Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

New council group will tip balance of power

Published

on

meeting2

Councillors outside the meeting on Sunday night (August 3)

THE HERALD can exclusively reveal that a meeting took place at the Milford Haven home of IPPG County Councillor Stephen Joseph tonight at which members of Pembrokeshire council’s ruling independent group (IPPG) discussed plans to form a new party.

Cllr Joseph has said that his new party will be called ‘Pembrokeshire First’ and will have the slogan ‘people not politics’.

A number of County Councillors were spotted entering Cllr Joseph’s home and a tip off led to Herald Editor Tom Sinclair heading to the scene of the get-­together.

As a result, we are able to disclose that attending the rendezvous were IPPG County Councillors Lyn Jenkins (Solva), Mark Edwards (Haverfordwest: Prendergast), and Labour member Alison Lee (Pembroke Dock Central).

POWER SHIFT

The new group would take notional overall control of the authority away from Jamie Adams’ IPPG coalition and could significantly affect the balance of power on the Council, including the ability of the IPPG leaders to use patronage to persuade disaffected members to remain under the IPPG umbrella.

While the IPPG would remain the largest group on the Council, the new grouping would be able to assert a right to seats on key Council committees.

The Herald has previously reported growing disquiet within the IPPG about the group’s defence of embattled CEO Bryn Parry Jones and the series of scandals that has engulfed the Council under his stewardship. In recent key votes the IPPG has depended upon the support of supposedly “unaffiliated” Councillors ­ such as Phil Kidney (Manorbier) and Owen James (Scleddau) ­ to boost its backing in key votes. Cllr James votes so frequently with the IPPG that he seems to be a “banker” vote for the Group in close calls.

The IPPG has also been able to rely on the occasional support of former Tory leader Stan Hudson (Milford Haven North), who sat on the Senior Staff Committee that made the decision to make unlawful payments to the Council’s CEO.

Speaking exclusively to The Herald, Cllr Joseph said: “At the present time no councillors have decided to join my new party. I called a meeting of friends and collegues to discuss my plans to launch Pembrokeshire People First. The wise man takes counsel from many advisors.”

MUDSLINGING AND SELF-PRESERVATION

He added: “My reasons for starting this party is that there is too much mud slinging at the council, and not enough positive stuff goes on. The culture at county hall is just self preservation, mud slinging, and people there for their own political gain. These are not the reasons why people should be county councillors. I made it clear to the councillors who came to the meeting tonight that I was not trying to recruit them. I wanted them to see my plans and then go home and sleep on it. They will make their decisions in their own time.”

Speaking about who will lead the new party, Cllr Joseph said: “After Pembrokeshire First has been operational for a few months I will hold an election to decide who the leader of the group will be.”

stevej

Cllr Joseph wants positive change for Pembrokeshire

Cllr Joseph told The Herald: “When implementing change we need to focus on building the new, and not fighting the old.”

Herald Editor, Thomas Sinclair, asked Cllr Joseph if he thought that the change in the balance of power would mean the end for Bryn Parry Jones. Cllr Joseph replied: “Yes, I hope so – that would be a positive step. But Bryn Parry Jones is not the only problem at County Hall – there are other things that need to be put right too.”

ASHAMED TO BE A COUNCILLOR

Cllr Joseph said: “I recently was wearing my Council ID badge whilst buying petrol. I don’t often wear it but for some reason I had it on that day. I noticed a woman looking at the badge and reading it. I felt ashamed and took it off. I want to be be proud to represent Pembrokeshire County Council, not embarrassed. Hopefully with this new party I will be able to proud to be a Councillor again. I want people to feel proud about Pembrokeshire.”

He added: “I voted for secrecy at the last council meeting when Bryn’s pension was being discussed because it would have been legally incorrect to discuss it in public. He is legally entitled to privacy, just like any other council employee. However, that does not mean that I am supporting Bryn Parry Jones’ pension in any way. I did receive criticism for that, but was voting for what was legally correct.”

FACEBOOK ANNOUNCEMENT

Cllr Joseph made an announcement on his personal Facebook page. He wrote: “I joined the Independent Group as I believed it was the right thing for my ward and for Milford. I have been banging my head against a brick wall, arguing for change for many months now. This has been both in private meetings and in public. Today I decided to leave the Independent Group and have written to every county councillor inviting them to join me. If I stand alone, so be it but hopefully some will decide to stand with me. The invitation has gone to all councillors because I am not starting a political party but want to work with a group of councillors who want to do what is right for their towns and Pembrokeshire as a whole.”

“The group is called Pembrokeshire First – people not politics. The first challenge is to get rid of the captain on the ship but the whole culture of the council needs to change. Some councillors are very vocal on fb but are just interested in promoting their own political careers and that needs to change too. Pembrokeshire Council needs to be about the people not about politics.”

“My phone number is 07785 685 035 if anyone wants to talk further about where I stand or how they can support this new revolt!”

REACTION FROM THE PEMBROKESHIRE ALLIANCE

Cllr Bob Kilmister of The Pembrokeshire Alliance was one of the first with a reaction to the news. Posting on social media, he said: “I welcome any Councillors who leave the IPPG and there is no doubt they are doing the right thing. What confuses me though is the statement from Steve Joseph which says, ” The ‘Pembrokeshire First’ party is not a political party. In my view, politics has no place in the council and I am not proposing myself as the ‘leader’ but merely facilitating change. A leader can be elected by those that come forward in the coming months. We should all be making decisions for the best for our wards and the county not for political reasons.”

Cllr Kilmister added: “The first thing you have to do when starting a new group within the council is elect a leader. You cannot wait. The other issue is what do they want to see happen, there is no vision but I fully accept that could come later. We set our Group up last November and it has taken a great deal of time and effort and money to get where we are now. Our Group was set up to allow disgruntled IPPG Councillors find another home, so I really hope they talk to me as we have so much in common. I have written to the Councillors mentioned and hope to speak with them soon.”

CLLR JOSEPH IS ABANDONING A SINKING SHIP, SAYS PLAID

Council Plaid leader Cllr Michael Williams said: “It must have been very clear to Cllr Stephen Joseph well before he joined the IPPG what he was getting in to.”

“What we see now is a person with no principles abandoning a sinking ship as the entire corrupt edifice begins to crumble, he is simply seeking to save his own skin. He has looked very at home with his IPPG colleagues, who include Rob lewis who misled the ombudsman ,and used electoral practises which wouldn’t be allowed in a banana republic, together with Jamie Adams, the ultimate master of the half truth, and one must not forget that that paragon of virtue, Brian Hall was a leading light of this group well before Stephen Joseph jumped ship the first time.”
He added: “He claims that his motive is concerns about Bryn Parry Jones. The problem goes well beyond the CEO, it comes from a complete lack of political leadership, which has allowed senior officers to set the agenda.”

Cllr Williams went on to say: “Time for a change? Certainly – but are the likes of Cllr Kilmister and Cllr Stock the answer? Cllr Stock has since 1996 been a bulwark of a corrupt system, and is another that seeks self preservation by seeking to reinvent himself.”

Plaid’s leader concluded by saying: “Cllr Stephen Joseph has let down his electorate. He replaced Mrs Anne Hughes, and just what did Milford get? I will leave that question for others to answer.”

THE LEADER SPEAKS OUT

In a prepared statement, Cllr Jamie Adams, Council Leader said:

“I am sorry that Steve has decided to leave the Independent Plus Group. I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with him, but I respected his commitment to achieve a more positive position for the residents of Milford Haven, which I share.

Needless to say, I don’t accept the picture that Steve has sought to create in his letter to all councillors. Pembrokeshire has good and improving services, the lowest Council Tax in Wales and, compared to others, low charges for many of its services.

I am thankful that the majority of my colleagues on the Council have demonstrated their ability to rise above the petty vendettas pursued by some and maintain a focus on the long-term. I am also grateful to those Members who have sought to engage in our attempts to improve personal relationships within the Authority. Pembrokeshire’s future must come before any desire to satisfy the headline writers.”

 

A LETTER TO ALL COUNCILLORS

The Herald can bring you the full text of a letter that Cllr. Joseph has sent to all councillors:

Dear Councillor,
Tonight I have decided that I cannot continue being a councillor in Pembrokeshire as long as the current culture exists.  I cannot be a part of a regime that continues to support Bryn Parry Jones. He is the captain of our ship and after hitting so many ice bergs, there comes a time when the captain has to take responsibility for the series of mistakes. 
On one hand we are told that we cannot discuss his pension openly because he is an employee with employee’s rights (which is why I voted as I did), yet on the other hand there is an investigation into him and yet he maintains his position. Any other employee would be suspended pending the outcome of the inquiry.
This is obviously a huge issue which needs to change but there is also a wider issue for me. The current culture is one of fear & frustration, people being bought with promises of positions and others opposing right decisions merely because of who proposes them or for individuals own political gain. 
There should be a culture of doing what is right with integrity and moving forward. Given the budget cuts, we have huge issues to discuss and these are not being discussed because of the unhealthy situation we have in the chamber.
For as long as I’m not standing against the current situation, by default I am contributing to it, so I have to make a stand for what is right. I will be leaving the IPPG group this evening, not to join another political group but to stand with anyone who wants to join me in making right decisions for the people of our wards and the people of Pembrokeshire. 
The ‘Pembrokeshire First’ party is not a political party. In my view, politics has no place in the council and I am not proposing myself as the ‘leader’ but merely facilitating change. A leader can be elected by those that come forward in the coming months. We should all be making decisions for the best for our wards and the county not for political reasons.
The biggest issue is obviously Bryn as captain of the ship but this is not just about him, it’s about the cabinet system and the culture that currently exists in the council – a culture of control and preserving peoples positions of power.
I want to work for a change of culture. The long term goal is to see 60 councillors having equal say, in all the important issues facing. I know it is a big task changing the system but unless someone takes a stand, it will never change. There are a lot of positives in PCC, which aren’t even acknowledged, let alone celebrated. The current situation is rotten to the core. I have tried my hardest to fight the status quo but to no avail. Socrates said “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” So that’s what I intend to do. The people of Pembrokeshire are crying out for change, the morale amongst employees of PCC is rock bottom. It is time to draw a line in the sand.
If you want to make a stand too, no matter what your political allegiances are, then let me know. I firmly believe that each one of us became a councillor for the right reasons.
It is time again for all of us to do what is right. 
Steve Joseph

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading
14 Comments

14 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News

Simon Hart MP says that First Minister is ‘reckless’ to say that the UK is ‘as it is, over’

Published

on

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WALES, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart, said that the First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford is wrong to suggest that the United Kingdom has had its day in its current form.

The First Minister’s exact words were “the UK as it is; is over”.

Mr Drakeford’s has said a new union should be created to reflect a “voluntary association of four nations”.

In his conference speech, the Welsh Labour leader called for “home rule for Wales in a successful United Kingdom”.

In a strong rebuke of Mark Drakeford’s comments Simon Hart MP said on the BBC’s politics Wales programme on Sunday (Mar 7) that his suggestion was “reckless” and “an overt act of flirtation with Plaid Cymru.”

Mr Hart added: “I think he realises if he wants to remain first minister he has to do a deal with Plaid, it’s the only option on the table. He hasn’t denied that, I’ve heard.

“In order to do that he has to start making noises about the union that has to appeal to his Plaid Cymru colleagues. I think it’s quite a reckless thing.”

Mr Hart explained that the UK “benefits” Wales and that the UK-wide procurement of Covid-19 vaccines proves this. He added: “It demonstrates just one example that the UK is a positive influence but it doesn’t mean that some of the other arguments are not valid”.

Plaid Cymru wants to hold a referendum on Welsh independence if it wins May’s Senedd election, but the power to do so lies at Westminster.

There has been a growing interest in more independence for Wales in the last few years, with a huge surge in membership of the non-political Yes Cymru group since the start of the pandemic.

Plaid leader Adam Price, speaking on the same programme, said: “We sincerely believe that independence is ultimately the only sustainable way whereby Wales can achieve its incredible potential as a nation that isn’t being delivered at the moment and whereby we can achieve social and economic justice for everyone that lives in Wales.”

Giving evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee on Thursday, which The Herald was invited attended via a Zoom, Mr Drakeford explained said his idea of home-rule meant “the powers we have, and the devolution settlement we develop, would be guaranteed and would not be interfered with in the way we have seen so vividly in recent months”.

Mr Drakeford said: “I do think the effect of the pandemic and last 12 months has been to polarise opinion in Wales about how Wales should be governed.

“There are some people who take a lesson that we would be better off handing Wales back to Whitehall, there are some Conservative candidates standing in the Senedd elections who apparently take that view.

“It has undoubtedly strengthened interest in those people who believe Wales should be taken out of the United Kingdom altogether.”

The company which runs The Pembrokeshire Herald, Herald News UK, has recently launched a national news website for Wales which is sympathetic to Welsh independence.

This is something which could not have happened without a shift in feeling by many in Wales that as a nation it should have more autonomy.

Speaking on ITN’s News at Ten on Thursday (Mar 4), Herald.Wales South and West Wales Editor, Tom Sinclair said: “From our test marketing we can see that there certainly is a huge appetite for news that is about Wales, made in Wales, and owned by a company which is actually Welsh.”

Continue Reading

Education

Delight as foundation phase learners return to class

Published

on

PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

Continue Reading

News

Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update

Published

on

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”

 

Continue Reading
News15 hours ago

Simon Hart MP says that First Minister is ‘reckless’ to say that the UK is ‘as it is, over’

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WALES, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart, said that the First Minister for...

News2 days ago

Sergeant Hillier ‘died doing the job he loved’, says his heartbroken father

THE ARMY SERGEANT who died after being injured in a live firing exercise, has been named locally. The incident occurred...

News2 days ago

Welsh Guards sergeant shot dead during Castlemartin live-fire training exercise

A BRITISH ARMY sergeant was killed on Thursday night (Mar 4) in a shooting accident at Castlemartin Training Area, The...

Business3 days ago

Hospitality sector welcomes Budget boost

IT HAS been so long it seems since we could stand at a bar and enjoy a well-earned pint, but...

News3 days ago

Milford Haven-bound ‘flying oil tanker’ hits the national news

A MILFORD HAVEN bound oil tanker has made the national news, after a photograph taken off the Cornish coast made...

News4 days ago

Trial date for son accused of killing mum

THE SON of Judith Rhead, 68, who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Feb...

Business5 days ago

Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine...

News6 days ago

Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire...

News1 week ago

Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda...

News1 week ago

Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer...

Popular This Week