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PM’s flying visit

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flying visitTHE FIRST visit to Pembrokeshire by a serving UK Prime Minister since 1991 took place in a mist shrouded Newgale on Wednesday, February 19.

Landing by helicopter, the Prime Minister’s visit included a visit to the Duke of Edinburgh pub, pictures of which, surrounded by flood waters and the remains of sea defences, have become iconic images of the recent storms.

Jasper Slater, the owner of the pub for fourteen years told The Herald: “The Prime Minister arrived by helicopter and landed in the car park. He was greeted at the door of the pub by myself and was shown around the damage by landlord Chris Lugg and his partner. He looked around and spoke with the workmen inside such as plasters and electricians. He was very interested to see how the bad storms had affected the community and offered his concerns.”

The Prime Minister joked to Mr Slater that he may be back to enjoy a pint with him once the reconstruction work was completed.

Later during his visit, the Prime Minister called in at St David’s Assemblies’ plant on Glasfryn Road, St David’s and met with local and national press representatives.

Herald assistant editor, Jon Coles, attended along with representatives of the Western Mail, Western Telegraph, and Radio Pembrokeshire. He writes:The road to St David’s was shrouded in mist as the local press headed to and from the site of St David’s Assemblies Ltd, a leading supplier of parts to the automotive and domestic appliance industries. Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire told the local press pool:

“It’s quite surprising that this type of manufacturing still exists in a place like St David’s. There are high-quality, skilled jobs, employing local people on good wages. The company has partnerships with local colleges to train apprentices and employs over forty people, many of them women. This is a Pembrokeshire success story.”

There was quite a wait to see the Prime Minister, before the four of us were ushered into a small office to ask one question each to David Cameron. He’s significantly less full-faced than he appears on television: dressed down for his visit, as you might expect, he was friendly in the way that professional politicians are friendly and invited us to sit down with him around a low table for what was described as “a huddle”.

He was clear and precise with his answers. On the issue of tackling flooding, David Cameron said:

“Tackling floods is a devolved issue to the Welsh Government. I rang the First Minister to offer military help. Of course, there is the question of insurance, which is not devolved and we shall be speaking to the Welsh Government about that. In terms of offering additional funding, funding for flood defences is a devolved issue and we have the Barnett formula for public funding in Wales. We (the UK government) are always happy to talk with the Welsh Government about needs and problems. That is one of the reasons we have come today”

With roads blocked and railways damaged, the question of what opportunities existed to review and replace existing transport infrastructure:

“In England, there is an annual review of the resilience of our transport infrastructure. In Wales, that process is a devolved area. I think it is sensible, once the flood waters have drained down, to ask how we can better build in resilience to our infrastructure, for example signalling equipment able to withstand flooding. I am sure the Welsh Government will be doing that and we will share expertise and experience with them.”

In relation to “planned withdrawal” from coastal areas, David Cameron was forthright:

“I think we should look at our flood defences and work out how to make them more robust. Where I was this morning (Newgale) was flooded from in front and behind, from the river and the sea. It was flooded twice in one month. We need to make sure that we restore the defences from the sea and clear the river. We shouldn’t feel powerless in the face of these extreme weather events. Of course, across the UK many thousands of homes were flooded, but flood defences protected over a million homes. I am confident in using modern technology and improving our forecasting, we can protect ourselves even better.”

On a change of tack, the Prime Minister took a strongly partisan line to a question about Withybush Hospital:

“Health is a matter for the Welsh Government. I’m very clear that the Welsh Government, controlled by Labour, made a bad decision because they decided to cut the funding to the Health Service. In England, we took the decision to protect the funding for the Health Service. So we’re not making cuts to the health budgets in England, we’re protecting them. Here in Wales, they are being cut; they are being cut by over eight percent and that has had very bad consequences for the NHS in Wales. That was a political decision taken by the Labour Party in Cardiff and I think it was a mistake.”

And that was it, polite exchanges, 5 minutes out of the Prime Minister’s schedule, and he was ushered out to meet the BBC and ITV Wales. While we waited for the camera crews to clear the outside of the building, we took the chance to speak with Stephen Crabb, who praised the efforts of local council workers during the recent floods.

“Today the Prime Minister has paid tribute to the County Council’s workers who helped keep Pembrokeshire open during the recent storms, during which the County Council got a lot of things right. The way in which it used social media to get information quickly to the public was particularly effective.”

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Police confirm firefighter died in Neyland boat collision

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE attended Neyland Marina, Milford Haven following reports of a collision on the waterway at around 11:30am on Tuesday, (Sept 17).

A spokesman told The Herald: “We can confirm a 35-year-old serving Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service Firefighter tragically lost his life during the incident, in which two boats collided.

“Next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers. Specialist teams from both the fire and rescue service and police were also on scene supporting witnesses.

“We have informed the Marine Accident Investigation Board and will be working with them to establish what happened here today.

“Our thoughts go out to the family of the deceased and to his colleagues at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.”

Deputy Mayor of Neyland, Cllr Dr Simon Hancock said: “I extend my deepest condolences to the family of the young man who so tragically died in the accident this morning. I know the whole town will join me in sending them to his family.

“We acknowledge the remarkable professionalism of the emergency and rescue services who responded to this very sad incident.’

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Crown court to sentence Pembroke Dock paedophile

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A 46-YEAR-OLD man who pleaded guilty to being in possession of over 6,500 indecent ‘real photographs’ of children, has been sent to Swansea Crown Court for sentencing by Haverfordwest magistrates.

Brett Johnson of Finch Close, first appeared before magistrates at Haverfordwest Law Court on August 27, and appeared again before the court on Monday (Sept 16) following a pre-sentence report made by the probation service.

Johnson pleaded guilty at the first court hearing to a charge of downloading one indecent image of a child between March 30, 2009, and June 28, 2018, and pleaded guilty to a second charge of downloading 6,570 indecent images of children between June 30, 2005, and June 28, 2018.

Prosecuting at the first hearing, Mr Vaughan Pritchard-Jones told the Court that the reason for the long dates related to when he owned various computers.

Magistrates at Haverfordwest on Monday (Sept 16) decided to decline jurisdiction and sent the case to be dealt with at Swansea Crown Court on October 4 at 10am. Johnson was released on unconditional bail.

Magistrates made no direction under section 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

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Glebelands Fun Day A Hit

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A FUN DAY at Glebelands play park in Hakin on Saturday (Sept 14) to garner support to further develop the facility, has been hailed a success.

The prime movers behind the community-led event were two local residents, Richard Nicholas and Wayne Richards.

“As well as trying to raise the profile of the park, the aim of the fun day was to get other local residents involved in setting up a community group to move the project forward,” explained Richard.

“I’m pleased to say there was a lot of interest in forming a group and we also had some great feedback on what play equipment should be installed. There was a clear view that people want the park back to being a safe, clean area where children can play.

Working with Richard and Wayne, to organise the community-led fun day were Pembrokeshire County Council and the Invest Local organisation.

The County Councillor for Hubberston, Viv Stoddart, who attended the event, said: “It was an amazing day – a perfect example of the community coming together to host an afternoon of fun for all the family. There was something for all to enjoy – and enjoy they did, with lots of smiley faces from everyone.

If Saturday’s event is a guide, it was evident there is enthusiasm in the community to transform the play park into an up-to-date facility. I wish them well, and will give all the support I can to see the playground become a truly family fun place for all.”

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