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Badger and the pilot of the future

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Badger0MANY years ago, the older among you will remember there was a comic called The Eagle, the main star of which was chiseljawed English spaceman Dan Dare. Along with his faithful companion Digby, Dan Dare fl ew the good ship Anastasia around our solar system and beyond righting interplanetary wrongs with the aid of his trusty left hook.

Of course, readers, Frank Hampson’s optimistic take on the future of space exploration, and in particular the United Kingdom’s leading role in providing crack pilots to Space Fleet, has become hackneyed and kitsch in a way The Eagle’s young readers would not have believed. Badger is not inclined to nostalgia, readers: the here and now is just fi ne by him. Whenever people bang on about how much better the past was, he always reaches for a large pinch of salt. Whenever politicians bang on about the past or appeal to some sort of inchoate and misty common memory, Badger reaches for a shotgun.

Badger has written before about UKIP: The provisional wing of the Monster Raving Looney Party. Last week UKIP gained its first elected MP. A curious looking cove called Douglas Carswell, who for the previous nine years of his political life had brayed along with the best of them behind David Cameron, last month jumped ship to Nigel Farage’s Barmy Army and immediately sought a fresh mandate from his electors. The wonderfully-named Mark Reckless, the MP for Rochester and Strooooood (BBC pronunciation) who rather sounds like the type of character from Dan Dare who ends up trapped by the Mekon in the third story panel, decided subsequently that he would also joint a party whose appeal is not so much retro as a re-tread of all those fi lms in which upper lips were stiff and good old Blighty showed the way to world, or at least the fi endish foreigners who threatened Blighty’s right to rule it. Now, readers, apart from a passing resemblance to the Mekon, which is what started Badger off down this particular route, Douglas Carswell has not much to do with Dan Dare.

Well, not unless we look upon him as someone who demonstrates what someone should do if they change sides and join another party. Not so much a ‘pilot’ in the usual sense we understand then, but as someone who shows the way a politician should act if they ‘cross the fl oor’. Or in the case of members of Pembrokeshire County Council, surrender to the dark side. Of course, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless say they have not acted out of anything other than principle in leaving one party and joining another. Badger can be – and is – cynical about many things, not least politicians who leave one party to join another, but having done so they both stepped down as MP’s and sought a fresh mandate. It is a tragic waste of their fine example that it was wasted on a group of saloon bar bores and dingbats like UKIP.

Imagine if Messrs Carswell’s and Reckless’ example applied to Pembrokeshire, readers. Sue Perkins defected, but did not put herself to a fresh electoral test. Perhaps 2012 was a close enough call for her and she did not trust her electorate’s good judgement to return her when she betrayed them after the election. The Pope of Neyland, Simon Hancock, did not have to put himself through an election in 2012. He simply played a word game after it. You have to wonder, however, how many of his constituents would vote for him in a contested election after he has presided over cuts in social care and local services and introduced charges for day centre use for the elderly on practically no empirical evidence. Stephen Joseph would have been back and forward to the polls a couple of times. Or perhaps just once.

Bob Kilmister, Jonathan Nutting and Peter Stock would have sought reelection, as would David Bryan. And now Alison Lee would be facing the voters seeking their endorsement for joining a group under the leadership of a person in whom she had no confi dence as recently as a few weeks ago. It is not a question of wrong and right. It is a question of the electorate not being swindled if a councillor changes their mind once through the doors of the gravy train. Badger does not criticise all the decisions councillors make. No. Badger wants to make it clear, readers, that the root of many of Pembrokeshire’s longer term problems stem from further afi eld in Cardiff Bay and Westminster. But the way in which the majority of county councillors have demonstrated the judgement of stunned cuttlefishes, the combined intelligence of a tin of tomato soup, and the spinelessness of a small rubber chickens on springs has caused him to despair. Readers: What confidence can we have in the majority of our elected members if they keep on behaving in such self-evidently self-serving ways?

And the worst thing is that, apart from Jamie’s spymaster, Rob Summons, none of the governing group stood as anything other than a pretended independent. Too gutless to stand on principle – or bereft of them – they collectively perpetrated the type of dishonesty one should only expect from merchant bankers. Which is how Badger thinks of many (not all) of them: A great big set of merchant bankers. Pembrokeshire now faces grave challenges, readers. Some want to do away with our political autonomy and destroy our local democracy. Leighton Andrews, who has refused to be interviewed by this newspaper about his moronic plan to gut Welsh local government like a fi sh, represents one challenge. The looming budget problems, represent another. So Badger would like to propose a radical solution to our county councillors.

Not just to the IPPG, but to all our councillors, even the ones Badger likes. Stand down. All of you. Then, present yourselves at the ballot box clearly setting out your programme to address Pembrokeshire’s problems and your constituent’s concerns. No generic partisan bollocks. Make your pledges personal and direct. Be prepared to be judged by how you perform against them. None of this hiding behind the label ‘independent’, no crappy, clever-clever word games: Tell people what you believe in, what you want to do, and how you intend to go about achieving it. Badger’s friend Old Grumpy is often fond of saying that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Well, Pembrokeshire’s electorate did not vote for the type of crass posturing we have seen from County Hall in the last couple of years. County Hall’s politics needs a proper realignment. So come on, councillors. Set a direction. Get a mandate. Follow it through. Or, instead of being turkeys voting for Christmas, are you just chicken?

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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans

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PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a witch hunt by the police, a jury has heard.

But at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), the Clare Wilks for the prosecution said that the defendant had “abused the trust of parents and staff” by sexually touching children in his care.

James Oulton, denies 30 charges of sexual assault against the eleven children who were aged eight or nine years old at the time.

The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

The jury heard how the pupils, now aged between 11 and 17, claimed he touched them sexually.

But the court was also told that Mr Oulton claimed he received cards at the end of term, and he believed letters sent by Pembrokeshire council to parents encouraged false complaints and collusion between pupils.

Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, told the court he had behaved appropriately.

The jury heard how the alleged abuse occurred while Mr Oulton was working at a primary school in Haverfordwest.

Clare Wilks, prosecuting, said some of the children alleged that they had been assaulted on a daily basis, while others had had given statements to say it only happened the one time.

The trial continues.

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