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Fishguard: Peaceful protest stands up for LGBTQ+ community

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A PROTEST was held in Fishguard yesterday afternoon (Jul 15) in response to a planned meeting which was intended to host anti-LGBTQ+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) topics of conversation.

The meeting, organised by the group Evangelists Corner, had been advertised in the town via a leaflet which promoted anti-LGBTQ+ opinions.

The leaflet explained that the meeting would deal with the subject of same-sex marriage and transgender people, as well as their desire to stop teaching LGBTQ+ material in schools and replace it instead with creationism.

The protest was organised in response to the ‘homophobic’ message of the flyer and meeting agenda, and was well attended by various age groups and people of different sexual orientations.

Following the controversy caused by the leaflet, the meeting was cancelled, however the protest went on as planned to show ‘unity’ and ‘love’ which is strong in the community.

Police have received numerous official complaints about the literature and are now investigating.

Following the protest, two organisers of the protest, Matt Townsend and Jackie Jones, met with the spokesperson of the Evangelist group, John Fransham, at Fishguard police station.

There they discussed the issues raised in the literature – however Fransham defended the content of the flyer and the reasons for organising the meeting.

A spokesperson for Pembs LGBTQ Plus said after the event: “Thank you. This all too often is a gesture over-used, underappreciated, and haphazardly used. Today though, I use it with heart-felt appreciation for what you managed to achieve yesterday.

“Yesterday, you all did Pembrokeshire, the LGBTQ+ community and yourselves proud. We turned something that was extremely hurtful, upsetting and negative into something beautiful, positive and almost cathartic. To see you all united with a common goal sent a clear message: love overcomes hate.

“I spoke to many of you yesterday and felt privileged to hear individual stories, reasons for protesting and what yesterday meant to you. We have also been inundated with beautiful photographs. The adage reminds us that a photo says a thousand words – and many words were spoken.

“The public response to the weekend’s  events has been overwhelming. We have received messages of support, encouragement and love from many people at home and abroad. It is no exaggeration to say that your voices were heard globally. To think this happened from a small (and beautiful) town in Pembrokeshire is all the more humbling.

“I was invited to speak with the distributors at the police station yesterday. The police investigation is still ongoing. All I will say is that it was a very emotional dialogue and reaffirmed for me why we had to do what we did yesterday. As I said to the police and the distributors of the leaflet, we are not in any way protesting of their right to their own opinions. When this opinion does cross the line of law and has the potential to incite hatred and put at risk the safety of the LGBTQ+ community, then we have a duty to act.

“We have received a few messages and emails in the last 24 hours stating that the leaflet does nothing to incite hatred and/or violence. However, PembsLGBTQPlus challenges this. The content of the leaflet is such that it has the potential to incite hatred, to the extent that the police are investigating.”

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Protest over animal welfare concerns at Bramble Hill Farm

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LOCALS held a peaceful protest at the site of a Pembroke Dock farm, where over 200 animals were removed after a multi agency response to animal welfare concerns last month.

Around 100 worried locals from Pembroke and Pembroke Dock gathered at the entrance to Bramble Hill Farm last Friday (Feb 15) at 4pm. Those present believed the farm owners are still in possession of dogs, which they cited as the reason for the protest. Head of Environment and Public Protection at Pembrokeshire County Council, Richard Brown later confirmed that there were two dogs left on the farm, but explained they were elderly and looked after. Locals hoped the protest would mean the removal of any animals still left at the property and a ban imposed to prevent any further animals being kept at the property or by the owners.

Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police were present, with the Herald reporter in attendance being told that the police were ensuring it remained peaceful and to keep traffic congestion to a minimum. There was evident hostility towards to the local authorities and RSPCA amongst the protesters, with many feeling that their concerns about the farm were not dealt with soon enough by the relevant organisations.

Speaking to the crowd, Richard Brown said: “So the idea of what we do is, we are proceeding with our enquiries and get the case together. If we get a successful conviction, it’s an opportunity to get a ban on keeping animals. Without that conviction we can’t get a ban.”

He was challenged numerous times on whether Sean Burns, owner of the farm, has been prosecuted for animal cruelty. Mr Brown then confirmed that ‘he has been prosecuted previously’.

He added: “We have to be careful not to prejudice any case. All of our interests is animal welfare. We can’t just go in and remove animals because people want us to. We don’t have those powers.

“There is a range of offences being investigated and a range of individuals being investigated.”

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Neyland woman imprisoned for driving while disqualified

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A 35-YEAR-OLD woman who was caught driving while disqualified twice in four days days has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Victoria Anne James, of College Park, Neyland, was stopped by Dyfed-Powys Police roads policing officers in Johnston on Friday, February 15. She was reported for the offences and her Alfa Romeo car was seized.

James was stopped a second time by police on Monday, February 18, for driving while disqualified while driving another car.

She was arrested and charged with two counts of driving while disqualified and two counts of driving without insurance.

She was convicted at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Courts that same day and received a six month prison sentence, and received a further 24 months Driving Disqualification.

Sergeant Justin Williams said: “Police intelligence led officers to stop Victoria Anne James on February 15 where she was reported for offences and her car was seized. For her to commit the same offence two days later shows her disregard for the law.

“I hope this targeted, swift work from roads policing officers and the courts, which has resulted in a prison sentence serves as a stark warning to James and others considering flouting the laws on our roads. We are monitoring our roads and we will take robust action to ensure we keep other drivers on our roads safe by upholding the law.”

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Boy took his own life after failure to refer him for psychiatric support

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THE INQUEST into the death of 14 year-old Derek Brundrett, who was found hanged at Pembroke School in December 2013, has found that there were individual failings in efforts to get psychiatric support for the teenage boy – who then went on to take his own life.

Derek had seven different social workers and record keeping by social services was in a “shocking state of affairs” leading up to his death.

Returning a narrative verdict, the Assistant Coroner, Paul Bennett, said: “That Derek Brundrett took his own life and intended to do so in circumstances where, despite efforts to refer him for psychiatric support there was a failure to do so.”

Although no systemic failures were found, the Assistant Coroner ruled that there was a failure to refer by a social worker, a failure by a GP to provide extra information when referrals in 2012 and 2013 were declined, and a further failure to provide the relevant information on the appropriate referral form of a Looked After Child.

Derek’s death was in the context that he had been returned to foster care and was concerned about a return to the Pupil Referral Unit.

Derek’s actions were not considered to be a cry for help but rather a deliberate attempt at self-harm, the Coroner’s report stated.

The inquest had previously heard there were numerous failed attempts to refer him to mental health services.

A social services referral plan was not completed by Derek’s social worker because “she believed him to be happy”.

The inquest also heard Derek’s GP had made “routine” referrals for mental health treatment in 2012 and 2013.

Angela Lodwick, head of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for the Hywel Dda University Health Board, said they had to “prioritise children with severe mental health disorders”.

She added requests for more information about Derek’s condition went unanswered.

But she told the inquest that, at the time, CAMHS was not proactive in seeking more information.

Ms Lodwick said CAMHS would have probably “taken him on referral and made an assessment” if they had known about Derek’s risk-taking behaviour and talk of suicide in 2013, such as when he climbed onto the school roof.

She told the inquest the system had been inadequate and “the position was that everyone sat on their hands waiting” but CAMHS has since made improvements.

A spokesman for the Pembrokeshire County Council said: “The death of a child is a profound loss and all the professionals involved in this tragedy feel great sympathy for Derek and his family and friends. We would like to repeat our sincere condolences to them at this time.

“Derek’s loss is deeply felt by those individuals who had formed close and caring relationships with him.

“We would like to thank the Coroner for his thorough investigation and consideration of the case.

“We will, of course, reflect upon all of the issues that have been raised during the Inquest, and consider what lessons can be learned with a view to continuing to ensure the safeguarding and well-being of all children and young persons served by Pembrokeshire County Council.”

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