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election scandalTHE FINDING of guilt by a council committee investigating the electioneering activities of Council Deputy Leader Rob Lewis might only have resulted in two weeks’ suspension for the representative from Martletwy, but The Pembrokeshire Herald now understands that there could be significantly wider fallout from the affair.

The preparation of candidates’ election leaflets by Cllr Lewis and former County Councillor David Wildman, and their printing by a commercial printer, could mean that candidates who failed to declare who published and printed their election material could have their election declared void and be debarred from public office.

QUESTIONS continue to arise from the conduct of Deputy Leader of the County Council, Rob Lewis of Martletwy. Also the scandal could spread and affect candidates whose literature and promotional material was prepared by Cllr Lewis and then printed and circulated without proper declarations required by election law being made. In a breach of the Council’s clear rules of conduct, Cllr Lewis used and abused Council facilities to plan election campaigns for supposedly “independent” councillors, who were members of an IPG slate in the 2008 & 2012 Council elections.

For those breaches, Cllr Lewis was controversially suspended from the Council for only two weeks and tried throughout to deflect blame by painting himself as a victim of wrongdoing. The scandal about the IPPG’s election tactics and abuse of publicly-funded facilities was blown wide open by East Williamston councillor Jacob Williams on his online blog

It appears that his explosive revelations about the conduct of senior IPPG Councillors David Wildman and Rob Lewis, will have considerable further fall out.

Online comments made by other Councillors have suggested that far from being at all contrite Cllr Lewis has expressed no remorse since the suspension was handed down.

The new questions arise out of declarations that candidates for election must make on their campaign material as to who has published and printed their election literature.

Cllr Lewis was found to have prepared election literature and commissioned its printing from a business run by a Council employee who works in the Council’s own printing department. The rules on elections provide that Candidates must ensure that all their election materials (leaflets, posters, placards and all other printed materials), clearly bears on the front of the material, details of:-

• The name and address of the printer of the document

• The name and address of the promoter of the material

• The name and address of the person on behalf of whom the material is being published (and who is not the promoter)

For example: printed by Bloggs & Co of Anytown, published by Mrs Candidate on behalf of Mr Candidate of Anytown.

Failure to observe these requirements may lead to summary conviction and a fine, even if the candidate was unsuccessful. An elected candidate who is found guilty can have his/her election voided. As the duty of care in respect of the offence requires no criminal intent but a finding of fact as to whether the material used to promote a candidate is misleading, the offence is one of strict liability. In other words, a candidate is stuck with the penalty for wrongdoing, even if he was unaware what they did was illegal, as they are supposed to make sure they are aware of the relevant election laws. As advice to potential candidates on an English county council’s website puts it, quoting a former Lord Chief Justice:

“People who employ crossing sweepers to mend watches, cannot complain if the result is unsuccessful”.

The consequences for the ruling IPPG group could be particularly serious. The Pembrokeshire Herald is aware of once instance at least in 2012 where an unsuccessful candidate appears to have had his election literature prepared by Rob Lewis and printed by a commercial printer but failed to declare the same.

The candidate on that occasion, Byron Frayling, stood against David Bryan in the Haverfordwest Priory Ward.

Certainly, the pre-press versions of many candidates” election literature which were then commercially printed are in breach of election law.

The number of IPPG candidates who are potentially affected include members of the current Cabinet. A Councillor whose election literature was potentially in breach of election law even appeared on a list of “recruiters” for the then IPG at the election counts in May 2008. His role was to hand out cards inviting new, unaffiliated councillors to a meeting to join the IPG. That Councillor subsequently stated publicly that he had not decided to join the IPG until a time

AFTER the election took place.

On computer files seen by The Pembrokeshire Herald that candidate, Cllr Ken Rowlands, the Cabinet Spokesperson for Education, appears in a list of IPG candidates for canvassing on Tuesday April 29, 2008, a few days before the election. That file is shown as being printed on April 22, 2008 and created on April 7, 2008.

It is not clear whether Cllr Rowlands literature was printed by Clive James, the printer Cllr Lewis says printed IPG material, but Mr Rowlands election literature in the 2008 election was created and edited in mid-April by former Councillor David Wildman and current Deputy Leader, the suspended Rob Lewis. That is contrary to the declaration on that literature’s face, which states that the document was printed and published by the candidate’s wife.

Similarly, the properties of the material for Mr Rowlands election in 2012 show that it was created by his then fellow Cabinet member, David Wildman, despite a declaration on the same material that it was printed and published by Mr Rowlands himself.

We can re-assure Mr Rowlands, and we are happy to confirm in print, that not only did we not receive the material we publish today from Cllr Jacob Williams, but that it was provided it to us by a concerned third party. We have not discussed the story with Cllr Williams, other than to ask whether he would be happy for us to credit his website with breaking the story in the first place.

The Electoral Commission told the Herald that it has no powers to investigate allegations of election fraud, and that allegations of illegality should be immediately reported to the Police. The Commission also referred us to its online guidance, which suggested that it works closely with Returning Officers to monitor elections. The Returning Officer for Pembrokeshire is Bryn Parry Jones.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50



EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea



A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms



A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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