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Tenby talks: did Adams listen?

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AT a meeting in the mayor’s parlour on Tuesday, May 27, IPPG Leader Jamie Adams responded to an invitation to meet with Town Councillors and respond to their concerns about the conduct of business at County Hall. 

Expressing concern about the services being delivered to Tenby, Cllr Christine Brown told the meeting: “People in Tenby feel that they are not getting the service they should from Pembrokeshire County Council because of the stories they are hearing in the media. Is it right when services are being cut that the local authority is paying for a top barrister to defend its actions over the Chief Executive’s pension? “We give YOU the money – each person who pays tax – and it is being used wrongly in my opinion!” she added. Seeking to mollify the Town Councillors, IPPG leader Jamie Adams gave a remarkable account of the pension fiasco: “In terms of the Authority’s position, we were challenged by the Welsh Audit Office about process. The Auditor had a different view to us after they had taken legal advice, and when the Public Interest Report had been published there was an exchange of legal views. “The Council did not want to be standing accused without checking its legal position. The Audit Office said they didn’t mind that” he told councillors. Going on and not mentioning that the County Council had conceded that its actions were unlawful, the IPPG leader suggested: “The Local Government Act 1972 is clear on the responsibilities which officers and members have, and the Auditor’s interpretation of that law is now different.” Cllr Christine Brown responded to the IPPG leader: “What we all have in our hearts is the standards of our town. They need to be as high as we can make them. We are been drip fed comments and cuts, and this is affecting us badly.” Cllr Brown added: “This all stemmed from us having no warning of cuts. Pembrokeshire County Council is seen as a failing authority. You can read it in the press, and you can watch it on TV. Tenby is the premier town for tourism, and we see no future at the moment. Why PCC decided to side automatically with the CEO strikes me as incredible. “ Jamie Adams said: “The pension scheme was never about individuals, we have 30 senior staff. There was a police consideration to evaluate any wrong doing by any person, it terms of process – it was not the best in terms of the way that it was undertaken.” Pension decision was ‘clumsy and clunky’ Jamie Adams said that members of the Town Council just needed “a little bit of understanding” and that this would be “useful” to members in appreciating how the decision was made. Councillor Adams then repeated the discredited tale he had told County Councillors about the unlawful payments scheme being concocted as the Council had found it too difficult to recruit senior officers and that three prospective appointees had not reported to their posts because packages had not been competitive enough. He added: “I admit that it was a clunky and clumsy decision. Hindsight is a great thing and in the future we will do things differently.” He tried to placate councillors by saying: “I have no intention of implementing the pension scheme again in the future.” Move forward ‘as one team’ Jamie Adams continued: “What worries me is that there now seems to be more focus on process than on the delivery of services to the people of Pembrokeshire. When people see one side of decisions, and money spent to defend decisions people see that it is linked [that services could be cut because of them].” Astonishingly, a less than contrite Cllr Adams then appeared to fix the blame for the scandals engulfing the Council as the responsibility of those Councillors and others trying to pierce the veil of secrecy at County Hall to investigate them: “The [pensions] matter could have been dealt with sooner, but it has suited some people to drag it on. Our focus should be on services. This and other matters have been a distraction.” Continuing to claim that the ends justify the means, the IPPG leader continued: “My focus is on outcomes above process. I communicate this with great regularity. Some members are more focussed on process than on the people of this county. I’d like to see the council move forward as one team without internal strife.” ‘Killing the goose’ Referring to the Council’s cut to gardening services and its effect on Wales in Bloom, Mayor of Tenby, Cllr Sue Lane said: “At times we get the perception that we are an annoying distraction and not a full partner in the delivery of services. The local authority could work more effectively with us. We have worked together but the cuts were a bolt from the blue. We are not privy to everything that was happening. “Revenue from Tenby is vital to the county and we can’t let standards drop. We are not getting the real deal at the moment” Jamie Adams responded by suggesting that after cutting the service he wished to shuffle its burden onto others: “I am aware of the impact of Wales in Bloom. This Authority is struggling with watering flowers and we should engage with community partners to help with this work, or change the plants.” Cllr Mike Evans said “The slashing, slashing, slashing is now killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Cllr Christine Brown asked why Pembrokeshire County Council wants to have the lowest council tax in Wales, but then struggles to pay for services. To this question Cllr Adams said that people were struggling and could not afford higher taxes, adding: “If this challenge of finances is about anything it’s about making the Authority fit for purpose.” Councillor Adams’ appearance before Tenby’s Town Council follows hot on the heels of the vote of no confidence in the County Council by Pembroke’s Town Council reported in last week’s Pembrokeshire Herald and the strongly-worded letter sent to the IPPG leader by Solva Community Council, which stated that the County Council was bringing the whole of local government in Pembrokeshire into disrepute. Dissatisfaction with the County Council has been caused by a series of revelations about the way in which the IPPG-led authority has continued to insulate its highest paid officers from the effects of deep cuts in budgets – including funding a luxury German sports saloon for its CEO – while effecting deep cuts in services to the general public and to the wages of its lowest paid employees. The IPPG leader’s eagerness to rewrite history also appears to have permeated into the officer cadre at County Hall, with European Manager Gwyn Evans disciplined for doctoring reports of meetings of a grants panel. The question that has to be asked is which town or community council will be next to express its own concerns about the effect IPPG governance is having on the County.

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COVID-19 tests being encouraged for wider range of symptoms

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PEOPLE living in Pembrokeshire are being encouraged to have a free COVID-19 test if they have a wider range of symptoms.

Previously, only those with either a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss/change of taste and smell, were advised to seek a test. The health board is now also encouraging people to have a test if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Generally feeling unwell and a history of being in contact with a known COVID-19 case
  • Any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test

The change aims to find hidden COVID-19 cases in our communities and drive down the numbers of onward transmissions.

Identifying infections, which could otherwise go undetected, is particularly important as new variants of the virus emerge. The more tests carried out, the easier it will be to spot early clusters of cases and possible virus mutations. This will help with easing restrictions in the future.

The new testing regime will initially run for at least 28 days and will then be reviewed. Swansea Bay University Health Board is also expanding its offer of testing in this way.

Alison Shakeshaft, Director of Therapies and Health Science at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “Overall, we are seeing a positive picture across the three counties and there has been a steady fall in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“Also, the demand for tests has come down considerably since the end of 2020, so we have capacity to expand the offer of testing to those with a wider range of symptoms.

“We know the wider group of symptoms do occur in COVID-19 but are not reported as often as the ‘classic three’ symptoms. With the very low rates of flu circulating at the moment, it is more likely that wider flu-like symptoms are due to COVID-19.

“Our aim is to find as many COVID-19 cases as possible so we can prevent the virus being passed on to others. We want to do everything we can to help bring the pandemic to a close as fast as possible and help restrictions to be lifted.”

If you have any of the symptoms outlined above, please stay at home and get a test by booking online via the UK portal https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or ringing 119.

As these are national contacts, you may automatically be asked about the ‘classic three’ symptoms. However, to book your test simply choose either one of these options: “You have been asked to take a test by your local council” or “You are part of a government pilot project”.

Once you have had your test, you must continue to self-isolate until you receive your result, which will usually be within 24 hours of the test. If your result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the date your symptoms started. You will also be contacted by the local Tracing Team.

If your result is negative, you can end your self-isolation, when you feel well enough to do so.

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Dale Morgan charged with murder of Judith Rhead, police confirm

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DYFED POWYS POLICE have charged a man in connection with the alleged murder of 68 year old Judith Rhead who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Saturday (Feb 20).

Dale Morgan, 43, will appear at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court today by video link.

Dale Morgan, in court today

A spokesman for the force said: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that Dale Morgan, aged 43, has been charged with the murder of Judith Rhead, aged 68, who was found in a property in Market Street, Pembroke Dock.

“He is due to appear before Llanelli Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday, 25 February).”

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Judith Rhead murder investigation – Detectives given more time to question suspect

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POLICE have been given more time to question a 43-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder.

The man has been in police custody since Saturday night, after being arrested over the death 68-year-old Judith Rhead.

She was found in a residential property in Market Street.

The police now have until Thursday afternoon (Feb 25) to question the suspect.

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