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Haverfordwest: Police at Magistrates’ Court ahead of planned protest

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POLICE officers are guarding Haverfordwest Magistates court this afternoon (Mar 7)

Animal rights activists as well as concerned residents from the Pembroke Dock area are expected today to voice their anger about the treatment of animals at a local farm

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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Coronavirus patient being treated at Withybush intensive care unit, say staff

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STAFF working at Withybush General Hospital in Haverfordwest have confirmed that there is a patient in intensive care suffering from Covid-19.

A Health Board spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “COVID-19 is circulating in our communities and our hospitals are not exempt from this.

“An enormous amount of planning and preparations have taken place in our hospitals and they are set-up to care for both patients who have COVID-19 and those who don’t. Patients will be signposted appropriately through our hospitals.”

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Covid-19 grants for small businesses now being distributed

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, Paul Miller, has announced that payments to businesses started today (April 1).
Said Councillor Miller: “The team have been working flat out to get this scheme up and running as we know just how important this support is to business right now.
“Government promised the money would be with us by the 1st April and, now that the first tranche of cash has arrived, we have started distributing that support to our businesses.
“We undertook a short test run yesterday to make sure the system was running correctly and from today we are running daily payment runs so that as many can be processed in the shortest possible time.”

The following grants are available to small businesses to support the costs associated with the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses as follows;
• small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief;
• grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Councillor Miller added “I know our local businesses are doing all they can to sustain jobs and livelihoods. Our job is to get assistance to them as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

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The Country Food Trust’s helping hand

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Yesterday The Country Food Trust’s amazing Trustee and chef Tim Maddams drove from Dorset to West Wales and, with the help of Founding Trustee Andrew Stone, loaded his van with all the ready meals that we have left and went out on his first delivery run.

He delivered over 1,000 meals to Patch Charity in Milford Haven, run by the amazing Tracey Olin before returning home to Dorset.

Tracey Olin said “We are overwhelmed with the amazing donation from The Country Food Trust. We always struggle most with having meat meals. This will help so many people. Meeting Tim Maddams was also lovely”.

A spokes person for The Country Food Trust said “Big thanks to Simon Hart MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and Secretary of State for Wales for alerting us to the need at this amazing charity.”

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