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Demonstrators expected at court for Sean Burns animal welfare case

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ANIMAL RIGHTS activists as well as concerned residents from the Pembroke Dock area are expected to attend Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (March 7).

Demonstrations have taken place over recent weeks after the local authority and animal charities worked together to remove a large number of animals from Bramble Hall Farm – the protests were over the animals which the protesters believed were still in situ at the farm – dubbed ‘Bramble Hell Farm’ by protestors.

Between 50 and 100 people attended two protests, it is not known how many will likely be in attendance at the court.

Sean Burns, of Rose Lodge, Ferry Lane is to attend court in order to answer to a request for by Pembrokeshire County Council that possession of 80 sheep, 58 dogs, 53 pigs, 21 horses and 3 goats be given up – and the animals sold or destroyed where necessary (If necessary to prevent suffering) under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 section 20(1).

This is not a criminal charge, but a request for a civil order.

The case is listed for 2pm.

However, in light of legitimate public concerns about the welfare of animals at Bramble Hall Farm, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire County Council has released the following information which it is hoped will clarify the actions and legal processes taken so far, the current situation, and the roles of the various agencies involved.

Richard Brown, Head of Environmental Services and Public Protection, said: “Please be assured that we are continuing to monitor the welfare of animals that remain on site, and legitimate grounds for believing that the welfare of any animals is comprised will result in further action.

“An investigation into potential criminal charges is ongoing.”

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Animal Health and Welfare Team are generally responsible for monitoring the welfare of farmed livestock and taking action under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 where welfare standards are found to be deficient.

The Council is also responsible for licensing certain animal establishments, including dog breeding, and for animal welfare in these licensed establishments.

These welfare roles complement those of the RSPCA who generally take a lead in ensuring the welfare of companion animals (including dogs and horses) at other sites, with liaison taking place as appropriate.

Periodic, targeted visits are made by the Animal Health and Welfare Team to licensed operations and sites that present higher risk, and other sites are visited in response to intelligence received.

A warrant to enter Bramble Hall Farm was executed in 2017, which resulted in a prosecution and conviction in January 2018 for operating an illegal dog breeding establishment, animal welfare and animal by-product offences. Confirmation was subsequently obtained that dogs previously used for breeding had been rehomed pending a possible future application for a dog breeding licence, and no grounds remained for gaining access to the site.

On the 28th and 29th January 2019, the Council’s Animal Health and Welfare Team obtained and executed court warrants at Bramble Hall Farm with the support of other agencies and parties. The Council took possession of a large number of animals from the site on welfare grounds, as supported by veterinary opinion. All of the animals taken into possession were transported to pre-arranged, safe locations where they will be cared for appropriately, under the control of the Council, until a court determination has been made.

A small number of animals were not taken into possession during the operation as there was no veterinary evidence to suggest that their welfare had been compromised or that the animals would be subject to significant risk, at that time.

Steps have also been taken to ensure that any animal by-products remaining on site were removed. This has since been confirmed.

The Council is continuing to investigate a range of related offences in respect of a number of individuals. It is a large, complex investigation with multiple potential offences.

Meanwhile, the Council has applied to the Magistrates’ Court for the forfeiture (permanent confiscation) of animals seized. This procedure is independent of any potential criminal proceedings.

A court hearing is listed for the 7th March, for the court to consider this application. Depending on the outcome, a period of 28 days will be available for those with an interest, as owners, to lodge an appeal.

Council officers have been in contact with other people who have been identified as having a potential ownership interest in the animals taken into possession. Where evidence exists, these parties have been notified of the court hearing so that representations can be made.

Any persons who believe they have a right of ownership in respect of animals seized should notify the Council’s Animal Welfare team as a matter of urgency.

Despite legitimate public animal welfare concerns, Pembrokeshire County Council is unable to prevent any individual from acquiring or keeping animals. Only a court can do that.

If someone has been convicted for an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the court can make an order depriving/disqualifying them from owning, keeping, participating in keeping or controlling or influencing the way animals are kept, transporting or arranging the transportation of animals.

There is nothing stopping animals being brought to a site/kept on site until a disqualification is in place.

Council officers will take all reasonable steps to monitor the welfare of any animals that remain on site, along with other agencies as appropriate.

Legitimate grounds for believing that the welfare of any animals is comprised or that any illegal breeding activity is occurring will result in further action.

Should members of the public have any information to identify the ownership of any animals seized or about matters currently under investigation they should phone the Council’s contact centre on 01437 764551 and ask to speak to the Animal Welfare team.

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Council’s cannon stolen from outside Cleddau Bridge Hotel

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A LARGE cannon has been stolen from the now closed Cleddau Bridge Hotel in Pembroke Dock in the last few days.

A local councillor and the police have appealed for information which will lead to the safe return of the gun.

Ward councillor Joshua Beynon said: “Dyfed-Powys Police have just telephoned me to say they are investigating the cannon that was stolen from the former Cleddau Bridge Hotel. It is believed to have gone missing sometime between the evening of Wednesday 20th March to the morning of Thursday 21st March.”

The police said in a statement: “If anyone has any information then can I urge you to call the police on 101 and quote the crime number: DPP/0064/21/03/2019/01/C as soon as possible.”

The cannon, one of two dug up from the ground at Hobbs Point and later restored, used to stand outside Llanion Park, the former offices of South Pembrokeshire District Council, which is now the head office of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The canon is the property of Pembrokeshire County Council and was given to the hotel on loan.

The hotel’s management neglected to make arrangements for its return to the local authority on closing down.

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How to get a refund for unused Cleddau Bridge tickets after April 1

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has announced details on how it plans to refund Cleddau Bridge users left with unused books of bridge tickets after it becomes toll-free.
From 1st April until 30th June refunds will be available from the Cleddau Bridge office itself and the North Wing Customer Service Centre in County Hall, Haverfordwest.
Refunds for all three classes of tickets will be available at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The classes are:

Class A blue-coloured tickets (for motorcycles)
Class B red tickets (cars and light commercial vehicles)
Class C orange tickets (HGVs).

Refunds at the office will be available round-the-clock from 12 noon on 1st April and will be paid – wherever possible – back to the original debit/credit cards up to a maximum of £150 with cash refunds up to £30.

Any refunds over £150 will be made by BACS transfer unless otherwise agreed in advance.

Only Class B red tickets will be refunded at the North Wing Customer Service Centre in Haverfordwest.

Here, refunds will be paid back to the original debit/credit card up to a maximum of £90 (ie three books of 50 tickets)

The maximum cash refund at this location will be £30 (ie one book of 50 tickets).

Refunds at the North Wing Customer Service Centre will be available weekdays between 9 am and 1 pm and 2 pm until 5 pm.

Organisations which have previously purchased tickets with a value exceeding £400 will be contacted during the week commencing Monday, 25th March with instructions on how to reclaim their refunds on an appointment basis at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said: “I am delighted to announce that bridge users who have unused tickets due to the cessation of tolls will be reimbursed and not find themselves out of pocket.”
Those who qualify for refunds are asked to wait a few days before making a claim so as to avoid a long wait. This particularly applies to refunds at the Cleddau Bridge office.

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Council issue ‘rave alert’ to farmers, landowners and local communities

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and Dyfed-Powys Police are asking farmers, landowners and local communities to be on alert over the coming weekend (23rd and 24th March) for warning signs of any illegal raves planned for their land.

Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the police, especially if there are unusual numbers of vehicles – in particular, camper vans, vans or trucks – seen in the locality.

Illegal trespassers may recce sites in advance of any rave, or people may approach landowners and ask around for land, in the guise of hiring it for acceptable activities such as gymkhanas or scout camps.

Raves can cause anxiety to the community they are held in and, if not dealt with swiftly, are difficult to stop due to the sheer numbers of people involved. There is also a safety concern involved in breaking up such events.

Anyone with concerns should call Dyfed Powys Police on 101 and ask to speak to the Duty Sergeant or Duty Inspector at Haverfordwest Police Station.

Alternatively, please call Pembrokeshire County Council’s out-of-hours service on 01437 775522.

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