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Badger and the hundred days



badger84imageBADGER was startled to notice last weekend that it is now under three months until our Caledonian chums and chumettes vote on whether they want to remain a member of the United Kingdom or strike out on their own. Even having followed the story fur a little while, Badger was taken by surprise that the moment of destiny was approaching so soon. Badger has noticed that the arguments have become polarised around two central themes: Those FOR independence respond to questions they don’t like the answers to by accusing their questioner of scare-mongering. For example: “First Minister: what did you have for breakfast?”

Alex SaImond: “People in Scotland are sick and tired of the Westminster establishment talking Scotland down. The issue is not what I had for breakfast but whether it was a Scottish breakfast.” Looking at Alex Salmond we can, however, guess that the origin of food is less a concern of his than its destination. On the other hand the NO campaign have cunningly deployed Chancellor Gideon “George” Osborne, with his persuasive Scottish brogue, ready charm and “man of the people” persona to tell Scottish voters that if they are uncouth enough to vote “YES” to devolution, the four horseman of the apocalypse stand ready at Carlisle to cross the border on September 19 and bring doom, death and calamity to the Highlands and Islands. But not to Glasgow, on the basis that nobody would notice. In the Scottish Devolution campaign, the intellectual quality of debate is only fatally undermined by the intellectual quality of the participants. It’s a bit like the Iran/Iraq War.

In Kissinger’s words, “it’s a pity they can’t both lose.” But this thought of 100 days (now less) to the big vote made Badger think. If small states are really the answer, how small could you go? As it turns out there are a good number of states smaller than Pembrokeshire’s 614 square miles in area. They include financial powerhouses, like Bahrain, Hong Kong and Liechtenstein. Just think of the tax a diligent public servant could save on his pension in a land where money comes with no questions asked and no scrutiny allowed. With the proposed reorganization of the Welsh local government, which will involve the disappearance of such little as there is of local accountability and democracy in Pembrokeshire, is the time now right for Pembrokeshire to make a unilateral declaration of independence from the rest of the UK?

Badger pondered the question. Much buoyed by watching The Mouse that Roared and a few snifters of Olde Hedgehogge (puts hairs inside your chest!), Badger concluded that there were more unlikely things that could happen to Pembrokeshire. Such as IPPG chump-in-chief Jamie Adams exercising humility and apologising for the years of maladministration by his benighted group of saps and frauds. Looking at small nation states, at the bottom of the list – in terms of area – is the Vatican City. Ruled over by a single, infallible head of state, immovable from his post, surrounded by cardinals and lackeys jockeying for favour and position: is perhaps how someone from the Vatican might describe Pembrokeshire. But Badger digresses: picture it readers.

Not Passport to Pimlico, but Passport to Puncheston! As Badger’s eyes panned down the list, he was struck by just how
small some independent countries are. He is just amazed that John Allen-Mirehouse hasn’t looked at the same list and struck out to form the Grand Duchy of Angle, complete with feudal overlord. Although perhaps he has already. To the north and east, Badger can envisage see the border crossing near Llantood and MTBs patrolling the territorial waters between Cemaes Head St Dogmael’s. To the south and east, Badger anticipates a razor wire stretching from Cilgerran to Amroth to exclude desperate refugees from the People’s Democratic Republic of Carmarthenshire and the cruel rule of Comrade Maggs.

Look at it this way, readers, could that be any worse than what the Welsh government is threatening to do to our County? Driven by a be thatcentral isation brings benefits — a dubious economic theory, strongly undermined by the example of the Soviet Union and other command economies based around a large central bureaucracy — the Welsh Government has embarked on a process of stripping away layers of local services and replacing them with remote and unaccountable quangos. The Health Service, education, local government, policing: Badger has heard Carwyn Jones and his drones say —over and over again—words to the effect that “everyone knows that we cannot go on the way we are”, “everyone knows we have to reform the health service”, “everyone knows the current structure is unsustainable.”

To those people Badger has this to say: “The voices in your head are not everyone.” In the 21st century is the Welsh Government really proposing that the 122,500 people living in Pembrokeshire are incapable of running their own affairs and making their own decisions close to where the effects of those decisions will be most felt? With few exceptions the Welsh Cabinet is a combination of single-issue quangocrats, machine politicians, union hacks and erstwhile academics determined to experiment in social policy upon the Welsh people. The Welsh Government lack the imagination, ability, and will to make the current system work.

It would rather look for fault in the tools with which policy is locally delivered than look at the flaws in itself. Everyone is to blame apart from the Government that has been in place for the last FIFTEEN years. The costs of centralisation will be high and the benefits, if any, dubious. Efficiencies, if any, will be eaten up by bureaucratic wrangling and years of untangling complex local arrangements. Getting primary legislation through the Senedd and Parliament before some alphabet soup agency whizz kid comes up with an even brighter wheeze will be impossible. There will not be a democratic deficit. There will be a democratic abyss.

Badger is not suggesting everything is rosy in Pembrokeshire: it ain’t. lb quote Henry Kissinger (again): “It is the corrupt politicians who make the other ten percent look bad.” But Badger would rather have his own rat running the ship than a rat from another county. There is the talent and ability in Pembrokeshire to prove Carwyn wrong. It needs some councillors to take a good look at what they am on the Council to achieve and form working partnerships to force through real improvements and deliver real benefit in return for the public’s investment and faith. And if they can’t or won’t, then they need to make way for those that will try.

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Approval recommended for dockyard plans



A CONTROVERSIAL plan to develop part of Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard comes before the County Council’s Planning Committee next week.

Despite many objections from heritage organisations, Council planning officers recommend the development’s approval.

However, the Planning Committee will only indicate whether it is ‘minded to approve’ the proposal instead of giving it the go-ahead.

The Welsh Government has called in the application for decision by the next Welsh Government minister responsible for planning and infrastructure developments.

That means the Welsh Government will consider the Report presented to the Committee and weigh it against the objections received.


The application is to develop a brownfield site within the former Royal Dockyard.

It seeks outline planning permission for the demolition or part demolition and infill of various buildings and structures, modification of existing slipways, erection of buildings and ancillary development. 

The development is intended for port-related activities, including the manufacture of marine energy devices, boat manufacture, repair and erection of plant.

The application is for outline planning permission. All matters relating to access, appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale are reserved for consideration as part of reserved matters applications. In practice, as many councils – including Pembrokeshire – have discovered, once outline planning is granted, reserved applications tend to proceed despite potential negative impacts.

A similar situation arose with Milford Haven Port Authority’s hotel development at Milford Marina, where councillors’ concerns were largely overruled by the existence of outline planning permission for the development.

Part of the proposal would see the former graving dock and timber pond infilled, the part demolition of existing slipways, and some buildings on site.

Both the graving dock and timber pond are Grade II listed. Buildings near the development are also listed, including the iconic Sunderland flying boat hangars.

The existing caisson gate currently in situ at the dock’s southern end would be removed and conserved. It is unique in Wales and a rare example. The planning report states that the caisson gate would remain within the marine environment without development and deteriorate. 

The development would include a new ‘super slipway’ built over the land extending into the River Cleddau and the construction of massive new industrial sheds to accommodate new marine technology.


The planning report claims the facilities erected will support anywhere between 288 and 975 full-time equivalent jobs in Pembrokeshire and make a substantial contribution to the local economy. However, the report also notes that the numbers of jobs claimed cannot be corroborated.

This proposal is linked to the establishment of the Marine Energy Test Areas (META), the Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) and the Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone (PDZ). These collectively comprise the Pembroke Dock Marine (PDM) project. 

The project forms part of the Swansea Bay City Deal to facilitate the next generation of marine renewable energy technology.

Companies who could potentially gain from the development have signalled their support from the proposal.Although their enthusiasm is predictable, the economic potential for local businesses cannot be ignored.


However, a raft of objections also exists.

The Council received representations from, among others: The Victorian Society; The Georgian Group; Hywel Dda University Health Board;  Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre; Pembrokeshire Historic Buildings Trust; Pembroke Civic Trust; Naval Dockyards Society; The Commodore Trust; Ridgway History Group.

Not all of those organisations objected to the principle of development. For example, Hywel Dda expressed concern about the potential effect on access to South Pembs Hospital and patient care. However, most criticised the impact on the historic environment of the Royal Dockyard. Individual objections also expressed the same concerns.

The Naval Dockyard Society points out that the Dockyard construction was the reason for Pembroke Dock’s creation as a town. Without it, the town would not exist.

The Society continues: ‘The proposed scheme would severely damage Pembroke Dock Conservation Area and crucial listed buildings. 

‘The Grade II* Graving Dock would be infilled and partially built over, the Grade II Timber Pond infilled and built over, and the Grade II Building Slips Nos 1 and 2 partially demolished and removed. It would also be detrimental to the adjacent Grade II Carr Jetty setting, which adds to the group value of these threatened structures at Pembroke Dockyard.

‘These structures are the last and most important features of the magnificent and unique assemblage of thirteen slips, graving dock and timber pond constructed and functioning 1809–1926. 

‘Pembroke Dock specialised in building warships during the transition from wood to iron and steel, sail to steam and turbines. 

‘While the eastern slips were sacrificed in 1979 for the Irish ferry terminal and the deep-water berth Quay 1, we now live in a more responsible era, when significant community assets merit planning protection.

‘The Royal Dockyard established at Pembroke Dock from 1809 was unique: the only one in Wales, the only one on the west coast of Britain, and the only one created solely as a shipbuilding facility. 

‘It built over 260 warships for the Royal Navy, including many of the most prestigious warships of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as five royal yachts. Many of these vessels were built on the two large slipways at the western end of the yard threatened by the current development proposal’.


William Gannon represents Pembroke Dock Town Council on the Milford Haven Port Authority. Mr Gannon recently hosted an online event that reviewed the application and gave local people the chance to express their views.

We asked him what the public had to say about the plans.

Listening to the community: David Gannon (photo credit: David Steel)

William Gannon told us: “The feeling of the Community following our Zoom Meeting was that we welcome the 1800 jobs and the £63 Million of investment that the Pembroke Dock Marine Project has promised. 

“However, the Community is concerned about the Pickling Pond and The Graving Dock’s loss, which will be buried beneath the new slipway. Both The Pickling Pond and The Graving Dock are Grade 2 Star listed heritage assets.

“The Community are also concerned about the size of the two ‘super sheds’ that may be built. It is felt that these sheds are both too large and ugly, and they will damage the appearance of the Dockyard and The Haven and could damage Pembroke Docks plans to develop Tourism in and around the Dockyard.

“Our Community is looking to strike a balance between the need to develop the Dockyard and to preserve our Heritage Assets. 

“We believe that we can do this by working with The Port to develop a solution that allows for both.”

The Port Authority plans to infill the dock and pond in such a way as to preserve the structures and excavate them in the future. Once they are built over, however, the circumstances that would be possible or even likely are unclear. 

The Port Authority also proposes to use digital media to provide an ‘augmented reality’ experience to show visitors what the Royal Dockyard looked like before its development.

The Port says that part of the land, the Carriage Drive, would be enhanced and restored under its plans for the site.
The balance between preserving heritage and creating future jobs in one of its pet project areas is one the Welsh Government will wrestle with on this application and others.

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Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears



A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said in Swansea Crown Court.

In total, 11 former pupils, who were all under 13, have come forward and accused James Oulton, 34, of sexually assaulting them.

Oulton denies all the charges – saying the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he had behaved appropriately all times.

One of the pupils, who was in year four at the time, opened day four of the trial by giving evidence via a video link.

The girl told the court: “He would put his arm around by back and backside.”

Under cross examination Chris Clee QC, for the defence, asked the witness: “Did you tell the police that you were touched in an inappropriate way?”

The witness answered: “Yes, teachers should not be touching in that way.”

James Oulton

Asked if what he was doing wrong, the witness replied:

“Yes, very wrong”

In cross examination letters and cards were produced, made the witness whilst in school, where she had said Mr. James Oulton was “the best teacher in the whole world.”

One of the cards said: “You’ve made my life complete”.

Another card said: “Thank you for being so nice, and thanks for everything that you’ve done for me.”

The witness added: “Despite what he did do, he was a good teacher.  

“He used to buy us treats.

“He was nice caring and a sweet and fun teacher – but not what he was doing.

Referring to the cards, she said: “I would definitely not be saying that stuff now.”

Explaining how she told her parents the witness said: “Once I realised that [x] was in his class, I asked her ‘did he do this stuff to you?’

“She said yes.

“I realised more and more it was wrong and it was time to grow up now, and to speak.

“As soon as I found out that this was happening to [x] I stood up and told my parents.

Asked if she had seen inappropriate behaviour happening to anybody else the witness answered: “He did it to most of the girls in the class, but he had his favourites.

Asked if she had spoken to other girls about the touching, the witness said: “Yes, I was just curious was it just me, or was it normal?”

“Teachers should most definitely not be doing that to students.

“Doing what?”, the witness was asked, “You said in your police interview that he would pull you off your chair and make you sit on his lap, is that true?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

“Did you try and stop him?” she was asked.

“Yes, I tried to push him off sometimes and said, ‘get off its weird’, but I didn’t want to make a scene.

“He would make me sit on his lap whilst he was marking my work.”

When asked by the defence barrister how she was sat on her teacher’s lap, and if it was under a desk, the witness answered: “No, not under the desk, as both of our legs wouldn’t fit under.”

The witness also said that when she was sat on the defendant’s knee he would make “a low grunting noise.”

Asked if she had spoken others about this case, the girl said: “Police told my mum and dad that there were very many people involved in the case.

“I thought it was just me and [x] that was going to be at court, I only recently discovered that others had come out.”

A second female pupil was also giving evidence via video link. She was 9-years-old at the time of the alleged offending.

Firstly, a pre-recorded interview was played in court in which the witness said: “My teacher, Mr. Oulton always put his hand up my leg like that and up my t-shirt.”

She added: “If he calls you over and he pulls you onto his lap, if you don’t, he pulls your chair over and makes you.”

“How would he make you?” the QC asked.

“He would grab your arm, push you, and then pull you in”, she replied.

When asked if this was a one off, the witness said that the defendant “did it every day.”

“How would you be sat on his lap?”, she was asked.

“He would have one arm on my stomach, then the other arm would be rubbing my leg.”

“He would swap arms and then put one arm up my t-shirt.”

When asked to clarify if it was under her t-shirt the girl explained: “Yes it was under my t-shirt rubbing his hands up and down.”

The witness added: “If I tried to get up for work, he would just grab my arm.”

“He would make a funny sound like a hissing airplane.”

“We had a helper in the class, and when he came in, he would stop, and then I could go and sit down.”

The trial continues.

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New trees planted to help town



SEVERAL new trees have been planted on Riverside Avenue in Neyland.

They were planted by Grandiflora, courtesy of the Town Council which recently pledged to plant more trees in the town in an attempt to help the environment.

As well as helping the environment, the trees will prevent vehicles from being parked on the grass verges on Riverside Avenue, which had been severely churned up over the winter and looked unsightly.

The Town Council will be working with Pembrokeshire County Council regarding parking issues in Neyland.

The trees will be tended and watered over the summer period to ensure they reach their maximum potential and enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

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