FOLLOWING recent accusations of bullying at Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council, the Mayor David Owens and his Deputy have been moved to make an official statement.
Councillors appealed for calm at an extraordinary meeting held a fortnight ago, following scenes at the end of the previous meeting which was suspended.
The Herald attended the extraordinary meeting, at which public and press were issued with guidance on how to behave.
County Councillor for Burry Port John James alleged that Plaid Cymru’s Peter Freeman was ‘trying to get me off the council’ and referred to an email allegedly sent by independent Mike Theodolou accusing him of making malicious accusations.
In their joint statement, Cllrs David Owens and Bob John said: “As Mayor and Deputy Mayor we have maintained a silence in the press and social media in the belief that the responsible thing to do was to deal with confidential staff issues within the Council. Unfortunately Cllr John James’ recent comments, and the recent Star headline, cannot go unchallenged.
“At the heart of the problem is the decision of a member of staff to resign after 11 months in the post. When he informed the Mayor of his decision he was asked to take 24 hours to reconsider his decision and to also talk to his family. The following day he informed the Mayor that he had decided to go and asked that he be allowed to leave straight away.”
It must be made perfectly clear that nobody asked him to resign, in fact the Mayor asked him to consider his actions carefully when he wanted to resign.
“Since that time there has been repeated insistence by the Labour Group that discussions be held in public about his resignation despite the strong advice from the Town Clerk, the County Council Monitoring Officer and the Ombudsman that this should not happen. We must also point out that in the last five years when Labour were in control and Labour Mayors chaired the Council meetings they ended almost every meeting of the Council by excluding the public and the press so that we could deal with staff and ex-staff issues.
“By insisting that we comply with the advice, and that we remain professional and responsible, the Independent Councillors have suffered harassment, personal attacks and verbal abuse. Some Independent Councillors have also reported to us that they have been intimidated and bullied by people who attended the Council meeting on September
21. It was for that reason that Police presence was felt necessary at the following meeting on October 13.”
Following his resignation the Council took the opportunity to change the requirements and the status of the job to better fit the growing demands on the Council and advertised the job accordingly.
“A month after he resigned and following some intense interventions on his behalf by some Labour Councillors, the former member of staff informed the Council that he had changed his mind and would like his job back. However, this was a job that no longer existed following the changes by the Council. He was informed that the job had been advertised, meaning that it was open to anyone to apply.
“The former member of staff clearly did not like the Council’s answer and subsequent events suggest that he commenced a campaign with his supporters to intimidate and force the Council to give him what he wanted. It is sad that some Labour Councillors are putting pressure on the rest of us and disrupting the normal work of the Council.
“Members of the public and the press are welcome to attend Council Meetings but as a result of the behaviour of some at the meeting held on September 21, the Town Clerk deemed it necessary to issue Guidance on the admission of the public and press to Council meetings.
“There are, however, occasions when the public and press are excluded as Cllr John James, a former Mayor, is fully aware and has himself excluded them in almost every meeting during his tenure.”
Finally during the meeting of September 21, Cllr John James as the leader of the Labour group on the Town Council attempted to intimidate the Mayor into holding a public discussion on an ex- staff issue while the former member of staff was present in the audience. In his unwise and unprofessional attempt he carried out an attack on the Mayor and the Town Clerk which was unprecedented, disrespectful and insulting.
”His behaviour was unacceptable and does not represent the professional way in which the Council should conduct its business. It was for this reason that the meeting was suspended in order to ensure that the Council’s reputation was protected.”
Llanelli High Street shortlisted for prize
LLANELLI HIGH STREET has been shortlisted in the Government’s Great British High Street Awards, in proud partnership with Visa, putting them in the running for up to £15,000.
After a rigorous selection process led by a panel of independent judges, the high street has been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, which celebrates high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify.
The bid by Ymlaen Llanelli follows research commissioned by Visa in April 2019 demonstrating the positive impact that the local high street has on communities. The research found that nearly three quarters of consumers (71%) in Wales say that shopping locally makes them feel happy, with nearly half (45%) citing supporting local shops and knowing where their money is going as the main reason. Spending time with friends and family (25%) and offering a sense of community (18%) were other reasons cited for why high streets make people feel happier. The research also reveals that half of consumers (50%) feel that their high street gives them a sense of pride in their local community.
High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: “Congratulations to Llanelli for being shortlisted for the Rising Star Award for this year’s Great British High Street Awards.
“Llanelli high street is a hive of activity, with food festivals, childrens’ days and community get-togethers all part of the local calendar. A great example of how high streets can bring a renewed energy to communities.
“People are happier when they can see their hard-earned cash support local businesses. That is why we are celebrating those that go above and beyond to keep their high streets thriving for generations to come.”
Sundeep Kaur, Head of UK & Ireland Merchant Services at Visa, added: “We’ve seen some fantastic entries for this year’s Great British High Street Awards across both the Champion High Street and Rising Star categories. In particular, the desire to innovate stands out amongst this year’s entries, with high streets adapting to the challenges presented by a rapidly changing retail environment to find ways to thrive at a local level.
“As our research shows, high streets play a vital role at the heart of communities, so this is a great opportunity for those communities with shortlisted high streets to show their support by placing their votes on the Great British High Street website.”
Llanelli High Street is one of the 28 high streets that have been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, identifying high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify. 12 high streets have been shortlisted in the Champion High Street category, which recognises the UK’s best high streets. All 40 high streets are now in the running to win a prize of up to £15,000 to be dedicated to a local high street initiative.
Head Teacher at Primary school in Llanelli suspended
THE HEAD TEACHER of a Welsh primary school has been suspended, it has been confirmed.
Catherine Lloyd-Jenkins, who is head at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes in Llanelli, has been suspended from her duties at the school with immediate effect.
Governors at the school have been unavailable for comment, but Carmarthenshire Council confirmed the news this morning.
It is understood that the chair of the governing body is currently out of the country, and the council would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding the suspension.
The council’s director of education, Gareth Morgans, said: “School staffing is a matter for the Governing Body, however, we can confirm the headteacher of Ysgol Ffwrnes has been suspended.
“It is not appropriate to comment further.”
Mrs Lloyd-Jenkins has worked at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes for 23 years, taking up a post at the school in 1996.
She has been the headteacher there for almost 20 years, taking over the role in 2000. She has also worked as a peer inspector at Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales confirmed.
According to one local councillor, ‘serious concerns’ have been raised about the school in recent months.
“Local residents and parents have approached us raising serious concerns about the school in question,” said Carmarthenshire councillor Rob James.
“We are in dialogue with senior council officers to assert whether the allegations are credible and what action the council and governors have taken in response to these allegations.”
Dyfed-Powys Police numbers at record low, say Labour
POLICE officers based across the Dyfed-Powys area are now at their lowest levels in the last decade, with over 300 officers being lost across the region, claim Carmarthenshire Labour.
According to a freedom of information request by Carmarthenshire Labour, police officers based across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are down 42% and are at record lows in both Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.
The figures published by Dyfed-Powys Police show that Carmarthenshire has lost 160 officers in the last ten years, Pembrokeshire is down 107 officers and Ceredigion has lost 56 bobbies on the beat.
These figures come off the back of a poor report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that shows the force has gone backwards in the last year, with crime also on the increase.
HMIC’s recent PEEL (Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report noted concerns about Dyfed-Powys Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime and specifically warned of failures to assess all incidents of domestic abuse.
Carmarthenshire Labour Leader Cllr Rob James claims that the figures show that the current Police and Crime Commissioner is now performing worse than their predecessor.
Rob James stated: “These figures that show a dramatic decrease in police numbers are extremely worrying and reinforce what communities are saying across Dyfed Powys – there are simply not enough police officers in our areas.
“The fact that we now have lower police numbers in the three counties compared to the end of the last Police and Crime Commissioner’s term with crime now on the rise illustrates that the Plaid Cymru Commissioner is failing in his duty to protect our communities.
“We need urgent action to make our communities safe once more, as there is a clear link between the loss of youth provision and cuts to officer numbers, and the rise of crime in our communities.
“There is little evidence that our Commissioner has grasped the nettle over the last three years in tackling this important issue.”
These claims however, have been slapped down by Police and Crime Comissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn. He said that said that Cllr James had misunderstood or misrepresented the information provided to him.
The Carmarthen data have a significant rider attached to them.
The explanatory note reads: ‘It should be noted that the figures for Carmarthenshire police division between 2008 and 2018 are not comparable as the structure of Carmarthenshire division in 2018 has altered to that of 2008 which has impacted upon the figures provided’.
That explanation is expanded upon concerning the Ceredigion data. Regarding them, an explanatory note warns that: ‘[T]he structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded divisionally now come under the HQ remit, e.g. the Road Policing Unit, CID, etc.’.
Dafydd Llewelyn pointed out that note in his response to The Herald: “As outlined in the response to the Freedom of Information request, structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded as divisionally based are now recorded under the HQ remit, for example, Roads Policing Unit, CID.”
Dafydd Llewelyn continued: “Since taking up my role as the elected person to represent the many communities across the four counties served by the force, I have increased the overall resource available by 4%. I have ploughed funding into dedicated teams to support front line officers and have invested in resources to support the most vulnerable in our communities.
“I have commissioned services specific to their needs – be that as victims of domestic abuse or young people choosing to leave their homes for reasons unknown to authorities. I will continue to do this. I will not be held to account by numbers on paper alone, but by the difference I can make to individuals’ quality of life.
“I will also use the opportunity I have to campaign for services appropriate to the very specific needs an area the size of Dyfed-Powys Police has and will work with the force to adapt according to those needs.”
He concluded by pointing out: “Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys remain the safest counties nationally and I’m proud to be driving a service that is willing and able to flex and respond, despite the financial challenges faced day-in-day-out.”
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