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Helicopter row reaches Westminster

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A LETTER sent to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart has called into question the basis upon which the National Police Air Service (NPAS)

Ducked question: Secretary of State Stephen Crabb (Con) .

Ducked question: Secretary of State Stephen Crabb (Con) .

intends to scrap the police helicopter based at Pembrey which serves the Dyfed- Powys Police area.

Despite assurances given to Dyfed Powys Police Commissioner Christopher Salmon that the helicopter service had a secure future, NPAS has announced plans to scrap the service from January 1 2016 and replace it with a fixed wing aircraft based at St Athan.

A letter to the MP from Mark Burns-Williamson, chair of NPAS’ strategic board, suggests that NPAS’ grasp of Welsh geography is, at best sketchy.

In the letter, Mr Burns-Williamson extols the virtues of a fixed wing aircraft flying from St Athan. In the course of his glowing endorsement of the plans, Mr Burns-Williamson also suggests that the transit time from St Athan to Haverfordwest is 31 minutes and claims that the transit time from St Athan to Caernarfon is only 21 minutes.

The distance between St Athan and Haverfordwest is 73 miles as the crow flies.

The distance between St Athan and Caernarfon is 126 miles or so as the crow flies.

As Mr Hart points out: “I think they have mistaken Caernarfon for Carmarthen, which is a bit of a concern.”

In Parliament, Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards’ efforts to quiz Secretary of State Stephen Crabb on the issue were thwarted as the Preseli Pembrokeshire MP ducked a question on the NPAS decision to scrap helicopter coverage in Wales’ most rural areas.

The Carmarthen East & Dinefwr MP was selected to question Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb on Wednesday. Mr Edwards asked that Mr Crabb meet with him to discuss the police helicopter announcement that will see the £2m state-of-the-art Pembrey base close on January 1 2016. Mr Edwards also requested the secretary of state seeks the involvement of the home secretary as the minister responsible for policing.

Instead of Mr Crabb fronting up to tackle an issue of concern to his own constituents, Wales Office Minister, Alun Cairns MP, responded on behalf of the Westminster government. The response, Jonathan Edwards says, has raised serious questions about what the police commissioner has agreed since the announcing the deal to save Pembrey in November.

Afterwards Mr Edwards said: “It’s quite suspect that the minister was quick to congratulate (Mr Salmon) on saving money, but made absolutely no mention to the reality that we will lose our police helicopter.

“The police commissioner announced just four months ago that he had secured the future of the helicopter and the Pembrey base, but NPAS has now reneged on that deal. That ministers are now spinning this as a good news story leaves me highly suspicious and raises serious questions about what has been agreed in the last few months.”

NPAS do not publish minutes of their strategic board meetings. The MP has therefore submitted a freedom of information request. The requests seeks: “Copies of minutes from the National Police Air Service Strategic Board meetings that took place in December 2014, January 2015 and February 2015. These minutes should, where applicable, include discussion and decision records (including all members who voted) on the proposal to remove Dyfed Powys Police Helicopter and its base in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, from the National Police Air Service plan.”

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Multi-agency response to house fire in Siskin Close, Haverfordwest

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FIRE crews are attending a domestic fire in a property on Siskin Close, Haverfordwest.

As of 11.45pm on Monday evening crews were still dampening down a fire which enfulfed two floors of a domestic property.

It is understood the alarm was raised after 10pm.

Our reporter on the scene said that there were four fire crews in attendance as well as three ambulances as well as police, who had set up a perimeter, controlling access to the scene.

A large number of local residents were watching on from a safe distance as the incident was being dealt with.

At the time of writing the street was blocked off to traffic with a large number of emergency vehicles parked up, all the way around the corner to the top of Harrier Road.

All of the emergency services have been contacted for a comment.

THIS STORY IS UPDATING

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Outdoor hospitality given go-ahead and rules on mixing outdoors relaxed in Wales

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SIX people will be able to meet outdoors in Wales from Saturday 24 April while outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26 April as cases of new COVID-19 infections continue to fall, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed today.

The current rule provides for up to six people (not including children under 11 years of age or carers) from a maximum of two households to meet outdoors.

The new rules from Saturday will allow six people (not including children under 11 years of age or carers) to meet outdoors.

People should observe social distancing from people from outside their household or support bubble when meeting others outside.

The rules for meeting indoors remain unchanged.

The First Minister has also confirmed outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26th April 2021.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “The public health context in Wales remains favourable, with cases falling and our vaccination programme continues to go from strength to strength. Because meeting outdoors continues to be lower risk than meeting indoors, we are able to bring forward changes to allow any six people to meet outdoors.

“This will provide more opportunities for people, especially young people, to meet outdoors with their friends. This will undoubtedly have a significant positive impact on people’s wellbeing.

“I’m also pleased to confirm outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26th April.

“These changes will help the hospitality sector recover after a difficult twelve months.

“It is thanks to the continuing efforts of people across Wales we are able to introduce this change. Together, we will continue to keep Wales safe.”

On Friday (23rd April 2021), the First Minister will confirm further relaxations to the covid rules that will come into force on Monday 26 April 2021.

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Police ‘enforcement and engagement’ to curb anti-social behaviour in Tenby

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POLICE in Tenby will be using enforcement and engagement in a bid to curb future incidents of anti-social behaviour, they said on Monday (Apr 17)

The announcement comes after Tenby was left with empty cans, broken bottles and fast food wrappers strewn everywhere, after over two hundred young people gathered to enjoy the weekend – perhaps expected whilst pubs remained closed.

Licensed establishment have not yet been able to open in Wales, but they are open in England for outdoor refreshments. They are opening on Monday.

There were reports of young people walking through the town with boxes full of alcohol, with other people buying takeaway drinks from licensed premises before making their way to the harbour.

The sheer number of people meant people were urinating in the streets, some residents told The Pembrokeshire Herald.

A Dyfed-Powys police spokesperson said: “With the continued easing of the regulations designed to keep us safe and the weather getting warmer we have seen an increase of people visiting and out and about in the Pembrokeshire area.
“While it’s great that people are now able to visit Pembrokeshire again, the behaviour of some placed additional pressure not only on the police but on the local authority as well.
“Tenby in particular attracted a large crowd on Saturday evening, April 18, resulting in anti-social behaviour, especially in the harbour area.

Chief Inspector Louise Harries said: “We recognise the concerns of residents and businesses after the anti-social behaviour seen in Tenby on Saturday evening. We are working with partners to avoid these issues re-occurring in the future.
“Police officers will be patrolling the area over the coming weeks and while the priority will be to engage with the public, enforcement action will be taken where necessary”
“We want to see people enjoying and the majority of people are doing so in accordance with the regulations, however the minority who don’t are spoiling it for others.
“We will continue to engage with our communities and visitors to the area to ensure that everyone enjoys in a safe manner.”

(Cover photo courtesy Pure West Radio)

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