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Badger enjoys the sweet smell of ‘success’



badger_2087377bIt worries Badger that an administration so committed to cutting public services is headed by a man who finds remembering to file his expenses on time difficult and is a self-confessed bad book-keeper. All those alleged efficiency savings and service improvements (a.k.a. ‘cuts’) swimming around in the head of a man who forgot to claim £4649 in expenses; it cannot be easy for him, poor dab!

All the talk of those supposed service improvements, alleged efficiency savings and being kind to our environment cannot obscure the fact that Pembrokeshire County Council has embarked on a course of slashing low paid workers’ pay while preserving the obscene salaries paid to upper management as a reward for their collective past and continuing failure; on a policy (cutting bin collections) that will ensure that Pembrokeshire households will be regular stopping off points for Badger’s woodland chums Ratty and Foxy; and a policy that means that if you are caught short in a public place, you will be doing your bit for the environment by wearing reusable nappies.

How lucky we are then that the Council was this week able to announce that ‘Latest figures show that Pembrokeshire County Council’s performance improved again last year and was well above average when compared to other local authorities in Wales … Pembrokeshire’s performance was particularly positive in adult and children’s social care.’

Now that is good news, to an extent. If success is going to be measured as not failing as badly as everyone else, Jamie Adams’s breast must be swelling with pride.

We can all be proud of the Council’s achievement in closing a library before finding out how much it would cost to replace it and then having to back track on its plans for it; that its own estimate of capital works required to the education estate was wildly incorrect; that the Council’s view of success is maintaining ‘the lowest Council Tax in Wales’ by slashing public services and showering European grant money on a few private landlords and property speculators.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the figures that escaped Cllr Adams’s attention:

Cllr Jacob Williams’s motion about traveller pitches in Pembrokeshire and the need for the Council to ensure its procedures were appropriate rightly received widespread attention. The Council now has the chance to right a wrong and put its money where its mouth is. When the Council has an estimate for a requirement for expenditure of £1m in this financial year and has since the start of it spent £6,000, the need for rapid review instead of mere lip service is underlined.

Pembrokeshire County Council takes 78.6 days to discharge its primary duty to households determined to be homeless. That is 78.6 working days. Add in the weekends, because people don’t stop being homeless on Saturday and Sunday, and Pembrokeshire is proud to keep the homeless without a permanent roof over their heads for over four months. That is against a Welsh average of 128 working days and a target of 66 days. Hurrah. We are not the worst!

The Council’s desired ‘Key Outcome 1’ is that ‘Children, young people and families in Pembrokeshire have the opportunity to lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.’ Not if you are a child with special needs, however: for those children, Pembrokeshire’s performance is woeful. Out of 23 statements of Special Educational Needs, only 3 – 13% – were issued within 26 weeks. For the sake of clarity, the same period last year produced an 88% performance against the same target. Success, indeed, then! No explanation is given for this pathetic failure in the papers recording the Council’s performance for special educational needs assessments other than that reports are ‘awaited’ from Health and Social Care.


Rocking on for six months after the end of the year to which those figures relate, the Council is STILL awaiting an explanation? Perhaps there is only one manual typewriter in County Hall and the typist is on long term leave.

Perhaps best value for money in education could be achieved by making an effort to recruit the best available permanent staff for Pembrokeshire’s schools instead of the below, a response to a Freedom of Information Act request:


Staff on fixed term contracts 7,014,631.23
Supply staff 1,546,187.07
Agency staff 119,098.76
Total 8,679,917.06

Mind you, Social Care and Education are responsible for every Compromise Agreement the Council confirms entering into since 2009. Think of those agreements as ‘we pay you to go away, not make a fuss and keep your lip zipped’ ways of ending employment. Note the startling figures for the current and immediately past financial years.

01/04/13 2 @ £48,720 + Payment in Lieu of Notice
01/04/12 – 31/03/13 2 @ £35,200 + PILON
01/04/11 – 31/04/12 0
01/04/10 – 31/03/11 1 @ £7,000 + PILON
01/04/09 – 31/03/10 1 @ £3,672 + PILON

Three of those agreements were in senior management positions.

We can all take comfort in the thought that scarce resources are being spent wisely and well and not ploughed into rewarding failure and mediocrity.

Something smells sweet around Jamie Adams and the IPPG. Perhaps it is success, after all.

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Wales embarks on floating wind energy venture with £180,000 commitment



OFFSHORE RENEWABLE ENERGY (ORE) Catapult, in association with Floventis Energy, is set to boost the floating offshore wind sector in Wales. The partnership aims to prepare Welsh businesses for this rapidly growing industry.

This initiative, termed the Fit 4 Offshore Renewables (F4OR) programme, is tailored exclusively to propel the floating wind market in Wales. It marks the debut of such an initiative in the region, reflecting the nation’s progressive stance on renewable energy.

The joint venture sees a promising £180,000 committed by Floventis Energy towards the 12-18 month floating wind specific development scheme. Welsh businesses are set to benefit extensively with unique access to the team developing Llŷr 1 and 2 in the Celtic Sea. This, in combination with the forthcoming Celtic Sea Round 5 projects, promises lucrative prospects for local ventures.

Vaughan Gething, Wales’ Economy Minister, expressed his enthusiasm: “The offshore wind sector has an incredible potential for our economy and its people. By bolstering the awareness of Welsh firms, we aim to pave the way for them to harness the opportunities of the green future.”

The programme, commencing in 2024, will kick-start with an initial group of three companies. Since its inception in 2019, the F4OR initiative has flourished across the UK, boasting five successful regional programmes and aiding over 100 companies. Many of these beneficiaries have seen a significant surge in their turnovers.

Andrew Macdonald from ORE Catapult commented on the potential of the sector: “Our goal is to ensure a top-tier supply chain developed in the UK, ready to cater to the world. With the proven success of F4OR in other parts, we’re eager to tap into the vast opportunities that Wales, particularly in floating wind energy, presents.”

The Celtic Sea in Wales is poised to be a frontrunner in the UK’s net-zero ambition, targeting a deployment of 4GW of floating wind by 2035. Early estimates suggest the potential creation of over 3,000 jobs, injecting a staggering £682 million into the supply chain of Wales and Cornwall by 2030.

Cian Conroy of Floventis Energy, noting the importance of the programme, stated: “Initiatives like F4OR, in tandem with projects such as Llŷr, are vital for building a robust industry. Our end goal is to fortify the UK’s offshore renewable energy supply chain, both domestically and on the global stage.”

Applications for the programme are open for firms employing over ten individuals and boasting turnovers exceeding £1 million, provided they cater to the offshore wind sector. Interested companies can apply at F4OR – ORE ( by 10 November.

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Pembrokeshire identified as having too many empty properties



PEMBROKESHIRE has been identified as the third major empty home hotspot in the UK.

The recent study on the UK’s housing market, conducted by Alan Boswell Landlord Building Insurance, disclosed a startling fact – the country has 4,331 vacant properties. This figure contradicts the popular belief of a fully occupied UK property market, especially given the weighty 5.1% rise in rent over the last year.

Gwynedd, in north-west Wales, tops the list with a staggering 5,286 vacant properties per 100,000 residents, an actual number amounting to 6,204. Surprisingly, a significant 77% of these are second homes or holiday residences. This has consequently resulted in escalating house prices, pushing the average up to £136,095.

Following closely is Argyll and Bute, which, with its historical splendour and breathtaking vistas, now has 4,887 empty homes per 100,000 people. This makes up over 10% of the area’s households. Furthermore, to address the increasing number of vacant properties, the Scottish Government has augmented The Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) to 6% of the property purchase price for individuals who already possess one or more residential properties, anywhere in the world.

However, it’s Pembrokeshire’s standing at third place that’s turning heads. Despite its reputation as a sanctuary for nature and history aficionados, the county is grappling with a surge of holiday-home ownership. A vast 74% of its vacant properties are owned by individuals possessing second homes. The data indicates 4,331 empty homes for every 100,000 individuals in the county, summing up to 5,346 overall.

Concluding the top five are the Isle of Anglesey and Ceredigion, both in Wales, with 3,752 and 3,595 vacant properties per 100,000 residents, respectively.

This overwhelming number of vacant homes across these areas not only affects the local housing market but also impacts the native residents, many of whom find it increasingly challenging to own a home in their own community.

Methodology: The analysis used government data, StatsWales website information, and the Scottish Government’s figures. Data utilised spanned from 2021 to 2023, considering population and house price figures.

More info here

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Pembrokeshire restaurant fined for employing illegal workers



A PEMBROKESHIRE-BASED restaurant, Panache Indian, located on Queen Street, Pembroke Dock, has been slapped with a hefty fine after being found guilty of employing illegal workers over the past year.

The authorities acted on intelligence provided to the UK government, leading to raids at the Panache establishment earlier this year. Investigations uncovered that several staff members employed there had no legal right to either reside or work in the UK. The exact number of illegal workers discovered on the premises has not been disclosed.

As a consequence of these findings, the restaurant, owned and managed by Fahinoor Rahman, has been penalised with a fine amounting to £30,000.

Furthermore, Panache Restaurant now features in the Government’s quarterly report, which lists companies penalised for the use of illegal workers. This data is publicly released by the Home Office four times annually, with the most recent data spanning from January 1 to March 31, 2023.

The UK government underscores the severe repercussions awaiting companies or individuals found employing those without the right to work or live in the UK. According to, guilty parties could face up to five years imprisonment, alongside an unlimited fine, particularly if they knowingly or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ they were employing individuals without the right to work in the UK.

This category comprises:

  • Individuals lacking the leave (permission) to enter or stay in the UK.
  • Those whose permission to stay has expired.
  • Individuals restricted from certain job roles.
  • Persons providing incorrect or fraudulent information.
  • In a related incident, the Nehar Indian Restaurant in Lampeter, owned by Ruhul Amin Choudhury, has also been penalised with a £20,000 fine for employing illegal workers.
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