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Truthfulness versus accuracy in minutes row

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A little less certain of her words: Cllr Meryl Gravell

A little less certain of her words: Cllr Meryl Gravell

A CLAIM made by a member of the Executive Board was the subject of significant backtracking at Wednesday’s (Feb 10) Full Council meeting.

The routine approval of the minutes of an Executive Board Meeting that took place on January 4 took a controversial turn when comments made by Cllr Meryl Gravell and recorded in the meeting’s minutes were challenged by three councillors, including opposition leader Jeff Edmunds.

Cllr Gravell had claimed at the Executive Board that a Lottery bid in relation to funding for Parc Howard had been derailed because of the opposition from local residents.

Cllr Bill Thomas challenged the minutes and claimed that Cllr Gravell’s remarks were untrue and unsupported by evidence. Cllr Thomas claimed that the claim was being examined by the Lottery Commission, who had uncovered no evidence to support Cllr Gravell’s slur on Llanelli residents.

Chair Peter Hughes Griffiths interrupted to establish whether or Cllr Thomas was challenging the minutes’ accuracy, or making a point about their content.

Councillor Thomas pressed on: “If the member for regeneration has either emails or letters that implicate people as having meetings with the Lottery Commission that scuppered this bid then I think we in the council should have sight of those letters.”

Peter Hughes Griffiths asked Cllr Thomas to identify the offending section of the minutes.

Councillor Thomas did so and continued: “As I say, it was investigated and we had a letter of unreserved apology. If the member has documented evidence either email or letters saying that people from Llanelli were implicated in meetings with the Lottery Commission and scuppered the bid, I think this chamber should have sight of those or it should be withdrawn from the minutes.”

Cllr Jan Williams joined in the challenge: “I would just like to ask if there is documented evidence that we could see that shows that it was completely the opposition of local residents that scuppered the bid. My understanding, having read why the bid was unsuccessful is not as claimed. I’d like that clarified because some of us have had spurious accusations made against us.”

Bill Thomas got up again and pressed on: “I would like the member for Trimsaran to give us an answer as to whether she has letters or emails implicating anybody as having meetings with the Lottery Commission. If not I would like that removed from the minutes and from the previous minutes and from the next set of minutes that are coming out.”

Cllr Gravell rose and responded, “That was the information I was given at the time.”

Bill Thomas responded: “That is not the question, Chair. I am asking for evidence.”

Peter Hughes Griffiths said that he would not permit an argument: “It’s going to be a debate and I only ask for questions and answers. I have been accused so many times of not being democratic and so on but you are pushing me too hard from time to time and I must say those are the rules and if you’re pushing me all the time I will stick harder to the rules won’t I? That’s my response all the time as Chair: to be fair with everybody.”

County Councillor Jeff Edmunds asked for clarification from the Chair.

Peter Hughes Griffiths responded: “Clarification about what now again?” He went on to suggest that a rationing quota applied to matters of business as they arose: “It’s a question and you’ve already had three questions today.”

Cllr Edmunds directed a query to the Monitoring Officer, who replied: “I hear what is being said from the floor and a few members challenging the basis of part of the discussion at executive board but the accuracy of the minutes of the executive board meeting are matters for the executive board to confirm.”

Following the Monitoring Officer’s intervention, Peter Hughes Griffiths drew the matter to a conclusion with the words: “In other words, end of story.”

The issue of the minutes’ truthfulness, as opposed to their strict accuracy recording what was said, is an argument that councillors are unable to resolve.

CLLR GRAVELL’S CLAIM

We examined precisely what Cllr Gravell had said which had caused such ill-feeling.

At the Board Meeting on January 4, she referred to a £5m plan to revitalise Parc Howard being presented with a business plan to ‘the Lottery’. She then continued to claim:

“The local people went behind our backs to the Lottery to say they didn’t want it to go ahead. That is just to clarify that is the case.”

As statements of certainty go, that certainly takes some beating. Cllr Gravell not only made a claim local people sabotaged the plans for Parc Howard, but did so by stealth. In addition she clarifies the position to underline her point.

But at the meeting of Full Council, when that version of events was challenged and she was confronted by the results of a Lottery Commission investigation into the claim, she was rather less certain and claimed that her assertion came from ‘information given to me, at the time’.

The issues that arise from Cllr Gravell’s retreat from certainty to something considerably less than certain is the identity of the person or persons who gave her what was manifestly incorrect information and why she continued to repeat the lie when it had been nailed by the Lottery Commission.

It is certain that Cllr Gravell’s words have exacerbated suspicions in Llanelli that the Council is not playing straight with the town.

Perhaps Cllr Emlyn Dole, who is attempting to relieve the miasma of rumour and suspicion surrounding past dealings with Llanelli, could make sure that when members of the Executive Board make assertions such as those made by Cllr Gravell, they are backed by something akin to evidence – i.e. that which can be examined. Or at least challenged to produce it.

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Senior Learning Disability nurse recognised for her outstanding contribution

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A SENIOR Learning Disability nurse at Hywel Dda University Health Board is celebrating after receiving a prestigious award for her outstanding contribution to Learning Disability nursing.

Laura Andrews, Professional Lead for Learning Disabilities Nursing, was presented with the Cavell Star by the Chair of the Health Board, Maria Battle, at a special event held recently.

The Cavell Star recognises outstanding nurses, midwives, nursing associates and healthcare assistants who go above and beyond in their professional duties and show exceptional care.

Laura, from Llanboidy, was nominated for the award by her colleagues in the Learning Disabilities health liaison service for her passion and dedication towards LD nursing. She has been been a LD nurse for over 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge and experience, having worked in many settings both in England and Wales.

She said: “It’s really marvellous – I’m really surprised and shocked!

“I don’t even have the words – I’m speechless. It’s nice that this is happening around the same time that we prepare to celebrate 100 years of LD nursing.

“This award is for everyone that works in LD services. It shows that for me, the passion is still there even after 35 years.”

Emily Andrews, Laura’s daughter, who is training to be an adult nurse, added: “I’m really proud of my mum. She’s worked so hard and she really deserves this.”

Maria Battle, Chair of the Health Board, added: “Laura is a true advocate and champion of learning disability nursing. She has tirelessly raised the profile of learning disabilities in all arenas she attends and takes every opportunity to encourage new students into the profession.

“Laura has been instrumental in developing new services to meet the needs of those with a learning disability and she always includes and values the input of people with a learning disability to ensure their voice is heard.”

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30K Lottery win for Ammanford neighbours

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RESIDENTS surprised with cheques during Storm Brendan

Five neighbours in Ammanford were celebrating this weekend despite the miserable weather, after they won a large cash sum with People’s Postcode Lottery.

Four of the players scooped £30,000 each, with the fifth doubling their prize to £60,000 thanks to playing with two tickets.

The Carmarthenshire residents scooped the cash after their postcode, SA18 2EW, was announced as a winner on Sunday 12 January.

Pam Harris (49) was one of the lucky winners receiving a cheque for £30,000. She said: “I’m totally shocked! It’s a life-changing experience. Today I’ve had a very big adventure which I’m very happy about.”

Pam has a 13-year-old son who she plans to treat with the prize money, as well as booking a holiday to escape the wet weather.

She said: “My son is over the moon, he wants to spend it on all sorts of stuff. He wants to change his bedroom and he also wants to go abroad, which is fine by me as I want to go on holiday as well! I’d love to go to the Fiji Islands for a few weeks. I’d also love to hire a helicopter and go for a spin over the Grand Canyon.”

Pam was delighted to find out that some of her neighbours won too and plans on celebrating with her friends. She said: “I’m going to the local pub over the road with a couple of mates tonight. I’m going to absorb the atmosphere and soak it all in. Drinks are 100% on me, steaks all round, happy days!

It’s absolutely brilliant that my neighbors have won too. They’ll all be happy and we’re helping good causes too. You’ve got to be in it to win it, winner winner chicken dinner!”

Gwyneth Williams (62) was another local picking up a cheque for £30,000.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it, I’m still shaking. I’m not used to having this much money. I have four children and 11 grandchildren so that’s it spent already!”

With a minimum of 32% of every ticket going to good causes, players have helped raise more than £500 million to date for charities and good causes. Gwyneth commented: “It’s wonderful the amount of people it helps and that something good comes out of it. It’s a well worthy cause.”

There were another three winners in the postcode who were not available to receive their cheques in person, however the money will be paid into their bank accounts.

People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador, Danyl Johnson, was in Ammanford meeting the winners and handing out cheques. He said: “I had a great day meeting our winners and we definitely didn’t let the stormy weather dampen the mood! It sounds like Pam and her son have a lovely tropical holiday planned, and Gwyneth’s family is in for a treat. Congratulations to everyone who won in Ammanford, even those we weren’t able to visit!”

The draw was promoted on behalf of WWF UK. The charity has received over £13.4 million to help build a future in which people and nature thrive.

For more information on People’s Postcode Lottery, please visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk or Facebook and Twitter.

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Heart charity search for Welsh heart heroes

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Do you know a special person in your community who deserves a British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cymru award in 2020?

The charity’s Heart Hero Awards 2020 are open and people can now nominate their heart hero. The awards recognise the different ways people are helping beat heartbreak from heart and circulatory diseases. This could be through fundraising, volunteering or helping patients and their families.

This year there are three categories: Healthcare Hero, Young Heart Hero and the Inspiration Award. Nominations can be made at
https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/in-your-area/heart-hero-awards/nomination-form

The Healthcare Hero award will recognise a doctor, nurse, or person working in a healthcare setting who has made a special effort to make a difference to the life of a heart patient or their family.

The Young Heart Hero award will go to an exceptional person under the age of 18 years who has done something amazing for the BHF and is a source of inspiration to others.

The Inspiration award will recognise a person who inspires others through their determination and dedication. Whether that is through their fundraising efforts, taking part in a physical challenge, organising an event, or volunteering activities.

Nominations are open until Saturday 29 February. The winners will be announced at a very special gala awards dinner which will take place in London in September 2020.

Previous winners in Wales include 11 year old Llew John from Efailwen in Carmarthenshire; Healthcare Hero Liana Shirley, a Physiologist from Anglesey and Inspiration Award winner Jovita Jones from Abergavenny.

Adam Fletcher, Head of BHF Cymru said: ““Heart and circulatory diseases affect the lives of thousands of people across Wales, often in devastating ways. Yet, there are so many ordinary people who, when confronted with that challenge, are doing extraordinary things.

“The BHF’s Heart Hero Awards recognise and celebrate the efforts of those who are working selflessly to make life better for other people.

“It would be fantastic to reward some of our supporters in Wales, so if you know someone who is making a difference then please put them forward for an award so that their contribution can be recognised.”

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