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54 Letters


THE HERALD FRIDAY JANUARY 13 2017


Follow us on Twitter @pembsherald


BLACK BAGS LIMIT


DEAR SIR, It has recently come to my


attention that the council is considering limiting the number of black bags we are able to use, as well changing refuse collection from a bi-weekly service to a four-weekly service in a bid to save money and exercise cuts. Whilst I sympathise with the


need to make savings, this is not an area that should be considered. I live in the The Courts and we have no wheelie bins in our area. This means that residents will be expected to store these bags for a month! Where, may I ask? We could see an increase in fly- tipping and a build up of dangerous refuse on the streets if the IPPG ruling group proceed with this ‘initiative’. This seems like yet another ‘made


up on the back of a sweet wrapper’ idea from this inept council and I urge Garth ward residents to join me in fighting against this ill-conceived and daft idea.


John Vaughan The Courts, Haverfordwest


PREMEDITATION


DEAR SIR, Every adult knows the clear,


rational distinction between murder and manslaughter if evidence is given of premeditation. If I plan to murder one person, we all agree what should happen to me. On the other hand, if I were a


billionaire amongst many others similarly inclined, knowing as well as you, that the NHS depends totally on citizens’ taxes, such as death duties around 40% for wealthy folk, but I pay a huge sum to unscrupulo us lawyers to devise a scheme for me to avoid paying a penny towards the NHS, can you recognise that the element of premeditation is proven in that? Other wealthy citizens have been content to pay the 40% as taxes to support the NHS, which would have amounted, in my case, to £3.6 billion on my estate of £9.2 billion, leaving only £5.6 billion for my heir. Of course, my heir could have had a sense of moral duty to divert this £3.6 billion to the honourable motive of saving lives, but he preferred to keep it as his possession and personal spending money. All this has taken place in Britain


recently, and the British population are so lost to any sense of moral ethics that they accept the obvious consequences, quite predictable, that many premature babies who


could have been saved by the hugely expensive equipment required all over the nation will not survive, because of the lack of the £3.6 billion which might have achieved that glorious target. Death is a premeditated consequence. Of course, we should also blame


the contemptible lawyers and a completely unprincipled government, whose Treasury has the legal power to close off such ‘loopholes’ as fast as they are created, making such lawyers unprofitable. Convicts presently in prison have higher ethical standards than any of these highly respected people. Any patriotic citizens must strive to ensure that Britain finds worthier values to show to the world.


Name and address supplied


FREE COUNSELLING DEAR SIR, Now that the festive season has


drawn to an end, and while many of your readers will have enjoyed a very happy Christmas with family and friends, it is important to remember those who have struggled with loneliness, depression and anxiety over the holidays, and continue to do so.


This time of year can be


particularly hard for the elderly, with many men and women suffering from depression, which can be the result of bereavement, marital problems or a whole host of other issues, and yet receive very little help from the NHS. Aged Veterans Counselling, a


government backed organisation supported by veterans’ charities, offers a free counselling scheme across the UK to anyone born before 1950 who was in the military or completed National Service. Incidentally, most men over the age of 66 did complete national service and will therefore qualify. Aged Veterans Counselling are


able to offer vital support to those in need, providing up to six free counselling sessions in the comfort of their own home, provided by accredited professionals, which has proven to have an immensely positive impact on those who participate. So, can I ask your readers to spare


a thought for loved ones, friends, neighbours or someone in their care who might qualify and benefit from this free counselling service. They can contact, in confidence, Aged Veterans Counselling on 0300 0120 247 or online at www. agedveterancounselling.org.uk.


Josephine Bey Programme Director Aged Veterans Counselling


RE: DR JONES’ LETTER


DEAR SIR, Last week, you published a


letter from Dr SP Owens, Director of Development at Pembrokeshire County Council. I understand this was a misprint and should have read Dr SP Jones. In his letter, Dr Jones says: “The


CPGS [Commercial Property Grant Scheme] regeneration programme was externally audited (no issues found)...” I cannot let that statement go unchallenged. Back in April 2013, I began


to publish on my website (www. oldgrumpy.co.uk) articles setting out my concerns regarding grants paid for projects carried out in Pembroke Dock by Mr Cathal McCosker. What I noticed initially was that


the grants awarded to Mr McCosker’s schemes were, on average, some three times larger than those awarded to other developers. My concerns were brought to the


attention of the audit committee by Cllr Michael Williams and a report was prepared by the council’s internal audit team and presented to that committee’s meeting in September 2013. The report concluded: “Internal


Audit has shared its findings with the council’s Monitoring Officer who is satisfied that there is no evidence of maladministration or non-compliance with the governance arrangements relevant to the specific schemes or of any lack of competence in officers concerned with the administration of the schemes.” Considering this report to be a


whitewash, I wrote a detailed account of what I believed were serious flaws in the way the scheme, particularly the grants paid to Mr McCosker, had been administered. Also during the summer of 2013,


I submitted a number of FoI requests to the council for copies of the bills of quantities for Mr McCosker’s developments. In response, the council sent


me documents with all the financial information redacted - rendering them worthless. So, I submitted a notice of motion


at the October meeting of council calling for the files on these projects to made available to elected members. This notice of motion was


remitted to Cabinet for consideration and when it met on December 2, 2013, it received a report jointly authored by Dr Jones and the Director of Finance. part of which read: “... There have been concerns expressed, initially in a series of


anonymous articles and since April 2013 by Councillor R M Stoddart, that the CPGS is procedurally flawed, and that the council is at risk of fraud. By the time that these concerns


were raised the CPGS, and the wider Pembroke and Pembroke Dock Regeneration Scheme, had already been through a number of in depth audits by four different auditors: • WEFO • Wales Audit Office (WAO) • Welsh Government European


Funds Audit Team (EFAT) • The Directorate General for


Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission. None of these found any


shortcomings. The concerns expressed have been


taken seriousl,y leading to a review of the operation of the CPGS by the council’s Internal Audit Service. This review, which was reported


to the meeting of the Council’s Audit Committee on September 23, 2013 found no cause for concern. Before that meeting, Councillor


Stoddart circulated a letter to Audit Committee Members setting out his concerns. It would seem that the concerns expressed have arisen in large part due to misunderstandings about the operation of the CPGS. There is every reason, based


on the assurance provided by the aforementioned external auditing bodies, to consider that the procedures and operation of the grant scheme are both sound and effective. “ As we shall see, the remark


about ‘misunderstandings about the operation of the CPGS’ is both patronising and plain wrong. The Cabinet recommended that


my NoM be rejected and the matter was referred to full council for a final decision. During the meeting of full council


on December 13, 2013, Cllr David Pugh, the member with responsibility for these grants, launched into a savage personal attack in which he essentially called me a liar. ‘The truth isn’t on his agenda’,


‘a campaign of innuendo and smear tactics conducted on his Old Grumpy website’, ‘So, whether this is a deliberate untruth, or sheer incompetence on his behalf in not checking the facts, I’ll let you all decide’ were some of his more colourful remarks, the full text of which can be found at oldgrumpy. co.uk/archived/Pugh%20speech.html Not surprisingly, the council


decided to reject my NoM and instead referred the investigation of my concerns to the audit committee. Things unravelled quickly after


that. First, Pugh had to issue a


grovelling apology after I proved that ‘the third side elevation’, which he had claimed refuted my claims about the rendering at 25 Diamond Street, was figment of his imagination. And it was all downhill after


that because, following a long battle with the monitoring officer, I was able to establish that, as a matter of law, any information before the audit committee had to made available to all elected members. In February 2014, Cllr Jacob


Williams and myself discovered irregularities in the tender process at 10 Meyrick Street which we immediately drew to the attention of the Director of Finance, who informed the police. On April 7, 2014, the council


presented a thick dossier of evidence to Dyfed-Powys Police, which detailed some £80,000 worth of grants, the payment of which I claimed was due to irregularities. On April 8, 2014, Mr McCosker


wrote to the council offering to repay all the £180,000 he had received in grants to date provided that would ‘be the end of the matter’. He also offered to forgo the £129,000 grant due on 50 Diamond Street, Pembroke Dock - then nearing completion. In July 2014, the council was


compelled to return £309,000 (£180,000 + £129,000) to the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) - this being the total amount WEFO had allocated to PCC for the payment of Mr McCosker’s past and future grants. So, while it was true in January


2014 that, as Dr Jones says: “The CPGS [Commercial Property Grant Scheme] regeneration programme was externally audited (no issues found)...” - it certainly wasn’t true when he sent his letter to you in January 2017.


Cllr Mike Stoddart SOLAR PANEL OBJECTIONS


DEAR SIR, Do Carmarthenshire County


Councillors suffer from chronic myopia? How on earth can they object to a


few tiny solar panels on the roof of a small unlisted farm building near the village of Brechfa, Carmarthenshire, whilst approving some of the most gargantuan wind turbines in Europe surrounding the village? Where is their sense of proportion? Brechfa Forest West wind farm is


due to be started in February. It consists of no fewer than 28 stupendously tall, 476ft wind turbines, approved by former Energy Minister Ed Davey, who has since disgustingly taken four


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