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Leader’s updated response to WAO Report



Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 13.45.44ON MONDAY (Feb 1) Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board received the report of the Wales Audit Office on the Council’s governance arrangements.

Executive Board members were gratified, it is fair to say predictably, by the positive tenor of the report, particularly with regard to the progress the Council is making towards improving its openness and transparency.

After the meeting, The Herald asked Council Leader Emlyn Dole for his personal response to the report’s content, its recommendations, and what it said about the progress Carmarthenshire County Council has made.

Noting that much had been made about the shift in the Council’s approach to both governance and culture by Plaid Cymru’s press release responding to the WAO report, we asked to what extent Plaid inherited an improving situation and to what extent it had seized the initiative and gone further than Labour might have with the same WLGA report which prompted the announcement of the 39 Steps for improvement piloted by Cllr Dole.

The Council Leader told us: “Yes, you’re absolutely correct the WLGA report was commissioned by the previous administration. The obvious question to ask is what might have been the motivation behind that request.

“As Leader of the Opposition, I regularly called for far greater openness and transparency and I recognised that this could not be achieved without a significant cultural change on the part of the administration. There was definitely a perception that the Authority was being led by officers and in turn this raised the question about the extent to which Executive Board members had a hold on and an understanding of their portfolios.”

Reflecting on the previous administration, Emlyn Dole told us: “Quite frankly there appeared to be a complete lack of leadership under the Labour led administration of the time. The Labour portfolio holders seemed to be completely out of their depth and that was one of the concerns that I was raising.

“When I took over as Leader of the Plaid Group I was determined to offer a constructive and positive opposition and I believe that the decision to commission an independent report on governance was made more as a response to our opposition than out of the goodness of Kevin Madge’s heart.

“I am absolutely certain that he would have been advised at the time that the political pressure being applied by an effective opposition made the commissioning of that report a political imperative.”

But was the situation improving?

Cllr Dole’s answer was unequivocal: “Did we inherit an improving situation in May 2015? No we didn’t. “The Council seemed to be in disarray with no coherent political leadership with no clear sense of direction. This Corporate Assessment is set in the present tense. It is an assessment based on the performance of the current Administration, not the previous one.”

Pointing to the Report’s findings, Cllr Dole told us: “I would point out two things: The recommendations of the cross party committee which considered the WLGA Report came before full Council for implementation under this Administration and just to quote from the Corporate Assessment Report:

  1. Increasingly collective leadership is supporting a revised vision for Carmarthenshire and sustaining a culture of improvement.
  2. The Council’s current administration was formed in May 2015 and is providing strong and coherent leadership and direction.
  3. The new Executive Board and the refreshed Corporate Management Team work well together. Relationships between members and officers are constructive and Executive Board Members challenge officers well within a ‘no blame’ culture. The Executive Board is clearly the owner of the Council’s revised vision, and Executive Board Members are actively involved in setting priorities, business planning and identifying areas for cost reductions.

“You’ll notice the references to both owning and revised vision. Both are relevant in the context of your first question. As to any reference to the past Administration, the following is the most pertinent point and again I quote:

‘The Executive Board has a strong ‘team’ ethos and new Executive Board Members are being mentored and supported by those with more experience.’

Cllr Dole said: “That comment is much appreciated.”

We asked Emlyn Dole about how officers were responding to those areas for improvement identified in the WAO report. He told us: “Officers are currently preparing an action plan that will address the six areas for proposed improvement within the WAO report. These actions will then cascade into the Annual Improvement Plan which will then be closely monitored by Executive Board.”

On whether there was any area of improvement upon which he was personally focused, Cllr Dole responded: “The Corporate Strategy which sets out the long term priorities for the Council as well as the Improvement Plan which is to drive continuous improvement across all that we do.

“As regards the Council’s ICT infrastructure, four work streams have been established which will inform the Business Case for improving the Councils ICT infrastructure. They will be looking at: server infrastructure and disaster recovery arrangements; voice and data networks; access to services – including desktop and mobile/agile working platforms; the applications we use.”

As for future challenges that might be raised by partnership/ collaborative projects or Welsh Government policies, Cllr Dole took a positive view: “The Report praises the collaboration agenda followed by the County Council. My thoughts on any collaboration are focused around improved services and efficiency. If any collaboration we undertake achieves better and improved services and delivers efficiencies as well, then that seems to be a smarter way of working and follows the national guidance on effective service delivery. Any collaborative programme that threatens in any way the resilience of this Council would not be one that would appeal in any way and because of that would be resisted.”

We asked to what extent Cllr Dole’s view had changed on officers’ discharge of their duties since he began working more closely with them. Responding with good humour, Emlyn Dole told our reporter: “Well, the implication of your question is that my present view of senior officers’ abilities to discharge their duties is a different one to what it might have been. I’m afraid that this perception must arise from an over inflated view of the role and reach of the political opposition!”

He continued: “Apart from a monthly liaison meeting with senior officers and a monthly meeting of Group Leaders the opposition are no closer to senior officers than ordinary councilors are, other than through their statutory duties in regard to scrutiny and quasi-judicial roles.

“The view in administration is a totally different one, in that it is at the cutting edge, where applied policy meets corporate operation. Apart from the obvious scrutiny role and ongoing member development training – it is then, and only then that you really get to appreciate and understand the role and responsibilities of senior officers to be able to make an informed judgment about their ability to discharge their duties effectively.”

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Police launch public appeal following Carmarthenshire burglary



DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating a burglary at a property in Ponthenry.

People broke into a shed at a home in Victoria Road at around 8.30pm on Monday, 31 October, before leaving after spotting a CCTV camera.

They returned at around 10.15pm and again at around 10.55pm.

During their raids they tooka green Wolf motocross helmet with a full face with a peak and line green motocross goggles.

Officers are appealing for help to identify two people they would like to speak to over the incident.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at:, by emailing, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DPP/0756/01/11/2022/02/C. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting

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Morrisons Foundation supports children’s charity with grant for vital equipment



The Morrisons Foundation supports registered charities that make a positive difference. They recently awarded national children’s disability charity, Cerebra, based in Carmarthen, a grant of £11,109.

This will fund the creation of writing slopes through the Cerebra Innovation Centre, which is partnered with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and designs wonderful toys and equipment to help children living with a brain condition to learn and play.

The writing slopes are designed to help children who struggle with posture and fine motor skills. They also aid children with writing, drawing and hand control. Ross Head, Product Design Manager at the Cerebra Innovation Centre explains;

‘The slopes include a lovely wipe-clean surface for children to experiment with mark making, their own set of pens and a clever lid-free pen store to remove the challenge of removing lids for some children. We are so lucky to be able to do what we do and funding like this is so important to allow us to push boundaries and provide vital equipment that looks beautiful.’

At the start of 2022, the Cerebra Innovation Centre highlighted that they anticipated the need for an additional 20 writing slopes for children. Cerebra Fundraising Manager, James Hay then worked with the grants team at the Morrisons Foundation, who were delighted to support this project. David Scott, Morrisons Foundation Trustee said:

‘Cerebra is dedicated to helping families who have a child with a brain condition to discover a better life together, that’s why I’m delighted that we’ve been able to provide this support. The specialised writing slopes will make a huge positive impact on children with sensory and mobility issues, providing a great opportunity to develop their skills, which will last a lifetime.’

Grants like this are a vital source of funding for Cerebra so that they are able to continue to support children living with a brain condition and their families who face challenges every day. The Cerebra Innovation Centre is one of the many support services provided by the charity that so many families have come to rely on. James Hay adds;

‘Thank you so much to the Morrisons Foundation for this generous grant! We are over the moon as we know how much this project will change young lives. These are particularly challenging times for charities and so this funding from Morrisons for the creation of 20 writing slopes is warmly welcomed.’

You can find out more about Cerebra and how they help children and families by visiting 

Writing Slope
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White Ribbon campaign supported by Carmarthenshire County Council



CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is again showing its support for the White Ribbon campaign, which takes place on Friday, November 25 and is followed by 16 Days of Action.

White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls.

While domestic abuse affects both sexes, the largest number of violent incidents involve men against women. But ultimately male violence against women is everyone’s issue, not just women’s.

The council was awarded White Ribbon UK accredited status for the first time in 2018 and is continuing to work to tackle such violence.

White Ribbon flags will be flying at County Hall in Carmarthen and town halls in Llanelli and Ammanford on White Ribbon Day (Friday, November 25). County Hall will also be lit up on the evening to show support.

The council is working alongside partners to raise awareness of the campaign across the county – from sports clubs, joint visits with the Police to licensed premises, our leisure centres and libraries to bus stations.

With this year’s White Ribbon Day falling on the same week as the start of the FIFA men’s World Cup, there has never been a better time to come together and start playing as a team to end violence against women and girls.

The council will be raising awareness of the campaign at special events including a Walking Football session at Amman Valley Leisure Centre on November 30 and at “An Evening with Sam Warburton” at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen on White Ribbon Day (November 25).

Cabinet Member responsible for Community Safety, Cllr Philip Hughes, said: “It’s vital that we raise more awareness about domestic abuse so that anyone affected can get help and support from one of our local services.”

Support locally can be found at: Threshold (Llanelli) on 01554 752 422 or; Calan DVS (Ammanford) on 01269 597 474 or; Carmarthen Domestic Abuse Service on 01267 238 410 or and Goleudy on 0300 123 2996 or or call the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or visit for free advice and support 24/7

For more information on the White Ribbon campaign visit

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