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Council’s third sector contributions in chaos

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thirdsectorcarmsA REPORT being considered by one of Carmarthenshire County Council’s own scrutiny committees has laid bare the extent of the authority’s confusion over exactly where money goes which is intended for collaborative projects with and grants to third sector organisations.

Citing duplication and incoherence in the council’s own approach and blaming, in part, the over bureaucratic systems insisted upon by the Welsh Government, the most startling part of the report reveals discrepancies between what has been reported as third sector spend, what the council’s own information is telling them about that spend and what organisations are actually receiving from the authority.

The failure to control third sector spending featured prominently in the recent court case involving disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman. While there is no allegation of corrupt practices relating to third sector spending at Carmarthenshire County Council, close scrutiny is bound to follow as to who is benefiting from the Council’s largesse and exactly what their relationship is with different Council departments.

The report also reveals that:

  • The ‘management’ of all these funds has led to some organisations receiving multiple funding from departments across the Authority.
  • A number of the organisations operate under aliases making it difficult to understand the whole funding picture to them.

During a TIC Programme Board meeting in September 2013 Wendy Walters, then Head of Economic Development, was asked to investigate how much money the Authority spent annually on the Third Sector community. This was as a result of anecdotal information received about a lack of co-ordination of spend and strategic focus in this area.

A report presented in April 2014, revealed that in one division of the county council alone there was:

  • A number of ‘historical’ reasons for relationship and spend with some external organisations with little or no current appropriate rationale.
  • Lack of knowledge and understanding across Divisions with respect to ’joining up’ of spend, i.e. two or more Divisions spending with same providers, operating separate and not standardised contracting, administrative and monitoring processes, resulting in duplication of effort, inconsistencies, etc.
  • Evidence of 3rd sector organisations operating across the county with the same or very similar remits, however contracting separately with various Council Depts. Potential for efficiencies, by removing duplication of negotiating, commissioning, contracting, monitoring and evaluating tasks within both CCC and 3rd sector organisations.
  • Some evidence of CCC managers attempting to encourage and support the 3rd sector partners to engage in collaborative activities, to deliver better ‘joined up’ services. This work is meeting with considerable resistance due to the effects of funding systems that encourage fragmentation.

Initial information suggested that the authority facilitated funding in excess of £19m to the sector during 2013/14 and that the figure was likely to be similar in 14/15. There were in excess of 1,000 organisations and individuals registered as being in receipt of some form of funding from the authority. This ranged in size from grants of less than £100 to over £1m.

At its meeting on the 20th March 2015, the Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee unanimously resolved that “a report relating to the work undertaken in relation to its spend on third sector services be provided at the next meeting.”

That report reveals that at the start of the project £19,217,800 was paid to voluntary and community organisations, this was during the 2013/14 financial year. The figure for 14/15 was £16,858,803.

In relation to those cuts, the report reveals the reduction target for this project is £1m during 2015/16

Included within the recent round of budget consultations were a number of recommendations relating to finances within the Third Sector. This equated to £608,000 in 15/16, £408,000 for 16/17 and £179,000 for 17/18.

In addition to the figures above the officer working group have been reviewing all contracts and in consultation with the organisations have identified further areas of reductions.

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New ward extension opens at Werndale Hospital

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WERNDALE Hospital opens its £1millon ward extension, featuring a suite of new spacious patient en-suite rooms and additional light and airy ward space for new nurses’ stations, new technology and medical equipment, in pleasant and comfortable spaces. 

Werndale is part of Circle Health Group, the UK’s largest provider of private healthcare. The group is carrying out a £125 million redevelopment programme across its 50 hospitals in the UK.

Werndale has a strong history in the village of Bancyfelin, where is has been serving the local communities of Wales for over 32 years.

James Davies, Wales and Scarlets rugby player, from Bancyfelin, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening on Monday 1st August. His nickname “Cubby”, is reference to his brother’s nickname, “Fox”; this refers to the Fox & Hounds pub their parents ran in Bancyfelin, the village where they grew up. Staff and consultants were given the chance to view the new extension, with a small gathering to mark the occasion and celebrate all the hard work that has gone into this project over the last 12 months.

Jacky Jones, Executive Director of Werndale Hospital said: “The investment programme is an exciting opportunity to expand what we can offer to patients at Werndale. Our staff and consultants are delighted with this expansion which will allow us to meet the private healthcare needs of patients and families in Wales and will decrease waiting times which will positively impact the patient’s experience. Having the new patient rooms here increases our ward capacity by 20%, it is a great investment”.

Gaynor Llewellyn, Director of Clinical Services said: “At Werndale we are committed to continuous improvement of clinical facilities and services. We continually invest in the hospital so that we can offer our patients and consultants reassurance when they visit us for treatments”.

Werndale Hospital is seeing increased demand for its services across all specialities particularly orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, and general surgery. Nearly 4,000 patients had surgery at Werndale Hospital, Bancyfelin during 2021 and the new investment will enable ward capacity to be increased by 25 per cent.

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M4 closed westbound following lorry fire near Swansea

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A SECTION of the M4 near Swansea was shut on Monday (Aug 8) due to a vehicle fire.

The westbound section of the motorway, between junction 47 at Penllergaer and junction 48 at Hendy closed.

Emergency services were called to the scene, and there was queuing traffic in the area.

Traffic monitoring service Inrix reported: “M4 Westbound closed, queueing traffic due to vehicle fire between J47 A48 (Penllergaer / Swansea West Services) and J48 A4138 Pontardulais Road”

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Police appeal after Llanelli assault: victim required hospital treatment

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DYFED POWYS POLICE is investigating an assault which occurred on Regalia Terrace, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire at about 12.05am, Sunday 3rd July.

The victim required hospital treatment.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the person in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the person is, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DP-20220703-011

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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