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Reports damning for City Deal management

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THE PUBLICATION of two reports on Friday, March 15, has shone a light into corners of the Swansea Bay City Deal.

The first report released, prepared on behalf of the UK and Welsh governments, written by Actica

Consulting, suggests a combination of concerns over funding and of the “much-publicised concerns on the wellness village (Delta Lakes, Llanelli, the single largest project) could cause a loss of confidence within the region”

In the meantime and, The Herald understands, over the anguished objections of the Regional Office/Carmarthenshire County Council, the second report – an internal review – was circulated to county councillors in Pembrokeshire this morning.

The second report makes for grim reading.

The report lays bare the amount of distrust between the City Deal partners, particularly between Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire councils on the one side, and Carmarthenshire County Council on the other.

Each report highlights deficiencies in the management of the Deal, which Carmarthenshire County Council and its controversial CEO Mark James are meant to lead.

Familiar to those who have kept a close watch on the activities of Carmarthenshire County Council are complaints of a lack of transparency and openness in the way the City Deal has been managed to date.

Particular criticism is made of two key aspects of the project: that under Mr James’ leadership the Deal has failed to consider the City Deal as a truly regional opportunity and focussed on building individual, local projects of limited regional value; the second major criticism is the failure of leadership given to the project and an abject lack of clear financial processes and accountability.

In spite of an attempt to spin the ‘success’ of two elements of the deal, Swansea Waterfront and Yr Egin, it is worth noting that Yr Egin was only tacked on to the City Deal when already underway because UWTSD revealed it couldn’t afford to complete the project on its own as it had promised.

Cllr Rob James, the Leader of the Labour Group on Carmarthenshire County Council told The Herald late on Friday afternoon: “I am pleased that this review has highlighted many of the concerns that we have raised on governance.

“Frankly, the report validated our actions to date.

“Trust has broken down between partners and public confidence in one of the projects, in particular, has taken a big hit.

“There are clear lessons that need to be learnt and this report highlights several of them. I now hope that the administration in Carmarthenshire consider the review in full and ensure that radical changes on governance are delivered immediately.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee, said: “This review was carried out alongside the UK and Welsh Government’s independent review of the City Deal programme and sought to assure that it will deliver full economic benefits for the region.

“The findings and recommendations of the internal review will be formally considered by the SBCD Joint Committee at the next meeting.

“Looking to ensure governance is as robust as possible reflects that we’re still in the very early stages of a 15-year programme, but we’re ready to support any recommendations that would benefit the region’s economic prosperity in future by speeding up the City Deal’s delivery.”

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Businesses fire safety advice on offer as part of Business Safety Week 2019

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MID AND WEST WALES Fire and Rescue Service are offering businesses fire safety advice as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC’s) Business Safety Week 2019.

The campaign runs from 9th – 15th September with the aim to provide those, who are responsible for businesses and public buildings, with information and advice to reduce the number of fire incidents and false alarms in the workplace, both of which impact business safety and productivity.

The week encourages all businesses to double check they have taken the steps required by law to protect their business and employees from fire. Advice will also be given on preventing arson attacks, reducing false alarms, and if needed fire safety advice for premises with sleeping accommodation.

The lead up to Christmas can be a busy time for businesses so the NFCC and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service ask people to take the opportunity now to review risk assessments and escape plans. Preparation also needs to be considered as they may take on extra stock and new or seasonal staff.

Statistics show that in Wales during 2017 – 18 there were 11,005 fires with 6,372 being deliberately set and the figure for false alarms being 14,739. From these figures, a total of 3,190 fires were recorded to be in Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service with 1,520 as deliberate and the figure for false alarms being 4,939.

David Hancock, Head of Business Fire safety, for the Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Service, said:“It’s vital that businesses have robust arrangements in place to protect their premises, staff and visitors and to ensure they have prepared themselves to be able to continue operating after a fire or similar event. During Business Fire Safety Week we are keen to engage with business owners and provide practical advice that will help with preparations for emergency incidents.”

Chair of NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Committee, Mark Hardingham said: “Fire can have a devastating effect on small and medium size businesses. The NFCC is committed to supporting business and linking them to their local fire and rescue service who can help and advise them on reducing their fire risk. “We encourage business owners to get in touch with their local fire service and find out about the help available so business can flourish and support the UK economy and local community in a safe and sustainable way.”

Swansea Bay Business Fire Safety Team will be at the Village Hotel, Langdon Road, Swansea on 9th September at 10:00 until 13:00 , to give general advice on Fire Safety and information on:

• Preventing Arson
• Reducing False Alarms
• Preventing Common Causes of Business Fires and
• Protecting Sleeping Accommodation

On the morning of 11th September 2019, Carmarthenshire Business Fire Safety Team will be at Parc Pemberton, Llanelli between 10:00 and 12:30 and in Parc Trostre Retail Park, Llanelli in the afternoon between 13:00 – 16:00, to give general advice on Fire Safety and information on :-

• Preventing Arson
• Reducing False Alarms
• Preventing Common Causes of Business Fires
• Protecting Sleeping Accommodation
· Business Continuation Management
· Waste Management

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Becoming Deputy Chief Constable ‘a huge privilege’

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CLAIRE PARMENTER has been announced as the new Dyfed-Powys Police Deputy Chief Constable, describing it as a ‘huge privilege’.

DCC Parmenter, who grew up in Llanelli but now lives in Carmarthen, has worked her way through the ranks since joining the force as a PC 26 years ago.

She said: “Becoming the Deputy Chief Constable within my home force is a huge privilege for me, I hope this will inspire other officers and staff to achieve whatever they want across the service.”

Her policing career began in Ammanford in 1993, having just completed a BA (HONS) degree in Education at Cardiff.

“I was thinking of a career in teaching or policing, and decided to do my degree before making the choice,” DCC Parmenter said. “Policing was always in my heart, so when it came to it, it was an easy decision.”

As well as serving in a variety of uniform roles, DCC Parmenter has undertaken a number of secondments across UK Policing and beyond.

These include a role as national field officer with the National Policing Improvement Agency, becoming operational Chief Inspector in Avon and Somerset Police, and contributing to the national implementation of neighbourhood policing, for which she received a chief constable’s commendation.

She was promoted to Superintendent in 2010 and became lead for the Joint Emergency Services Group in Wales, leading and developing a number of blue light collaboration and resilience programmes, working closely with Fire and Rescue, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and Welsh Government.

“I’ve always tried to look at the wider landscape of policing and how we work with partners to improve services to our communities,” she said.

“These secondments have given me exposure to different ways of working and has broadened my outlook.”

DCC Parmenter returned to uniformed policing in 2012 and took up the role of Superintendent of specialist operations.

She later took over as BCU Commander for Carmarthenshire and Powys, and later took up the post of Chief Superintendent Head of Uniformed Policing for the force.

She is an accredited Strategic Firearms and Gold Public order commander and has won a Stonewall National award for her support of LGBT staff.

A mother of two, DCC Parmenter’s drive and dedication has not only led her to become a chief officer, but has also had a positive influence on her teenage daughters.

DCC Parmenter said: “My youngest daughter is 14 and she’s also keen to join the police. It’s nice to know that she looks at my career positively and can see how policing can make a real difference.

“I’m very proud to be a chief officer in the force I am from. Being able to effect the delivery of services in my home area, and to serve people in the area I live ensuring the best possible service, is a huge privilege.”

Looking ahead, DCC Parmenter’s aims are to keep delivering across Dyfed-Powys Police, and to ensure the force continues to improve and innovate.

She added: “I know Dyfed-Powys communities and staff very well, and I think we have got all the ingredients to be an absolutely outstanding force. I look forward to being a part of the chief officer team to deliver that.

“I’m really grateful to our staff and colleagues across the force, who have supported me throughout my career.”

Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “Claire has shown outstanding commitment to our communities over many years and I am delighted to have her as my Deputy Chief Constable.”

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MP calls for ‘fair funding’ for Wales

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PLAID CYMRU Treasury Spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, has called for a radical rethink of how the nations and regions of the UK are funded through the establishment of an independent Office for Fair Funding.

Writing in Wales on Sunday, Mr Edwards said he would propose legislation – in the form of a 10 Minute Rule Bill – in Westminster which would establish the new expert-led, independent body.

The organisation would have a statutory obligation to deliver geographic wealth convergence, as well as for deciding on funding settlements for the devolved nations and regions of the UK.

Recent international data has shown that the largest difference in economic prosperity in Europe was between Inner London, the UK’s richest region (with a regional GDP average of 614% of the EU average), and West Wales and the Valleys, the UK’s poorest (with a regional GDP 68% of the EU average).

Disputes between devolved government and Whitehall relating to how nations are regions were funded could also be resolved by the independent body, Mr Edwards suggested.

For example, the dispute over HS2’s consequences for Welsh funding could be examined by the Office.

The greater the spending on HS2 the greater the proportional fall in funding Wales will receive.

This is due to ‘comparability factors’ – the measure Westminster uses to decide how much spending by a Whitehall Government Department relates to issues that are devolved.

Scotland and Northern Ireland get a score of 100% on the HS2 comparability factor, whereas Wales gets a 0% score (as confirmed in the British Government’s Statement of Funding).

This leads to a counterintuitive scenario where, as the Department for Transport’s budget increases to meet the spending requirement of HS2, Scotland and Northern Ireland will receive corresponding uplifts in the money it receives.

Whereas Wales’s overall comparability factor will proportionally decrease, meaning Wales will receive a smaller slice of the overall funding.

This will also mean that as spending accelerates on HS2 during the construction of HS2 the proportional disadvantage for Wales increases.
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards said: “For decades, British Governments – red and blue alike – have tinkered around the edges of the broken economic system without challenging its fundamental problems.

“That is why, as a first step in rebalancing things, I am proposing a new law that would establish an independent Office for Fair Funding. The independent, expert-led organisation would be legally bound to deliver a fairer economic balance between the nations and regions of the UK.

“London and the south-east of England continue to act as a black hole, sucking in talent and investment from the rest of the UK. Things have got so bad that recent data has shown that the inequality between London and Wales was the worst in Europe.

“These inequalities have disfigured the UK economy to the point where we no longer have a ‘UK economy’ in any meaningful sense.

“The Office of Fair Funding is not a silver bullet. There is little hope on the horizon of a fundamental shift away from the over-centralised British State, but it could be the first step on the much-needed journey towards a fairer, more equal economy.”

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