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Police called in on grants scandal

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county hallTHE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD understands that Dyfed Powys Police will be called in by Pembrokeshire County Council to probe payments made under the Town Heritage Initiative and Commercial Property Grants Schemes in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock. The schemes are the subject of an ongoing investigation by the County Council’s own Audit Committee, chaired by independent lay person John Evans MBE.

The news that the Police are to become involved is a further body blow for the beleaguered IPPG party, which spent much of last December’s Full Council meeting making personal attacks on unaffiliated independent member Mike Stoddart, who wanted Councillors to have the chance to examine documents relating to the scheme.

The storm of protest that followed the meeting, which included the discoveries that Cabinet member David Pugh had attacked Cllr Stoddart on the basis of a viewing of the wrong building and that a visit to 29 Dimond Street by IPPG leader Jamie Adams did not include actually entering the shop premises, led to the Council’s Audit Committee allowing all Council members to examine documents relating to the schemes’ administration.

The grants scheme came to prominence in two feature length articles in Pembrokeshire’s Best Magazine in 2012 and 2013. The magazine’s investigation had discovered that the majority of grants by value had gone to a single property developer, Cathal McCosker – whom it christened “The Baron of the Bedsits”. In addition, the magazine discovered that the developments headed by Mr McCosker had employed one local building firm and – latterly – one local architect’s practice to carry out the grant aided projects.

Councillor Mike Stoddart continued to harry the Council with requests for information and clarification, culminating in his discovery of a Bill of Quantities and other documents in the public examination of the Council’s accounts held annually at Thornton Business Park.

A site visit to Pembroke Dock by the Audit Committee in January of this year raised more questions than answers for its members. An examination of the Paul Sartori charity shop in Dimond Street, caused some members to question the way in which in excess of £53,000 had been purportedly paid for works on the retail premises.

There is absolutely no suggestion that the Paul Sartori Foundation are implicated in any potential or alleged wrongdoing in relation to the premises, of which they are only commercial tenants.

The news of the referral to the Police could scarcely come at a worse time for the IPPG, which has spent enormous political capital backing the Council’s conduct of the schemes at the same time as supporting the Council’s decision to allow controversial CEO Bryn Parry Jones to receive a so-called “pay supplement” which has cost the Council around £45,000 over the last two years.

The so-called “pay supplement” was part of a scheme hatched to help Bryn Parry Jones avoid tax on his publicly funded Local Government Pension.

The Pembrokeshire Herald contacted Pembrokeshire County Council and requested a statement. A Council spokesperson told The Herald:

“We can confirm that we have been in contact with the police. In the event that we are satisfied that a fraud has been committed against the Council, we will formally refer the matter.”

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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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