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Athletes gearing up for tough event

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PEMBROKE 2WITH only a couple of days to go, athletes are preparing themselves for one of the toughest endurance events ever.

The 2013 IronMan triathlon takes place this Sunday and while the Pro field will be looking for qualifying points towards their Kona Pro rankings as well as battling it out for the $25,000 prize fund, all of the athletes will be completing the same course and hoping to cross the finish line within the 17 hour time limit and the goal they’ve worked so hard for, to gain the Ironman badge of glory.

The last two triathlons have been hugely successful and this year’s race is once again being held in and around Tenby.

Athletes have to train vigorously for this event and it could take up to nine months before you can consider yourself ready for an IronMan triathlon.

The triathlon is a gruelling competition with competitors having to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles before running a complete 26.2 mile marathon – all without a break. It is also the longest of the different types of triathlon.

TENBY 18Compared to the Olympics, the athletes this weekend will be competing over a much greater distance. Last year saw Alistair Brownlee and Jonathon Brownlee take Gold and Bronze respectively but they competed over a shorter distance.

The Olympic athletes had to swim for just under a mile, cycle 25 miles and run for 6.2 miles.

The IronMan athletes have to travel a lot further and have put in hours of dedication just to be ready for the race this Sunday.

Last year approximately 1,500 athletes, representing more than 40 countries turned up to take part and this year’s event is set to be even bigger.

Just over 1,600 athletes are taking part this year and the ages of those taking part ranges from the youngest at 18 to the oldest at 74 years old. Over 10,000 spectators are also expected to visit the area to cheer them on.

The resort of Tenby offers some spectacular views making it an ideal place to hold the race.

The swim course for Ironman Wales takes place on the beautiful North Beach in Tenby and consists of a two loop course totalling 3.8k in distance.

The bike course consists of a two loop course totalling 180 kilometres of spectacular coastal views through idyllic towns giving riders over 2,000 metres of altitude difference throughout the course.

The first loop is longer, extending west from Lamphey to Angle peninsula and Pembroke, returning through Lamphey before turning north through Carew and Templeton to reach Narberth.  From Narberth the course travels south through Saundersfoot to return to Tenby via St Brides Hill.

On the second lap, cyclists turn east in Lamphey to repeat the same route through Narberth and Saundersfoot to reach the transition point in Tenby.

Finally, the marathon course takes place in and around the picturesque town of Tenby. Exiting the transition along South Cliff Street, turning left onto South Parade skirting the town wall, travelling north towards New Hedges. It returns on the same route but continues into the heart of this historic town, taking in The Croft and the harbour.

The course is a four loop run, each loop consisting of just over 10 kilometres of running, before swinging left onto Tenby’s Esplanade to reach the finish line making up the full distance.

Residents are warned that some roads will be closed throughout the day to ensure that the event runs smoothly.

Pembrokeshire County Council has set up an interactive online map so that visitors and residents can see which roads are likely to be affected by the event and when.

Live Facebook and Twitter feeds will also be streamed on the day to keep people updated on road closures/openings, incidents and race information.

The event will also be given worldwide TV coverage and the intense nature of the sport is likely to attract a good audience.

“We have been thrilled at the turnouts over the last two years for Ironman Wales and hope that this year’s event will be equally, if not more, successful,” said Deputy Leader, Councillor Rob Lewis.

“Ironman Wales is now recognized by the Welsh Government as one of the most iconic events held in the country,” he said.

“It gives us a wonderful opportunity to put our county on the tourist map as host of one of the biggest – and also one of the most arduous – sporting events in the world.

“Those of us who live here know how beautiful Pembrokeshire is and with this event being given worldwide TV coverage we have a great opportunity to advertise it across the globe.”

The event starts at 7am when competitors enter the sea at North Beach for the swimming leg of the triathlon. Once out of the water they then embark on a bike ride across the south of the county – following the route of last year’s event – before the final marathon stage through Tenby.

Councillor Lewis said that because of the nature of the event there was likely to be a gap in time between the first entrants home and the last, necessitating road closures for much of the day in some areas.

“However I hope that residents will bear with us and give the event their full support,” he said.

To find the digital map, log onto the Council’s dedicated Ironman website: www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/ironman then go into Race Day Travel. The ironmanwales.com website also has details of access routes around the course.

The competition is set to be fierce and is not for the faint hearted but IronMan Wales 2013 is not one to be missed.

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

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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

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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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Golden goodbye report likely to be critical

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A REPORT by Audit Wales into the departure of former CEO Ian Westley is very likely to contain criticism of senior council officers.

In November 2020, Mr Westley left Pembrokeshire County Council with a £95,000 pay-out, something which has been criticised by a number of councillors.

In a document before the Audit and Governance Committee on Tuesday (April 13), it says that termination payments to Chief Officers are routinely examined by Audit Wales but in the case of Mr Westley, the audit team was unable to locate a recorded decision to enter into the settlement agreement which led to a termination payment being made to the Chief Executive.

An Audit Office spokesperson said: “This appeared unusual and therefore the audit team decided to undertake an early examination of the process that resulted in the payment being made.”

No complaints were raised, by councillors or any other body, with Audit Wales but the number of concerns and questions being raised at following council meetings prompted them to commence an audit.

Audit Wales state: “Our audit fieldwork is substantially complete. However due to the complex nature of some of the issues involved we considered it necessary to take some external legal
advice. We are currently considering that advice. 

“In the near future we will draft a document setting out our provisional findings and conclusions. 

“Once this document is ready we will commence a clearance process to confirm factual accuracy. 

“If the document contains criticism of identifiable individuals, in the first instance we will provide those individuals with any extracts of the document that pertain to them. Once
we have confirmed the factual accuracy with individuals, we will send the full draft document to the Council’s Chief Executive to identify any remaining factual inaccuracies. 

“We will only issue the finalised document once the clearance process has been completed. #

“We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process.”

Only a handful of senior officers were involved in the procedure surrounding Ian Westley’s departure.

The inference which can be safely drawn from Audit Wales’ report to the Audit Committee is that some of its content will be critical either of councillors, senior officers, or both.

The process of asking those named to respond is known as Maxwellisation, a legal practice that allows persons who are to be criticised in an official report to respond prior to publication.

The report highlights the exceptional nature of the case at Pembrokeshire County Council and demonstrates the sensitivity of the issues raised.

If senior officers are sharply criticised or found to have failed in their duty to their employer, they will almost certainly have to go.

The council’s interim Chief Executive will read the document after maxwellisation.

It is also likely that the council’s newly appointed Chief Executive, Will Bramble, will have a chance to see it.

The Audit Wales spokesperson added: “We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process. We are unable to respond to queries about our emerging findings whilst the audit is progressing, and until we have finalised our conclusions.”

In January, Cllr Jamie Adams had called for the council to commence an internal investigation into Mr Westley’s departure but that was deferred to allow for the Audit Wales review to be completed.

Cllr Adams said that the decision of payment should have been a ‘democratic decision’ and has asked why that wasn’t the case.

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