JAMIE ADAMS is confident and well-briefed – if a little tired after a night looking after his young twins.
Discussing the Welsh Government’s plans to scrap smaller authorities and merge them he offers a robust critique and criticism of Cardiff Bay’s plans. “While the process has been going on for some time, it seems like the Welsh Government has now come to a snap decision. Very often the justification for it is the fact that they consider small authorities are unable to meet their statutory obligation.
The First Minister has pointed out that six authorities have been in special measures. But the credibility of his position is somewhat undermined by the recent good news in Pembrokeshire and also in Anglesey and Rhondda Cynon Taf. “The obvious person to consult with when you are considering change is the person affected by the changes you propose. The Welsh Government has set out its stall and its aspiration. I do not for one minute think that is the finished article. The Welsh Government will have to give evidence to justify its position. “With respect, the Welsh Government has to understand the pressures and complexities of local government. I pay tribute to the staff of local government who deliver critical services to the people of their counties.
Against that, I set the fact that apart from a few direct services, such as the Trunk Road Agency, the Welsh Government delivers no direct services. If you take an overarching view like the WG has done, it is difficult to understand the detail of the processes you are trying to change. “The Welsh Government has a tendency to categorise councils in one of two ways. We are badged as a rural authority but we have pockets of urbanization and real deprivation. Nevertheless we are obliged to deliver services over a wide geographical area.
The details of service delivery are not well understood by Welsh Government.” And in Pembrokeshire? “Pembrokeshire is unique in many ways and we are often accused by the WG of being different. I don’t mind being different. We are very resilient as a county and as a people. We have a sense of community spirit and identity that is second to none. “I would fight in the last ditch for Pembrokeshire.
I believe we have the ability and talent within this authority and within Pembrokeshire to deliver local services for Pembrokeshire. We have had a glowing report from the Wales Audit Office on our progress and performance this year, education is moving forward. “But it is not only about the administrative side of things, this Council. It is something more than that. The brand of Pembrokeshire, for tourism, business, agriculture and produce is extremely strong. In most parts of the UK the Pembrokeshire name is synonymous with those and it is hard to think of another county with such a strong brand identity.” Is Williams a challenge to local democracy? “The proposal from Welsh Government does not include a proposal for district councils and there is a danger of making decision-making too remote from the people we serve.
There would be real issues with that. Look at newspapers, for example, if the decisions are made miles away how are you going to be able to hold the decision-makers to account? “We have sixty councillors who are out, about and contactable within their communities. They can be held to account. There is a considerable advantage to the fact that if you make a decision you believe to be right but is unpopular then you can be voted out. So, if I thought I did the right thing and lost an election, I would not be delighted but I could at least say that I did the right thing as I saw it. “But many professional politicians are in the position that they want to cling to their livelihoods.
We have an increasing number of democratic representatives who have not worked outside of politics and they are remote from those they represent. Increasing numbers of Assembly Members in Cardiff Bay is something we need to be wary. I question the need for additional assembly members. “Having said that, there are in my opinion too many county councillors. It was very strange thing to go so far down the process of re-assessing the number of county councillors and then changing direction. Discussing the complexities of local government funding, Jamie Adams believes that economies can be made by reducing bureaucracy: “My outlook is simple.
I want to deliver the best services we can within the budget we have. “There is a need for the process of funding services to be streamlined by the Welsh Government. There are around 120 grants for education from the Welsh Government. Now those schemes may have been set up with the best of intentions, but it increases the burden of bureaucracy. You have people in councils applying for these grants and another tier of people at the Welsh Government administering them.
So much of the funding that should flow down is instead being filtered down and sticking to the sides. “Local Government is far better placed to understand the needs of their communities and address those needs as we can provide a little bit of initiative or entrepreneurship rather than just follow a prescription from Cardiff Bay. In a way, I am frustrated by what can appear like box-ticking, but I know there have to be checks and balances to ensure we provide value for money. “The relationship with Welsh Government must be developed to build trust to allow them to consider more bespoke ways of delivering services with the funding provided.
The governance arrangements could be simplified. The simplification can begin between the WG and us, and the WAO could oversee and verify the process to ensure our services are continually improving.” Addressing the challenge of potential further administrative upheaval, Jamie Adams responds: “I think Williams has been a long time in the coming from Welsh Labour. It is a reaction to some very disappointing results for Labour in 2008’s elections. We are now in a different place in the local government family.
We don’t have that many disagreements, really and Labour functions in coalition in councils across Wales. “The proof of the pudding is the fact that no other parties in the Welsh Government are signing up to Williams. It is untested that Welsh Labour’s proposals will either improve services or reduce costs. And I am not convinced that it is best to sign up to a process that can show neither of those things. “That said, I am not afraid of change. I am very relaxed that in the future a council such as Pembrokeshire will not provide all of the services we do at the moment. But in terms of being held to account for their delivery, you have to have a touchable, reachable democratic body. As a council, perhaps we do not need all the tools in the box.
Greater fluidity about service delivery might be a way of reducing costs or delivering them more efficiently. “We already work in consortia with other councils to support improvements in our schools. We work on support and challenge with Carmarthenshire for our schools and we are already grouping together with five other counties within ERW, the regional education authority. We are already working together. But strangely, the Welsh Government broke down the transport service back to individual authorities and that seems inconsistent with what it is now saying about wanting to join things together to save money.
“It’s a very difficult thing to resolve as no evidence has been put forward to support what is simply an assertion made by the WG. The Williams Report provides NO cost/benefit analysis for anything and to proceed without it is pure folly. It grabs the headlines to reduce the number of CEO’s. As an easy sell, what could be better? But it is an argument that is not followed through. With Dyfed previously we ended up with a lot of substructures and increased bureaucracy and any savings could be swallowed up by that factor.
“Looking at Williams: we are potentially facing a 9 to 12% rise in Council Tax depending on whether we are merged with Ceredigion or a reconstituted Dyfed. People in Pembrokeshire are worried about the potential rise in Council Tax and do not see why they should pay more for their services. And I agree with them.” Looking at the number of controversies involving it, is Pembrokeshire County Council worth saving? “I appreciate that people are frustrated with what is reported in the papers about the Council. Some of our problems have arisen from the way we have dealt with issues in the past and a lot of them have arisen from the last term of council. “In terms of the evidence, I can say look where we were in 2012 and where we are now.
We have had a great outcome from Estyn and a very positive annual assessment from the WAO. We have renewed confidence in our governance arrangements and in scrutiny to hold the executive to account. “We have the ability to plan for the future. In that future, we will not look as we do now. We will have to change to reflect the cuts in budgets that are likely to continue for some time ahead. But in terms of our ability to deliver good quality services, we are beyond a doubt well placed to do that. “Where we have to work hard is to develop trust amongst ourselves: between councillors and officers and amongst councillors. We have to ensure our focus is on managing the budget, delivering services and not scoring political points for the sake of it. With that in mind, I am confident for the future of Pembrokeshire.”
Dyfed-Powys Police Prepares for Royal Welsh Show
DYFED-POWYS POLICE is inviting Royal Welsh Show visitors to their stand to find out more about what the force is doing to protect the public over the summer months and beyond.
The stand, located at E340 behind the main grandstand, will be bringing to life key pledges and crime prevention messages from the Chief Constable’s Police and Crime Delivery plan, which sets out how police will tackle crime and keep people safe.
The force will be showcasing their summer campaign, called #EnjoyDPP, which is about helping people who live in, work in and visit the counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys respect those areas and prevent crime from occurring.
Rural-trained officers from Dyfed-Powys Police, Gwent Police and North Wales Police will be offering practical advice, at the police stand. They will also be on patrol throughout the showground listening to any concerns from the farming community. They will be accompanied by other officers, staff, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Special Constables and Police Cadets.
Specialist officers will also be speaking to landlords about County Lines drugs, and the signs to look out for that might show a tenant is being exploited by gangs, in a practice known as ‘cuckooing’.
Superintendent of Powys, Ifan Charles, said: “The Royal Welsh Show is the biggest event of the year we police in Dyfed-Powys, and also where we concentrate huge efforts on engaging positively with visitors to the show at our police stand.
“Come and say hello, meet our experienced and knowledgeable officers and staff and find out more about our commitment to keeping all of our communities safe by giving people the advice and confidence to protect themselves effectively.”
Visitors will be able to explore police vehicles, chat to Tarian colleagues about cyber-crime, meet a police dog, dress up as a police officer or Police Community Support Officer and solve a crime using real police techniques. Venture inside, relax on a hay bale and have a chat with experts on issues including rural crime, cyber-crime, issues that affect children and so much more.
Key partners will also be based at the stand including Crimestoppers, Modern Slavery group, Tarian and GoSafe.
There will also be a special children’s corner where young people can have their fingerprints taken, colour a police-themed picture or dress-up as a police officer or PCSO.
The Police and Crime Commissioner has a host of activities planned throughout the week. In addition to engaging with our communities, he is particularly keen to hear from victims of rural crime about their experiences when contacting police.
Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “The Royal Welsh Show is a great opportunity for me to engage with the public and gather their views on specific policing matters. This year, my team will be at the showground speaking to members of the public about rural crime and police contact. Please head over to speak to my team so that we can hear your views.”
The force is also offering advice for people heading to the Royal Welsh Show, including home security, personal safety and advice for people towing caravans.
Before you leave the house, take a photograph of your child. You’ll then know what they’re wearing if they become lost.
Write your contact number on a slip of paper and put it on your child’s person.
Before you head inside, double check your vehicle is locked and any valuables are safely out of sight.
. Lock your home, vehicles and outbuildings before you leave.
. Take your keys with you.
. Switch on any CCTV or alarm systems.
. Keep an eye on your neighbours’ properties while they are away.
. Check your driving licence. Do you have the correct category to tow?
. Number plates must be fitted to the rear of the caravan. They must comply with the regulations and not . be hand-written in pen on caravan OR written on a piece of paper or cardboard
. Ensure brakes and external lights are working correctly
. Check wheels, tyres, wheel bearings and suspensions are in good condition. This is particularly important if the caravan has been stationary for some time
.Tyres should be all the same type and size and have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. Also check the pressure
For more advice visit this website: https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/advice-and-training/advice-for-beginners/
There is more information for visitors on the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show’s website: http://www.rwas.wales/royal-welsh-show/
For updates on our activity follow us on Twitter @DyfedPowys, or like our page on Facebook.
Local farmer sentenced for animal welfare offences
ON JULY 10, Dylan Williams of Neuaddlwyd Uchaf, Neuaddlwyd, Ciliau Aeron appeared before magistrates at Aberystwyth Justice Centre and was sentenced for animal by-products and animal welfare offences.
Mr Williams, 47, had previously appeared at the Aberystwyth Magistrates Court where he entered pleas of guilty to the four offences brought before the court by Ceredigion County Council.
On 11 April 2018, 47 sheep carcasses in various states of decomposition were found on Mr Williams’ land, and these were accessible to live sheep and their young lambs. This formed the basis of the offence brought under The Animal By-Products Regulations which requires carcasses to be disposed of without undue delay, due to the risk to animal and public health.
The majority of the flock inspected on the day were seen with severe wool loss and irritated skin which are signs of sheep scab. Sheep scab is a debilitating condition which can lead to weight loss and thickened skin with scabs due to the intense, uncomfortable itching caused by the condition.
There were three separate offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, two of which were for causing unnecessary suffering to two ewes. One ewe was suffering from severe weakness due to scab infestation. Another ewe was found unconscious on the land with her intestines protruding from her flank, likely due to predation as she had also suffered from scab over a prolonged period.
Another offence related to Mr Williams’ failure to ensure the welfare needs of his flock were met by his failure to properly inspect the flock and to manage and treat the sheep scab effectively.
Magistrates sentenced Mr Williams to a community order with a requirement that he carried out 250 hours of unpaid work in the community, he was also ordered to pay the investigation and legal costs of the council which amounted to £1648.
Alun Williams, Ceredigion County Council’s Corporate Lead Officer with responsibility for Policy and Performance said, “The council is deeply saddened that yet another serious animal health offence has been committed within the county. It is to the credit of our staff that they have undertaken a successful prosecution of this case.
Our animal welfare officers and our legal team had no option but to carry the prosecution due to the seriousness of the offences committed. I would urge individual farmers who are facing difficulties in caring for their stock to seek advice from the County Council and the Farming Unions.”
KT Tunstall and “ABBA” Rock the Castle
OVER 2,000 people descended on Cardigan Castle on the weekend of 12 -13 July as the live season oF events for summer 2019 kicked off in fine style with ‘Thank you for the Music: A Celebration of ABBA” on Friday 12, and a sold out KT Tunstall headlining on Saturday 13th with support from DJ Wozza Woz.
This is now the fifth year of the hugely successful partnership between Theatr Mwldan and Cardigan Castle. Past years have seen artists such as Bellowhead, 9Bach, Tinariwen, From The Jam, Talisman, Dreadzone, Gwenno and Only Men Aloud all play the site of the first Eisteddfod. KT Tunstall’s show night was the second time the venue has reached full capacity after Bellowhead played to a full house in 2015.
Cardigan Castle director Jac Davies said: “It’s a real coup for the whole town and it shows the ambition and appetite we have to make the castle central to attracting people to the area.”
Dilwyn Davies, CEO at Theatr Mwldan adds: “Every year these events are gathering momentum. They clearly provoke quite an emotional response in those who attend. The obvious economic benefits to the town are one thing, but what’s also so tangible is the sense of pride and joy that is building in Cardigan, and seeing the community coming together like this to really enjoy themselves is just amazing. We’re truly thankful and overwhelmed at how supportive people have been of these events, and we’re determined that we’ll build on this success well into the future.
“The production set-up we have is phenomenal, and we are fast developing a reputation for a quality experience for artists to play, and of course the setting and the atmosphere is so special – the castle has its own magic.
“The arts and music scene locally is more vibrant than ever before. The streets are busy, the bars are busy, we’ve seen a number of new eateries and independent shops coming in to town and there is a real vibe about the place.
“Mwldan has been developing a reputation on the international music scene for over a decade with our external music productions and our record label ‘bendigedig’, ran in partnership with ARC Music International Ltd. These are very exciting times for us, and for Cardigan as a town, and we will have another major announcement coming in the coming weeks. Cardigan is definitely on a roll!”
The next castle events include Billy Bragg on Wednesday July 24, The Magic of Motown on Friday July 26, and BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music’s Huw Stephens presents Charlotte Church’s Pop Dungeon with support from Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard and Adwaith on Saturday July 27.
Tickets are available from Theatr Mwldan’s box office on 01239 621 200 or online at www.mwldan.co.uk
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