Officer ‘presiding over the ministry of cuts’ approved
PEMBROKESHIRE C OUNTY COUNCIL has approved a new post entitled Head of Transformation.
However, at last Thursday’s council meeting (Dec 8), many councillors criticised the move while Cllr Jacob Williams said he did not support a ‘person presiding over the ministry of cuts’.
Some councillors said there was a need to change the way things were done and that the council was in need of a shake-up.
The Council also approved a new post of Deputy Chief Education Officer while a third post, Head of Adult Care, will be discussed by the Senior Staff Committee.
Council Leader Jamie Adams said: “Consideration has been given to the fact that there are demands being placed on officers within the council who perhaps go above and beyond the call of duty on some occasions.
“The Head of Transformation will enable capacity within the organisation. I believe that the ability is in council but I have questioned whether that capacity is always available to us and that’s as a result of significant budgetary cuts within senior management of the authority.
“We have before us the opportunity to consider a post which will lead that transformation agenda from within. We know our strengths and weaknesses, they’ve been well identified, externally by the report from PWC, but also are informed by our public engagement opportunities, engagement with stakeholders.
“We are half way through taking out between £80-100million of financial capacity within the organisation and we are still expected to improve standards and we are still expected to provide the services that people value in Pembrokeshire.
“We cannot simply continue to salami-slice our budget and there has been a fair acknowledgement of that in terms of members’ seminars and externally in discussions with Wales Audit Office. We are at a new juncture and I believe we do need focus and capacity in terms of ensuring that we have a lead role within the authority to take that forward.”
Cllr Tessa Hodgson said: “I spoke against this appointment for a Head of Transformation at the last meeting (of the Senior Staff Committee) and I’m afraid nothing since then has convinced me to change my mind.
“I think the people of Pembrokeshire will find it very difficult to understand why, in the face of deep budget cuts, the best that this administration can come up with is to appoint yet another highly paid manager, when they are facing cuts to their frontline services.
“We already have a team of highly paid directors, heads of service and departmental managers who should surely be tasked with making these savings in their departments. They are the ones who know best how their teams work, what their customer expectations are and where savings could be made or revenue increased.
“The salary advertised is up to £100,000; this is bad enough but when you add in the company car, pension, the admin team that a job of this stature comes with, the final figure will be much higher.”
Cllr Jonathan Nutting said: “I’ve got a certain feeling, yes there is need for more staff within the education side. We’re looking at two posts here, not just one, the Head of Transformation and a Deputy Chief Education Officer. We have to explain to our schools and our children how we are using our money and if it is transformational, the clue is in the name, then possibly, yes it has a place, but two posts at once seems to be a bit over the top to me and I would suggest one and see if the other is necessary.”
Cllr Keith Lewis added: “We meet in seminar to discuss a way forward in terms of the pressures that face this authority and we agree that we’ve come to the end of slicing bits off budgets and we say we need to think outside the box, we need to be inventive, and here we are with an idea before us, this is not a full term appointment, it’s for two years, where we create a situation where somebody can have oversight over the whole organisation, I think it’s a sound move.
“We can totally change the way in which Pembrokeshire Council County works, reducing our cost base and hopefully improving our level of service. Let’s adopt the same view in Council as that which we give to our officers in seminar. To identify and isolate this post as being a waste of money is very negative of us.”
Cllr Jacob Williams said: “I don’t think this sends out the right message. The suggestion that we could create over a £100,000 salary, I just don’t support. What it would be is a person presiding over the ministry of cuts. I don’t support the Head of Transformation creation and there are two entirely different roles and I think it’s been deliberately designed to bundle them all into one.”
Cllr Viv Stoddart pointed out that two roles, Heads of Housing and Revenue, where recently combined and asked why this wouldn’t be possible for the role of Head of Transformation.
Cllr David Simpson said the council needed a shake-up but said he didn’t want to spend £100,000 on creating a new post.
Chief Executive Ian Westley said that something radical had to change and that in his opinion this would be the best £100,000 the authority has ever spent.
Cllr Mike Stoddart added: “The leader said ‘we need somebody to think outside the box’. Is he suggesting that the present directors can’t think outside the box? The Cabinet should be driving this transformation process.”
Cllr Jacob Williams had tried to get each post voted on separately and also called for a recorded vote for the Head of Transformation but that was not supported.
After a lengthy debate, the two new posts were approved by a majority.
The Range’s Swansea Store Shortlisted for ‘Best Christmas Display’
Christmas has arrived early for The Range stores in Wales, boasting gigantic displays of all-things festive! The Range is well known for going all out during the Christmas season to create a fun and magical experience full of trees, lights, decorations and much more for their customers to enjoy and this year is no exception. The Range in Swansea surpassed expectations with a display so great, it’s left them shortlisted for ‘Best Christmas Display’ out of all The Range’s 182 stores.
Local coronavirus restrictions imposed to control outbreaks in South Wales
Coronavirus laws are being tightened in four more Welsh authorities – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport – following a sharp rise in cases, Health Minister Vaughan Gething today announced.
The new measures will come into force at 6pm on Tuesday 22 September 2020, to protect people’s health and control the spread of the virus in the four local authority areas.
The new restrictions will apply to everyone living in Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport:
People will not be allowed to enter or leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education;
People will only be able to meet people they don’t live with outdoors for the time being. They will not be able to form, or be in, extended households;
All licensed premises will have to close at 11pm;
Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public areas – as is the case across Wales.
From 6pm on Tuesday 22 September, the requirement for all licensed premises to close at 11pm will also be extended to Caerphilly borough.
Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
“Following the decision to place additional coronavirus restrictions in place in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, we have seen a worrying and rapid rise in cases in four other south Wales council areas – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport.
“In many cases, this is linked to people socialising indoors without social distancing. We are seeing evidence of coronavirus spreading. We need to take action to control and, ultimately, reduce its spread and protect people’s health.
“It’s always a difficult decision to introduce restrictions but coronavirus has not gone away – it is still circulating in communities across Wales and, as we are seeing in parts of South Wales, small clusters can quickly cause real issues in local communities.
“We need everyone’s help to bring coronavirus under control. We need everyone to pull together and to follow the measures which are there to protect you and your loved ones.”
The restrictions are being introduced following a rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in coronavirus, which have been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from summer holidays overseas.
The Welsh Government will call an urgent meeting of all local authority, health board and police forces from Bridgend to the English border tomorrow to discuss the wider situation in South Wales and whether further measures are needed across the region to protect people’s health.
The new local restrictions measures will be kept under regular review. They will be enforced by local authorities and by the police.
Keep Wales safe by:
Always keeping your distance
Washing your hands regularly
Working from home wherever you can
Following any local restrictions
Following the rules about meeting people
Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.
Welsh legislation will restrict those travelling from hotspot areas
MARK Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, has today announced legislation which will restrict those coming from coronavirus hotspot’s from travelling to Wales.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has refused to impose rules which prohibit those from areas where the infection rate is high from entering low virus rate areas’s.
Mr Drakeford has made two requests to the Prime Minister requesting to impose rules which will mean those from high virus areas in England be prohibited from travelling to Wales, a request which has been denied by Mr Johnson.
The powers set by Mr Drakeford will come into force by the end of the week, unless Boris Johnson takes action sooner.
Speaking at the Plenary today, Mr Drakeford made the announcement, stating if Mr Johnson does not reply to his request by Friday then The Welsh Government will bring in legislation to restrict travel from those in English lockdown areas travelling to Wales.
Mr Drakeford said this was not a case of all those from England being restricted travel to Wales, just hotspot areas.
He said: “Evidence from public health professionals suggests coronavirus is moving from east to west across the UK and across Wales. As a general rule, it is concentrating in urban areas and then spreading to more sparsely populated areas as a result of people travelling.
“Much of Wales in now subject to local restriction measures because levels of the virus have risen and people living in those areas are not able to travel beyond their county boundary without a reasonable excuse. This is designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK.
“We are preparing to take this action to prevent people who live in areas where there are higher Covid infection rates across the UK from travelling to Wales and bringing the virus with them.
“I am determined to keep Wales safe.”
The legislation, which is understood to come into force Friday, October 16 at 6pm, will mean those travelling to Wales from areas of England which are classed as virus hotspot’s will be restricted.
The new legislation also restricts those travelling into Wales from high virus prevalence areas from Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament – Paul Davies MS – has rounded on the First Minister over a ban on people entering Wales from England, and the Labour Party’s inability or unwillingness to publish comprehensive data proving that transmission rates are accelerating due to travel.
Mr Davies took the First Minister to task during Plenary today (October 14), and referred to a statement made by the leader of the Labour Party on September 23 when he said that the Welsh Government was not seeing any spikes at all in infection due to travel and tourism.
Mr Davies said that the people of Wales deserve to have sight of the data that underpins the Welsh Labour-led Government’s position on this matter, so that they can be confident that the Government’s actions are proportionate to the threat of the virus in their area.
Mr Davies also referred to a paper that accompanied the First Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister yesterday, a paper – that was not peer-reviewed – that confirms the data “…does not constitute definitive proof” in favour of a travel ban.
Mr Davies said: “The First Minister and his Government have acted rashly and without examining a range of other factors before a conclusion on whether to impose a travel ban or not is reached, while at the same time seemingly ignoring the fact that transmission rates in relation to travel had already peaked in August and September.
“It is incumbent on the First Minister to explain just why he has chosen to act in this way, and what supporting evidence he and his Ministers have seen to justify a ban and then publish it so it can be properly scrutinised.
“If he cannot or will not, then he must review and rescind this ban immediately.”
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