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Scrutiny row engulfs Labour leader

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A DEBATE on a routine agenda item saw Labour Group leader Rob James take a major hit to his credibility.

The item before Wednesday’s Full Council (Oct 9) and was an apparently anodyne item of business relating to the governance arrangements for the Swansea Bay City Deal.

Emlyn Dole opened the matter briefly, plainly anticipating no substantial intervention. After his brief remarks, Chair Kevin Madge appeared ready to move the business on when Cllr James caught his eye.

The Labour leader chairs the City Deal Scrutiny Committee.

He raised three issues relating to the recommendations and suggested amendments to each. Two of them were superficially anodyne and related to quorum arrangements at meetings and the transaction of business. The third related to an unspecified ‘indemnity’ for the City Deal’s Programme Director.

After some tart comments about Carmarthenshire County Council’s chequered history with such indemnities, which include retaining an unlawful indemnity within the Council constitution, Cllr James said that the points he raised were agreed by the Joint Scrutiny which he chaired and should be incorporated into the text of the draft agreements.

Cllr Emlyn Dole reacted with a combination of surprise and (more predictably) outrage.

He claimed to have received no written notification of the issues Rob James claimed were agreed by the Scrutiny Committee. As far as he was concerned, no issues arose from scrutiny which would affect the reframed agreement and nothing substantive had ever been advanced concerning those points raised by Cllr James. He added a quick jibe, saying that the proposals before the Council were agreed by the City Deal Committee in July and Cllr James had ample time to raise the issue in writing since then.

Undaunted, the Labour leader stuck to his guns and insisted that it was only right that scrutiny had a role. He repeated that the amendments he put forward had been agreed by the scrutiny committee.

At that point, advice was sought from Wendy Waters, the Council’s Chief Executive.

She confirmed that late on Tuesday afternoon a letter from Cllr James, signed as Chair of the Scrutiny Committee had been received by the Council.

Head of Legal, Linda Rees Jones confirmed that shortly after the letter arrived, raising the points made by Cllr James, draft minutes of the relevant meeting had also been received.

Cllr Dole said he had not received those documents and a row between him and Cllr James over who knew what and when broke out.

While Emlyn Dole accused Cllr James of holding up the process, again and again, Cllr James said that scrutiny was essential and could not be ignored.
At that point, Cllr Darren Price intervened. Cllr Price is also a member of the Joint Scrutiny Committee.

He told councillors that not only was his recollection of what happened at the scrutiny significantly different from Cllr James’, but also that he had not received the draft minutes sent to the Council. He said he had briefly checked his emails during the meeting and could find no trace of either the agreed text of a letter or the minutes. He said he was relying on his own memory, but did not recollect what Cllr James said happened as being a settled decision and more of a point of discussion during the committee meeting.

He was soon followed by Cllr Giles Morgan, who rose to his feet carrying his tablet computer.

Cllr Morgan could never be confused for a fan of the Labour leader.

He told the meeting that he had checked his own notes of the scrutiny committee, of which he was also a member. Cllr Morgan said his notes did not agree with the interpretation Cllr James placed on events at the meeting. He said there had been a discussion on the individual points, but no resolution relating to the committee making amendments to the documents before the Council.

The intervention by Cllrs Morgan and Price left the Labour leader with nowhere to go. He replied that he was being subjected to a personal attack on his credibility and would, therefore, abstain when the motion regarding City Deal governance went to a vote.

The substantive agreement was approved by the Council.

A wounded Cllr James might now face a considerable struggle to regain his credibility. Much will depend on him proving what he said the scrutiny committee agreed is what committee members actually approved.

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Detectives ask for help following an assault outside a Llanelli bar

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DETECTIVES from Dyfed-Powys Police are looking to speak to several men to help with its enquiries following an assault outside a Llanelli bar.

At around 3am on Monday, 29 August, a man was attacked outside the Met Bar in Station Road. He was left with a fractured eye socket, cuts and bite marks.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org. Quote reference: DP-20220829-062.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Road closed after man suffers serious injury in Burry Port

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OFFICERS from Dyfed-Powys Police are investigating after a man suffered a serious injury in Station Road, Burry Port.

Officers were called to a report that the man had suffered an injury at around 10.45pm on Saturday, 24 September. He has been taken to hospital.

A 39-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of assault. He remains in police custody.

A road closure is in place for scene preservation and is likely to remain for a number of hours.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org. Quote reference: DP-20220924-360.

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