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Questions continue over chairman’s appointment

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woodhamAS REPORTED in last week’s Herald, the appointment of the new lay member of the Audit Committee, Peter Jones, has caused controversy over the way in which his job application was processed. There are also concerns that councillors sitting on the Urgency Committee were not allowed to scrutinise the appointment. They were prevented from doing so by the Council’s Monitoring Officer, Laurence Harding. Information provided to The Herald ahead of last Monday’s (Sept 22) extraordinary meeting of the Audit Committee reveals that Morgan Cole, the Cardiff law firm of which Mr Jones is a former senior partner, represented Hundleton councillor John Allen Mirehouse. Mr Jones represented Cllr Mirehouse when he was before a standards panel – investigating an alleged failure by him to declare an ‘interest’ in a planning matter involving land he owned on the Angle peninsula. Cllr Mirehouse sits on the Council’s Audit Committee – the committee which is now chaired by his former lawyer, Peter Jones. Mr Jones formerly represented Milford Haven Port Authority at the time Cllr Allen Mirehouse sat on the Authority. Cllr Guy Woodham proposed Mr Jones as Chair of the Audit Committee. The Pembrokeshire Herald asked him whether he was aware of the past professional relationship between Cllr Mirehouse and Mr Jones. Cllr Woodham told us: “No, I was most definitely not aware! I nominated Mr Jones as Chair believing that, as the Lay Member, he was the most appropriate member of the Committee to hold this position, rather than an Elected Member. I was not involved in the selection process of the Lay Member and therefore have not been made aware of any background information on Mr Jones, other than he told us about at Monday’s Audit Committee.” The Herald also spoke to Cllr Paul Miller about the appointment of Mr Jones: “This situation further underlines the issue that I raised about the conduct of the meeting that ‘rubberstamped’ Mr Jones’ appointment. We were not allowed to have any meaningful information before voting on his appointment. It seems as though  this is a further example of elected councillors being denied the chance to make properly judged democratic decisions. It seemed to me that most everyone present agreed with me when I expressed that view at the Urgency Committee, but four voted in favour of the appointment anyway.” The Herald notes that Mr Jones told members of the Audit Committee that he had dealings with the Council in the past. It is not clear whether those dealings or their extent were made known to the Urgency Committee when they were presented with the appointment panel’s recommendation, or even if the appointment panel were made aware of them. The Herald asked the Council’s Monitoring Officer, Laurence Harding, on whose advice the Urgency Panel rubber-stamped Mr Jones’ appointment, for a comment on Mr Jones’ appointment. Mr Harding failed to reply.

 

 

Mr Mirehouse’s interest

PETER JONES was intimately concerned in Cllr Allen Mirehouse’s defence of a claim he had failed to declare an interest in land when he decided policy that might affect it when sitting on the National Park Authority. Mr Jones billed the former IPPG Chair over £5,360 from a total bill including QC’s fees of around £40,000. The bill included meeting with Viscount Saint Davids, Mr Allen Mirehouse, and his land agent Anthony Owen of Owen & Owen. Following the conclusion of the case, in which the Adjudication Panel for Wales found in his favour, Cllr Allen-Mirehouse sought to have the National Park Authority repay him the whole of Morgan Cole’s bill and claimed the Authority was obliged to indemnify him wholly for the same. Cllr Allen Mirehouse’s claim for his costs rather ignored the belated admission made by his QC, Robin Tolson, that his client did own land which “was capable of being developed when he participated in the relevant meetings of the National Park Authority”. Cllr Allen Mirehouse had previously maintained the opposite position and significant costs had been spent examining that denial. However, Cllr Allen Mirehouse’s submissions largely fell on deaf ears with the National Park Authority’s Monitoring Officers, Dewi Davies and John Parsons, who disputed liability to pay any of the legal costs on the basis that the Councillor had incurred excessive costs (including an eye-watering 24 hours of billable time at £200 an hour for travelling to a meeting at Angle Hall when Cllr Allen Mirehouse could have travelled to Cardiff); that he had not sought permission from the Authority to incur the costs before he did; and that he had engaged a QC at significant cost when such a level of representation was not required. In response to that last point, Cllr Allen-Mirehouse opined in correspondence that he was entitled to brief a QC because of his prominent position in public life. That plea fell on deaf years, and the Councillor received £8,000 plus VAT towards his professional fees following a vote.

 

THE HERALD asked
the County Council a series
of questions about Mr Jones’
appointment as lay member of the
Audit Committee and received the
following answers.

Q: How many had applied before
the original deadline and how
many additional applicants were
received before the extended
deadline? Please confirm at
which point in the selection
process Mr Jones applied.
A: Four applications were received
before the deadline of July 8
but one withdrew. One further
application (from Mr Jones)
was received before the end of
the extended deadline of July 18
(note the deadline was actually
extended by ten days not one
week).

Q: Please let me know who made the
decision to extend the deadline
and why a week was felt to be an
adequate period.
A: Deadline extended by ten days by
Chief Finance Officer because
he desired at least three suitable
candidates for the Appointments
Panel to consider.

Q: Please let me know where the
advertisement for the revised
deadline for applications
was placed. As the original
advertisement was by public
notice, was this also done by
public notice? If so, in which
publication or via which medium
or media was it disseminated?
A: Extended ten day deadline was
advertised on Council website.

Q: Please let me know the identity of
the persons who sat on the panel
that considered applications.
A: The Appointment Panel
comprised: Mrs Lynette George
(independent Chair); Cllr Tom
Richards; Cllr Stan Hudson (all
County Council appointed).

Q: Please let me know whether
the panel were made aware of
Mr Jones’ past professional
relationship with Cllr John
Allen-Mirehouse.
A: We are not aware of any
professional relationship
between the two parties

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Four UK forces are piloting a new service to report sexual assault online

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THE NEW online Rape and Sexual Assault reporting service is now live on the websites of British Transport Police, Merseyside Police, Dyfed Powys Police and Leicestershire Police.

It was created by the National Police Chief’s Council’s (NPCC) Digital Public Contact Programme (DPC) and launched on Tuesday 30 November.

The pilot will run for six weeks.

People wishing to report sexual offences have until now been directed to phone police forces, text 61016 in the case of British Transport Police, or dial 999 in an emergency.

If they do not require immediate police assistance, people – regardless of age or if they want to report the crime – will be directed online via their local force website.

They will find advice and details of charities and other organisations that can help. The forces will ask, if the person is willing, for details of what has happened. There is an option to report the offence anonymously. If reported anonymously, the police will only contact that person if there is believed to be an immediate threat to their life.

Det Ch Insp Sarah White from British Transport Police said: “We know from extensive research that there are a number of reasons why survivors and witnesses are not comfortable in reporting sexual offences to the police.

“One of the common factors remains the unwillingness to provide personal details. We understand this and have been working to look at how we can invite greater reporting, which can help us prevent further crimes and bring offenders to justice.

“Every report provides us with valuable information. And if people aren’t comfortable with making that report, then we want them to know how they can get the support and help they need.

“This new service in not only innovative in the way it has been designed – from the ground up in consultation with more than 40 organisations (including Rape Crisis, End Violence Against Women and the Survivors Trust) – but also in the way it is being deployed – online where people, especially younger people, increasingly are.”

When visiting the websites of those forces, options are available to report a sexual offence themselves, on behalf on another person, or as a witness. People can choose to report in English or Welsh.

If the pilot is successful, it will become a permanent reporting feature and will be available for other forces to adopt nationally.

Det Ch Insp White added: “We’re absolutely committed to ensuring our railways are a safe place for people to travel and we hope this is just another tool in our armoury against sexual offending.”

British Transport Police has also been accredited by White Ribbon, committed to ending violence against woman and girls. It recently signed a pledge encouraging all men within the organisation to make a promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “As a White Ribbon accredited organisation, committed to ending violence against woman and girls, protecting vulnerable people is a priority for Dyfed-Powys Police and we know how traumatic being the victim of a sexual offence is.

“We encourage victims to come forward to report incidents of this nature so we can thoroughly investigate the crimes whilst ensuring that all victims have the opportunity to be referred for specialist support. The ability to report a sexual offence online will provide another avenue for victims to come forward so we can help them and bring offenders to justice.” 

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Dai thanks emergency services that helped save his life

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A PEMBROKESHIRE dad-of-three has thanked the emergency services that helped save his life.

In February Dai Davies was getting ready for bed when he suddenly collapsed and had a cardiac arrest.

Dai’s wife Taryan and son Caleb, 18, helped save his life as they performed CPR on Dai whilst waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

When the paramedics arrived, Dai’s heart was in an abnormal rhythm and not beating normally. The paramedics took over resuscitation, delivered two shocks and the second shock brought his heart back into a normal rhythm.

When the Wales Air Ambulance Charity helicopter arrived with its overnight critical care team – Dr Matt O'Meara, Critical Care Practitioner Marc Allen and pilot Nobby Norris – Dai started to come around and became agitated and wasn’t breathing effectively.

They rapidly assessed him and found his oxygen levels were low and needed to take over his breathing. To do this they gave him a general anaesthetic and then placed him on a ventilator to breathe for him.

The procedure is delicate, complex and time-critical. It is only possible outside of a hospital environment through the Wales Air Ambulance and the fact that they have experienced consultants on board.

It is one of the many emergency department-standard treatments that the Charity is now able to deliver at the scene of an incident – improving the chances of survival and recovery.

Once the on-scene treatment was complete, Dai was airlifted directly to the cardiac centre at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

The flight from his home in Neyland to hospital took just 25 minutes by air, a journey that would have taken approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes by road.

Speaking of the lifesaving service, Dai said: “I am forever grateful to the ambulance service and the Wales Air Ambulance for the work they did and to get me to the hospital as quickly as they did. I really appreciate everything they’ve done for me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”

The father-of-three was a keen runner and cyclist before he was taken ill, reflecting on whether there were any signs that could have indicated a potential problem, Dai said: “I had a pain in my back whilst I was refereeing a match about five years ago. I had MRI scans and physiotherapy and continued to live with the on-off pain. Since it happened, I’ve been reading up on cardiac arrests and these symptoms were a big indicator.”

The learning support assistant, at Haverfordwest High School, underwent surgery to have three stents put in and was discharged from hospital a few days later.

He said: “I’m feeling okay. I’ve had three stents put in, lost 10 kilograms in weight through cardiac rehab and cut out all the nice things. My wife has also bought me a new peloton bike to continue my fitness at home. My children, Chloe, Caleb and Aidan, all notice a change in me since the cardiac arrest, they think I’m more placid now.”

Throughout his recovery Dai received expert guidance and help by having personal training from cardiac rehabilitation instructor Dave Braithwaite. Dai is now looking forward to the future.

Jo Yeoman is a patient liaison nurse who works in partnership with the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. She said: “We are delighted to see that Dai is on the road to recovery. Dai’s story demonstrates the vital chain of survival, from CPR, defibrillation and then critical care.

Taryan and Caleb were incredible and the partnership work between the Wales Air Ambulance and Welsh Ambulance Service medics ensured that Dai had the best possible care before reaching the specialists at Morriston Hospital.

“The Wales Air Ambulance Charity introduced an overnight helicopter in December 2020, making it a 24/7 service. The Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to maintain the 24/7 operation and Dai’s story highlights the importance of having an air ambulance service that runs during the night as well as the day.”

Christian Newman, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Locality Manager in Pembrokeshire, said: “In a cardiac arrest, every second counts, and the CPR started by Dai’s wife and son gave him the best possible chance of survival. Our joint efforts with Wales Air Ambulance colleagues, and later the care that Dai had from the specialists at Morriston Hospital, just goes to show how important partnership working is to a patient’s care. We wish Dai all the very best on his continued recovery.”

There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with innovative ways to fundraise. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com. 

Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.

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New videos launched to support care for children and young patients

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Hywel Dda - Children's services

PARENTS, carers of children and young people are being reminded that they can still access 24/7 minor injury care for children at Withybush General Hospital, or during daytime hours at Tenby Walk-in Centre and Cardigan Integrated Care Centre.

Hywel Dda University Health Board has created a series of new information videos explaining the types of care that we are currently able to provide for children and younger patients following the temporary move of the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush.

Minor injury units can treat adults and children over 12-months of age, with minor injuries such as the following:

Minor wounds
Minor burns or scalds
Insect bites
Minor limb, head, or face injuries
Foreign bodies in the nose or ear

Minor injury units are run by an experienced team of highly skilled specially-trained emergency nurse practitioners, triage nurses and health care support workers. Some are located on main hospital sites, which have emergency departments as well, and others are in community-based health care centres.

Bethan Thomas, an Emergency Nurse Practitioner in the Minor Injuries Unit at Withybush General Hospital, said: “Part of my role frequently involves treating children and young people with minor injuries, and we can do this quite quickly in the emergency department at Withybush so that those patients can return home having been seen and given care.”

Children with serious illnesses or injuries will be seen at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen or Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth. In an emergency, please dial 999.

In the videos, which are available to view on the Health Board’s website, and on social media, Consultant Paediatrician Dr Didi Ratnasinghe also explains what parents need to be aware of and how to access care if their child has a respiratory illness, while fellow Paediatrician Dr Prem Kumar gives an insight into what to expect if your child needs to stay in hospital for treatment.

Emergency medicine Consultant Dr Nicola Drake provides an explanation of other childhood medical emergencies, and when parents need to call 999 for an ambulance to take a child to Glangwili or Bronglais.

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