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Monkton protesters talk to top brass

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Protest: Outside Pembroke Dock police station

THIS MORNING (Jul 13) at 9:30am, around one hundred protesters returned to the council offices in Pembroke Dock for a meeting with police and Pembrokeshire County Council spokespersons. On arrival, they were informed that there was not enough space within the building and a handful of protesters would be allowed in.

The group, lead again by Charlie Price, declined this offer, and moved to outside the police station, where they told officers that any meeting would have to take place outside in public for all of the protesters to participate in.

With the protesters assuring the police that the protest would remain peaceful, the group cheered as it was announced that Superintendent Ian John and Kerry Macdermott, Head of Housing and Revenue Services for Pembrokeshire County Council, would be arriving shortly.

Supt. John said: “The two residents of that flat, as it stands, neither of those two people, were actually currently on the sex offender’s register.”

“The facts are, they were not on the sex offender’s register. It would be inappropriate for me to go into specific detail, but what I will say, the lady who moved in with the gentleman who is the tenant of the flat, was not required to record her movements, as she would have been if she was on the sex offenders register.

“She was not placed there. She placed herself there.”

Supt. John then went on to warn about the dangers of so-called sex offender registers which can be found on the internet, which were not official police sources and potentially ‘not current or accurate’.

Mr Macdermott said: “It is no different to having a relationship and your partner moving in. That’s what has appeared to have happened her.

“For whatever reason, the tenant has allowed that person to move in with him.

“I also manage the housing benefits as well, so I can speak with knowledge, there are many cases where a single tenant, and there is another tenant who moves in as a partner, we would not necessarily put them as joint tenants for a whole raft of legal reasons.

“She wasn’t declared as living at the property and the tenancy was not changed.”

The group then described an alleged incident in which they claimed to have ‘ran out’ a paedophile from his home the night before (Jul 12), who drove to the police station and slept in the car park.

Supt John responded by warning against any vigilante actions: “Let me just say, for anyone who commits any criminal offences, we will deal with it. If anybody at all considers taking the law into their own hand, that is the wrong thing to do, you know that.

“We have a good relationship with the people in Monkton. We want to work with everyone and keep everyone safe, but there are laws in this country which protect people.

“It is not up to me or you which punishment or control people have, we have to work together safely, and I’m telling you we will continue to do that.

“It is your duty as citizens to work together with us. By talking about taking the law into your own hands… you are putting yourself at risk.”

He then went on to reassure the group that since Tuesday night, Dyfed-Powys Police had conducted extensive research into the woman’s situation: “The circumstances of the individual we are talking about have been thoroughly looked in the last 24 hours. Prior to that we had some contact with her locally, but what we did not know was the details of that background.”

Mr Macdermott then offered financial support to the group, who earlier in the morning had been talking about raising funds for charity: “If you set up a committee with Pearl on the committee, there are certain funds we can make available to you.  I am prepared to come down and help you, help raise funds, and provide monies for charities.”

Mr Price, and many of the members of the group, saw this as an attempt of ‘paying off’ their cause, and declined: “We appreciate the offer, we are glad to know you are willing to sit down and talk to use. One thing we don’t want is the council to pay us off, so thank you for your offer, but we don’t need your money.”

Annalee: Not happy with the sex offenders register

A local resident, Annalee, then spoke of her experience with the sex offenders register after he daughter was sexually assaulted: “Fifteen years ago my daughter was sexually assaulted by a cousin. He only got put on the sex offenders register for five years, because he admitted doing the crime and was 15. He did his five years, and then went into the army.

“He used a different name – that wasn’t policed. He’s come out of the army, re-offended, and is now back on the sex offenders register for another five years.

“The law needs to change. If the law was how it is in England and Scotland, and there was more of a punishment, perhaps he wouldn’t have come out of the army and re-offended.

“I went to court 18 months ago after he was caught re-offending, it was a court in England, the Judge couldn’t believe why he was only on the register for the severity of the case against my daughter for just five years.”

Following the conclusion of the meeting, Cllr Pearl Llewellyn said: “I am here for Monkton. I support you 100%, but this has to be a peaceful demonstration – you won’t get anywhere with shouting.

“Charlie has excelled himself yesterday and today – he is a good spokesperson, he’s talking from the heart and means every word he says, but you have to know what you’re asking and what you’re talking about.

“I have to take advice from police and the council – I was told by Pembrokeshire County Council not to get involved or to come to these meetings, but I have, because my daughter lived in Monkton.

“Thank you all for coming down and being very patient.”

The event concluded with the announcement that a further protest would be held at County Hall in Haverfordwest tomorrow (Jul 14).

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Welsh Guards sergeant shot dead during Castlemartin live-fire training exercise

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A BRITISH ARMY sergeant was killed on Thursday night (Mar 4) in a shooting accident at Castlemartin Training Area, The Herald can confirm.

The solider was training with live ammunition, ahead of a planned deployment to Iraq this summer.

Five police cars and an ambulance were seen screaming through Pembroke towards the incident at approximately 10pm towards the incident.

A coastguard helicopter, CG187, was scrambled to the scene, and hovered near Bosherston for a while, but was stood down and returned to base.

The Herald has contacted the MOD for a comment, who said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on the 4th of March.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

THIS STORY IS UPDATING

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Pembrokeshire County Council bills Home Office for Penally camp costs

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THE COUNCIL has sent an invoice for more than £80,000 to the Home Office.

It is to cover some of the costs that the local authority has incurred in connection with the Penally Asylum Seeker Centre, near Tenby.

Following a question on the issue from Cllr Jonathan Preston at Full Council the Council have confirmed that a bill has been sent.

The Member for Penally ward asked: “Please can the relevant Cabinet Member provide a breakdown of all costs to this authority which have been incurred in providing staff, services and other associated resources to Penally camp since its re-purpose by the Home Office last September?”

Council leader Cllr. David Simpson confirmed that on February 22 Pembrokeshire County Council submitted an invoice for £83, 858 which includes £65,564 in staff costs, £12,799 of specialist support and £5,495 for works such as barriers.

Pembrokeshire County Council is currently awaiting payment, the Authority confirmed.

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Hospitality sector welcomes Budget boost

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IT HAS been so long it seems since we could stand at a bar and enjoy a well-earned pint, but now we are on the road back to normality, the Herald has spoken to some of those in the hospitality sector who have been asked to close. We wanted to know what the owners in businesses in these sectors locally thought of the budget and if Rishi Sunak had done enough to help them.

We first spoke to a Milford Haven restaurant business. Owner of Martha’s Vineyard in Milford Haven, Dan Mills said that the budget was not a silver bullet to fix all problems but said that the budget had gone a fair way to delivering what many in the Pembrokeshire hospitality sector have been calling for in recent weeks.

Dan Mills said: “The biggest risk many of us were facing was the cliff edge of a VAT increase, the end of the Furlough Scheme and a return to full business rates, I’m pleased that the Chancellor has recognised this and taken action on all fronts.

“With talk of the Welsh Government restricting us to outside trading for an initial period, the flexibility that the Furlough Scheme brings will be a huge help to ensure staff retain their jobs.

“I was also delighted to see that the Chancellor has provided funding to Wales to ensure that we benefit from a further 12 months of Business Rate Relief here in Pembrokeshire, that’s money that many of us can instead invest into restarting our businesses.

“I hope that the conversation that unfortunately began due to Covid between politicians and the Pembrokeshire hospitality and tourism sector can continue long beyond this crisis, it seems that through some open and honest feedback we are making real progress.

Award winning gastro-pub The Griffin Inn is well known throughout Wales and has received many national reviews. Their reputation puts them in a strong position once they are allowed to re-open. We spoke to Sian and Simon Vickers about the budget.

Simon Vickers, co-owner is also a director of Visit Pembrokeshire. He told The Herald: “I think the budget was very positive for the hospitality industry with the reduction in VAT being the biggest help.

“Overall I feel the government have supported the industry amazingly

In regard to tax on alcohol, Simon said: “Duty has been frozen It would have been nice to have seen a cut in it. Whether there’s a cut or not the breweries always increase their prices so in all honesty it never affects us.”

The ongoing financial support has been welcomed by industry group CAMRA, The Campaign or Real Ale, but the organisation said that the Chancellor had missed the opportunity to lower beer duty to save our pubs.

Their national chairman Nik Antona issued a statement to The Pembrokeshire Herald saying: “Freezing alcohol duty is obviously better than a rise. However, CAMRA had hoped to see the Chancellor announce a cut in duty on beer served on tap in pubs and social clubs to benefit consumers and help the great British pub recover and thrive in the difficult months and years ahead by being able to compete with supermarket alcohol.

“The Government’s commitment to review alcohol duties in the coming months is welcome. CAMRA will continue to call for a lower rate of duty for beer served in pubs – an option available to the Government now we have left the European Union.

“Reducing tax on beer served in pubs and social clubs would encourage responsible drinking in a supervised, community setting – as well as boosting jobs and local economies, helping consumers and benefiting pubs and licensees.”

On financial support announced, Nik commented: “Cutting VAT as pubs begin to reopen, and reducing it until April next year, means they can now start benefiting from that cut – but CAMRA believes this VAT cut should be extended to alcohol so that traditional locals that don’t serve food can benefit too.

“The extension of furlough until September and new grants of up to £18,000 are very welcome. However, pubs are unlikely to be able to fully reopen at pre-COVID trading levels due to outside space and then table service only indoors. The beer and pubs sector will need further support over the coming months, over and above new loans, to help them get back on their feet until there is a full and proper re-opening and they can trade at full capacity.

“Extending the business rates holiday until the end of June will help keep the wolves from the door for many English pubs, with the two-thirds reduction for the rest of the financial year a welcome step. However, given how tough it will be for many pubs we believe the 100% cut in business rates needs to be extended for a full 12 months as has already happened in Scotland.”

Picture: Simon Vickers, Griffin Inn, Dale

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