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Councillor’s call to put Health Board into special measures will be debated

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MEMBERS of Pembrokeshire County Council have decided that they will debate if they should recommend to the Welsh Government that Hywel Dda University Health Board should be put into special measures in a committee hearing.

One councillor, Michael Williams, said he wished that the Council could subpoena members of Hywel Dda health board to attend a debate to give them “a really good grilling” in regards to their hospital shake up plans.

The Health Board plan to close the A&E in Haverfordwest, downgrade Withybush Hospital and build a new centralised hospital between Narberth and Whitland has been highly controversial.

The matter has been the subject of protests, demonstrations and a petition signed by nearly half the residents of Pembrokeshire being delivered to the Welsh Government earlier this year.

The Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee will now debate the matter which was sparked by a Notice of Motion submitted by Pembroke Dock councillor, Paul Dowson.

During the debate at Full Council, Cllr Jon Havery seemed to be Cllr Dowson’s biggest supporter over the issue. He said: “We need to look at the spirit in which this has been made. We represent the people. We are elected, the health board is not. I do not think that for one minute that if we recommended that the Health Board be put into special measures that the Welsh Government would do it; but what it would send out would be a strong signal to the residents of Pembrokeshire, whom we represent, that we are not happy with the proposals with Withybush at the moment”

He added: “It’s clear that the downgrading and the loss of A&E are very high in the public’s hearts and mind-sets. What more can the people do? The people have petitioned, campaigned and protested and they are still being ignored. We should be supporting this motion!”

There was loud clapping from the public gallery when Cllr Harvey concluded by saying: “We should be showing to the people of Pembrokeshire that we are not happy with the health board!”

Cllr Jon Harvey said: “This is a very important notice of motion so far as I am concerned. We have members of the public in the gallery here who have come to listen to this. I would suggest that we should be debating this in some shape or form. It is important that Cllr Dowson is allowed to explain the rationale behind his Notice of Motion”

Cllr Dowson spoke next, saying: “Yes, as Cllr Harvey said this is a very important issue in Pembrokeshire – I do not think it can just be passed off to a committee without being debated. It’s an unusual Notice of Motion as we have no authority over the health board, it’s just asking for a recommendation. I feel that Full Council should debate it really.”

It was Cllr Aden Arthur Brinn who questioned if the Local Authority had the remit to carry out the Notice of Motion. Miss Claire Jones, the Monitoring Officer, agreed that the Council did have the authority to make a recommendation to the Health Minister and this possibly could be heard at a future committee meeting

Cllr Dowson replied saying that he thought that was problematic.

He said: “The public have been to Hywel Dda themselves and made their thoughts clear and the board haven’t listened. We are really the only recommending authority that they can go to… so they have to come to us

Cllr Samuel Kurtz said: “I fully appreciate the notice of motion and the concern that this chamber has with Health Provision in west Wales. I just want to make the chamber aware that there is currently one health board under special measures with the Welsh Government – that’s Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board – and it’s performance has decreased under the Welsh Assembly. The former Health Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford has just taken over as First Minister. He was the one himself who started moving services away from Withybush Hospital. I fully understand the need for scrutiny and a voice for Pembrokeshire people. 45,000 people did sign that petition supporting A&E in Withybush. But I am not sure that this is the best way to go ahead with the Welsh Assembly’s current outset on health provision in Wales.

Cllr Simon Hancock was concerned that the matter, which he admitted was important, was being discussed ‘at the end of a very long day’ and he was concerned about a lack of documents submitted by Cllr Dowson.
He criticised Cllr Dowson saying: “This is, I fear, an exercise in popular-ism.”

He went on to say that the person to escalate intervention should be the Cabinet Secretary, not any council.

However, following discussions the Notice of Motion was carried to committee.

Farcical scenes: The Council Chamber last Friday

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Man, 22, charged with murder of John William Bell in Cardigan

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A CARDIGAN man has been charged with murder after a man’s death in Ceredigion.

John Bell, 37, and also from the town, was found on the road to Cardigan Bridge in the early hours of Wednesday.

Dyfed-Powys Police said 22-year-old Ashley Keegan, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with his murder.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that Ashley Keegan, aged 22, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with the murder of John William Bell.

Victim: John Bell

“Keegan will appear at Swansea magistrates court on Saturday 24th July 2021.

“John’s family continue to be supported by specialist officers and the investigation is grateful for the support of the community whilst enquiries were conducted.”

This is the second major incident in the same area this month.

Another man was charged with making threats with a knife, he is again from Golwg y Castell.

Dyfed-Powys Police said they received a number of calls reporting a man brandishing a knife towards another man in Maesyfelin, Cardigan, at around 4.20pm on Wednesday (July 14).

Several police units swiftly made their way to the area, but the suspect had fled.

Dean Thomas, aged 25, was quickly located at his home in Golwg y Castell, where he was arrested on suspicion of affray and taken to custody.

Mobile phone footage was gathered from people at the scene, and statements were taken from witnesses.

Cardigan Inspector Owen Williams said: “Thanks to the swift attendance of officers, there were a number of people present who were able to provide evidence to assist with our enquiries.
“Thomas also made a significant statement linking himself with the incident, and was charged within hours of being arrested.

“I hope the speed with which we carried out enquiries into this incident reassures people living in Maesyfelin, who were naturally very concerned by what had happened.”

Thomas was charged with threatening a person with a blade or sharply pointed article in a public place and appeared at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, July 15 where he admitted the offence.

He will be sentenced on July 29 at Swansea Crown Court.

In relation to the murder, anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101 and quoting Op Reedham. 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 by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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‘Plan ahead this summer’, says Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE FOLLOWING is a message from the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson:

Hello everyone, I hope you are well and enjoying this lovely weather.

My key message this week is about planning ahead.

This week we have experienced very hot and sunny days and beaches have been full and everyone is enjoying the outdoors.

We are experiencing a high volume of visitors to the county which can at times add additional pressures on our services.

This week, for example, we have seen high demand for car parking spaces, beach clean ups, litter picking and toilet cleaning.

Due to the high footfall please consider where you are going and what you will do when you are there. Some coastal car parks on nice sunny days are filing by mid-morning.

We all also need to be patient when out and about. We are all working together to move forward after the lockdowns, businesses still have to work differently and some are struggling with staff shortages, so please be patient.

As many of us will be staying local for our time off why not consider doing a ‘not visited yet list’.

Consider places in Pembrokeshire you have not explored but would like to – make this the year you go to those places you have always wanted to go to but not had a chance.

Our front line teams are working hard to support our communities and ensure we deliver key services. I would ask for your support to help us to keep Pembrokeshire open and welcoming to all.

I’m aware of issues reported to us regarding litter being left on beaches and grass verges. Leaving litter behind is not acceptable – we have adequate litter bins out and about. Please help us keep Pembrokeshire clean.

Another issue being reported to us is fires being lit in the countryside and beauty spots while people eat and drink in the warm weather.

It goes without saying how dangerous a fire could be given the exceptionally dry weather we have had recently.

If you are thinking about lighting a fire while you are out I would just appeal to you to please think again. The potential consequences are just not worth it.

As you will know, this week we have had an Amber weather warning for heat, so just a gentle reminder to take care when out and about and please take care of your pets.

Our furry friends need extra attention in the heat. Please do not leave dogs unattended in cars and remember the walkways will be hot on their feet.

I’d like to finish this week by thanking everyone involved in our education teams and wish them all a well-deserved summer break.

I hope all our children enjoy the summer – the weather is definitely helping!

Stay safe everyone.

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Devastated family’s tribute to ‘loving and devoted’ son

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THE FAMILY of the 37-year-old man who died in Cardigan in the early hours of Wednesday morning (Jul 21) have said he will be “hugely missed by all that loved him”.

John Bell, who lived in the town, was found on the road to Cardigan Bridge at around midnight.

His family has issued this statement: “We are devastated at the loss of John.

“He was a loving and devoted Son, Brother, Father and Uncle and he will be hugely missed by all that loved him. 

“We ask for privacy at this time.”

John’s family is being supported by specially trained officers.

A 22-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder remains in police custody.

Detective Superintendent Paul Jones said: “Our thoughts go out to John’s family at this very difficult time.

“We are currently focussing our investigation in Golwg Y Castell and the road between there and Cardigan Bridge, where Mr Bell was located.

“We are appealing for any witnesses who may have seen or heard an altercation in that area during the evening of Tuesday, 20 July, particularly the latter part of the evening, after 10pm, before police attended at around midnight.”

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 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 by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org. Quote reference: DP-20210720-458.

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