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Cabinet backs 82p a week Council Tax rise



CABINET Member for Finance, Cllr Bob Kilmister, delivered a blistering assessment of the ongoing row about the level of Pembrokeshire’s Council Tax on Monday, February 15.
Cllr Kilmister’s accused the Conservative group on the Council of playing electoral games ahead of May’s elections to the Welsh Parliament.

Bob Kilmister suggested that Conservative councillors were well aware of the financial issues their proposed 3% rise in Council Tax would cause. However, they were serving ‘their lords and masters’ higher up the political food chain.
The Cabinet member also attacked plans to raid the Council’s reserves to ensure a lower increase than he believes is needed.
Cllr Kilmister said: “Using reserves to reduce Council Tax, or as a sticking plaster for services, is a very dangerous route to go down. If you keep spending above your income by using your savings, you will inevitably face a crisis sooner or later.”
He said he could not recommend that course of action to his colleagues or to fellow councillors.
Bob Kilmister spelt out the difficulties the Council faces in setting its budget. He reminded his fellow Cabinet members that Pembrokeshire has a near £15m shortfall in the amount of money it should receive to the Welsh Government. That shortfall arises thanks to how successive IPG administrations depressed spending on services to keep its totemic ‘lowest Council Tax in Wales’ policy.
Pembrokeshire still has – by some distance, and by a gap which is likely to widen further – the lowest Council Tax in Wales.

Seconding the recommendation, Pembroke North County Councillor Jon Harvey said that approving 3% increase in Council Tax would be ‘disastrous’ for local services.
Cllr Neil Prior echoed his fellow Cabinet Member’s views and went further.
He pointed out that those who were the best-off had the most disposable income left due to the pandemic’s restrictions. Those with lower incomes had less money at their disposable. The people who would most directly benefit from a lower-than-needed Council Tax increase were those who could well afford to pay a 3.75% increase.
In Band I, Council Tax would rise by £1.92 a week for households.
“The people who need it most are the people who will be hurt the most if we do not raise Council Tax by 3.75%. We’re going to have to fund the services which will help people get back on their feet,” Cllr Prior concluded.
Cllr Phil Baker said that the budget process, using the challenge process to scrutinise Council’s Departments’ budget requests, was empowering and revealing in equal measure.
Cllr Michelle Bateman said that to close the funding gap adequately and meet the Council’s obligations, a 5.9% rise was needed to meet the budget strategy. The 3.75% rise would still leave a massive hole to be filled in the Council’s finances.
The Letterston councillor attacked the rationale behind a 3% increase: “I know it’s difficult. It’s in times like this you need to look to the long-term and get your head up above what’s happening now. A 3% rise now would set up a future Cabinet to fail. It would deny them the opportunity to invest in services, and it would be criminal for us to do that.
“When you explain local government finance person-to-person, they understand keeping Council Tax low hasn’t done us any favours.”

Director of Resources Jon Haswell said that although Pembrokeshire received a better than expected settlement this year, it still left the Council with a funding gap to bridge. Future years’ settlements were expected to be less generous, he said.
Jon Haswell continued: “The Council’s medium-term financial plan is based on a 5% increase in Council Tax. If Council Tax increases by 3.75% per annum, over five years will mean an extra £8.5m loss of funding. That will affect services. Services will be cut, the workforce will be cut. If we stick to 3% per annum, the loss is £13.8m. Members need to look beyond the short term.”

Cllr David Simpson pointed out demand was increasing for children’s services, He said that funding was imperative.
Cllr Tessa Hodgson said a 3% increase meant cutting services to those least able to absorb the loss. It meant the burden would fall on the most vulnerable; on those on the at risk register; on looked after children; and those most at risk of harm.
Cllr Hodgson made a heartfelt plea to councillors and the public backing a 3% raise, to look at the human cost of service cuts.
Those who were the most vulnerable, she concluded, who would pay the price of service reductions.

The Cabinet unanimously approved the recommendation for a 3.75% Council Tax increase.



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



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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All people eligible for vaccination will get theirs by end of July



PEOPLE eligible for the coronavirus vaccine will get theirs by the end of July, the Health Minister has said.

Wales achieved its target of getting everyone in the first four priority groups vaccinated by the middle of February and is now working on offering the vaccine to those in groups 5 to 9.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with severe or profound learning disabilities or with a mental illness will be among priority group 6.

Mr Gething said that they were would make sure that no one is left behind.

The latest figures from Public Health Wales show that 878,506 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.

59,279 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We have achieved our first milestone of offering everyone in the first four priority groups vaccination by mid-February.

“We are now making progress in achieving our next milestone, which is to offer the vaccine to all individuals in priority groups 5 to 9.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with a severe/profound learning disability and individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment, should be invited for vaccination as part of priority group 6.

“There are challenges with identifying individuals within these groups, particularly given the JCVI language is not generally in use in Wales, and we are working hard to make sure that no one is left behind. Today we have published guidance on identifying eligible individuals in these groups and on how to support them to take up their vaccine offers.

“The JCVI has also said that some of our invaluable unpaid carers should be included in priority group 6.

“Today we have also published guidance on identifying those unpaid carers eligible for vaccine prioritisation and the process around this. I am grateful to the national carers’ organisations for their support with this work.”

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Council want your help to keep Pembrokeshire active



PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is asking residents to give their views on local walking and cycling routes.

The Council aims to make journeys on foot and by bicycle easier, safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

In order to design a network that works for all, the Council would like to get the views of as many people as possible, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle. This will help ensure the routes built for walking and cycling work for the whole community.

The consultation focuses on the main towns and villages in Pembrokeshire which have been selected by Welsh Government as the designated localities in the County. These are:

  • Fishguard & Goodwick
  • Haverfordwest
  • Johnston
  • Milford Haven
  • Neyland
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pembroke
  • Tenby
  • Saundersfoot
  • Narberth

Pembrokeshire Council is currently undertaking an Active Travel Network Map consultation (ATNM) which will run in 3 stages

Consultation 1: Residents can take part in the consultation exercise online, hosted by Commonplace at

The interactive map allows participants to flag issues, problems and successes on a plan of the active travel settlement and add comments. Such points could be for example, a pavement that is too narrow or a newly built cycle route that is regarded as a success.

The first stage of the consultation will close on 31 st March 2021.

Consultation 2: Following this, the second step of the consultation will see the Council share the initial findings and ask people what they think of the plans
proposed as a result of the feedback received.

Consultation 3: The third stage of the consultation will give members of the public a final say on the Active Travel Network Maps before they are sent to Welsh Government for approval. These maps will have been produced taking into account public feedback and ideas from consultations 1 and 2.

By upgrading facilities and creating new walking and cycling routes, the Council plans to make Active Travel the popular choice for local journeys, to increase the attractiveness of local communities as places to live and work, improve health and well-being, and help tackle air pollution.

Cllr Phil Baker, Pembrokeshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “This consultation exercise will produce an Active Travel Network Map which will be a plan of routes the Council will use to inform where improvements to walking and cycling should be made in Pembrokeshire.

“It will help to make journeys on foot or by bicycle easier and safer for everyone, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle often and people who use mobility aids and will build on the increased level of walking and cycling that we have seen over the last 12 months during the pandemic.”

See more information on Active Travel at:

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