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Bryn knew of Smith allegations in 2005



Mik Smith: Bryn Parry Jones knew about allegations

Mik Smith: Bryn Parry Jones knew about allegations

THERE were fresh calls this week for Bryn Parry Jones, Wales’ highest paid council chief, to resign. This time there is mounting pressure on him over the way Pembrokeshire County Council dealt with allegations about a former senior council youth worker who went on to be jailed for six years for sexually abusing a child. And as a result of a BBC Wales Week In Week Out investigation into the case, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales says he wants to re-open the case files at the Council to discover whether children were left at risk. Children’s Commissioner Keith Towler told the press: “I’ll take look at it because I think what you’re raising there are very serious allegations. That probably needs an independent look. In terms of my responsibility as Children’s Commissioner, if I take the view that things happened to children in the past could help to improve the lives of children today then I certainly have got the powers of remit to take look at it.” The Herald can reveal that claims made by IPPG leader Jamie Adams at Thursday’s full Council meeting that the Council’s CEO knew nothing about the serious allegations made by colleagues against Mik Smith are untrue. The Pembrokeshire Herald has a series of explosive internal documents that reveal that when allegations were made about Mik Smith’s inappropriate conduct towards children, Council officers tried to sweep them under the carpet. Those documents reveal that Bryn Parry Jones was told: * At least EIGHT professional youth workers had concerns about Mik Smith’s conduct toward children and that those concerns spanned ‘many years’. * Youth workers felt intimidated and threatened when they reported concerns about Mik Smith to their managers. * Officers treated Mik Smith as though he was the victim of a campaign against him by other staff members and allowed him to chair a meeting which disciplined a member of staff for making allegations about Smith’s inappropriate conduct towards children. * Concerns were expressed about the way in which two officers, County Youth Officer Eirian Evans and Personnel Officer Catherine Davies held a meeting for staff to discuss their concerns about Mik Smith with the now convicted paedophile, who was their line manager, present. One member of staff left that meeting allegedly in ‘floods of tears’. In 2004, a whistle-blower warned bosses that Smith was behaving inappropriately with children and could pose as a risk – but Smith, from Haverfordwest, was given a verbal warning. Paedophile Smith was jailed for six years for sexually abusing an eight-year-old boy a few weeks ago. The offences happened after he had been sacked. Whistle-blower Sue Thomas – who originally warned bosses about Smith’s inappropriate behaviour – thinks that the Council made a serious mistake when they gave Mik Smith a verbal warning in 2005: “I still can’t get my head round it because there were so many good hard-working professional people that came forward with complaints – I cannot understand why we were not listened to. “I can’t comprehend what type of person in management wouldn’t listen to it and wouldn’t be concerned and wouldn’t want to deal with it – I’m lost for words.” Further complaints were made about Smith in 2009 and 2011, and he was eventually sacked in 2012 after a re-investigation was ordered by the Welsh Government when the Authority’s education service was placed into special measures. Had that re-investigation not been ordered, Smith might have remained in the Council’s employment dealing with vulnerable children. The Herald understands that one member of staff, who was supposed to supervise Smith, was subsequently moved from a frontline role dealing with children to a desk job at County Hall. Mik Smith’s recent court case has prompted questions about whether the Council should have sacked Smith sooner and whether it did enough to protect children who he came into contact with. A Council spokesperson told the Herald: “It is a matter of fact that there were significant failings in the disciplinary standards within the Council’s Education directorate in 2005 when Mr Smith was the subject of various allegations about inappropriate behaviour. “Since that time the Council has completely changed its procedures and management of the Education department and is confident that the failings of nine years ago would not be repeated now. “No manager from the former Education directorate involved in the decision-making in 2005 is currently employed by the Authority.” Joyce Watson AM says this is the latest in a series of failures by the Council to properly protect vulnerable children. She wants Bryn Parry Jones – who earns more than the £228,000 a year – to step down. She told The Herald: “I think it’s time for him to go and I’m not shy of saying that – he has been the permanency in all of the negative reports that have been there and there have been a number of them. You cannot be the highest paid Chief Executive in Wales because you are worth that money, and reside over failure. Repeated failure.” The BBC told The Herald that they have spoken to an independent social worker who investigated the allegations against Mik Smith on behalf of the Council in 2005. The social worker told the broadcaster that she was ‘surprised’ that Smith had been dealt with by way of a verbal warning at the time. Bryn Parry Jones said that the council’s investigation at the time revealed no evidence of criminal activity and that since that time the Council has completely changed its procedures and management of the Education department and is confident that past failings would not be repeated now. The Council also said: “No manager from the former Education directorate involved in the decisionmaking in 2005 is currently employed by the Authority.” The Herald has an email from one youth worker sent to Council CEO Bryn Parry Jones and Gerson Davies (then Director of Education), which states: “I do recall that at my induction into PCC several years ago Mr Parry-Jones, you did say that if we had any problems which weren’t getting resolved by management that we had to come and knock on your door – I’m doing that now. I am asking for a meeting between yourself, the directors concerned and those team members involved (excluding Mik Smith) to discuss how this matter can be sorted out.” Bryn Parry Jones responded by ignoring the allegations regarding Mik Smith and said: “I think I made it clear that I was talking about a facility for direct communication in the event of line managers not listening to reasonable suggestions for organisational improvement. It would be inappropriate for me to intervene personally.” That letter is dated November 16, 2005. Sue Perkins, the Labour turncoat who is the IPPG’s spokesperson on Education and Safeguarding, rejected calls for a public inquiry. She told Thursday’s Council meeting that one was not needed as previous investigations had been carried out into the Authority’s failure to adequately safeguard children and that the Council had taken steps to ensure that such a situation was very unlikely to re-occur. Cllr Perkins told the meeting: “The disciplinary process nine years ago was flawed. The monitoring done in 2005 was inadequate. Children were interviewed in 2005 but none made allegations of sexual abuse. “We had two separate intervention boards; this case was one of 26 they discussed. It was dealt with by senior management. It was carried out by very eminent people. “The leader has apologised publicly for the outcome.” IPPG Leader Jamie Adams added: “I express my regret at the decision that was made by the disciplinary committee. “There were faults with safeguarding and education at that time – Mik Smith should have been given a final warning.” Cllr Adams went on to claim: “The allegations were taken seriously but the outcome was not as robust as it should have been.” The leader asked if any members present in the chamber were aware of the issue at the time, as if they were they were bound to have raised it. Cllr Reg Owens responded to the leader’s apparently rhetorical question by revealing that he and other members of staff did raise concerns at the time and that they were ignored. A question from Cllr Mike Stoddart asked whether or not one of the whistle-blowers, Sue Thomas, should receive an apology for how she was dealt with. Cllr Adams responded saying: “This was to do with relationships between staff, it was addressed to six officers. “The evidence at the time was the subject of a joint investigation, had they found examples of child abuse the Police would have prosecuted. “The authority has reviewed its process, I apologise to everyone that has been involved with this”. Towards the end of the meeting there was a motion from Cllr Paul Miller asking for an investigation examining the circumstances surrounding the 2005 disciplinary investigation. He asked that the Minister for Local Government be asked to do this but it was revealed that the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, was already conducting his own investigation. Cllr Miller said: “As the Children’s Commissioner is already involved in this I shall withdraw my motion.”

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MPs to examine opportunities for defence manufacturing and cyber security in Wales



THE WELSH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE has today launched (Mar 27) a new inquiry examining the defence industry in Wales, looking specifically at defence manufacturing and cyber security.

From Airbus to Kent Periscopes, Raytheon to Qioptiq, there are over 160 companies supporting the defence sector that are based in Wales. Wales’ defence sector is further enhanced by the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Defence and Electronics Components Agency (DECA), based in North Wales, which has a £0.5 billion contract with the US Department for Defense.

However, there are concerns that a decrease in investment from the MOD will erode the prominence of Wales’ defence sector. In recent years, the number of jobs and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the sector has declined and MOD spending in Wales has fallen by £300 million since 2018. The Committee is keen to examine trends in defence spending and how SMEs can benefit from available opportunities.

Over the course of the inquiry, MPs will look at how important the sector is to the Welsh economy, investigate the opportunities for growth and examine the role of the UK Government in further promoting the defence sector in Wales.

Welsh Affairs Committee Chairman, Stephen Crabb, said:

“From maintaining fighter jets to hosting one of the most advanced aircraft surveillance and intelligence systems in existence, in Wales we have a ground-breaking defence sector that is routinely punching above its weight.

“However, MOD investment in Wales has decreased, as have the numbers of jobs and SMEs in the Welsh defence sector. Over the course of our inquiry, we will be considering the future opportunities and challenges to ensure defence industries in Wales – from defence manufacturing to cyber security – thrive.

“The defence sector is a major employer and helps support local economies across our nation and it is in all our best interests to support Wales’ defence prowess.”

The Committee is inviting written submissions by Friday 5 May. These should focus on, but not be limited to:

  • What are the reasons underlying the trends in MoD spending in Wales since 2019?
  • What is the MoD’s understanding of how funding flows from prime contractors to small and medium sized defence sector businesses in Wales?
  • What is the relationship between Wales-based prime contractors, Welsh academic and research bodies, and the development of new defence technologies?
  • Can Wales play a role in enhancing the UK’s defence industrial capacity?
  • Do skills and knowledge exist within Wales’ workforce to support the growth of the Welsh defence sector?
  • How might the reorganisation of Wales’ defence estate affect employment in the defence sector in Wales?
  • Will the 10% social value weighting applied to MoD procurement support the Levelling Up agenda in Wales?
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Dog in difficulty rescued between St Nons and Caerfai Bay by RNLI



ST DAVIDS inshore lifeboat was tasked at 11am on Monday (Feb 27) to a dog in difficulty at the bottom of cliffs between St Nons and Caerfai Bay.

Marian and Alan Clayton made best speed to the scene where a HM Coastguard team from St Davids assisted the crew by locating the dog.

Once recovered from the base of the cliffs, “Bosun” was reunited with its relieved owners at Porthclais Harbour.

Pictured are crew members Ellen, Tom and Martin with Bosun.

The lifeboat returned to Station before a wash down and refuelling, ready for service by 12:42pm, according to an online report from the RNLI

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Economy Minister congratulates Celtic Freeport consortium on winning bid



ECONOMY MINISTE, Vaughan Gething, was in Port Talbot today to congratulate the Celtic Freeport consortium on their successful bid to be Wales’ first freeport, which is set to deliver tens of thousands of new, high-quality jobs in south west Wales.

Last week, the Welsh and UK governments jointly announced the Celtic Freeport in Milford Haven and Port Talbot, and Anglesey Freeport on Ynys Mon, have been chosen as Wales’ first freeports.

The two freeports aim to collectively create around 20,000 jobs in the green industries of the future by 2030 and attract up to £4.9 billion in public and private investments.

The Celtic Freeport will be based around the port of Port Talbot in Neath Port Talbot, and the port of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

The freeport plans focus on low carbon technologies, such as floating offshore wind (FLOW), hydrogen, carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) and biofuels to support the accelerated reduction of carbon emissions.

The freeport aims to attract significant inward investment, including £3.5 billion in the hydrogen industry as well as the creation of 16,000 jobs, generating £900 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2030, and £13 billion by 2050.

The Minister visited the port of Port Talbot earlier today, which will become one of the focal points of the new Freeport – which is expected to be operational later this year.

Speaking during a visit to Port Talbot, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “It was great to be in Port Talbot today to congratulate the Celtic Freeport team on their successful bid.

“From off-shore energy to advanced manufacturing, the Celtic Freeport will help create tens of thousands of new, high quality jobs in the green industries of the future. it will support our highly ambitious plans to reach net zero by 2050, while also supporting our young people to plan their futures here in Wales.

“All this will help us transform the economy of south west Wales, helping us create a stronger, fairer and greener future for local people and communities.”

Roger Maggs MBE, Chair of the Celtic Freeport consortium said: “Wales is on the cusp on an exciting green journey.

“The freeport decision will cause a chain reaction.

“Upgrading our major energy ports in Milford Haven and Port Talbot will enable floating offshore wind, create the cradle to nurture new green tech companies and take a step on the path to greening Wales’ steel industry.

“Now is the time for action so that Wales captures the renewable energy supply chain.”

Andrew Harston, Director, Wales and Short Sea Ports, Associated British Ports (ABP) said: “The roll-out of floating offshore wind, or FLOW, in the Celtic Sea provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Wales. Port Talbot is the ideal location for the deployment of FLOW, and ABP is ready to invest over £500m in new and upgraded infrastructure to enable this and to ensure first-mover advantage to capture this global market. The Celtic Freeport provides a huge opportunity, and not just for FLOW, but for sustainable fuels and hydrogen too.

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