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Badger knows best

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IT’S NICE TO HAVE A HOBBY!

Like all keen collectors there is nothing that beats the sensation of having a complete set of something. Philatelists will tell you that they can’t stand having a gap where they know a purple sixpenny one with an inverted watermark should be.

And so it is with Pembrokeshire County Council.

It’s not enough having Morrison’s, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland, and M&S. What the town of Haverfordwest needs – at least as far as the Council is concerned – is a Sainsbury’s. So, like all completitists with a gap in their album, they have invested a great deal of time and effort in acquiring one.

Now, Badger is not necessarily opposed to having a Sainsbury’s near his sett. At least he will get more opportunities to push a trolley around a big prefabricated shed and roll his eyes at the price of such delicacies as tinned pilchards, UHT milk and pork luncheon meat. And everyone knows just how much fun that is.

LIBRARY TO BE OVERDUE

Cllr Elwyn Morse is possessed of remarkable powers of foresight. In April, Mystic Morse said “Improving the site and making it work better will improve the whole service for the people of Pembrokeshire and its visitors,” he said.

At the same time the Cabinet member for Culture hailed the successful bid for a £300,000 grant to help with Council’s ambitious plans that the library be, according to Head of Cultural Services Mike Cavanagh, a “cultural and learning hub at the heart of the community of Haverfordwest and beyond.”

Oh dear.

The Council’s plans have now been re-assessed. Far from the site of the library being the type of glistening beacon of learning and culture of which Elwyn Morse dreamed, it now appears to be more of an albino pachyderm.

The ambitious and worthy plans have been shelved. It happens that the County Council’s estimates of the cost of redevelopment were, shall we say, ‘optimistic’.

But how quick the reassessment of the site’s viability was!

It was July that Mystic Morse revealed that his crystal ball had been subject to unexpected interference:  “Unfortunately we are unable to go forward with the original proposals because the tender prices were well over the approved budget.

“In short, it is not feasible to proceed with the project in these straitened times.

“We are however actively considering other options to provide a 21st Century library in Haverfordwest and that could include re-locating to the town centre.

“Such a move would certainly provide a much needed boost for that area of Haverfordwest.”

One would have imagined that before closing a community facility, the Council would have done more than guess at the likely tender value of its replacement. The Council’s budget is less than the price of carrying out the works.

The whole process appears to have been less an exercise in replacing a tired facility than one in wishful thinking.

How can it be the case that it was okay to close the library in November 2012 or to receive a grant toward the replacement in April 2013 when the process of getting tenders for a replacement had not then been completed?

A closure intended to improve the service and the building now looks less part of a grand plan and more of a horrendous and avoidable misstep. Rather like trying to put out a fire in the County Council’s finances by throwing books on to it.

The Council remains so far silent on what it intends to do with the existing library site.

Badger has an idea, though.

We still haven’t got a Waitrose or an ASDA…!

We have a gap in the album.

 

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Cllr Beynon suspended as school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL said that they are unable to comment on the suspension of a Pembroke Dock councillor as a school governor.

Cllr Beynon confirmed that he has been suspended as a school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur.

“I’m looking forward until when the ombudsman throws out the complaints,” Cllr Beynon said.

Paul Dowson, a fellow Pembroke Dock councillor, recently resigned from the board of school governors of Ysgol Harri Tudur.

Cllr Dowson said after he resigned: “I feel a recent smear campaign reflects badly on the school even though its untrue.”

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Pembrokeshire man admits catalogue of sexual offences against children

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A HAVERFORDWEST man has pleaded guilty to a huge catalogue of sexual offences against children, including possession of more than 9,000 indecent images.

Kevin David John has admitted 20 offences in total – including the rape of a girl under 16 – following a three-month investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The 49-year-old, who appeared at Swansea Crown Court on June 23, came to police attention in April when he was arrested and a search carried out at his Prendergast home.

In total 111 different storage devices were seized – including tablets, laptops and mobile phones – along with almost 1,000 disks.

Specialist officers spent hours combing through huge amounts of data, uncovering substantial evidence of further offending, and John was charged and remanded into custody.

John initially appeared at Swansea Magistrates Court on April 24 where he pleaded guilty to five counts: recording a person doing a private act, sexual assault, causing a girl under 16 to engage in sexual activity, and two of taking an indecent photograph of a child.

He later admitted a further 15, which comprised sexual assault, sexual assault by touching, four sexual assaults of a child, rape, possession of Category A, B and C indecent photographs, making Category A, B and C pseudo-photographs of a child, possession of a prohibited image of a child, and possession of extreme pornographic images.

Detective Inspector Richard Lewis said: “This has been a detailed and harrowing investigation from the outset, involving a number of vulnerable victims and witnesses.

“Their courage in speaking out has been humbling, and the information they shared with us was invaluable in getting John to court,” he said.

Darren Mutter, Head of Children’s Services at Pembrokeshire County Council, said the council’s social services department had also worked closely with police to support the victims and their families, and ensure all safeguarding was addressed.

Added DI Lewis: “Police officers throughout Pembrokeshire played a role in this enquiry, and I would like to convey my sincere thanks to all staff involved for their professionalism and dedication in what has been a challenging and sensitive enquiry.

“Thanks also to Dyfed-Powys Police’s digital cybercrime unit, whose rigorous interrogation of a mammoth amount of potential evidence enabled us to build a robust case that demonstrated the severity of John’s offending.”

John will appear for sentencing at Swansea Crown Court on July 17.

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Jail for sleight of hand fraudster

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A MAN has been jailed for four fraud offences after purposely confusing post office and bank staff with sleight of hand techniques.

Costel Ventel visited four post offices and a bank in Pembrokeshire in one day, tricking staff into handing over a total of £930.

Just hours later, the 20-year-old from Birmingham was reported to Dyfed-Powys Police for trying to use the same technique in Llanelli.

PC Olivia Jones said: “We were called to post offices in Tenby, Saundersfoot and Kilgetty, as well as HSBC in Tenby, on May 17, 2019, where Ventel had committed or attempted to commit fraud.

“He’d asked staff to exchange bank notes, then purposely confused them by using sleight of hand techniques. Ventel passed notes back and fore, managing to pocket £450 from one and £480 from another without the member of staff noticing.

“We believed he had travelled from Birmingham for the purpose of carrying out these acts of fraud, and enquiries immediately started to locate him.”

Later that day, Ventel travelled to Llanelli, where he tried to commit further offences at HSBC.

PC Jones said: “Thankfully, staff at the bank were alerted to their unusual behaviour and recognised them from descriptions circulated following the incident at the Tenby branch, and called police.

“Both men were arrested on suspicion of fraud offences.”

Initially Ventel was released under investigation, but following extensive enquiries over a number of months, four charges of fraud by false representations were secured against him.

He was summonsed to appear at court June 30, where he was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison.

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