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Animal cruelty cases at four-year high in Wales

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A PEMBROKESHIRE man has been found to have failed to provide proper care for five equines, as animal cruelty prosecutions hit a four-year high in Wales.

Throughout 2017, 148 convictions were secured by the RSPCA in magistrates’ courts across Wales, compared to 120 in 2016, 89 in 2015 and 116 in 2014.

Levels of animal cruelty have been branded ‘extremely shocking and deeply saddening’ by the RSPCA’s superintendent in Wales.

In total, the RSPCA investigated 10,176 complaints of cruelty over the calendar year. The 148 convictions relate to a total of 67 defendants – a rise on the 61 convicted in the previous year. A further 52 offenders were cautioned by the animal welfare charity in 2017.

The man from St David’s was banned from keeping horses for five years after he failed to provide proper care for five equines, in what an RSPCA inspector has described as the ‘worst case of overgrown hooves’ he has had to deal with in more than 18 years as an RSPCA inspector.

The man admitted to causing unnecessary suffering to three mini Shetland ponies known as Tango, Titch and Tex and two Welsh mountain ponies known as Tiggy and Pedro by failing to provide them with adequate hoof care.

RSPCA inspector Nic De Celis, who attended the man’s home address with RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “This was the worst case of overgrown hooves I’ve taken action on.

“What we were confronted with was five ponies with such overgrown and deformed hooves that two of them were reluctant to stand, let alone walk.

“It is really sad that things had got to such an awful state and hadn’t been deal with before things got so bad. It was revealed in court that it had been ten months since the ponies were seen by a farrier.”


The man was given an 18-week imprisonment sentence, suspended for two years and was ordered to undertake 200 hours community service, pay costs of £300 and a victim surcharge of £150. He was also banned from keeping horses for five years, with four weeks to re-home the two remaining horses left on his farm.

RSPCA Cymru’s superintendent Martyn Hubbard said: “It is extremely shocking and deeply saddening to see this level of horrific cruelty across Wales.

“Last year we dealt with several distressing cases that involved video evidence, that had been shared via social media.

“This evidence understandably causes great distress and public outcry. Thankfully due to valuable information being reported to us in confidence, we are able to investigate and bring any animal welfare offenders to justice.
“There is just no excuse for animal cruelty and will continue to ensure animal welfare laws are adhered to.

“Prosecution is always a last resort for the RSPCA – and court cases were the huge minority of the 28 complaints we investigated on average every single day of 2017.

“Nevertheless, the nature of cases dealt with by our frontline officers throughout 2017 once again demonstrates the importance of this work, and the necessity of securing justice for abused and neglected animals in all corners of the country.”

Many of the incidents dealt with by RSPCA Cymru throughout 2017 concerned horses, and other equines. Despite the efforts of the RSPCA and other equine welfare organisations, the crisis shows no sign of easing, with the charity struggling to find stables and funding to keep the large number of horses it has had to take in. As soon as one horse is re-homed, another is waiting to immediately fill the stable and, as a consequence, the majority of horses taken in by the RSPCA have to be cared for in private boarding stables at further cost to the charity.

Last year, there were 17 convictions in relation to equines in Wales and RSPCA inspectors dealt with 1,331 equine calls which involved 4,616 equines in total.

To report a horse – or any other animal – in need of help you can call the RSPCA’s cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

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Can Pembrokeshire still afford Wales’ lowest council tax?

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PEMBOKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Finance Director, Jon Haswell said council tax would need to rise significantly to meet service needs in the wake of a 0.4% cut in Welsh Government funding.

Although its the smallest cut out of all the councils in Wales, the cut puts the authority £600,000 out of pocket

He was effectively saying that the councils coffers will be empty and that something has to change, and change fast.

Last year Pembrokeshire’s council tax went up by 12.5% – the first double-digit increase in Wales since 2004 – but Pembrokeshire’s Council Tax bills are still the lowest in Wales.

At the Audit Committee meeting on Thursday (Oct 18), Mr Haswell warned that on current predictions, based on the Welsh Government’s standard spending assessment of what it thinks the council needs, council tax would need to rise by 28% or more unless services were cut.

That is 2% less than Plaid Cymru councillor Mike Williams’ said it would be at Full Council the week before (Oct 11), but it’s pretty close.

As we reported on Friday in our print edition, Cllr Williams turned his own fire on the previous administration for placing Pembrokeshire into its current financial position, pointing out that the actual rise in Council Tax needed to address the funding gap in March this year was in excess of 30%.

He said: ‘It’s about time some members had a wake-up call’ as to the current state of the Council’s finances and the previous administration’s totemic policy of having the lowest Council Tax in Wales. Firmly pointing the finger at Cllrs Adams and Davies following their earlier questions, he suggested they needed to look to themselves to find the origins of the authority’s current difficulties.

RECAP – WHAT WE REPORTED LAST WEEK

A 0.5% cut in funding to Pembrokeshire County Council will result in significant and potentially devastating cuts to public services.
As we previously reported, the Welsh Government announced its budget settlement for Welsh local government last week.
While that settlement shows ‘only’ a 0.5% cut in the Pembrokeshire’s Revenue Support Grant, the reality behind that headline figure is grim.
And there is little comfort to be taken in the news that Pembrokeshire’s cut is smaller than that inflicted on neighbouring Carmarthenshire. Pembrokeshire’s budget is far smaller in proportion to Carmarthenshire’s. Our County’s resources are stretched to breaking point following years of the folly of the ‘lowest Council Tax in Wales’ policy in twenty-two years of rule by the ‘Independent’ group, most lately under Jamie Adams.
While money was washing around local government that policy was sustainable. However, once systemic cuts came in 2008 – and persisted for ten years and rising – there was no fat to trim and cuts are now deep into the bone of frontline services.
The Welsh Government funding takes little or no account of the Council’s obligation to pay wage increases negotiated centrally which far outstrips the money provided to meet them, changes in National Insurance, changes to teachers’ pensions, the effects of inflation, and the impact of regulations affecting buildings’ maintenance.
Hit seven ways from Sunday by a barrage of deep cuts to its budget delivered year-on-year for the last decade and in the teeth of the fallout of a Council Tax policy which has left the Council’s cupboard bare, there is no way for the Council to resolve its financial position without making even deeper cuts than those already contemplated and revealed exclusively in this newspaper last week.
The social care budget’s ‘protection’ by the Welsh Government has left all Councils floundering; because Pembrokeshire has a high proportion of older residents, it has been hit hard. The Council has even less money to spend on other services as the proportion of a smaller revenue ‘pie’ is taken up by protected budgets.
The devastation being wreaked by cuts is unsurprising. In 2014 dire warnings were given about the cumulative effects of continuing cuts before that year’s budget. Almost five years’ on, the situation is even worse than predicted.
With the Cabinet unwilling to ask for a further large Council Tax increase for next year, real savings will be hard to find. Something somewhere has to give.
The only hope is that the UK Government actually delivers real relief from austerity instead of tinkering at the edges.

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Man who assaulted Tenby barmaid avoids jail

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A MAN who touched a barmaid’s bottom and then offered her money for sex has been made the subject of a suspended prison sentence.

Mark Adams, aged 55, had denied sexual assault but was convicted by a jury after a trial at Swansea Crown Court.
Today, Adams was jailed for six months, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 20 days of rehabilitation.
He must also pay £3,230 in prosecution costs.
The jury heard how Adams did not dispute that he asked the barmaid in a Tenby pub for a “selfie” as a pretext to get close to her and touch her bottom.
He then offered her £300, and then £400, to spend time with him but agreed that really meant having sex with him.
Adams, of Tintagel Way, Portsmouth, told the jury the approach had worked in the past with other women.
Judge Keith Thomas told Adams he had followed up with sexual assault with a humiliating offer of money for sex.
His behaviour, said the judge, came from an inflated sense of his own importance.
The court heard that his victim no longer felt safe in her place of work or in her home town of Tenby.
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Missing pensioner last seen in Haverfordwest

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is conducting enquiries to find missing 72 year old, Gordon Phillips. He was last seen on the afternoon of Sunday October 14 at the County Hotel in Haverfordwest.

He is described as white, approx. 5’8 tall, has white collar length un-brushed hair, a white beard, and was wearing a shiny black puffer jacket, black baseball hat and baggy blue jeans.

Anyone who has seen Gordon, or has any information about his whereabouts is asked to contact police by calling 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number: 07811 311 908.

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