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Bryn knew of Smith allegations in 2005

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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.”

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. tomos

    August 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    As far as I’m concerned If you’re not against this disgusting illegal behaviour then you are for it and are as guilty as Mik Smith

  2. Morlais

    August 8, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Was he a freemason? could explain it 🙁

  3. Morlais

    August 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Mr Smith I mean

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News

Pembrokeshire airport lease expected to be completed by end of year

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HAVERFORDWEST’S council-run airport, which had a circa £119,000 deficit last year, is expected to be leased out by the end of the year following “reasonably complex” negotiations, councillors heard.

Back in May, members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet supported the leasing of Withybush Airport as part of plans to make the facility cost-neutral to the authority.

Last year, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, members heard the financial position at the council-supported Haverfordwest/Withybush airport deteriorated in 2022/23, with an out-turn position for 2022/23 of £238,000.

That loss has been reduced to an expected £119,000 for 2023/24 “following an extensive review of the operations of the airport”.

At the July 18 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s full council, a series of submitted questions on the airport were heard.

Merlins Bridge councillor John Cole asked: “With the council leasing out the Haverfordwest airport, can members be assured that the lease is at comparable rent with similar airport facilities, and the airport being offloaded purely as a cost savings measure?”

He also asked a second related question: “Are current users protected and assured that their tenancy and rents currently payable to the authority are taken into consideration?”

Responding, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said the proposed letting was considered to be “best letting,” with restricted private documents detailing the figures available to all members.

On the second question, he said existing tenants had been involved throughout the process, and once the new overall lease was in place tenants would be protected through legislation.

However, he stressed the new leaseholder would be able to change conditions in the future and the council would “not dictate terms” in the future.

A further question was asked by Saundersfoot South councillor Chris Williams: “On a recent services meeting back in 2023, we had a productive meeting at Withybush Airport to look at the impact regarding costs to PCC and to consider options with regards to its future operation.

“Can you please clarify if the airport is still owned and operated by Pembrokeshire County Council and if so at what cost since April 1, 2024?”

Cllr Miller said the airport was still currently owned by the council following the Cabinet decision, with “reasonably complex” negotiations ongoing, complicated by land ownership issues and the need to obtain the civil aviation licence.

“Hopefully by the end of the calendar year we will have completed that transaction,” Cllr Miller said, adding that £25,000 had been spent since April 1.

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Farming

FUW sets out its key priorities at the Royal Welsh Show

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THE Farmers’ Union of Wales has set out its robust asks of the UK and Welsh Governments despite the challenges presented by navigating through a constantly changing political landscape.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show this week, FUW President Ian Rickman reiterated the fact that the Union’s stance remains constant and relentless in an ever changing political arena.

“Welsh farming is at an important crossroads which will determine our future for decades to come. Whilst our direction of travel depends heavily on the development of devolved agricultural policies, we must not forget how decisions made by the newly elected UK Government will effectively determine the degree of funding the Welsh Government has available to support agriculture and rural development.

“This, in turn, will have an impact upon the extent to which Welsh food producers can be expected to compete against producers in other UK nations and across the globe on various levels.

“Despite these challenges, our focus as a Union is to keep-on lobbying governments relentlessly for the best possible outcomes for our members, Welsh agriculture and our rural communities.

“The recent Senedd Cabinet reshuffle and UK General Election certainly brought about considerable change to the political landscape in Wales, not least the appointment of Huw Irranca-Davies MS as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and a new UK Labour Government holding a majority at Westminster.

“However, turmoil in Cardiff persists as Vaughan Gething’s resignation leaves the door wide open for yet another reshuffle within a matter of a few months.

At a UK level, the FUW is calling for a fair, multiannual funding settlement of £450 million per year in EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) legacy funding for agriculture and rural development in Wales.

“The role of this support in underpinning food production, environmental protection and rural communities in Wales cannot be underestimated.

“We also need to see a far more robust approach to future trade deals with other countries and trading blocs if we are to protect Welsh farmers and UK food security. Food imports and exports must be subject to the same customs and adherence to similar standards if we are to provide a level playing field for both UK and EU producers.”

The FUW is calling for incentives and support for farmers to invest in on-farm renewable energy production that benefits local communities. Food production should be recognised as a national asset and the use of productive agricultural land to meet tree planting and other environmental targets should be halted.

Procurement policies must prioritise public sector support for Welsh and British businesses, recognising the range of benefits such properly designed policies can deliver for society. The newly elected UK Labour Government must also protect and promote the UK’s high animal health and welfare standards and bring in a law that ensures that all dogs should be kept on a lead in fields near or adjacent to livestock.

“Despite the uncertainty in Cardiff, we call on the Welsh Government to build strong relations with the newly elected UK Labour Government to ensure that Welsh agriculture receives the attention it deserves. EU CAP legacy funding allocated for Welsh agriculture and rural development must be protected for this purpose and such funding should continue to be co-funded using national funds.

“The ongoing process of negotiating a revised Sustainable Farming Scheme that provides stability for our food producing family farms must also continue if the scheme is to be implemented in 2026. It is crucial that the scheme considers economic, social and environmental sustainability on equal footings and is accessible and achievable for all active farmers in Wales.

“We also want to see the adoption of practical and innovative technological solutions as a central part of the Control of Agricultural Pollution ‘NVZ’ Regulations review. The process must be based on robust data and evidence while seeking to address water quality issues through innovation rather than regulation.”

Mr Rickman added that the Welsh Government has to, now more than ever before, adopt a scientific and holistic approach to bovine TB eradication in Wales by working with the Technical Advisory Group in investigating the effectiveness of current testing regimes and methods for addressing disease transmission by wildlife.

“Finally, moves towards net zero must be sustainable and based on robust science in such a way that actions carried out in response to short-term targets are not reversed. Reducing our carbon footprint must be manageable and realistic, and must not compromise production or the economic viability of farming businesses.

“The coming days are a celebration of Welsh agriculture and the farmers who continue to produce high quality food and protect the environment against a constant backdrop of political uncertainty and challenge.”

Mr Rickman said that the impacts of such uncertainty across the UK and some fundamental policy questions would be the focus of the FUW’s seminars being held over the coming days, as panels of professionals tackle a diverse range of areas of concern for Welsh farming.

“As always, in addition to these events, our staff and Presidential Team will be meeting officials and stakeholders in order to highlight FUW’s farming members’ good news stories and industry concerns. Rest assured, despite navigating a constantly changing political landscape, our constant and relentless stance remains; to represent the interests of Welsh farmers,” concluded Mr Rickman.

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Health

Health Board to make decision about the future of St David’s GP Surgery

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THE FUTURE of Primary Care provision for patients registered with St David’s GP Surgery in Pembrokeshire will be discussed by Hywel Dda University Health Board at a meeting on Thursday, 25 July 2024.

An engagement exercise was undertaken to gather patient and local stakeholder views on the future of GP services following the decision of the one GP who runs the Surgery to resign his General Medical Services Contract, which takes effect from 31 October 2024.

The engagement with patients and stakeholders included a drop-in event St David’s City Hall in June. This event was well-attended and gave people an opportunity to discuss their concerns in person with the Health Board and Llais, the patient’s voice organisation for Wales.

Patients and members of the local community were also able to share their views via a questionnaire which was available at the engagement event, and also from the Surgery, the local Pharmacy, online, or by contacting the Health Board by phone or e-mail.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long-Term Care, at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to feed back their views to us. The Health Board is committed to listening to and engaging with our local populations and we would like to thank patients and stakeholders for their involvement in the process so far.

“We would like to reassure patients that we are working to find a sustainable solution from the limited options available so that services can be delivered as locally as possible for patients from the 1 November.

The main themes picked up during the engagement period include concerns about the impact on the community of St David’s if the Surgery were to close, continuity of care and also travel to another GP surgery, especially with regard to public transport.

“People at the drop-in event were provided with information about the frequency of public transport and other transport support available in the community,” said Ms Paterson.

“There was also much appreciation expressed for Dr Stephen Riley and his team and for the care that they have provided over the years. We very much appreciate the continuing support given by the Community to the team at St David’s Surgery throughout this challenging period.”

On Thursday, 25 July, the Board will consider the feedback received.

Ms Paterson continued: “We understand local people will want to know what the future of their GP services will look like, and we will be writing to all patients to inform them of the outcome once a decision is made by the Board.”

To read the Board papers and watch the meeting on the day, please visit: Board Agenda and Papers 25 July 2024 – Hywel Dda University Health Board (nhs.wales)

An update, following the Board’s formal decision on Thursday, July 25 will be shared with patients and stakeholders.

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