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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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West Wales firm fined £75,000 after man killed by escaped cow

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A WEST WALES company has been fined £75,000 following the death of a 75-year-old man, Huw Evans, who was killed by a cow that had escaped from a livestock market. The incident occurred on November 19, 2022, at Whitland Livestock Market in Carmarthenshire, operated by J.J. Morris Limited.

Father-of-two Mr Evans was crossing the junction at North Road and West Street in Whitland when the cow, which was being auctioned, escaped from the market pen. The animal attacked Mr Evans, knocking him down and trampling him. He suffered multiple injuries and was airlifted to the University Hospital of Wales, where he succumbed to his injuries six days later.

A worker from J.J. Morris Limited was also injured during an unsuccessful attempt to recapture the cow. The cow eventually made its way towards Whitland Rugby Club and a railway line before being subdued and put down by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the incident and found that J.J. Morris Limited had failed to implement essential physical control measures to prevent cattle from escaping. The HSE concluded that the company’s risk assessment was inadequate, referencing control measures that were not in place at the market.

J.J. Morris Limited, based in Haverfordwest, admitted to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £5,047.55 in costs by Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, June 20.

In court, Mr Evans’ son, Dafydd, expressed his grief, saying: “Dad was my best friend, and I miss him terribly. He was taken from us too soon. Losing dad has had a tremendous effect on both myself and my brother. Because of this incident, dad’s grandsons will never fully know him personally, and he will not see them grow up.”

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Rhys Hughes remarked, “This tragic incident was foreseeable and preventable. The risk posed by cattle escaping from the livestock mart should have been identified, and effective control measures implemented. The case highlights the importance of following industry guidance, which is readily accessible and outlines the requirements to safely manage cattle.”

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Wales international Johnny Williams signs new Scarlets contract

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THE SCARLETS said this week that they are delighted to announce that Wales international centre Johnny Williams has signed a new contract with the club.

The 27-year-old joined the Scarlets from Newcastle Falcons in 2020 and after just four appearances earned his first Wales cap, against Georgia in Llanelli.

A powerful-carrying presence in the Scarlets midfield, he has since made 46 appearances, scoring six tries, including a memorable interception in last season’s Challenge Cup quarter-final win over Clermont Auvergne.

He has won seven caps for Wales, featuring at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “Johnny has been a key member of the side in recent years. He’s a player who is a dynamic carrier, is physical with and without the ball, has a good skill set and has an impact on every game he’s involved in.

“He is an important cog in how we look to play and it’s fantastic that he has agreed a new contract with the club. I know the fans will be thrilled with this news and, along with the likes of Eddie James, Joe Roberts and with Macs Page coming through, we have a lot of talent in that midfield pool for the coming years.”

Johnny Williams said: “I am delighted to have signed a new contract. It has been a frustrating season in terms of results, but I am excited by the potential of the squad we are putting together.

“A lot of young boys have put their hands up and we showed during the final few games of the season the kind of rugby we can produce.

“Pre-season will be around before we know it and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in, ready for a big start to next season.”

Johnny is the latest player to recommit to the Scarlets ahead of the 2024-25 campaign, following Tonga lock Sam Lousi, Wales internationals Tom Rogers and Harri O’Connor and back-rowers Dan Davis and Ben Williams.

Scarlets have also strengthened their squad with the addition of hooker Marnus van der Merwe (Toyota Cheetahs), prop Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), full-back Ellis Mee (Nottingham), lock Max Douglas (Toyota Canon Eagles), Wales international prop Henry Thomas (Castres Olympique) and back-three player Blair Murray (Canterbury).

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Business

Tata workers call first strikes in 40 years to stop steel destruction

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HISTORIC strikes in Port Talbot as Labour vows emergency talks with Tata after general election

Around 1,500 Tata workers based in Port Talbot and Llanwern will begin all-out indefinite strike action over the company’s plans to cut 2,800 jobs and close its blast furnaces.

The strike action, which begins on 8 July, will severely impact Tata’s UK operations. It is the first time in over 40 years that steel workers in the UK have taken strike action.

The escalation in industrial action comes after the workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, began working to rule and an overtime ban on Tuesday (June 17).

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tata’s workers are not just fighting for their jobs – they are fighting for the future of their communities and the future of steel in Wales.

“Our members will not standby while this immensely wealthy conglomerate tries to throw Port Talbot and Llanwern on the scrapheap so it can boost its operations abroad. They know South Wales is ideally placed to take advantage of the coming boom in green steel – if the right choices are made.

“The strikes will go on until Tata halts its disastrous plans. Unite is backing Tata’s workers to the hilt in their historic battle to save the Welsh steel industry and give it the bright future it deserves.”

Labour has called for Tata to halt its plans and wait until after the general election to engage in talks with the government, saying there is a ‘better deal to do’. Labour has pledged £3 billion for UK steel if elected next month, a commitment secured by Unite. Labour has also made emergency talks with Tata a priority if it wins the election.

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