A FIFTH person has been suspended by Swansea University as part of its internal inquiry linked to plans for a £200m wellness village in Llanelli.
A university spokesman said: “We can confirm that another member of staff has been suspended as part of our ongoing internal investigation,”
Paul Roberts, the lead for Regional Development, Health and Wellbeing has raised a grievance with the university over the way his suspension was handled, saying that he was tricked into attending a meeting supposedly about early retirement or redeployment to another department.
Mr Roberts also said he had “been working under a climate of fear since the suspension of fellow colleagues in November last year”.
The university said it could “make no further comment at this stage.”
Staff have previously been told that the matters being looked into did not concern “the academic performance of the university or its financial wellbeing”.
Meanwhile, the Wales Audit Office and an independent legal review have concluded that Carmarthenshire County Council has acted properly and robustly in its planning and governance of the Llanelli Wellness and Life Science Village scheme.
Leader of the council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, has welcomed the findings saying he is pleased the independent reviews show that the project is progressing properly and positively.
The authority invited the Wales Audit Office to review the scheme to seek assurance that it had acted with sound governance, proper risk management, and had fully protected public assets.
The audit has concluded that the council has followed appropriate processes and has effectively protected public money.
Separately, the council’s Executive Board ordered an independent legal review of the £200million scheme.
That review concluded that the council has followed due legal process, showed good governance, has properly managed risk, and has taken prudent steps to ensure the project is legally and financially safe.
The £200million Llanelli Wellness and Life Science Village project is one of 11 projects that make up the £1.3billion Swansea Bay City Deal.
Planned for Delta Lakes on the Llanelli coast, it is set to create close to 2,000 jobs and boost the local economy by £467million.
Plans have been approved by the council’s Planning Committee, and the Executive Board has allocated £16.4million for the leisure centre element of the project in its 2019-20 Capital Programme.
Cllr Dole said this should be seen as a clear commitment to the project, and called for more support to ensure the scheme progresses without further delay to secure jobs and opportunities for the Llanelli area.
“I am delighted that both the Wales Audit Office and the independent review have shown clearly that the council has acted properly at all times in planning for the Llanelli Wellness and Life Science Village,” he said.
“Both reviews are clear that there has been no misuse of – or risk posed to – public funds and that the project has been properly managed in line with external legal advice.
“As an Executive Board, we were keen for independent reassurance following months of needless speculation about the project. Now that these reviews have concluded, we look forward to delivering on our vision of jobs, prosperity and wellbeing for the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire as a whole.”
The Wales Audit Office and the legal reviewers were given full access to all records relating to the project and carried out a detailed appraisal of the council’s actions.
A full report will be considered by the Executive Board on March 4.
Denial of Wales-specific Covid inquiry ‘no longer tenable’ say Welsh Conservatives
THE WELSH CONSERVATIVES have reiterated their call for an inquiry that focuses exclusively on the actions of the Welsh Government in tackling coronavirus in a letter to the First Minister.
It was prompted after it was revealed that the Welsh Government have been aware that NHS Wales was not prepared for an airborne virus as far back as 2004, following the SARS outbreak. Despite committing to an audit and allocation to rectify the lack of isolation facilities, this did not materialise.
The letter from Andrew RT Davies MS, which states “decision made in Wales should be scrutinised in Wales” follows a weekend when Mark Drakeford was keen to highlight that his government had “always taken a different approach in Wales [compared to the British Government], one that does things step-by-step”.
In the letter, the Welsh Conservatives leader questions why, despite him stressing divergences in the approach to coronavirus, the First Minister still feels it “inappropriate to separate” from the British Government “when the time comes for accountability”.
The Labour Government policy is for its actions to be included in the UK-wide inquiry that will chiefly investigate the actions of the Conservative Government. There will be a Scotland-specific inquiry after Nicola Sturgeon commissioned one.
Joining the Welsh Conservatives in their calls for a Wales-specific inquiry are the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Group, the British Lung Foundation, Medics 4 Mask Up Wales, the Institute for Welsh Affairs, and Plaid Cymru.
Commenting on the letter, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “The position of exercising wide-ranging emergency powers that curtailed the liberty and closed the economy of the Welsh people but avoiding accountability through an inquiry that focusses on how those decisions were made is no longer tenable.
“Under Mark Drakeford, Wales has experienced the highest Covid death-rate of UK nations, seen its children lose more time for learning than anywhere else in the country, and imposed economically cruel and clinically unnecessary restrictions in an overzealous attempt to tackle the Omicron variant.
“We, along with bereaved families and medical groups, believe that the decisions that led to these outcomes need to be put under the spotlight, not hidden in the shadow of an inquiry that will inevitably focus on the British Government.
“Indeed, if Mark Drakeford is so confident in the actions of his government, then why is he against having them examined in a Wales-specific inquiry? That is what people will be asking when British and Scottish leaders have ordered investigations into their own handling of the pandemic.
“As I say to the First Minister in my letter, it is not too late for him to change his mind and take this opportunity to do the right thing and order that inquiry.”
Llanelli Rotary Christmas appeal to be match-funded by Swansea Building Society
THE LLANELLI Rotary Club Christmas appeal, which sees the club raise funds for local charities each year, will see its total donations double thanks to match-funding from Swansea Building Society.
The building society helps its staff raise charitable funds each year as part of its commitment to its members and the local communities it serves. It regards this as a direct part of its mutual status – a status that means it is owned by its members.
The ongoing pandemic and emerging new variant meant that the club arranged for Santa Claus to make Covid-friendly house visits to children prior to Christmas. This was the second year that Santa has made such house visits as an alternative to the Santa’s Grotto previously organised by the Rotary Club.
This year’s appeal visited 295 households in the Llanelli area and met 622 children to confirm the letters they had written to Santa. The funds raised from these visits, coupled with Rotary members collecting at Parc Trostre, Llanelli Carnival and the Llanelli Reindeer Parade, amounted to £5,774.
This amount will be generously match-funded by Swansea Building Society, bringing the total donation to £11,548 and this will be split between the four charities chosen by Llanelli Rotary this year: Ty Hafan, Wales Air Ambulance, Latch and Ysgol Heol Goffa.
Alison Evans, Llanelli Rotary Club Secretary, said: “Despite the ongoing difficulties, the Llanelli Rotary Club Christmas appeal has been a great success again this year. Thanks to Santa, the Rotarians, and the volunteers that helped us, we were able to put a smile on hundreds of children’s faces, whilst raising a considerable sum for four very worthwhile charities. We give great thanks to all those who donated to the appeal in the run-up to Christmas, and special thanks to Swansea Building Society for its generous match funding.”
Ieuan Griffiths, Swansea Building Society Chair and Llanelli Rotary Club member, added: “Our annual Christmas appeal is always a joyful and rewarding experience for all concerned – worth the significant effort involved just to see the childrens’ faces and reactions. We are very pleased that Santa has been able to help whilst checking out chimneys and magic keys. This year the Rotary Club has again raised considerable funds, and, with the help of Swansea Building Society’s match funding, this year’s charities will receive sizable donations. I extend my thanks to everyone who helped and all who donated.”
BBC Wales Investigates: Death of Two Black Men: Police in the Spotlight
TONIGHT 24/1/22, 7.30pm, BBC One Wales
Mohamud Hassan, 24, and Mouayed Bashir, 29, died within weeks of each other in separate incidents after coming into contact with the police.
Both their deaths sparked protests – in Cardiff and Newport – as family, friends and people in their communities expressed concerns about the circumstances of their deaths.
In January last year, police were called to the shared house in Roath, Cardiff, where Mohamud lived in a basement flat. Police arrested him on suspicion of a breach of the peace; he spent the night in a cell at Cardiff Bay police station; and was released the next morning without charge.
He saw his aunt, Zainab Hassan, and uncle, Sulieman Mohamed, after he was released.
“He came over to our house. As soon as I opened the door – literally I was shocked,” said Sulieman.
“His upper lip was completely opened. He had blood all over his top, his track-suit bottoms.”
Zainab added: “He had bruises on his arms. On his torso when he lifted his jumper, all you could see was just marks – red, black even. It was shocking.”
“I said nephew what happened to you? He’s like it’s the police. I said how and why? He said “I dunno uncle”,” said Sulieman.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating his death and the actions of six officers are being examined for alleged misconduct.
A post mortem examination failed to establish the cause of Mr Hassan’s death. The IOPC says its investigation is nearing completion; and his inquest is due to take place in May 2023.
South Wales Police said it was unable to comment on specific points due to the ongoing IOPC investigation, which it says it is fully co-operating with. It also acknowledged the impact of Mr Hassan’s death on his family, friends and wider community; and said their thoughts and condolences are with them.
Mouayed Bashir died after police came to his house in Maesglas, Newport, in February 2021. His family say they were trying to get an ambulance to attend because Mouayed was having a mental health crisis – but instead the police arrived.
“He was expecting paramedics, but instead police officers in black uniform with brutal force coming in,” said Mouayed’s brother, Mohannad Bashir.
Mouayed had been stabbed three weeks before his death; and when police came to his home he still had a large, deep wound to his leg.
Mohannad added: “When the police restrained him they handcuffed him, they bound his legs and thighs. My dad was saying to the police officers “he’s already wounded. He’s bleeding again from his thigh. Please let go of his handcuffs and let go of his legs.”
A post mortem examination failed to establish Mouayed Bashir’s cause of death. The IOPC says it’s finalising its investigation into his death; and its publication will depend on discussions with the coroner. His inquest is due to be held in July.
Gwent Police said it was unable to address specific questions until the conclusion of the IOPC investigation and inquest. It pointed out that no officers have been served misconduct notices.
The force also said a risk assessment is carried out when receiving a 999 call and police officers may be asked to support paramedics. The ambulance service said it was sorry its response fell below the expectations of the Bashir family.
Mouayed Bashir’s family are planning to mark the anniversary of his death next month in Newport.
Mohannad said: “If we don’t fight and stand up for other people, for what happened to Mouayed, there’s just going to be another case. We want to do our part. We want to do this for the sake of Mouayed as well.”
The family of Mohamud Hassan will have to wait another 16 months to find out the full facts of his death.
“I can’t remember anything else about my nephew. All those lovely memories I had of him, it’s like they’ve gone. They’ve been wiped out. And I don’t have any answers. I don’t think any words can describe the pain.”
Watch BBC Wales Investigates: Death of Two Black Men: Police in the Spotlight on BBC One Wales at 19:30 GMT on Monday 24 January and afterwards on BBC iPlayer.
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