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Council’s rubbish plan goes ahead

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THE COUNTY COUNCIL has given the go ahead to controversial plans to cut domestic rubbish collections. The Council’s scheme, to change from a weekly to a fortnightly collection for black bag rubbish, was this week rubber-stamped by the Council’s IPPG Cabinet.
The new regime, affecting black bag and glass waste, will be introduced in October.
Irate residents and concerned local Councillors have already voiced their fears that the changes are potentially hazardous. Questioned have been raised about the wisdom of the Cabinet’s decision and the impact it will have on the people of Pembrokeshire. Some Councillors are unconvinced that the cut in services was implemented to meet Welsh Government recycling targets, as the Council has claimed.
Speaking to The Herald, Councillor Huw George, Cabinet Member for Environment and Regulatory Services, claimed that fortnightly collections would reduce costs by an estimated £500,000 a year. In response to the question of whether or not this saving would be passed on as a rebate to residents who have already been billed for this year’s Council Tax, Cllr. George stated that:
“With regards to the question in respect of a reduction in Council Tax, you should be aware that the vast majority of funding for Pembrokeshire County Council services comes through the Welsh Government and they have announced very significant cuts to our income for future years, with greater reductions likely to come. We do therefore need to take some difficult decisions about the services we deliver and how we do so in order that we can continue to operate within the reduced budget available to us.”
He went on to say, “As you will be aware, the orange recycling bags and the food waste will continue to be a weekly service. Typically, over 70% of all domestic household waste is recyclable, which actually means that if someone is fully using the recycling services they will have less black bag waste to store over a fortnight than they were previously generating in a week. There is no compunction upon individual householders to recycle but, clearly it is their choice if they wish to minimize the amount of waste they have to store for up to two weeks.”
Lyndon Frayling, vice chairman of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, supported the new policy saying, “I make no apologies for doing so. This decision will help us achieve the huge savings we need to make (like every Council in the country) and make it easier to make the tough recycling targets set by the Welsh (Labour) Government. It will mean a change of routine for people but if the rest of Wales can cope with fortnightly collections, I do not believe it is beyond the scope of Pembrokeshire householders to do so as well.”
One angry parent, who wished to remain unnamed, spoke to The Herald by stating that she would face storing soiled nappies for up to two weeks in a small flat. Liberal Democrat Councillor for Dinas Cross, Bob Kilminster picked up her point:
“My biggest concern is for the large number of adults who receive social care packages and have to use incontinence or sanitary wear on a daily basis. These people are, by their conditions, rarely mobile and rely on the refuse collection service to dispose of the products they have to use on a regular basis. Going to a two week collection for these people may well cause huge problems. We could even experience increased social care costs as a result of this.”
Castle Ward resident, Dave Chalker, expressed his fear of a return to the scenes witnessed during the 1970s during the so-called ‘Winter of Discontent’, with rubbish building up in people’s yards and gardens, causing smells that could encourage scavengers and vermin.
That view was supported by Sarah Llewellyn, Town Councillor for Castle Ward, who was sceptical about the value of the policy as a cost cutting measure. She told The Herald, “I would have thought this is a real backward step. Many householders simply do not have the space to store their household waste for prolonged periods or the means to make journeys to the nearest civic amenity sites. Who is going to clear up the mess, and at what cost?”
The Herald sought a response from Keep Wales Tidy on the issue of the carbon footprint left by motorists making additional trips to municipal sites but, even though the action group’s website states they ‘research environmental issues and identify good practice at a local and national level’, they took the position that they were ‘declining to comment because it is a local authority issue’.
A Garth Ward resident, who wished to remain anonymous, was more forthcoming in her criticism of the idea of transporting waste to a municipal refuse tip, saying, “I’m so angry. How is a mother with no car supposed to just take their rubbish to a tip some miles away? In a pram? On the bus? It is ridiculous. I will simply find the nearest area for communal weekly collection and leave it there”.
On this point Councillor David Howlett, Conservative, attempted to reassure constituents by stating that, “At last week’s meeting of the Environment Committee, concern was expressed in relation to sanitary waste, and we voted on an amended proposal that will mean this aspect will be given further consideration. Also, I understand that for certain flats and multi-occupancy properties that do not currently have food and glass collections, they will continue with weekly black bin bag collections until a solution is found.”
Councillor David Bryan, of Haverfordwest Priory ward, who supported the shift to fortnightly collections, commented on this issue, saying that, “The only caveat that is needed is that there must be consideration given to the particular problems concerned with multi occupied properties and the need to collect soiled disposable nappies. It is also extremely important that weekly food refuse collections should be retained.”
Lyndon Frayling, Councillor for Garth Ward, stated that flats and multi-occupancy properties are not affected. However, when pressed on how the Council defined multi occupancy properties, in light of the fact that several housing estates have communal collection points for multiple households, he failed to respond.
Councillor Huw George further explained the need for voters to take personal responsibility, saying, “We do acknowledge that there will be varying levels of inconvenience for some households but this can be minimized by increasing the amount recycled and as we have seen from other areas across Wales, people do adapt their habits and do cope. I do not accept that if the rest of Wales can successfully introduce fortnightly collections for the black bag rubbish that Pembrokeshire cannot also do the same, but I appreciate that it will be more difficult for some than others”.
On the issue of transportation of refuse he merely stated that, “If an individual does have more waste than they can store between collections on any particular occasion then they will still be able to take their rubbish to their nearest civic amenity and recycling centre, but obviously they would have to get it there”.
Thomas Tudor and Paul Miller, from the Labour Group, both confirmed their support of the new policy, stating it was intended to encourage recycling, whilst acknowledging the resulting difficulties it would pose, promising electors that the situation would be monitored with an expectation that it should be ‘working’ in six months’ time.
Two Councillors expressing grave concerns over this issue were Vivien and Mike Stoddart, of Hakin and Hubberston respectively, who, speaking exclusively to The Herald, issued the following statement,
“We have expressed our concern to the County Council about the impact of fortnightly black bin bag collections on our constituents, particularly those living in flats and multi-occupancy properties. We have many such properties in our wards. Fortnightly collections of black bags (residual waste which, for family households, is a euphemism for nappies and sanitary waste) will bear down especially hard on our constituents, as storing this waste will be a problem for families living in flats. At the urging of a few opposition Councillors, the Council has agreed to consider the arrangements for dealing with sanitary waste, but the Council has also stated they will not provide additional collections; nor will they provide wheelie bins. So, we are not sure what these arrangements might be and if they will solve the problem for our families”.
Both Councillors, as of Wednesday of this week, were awaiting assurances from Cllr George that face to face contact would take place between flat dwellers, landlords and Council to ensure provision of suitable storage space.
Only last year, Eric Pickles, speaking as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, described weekly collections as a ‘basic right’ and accused Councils that were reducing the frequency of collections as actions which were both ‘lazy and unnecessary”.
From October 14th 2013 Pembrokeshire residents will have no choice but to see how this shift in policy affects them, their families, their neighborhood and their well-being.

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There are no illegal immigrants in Penally, Home Office confirms

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THE HOME OFFICE has been in touch with The Pembrokeshire Herald to clarify some of the queries that locals have regarding the Penally Army Camp, now being used to house asylum seekers.

The Management Team at the asylum seeker holding unit have refused to engage with the local County Councillor, John Preston, but the information now received could go some way to answer some of the questions which have, until now, remained unanswered on social media, and by the local member himself.

Firstly, there has been speculation about the immigration status of those people held in Penally. The government has now confirmed that those being housed in MoD sites are people “currently awaiting asylum decisions”.

This means that all of the people in the camp have applied for asylum officially, and that they are currently in the United Kingdom legally. This is because a refugee, who has presented himself to the UK authorities without delay, showed good cause for his entry or presence and has made a claim for asylum as soon as was reasonably practicable, is afforded protection in law from offences connected with that entry. It is legal for people to enter the country in a manner which would normally be illegal, as long as it was for the purposes of seeking asylum.

The people who are staying at Penally Camp are new to the UK, having arrived in boats or in the back of lorries – but they have already been quarantined and screened for Covid-19.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “In line with guidelines about arrivals into the United Kingdom, asylum seekers will have first spent a 14-day quarantine period in other temporary accommodation before, providing they do not display any symptoms of Covid-19, being moved to the MoD sites [including Penally].”

The Home Office also said that whenever using contingency accommodation, they “ensure that detailed assessment is carried out to ensure asylum seekers have the support services they need. If there are any issues that need to be addressed, we will work with our contractor and other partners to find solutions.

Suggesting that the decision to use Penally Camp was made in a rush the Home Office said: “There are times where contingency accommodation must be procured and mobilised at speed to ensure we meet our legal obligations.”

The spokesman added: “The Home Office is committed to working collaboratively with communities and stakeholders to ensure that destitute asylum seekers are provided with safe, secure and suitable accommodation while their asylum claims are considered. This includes working in partnership with local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups in England and Local Health Boards in Wales, Public Health England and Wales, the Welsh Government and local police forces. We have specifically set up an Asylum Accommodation Strategic Working Group to support collaborative working.

“Our ambition is to house asylum seekers within the asylum estate without the need for contingency accommodation. We are working to address the issues putting pressure on our asylum accommodation. This includes resuming support cessations, to get people moving out of accommodation when their cases are concluded, and also to continue to take steps to address illegal migration and the exploitation and organised criminality that goes with it, including the dangerous Channel crossings we have seen in recent times”.

THREAT OF ARREST

In regards to the protests in Penally, the Home Office spokesperson said: “We will not tolerate any attempts to fuel resentment towards asylum seekers and we will take all the necessary steps to protect people in our care.

“We continually review the security at asylum accommodation sites with providers, who work closely with local police to ensure action is taken if someone tries to access a site.”

The information sent from the Home Office came on the day that more asylum seekers were bussed into the camp, under the escort of unmarked police vehicles (Sept 28).
One solitary protestor was on hand to attempt to block the bus, but under the threat of arrest he was moved out of the way by a police officer.

On Monday evening, some of the asylum seekers from the camp came to the gates to speak to protestors. One of those protestors, James Gould, a member of the Facebook group ‘Penally Against Illegal Migrant Camp’ live streamed an ad-hoc interview with one of the camp residents, which has now been seen by over 20,000 people.

COUNCILLOR WANTS HIS VOICE HEARD

Meanwhile, Cllr Preston is pushing forward with his plan to spread national awareness about what is happening in Penally. He told the press over the weekend: “I spoke with a Home Office official last week and stated that I am deeply uncomfortable with the possibility that our human rights obligations may not be possible to uphold in such a facility”

“It is my understanding that the asylum seekers have been removed from support networks established within the UK who have the infrastructure to provide them with their essential medical, spiritual, emotional, and domestic needs.

“They have then been transported during the night to Penally where they have witnessed mass protests and media attention.

“Due to the highly prominent location of the camp it has now become a point of public curiosity creating an environment of anxiety and fear for those on both sides of the fence.

“I have met with residents and business owners over the weekend, and it is still not clear why such a facility has been established in the heart of one of Europe’s premier holiday destinations.

“I am in contact with the BBC with a view to raising national awareness of the situation at Penally Camp and how it has been implemented by the Home Office as I consider this to be of national importance.

“It will not benefit anyone to have a government enquiry in five years’ time to tell us lessons have been learnt’. The injustice is happening now in real time and this decision must be re-called as a matter of urgency”

In other comments to the press the councillor said: “No consideration has been afforded to the elderly population in the area or to the needs of a large group of vulnerable adults. The autocratic manner in which this decision has been made should be a concern to us all. We will continue to demand that it is reconsidered”

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Jail for woman who stole £93,000 from trusting elderly widow

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A WOMAN who stole £93,000 from an elderly widow who had come to trust her as a friend has been jailed for 28 months.

Fiona Louise Harwood, of High Street in Neyland, abused her position as power of attorney while informally caring for a woman in her 80s, to access her bank account and spend thousands of pounds on clothes, a holiday and dating websites.

The victim had so much trust in Harwood, who she had initially paid as a cleaner, that she had amended her will to leave the 50-year-old her house. She later discovered her friend had flouted her position for her own gain.

Dyfed-Powys Police sergeant Stuart Wheeler, who investigated the claims of fraud, explained that the incidents were reported to the force in January 2019.

He said: “This was a saddening investigation to work on, as it transpired the suspect had blatantly abused the trust of a vulnerable elderly woman who believed she could depend on her.

“Before coming to police, the victim had become aware that she hadn’t received a bank statement for over a year, and asked a friend to help her look into it.

“It transpired that the victim’s friend had been alerted to suspicious financial activity around six months earlier, when a Debenhams statement was received showing purchases made at the firm’s Exeter branch. Not only did the victim not hold an account with Debenhams, but the friend was aware that Harwood had recently visited the city.

“After contacting the bank for up-to-date statements, the friend saw there was a huge shortfall from the victim’s accounts, with just £6,000 remaining across an ISA, savings and current account.”

Paperwork showed four pages of purchases from Amazon, which the victim would not know how to use, stores including Next and Joules, and online dating sites.

Officers visited the victim, and learned that she had known Harwood for many years and had employed her to clean her home. She went on to claim a carer’s allowance, and was given power of attorney when the victim’s husband died in 2016.

“The sum of money missing from the victim’s accounts far surpassed what would have been spent in caring for the victim,” PS Wheeler said.

“She had taken advantage of a friend in an appalling way.”

As well as using the victim’s card to go shopping, financial checks showed Harwood had withdrawn £18,676 from ATMs, and transferred £50,300 to her own account.

Harwood was arrested on suspicion of fraud in February 2019. She later claimed she had been giving money to another woman from the victim’s account.

She was charged with fraud by abuse of position, and two counts of fraud by false representation – opening a Next account and Debenhams account in the victim’s name.

Harwood appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Friday, September 25 where she pleaded guilty to the charges.

She was sentenced to 28 months in prison.

“In being granted power of attorney, the defendant was expected to safeguard the financial interests of the victim, not use the position for her own gain,” PS Wheeler said.

“I have no doubt that this criminal behaviour would have continued if the victim’s friend had not become suspicious that something wasn’t right.

“We hope this sentence goes to show that committing fraud of this nature will not be tolerated.”

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Police appeal for witnesses after 20-year-old pedestrian tragically killed on A40

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for witnesses to a fatal road traffic collision on the A40 west of Carmarthen on Saturday (Sept 26) in which a 20-year-old man, a pedestrian, lost his life.

The police have asked The Pembrokeshire Herald to publicise this appeal.

A spokesman for the police told this newspaper: “At around 9.40pm, a white VW Transporter was in collision with a pedestrian on the A40 westbound, near the junction of Llangynog, Carmarthen.

“The pedestrian, a 20-year-old male, died as a result of his injuries.

“It appears the pedestrian had left his vehicle, a black Seat, following a single-vehicle collision further along the westbound carriageway shortly before.

The police have asked that if anyone has any information on either or both collisions, or may have been travelling along the A40 at the relevant time, please contact the serious collision investigation unit, quoting reference DPP-20200926-339.

This can be done by email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, by phone on 101 or by text: If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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