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Council asked to complain about delayed investigation

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COUNCILLORS are set to discuss a notice of motion calling for a complaint to be made over the length of time it has taken the Police to investigate the Pembroke Dock Commercial Property Grant Scheme.

The notice of motion, from Cllr Mike Stoddart, has been placed on the agenda for Thursday’s (Mar 8) full council meeting having previously been discussed by the Council’s Audit Committee.

At that meeting in January, members decided that they would ask full council to consider making the complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

They also agreed to write a formal complaint to Dyfed-Powys Police and invited a representative from the force to attend a future Audit Committee to give an update.

The council has previously written to the police about the investigation with Cllr Jacob Williams saying in 2016 that the investigation was ‘dragging its heels’.

Cllr Stoddart found that there was £60,000 worth of irregular payments made to developer, Cathal McCosker, for two properties in Pembroke Dock on Dimond Street and Meyrick Street.

The Commercial Property Grant Scheme is run by the Council and is also funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).

WEFO has already claimed back around £309,000 from the Council and Cathal McCosker had offered to pay back the £180,000 he had received under the council’s scheme.

Following a lengthy battle by Cllr Stoddart, he was able to see a number of documents relating to the scheme and in 2014 the police commenced an investigation into what had gone on.

The Council has also had a number of assurances that action would be taken ‘soon’ but nothing has materialised.

In January, Cllr Jacob Williams said: “One thing we can be clear on is that there is a lot of doubt where this case now sits. In May 2016, the Audit Committee was told by Detective Inspector Anthony Griffiths that he was confident that arrests and criminal prosecutions would follow, when pressed on a time frame he was not committal but there was certainly an impression it was imminent.”

Cllr Stoddart added that he felt there were two or three previous incidences where the police and the council had ‘conspired to pervert the course of justice’ and was ‘suspicious’ that something similar was going on with this case.
The Council is being recommended to agree to the notice of motion.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Cllr Jacob Williams has submitted a question asking how much the developer has repaid to date.

At a meeting in 2016, Cllr Stoddart asked a similar question and it was revealed that Cathal McCosker had only paid back £25,000 of the amount he had received.

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Former Cardigan Castle director sentencing delayed

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THE SENTENCING of a former director of Cardigan Castle who has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft totalling over £40,000 has been delayed.

Former director, Jac Davies, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft was due to be sentenced on Wednesday (May 4) at Swansea Crown Court – but has now been delayed.

Davies who held the £40,000 a year post fraudulently obtained £33,098.75 and stole a further £7,932.97 from the award winning restoration project..

Davies held his position at Cardigan Castle from September 2017 to November 2019.

The defendant has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining £4,143.20 from the castle on December 21, 2017.

Again Davies admitted to fraudulently obtaining £28,955.55 between February 4, 2019 and November 3, 2019.

Two further charges of theft were also admitted – one charge of  theft from the castle of £1,908.18 between May 2, 2018 and May 24, 2019 and a further charge of theft from Cardigan Castle Enterprises to the sum of £6,024.79.

Dyfed-Powys Police conducted a year long investigation after being contacted by the castle board of directors.

Financial discrepancies were identified during financial monitoring.

An internal investigation was launched and Davies left his position within the castle in October 2019 following a disciplinary process.

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Dyfed-Powys Police criticised for failing to record thousands of crimes

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A SHOCKING new report says that Dyfed-Powys Police failed to record thousands of crimes, despite being told to improve two-and-a-half years ago.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found the force had documented just 87.6% of reported crime – meaning upto 4,400 crimes are not recorded each year.

The report highlighted that of violent crimes, 85.4% were registered, which means about 2,400 went unrecorded, some involving domestic abuse or the vulnerable.

The force said it had “plans in place to improve its crime recording.”

HMIC reached their conclusion by comparing the number of reports to the police with recorded numbers. About 35,900 were reported.

In 2018, HMIC found that our local force was too often not recording crimes. And in 2014 it was reported the force was one of the worst in the UK at recording crimes. 

Dyfed-Powys Police T/Chief Constable, Claire Parmenter was quick to respond to the shocking finding. In a statement emailed to The Herald she said: “We accept the concerns and recommendations published by HMICFRS in respect of crime data integrity. As an organisation, we are firmly committed to supporting victims and putting them at the heart of everything we do. The force has plans in place to improve its crime recording and I am determined we will get this right.

“Since the previous HMICFRS inspection in 2018 we have made significant improvements in our response to Domestic Abuse victims, creating the vulnerability desk which provides real time intelligence to officers attending incidents of Domestic Abuse and ensuring that safeguarding arrangements are in place through a new partnership hub. Recent audits in April evidenced we were achieving a 98% compliance for the completion of risk assessments. This ensures that every Domestic Abuse victim is looked after and kept safe.

“We have a programme of change already in place which will deliver significant process and cultural change. The elements of this programme will improve the forces’ ability to manage demand, support victims, improve the timeliness and quality of investigations and supervision of crime. HMICFRS were unable to take this project into account as part of this inspection. Delivery plans commence next month (June 2021).

“Since the date of this inspection, we are already seeing improvements as a result of the swift additional action we have taken, achieving 100% crime recording compliance in respect of anti-social behaviour for February and March 2021 which is positive.”

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Firefighters extinguish blaze at St Catherine’s Fort, Tenby

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A CONTROLLED wood fire earlier in the day caused a fire to break out on Tenby’s St Catherine’s Island on Thursday (May 6).

Heat that was caused by a wood fire earlier in the day caused a ignition on the unburned wood nearby that was needed to be extinguished by Tenby fire crew.

Taking to their Facebook page, St Catherine’s island thanked Tenby Fire Brigade for their assistance.

No serious damage was caused by the incident.

The spokesperson said: “A massive shout out to Tenby Fire Brigade last night who were called to the Island last night after we left following a long day working on the Fort and burning off all the old flooring, having now replaced it all. 

“We had spent at least half an hour making sure that our controlled barrel fire was out. Unfortunately the ground was so hot it transferred to the rest of the unburned wood. 

“Thanks to our amazing local Fire Service, they were on hand to help us out and no damage occurred.”

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