Monday, 15 January 2018

The Mystery of the Carbon Copy

This is a mystery and if anyone can shine more light on it please feel free to comment on this post.

Some years ago I had brought to my attention a carbon copy of a sworn affidavit sent anonymously to a friend. It could have been an elaborate forgery but investigation showed that all the people mentioned did exist, and the affidavit certainly had been written and was notated by a solicitor who was still in practice and was contacted.

The original events described happened in 1994 in Boston, Lincolnshire. Ms A did not write the affidavit until December 1997, when Mr Mark James was due to be appointed as the as the Chief
Executive of Boston Borough Council,
Here is the affidavit with some names withheld. Ms A seems to have done this after what she believed was severe harassment and being forced out of her job. She also knew that Mark James was about to become the local Council Chief Executive.
I, Ms A, of xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Lincolnshire MAKE OATH and say as follows; 
1. I was employed by Boston Borough Council from 1985 until May 1997 when I was retired on the grounds of ill-health. During my period of employment I was engaged in various posts, but from 1992 until my retirement I was employed in the Personnel Section. 
2. During the period August/September 1993 various members of staff were interviewed regarding the restructuring of certain departments. Included in these interviews was Officer A who was employed as Assistant Solicitor to the Council. I was present throughout his interview with Mark James (Director of Administration and Legal Services) and Officer B (Director of Finance). It was clear from the discussion which took place after the interview that Mark James did not want Officer A to continue to be employed by the Council in any capacity. 
3. Officer A was made redundant by the Council sometime between September 1993 and May 1994. A subsequently took his case to an Industrial Tribunal, the hearing of which commenced on the 16th May 1994. One of the arguments put forward by Officer A was that the Council had never written to him offering a particular post and with details of the job specification. 
4. The day before the hearing of the Industrial Tribunal, Officer C the then Personnel Manager (and my immediate superior officer) told me that Mark James had given instructions that I was to type a letter addressed to Officer A offering him a particular post with the Council, and enclosing with it a job description. I was told that the instructions from Mark James were that the letter was to be back-dated to a date in September 1993. I told Officer C that what I was being asked to do was wrong and I was not prepared to comply with Mr James' instructions. I was informed that if I did not comply with such instructions it was very likely that I would be dismissed. As I was in fear of losing my job I carried out the instruction, but to safeguard myself I typed on the disc containing the letter words to the effect that "this letter was actually typed on the .....". I was told to file a copy of the letter on the appropriate file in date order but that the original was to be destroyed. 
5. I am informed that at Officer A's Industrial Tribunal, Mr James gave evidence on oath that the letter in question had been typed and sent to Officer A in September 1993. This was not possible as Mr James knew full well that I did not type the letter until May 1994. 
6. I have to say that when passing on the instructions from Mr James, Officer C was also very concerned that what I had been told to do was not correct, and as a result of him refusing to carry out tasks of a similar nature thereafter Officer C was squeezed out of his post on payment of compensation. 
7. In view of the above information, Mr James appears to have; 
a) Instructed a member of staff to carry out an act which he knew as unlawful in its intent.
b) Destroyed the original of a letter, or gave specific instructions for its destruction, knowing that it was vital evidence in a case against the Council and
c) Deliberately lied under oath at an Industrial Tribunal by saying that a letter had been sent to Officer A in September 1993 knowing that such a letter had not been typed until May 1994. 
8. In November 1994 a Personnel Assistant (Officer D) was appointed. From the very beginning she harassed me in various ways, and on many occasions this harassment was of a sexual nature. This harassment seriously affected my health, and by October 1996 I had had enough. I accordingly saw Mark James and reported to him some six or seven complaints of a serious nature against both Officer D and my departmental head, Officer E. Mr James did not want to know, and merely told me to repeat my allegations to Officer E (one of the perpetrators) for him to deal with. I could not believe that as the Director of the Council fully responsible for staff matters and the Monitoring Officer, and in view of the seriousness of the allegations, he did not commence an immediate investigation. 
9. Two days after my interview with Mark James I had to see my doctor because of the stressful affect the actions described were having on my health. My doctor issued a certificate, and I did not return to work after that date. 
10. There are both current and former members of staff who can verify that the facts I have stated above are correct. Officer C has confirmed to me that he is prepared to attend any inquiry to confirm the facts regarding the typing of the backdated letter. If I am given access to the discs in the Personnel Department I can easily identify the one containing the letter and my note thereon. This is providing the disc has not been destroyed. 
Sworn before a Commissioner for Oaths, and signed by both.
December 1997

Some time ago I corresponded concerning the matter to the Leader of that council and here is his final reply:
This confirms the allegations but inconveniently there is no record of  any conclusions. I have also  been able to contact Officer C, who strongly confirms the integrity of  Ms A. A subsequent freedom of information to the Council request also failed to produce any record of what had happened.

This is a mystery in that all that can be confirmed from the information I have is that these allegations were made and there is no evidence that it was .ever refuted. The complainant may have been genuine but unfortunately all records have been destroyed. When contacted Ms A confirmed her identity as per the affidavit but said she was unable to discuss the details of what had happened.

However, this does mirror several cases that have happened closer to home.  There have been several Carmarthenshire County Council staff whistle blowers, and some county residents who somehow have just got on the wrong side of Council Officers for various reasons who appear to have been appallingly treated just to try to silence them and/or to hide mistakes or misconduct.

In her recent blog, , Jacqui Thompson  recalls that Mr James included in a police complaint against her that she had accused him of tampering with documents before an industrial tribunal. It refered to this case. Actually, it was Ms A who made the accusation. and in her affidavit she admits not to tampering, but to forging , under duress, a completely new false document in order to make it look like officer B, who was  dismissed was lying. There were also the allegations of harassment of her, some of it of a sexual nature, and she claims Mr James asked her to refer the matter back to the one of the people she claimed was harassing her.

The outcome in Ms A's case has not been any legal action or, as far as we know, formal settlement. All we know is that Boston Borough Council dealt with the case through its HR department and subsequently destroyed the records

 However,.this sort of senior managerial behaviour certainly does exist and produces an atmosphere of fear.Although this encourages compliance , it also encourages overlooking bad conduct and poor practice as criticism is dangerous. Anything which suggests a problem is not welcome news. Huge efforts are made to hide failures.These organisations often seem to slowly rot outwards from the core, but their senior employees are rarely brought to book when catalogue of failures finally nudges them gracefully into standing down, usually with a good pension and subsequently a place on a prestigious committee or a job as a senior adviser. The people who get in the way rarely prosper after their encounters.

Surely, it is time for change, and a good look at how the public sector is run?

 Siân Caiach,

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Fifth Column - the elite public employees who quietly take "little extras".

Much press publicity is given to those who "cheat" on benefits or are caught avoiding car tax etc. These are the small fry. My professional experience has been primarily in the N.H.S. but subsequently as a county councillor. Many well paid public servants are happy with their lot and I'm sure don't cheat the state. However, others are not playing by the rules 
Siân Caiach,.

 I lost my medical career as an Orthopaedic surgeon by reporting fellow Carmarthenshire Consultants for using their NHS sessions and NHS equipment and facilities for private practice without paying   for  it. I am sure my colleagues at the time will say its my own fault, I got fair warning that unless I shut up about the scam I would lose my job and never work as an orthopaedic surgeon again. I didn't believe they had that power, but they did.

Perhaps areas distant culturally and geographically from centres of government attract people who feel they deserve more? We are told that the rich are becoming richer and it is very disturbing when the ordinary taxpayer is already funding a number of these well paid elite  public servants when,they cannot control their own greed., and need to sneak extra financial perks under the radar, usually with management collusion.

Mark Vincent James

Carmarthenshire County Council has become renowned for the actions of County Council Chief Executive Mr Mark Vincent James who famously was discovered to have been given secret extra salary payments by the elected councillors on the Council Executive Board. The Wales Audit Office found that he should not have been given this money,  £28,700 in the form of a secret pay rise
to compensate him for the loss of tax relief on his large pension when  HMRC changed the rules and he was also found to be unlawfully funded in a libel action to the tune of £29,000. In order to get the Council Executive Board to fund his libel action Mr James promised to return any damages to the Council. When he was awarded generous damages, £25,000 then he changed his mind and has kept the money.

 Perfectly legal to keep that £25,000 plus generous interest awarded to him , but he had promised it to the Council. This leaves the Council in theory £82,700 out of pocket. The investigation of the unlawful payments also cost the Council a hefty charge of £51,000.  Total bill to us local taxpayers around £138,700.

All this is theoretically the responsibility of the senior councillors, at that time a coalition of Labour and Independent councillors, for approving these payments but I believe they were persuaded to do this by the senior officers present. Do Councillors suddenly decide to give dodgy pay rises which are not declared in the Executive Board minutes?

This case is well described in the blog

Let me give you an example I observed in the NHS where actions were I believe immoral, certainly financially advantageous, but not actually unlawful.

I worked in Llanelli  with an orthopaedic surgeon called Joel Adams, an American who had moved to the UK. The NHS would address growing local waiting lists by allowing "waiting list initiatives," where doctors would be funded to run extra clinics or theatres sessions in their own time and would be handsomely rewarded using private practice pay rates.

Now, the problem for Joel was that in a relatively poor area of Wales, the demand for private operations is driven by the waiting lists. He had a good private practice, in part because I did not do any private practice myself and he took all the local requests. But he also had a way of claiming the extra public waiting list funds to fill his pocket without actually affecting the general waiting list at all,

I worked 5 full days a week and was on call every other night and every other weekend and had a brood of young children. I wasn't interested in extra money. The basic consultant salary was at that time £60k p.a.and I thought quite adequate for the job, Unlike my colleagues I did not negotiate extra salary grades which they felt entitled to for working in the backwater of West Wales. So I was putting in more hours, seeing more patients and doing more operations for less money than my colleagues. I didn't even claim travelling expenses to outlying hospitals, clinics, meetings etc for all the years I worked there.My secretary calculated I had missed out on more than £5,000. Totally committed to the NHS, I felt that I could afford the travelling and that the NHS needed the money more than I did.

Joel often took half days off and never worked Friday afternoons. If offered waiting list initiatives he arranged an extra theatre for a half day - Friday afternoon. A number of patients would be selected and operated on, usually quite simple cases who could normally be discharged within a day or 2. Joel left instructions that the patients should stay over the weekend as he wished to discharge the patients himself personally on Monday morning. He then found reasons why some should stay a little longer. For instance, ordered a new x-ray "just to check" or extra medication or a new type of dressing  or splint which would need time to be arranged. These patients would not then leave immediately and "blocked"  beds   His Monday full day theatre list was then shortened as there were not enough beds for all of them to be admitted before he went to theatre. These patients were sent home to wait longer. He and his anaesthetist could then take Monday afternoon off.

So Joel got paid handsomely at private practice rates, operating on  extra patients but managed the ward so that his next list was halved. The Government was informed that the Waiting list initiative had resulted in whatever number of "extra" cases being operated on, but not that  a similar number of other cases were cancelled from the next list. A  deceit that made one Consultant surgeon and the Consultant anaesthetist a fair amount of extra money for no actual extra effort. Joel even produced an audit  study which he presented to other doctors showing that on Mondays over 30% of his patients missed operations and had to be sent home . He blamed the management, but in fact he was manipulating the situation to fill his own pocket. This sort of scam is organisationally invisible unless you have very good managers who can closely monitor the overall figures and successfully challenge the senior people involved.  It did not happen then and I believe would not happen now.

Joel and other consultants were also doing things which were much clearer examples of thieving off the NHS .Operating on private patients in NHS time and unbeknown to theatre staff, getting drugs, xrays and tests for free for private patients and also using NHS implants at no cost to the surgeon.

That's what actually got me in trouble when my complaints were investigated by the Audit Commission, although, like in Carmarthenshire County Council Case, the Auditors found  the complaints were valid but were not minded to act against the perpetrators, in this case greedy doctors and compliant management and accepted the promise that they would do better in the future..

I was suspended for 3 years, treated like a criminal, Joel showered me with complaints and was supported by the Medical Director and all of the other surgeons on this scam. For them it was not a theft of public money and resources but a perk that they deserved  for working in this area, Many of their colleagues in other areas made huge fortunes from private practice so why not increase their profit margins here at public expense?. At the time the average private practice income of UK orthopaedic surgeons , over and above an NHS salary, was said to be over £300k p.a.

I imagine that the local surgeons were already adding generously to their NHS salary through external private practice, but it wasn't enough, they felt they needed to rip off the public purse. The medical director at Prince Philip Hospital, Dr Peter Thomas, explained to me that it should be regarded as a work benefit, a payment in kind ,and couldn't I understand that poor Joel was on his third divorce and was paying a lot of alimony? Dr Thomas also told me that he believed, from conversations with other surgeons that they might leave the trust if they did not get these perks.

Recently I was contacted  advise about safely "whistle blowing" on a similar sounding current scam.  Allegedly , consultant Surgeons and Anaesthetists in a local hospital were similarly operating on private patients in NHS theatres who are admitted to NHS wards and displace non paying patients.  My sources also believed that the clinicians were not paying the full cost of these procedures , thus subsidising their private practice. I would have loved to have said "Go on, tell the management, you will be fine" but I felt I had to advise the informants to not make the disclosure as it could well be the loss of their jobs, reputations and future work prospects.

If this is going on , and  I have no  proof  personally that it is happening, I suspect the management would be  aware, either colluding or turning a blind eye.. Financially injuring senior public servants in their wallets by exposing their "extra perks"is a very dangerous thing to do.

The people who are ripping off the public in these ways generally believe they are entitled to these extra perks.  They feel they are Princes and Princesses and need to be pampered.  Lesser employees could be dismissed if they were found to steal a minor item or even found smoking in a toilet.  The rich people on the top of the  grades throughout the public services are at or near the pinnacle of their careers, generally well  respected and very influential. Many of them are surely happy with their generous salaries but clearly some want more, and are prepared to stretch or break the rules, and worryingly, appear to feel no shame.

If we had a culture where whistle blowing in the public sector was seen as a constructive act, these practises would not happen. Policies on whistle blowing are useless when they are routinely countered by harassment, allegations of misconduct and other discrimination against informants.

Where exposing financial wrongdoing in public service is regarded as snitching on the high and mighty who's position gives them  entitlement  to these "extras", the facts will be obscured and usually covered up. The public money will still  be wasted on the greedy.  Other staff with knowledge of the scams will feel implicated and collude to hide or deny the truth, especially when they see how whistle blowers are treated.

In times of economic austerity we should surely not tolerate the misuse of any public funds? it is disturbing, especially when the motivation appears to be the greed of people already well paid. In the NHS it is time that private practice is only offered in private facilities and in the doctor's own time and without equipment taken or "borrowed" from the NHS.    

Friday, 29 December 2017

The Law of Unintended Consequences ?

The British State's National Health Service theoretically provides good quality healthcare from the cradle to the grave.  Care in childbirth has been recently in the News and is clearly not always as good as it should be. Robin Burn, whose special interest is Autism, writes here about these problems during birth and the  story of the cover up of routine vaccinations which probably did harm infants

Maternal, Neonatal Deaths, and Brain Injury

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists inquiry Each Baby Counts, examined more than 700 recent neonatal deaths and injuries. It reports that three out of every four babies may have had a different outcome, had they received different care.
A recent press release, voiced concerns, in the same vein, on the enormity of the problem.

This revelation has been a long time coming, and the results are not surprising, as this phenomenon has been long recognised but never commented on by those specialising in neonatal and maternity care.

The report recently released, examined 1136 stillbirths, neonatal deaths and brain injuries during 2015.
In many of the 727 cases that could be reviewed in depth, problems with accurate assessment of foetal well-being during labour, and consistent issues with staff understanding and processing of complex situations, including interpreting baby heart-rate patterns, were cited as significant factors.

In his book, published in 2003,entitled “Children who do not look you in the eye, The Secrets of Autistic behaviour”, Professor Antonio Parisi, a neurophysio-pathologist, working at the University of Naples, discussed in length the prenatal causes of encephalitic disturbance in the Chapter titled Etiopathogenesis of autism. (1)

He particularly concentrated on Hypoxia (lack of oxygen) following rapid, or over lengthy labour, leading to death, or neurological effects such as autism. Hypoxia is undoubtedly the most risky cause of prenatal disturbance, despite the fact that the brains of new-born babies are less vulnerable to a lack of oxygen than those of adults.
Hypoxia is also the cause of brain injury during delivery (associated with the use of forceps or suction devices).

Tonic reflux of the neck of the birth canal eases childbirth, the lack of reflux may lead to dystocic birth, where natural birth is delayed or prevented, but the lack is itself often caused by a disorder of the foetus,,eg. poor position, inappropriate size etc so dystocia may not bet the sole cause of brain injury.

This is a common occurrence in the case of autistic children. Our research team often encounters one cause of brain injury which seems to provoke further vulnerability to a second pathogenic cause of brain injury.

Most cases of brain injury seem to occur at the perinatal stage, ie around birth.

This is an extremely important finding and suggests that not enough is done to prevent brain injury during delivery in hospital maternity units.

(1)  Parisi, Antonio, Children who do not look you in the eye, The secrets of autistic behaviour.
       Napoli: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane,2003.
       ISBN 88-8114-0597-3

Dr.Antonio Parisi, assists Dr. David Delacato at the Delacato Clinics in Sorrento and Milan for the rehabilitation of children and adults on the autistic disorder spectrum existing since the 1970’s.

Autism and the MMR Vaccine Debate.

Autism, a word describing a wide variety of conditions, relating in its simplistic form to observed neurological dysfunctional conditions of a wide spectrum of phenotypes, caused by mutations in the genetic codes in the DNA map.

Autism is a word derived from the Greek word “autos” meaning “self,ones own” initially coined in the 19th century.
It is still used today as a coverall description of hundreds of phenotypes given many syndrome titles as an identifier to their discoverers.

In his book ,”Children who do not look you in the eye”, published in 2003 by Professor Antonio Parisi, on page 41 in the chapter entitled Etiopathegenesis of Autism, states that “Our research team often encounters one cause of brain injury which seems to provoke further vulnerability to a second pathogenic cause of brain injury”

The debate as to the cause of the myriad of neurological disfunctions on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder, has been a long, contentious discussion, and debated in my website The Autism Centre.
The most contentious issue has been the debate around the highly politicised discussion of the relationship between vaccination and autism, autism being defined to cover any syndrome relating to a neurological disfunction caused by mutated genes.

 However a great deal of effort has been made by the UK Government and the pharma companies to trash any speculation that brain injury is ever related to vaccinations and that subsequent autism in previously "normal " children could be caused by such reactions.

In the case of my daughter, who was 9 weeks premature, she initially appeared to develop normally. Later,  as an  infant had the administration of the routine DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis/whooping cough and Tetanus) in 1991, suffering a  reaction to this vaccine resulting in the contraction of a fever resulting in her doctor not giving her the second vaccination. She was later,given the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella/german measles) vaccine in 1992,which was withdrawn weeks later from general use  on the instructions of the Department of Health.

The DPT administered contained the whole pertussis component which was supposed to have been withdrawn before her date of vaccination, only for her to then be given a suspect Pluserix MMR, before this was withdrawn in1992.

Since the introduction of the triple vaccine MMR Pluserix variety in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s  subsequently being withdrawn from service in 1992, amidst controversy generated in many countries around the world, the debate has raged as to whether or not the withdrawn triple vaccine caused autism, the definition as described above.

The political debate led to the tarnishing of reputations of many eminent clinicians, and the debate continues.

The continued denial of the establishment against the claim that the “MMR caused autism” has been based on the fact that the Conservative Government, who allowed the National Health Service to introduce the MMR Pluserix, gave complete freedom of indemnity against law suits being brought for any subsequent actions against the vaccine maker, and for any subsequent medical condition caused by the vaccine.

The reason for MMR Pluserix's hurried withdrawal in 1992 under highly suspicious circumstances was never satisfactorily explained by the Department of Health. Numerous Parliamentary Questions were brushed aside on the basis of confidential information, as reported in Hansard at the time.

Terms of scaremongering were numerous being used by the authorities to attempt to recover the need for herd immunity in the face of diminishing vaccination levels.

The Pluserix MMR was administered to my daughter in 1992 ,six weeks before its withdrawal from  use at the when she was 1.After the vaccination she lost her speech and developed cerebral palsy.
At the age of 4 she was officially diagnosed as autistic after 2 years of clinical investigation.

For the purposes of a Vaccine Damage Tribunal hearing ,extensive research was carried out on the relationship of vaccines and neurological damage and I became aware of a document entitled
 ABPI DATA SHEET COMPENDIUM, 1991-1992, With the code of Practise for the Pharmaceutical Industry.

This document was by Gillian Walker for Datapharm Publications Limited.

On page 1465 in the Section relating to Smith Kline & French Laboratories, in the advice for Pluserix MMR, the ,advice is very specific that this vaccine should not be given to those known to be hypersensitive to Neomycin, an antibiotic.

In other words, the vaccine was administered by clinics and other medical establishments, without any previous investigations as to any recipient of the vaccine was at risk on the basis of Neomycin allergy.

The administration of the vaccine without the Neomycin allergy test being carried out could be deemed unlawful. Further study showed that other routine vaccines were contaminated with Neomycin.

A child could therefore be sensitised without the parents even knowing that this allergy was possible.

The relationship between the MMR Vaccine and Neomycin Allergy was discussed in an article published in February 1993 by Pamela L Kwitten et al in Am J Dis Child 1993;147(2) :128-129.doi10.1001/archpedi.1993.01260260018005 entitled MMR Vaccine and Neomycin Allergy.


Sir.- The resurgence of childhood measles in the United States has prompted secondary immunisation with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Immediate allergic reactions to the MMR vaccine, including dyspnea and hypertension have been documented in egg-allergic individuals. Recently, five patients without a history of egg allergy experienced similar reactions, requiring emergency treatment with antihistamines and epinephrene hydrochloride. The MMR vaccine contains hydrolysed gelatine; sorbitol and neomycin sulphate (25 micrograms) Neomycin is an antibiotic that is known to cause both local and systemic allergic reactions. Our experience with the following patient suggests that hypersensitivity to these additives found in the MMR vaccine, especially neomycin, may be a factor in documented reactions in individuals without egg allergy.”

In 1996, the Department of Health, jointly with the Welsh Office, the Scottish Office Department of Health, and DHSS (Northern Ireland) published the directory Immunisation against Infectious Disease, (the Green Book), edited jointly Drs David M Salisbury and Norman T. Begg.

The section relevant to the Measles, Mumps and Rubella, is section 22, and 22.2 specifiically refers to the MMR vaccine, that being MMRII from Merck, incorporating Enders’ Edmonston strain measles, RA 27/3 rubella, Jeryl Lynn mumps.

In subsection 22.6 contraindications, no reference is made to Neomycin, refer to pages 135-140.

However in a Merck& Co,Inc. Document dated 2009, in the paragraph titled Description, the presence of neomycin at 25mcg (equal to that contained in the Pluserix MMR, and on page 4 under contraindications ,reference is made to reactions to neomycin)

Likewise in the section titled Warnings, the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) warn against the use of measles vaccine, where known reactions to neomycin are experienced.   

On the 15th of July 2015, I attended a hearing before Upper Tribunal Judge Mitchell, at which I presented to Judge Mitchell a copy of a 1991/92 ABPI Data Sheet Compendium as evidence of allergic reaction to the presence of Neomycin in the Pluserix MMR vaccine.

My argument before Judge Mitchell, set out in his rejection of my appeal hearing, was that in view of the statement in the ABPI DataSheet Compendium for 1991/1992 that there should be no  administration of the vaccine containing neomycin, to recipients with a known reaction to neomycin , when the fact was clear that my daughter had never been tested for allergy response, and should have been tested, before the administration of the Pluserix MMR vaccine.In fact it seems that many children could have been sensitised to Neomycin without their knowledge through other routine vaccines.

I informed the Judge Mitchell,that Carina had not been tested that there was no test for hyper-sensitivity, to which the Judge thought that this struck him as odd as he commented that if it cannot be tested , how can anyone comply with the ABPI guidance ?

In paragraph 14 , the judge  offered the following;-

“I know, from having spoken to Mr Burn at the hearing, how disappointed he will be with my decision. But the fact that my decision is a negative one is no reflection on him. He should know I admire his obvious dedication to his daughter and the passion with which he seeks to secure her best intersts. I wish him well but I cannot grant his application.

For the record  the date of signature on original was was 9th July 2015, the  decision was conveyed to me on the 15th of July.

Robin Burn I Eng. FIMMM

UPDATE 3/1/18
I have found 2 further links to the subject

At least one of these was dated 2016, my tribunal was in 2015


Friday, 24 November 2017

A fisheries' tale Robin Burn I Eng FIMMM

Introduction by Siân Caiach 
At the end of the 1990's a disastrous decision was made to "upgrade" the sewerage treatment in the Llanelli and North Gower areas which discharged  into the Burry Inlet.(Loughor Estuary) The small settlement plants were closed and all sewage pumped up to Bynea and Gowerton where the foul discharge was treated by UV light. Unfortunately the plants were designed to take "dry" sewage, the assumption was that only sewage was in the sewers. In fact, massive amounts of surface water drained into the sewers and very soon the sewage plant was overwhelmed. Untreated and partially treated sewage was released into the natural waterway in increasing volumes. Huge attenuation tanks were built into the system to try to hold back the huge volumes after rainfall. After a few years the shellfish fishery was severely affected with mass cockle deaths every summer. The most likely cause of this was eutrification, too much fertiliser in the water causing algal blooms and killing the animals by asphyxiation. Not only cockles but other animals who could not move away from the sand banks such as sand eels and lug worms, were decimated. Fearful of  admitting that this was a man made disaster, convinced by the  Carmarthenshire County Council that massive house building was the only development possible in the area, and assured by Welsh Water that they could not  afford to put things right, a Welsh Government led cover up was organised to convince everyone that although there was incontrovertible evidence that the sewage was not being treated, there was some other reason that the cockles were dying.  As a  County Councillor 2008-17 I was told on several occasions that the protests were only about getting compensation for the cockle gatherers and I should not be supporting them. When the Stradey Residents Association reported the matter to the European Commission is was hoped that the  environmental protection of the EU directives would save the day.
Here is Robin Burn's excellent summary of events.

A Fisheries Tale

The Loughor Estuary and Burry Inlet, that part of Carmarthen bay, bounded to the north by the southern coastline of the county of Carmarthen, and to the south by the north shore of the Gower Peninsular is identified by Natural Resources Wales as being environmentally sensitive. To be precise designated as the Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries special area of conservation (SAC),site of special scientific interest (SSSI), the Burry Inlet special protection area (SPA) and is an internationally important wetland site (RAMSAR).

Of  importance for the local economy, the Burry Inlet supports a cockle fishery and  has supported this for many years. So important that  Sian Jenkins Hughes, Fisheries Technical Officer of Natural Resources Wales went so far as to announce that “ Our environment in Wales is the most valuable natural asset we have and we have the potential to generate more for our economy if we use it sustainably”.

This was for the occasion of the launch of Seafish’s Risk Assessment for Sourcing Seafood (RASS) website.

Careful analysis of the content of the website casts doubt however on the viability of the fishery, from the mixed messages delivered in the text .Quoting from the overview of the fishery, it states that “Burry Inlet cockles have been subject to unexplained summer mortalities in recent years(Elliot et al(2012). NRW are currently reviewing the recommendations of the 2012 report with a view to further progress this area of work subject to available resources”.

 It further states “The Burry Inlet Cockle Fishery Order 1965 Management Plan sets out Natural Resources Wales aim to develop a thriving cockle fishery in the Burry Inlet that supports, protects and enhances the needs of the community and the environment upon which it depends to:
 avoid adverse effects on the European designated site and local residents”

In the section designated Stock status quote”The Burry Inlet cockle stock has been scored a moderate risk This is because although the cockles are characterised by relatively low vulnerability ( recent years have seen a declining trend in the population”.
In the  Habitat  subsection it quotes that”The seabed effects of the fishery are scored a very low risk. The Burry Inlet is a European Marine Site designated for nature conservation and the management plan requires avoidance of adverse effects on the site”.

In the Outlook subsection, the website script advise, a moderate stock risk status an uncertain out look on the basis of atypical summer mortality of stocks, the cause of which is still being investigated with emphasis on pathogens and biosecurity.

Following the launch of the website and press release, the September 21st edition of the Llanelli Star reports on a meeting with the Welsh Governments Environment Secretary , Lesley Giffiths, with Llanelli’s MP Nia Griffith and AM Lee Waters, to raise the on-going concerns about the lack of progress to tackle issues facing the cockle industry, of cockle deaths and sewage problems.
A statement from the Welsh Government spokeswoman suggested the previously commissioned investigation found no evidence to suggest pollution in the Burry Inlet waters.

The first indication that all was not well with the handling of waste water in from the urban areas of the northern boundery, the southern coast of Carmarthenshire, from the three rivers estuary at the eastern end to the Burry inlet at the western end, came from a public notice in November of 2008, of a request by Welsh Water/ Dwr Cymru to the then Environment Agency for an application of consent  to discharge sewage in an emergency situation.
At the same time a request for consent to diascharge into Dyfatty Brook from storm sewage overflow at Bryn avenue  CSO in Burry Port was lodged.
At the time emergency sewage  discharge consent was in place in Burry Port from the Heol Vaughan pumping station into the Khymer Canal.

Representations  of concern were made on the 5th of December 2008 to the Envronment Agency, a reply issued by the Agency was made on the 11th of February 2009. The Agency confirmed that “the applications were consented as they are for improvements under the AMP scheme to existing assets in the area. The new pumping station proposal is to replace an existing pumping station and will not discharge under storm conditions. The consent is for discharge in an emergency only.
The application for the combined sewer overflow is to replace two existing combined sewer overflows in the area. The new overflow will have extra storage and limit the spill frequency to one spill a year.

In the period between the 5th of August, until the 9th of November 2008 ,three heavy rainfall events occurred, that resulted in prolonged spillages of 4.5 hours in August,a 20 hour spill in September, and a 36 hour spill on the 9th of November.
In 2009 the accolade of a blue flag beach standard for Cefn Sidan was not awarded.

As a result of the November 2008 recorded spillages, Dr Lewis Keil was invited to attend the November19th. 2008 Pembrey & Burry Port Town Council meeting.
Members informed Dr Keil ,that they were very concerned, that, there had been eleven recorded spills at the Khymer Canal since January, especially as the canal is inert, and located in an area used for local events, and surrounded by properties. These spillages had occurred since the pumping station was upgraded and before completion of the new development at Chandlers Yard where there are already problems with the sewage system.
Dr Keil agreed that spillage levels were too high, he stated that, combined overflows which discharge are normal,but were not anticipated at the Khymer Canal, as models approved by the Environment Agency, had predicted one spill a year.
On the 6th of January 2009 Dr Keil, after the November 2008 meeting, wrote to the Council. In his letter he wrote” I had advised of the complete refurbishment of the Ashburnham sewage pumping that was due in summer 2008. Despite this work being undertaken, there were spills in September, October and November 2008”, he also “advised that it was difficult to see what else can be done to reduce spills.”
Finally he offers that”In the short term, the designers are checking the system to see if adjustment of the pump trigger levels can be altered to reduce the number of the storm spills. If this is not successful then a very costly alternative,such as piping storm sewage to the estuary, would be required to solve the problem.

On the 5th of February 2009, a call for a ministerial meeting on water quality, in the Burry Inlet, calling for action through the assembly, and Europe, following the disappointing news that the Blue Flag award, had been withdrawn from Cefn Sidan beach. The loss of the award had increased local concerns about water treatment, and the impact of large scale housing developments on the insufficient and over used water treatment works during periods of heavy rainfall. The local Assembly Member had arranged to meet the Minister for the Environment on the 11th of February to express concerns. A meeting with the Member of the European Parliament, had also called a meeting to discuss the level of concerns of the estuary.
On the 12th of February the then Environment Agency Wales, reacting to the February the 5th press release, in a Position Statement offered the following comments “It is important to know that combined drainage systems such as those in Burry Port pumping station are deliberately designed to allow discharges to the sea or rivers under certain controlled conditions.
During heavy rainfall, the pumps cannot pass forward all the sewage to the sewage treatment works, and the dilute sewage is allowed to overflow into the sea or the river. This storm sewage as it is called, is screened and requires a licence (called a consent), from the Environment Agency which contains conditions that Dwr Cymru Welsh Water must adhere to.
If the combined drainage system was not able to operate like this, then under heavy rainfall conditions, it is likely that domestic and residential properties, would flood with sewage.” 

Setting aside the assertions of the various regulatory authorities, whose responsibility is to maintain the directives, in reality the situation cannot be further from the actuality, that, on March the 26th 2015 the European Court ruled that the Government of the United Kingdom was in breach of the Urban Water Treatment Directive at Llanelli, and Gowerton, and is awaiting a judgement to be handed down by the Court.
The European Court judgement is the culmination of several years of investigations, discussions by various lobby groups to determine the truth behind the observations of many individuals, that all was not well in terms of fishery expectations, and that the well being of the estuary and the inlet was far from being healthy.
In May 2017the European Court finally handed down the ruling but did not fine the United Kingdom for the breach of the Urban Water Treatment directive. 

This case shows how toothless the EU environmental regulations can be.They rely on the local governments to uphold them, local people to report problems and can be soft on breaches. In this case the European Court took almost 10 years to rule on pollution in the Burry Inlet. A ruling of guilt against the UK  brought censure but no punishment. Welsh Water cannot afford to install new treatment facilities and are currently digging up central Llanelli to put in new drains to separate ground water drainage from the sewers. Spills continue and the cockles have not recovered. No wonder the people of Llanelli voted to leave the European Union!

Robin Burn

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Councillors lost daughter part 3

This final instalment has been delayed due to Carina's grandmother becoming ill some weeks ago. She is now much better and Mr and Mrs Burn, with whom I have closely collaborated in all these articles, have approved and contributed to this final part of the story. The reaction of the Social Service Department to the exposure of the allegations against the Mrs and Mr Burn as complete fantasy is extremely disturbing. Why did they have to still fight to keep their daughter after cleared of any wrongdoing? How many other vulnerable adults have been less fortunate and are still wrongly held against their will in similar situations?

 Siân Caiach

This is the last part of the story of how a vulnerable young woman was wrongly taken into care after false allegations by “carers” provided by her local authority. Carina’s parents were accused of  sexually abusing their daughter .No evidence was ever found that they did except for statements from those employed by the Council to take the 19 year old to activities. They had known her for only 3 weeks. As she cannot talk, these carers pretended that she could communicate with them via a letter board. using Facilitated Communication, a process easily faked and not acceptable as evidence in UK law. When eventually the quality of this communication was tested by an expert, no communication could be shown, Carina did communicated in the manner of a young child with the professor when properly assessed, and communicated she just wanted to go home.

The last chapter in Carina Burn’s story of being abducted by local social services is one which is disturbing even though she herself was eventually taken back by her family. The news of the results of the tests was not welcomed. The professor was asked to reconsider her assessment and rewrite the report. The motivation seemed to be to protect County Council Employees rather than swiftly return the young woman to her parents.

After Professor Howlin declined to change her mind and alter the report, she was invited to Carmarthen to explain her findings to the council officers in person. Even after this visit when the professor was cross examined as to her findings and explained what had happened, no action was initiated to return Carina to her parents. Looking at the professor's scale of fees the cost of the visit is likely to have been at least £1000 plus travel and accommodation expenses. The emotional cost to Carina's parents and herself of delaying the return was devastating.

 Mr and Mrs Burn knew there was proof that they were totally innocent but were still not allowed access to their daughter with all the emotional damage that caused .More seriously, Carina herself was still confined against her will and severely distressed.  She had no idea why she had been taken away, or where her parents were. After almost 6 months of this stress her health was deteriorating. Cruelly, her parents were told that they could not visit as she had, via the carers, refused to give consent to allow them to visit.

 At this point all parties knew that there was an expert opinion confirming no communication between Carina and her “carers”. Furthermore, Carina had been assessed by Professor Howlin as having severe learning difficulties and therefore lacking legal capacity. It appeared that the local council were going ahead with placing her with foster carers even though the Authority, and presumably the new foster carers, had no means of communicating with Carina. With her mother she can communicate not only simple words and phrases but more importantly her basic needs such as hunger, thirst and needing the toilet .All were now aware that she had been falsely imprisoned and treated dreadfully.

A sustained cover up was clearly on the cards and her continued stay at the care home was doubly dangerous. Not only was her “care” poor and resulting in unnecessary physical and mental stress, but if she was now reclassified as without capacity, it could be argued by the social work department that she was not in a position to decide where she should live. They could quite legally move her to the foster home as planned and significantly delay her return to her parents, perhaps stop it all together as the Council could afford the very best of legal representation and her family could not.

There was one short window of opportunity to take her back. If a parental visit could be arranged at this time, while the Authority still maintained that Carina had legal capacity, if it could be witnessed and she was able to communicate with her mother [the only person who could communicate with her using FC],that she wanted to go home, there was nothing in law at that point to stop her going home with her mother.

After repeated requests, Carmarthenshire County Council Social Services allowed a visit by her mother to be supervised at Burry Port Harbour. It was said that Carina staunchly refused to see her father. Carina had, of course, not actually communicated at all. The 2 carers and the social worker who claimed they were able to do so, had demonstrated with the professor that they could not. I myself and Councillor Malcolm Davies agreed to witness the meeting. The date was April 1st 2011.

Here is Julia Burn's personal account of what happened next.

Carina arrived accompanied by a social worker, Bethan Williams and a young man Julia did not know. Bethan, herself had claimed she could communicate with Carina using FC but had not been able to demonstrate this when Carina was tested by the professor.

"I arrived at the harbour and went into the cafe to secure a table near the door for a cup of tea to calm my nerves, knowing that if this didn't work, I would probably never see my daughter again.

It was supposed to be for a short walk with Carina around the harbour and into the Yacht Club for a meeting with Bethan Williams and her minder so I had to get Carina into the Cafe instead. When I met Carina I hugged, her and then suggested that she needed to go to the toilet urgently and that the Yacht Club was closed so perhaps the cafe would be the best place to go.

After taking her to the toilet, every move being watched and having to leave the door open, I bought her a cup of tea and sat at the table .I then asked her if she had anything she wanted to tell me, and, using the word board she spelt out "Take me home now". At that time I motioned to Councillor Sian Caiach and asked Carina to repeat what she had just communicated which she did. So I stood up, told Bethan Williams that Carina wanted to go home, so we were going home,and promptly left with her following me. I opened the car door, she got in immediately and we went home. Finally she was back where she should always have been- with Mum and Dad"

After this the local Authority acted with extreme hostility. They called the police who were not interested as Carina was 19 and according to CCC had capacity to make her own decisions. I advised her parents not to open the door to my own social services department - I didn't trust them. The cover up was going to be far more important that the well being of their client. They were allowed to see Carina through the living room window. I visited the family immediately after Carina's return and subsequently and would have happily given evidence of what I saw in their home - a traumatised young woman being supported by her loving parents.

 Here is Julia's account of this harassment.

"This should have been the end of the story but no, the Authority sent social workers around banging on the door demanding to see Carina to check that she was safe - some were built like bricks and there was no way we going to open the door to them.We were  hassled for some days before they eventually gave up on that course of action , only to be followed by demands for meetings to arrange services for Carina and an assessment - they actually expected us to put her back into the care of Perthyn (the company who had caused us all this trouble and misery) so we engaged a solicitor to act on our behalf.

We chose Sinclair Law and Caroline Goodall accompanied Robin to represent us at meetings and we had no wish to ever see or speak to any of these social workers again but after paying out thousands of pounds she let us down and sided with the Authority, querying that Carina may have adult capacity when Professor Howlin , the expert, had repeatedly told Carmarthenshire County Council that Carina did not have capacity. She then refused to act for us in the Court of Protection.

It was important for us to become legal Deputies for Carina as an extra safeguard against Carmarthenshire so we became litigants in person and with the help of the internet Robin managed to prepare the required documents and fill in the masses of paperwork required. I, of course, could not help too much as Carina needed my full time attention, love and care as she was suffering profusely from this whole travesty and required constant confirmation that this was not her fault.

We won deputy ship for her monies and financial affairs but had to agree to a home assessment. We had asked for a private independent assessment as we did not trust any of the Authority's social workers, and this was agreed. The Assessment confirmed that our home and standard of care was excellent. Carina at last had the Protection of the Court against the Authority.

The Ombusdman stated the this business "was flawed from the outset" and the private report into our complaint  against Carmarthenshire County Council  found their procedures to be lacking.

To this day there has never been an Independent Safeguarding Investigation into the actions of Carmarthenshire County Council  and the police and no confirmation that the Perthyn carers responsible [for the false allegations], Nicola Evans and Stacey Duggan have ever been brought to task. Nor have C.C.C.Social care employees Bethan Williams,Anthony Maynard,Gareth John, Jonathan Hughes, Bruce Mclernon  and other officers and social workers who have now abandoned ship and run away to other areas where they can wreak havoc!"

Robin Burn with his daughter Carina 

Thursday, 9 November 2017

"10 years of dereliction - The Grillo Site in Burry Port - Offshore Company allows pollution to continue.

The site of a chemical factory with gross land contamination is not the best construction site for homes and retail. Was the sale and planning permission just a ruse to let  Carmarthenshire County Council and NRW off the hook as toxic chemicals are likely leaching  into the Burry Inlet , the supposedly protected NATURA site and  shellfish fishery. The new owners , Castletown Estates are apparently listed offshore and have accepted responsibility for the clean up, But the company, registered in the Isle of Mann, shows no sign of actually getting on with the decontamination . A derelict site known to have chemical contamination is not what the residents of Burry Port want. Despite being informed by Llanelli Flood Forum members that indicative tests of the water leaching out of the site into the Habour shows several heavy metals, CCC have declined to test the water formally.                         

Robin Burn describes the sad saga of neglect.

Grillo Site
Burry Port Harbour

It is now 10 years since the former Grillo Zinc oxide production factory adjacent to Burry Port harbour was sold and demolished in 2007 and the site has lain dormant since then and debris remains on the site.

The site adjacent to Burry port Harbour has in its time been various metalworking establishments finally up until its demolition a site for Zinc Oxide manufacturing. 

The site is contaminated with a cocktail of toxic metal, organic and inorganic compounds all with risk to public health.
Carmarthenshire County Council were aware, that, by allowing planning for housing development on that site, would probably trigger a call in by the Welsh Government/Environment Agency.
In a Planning Committee on January 18 th 2011, the planning committee were advised by senior officers of Carmarthenshire County Council “ that, as the Committee was minded to approve planning application S/18723, subject to the conditions detailed within the Report/Addendum of the Head of Planning and/or reported at the meeting, the Head of Planning be granted plenary powers to deal with any outstanding matters once the Article 14 Notice is withdrawn, or the application is called-in for determination, inclusive of the Appropriate Assessment being signed off by CCW within a reasonable time period from forwarding the same, in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 43(1) of the Conservation of Habitats & Species Regulations 2010 and inclusive also of a Section 106 Agreement”

In other words Carmarthenshire County Council accepted the fact that this development was on a Classified C2 floodplain., which should not , due to the risk of flooding, have any development except vital utilities eg sewage pumps.

In correspondence from the Environment Agency Wales, responsibility for monitoring the site and its associated ground water, is the developer.  Camarthenshire County Council has been made aware of actions to be taken including post remedial monitoring of groundwater.  The Environment Agency understands that ground water beneath the site is in continuity with open water within Burry Port Harbour.
The Environment Agency Wales will continue to act as an advisor to the Local Authority for matters that could impact on ground or surface waters when requested.

In respect of the future development of the site, the site is proposed for residential purposes and some community asset, given the present economic restrictions and uncertain waste disposal system quality, should a change of use of the site be considered to one of emphasis on social and cultural asset?

The Llanelli Star has published articles based on the views of a number of elected Councillors of Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council.
These views, in favour of developing the Harbour Area to the proposed planning applications and that failure to do so would be detrimental to the future prosperity of Burry Port. The views vociferously expounded  appear to be based on the principle that the proposed development area has never flooded and that the flood maps have now been changed to show, that the development areas are not on a flood plain.

Unfortunately this view, only supports a part of the facts surrounding the flood risks for these sites, and does not support the real facts as expounded by both Natural Resources Wales and Watermans .
Both organizations have submitted their assessments of flood risk to Carmarthenshire County Council and can be accessed from the County’s Planning Applications sites.

Firstly Natural Resources Wales, in their document, whilst they advise, that their Flood Map Information, updated shows the site to be flood free, they acknowledge, that Site 6 lies partially within the current C2 Zone as defined by the Development Advice Maps (DAM) referred to under Technical Advice Note (TAN)15 Development and Flood Risk (July 2004).
They qualify this statement by advising that their information does not take into consideration climate change allowances or blockages at structures through which flood water passes.

They go on to say” In accordance with TAN 15 the proposed development of up to 134 residential properties would be considered as highly vulnerable and should not be permitted within zone C2.  However, if your authority are minded to consider the application it should be shown through the submission of an appropriate flood consequences assessment (FCA) that the consequences of flooding can be acceptably be managed over the lifetime of the development.

The NRW document makes reference to a Flood Consequences Assessment “Redevelopment of Burry Port-Sites 5&6 Flood Consequences Assessment Final. July 2014 Referenced 16025/FCA02A prepared by Waterman Transport and Development Ltd”
 and submitted to the Authority forming part of the Planning Application documentation.

The document discusses Tidal Flood Risk and comments that the principle risk of flooding at the site is potential tidal flooding in the future. The principle cause is the effect of Climate Change in terms of tidal flood risk.

TAN 15 states that provision must be made for future changes in flood risk, specifically as a result of Climate Change. In this case flood risk must be considered over the anticipated lifetime  of each development.
 It is proposed to develop sites 5&6 for residential use; therefore a lifetime of development of 100 years has been assumed giving an assessment year of 2114, and as the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)  has produced guidance regarding sea level rises for 2114, sea level rise is 14.5 mm/year. 

The FCA concludes that the site remains dry in the majority of the scenarios modelled, however the site is at risk of flooding during a 0.1% plus climate change annual probability tidal event and an extreme 0.5% annual probability tidal event plus climate change and with tidal levels at the upper extent of the confidence interval. The FCA therefore proposes mitigation in the form of raising ground elevations to 7.1 meters AOD to address flood risk. We accept that the proposed mitigation works effectively to create a plateau that remains flood free for all scenarios considered within the FCA.
The proposed mitigation increases flood risk on the B4311 to the west of the site and significant flood risk on the adjacent former Grillo site requiring mitigation by a similar raising of  ground elevations to 7.1m AOD 

To counteract the lack of suitable waste management facilities by Welsh Water, it should be made incumbent on the developer to incorporate all the current waste disposable systems that are environmentally sustainable and friendly into the plans for the build.

Site remediation continues to be priority, as no attempt has been made since demolition to clean up the site. This is now becoming a critical issue.
Remediation costs will be extensive, perhaps under current economic conditions beyond the means of any developer. The solution in this case is European funding backed by Welsh Government.

This solution would clear the ground for Community assets for cultural community and recreation to meet conditions of a Local Development Plan as well as creating employment opportunities for the local community. The site stands on a designated flood plain, the development called in by the Environment Agency on behalf of the Welsh  Government to restrict the building of houses. 
A buy back from the developer and clean up funded by Public Finance is a logical solution to a problem considered to be an ongoing one.

Robin Burn I Eng FIMMM

 Also see :  (for further details )          

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Cities are the future, apparently. City Deal Wellness Developments in Small Towns yet to be validated

Cities are supposedly the driving force of the UK economy. So good are they at making money and improving the lot of their inhabitants that there are more and more new calls for devolution to these powerhouses of wealth generation. Cities know best, so let them get on with it is the mantra.

Cardiff, Wales' only "Core City"
But what if you are not in a city? Is there any hope?

Core Cities UK have this year produced a green paper on the City-led future of Britain. It is available on their website,

The message is that cities are the best thing that ever happened to the human race, the drivers of the economy and the true shape of the future.

Cardiff is one of the case studies you can look up on this site. Cardiff is a fair way from where I live in Carmarthenshire and I know little about its performance other than the impressive growth of our capital's city centre and its successes as the seat of government and home of many National institutions. Its Core City ambitions are clearly worthy.

There are impressive promises, the "Cardiff Commitment" seeking a coalition of change to prepare young people for the world of work. Major businesses and local public service leaders have signed an "employer pledge" committing them to working with schools and accessing skills, tuition. mentoring, apprenticeships and job opportunities for young people. It sounds wonderful, I don't know how feasible delivery is, but you can't argue with the ultimate goal of every young person in Cardiff getting a job or post education training "that allows them to be the best they can be".

The population of Wales is around 3.1 million. The three southern cities populations are roughly around 856,000 in total with Cardiff the largest with 361,000, Swansea has 246.000 and Newport 149,000. Official city dwellers on this estimate, make up 27.5% of our population, low by world estimates where over 50% of people are said to live in cities at present, set to rise to 70% by 2050.
I recently went to a presentation of this green paper in Glasgow and the enthusiasm of the core city leaders was impressive. However, at the end I could not resist asking some of the Council leaders the question which most Welsh People might ask "what is the future of areas which are not cities?"

After a meeting where all parties had criticised the UK Government for its centralisation and "one size fits all policies", the response I got was one emphasising the Cities as the new leaders in growth and economic development, and the need for everyone to work with them, preferably within them. Is that where we non- city dwellers fit in? Join them or condemn ourselves permanently to some second  rate economy, poor services and no tools to improve matters was what I understood by the responses.

The City lobby is powerful and the UK central government has responded with City Deals and the installation of elected mayors, and these policies will likely be extended to many other areas.  Will it all work out ?- I don't know. But I do know that the current trend to pretend that we, the rest of Wales are part of a city or a made up regional partnership area and will therefore share the great leadership, strength and skill claimed by the Core Cities may not be such a good idea.

The Core Cities have the begging bowl out already and are competing for UK government funds will well developed investment bids.  If a rural area funds a project as a"City Deal" will the illusion it is something to do with a city make it a success?

Delta Lakes - it certainly  has a lot of water, is a brownfield site, and belongs to the Council. When I asked why we were planning the "Wellness and Life Science Village there I was answered by Mr Mark James, the CEO of Carmarthenshire County Council "Where else would we find 40 acres of land?"Convenience clearly took precedence over careful site selection. 

Artists impression of the Wellness and life Science Village, Llanelli
Here is the description from the Carmarthenshire County Council Website:

Delta Lakes will provide a ‘world class’ Wellness and Life Science Village along the Llanelli coastline bringing together health, leisure, business and research.

The largest ever regeneration project in South West Wales, it aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people across the region, creating up to 2000 high quality, well paid jobs and boosting the economy by a staggering £467 million over 15 years.

The proposals include:

An Institute of Life Science with laboratory and clinic space and an incubation facility for business start-up, research and development
A Wellness Hub incorporating a new ‘state-of-the-art’ sports and leisure centre
A Community Health Hub offering a range of health and wellbeing services and facilities for education and training.
A Wellness Hotel
An Assisted Living Village, AKA £7m funds originally earmarked for a council care home.

Firm details are scarce. How many of these buildings will be built by the local authority to lease out to businesses, the university, the Health Board and the care home provider, for example? Businesses may be happy to rent units, lease hotels and laboratories etc but is anyone offering to really invest and build and own the units? If not, the cost of construction and landscaping may take up much of the loan money borrowed by the County Council. They rely on the business rates to cover the loan interest - possibly a poor position from which to negotiate the best rental deals.

Before the signing of the agreement, I never saw a proper business plan for the scheme. Neither was there any research report as to how many and where the tourists and service users would probably come from. The expressions of business interest were just that. Does the scheme stand or fall as a whole or are the proposed individual schemes viable in themselves?

How many of the "up to 2000 high quality, well paid jobs" will actually be recruited locally, where many are already stuck in entry level low paid jobs with little prospect?

Maybe pretending to be part of a city will be an advantage?  Personally, I believe our  rural areas, small towns and villages deserve the sort of economic stimuli  generally shown to help these sorts of  communities and the businesses and industries they sustain. Jumping on someone else's bandwagon may not the best strategy.

 Siân Caiach,