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Cllr David Simpson to step down as Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE LEADER of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson, will step down in May.
Cllr Simpson has led the local authority for seven years. He will stay on as Lampeter Velfrey’s county councillor.

David Simpson became Leader after the Independent Political Group, which governed Pembrokeshire for over twenty years, lost control of the County Council at the 2017 election.
His tenure as Council leader has been unique within Wales.

As an unaffiliated independent councillor, David Simpson has never had the support of a political group’s bloc vote. Instead, his leadership has depended on the support of other unaffiliated councillors, combined with support from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and Plaid Cymru.

Originally from Barry, David Simpson worked as a youth worker in Grangetown, Cardiff, for several years.

After recovering from a serious work-related injury, he established Glamorgan Cleaning Services, which grew from 2 employees to 200. The company serviced industrial and commercial premises across South Wales.

He became a Justice of the Peace in 1996, and in 2000, after retiring from Glamorgan Cleaning Services, he became a Chair on the Magistrates’ Bench.

He has actively engaged in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme as an Ambassador and strongly supports its efforts to improve young people’s lives and life chances.

Cllr Simpson joined Pembrokeshire County Council after the 2004 local authority election. He was immediately appointed to the Cabinet and remained ever-present until he resigned in 2014. He was also a member of the board of the Pembrokeshire Housing Association until becoming Leader of the Council in 2017.

Cllr Simpson said that leading Pembrokeshire County Council and serving the communities he loves “had been an honour.”

He added: |Councils play a huge role in our everyday lives, from collecting the bins to repairing roads, running libraries, building schools and new homes and providing services for the most vulnerable.

Everything Pembrokeshire County Council does affects everyone living and working in or visiting our County.

“Rebuilding links with communities, making the authority more open and inclusive, and reorganising our services while local government funding has been cut has been difficult.

“The experience of leading Pembrokeshire County Council during the pandemic showed me just how important working together as councillors and communities is.

“We achieve much more together than we ever can separately.

“I am proud to have worked alongside outstanding officers and councillors, but the time is now right for me to step aside and let someone else bring something new to the role.

“My colleagues need certainty for the future. Only with certainty and cooperation can Pembrokeshire County Council meet future challenges. 

“I’ve been lucky to lead an outstanding Cabinet of individuals appointed not because they belong to one group but on their own merit. I hope whoever succeeds me continues to lead the Council by casting the net as widely as possible to serve our communities.

Cllr Simpson went on to say, “When I became leader, the UK’s local authorities had already suffered from years of austerity.

“The Cabinet, Council and I have had to make difficult decisions to meet the challenges we encountered. They haven’t always been popular decisions, but you can’t run vital services on a shoestring, invest in the future by putting off building new schools or fail to meet the increasing demands for social care in our communities.

“I’m particularly proud that we have turned around education in Pembrokeshire after a period of long decline and provided new, better and safer schools and new opportunities for our children and our children’s children. The future matters. We cannot and must not turn our backs on future generations and the most vulnerable in our communities by pretending there are easy answers to complex questions.

“With UK and Welsh Government funding, the Council has begun transforming our town centres. We are building homes for Pembrokeshire’s people. We have built new schools, and we want to build more. We have brought adult social care back in-house.

“We are committed to a more prosperous future for Pembrokeshire as part of the Celtic Sea Freeport project. I would like to pay a special tribute to the colleagues and officers whose unceasing and inspirational efforts made that happen.

“I know councillors want to do more, and I am sure my successor will have their own ideas on how we can do that, but I am sure we will continue to invest in opportunities and facilities that make Pembrokeshire a great place to live, work, and visit.

“If I had to pick things of which I am proudest, it would be lancing the boil of secrecy surrounding the Mik Smith scandal and making sure that Pembrokeshire’s Council Taxpayers are now engaged in our budget-setting process in a way that didn’t happen before.

“Greater transparency has brought greater engagement, which all councillors should be proud of – brickbats and all! 

“We must never return to the bad old days when the ruling group covered up mistakes and wrongdoing.

“I’ve had the support of too many people to mention by name, but I would like them all to know how much I appreciate them and their efforts. Thank you, and thank you to all of the members and officers who’ve helped me, advised me, and even disagreed with me.

“So now it’s time to get off the treadmill.

“I started work at the age of eleven as a delivery boy for a baker in Barry. I got my first mobile phone in 1986, and now it’s time for me to stop living at the end of one. It’s a chance to spend more time with my wife, Chris and our children and grandchildren.

“I’ll still be there to serve my ward and community, but as far as the frontline goes, it’s time to pass on the honour and challenge of being Pembrokeshire County Council’s leader.”

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Charity

RNLI prepare for summer with medical training exercise in Pembrokeshire

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RNLI lifeguards from the north Pembrokeshire team, volunteers from St Davids RNLI and St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team came together at Whitesands beach on Thursday (18 April), for a multi-agency medical training exercise. Pembrokeshire RNLI lifeguards and St Davids volunteer lifeboat crew took part in a multi-agency medical training exercise alongside St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team in preparation for the upcoming summer season.

The Coastal Medicine programme was set up six years ago at the suggestion of clinicians from Hywel Dda University Health Board. The aim of the programme is train lifeguards, lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard teams in working collaboratively when responding to medical incidents on the coast.

Clinicians from Hywel Dda work with RNLI staff to design exercises simulating mass-casualty incidents on land and afloat. The exercises allow lifeguards, lifeboat crews and Coastguard teams to practise and test their rescue response and casualty care.

The simulated incident at Whitesands involved a medical incident at sea leading to a boat going out of control and ploughing through a group of swimmers causing multiple injuries. RNLI lifeguards responded to casualties on the beach while St Davids inshore and all-weather lifeboat crews dealt with the situation at sea. St Davids Coastguard Rescue supported RNLI colleagues as they would in a real-life scenario.

In total there were six casualties to treat, all of whom were given the immediate medical care by the teams on scene. As in a real-life scenario, they were then prepared to be handed over to the care of the Ambulance Service.

Roger Smith, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager said: ‘The scenario was based on a real-life incident, it’s so important that we train in dealing with challenging situations.

‘The RNLI lifeguards, lifeboat crew, and the Coastguard rescue team worked really well together collaborating together to achieve the best possible result.

‘The feedback from all the participants was really positive, and our medical colleagues were very complimentary about the competence shown and the inter-agency co-operation.

‘This scenario training gives confidence to our lifeguards and lifeboat crews, and ensures the teamwork and communication is already in place ready for real-life incidents.’

Martin Charlton, an RNLI lifeguard in north Pembrokeshire said:

‘Last night’s exercise was a great opportunity for me and my colleagues on the lifeguard team to upskill ahead of the summer season.

‘We regularly attend incidents in the season that require a multi-agency response. These scenarios are a brilliant opportunity to prepare for the the most challenging situations.

‘The team and I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise and feel better prepared for the season as a result.

‘It’s always a pleasure working alongside the Coastguard rescue team and the lifeboat as one crew.’

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Crime

Brian Davis: Wanted on suspicion of commercial burglary

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POLICE are appealing for information to find Brian Davis, from the Pembroke Dock area.
The 53-year-old is wanted on suspicion of commercial burglary and fail to appear at court.
Have you seen Brian, or do you have information that might help us find him? Please, let the police know:
🖥️ | https://orlo.uk/wr13X
📧 | [email protected]
💬 | Direct message us on social media
📞 | 101
Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.
Quote reference: BRC818624

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Business

1,000 thefts a day: Labour calls for more support for high streets

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SHOCK analysis by the Labour Party has revealed more than 1,000 shoplifting offences are being committed across England and Wales every day – equating to an offence almost every minute of the day.

Yet separate Freedom of Information requests submitted by the party to police forces suggest that charges have fallen by a quarter over the past five years.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, Henry Tufnell, was out visiting local businesses in Tenby last week (April 19) to hear about the challenges presented by shoplifting and anti-social behaviour.

Henry Tufnell, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, said: “Pembrokeshire relies upon local businesses to grow our local economy, support jobs, and drive tourism. Today’s stats are clear: the Conservatives have lost control.

“Labour has a plan to ensure our town centres are a safe, enjoyable place for Pembrokeshire residents to spend time in. Coupled with the Welsh Labour Government’s Transforming Towns scheme, which will provide £27 million by 2025 in South West Wales towards funding projects to regenerate and support our town centres, Labour’s priority is breathing life back into our high streets.”

Philippa Thompson, Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dyfed Powys Police, joined with members of the Co-operative Party and USDAW, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, to campaign for stronger protections for retail workers.

Today’s announcement comes shortly after the UK government finally committed to introduce a new offence for assault of a retail worker, which Labour, the Co-op and USDAW have called for, for more than a decade.

Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dyfed Powys Police, Philippa Thompson, said:

“A Labour Government in Westminster means we’ll see more police on the streets, a crackdown on anti-social behaviour, and on retail crime. As a Labour & Co-operative Party candidate, today I am campaigning with USDAW to strengthen protections for retail workers against the assault and abuse they face at work.

It has taken the Conservatives ten years to heed what Labour, the Co-operative Party and USDAW have been saying, and introduce a specific offence for assault of a retail worker. The Tories have run out of steam and run out of ideas, and it’s time for a change. Only Labour can deliver that change.”

Since September, Labour has been calling for the Tories to scrap their Shoplifter’s Charter, which is leaving criminals to steal with impunity.

The rule, brought in by Theresa May in 2014, introduced a new category of ‘low-value shoplifting’ to describe theft of goods worth under £200 and has led to police deprioritising enforcement in these cases – even where there are repeat offences or organised shoplifting. This has left businesses and retail workers at the mercy of criminals.
 
Alongside removing the Tories’ £200 rule, Labour has vowed to put 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the streets and introduce a Community Policing Guarantee to tackle shoplifting.

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “Under the Tories too many communities and high streets are being blighted by staggering increases in shoplifting, but charge rates are going down. That means more criminals are getting away with it and more local businesses are paying the price.
 
“The Conservative government has decimated neighbourhood policing, leaving our town centres unprotected, and they are still refusing to get rid of the £200 rule, which is encouraging repeat offending and organised gangs of shoplifters.
 
“Labour will scrap the Tories’ Shoplifter’s Charter and bring in a Community Policing Guarantee, with 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs to crackdown on shoplifting and keep the public safe.”

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