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No breach of Westley agreement found

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• Solicitors’ advice rejects Jamie Adams’ allegations
• Officers need to learn to live with criticism
• Advice received before key Committee meeting

LEGAL advice commissioned by the Council states no breach of confidentiality took place regarding the settlement agreement between the local authority and former CEO Ian Westley.

The settlement agreement covers derogatory statements by an employer about employee and by an employee about an employer.

A copy of the advice arrived at The Herald’s offices by Royal Mail on Wednesday, February 2. The envelope containing it had no other enclosure, and the envelope was not written by a person with whose handwriting he is familiar.

The Council asked Eversheds to advise it after Cllr Adams alleged a breach of the agreement took place. Jamie Adams claimed the breach occurred during discussions at a Senior Staff Committee meeting on October 2 last year.

In his formal request, Cllr Adams asked that Eversheds ‘specifically give opinion(s) individually on Cllr Michael Williams and Cllr Paul Miller’s comments relating to the Chief Executive’ at the Committee meeting.

Mike Williams suggested that the conclusion of a corporate restructure was overdue and raised a query about the cost of employing external consultants to advise the Council.

The advice reveals that at least two solicitors from Eversheds separately viewed the Committee meeting’s recording before discussing their conclusions about its content.

In Cllr Williams’s case, the advice states that the advice’s authors do not consider his words are derogatory and do not violate the settlement agreement.

The advice goes further and states that: ‘Given the nature of the relationship between the Council and its officers, with the latter being required to implement decisions taken by the Council, some criticism of officers is to be expected from time to time, just as is the case in any other working environment, however unfair that criticism might be perceived by those officers’.

The advice then addresses Cllr Miller’s comments.

Councillor Miller made what the advice describes as ‘obvious criticism of the outgoing Chief Executive’. The advice states ‘the criticism may have been unfair but would not amount to a derogatory statement’.

The advice adds that: ‘Councillor Miller clearly has concerns regarding performance management at the Council, generally, and is expressing (disappointment) that a corporate restructure has (in his view) nor been undertaken’.

The solicitors then turn their attention to whether the Council Leader, Cllr David Simpson, should have corrected the comments made by both Cllr Williams and Cllr Miller at the time they made them.

The advice points out the difficulty of interjecting in an online meeting and continues that there was ‘no reason for the Leader to intervene’. It continues to provide a broader context for Cllr Miller’s remarks, including technical problems during the webcast and Head of HR Ceri Davies’ contribution, to whom Cllr Miller addressed his remarks.

As far as Cllr Simpson’s involvement goes, the advice states it does not believe there was much Cllr Simpson could have done at that point without ‘blowing the matter out of proportion’.
The advice adds that Cllr Simpson responded to a direct question on the issue put by Cllr Jacob Williams, six days after the meeting. David Simpson confirmed a corporate restructure took place on Mr Westley’s watch.

The advice was circulated to all councillors this week. It will have been seen before its release by several senior Council officers.

That last point raises a further one.

The copy of the advice we have is clearly dated a week BEFORE the Council’s Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee which discussed Cllr Adams’ notice of motion. However, it is apparent from that meeting’s content that the advice was not disclosed to members before that meeting. Had it been disclosed, the meeting’s consideration of Cllr Adams’ notice of motion would certainly have been better informed.

Committee Chair, Cllr Brian Hall, will not be amused by not having the fullest possible and most up-to-date information to hand when considering the notice of motion. It’s hard to credit that any other Committee members, once they realise the advice was with Council officers before their considerations, will be delighted at the failure to give them the full picture.
Two questions arise, therefore:

Firstly, which officer or officers had the advice in their possession before the Overview and Scrutiny meeting took place; and,

Secondly, and crucially, why they sat on it for a protracted period until it was sent to all councillors this week.

Whoever sat on the report will almost certainly be asked to account for their inaction.

We asked Jamie Adams whether the advice given by Eversheds addressed his concerns about any alleged breach of the settlement agreement with Mr Westley.

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Pembroke Dock: Two in hospital following Fort Road car accident

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EMERGENCY SERVICES dealt with what has been described by a witness as a “horrific car accident” in the Pembroke Dock area on Wednesday night (Jun 12).

A 23-year-old woman, driving a black BMW, travelled down Fort Road at speed, hit a low wall, catapulting the vehicle some considerable distance across a picnic area. The vehicle ended up irreparably damaged on the beach – which was luckily not in use at the time – landing next to the old Cambridge Gun Tower.

No other vehicles seem to have been involved, police said.

The driver has been arrested but remains in hospital, one passenger is in a critical but stable condition, in Cardiff, and a second passenger sustained only minor injuries.

A spokesperson for Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at 10.45pm on Wednesday night (Jun 23), to reports of a road traffic accident near the Fort Road car park in Pembroke Dock.

“We attended the scene with one rapid response vehicle, two emergency ambulances and our Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

“Two people were taken to University Hospital Wales, Cardiff for further treatment.”

The police are appealing in the media for information following the crash.

An official statement from the police reads as follows: “We were called to Fort Road, Pembroke Dock, at around 10.45pm on Wednesday night to reports of a single-vehicle collision. Ambulance and fire service also attended.

“A 19-year-old man was taken to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff and remains in a critical but stable condition.

“A second passenger attended hospital for minor injuries but has since been discharged. A 23-year-old woman was arrested, and currently remains in hospital.

“Anyone who witnessed the collision but who has not yet spoken to us should get in touch by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, visiting our website, or calling 101.

UPDATE: 24.06.2021, 15:47HRS

On Thursday (Jun 24) said that the female who was arrested was de-arrested because of the need for medical treatment, and is “no longer under arrest at this time.”

The police also added that their investigation was “still active”.

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Pembrokeshire call handler helps deliver Llanelli couple’s new baby

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A 999 CALL HANDLER from Pembrokeshire has helped deliver a Llanelli couple’s baby.

Father-of-two Chris Bassett, from Hook, answered the call from the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, and whose instructions on loudspeaker enabled the pair to deliver their 8lb 1oz new arrival safely.

Thanks to Chris, Troy Smith, 34, and partner Abigail Jones, 33, delivered baby Arabella Dilys Smith in the bedroom of their Llanelli home.

Troy said: “I’ve never felt adrenaline like it but I knew I had to focus on the situation for Abigail and the baby’s sake.

“It all happened so quickly, but Chris’ voice on the other end of the phone kept us calm.”

Abigail, a teacher at Ysgol Carreg Hir in Briton Ferry, went into labour at around 10.00pm on Thursday, June 3, and made a trip to hospital, where nurses confirmed she was in the early stages.

The couple returned to their Pwll home, but their soon-to-be daughter had other ideas.

Troy said: “At around 4.30am, Abigail developed a lot of pain and said she had an urge to push.

“I thought, ‘Right, this is happening’ and phoned an ambulance because I knew I’d be delivering the baby right there and then.”

It was Chris, a former RAF Aerospace Systems Operator, who picked up the call in the early hours of Friday, June 4.

The 29-year-old, who has been with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 18 months, said: “As soon as I answered the call, it was obvious that Troy and Abigail were in distress, as anyone would be in that situation.

“The priority was to get Abigail in a comfortable position to deliver the baby safely.

“For me, it was about giving them clear instructions while trying to keep them both calm.”

Troy added: “I just did what came naturally. When you’re in that situation, you just do it.

“As soon as Arabella came, I felt this wave of relief and I just couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was.

“Chris was so professional and handled the situation really well.

“He gave us all the information and kept us calm.”

Ambulance crews arrived soon after, and took Abigail to Carmarthen’s Glangwili General Hospital, where she was treated for shock before being discharged the following day.

Abigail said: “The whole thing was petrifying because I just never expected to be having the baby at home, but we’re so grateful to Chris for helping us to deliver Arabella safely.”

Chris added: “In your role as a 999 call handler, you’re helping people in their darkest hour, but I’m just glad this call had a happy ending.

“This is the third baby I’ve helped to deliver during my time at the ambulance service, but the first one I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”

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Covid causes partial school closure at Haverfordwest High VC

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A PARTIAL school closure is in force today at Haverfordwest High VC school after a pupil in year 9 has tested positive for coronavirus.

All students in year 9 must stay at home , isolate and await further instruction while the school completes all of the necessary Track and Trace processes.

In a statement released by the school, they said: “We have been informed that a Year 9 pupil has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We wish them a speedy recovery.

“As a precautionary measure and to enable us to complete all of the necessary Track and Trace processes, the school will be closed to Year 9 Pupils today.

“The school remains open to all other year groups.

“Until further notice, Year 9 students should stay at home and isolate until further instructions are given. Lessons for all other year groups will continue as usual. Unless your child is in Year 9 they should attend school.”

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