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Former Herald shareholder jailed for nine years

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A FORMER share holder in The Pembrokeshire Herald has been sent to prison for nine years for being in possession of over a kilogram of cocaine and cutting agents, along with over £30,000 in cash and valuable assets.

Erfan Felix Al-Talal, who owned £50,000 of shares in Herald Newspapers plc until December last year was arrested and charged with possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply, and money laundering.

On Monday (Sept 24) Al-Talal appeared at Swansea Crown Court where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

Detective constable Andrew Dabinette from Tarian said: “Such was the strength of the evidence gathered as the result of this warrant Al-Talal had no option but to enter a guilty plea.

“We will continue to target those people who cause the most harm to the communities within our regions.

“We will relentlessly pursue offenders, using a range of skills, to ensure that the people who wish to blight our communities with harmful controlled drugs are brought before the courts.”

In a statement, a spokesman for The Herald said: “Felix Al Talal was one of several shareholders who put in money to start the Pembrokeshire Herald in 2013.

“His shareholding was 50%, until company reorganisation on 1 January 2016 when it was reduced to 33%

“Felix Al Talal sold his shares in December 2017 and is no longer associated with the company.

“His investment has long since been repaid to him.

“Mr Al Talal then set up a double glazing firm called J&F Double Glazing (Factory) Limited.

“That firm is located at Unit 4a Players Industrial Estate, Clydach, Swansea, United Kingdom, SA6 5BQ.

“There is no link to The Herald.

Editor of The Pembrokeshire Herald, Thomas Sinclair said “I met Mr Al Talal for the first time in March 2013. He was introduced as a potential investor by a third party. Following several meetings he agreed to invest into the newspaper. He was very professional at all times, and there was nothing to suggest that something like this could happen in the future.

“As a shareholder he had no influence on editorial content of the newspaper, but did make visits to the Milford Haven office on a handful of occasions.”

News

Cleddau Bridge Hotel fire started deliberately

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A RESPONSE to a Freedom of Information Act request made by Llanion councillor Joshua Beynon reveals that the fire which devastated the Cleddau Bridge Hotel on March 30 this year was arson.

The blaze followed a protracted period during which the hotel had been empty following the refusal of a planning application for change of use to residential accommodation.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that investigators have now concluded the fire investigation regarding the fire that took place at the Cleddau Bridge Hotel on March 30, 2019.

“The investigation determined that the fire was started deliberately, and all relevant information has duly been passed on to Dyfed Powys Police.”

The Herald has asked Dyfed Powys Police to comment on the progress of its investigation.

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No prosecutions in Pembroke Dock grant fraud allegations

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MORE than five years since allegations of impropriety in publicly-funded building restoration grants were taken up by the police, the local force tells Pembrokeshire County Council chief executive, Ian Westley, in a letter circulated to councillors: “The Crown Prosecution Service has determined that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any of the suspects.”

More details to follow – the matter will also be discussed at this Thursday’s full council meeting.

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Fishguard school last in Wales without broadband

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CHILDREN in a school in Fishguard are excited about next term before the summer holidays have even begun.

Ysgol Llanychllwydog is the last school in Wales without broadband.

The pupils sometimes have to wait half an hour for pages to load. Sometimes videos won’t play. Now the school is looking forward to an ultra-fast future, and for the head teacher the changes cannot come quickly enough.

Currently when the internet goes down Amanda Lawrence has to drive 10 minutes to her other school to send an email to report it.

“It’s frustrating. There are lots of schools that are able to use schemes where you can plan electronically, but it’s difficult for staff here to do that,” she said.

As part of a scheme to target hard-to-reach places, fibre optic cable is being laid along a 15-mile route from Haverfordwest.

Matt Lovegrove, who works for Openreach, admitted it had been ‘a massive challenge’.

He said: “We’ve had to plough 1.5 miles of new trench to put new duct in, we’ve had to put new poles and had to span the cable between 50 poles as well, so a real variety of challenges.

“The product is limitless in terms of speed. It’s gigabit capable, that means they can download music, interactive learning et cetera, and it will be instant for them.”

The wider community will also benefit from the upgrade, he said. “We are looking to work with local government and residents to expand that fibre footprint to as much of the village as possible.”

“They’ll be able to access the high speed broadband and again get all the benefits from that.”

The last school in Wales without broadband

Broadband is a Welsh Government priority. It’s invested £13.8m in school broadband.

But Llanarchllwydog has been a tough nut. It’s taken the efforts of Welsh and UK governments to bring broadband.

“Because of the challenging topography, that we are familiar with, it has taken rather a long time to make sure that every school is equipped with the broadband speeds that they need,” said Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams.

“This means that schools will have the external infrastructure that they need to deliver our exciting new curriculum and I hope to be making an announcement shortly on further investment on kit and equipment inside schools.”

The work is being done through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme.

DCMS minister Margot James MP agrees cooperation between the two governments has helped deliver the project.

“That’s not the end of it for Wales,” Ms James said.

“The other aspects of the rural gigabit connectivity programme is that we are using that £200 million to bring full fibre to local public buildings like hospitals and schools so that they get the gigabit connectivity first.”

The cable has now reached the telegraph post outside the school. The final work will happen over summer.

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