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UKIP win ‘an extraordinary result’

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countPEMBROKESHIRE VOTERS sent a clear message to the main parties this week that they are not satisfied with business as usual, as UKIP came within 285 votes of the Conservatives, who again topped the poll in our County.

 Overall, Wales voted for Labour who gained 28.2% of the vote in the region, however, UKIP was closely behind in second place with 27.6% of the vote, only just over half a percentage point from Labour. The Conservatives were third with 17.4% of the vote and Plaid Cymru came fourth with 15.3%. As a result, Wales have elected Nathan Gill (UKIP), Dr Kay Swinburne (Conservative), Jill Evans (Plaid Cymru) and Derek Vaughan (Labour) to represent us as MEPs on the European Parliament. The picture, nationally in the UK, was even more alarming for the main parties as UKIP actually won the popular vote with 27.5% of all votes polled. Labour came second with 25.4% and the Conservatives were a short distance off in third with 23.9% of the votes. The Liberal Democrats had a catastrophic result, coming fifth behind the Green Party with a mere 6.9% of the vote. The Herald spoke with the four elected Welsh MEP’s who gave us their reaction to this week’s results. A very upbeat Nathan Gill of UKIP said: “I’m over the moon with the result. We really wanted to come first, we were 5,000 votes short of that, but we have more than doubled our vote from the last election. The people of Wales really have spoken. We want out of this European Union and we will raise the profile of what is going on in Brussels as people need to be aware of what’s happening with their money. “We came either first or second in every constituency in Wales. That is amazing. We now have to win seats in Westminster.” He went on to confirm for The Herald that he would be standing to become an MP in the next General Election. Conservative MEP Dr Kay Swinburne, whose party topped the European poll in Wales five years ago and finished third this time, said: “We are very pleased, overall, with the vote we have maintained. We are just 3% down on 2009. It’s looking good for 2015 for the Conservative vote and our Welsh MPs.” Jill Evans of Plaid Cymru told the Herald: “Based on the issues, and the real facts, people do understand how important it is for Wales to be represented in Europe. I wouldn’t change the way I work, but I do think we have to create much more of a real debate about our future in Europe.” Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, responding to the question as to whether he was disappointed to have only won one seat, said: “Welsh Labour is delighted to have topped the poll. We would have liked two seats but we knew this would be very difficult. This is the best campaign ever for European elections (by Labour). We will be making sure every constituency is acting and campaigning to get the message out. “We will build on this result and it is vital for Wales and the UK that we have a Labour Government next year. There was a protest vote against the main parties. We will campaign to explain the importance of EU membership. Hopefully those that have supported UKIP will come back to Labour.” The results show a significant shift towards UKIP from all the main parties, leaving pollsters in uncertain as to what might happen in next year’s General Election. There is mounting pressure on the Liberal Democrat’s leader and deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to stand down as leader after his party’s disastrous results. Speaking about the result he acknowledged that they were a huge ‘setback’ but has vowed to go on as leader stating he would, ‘finish the job’. The Liberal Democrats lost all but one of their seats in the election and were pushed into fifth place in the UK by The Green Party. UKIP’s controversial leader Nigel Farage said that his party intends to build on what he described as ‘the most extraordinary result’ in British politics in the past century, and he went on to say that his party now appealed to all social classes and had made significant inroads in Wales and Scotland as well as winning the most votes in England. Mr Farage said: “It is over 100 years since a national election has been won by a party other than the Conservatives and Labour. Our game is to get this right, to find the right candidates, and focus our resources on getting a good number of seats in Westminster next year. “If UKIP do hold the balance of power, then indeed there will be a (EU) referendum.” He also claimed that Labour would come under enormous pressure to offer the voters a referendum on Europe, and he said he did not believe Nick Clegg would still be Liberal Democrat leader at the General Election. He finished by saying: “The three party leaders are like goldfish that have been tipped out of their bowl onto the floor and are gasping for air.” Labour leader, Ed Milliband, claimed that Labour’s second place in these elections showed the party was making progress, though he acknowledged that they had further to go. He went on to say that there was deep discontent in the UK and that the Labour Party must show it could answer the call for change. However, Mr Milliband was unwavering on his party’s position on not offering a referendum on EU membership. On a relatively disappointing night for the Conservatives, who were pushed into third place, leader and Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “I think the results give a clear message that people are deeply disillusioned with the European Union and in the way it is working for Britain, and they want change. The challenge is now for my party to demonstrate that we have the plan to deliver that change; to renegotiate Britain’s place in Europe, to get a better deal to change Europe and then put the choice to the British people in an ‘in out referendum’ before the end of 2017. “That is what we will do and the real test for that plan will come at the next General Election. People use elections like this to send messages to Government. I see this as a demand for us to deliver. They want to see us complete our long term economic plan. Tackling immigration, reforming Welfare and getting Britain’s place right in Europe are all part of our economic plan. I believe we can win the next election outright. We are going to have to convince more people.” To put matters in perspective, however, the low turnout in the Euro-poll means that UKIP’s victory in the popular vote amounts to fewer than 10% of the overall electorate. With the two largest parties bound to concentrate their resources on mobilising their core vote and targeting undecided voters on issues such as the economy, welfare and health for next year’s general election, UKIP’s ability to maintain momentum when having to campaign on more than one issue has to be called into question.

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Approval recommended for dockyard plans

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A CONTROVERSIAL plan to develop part of Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard comes before the County Council’s Planning Committee next week.

Despite many objections from heritage organisations, Council planning officers recommend the development’s approval.

However, the Planning Committee will only indicate whether it is ‘minded to approve’ the proposal instead of giving it the go-ahead.

The Welsh Government has called in the application for decision by the next Welsh Government minister responsible for planning and infrastructure developments.

That means the Welsh Government will consider the Report presented to the Committee and weigh it against the objections received.

HERITAGE ASSETS VERSUSECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The application is to develop a brownfield site within the former Royal Dockyard.

It seeks outline planning permission for the demolition or part demolition and infill of various buildings and structures, modification of existing slipways, erection of buildings and ancillary development. 

The development is intended for port-related activities, including the manufacture of marine energy devices, boat manufacture, repair and erection of plant.

The application is for outline planning permission. All matters relating to access, appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale are reserved for consideration as part of reserved matters applications. In practice, as many councils – including Pembrokeshire – have discovered, once outline planning is granted, reserved applications tend to proceed despite potential negative impacts.

A similar situation arose with Milford Haven Port Authority’s hotel development at Milford Marina, where councillors’ concerns were largely overruled by the existence of outline planning permission for the development.

Part of the proposal would see the former graving dock and timber pond infilled, the part demolition of existing slipways, and some buildings on site.

Both the graving dock and timber pond are Grade II listed. Buildings near the development are also listed, including the iconic Sunderland flying boat hangars.

The existing caisson gate currently in situ at the dock’s southern end would be removed and conserved. It is unique in Wales and a rare example. The planning report states that the caisson gate would remain within the marine environment without development and deteriorate. 

The development would include a new ‘super slipway’ built over the land extending into the River Cleddau and the construction of massive new industrial sheds to accommodate new marine technology.

JOBS AND THE CITY DEAL

The planning report claims the facilities erected will support anywhere between 288 and 975 full-time equivalent jobs in Pembrokeshire and make a substantial contribution to the local economy. However, the report also notes that the numbers of jobs claimed cannot be corroborated.

This proposal is linked to the establishment of the Marine Energy Test Areas (META), the Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) and the Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone (PDZ). These collectively comprise the Pembroke Dock Marine (PDM) project. 

The project forms part of the Swansea Bay City Deal to facilitate the next generation of marine renewable energy technology.

Companies who could potentially gain from the development have signalled their support from the proposal.Although their enthusiasm is predictable, the economic potential for local businesses cannot be ignored.

DOCKYARD ESSENTIAL TO TOWN’S EXISTENCE

However, a raft of objections also exists.

The Council received representations from, among others: The Victorian Society; The Georgian Group; Hywel Dda University Health Board;  Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre; Pembrokeshire Historic Buildings Trust; Pembroke Civic Trust; Naval Dockyards Society; The Commodore Trust; Ridgway History Group.

Not all of those organisations objected to the principle of development. For example, Hywel Dda expressed concern about the potential effect on access to South Pembs Hospital and patient care. However, most criticised the impact on the historic environment of the Royal Dockyard. Individual objections also expressed the same concerns.

The Naval Dockyard Society points out that the Dockyard construction was the reason for Pembroke Dock’s creation as a town. Without it, the town would not exist.

The Society continues: ‘The proposed scheme would severely damage Pembroke Dock Conservation Area and crucial listed buildings. 

‘The Grade II* Graving Dock would be infilled and partially built over, the Grade II Timber Pond infilled and built over, and the Grade II Building Slips Nos 1 and 2 partially demolished and removed. It would also be detrimental to the adjacent Grade II Carr Jetty setting, which adds to the group value of these threatened structures at Pembroke Dockyard.

‘These structures are the last and most important features of the magnificent and unique assemblage of thirteen slips, graving dock and timber pond constructed and functioning 1809–1926. 

‘Pembroke Dock specialised in building warships during the transition from wood to iron and steel, sail to steam and turbines. 

‘While the eastern slips were sacrificed in 1979 for the Irish ferry terminal and the deep-water berth Quay 1, we now live in a more responsible era, when significant community assets merit planning protection.

‘The Royal Dockyard established at Pembroke Dock from 1809 was unique: the only one in Wales, the only one on the west coast of Britain, and the only one created solely as a shipbuilding facility. 

‘It built over 260 warships for the Royal Navy, including many of the most prestigious warships of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as five royal yachts. Many of these vessels were built on the two large slipways at the western end of the yard threatened by the current development proposal’.

THE COMMUNITY’S VIEW

William Gannon represents Pembroke Dock Town Council on the Milford Haven Port Authority. Mr Gannon recently hosted an online event that reviewed the application and gave local people the chance to express their views.

We asked him what the public had to say about the plans.

Listening to the community: David Gannon (photo credit: David Steel)

William Gannon told us: “The feeling of the Community following our Zoom Meeting was that we welcome the 1800 jobs and the £63 Million of investment that the Pembroke Dock Marine Project has promised. 

“However, the Community is concerned about the Pickling Pond and The Graving Dock’s loss, which will be buried beneath the new slipway. Both The Pickling Pond and The Graving Dock are Grade 2 Star listed heritage assets.

“The Community are also concerned about the size of the two ‘super sheds’ that may be built. It is felt that these sheds are both too large and ugly, and they will damage the appearance of the Dockyard and The Haven and could damage Pembroke Docks plans to develop Tourism in and around the Dockyard.

“Our Community is looking to strike a balance between the need to develop the Dockyard and to preserve our Heritage Assets. 

“We believe that we can do this by working with The Port to develop a solution that allows for both.”

The Port Authority plans to infill the dock and pond in such a way as to preserve the structures and excavate them in the future. Once they are built over, however, the circumstances that would be possible or even likely are unclear. 

The Port Authority also proposes to use digital media to provide an ‘augmented reality’ experience to show visitors what the Royal Dockyard looked like before its development.

The Port says that part of the land, the Carriage Drive, would be enhanced and restored under its plans for the site.
The balance between preserving heritage and creating future jobs in one of its pet project areas is one the Welsh Government will wrestle with on this application and others.

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Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said in Swansea Crown Court.

In total, 11 former pupils, who were all under 13, have come forward and accused James Oulton, 34, of sexually assaulting them.

Oulton denies all the charges – saying the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he had behaved appropriately all times.

One of the pupils, who was in year four at the time, opened day four of the trial by giving evidence via a video link.

The girl told the court: “He would put his arm around by back and backside.”

Under cross examination Chris Clee QC, for the defence, asked the witness: “Did you tell the police that you were touched in an inappropriate way?”

The witness answered: “Yes, teachers should not be touching in that way.”

James Oulton

Asked if what he was doing wrong, the witness replied:

“Yes, very wrong”

In cross examination letters and cards were produced, made the witness whilst in school, where she had said Mr. James Oulton was “the best teacher in the whole world.”

One of the cards said: “You’ve made my life complete”.

Another card said: “Thank you for being so nice, and thanks for everything that you’ve done for me.”

The witness added: “Despite what he did do, he was a good teacher.  

“He used to buy us treats.

“He was nice caring and a sweet and fun teacher – but not what he was doing.

Referring to the cards, she said: “I would definitely not be saying that stuff now.”

Explaining how she told her parents the witness said: “Once I realised that [x] was in his class, I asked her ‘did he do this stuff to you?’

“She said yes.

“I realised more and more it was wrong and it was time to grow up now, and to speak.

“As soon as I found out that this was happening to [x] I stood up and told my parents.

Asked if she had seen inappropriate behaviour happening to anybody else the witness answered: “He did it to most of the girls in the class, but he had his favourites.

Asked if she had spoken to other girls about the touching, the witness said: “Yes, I was just curious was it just me, or was it normal?”

“Teachers should most definitely not be doing that to students.

“Doing what?”, the witness was asked, “You said in your police interview that he would pull you off your chair and make you sit on his lap, is that true?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

“Did you try and stop him?” she was asked.

“Yes, I tried to push him off sometimes and said, ‘get off its weird’, but I didn’t want to make a scene.

“He would make me sit on his lap whilst he was marking my work.”

When asked by the defence barrister how she was sat on her teacher’s lap, and if it was under a desk, the witness answered: “No, not under the desk, as both of our legs wouldn’t fit under.”

The witness also said that when she was sat on the defendant’s knee he would make “a low grunting noise.”

Asked if she had spoken others about this case, the girl said: “Police told my mum and dad that there were very many people involved in the case.

“I thought it was just me and [x] that was going to be at court, I only recently discovered that others had come out.”

A second female pupil was also giving evidence via video link. She was 9-years-old at the time of the alleged offending.

Firstly, a pre-recorded interview was played in court in which the witness said: “My teacher, Mr. Oulton always put his hand up my leg like that and up my t-shirt.”

She added: “If he calls you over and he pulls you onto his lap, if you don’t, he pulls your chair over and makes you.”

“How would he make you?” the QC asked.

“He would grab your arm, push you, and then pull you in”, she replied.

When asked if this was a one off, the witness said that the defendant “did it every day.”

“How would you be sat on his lap?”, she was asked.

“He would have one arm on my stomach, then the other arm would be rubbing my leg.”

“He would swap arms and then put one arm up my t-shirt.”

When asked to clarify if it was under her t-shirt the girl explained: “Yes it was under my t-shirt rubbing his hands up and down.”

The witness added: “If I tried to get up for work, he would just grab my arm.”

“He would make a funny sound like a hissing airplane.”

“We had a helper in the class, and when he came in, he would stop, and then I could go and sit down.”

The trial continues.

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New trees planted to help town

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SEVERAL new trees have been planted on Riverside Avenue in Neyland.

They were planted by Grandiflora, courtesy of the Town Council which recently pledged to plant more trees in the town in an attempt to help the environment.

As well as helping the environment, the trees will prevent vehicles from being parked on the grass verges on Riverside Avenue, which had been severely churned up over the winter and looked unsightly.

The Town Council will be working with Pembrokeshire County Council regarding parking issues in Neyland.

The trees will be tended and watered over the summer period to ensure they reach their maximum potential and enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

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