COUNCILLORS have encouraged partners of the Public Service Board (PSB) to commit to webcasting its meetings.
At a meeting of the council on Thursday, December 8, councillors discussed a notice of motion from Cllr Jacob Williams which called for the council to expect other Pembrokeshire PSB participants to commit to live-streaming and archiving the PSB’s meetings.
Cllr Williams claimed that the PSB was clouded in mystery but that was later rejected by the leader.
He said: “I’m fully aware that this council has not got the power to compel the Public Services Board to webcast its meetings. I understand that some meetings are held here and some are held in premises that don’t have webcasting facilities.
“Some of the feedback given from the PSB who considered this was embarrassing for them that they would be afraid if they were on webcam, they would feel hindered in their ability to debate.”
The motion was also discussed by the Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny and the Chairman of that committee, Cllr David Bryan, told council: “I fully agree with the principle of webcasting; when we brought it to PCC, it was superb. What I would say is that before we vote on this, [note that] the only place with webcasting facilities is County Hall. If every meeting were to be held here, it would give the false perception to the public that we are leading on this – we are not; this is an equal partnership.
“The PSB have discussed whether to webcast meetings and they decided against that. As just one partner, I feel it would be arrogant of Pembrokeshire County Council to insist that they should be webcasting their meetings.
“The whole purpose of the Partnerships O&S committee is to scrutinise the work of the PSB. Our meetings are webcast; if anyone is interested in the openness and transparency, they are welcome to watch or come along.”
Council Leader Jamie Adams said that the PSB was not clouded in mystery and added they were very pleased to welcome all of its partners.
“The work of the PSB is quite challenging currently, as we grapple with a new identity from the local service board and undertake responsibilities in terms of the Well-being of Future Generations Act,” the leader added.
“I understand Cllr Williams’ aspiration to have meetings webcast and I believe that opportunity will be undertaken in the not too distant future. I think it would be wrong at this juncture to impose our view on that process. I’m absolutely certain that the desire that was expressed in the last meeting of the PSB is that of wanting to be more accountable and more front-facing across the county.”
A number of the reasons given by the PSB for not wanting to webcast its meetings were similar to those given when Pembrokeshire County Council first considered webcasting and a number of members picked up on that.
Cllr Tony Wilcox said: “The clue is in the name: Public Service Board. There are many people that want to see this in action. We’ve got nothing to hide; these people aren’t shrinking violets and they’re there because they want to serve. Let the people see who they are. The clue is in the name; it’s public.”
Cllr Bob Kilmister said he was surprised that Cllr Bryan had attempted to re-write what had been said at the O&S meeting and added: “There is nothing in the notice of motion at all that puts the PSB in a position where it can’t hold meetings outside of this council. Some of things put forward are total red herrings.”
Cllr Tom Tudor said he fully supported the idea, saying it is something that should be encouraged and added that a group of people in his ward even get together to watch council meetings.
Cllr Mike Evans pointed out that minutes of the PSB meetings are not published until the quarter after the previous meeting, adding that this was very difficult for accountability.
Council Leader Jamie Adams said he would support Cllr Williams if the word ‘expect’ in the notice of motion was changed to ‘encouraged’, which he was happy to amend.
The amended motion was supported by a clear majority.
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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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