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Castlemartin: Officers had ‘total disregard for safety’ before fatal shooting

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Ranger Michael Maguire: Fatally shot at Castlemartin during a live fire exercise

A COURT martial trial has been told that two Army officers and a warrant officer ‘had a total disregard for the safety’ on the day in which 21-year-old Michael Maguire was killed at Castlemartin.

Ranger Michael Maguire, from the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, came under machine gun fire during a live ammunition training exercise in May 2012. He had joined the battalion in May 2010 and had already completed one tour of Afghanistan.

The training exercise was preparation for a tour of Kenya, Africa.

He was fatally shot in the head from a neighbouring range, roughly 1km away.

Prosecuting, Nigel Lickley QC said that that the soldiers under fire would have been visible from the range where the gunfire was originating from.

32-year-old Captain Jonathan Price, now of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish, stands accused of manslaughter by gross negligence, by failing to set up and supervise a safe exercise.

45-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Richard Bell and 40-year-old Warrant Officer Stuart Pankhurst are accused of negligently performing a duty.

Addressing the court, Mr Lickey said: “All three men played their part in causing this catastrophe in different ways.

“The common sense of the situation is you do not point guns at people, you do not design, permit or allow an activity that allows machine guns to fire directly in line with your men, men that you know are there, men that you might be able to see, if not the vehicles that are with them.”

Price, he said, failed to attend a recce of the range as he prepared a Range Action Safety Plan, and also placed targets too close to each other.

“Crucially he allowed firing to take place beyond the permitted arcs of fire,” he added.

Mr Lickey said that the range of the two weapons used in the exercise, the SA80 assault rifle and GPMG general purpose machine gun, meant that anyone on the public beach 3km could have been hit by the ammunition.

He added it was ‘fortunate’ that nobody else was injured following the exercise.

In turn, Mr Lickley said that Bell failed to review or counter-sign the Range Action Safety Plan produced by Price, in his role as Senior Planning Officer, and also failed to supervise or support him during the exercise.

Pankhurst, Mr Lickley added, failed to voice any ‘caution or concern’ as he supervised the exercise, despite the fact he had both attended the recce and had knowledge of the neighbouring range.

All three deny the charges.

Seven senior officers will be visiting the site at a later date.

The trial is expected to last about six weeks.

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Milford Haven: Concerns over council refuse collection staff using drugs on duty

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL have confirmed that they are conducting an ongoing internal investigation.

The probe is relating to “illegal drug use by on-duty refuge collection crews” operating from the Thornton Refuge Depot in Milford Haven.

The Herald understands that following suspicions being raised, drug testing was carried out on refuse crews on Monday (May 10) – all before they left their depot.

This newspaper has been told that a number staff, which includes bin lorry drivers, tested positive for drug use, and that the council called in the police.

That information was passed to The Herald by someone who we have confirmed to be a member of staff working at Pembrokeshire County Council, who did not want to be named.

After a request for a statement, a spokesperson for the council has stressed that none of their vehicles were involved, suggesting that, on the day in question, positive tests were arrived at before any bin lorries had left the depot.

As part of the multi-agency operation the police were called and attended Thornton Refuse Depot, but did not make any arrests, and said they had little involvement in the operation.

Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that there is an ongoing internal workplace investigation and can clarify that there was no police involvement on the day in question – no Pembrokeshire County Council vehicles were involved.

“We are not in a position to comment any further at this time.”

Dyfed Powys Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “At the request of Pembrokeshire County Council, officers attended Thornton Refuse Depot to provide [them with] support on the morning of Monday, May 10.

“Officers attended; however they were not utilised.”

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Council’s Planning Committee approves ambitious dockyard plans

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’s Planning Committee this morning (Tuesday, May 18) approved an application for the construction of a new marine engineering project at Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard.
The plans, vociferously opposed by local heritage groups, passed unanimously.

The matter will now go to the Welsh Government, which has reserved its position on the scheme’s approval.
Committee members expressed the view that the balance between heritage and economic development were balanced, with strong views expressed on either side. They decided the balance of the application favoured economic development subject to conditions regarding aspects of the site’s preservation and its ability to be restored in the future.

The Committee members who attended a site visit on Wednesday, May 12, said it was the most informative and best site visit they had this council term. Visiting the site gave them a clearer idea about what was planned and the scale of the project, which would not have been gained from a paper exercise.

While the approval of the scheme was unanimous, one element of the reserved matters caused some members concern: the height and size of the proposed massive new sheds which would be built at a later phase of the project.
Cllr David Pugh, seconded by Cllr Steve Alderman, moved an amendment which would approve the project and delegate reserved matters to officers apart from the sheds’ construction, which would return to the Committee for detailed approval.

Cllr Tony Wilcox and Cllr Mark Carter emphasised the need for certainty regarding the project’s development, a position supported by Cllr David Howlett, Cllrs Pugh, Alderman and Cllr Stephen Joseph said that little delay would be caused to the scheme by bringing the sheds’ development back to the Committee. They noted the significant intrusion of the sheds into the landscape for miles around.

Planning Officer Mike Simmons advised that the project would proceed in five phases and that the applicant, Milford Haven Port Authority, was keen to proceed with the first phase as soon as possible. The first phase would be the infilling of the docks and pool, removing a caisson gate and preserving it, before the building of new slipways.
The Port Authority already accepted the sheds would only be built if there was commercial demand for them.
The amendment proposed by Cllr Pugh passed by six votes to five with two abstentions.

It means before the sheds are built, the Committee will decide the detailed application relating to them.

All other aspects of the development will be decided by officers.

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Business

Further Covid-19 business support packages to become available soon

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PEMBROKESHIRE businesses that remain affected by Covid-19 restrictions can check their eligibility for a new package of support from the Welsh Government.

This latest support package will help those businesses eligible to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.

Businesses that stand to benefit include:

  • nightclubs and late entertainment venues
  • events and conference venues not covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF)
  • hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions

An eligibility checker has opened on the Business Wales website so businesses can find out how much support they are likely to be entitled to and how to apply.

See more information and check your business’ eligibility at: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under.

Businesses will be able submit applications to the Welsh Government from 24th May 2021 for grants of up to £25,000 and by the end of the month to Pembrokeshire County Council for smaller fixed Discretionary Grants.

To keep up to date and see the future application process for the Discretionary Grants please see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

The above link will be be updated with the latest information.  

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