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Seminar to debate Health Board in special measures



A SEMINAR, closed to members of the public, will be called to discuss the Hywel Dda University Health Board being placed into special measures.

Members of the Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday (Jan 10), had been discussing Cllr Paul Dowson’s notice of motion, which called on the council to recommend to the Health Minister that the Health Board be put into special measures.

In his supporting statement, Cllr Dowson highlights a number of targets which he says the Health Board has failed to meet.

The motion was previously discussed at the last Council meeting in December where members debated the spirit in which it had been made.

The Health Board’s 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.

At the meeting in December, Cllr Dowson 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.”

On Thursday, however, his motion was not supported and it was instead suggested that a seminar be called to discuss the Health Board with members of the board being invited to intend.

Speaking passionately about his motion, Cllr Dowson said that Hywel Dda was ‘incompetent’ and added that there was ‘no excuse’ for the Health Board being in deficit by £69.6m.

He said: “Hywel Dda is responsible for more than 40% of the total overspend by Welsh health boards. They have missed A&E waiting times, this is not good enough. What’s very concerning is that they have missed the target for patients starting cancer treatment, it is unjustifiable. Planned operations is 90.9%, it is not good enough.

“I am in this position as the people of Pembrokeshire voted for me to represent their views and that is what I am going to do. They had consultations which they have ignored.

“They are failing the people of our county and they don’t care. We should write to them and suggest they take over the Health Board.”

Cllr David Bryan questioned why Cllr Dowson was not at the committee in October when the Health Board attended a meeting of the committee and why he did not ask any questions to a Board representative on an earlier item.

Cllr Dowson said the time for questions was over saying questions just come back with answers but with no justification.

Cabinet member Tessa Hodgson said that Cllr Dowson spoke with a lot of passion but added that she felt it was nothing they have no jurisdiction over and that it was up to the Health Minister for them to intervene if they saw fit to do so.

Cllr Michael Williams added: “I am not entirely happy with putting the Health Board into special measures. Betsi Cadwaladr has been in special measures for three years and nothing much has happened.

“I share Cllr Dowson’s concerns, something is not right but I am not convinced that special measures is the answer.”

Cllr Stephen Joseph said he agreed with Cllr Dowson adding: “I don’t envy anyone representing the Health Board. The public don’t seem to believe a word they say. I was initially against it thinking it was up to Hywel Dda to sort themselves out but the only people above them are the Welsh Government.”

Cllr Phil Kidney said: “I applaud Cllr Dowson for his passion, other than the improvement in Tenby it has been a shambles. I am not sure if this would speed up the process but we have to agree there are problems. We haven’t got the power but I would take this to full council to have a good debate there.”

Cllr Pearl Llewellyn said she had had numerous requests from the public in her ward including a phone call from Germany asking her to support the motion.

Members were of the view that as it was an important subject but that it needed to go to the full council. The committee was told it was up to them to decide whether it should go to the Council or the Cabinet.

Cllr Bryan said they were wasting their time discussing the motion and instead suggested inviting the Health Board in for a meeting.

Cllr Dowson said they would just give more excuses while Cllr Williams further added that he had no faith in Welsh Government to improve the situation.

Cllr Simon Hancock asked what had gone fundamentally wrong since the meeting in October when the Committee had agreed to work with the Health Board on delivering a new model of care.

When Cllr Dowson’s motion was put to the vote it was supported by four members with six voting against.

Cllr Bryan then put forward a motion that a seminar be held to which the Health Board would be invited and that the results of that would be brought back to full council.

That was supported by a majority.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dowson said: “If it achieved nothing, it achieved publicity. Hopefully it will have drawn Welsh Government’s attention.

“Regardless of the outcome, it brought the matter to the public’s attention and hopefully the Welsh Government as well.”


Conservatives hold on to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat



THE CONSERVATIVES have held on to their Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat despite Labour closing the gap.

Sam Kurtz will take over the seat from the outgoing Angela Burns who held a majority of 3,400 at the last election.

This time, the gap was just 936 to Labour’s Hassan Riaz who picked up 10,304 votes.

Plaid Cymru’s Cefin Campbell picked up 6,615 votes.

The turnout in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire was slightly up to 52.12% from 51.2% in 2016.

However, with a larger electorate thanks to votes for 16/17-year-olds, the number of votes cast went up by almost 3,000.

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Paul Davies re-elected as Conservatives hold Preseli Pembrokeshire



PAUL DAVIES has been re-elected to represent the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency.

He won with 12,295 votes, while there were 10,895 votes for Labour’s Jackie Jones.

Plaid Cymru candidate Cris Tomos gained just over 6,000 votes and there were also 1,239 for Reform UK candidate Alan Dennison.

There were over 3000 more votes cast in 2016, down largely in part to the fact that 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote in this election.

Both the Conservatives and Labour received more votes than before while the gap to Labour closed to just 1,400.

After being elected, Paul Davies said he would continue to ‘fight for Pembrokeshire’ and thanked those who had been involved in his campaign.

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Former Cardigan Castle director sentencing delayed



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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