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Procedural row delays vital meeting

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A LONG procedural wrangle ate up an hour-and-a-half of time at an Extraordinary Meeting of Full Council this morning.

Councillors met to discuss confidential legal advice arising from the equally secret settlement agreement between the local authority and its former CEO, Mr Ian Westley.

Before the meeting, the Council received a letter from the Association of Local Government Chief Executives – effectively Mr Westley’s trade union – that the settlement agreement’s contents were legally privileged and that Mr Westley had not surrendered his right to have its terms kept secret.

As we reported on Friday (October 8), the Council’s Deputy Monitoring Officer ruled a payoff of £95,000 to Ian Westley was made under the wrong procedure.

The settlement should have been reviewed and voted upon by the Full Council.
Although the Deputy Monitoring Officer’s opinion is a public document, councillors were due to discuss the issues it raises behind closed doors.

Some of the material to inform members’ debate, including advice from a leading barrister, is legally privileged and refers to confidential staffing matters.

An employee’s right to depend on confidentiality is the same as discussions between clients and their solicitors. They cannot be disclosed to someone else.

It’s a classic case where the public interest is not the same as what the public might be interested in.
Apart from the settlement agreement’s terms, internal staffing -particularly potential disciplinary proceedings against named individuals – are never discussed in public.

That is entirely standard practice in any employer/employee relationship, whether the employer is in the public sector or not.

However, several councillors – most notably former Council Leader Jamie Adams – insisted that confidential material could be discussed in public.

Cllr Mike Stoddart tartly welcomed Cllr Adams’s conversion to the principle of transparency in governance.
In doing so, Cllr Adams found himself at odds with the Council’s barrister, Mr Nigel Giffin QC, and the newly appointed Interim Monitoring Officer and Acting Head of Legal, Rhian Young.

Their professional opinions were clear.

Discussing confidential material in public, especially when one party had not waived their right to confidentiality, would leave the Council open to a potentially costly legal challenge.

Cllr David Lloyd – a practising barrister – endorsed their view.

It took Cllr Jonathan Preston to bring some real-world thinking into the proceedings.

He wondered how any councillors considered contradicting very clear legal advice to put the Council Taxpayer at risk of funding more legal costs than those the authority incurred already. Staffing matters were routinely confidential, and the Council was in no different a position than anyone else.

Cllr Mike Williams said that it was surely time to decide how to proceed after going around in circles after an hour and a half.

He proposed the meeting be moved into a private session to discuss the report, noting that doing so would leave councillors free to express opinions on the issues raised by the Council’s QC without putting the Council at any risk of litigation at public expense.

Mike Willams’s proposal was carried by 35 votes to 17 with one abstention.

Shortly afterwards, as Cllr Jacob Williams raised the issue of recording the proceedings, the webcast cut out.

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Two vans and outbuilding broken in to in Milford Haven – Police investigating

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DYFED POWYS POLICE is investigating reports of two vans and an outbuilding being broken in to sometime overnight on Tuesday 12 to Wednesday 13 October, at Vaynor Road, Milford Haven.

Items including tools, cash and bicycles were stolen. Following enquiries, two men have been arrested on suspicion of burglary and theft. The 20-year-old and 23-year-old, both from the Milford Haven area, remain in police custody at this time.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DP-20211013-043. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Nathaniel Nuttal charged over serious assault in Monkton

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A 32-YEAR-OLD man who was arrested following a serious assault in Monkton on Wednesday Morning (October 13) has appeared in court this morning charged with Grievous Bodily Harm with intent.

Police were called to a property in Tenby Court, Monkton, at approximately 5.35am on Wednesday Morning following a report of a serious assault.

A 40-year-old man has been taken to hospital with serious injuries.

32-year-old Nathaniel Nuttal from Monkton was arrested at the scene and has subsequently been charged with section 18 assault (GBH with intent).

Nuttal appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court this morning.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson told this newspaper: “The 32-year-old man that was arrested at the scene, was subsequently charged with Section 18 Assault.

“Nathaniel Nuttal from Monkton, appeared before Llanelli Magistrates Court this morning (Friday, October 15).”

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Education

Schools gearing up for Shwmae Day

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THE Criw Cymraeg (Welsh Crew) at our schools in Pembrokeshire have been busy preparing a whole host of exciting activities to celebrate ‘Shwmae Day’ today! (Friday, October the 15th). 

Shwmae Day is a celebration of the Welsh language and all things Welsh. Seren and Sbarc (the Welsh Language Charter mascots) are asking children to dress as Welsh superheroes or in their best red, white and green outfits to celebrate the day and kick start their Language Charter journey this year.

Bro Ingli Welsh Crew (pictured) have organised several activities for Shwmae Day. Every child and even the staff will come to school dressed in a Welsh cape like Seren and Sbarc. The Criw Cymraeg have arranged a competition between each year for one winner to win a specially designed Seren a Sbarc water bottle. Parents will have the opportunity to have a cup of tea and Welsh cakes when dropping off their children at school in the morning and having a Welsh conversation with the Criw Cymraeg or even being taught a few phrases! The donations will be given to the Wales Air Ambulance. The Criw Cymraeg have also arranged with the kitchen for everyone to have Welsh soup and Welsh cakes for lunch.

Roch School are also dressing up as superheroes. Their Criw Cyrmaeg have arranged lots of exciting activities throughout the day for children to use their Welsh skills from crafts, mocktail making, listening to Welsh music and quizzes to teddy bear picnics. Children will have an extra surprise as they host some special superheroes at their picnic who will join them playing Welsh language games in the playground and sharing a sandwich at the teddy bear picnic.

Scores of teams have also registered for the Big Welsh ‘Dim Clem’ quiz hosted by Menter Iaith Sir Benfro for our English medium primaries. We’ll see which school will be crowned the winner!

And finally, to top off the excitement, all schools will have access to an online gig by Welsh artist Gwilym Bowen Rhys to enjoy during the day.

“What a fantastic effort by our schools to celebrate the Welsh language and to kickstart their Language Charter journey,” said Cllr Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Welsh Language. “I wish everybody a great, fun-filled day.” 

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