Connect with us


John Evans’ resignation: Council has no ‘appetite for change’



john evans
LAST WEEK the Pembrokeshire Herald reported on the resignation of John Evans MBE, independent external chair of the County Council’s Audit Committee and the effect it was likely to have on the progress of the ongoing investigation into alleged impropriety in grants schemes in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock.


When we first learned of Mr Evans’ resignation we approached the Council for a statement and a copy of his resignation letter. On that occasion, we were informed that the letter was not the Council’s to publish. Unknown to us, former Labour party councillor David Edwards had made a request for the letter under the Freedom of Information Act and the Herald has been informed that Mr Evans subsequently assented to its release. The letter reveals how after a meeting with two senior Council officers, named in the letter as Head of Revenue Services Kerry MacDermott and the
newly promoted Jon Haswell, who is Director of Finance, Mr Evans concluded that: “The vision I held when I

Resignation Letter

Resignation Letter

was appointed in Lay Member is no longer aligned with the appetite for change held by the Authority.” The Herald asked for the Council to comment on what was discussed at that meeting, but a spokesperson told us that they were not privy to its events and could not comment. Applicants for the new post are being directed to apply to Jon Haswell, who will no doubt be seeking someone more prepared to be aligned with his appetite for change. Councillor David Simpson, who sits on the Audit Committee and took over the handling of the grants scheme in a Cabinet reshuffle after the scandal broke, told the Herald: “We thank Mr Evans for his past work and look forward to appointing a new independent member of the Committee as soon as possible.” The date of the resignation letter, May 29, is also the date scheduled for a meeting of the Audit Committee which was postponed to allow Dr Steven Jones’ department to respond to specific issues raised in an internal audit report. Dr Jones’ department is the one responsible (entirely coincidentally) for controlling the Town Heritage Initiative and Commercial Property Grants Scheme currently under Police investigation. In further developments in the grants saga, the Herald can report that the Welsh European Funding Office met recently with Hakin Councillor Mike Stoddart. Cllr Stoddart has told the Herald: “When Cllr Jacob Williams and I inspected the files, we discovered that the council had accepted as evidence of defrayment a photocopy of the counterfoil of a cheque supposedly issued to the builder by the developer. “When we queried this with a member of the Council’s ‘highly regarded and experienced European funding team’ we were told that developers didn’t like producing their bank statements. To which we replied, in unison, that if developers didn’t like the rules they shouldn’t apply for grants. “From our conversation with the internal auditors, it seems that our view has prevailed. “In addition, I was visited a couple of weeks ago by a threeperson team from WEFO. We had a lengthy and fruitful discussion about the administrative failings of PCC including the proof of payment issue. It transpired that they, too, agree with me that photocopies of cheque book stubs don’t cut the mustard. “One thing that did emerge from the meeting with WEFO is that Cathal McCosker is so reluctant to provide his bank statements that, rather than do so, he is prepared to pay back the grant monies he has received.” Quite why Irish property developer Cathal McCosker should be so reluctant to back up the claims he has made on the public purse in Pembrokeshire by allowing his bank records to be examined can only be a matter of conjecture and is likely to be the subject of further examination by other authorities in due course. The refusal to allow inspection of bank records means that Mr McCosker has breached the terms under which payments were made to him. As a result now liable to repay the whole amount of the monies he and his brass plate companies received from the Town Heritage Initiative and Commercial Properties Grants Scheme. The Herald is now able to report that a planning application made by Mr McCosker to redevelop the Old School site in Pennar was withdrawn by Council officers when Mr McCosker failed to complete the purchase of the site on schedule. 50 Dimond Street, Pembroke Dock, for which Mr McCosker was allocated a grant before either purchasing the property OR submitting plans for its redevelopment, failed to sell at a recent auction. On the basis that the grant awarded, £122,000, amounted to 40% of the redevelopment costs, the cost of that project was scheduled to be £305,000. The property was marketed at auction with an indicative value of £210,000. Mr McCosker bought the vacant lot for a recorded price of £17,500. Mr Evans refers in his resignation to his desire to improve transparency, openness and scrutiny. It remains to be seen just how much further scrutiny those involved in the grants scandal are able to bear.




Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


‘Reach out to friends and family’ says Council Leader



THIS week’s update from Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council:

‘Hello everyone, I hope you are all keeping well and safe.

‘I’d like to highlight that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘I’m very aware that the last 15 months has had a huge impact on our lives and, in some cases, our wellbeing.

‘Mental Health can be a hidden issue and we all need to be aware that some people may need some extra support.

‘On a personal level the lockdown restrictions have reminded me of the importance to talk to people and to ensure people are supported.

‘Supporting your friends and family can be as simple as a phone call to say hello. A quick hello can ensure people are ok and managing and can give someone a huge uplift.

“Our communities have done a fantastic job of supporting each other so please, Team Pembrokeshire, continue these efforts.

‘I urge you all to pick up the phone and say hello to your friends and family, as we all need to play our role in everyone’s wellbeing – talking about issues does make a difference.

‘If you are suffering from Mental Health or general wellbeing issues please reach out, do not struggle on your own, your friends and family can help and make a difference.

‘Please also take the opportunity to also view the website at which has much more information and support.

‘I now want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in last week’s elections.

‘Elections take a phenomenal amount of organisation at the best of times but even more so in a pandemic situation.

‘To all those who ensured the smooth running of the elections process, thank you.

‘Congratulations to all the successful candidates and I look forward to working with them to further improve the lives of Pembrokeshire people.

‘We have now had further updates from Welsh Government and the next phase of the unlocking road map has been unveiled.

‘From Monday, 17th May, indoor hospitality can re-open.

‘Up to six people from six different households will be able to meet indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants.

‘We have so many fantastic hospitality venues in Pembrokeshire who we know will be giving their customers a big welcome after so long away.

‘The opening of indoor hospitality will be a major landmark in our emergence from the pandemic and towards recovery.

‘While out and about please remember social distancing rules are still in pace, consider your actions on others, remember your footprint has an impact on our communities, so please tread lightly.

‘When you go home, leave with a smile – enjoy your days out, enjoy seeing your families and most importantly enjoy our beautiful county and please support us in keeping Pembrokeshire special – play your part and please be responsible.

‘I want to wish you all a lovely weekend and I look forward to talking to you all again next week through my update.

‘Thank you everyone.’

You can keep up to date with all the Council’s press releases here:

Continue Reading


Plan to rescue rare butterfly from extinction in Pembrokeshire



THE PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority is stepping up efforts to save the marsh fritillary butterfly, which was once widespread in Wales but is now close to extinction in Pembrokeshire.

Funded by the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership, the new landscape scale strategy aims to improve the fortunes of the rare species, which relies on networks of flower rich marshy grasslands across the landscape.

Much of this habitat, which is home to the favourite food of its larva – the devil’s bit scabious (succisa pratensis), has been lost due to drainage, inappropriate tree planting and the neglect of traditional management of grasslands through light grazing with heavy animals such as cattle.

National Park AuthorityBiodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor said: “The marsh fritillary in Pembrokeshire is now in a very precarious position. We think it has already become extinct in a number of areas in its former range and it has not been seen on the St Davids Peninsula since 2013. The population around Keeston and Tiers Cross is also now thought to be extinct.

“We must find a way to make space for wildlife in our landscape to ensure that nature can thrive for future generations. It is quite sobering to think this species could disappear from Pembrokeshire in my lifetime. We have a responsibility not to let this happen on our watch.

“Even in those areas where it remains we have seen dramatic declines, for example around Mychanchlogddu it used to be recorded from 32 sites, but since 2015 it has only been seen at seven sites.”

The National Park Authority has already stepped up its action to rescue the rare butterfly by assisting landowners to bring sites into suitable management through grant aid and providing suitable grazing animals through the Pembrokeshire Grazing Network and the Conserving the Park Scheme.

The new strategy will include mobilising Park Authority staff and volunteers to undertake targeted surveys at sites across the county, as well as helping landowners to manage their land in a sensitive way to help ensure the future of this rare butterfly.

Continue Reading


Santander turns away customers due to nationwide computer glitch



CUSTOMERS of Santander in Haverfordwest were being turned away this morning by branch staff saying that they were unable to make transactions due to a computer glitch. It is understood that branches use the same computer systems which run the bank’s other systems.

Problems arouse last night when computer updates which the bank was implementing did not go to plan.

Some Herald readers contacted the news room to speak of their surprise that they were not able to access their funds.

One reader, who had gone to the bank to withdraw funds to pay rent on his home was told that there was nothing that could be done.

Website and App transactions are also being affected at the high street bank, and card transactions are being declined

The head of money at consumer magazine Which?, Gareth Shaw, said many customers will be stressed, “with people reporting that they have been unable to make online payments or in some cases purchase food in their local supermarket”.

“Customers can incur fines, penalties and fees when they’re not able to access their finances, so the bank must offer compensation to all those who have been impacted in this way”.

Santander told customers they can “access cash from other banks’ ATMs, at the Post Office and can get cashback where that’s available”.

A service status page on its website said planned maintenance was due to be performed on the Santander mobile banking app overnight on Friday. It is not known whether this prompted Saturday’s problems.

On Twitter, a Santander spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that a technical problem is affecting our services, our teams are working hard to fix it.

“You can access cash from other banks’ ATMs. Please check back here for further updates.”

Continue Reading
News20 hours ago

Plan to rescue rare butterfly from extinction in Pembrokeshire

THE PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority is stepping up efforts to save the marsh fritillary butterfly, which was once widespread...

News20 hours ago

Santander turns away customers due to nationwide computer glitch

CUSTOMERS of Santander in Haverfordwest were being turned away this morning by branch staff saying that they were unable to...

News2 days ago

Cllr Mike James is new Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has a new Chairman. Cllr Mike James became Chairman at the virtual Annual Meeting of Council today...

News2 days ago

New international travel rules for Wales confirmed by First Minister

International travel will restart for people in Wales from Monday 17 May, the Welsh Government has confirmed today. As part...

News3 days ago

Permit applications open for Tenby pedestrianisation scheme

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is now accepting applications for vehicle access during this year’s Pedestrianisation of Tenby. The scheme, which is...

News5 days ago

Public engagement exercise over new hospital between St Clears and Narberth

HYWEL DDA is asking the people of Pembrokeshire to help it further shape and deliver future services by taking part...

News5 days ago

Police looking for a couple with a dog after teenage girl bitten in Haverfordwest

POLICE hunting for the owners of a ‘pitbull’ type dog which bit a teenage girl in Haverfordwest last month. Dyfed-Powys...

Business6 days ago

An experimental nuclear fusion reactor could be built in Pembrokeshire

PEMBROKESHIRE could be the location of an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, which could produce abundent clean energy, if the council...

News6 days ago

Graffiti damages area of scientific and historical interest in Pembrokeshire

GRAFFITI painted on stones of historical and environmental importance at Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has caused environmental damage that could...

News7 days ago

Plaid’s Dafydd Llywelyn re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner

THE NEW Police and Crime Commissioner for the Dyfed Powys Area has been announced. Incumbent, Dafydd Llywelyn, of Plaid Cymru...

Popular This Week