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Care company criticises Council

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Care provision: Prestige Care is asking “Is it an even playing field?”

Care provision: Prestige Care is asking “Is it an even playing field?”

A PEMBROKE DOCK business has expressed concerns regarding how Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) operates its tender process for Care provision companies. Martyn Shipton of Prestige Care, told The Herald that he is struggling to compete with another local company who are offering higher pay rates and a £200 signing on bonus for staff that join them, something he says he is unable to afford to do. Prestige Care was set up in 2012 and employs 22 care staff that provide domiciliary care in the community.

He explained that over 90% of his clients come through the Council, rather than from private sources. He went on to say that his company are paid £13.84 an hour from the county and therefore are forced to offer staff between £7 and and £7.70 an hour. In contrast, his competitor are offering a minimum of £7.75 an hour, along with the £200 joining bonus. Mr Shipton went on to express his frustration, saying: “I’d like to ask the Council, if they are offering more money (to other providers), why? We went in at £14 an hour and were told it was too much, so we had to go down.

Why are we (care companies) not all getting paid the same? We do exactly the same things, have to follow the same standards and we have had excellent recent inspections. I want to pay my staff more, but I just can’t. With staff leaving, it means my existing staff are overworked.” The Herald asked PCC why care companies, that are all supposed to provide a uniform service, are being paid at different rates. A spokesperson for Pembrokeshire County Council told The Herald: “In line with most other public sector organisations, Pembrokeshire County Council undertakes its tender process on a Most Economically Advantageous Tender basis.

This involves allocating both quality (compliance with Care Standards – CSSIW requirements) and price scores to a tenderer’s bid with the aim of appointing providers who are able to meet the service requirements by providing the highest quality at the most competitive price. The recent tender was for a Framework Agreement and 20 providers were successful in gaining a place on the Framework. Each provider submitted their required rate and quality offering, with all tender submissions being evaluated to determine the order of ranking.Tenderers will score higher points for better quality, and equally, higher points for a competitive rate.

Hourly rates charged by each provider are commercial and in confidence and as such are not disclosed. Care Standards (CSSIW) is the organisation which determines the standards of care that agencies should work to and who provide registration accordingly, without which providers would be unable to operate. The Council thereafter monitors provider compliance with the contract.” In response to the Council’s comments, Prestige care said: “Our inspection reports from CSSIW are very good, and our feedback on the homecare.co.uk website is also very good. We are number 15 on the tender list, and a lot of the companies that have been awarded higher than us are more expensive. The council are saying that our quality of care is poorer than others, if so how? We are not asking for a higher rate, we just want fairness, but how can it be fair when another care company advertise for staff and state that they are the only care company in Wales to pay a living wage and other care companies should follow suit, we would like nothing more than to be able to do this, and if we were paid the same as this company we would be able to, if not bring their rate down so everybody is on the same playing field.”

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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans

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PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a witch hunt by the police, a jury has heard.

But at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), the Clare Wilks for the prosecution said that the defendant had “abused the trust of parents and staff” by sexually touching children in his care.

James Oulton, denies 30 charges of sexual assault against the eleven children who were aged eight or nine years old at the time.

The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

The jury heard how the pupils, now aged between 11 and 17, claimed he touched them sexually.

But the court was also told that Mr Oulton claimed he received cards at the end of term, and he believed letters sent by Pembrokeshire council to parents encouraged false complaints and collusion between pupils.

Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, told the court he had behaved appropriately.

The jury heard how the alleged abuse occurred while Mr Oulton was working at a primary school in Haverfordwest.

Clare Wilks, prosecuting, said some of the children alleged that they had been assaulted on a daily basis, while others had had given statements to say it only happened the one time.

The trial continues.

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