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Thomas Cook air hostess speaks to The Herald about her journey

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WITH grounded flights and cancelled holidays, it’s been a stressful time since the collapse of Thomas Cook on Monday (Sept 24), especially for the cabin crew and pilots who have lost their jobs.

Bethan Phillips, 25, who grew up on the Mount Estate, was an air hostess for Thomas Cook for two years and has been taking part in rescue flights to help stranded Brits get home. She said the firm will be doing this until the end of October, and she is receiving no pay for the work she is putting in since Thomas Cook went into liquidation.

Speaking to The Herald, Bethan said: “We turned up to work to find planes had been impounded. We weren’t given any notice and found out on the news that we longer had a job! We had no communication from Thomas Cook other than an email telling us a conference call would be held at 10 am.

We’re all upset, and people have lost their mortgage, some of the cabin crew are married to pilots so now they both are jobless.”
On September 8, Bethan was pictured with a 73-year-old man, who had been awarded a certificate for his first flight. At that point, she had no idea Thomas Cook was in trouble.

The first Bethan knew about the loss of her job, was a post by the Civil Aviation Authority on Twitter, which said: “Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and the airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect. All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.”

Just one hour after the news broke at 2 am, Bethan received a text to say that the flight she was supposed to be boarding at 4 am, had been ‘delayed’. The message read: “MT1062 BRS MAH. Your flight is delayed to 08:20Z. Cabin Crew report at 06:50Z.

Please be advised that your flight is delayed as per check-in times are given. We fully expect your flight to operate as normal (with the relevant delay). Please ONLY contact Crewing with questions relating directly to the operation. Any queries regarding the future of the business will be addressed by your cabin crew management in due course.”

It wasn’t long after that she received an email containing details of a conference call regarding an ‘important business update’ in light of the morning’s news, with a ‘full update’ on what will happen next. The call was listened to only.

Bethan said: “The conference call was seven minutes long, which said ‘We are sorry we couldn’t get a deal, we advise you to sign on ASAP, and letters will be sent and you can claim payment from the government’. That was all we had. The communication was shocking. They just don’t care.”

She continued: “We’ve been out on rescue flights to get people who are stranded – this is going to go on until the end of October. We aren’t being paid for it.

“A percentage of us are trained on Smartlynx – this is a company we lease aircrafts to for use their flight crew, and then you have Thomas Cook cabin crew. They said the cabin crew who are trained by Smartlynx will get paid but the others won’t be.”

Bethan added that there are cabin crew currently stuck in Cuba and can’t get home.

The general feeling around those who worked with Bethan at Bristol airport is upset and anger, especially after the UK Managers have already been contracted for their sister company.

The sister company, Thomas Cook Condor, has been saved by the UK bosses: A company that the cabin crews have put extra work into to help get off the ground.

Bethan finished, saying: “We have been working for months helping Condor out in Germany because they haven’t had any staff. Their crew didn’t want to work over Christmas either, so our crew went out for three weeks to help.

We’re supposed to be ‘One Thomas Cook’, but we’ve seen posts from our bosses saying they’re happy to have freed themselves from the UK brand. I don’t know if they realise we can still see what they’re posting on our group online.”

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Simon’s Hart to Hart with Pembroke constituent

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SIMON HART has got into a heated doorstep discussion with a Pembroke pensioner whilst canvasing for next week’s general election.

Michael Hart, 70, who is no relation to Simon Hart, contacted The Herald at lunchtime today (5 December) to say that he had been in a heated discussion with the Tory incumbent, who was out door-knocking on his street.

The argument was sparked by the swastika saga – as exclusively reported in last week’s Herald – in which Simon Hart REFUSES to account for the appearance of offensive Nazi graffiti on one of his election placards, two years after it was taken down from public display.

Simon Hart photographed the placard in question in 2017 – at which point the only evidence of graffiti it bore was written text. But he posted a new photograph of the same placard to kickstart his re-election campaign last month, in which two swastikas are visible where none appeared before.

The MP is still refusing to give any public explanation, and has threatened legal action against those speculating over what he says is “demonstrably untrue.”
Since being reported by his favourite local weekly, Michael Hart tells us that he noticed how Simon Hart was still keeping quiet on the swastikas’ appearance – despite being approached by journalists reporting on the matter for the Independent, Daily Mirror, iNews and Western Mail titles.

Earlier this week WalesOnline reported that, when approached, Simon Hart failed to offer “an explanation as to how the swastika signs ended up on the election board, or who might be responsible”, but he told them: “Any suggestion that I had anything to do with this is malicious, false and defamatory and lawyers have been instructed”.

Michael Hart tells the Herald that he became aware Simon Hart was out campaigning on Kingsbridge Drive at lunchtime, when the candidate’s poster landed on his doormat.

The retiree says that the swastika issue led to the disagreement – in which words were exchanged and threats of legal action were inferred made towards him by the government minister.

Michael Hart, a retired teacher and mechanical engineer, said that he tackled Simon Hart to explain how the swastikas came about. He says his prodding produced what he calls a “tentative explanation” from the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire incumbent, which he finds “hard to believe”.

“I opened my door and went out to the drive, and politely said I did not want the poster. A few moments later, Simon Hart came up the road and onto my drive.

“I complained to him about two things – the Conservatives’ illegal proroguing of Parliament, and all that I’ve read about his publishing of the photo on his Facebook page of his defaced election board with the swastikas on.

“When I asked him about the signs, he got agitated, angry, and threatened me with legal action, and said he would pursue anybody who made out that he had anything to do with it”.

“On pushing him further, he told me how he thinks they got there. He says when his signs were in storage in a shed, that the shed was broken into, and a large number of placards including the swastika placard were ‘damaged or defaced’ for a second time!

“It really is quite some theory – and if it is true now, then it was true last week when the issue was first exposed. So why didn’t he mention this before now, when the Herald and other papers started asking him questions, or why didn’t he contact the police?

“Why was it when he put the poster on Facebook did he not then explain how the swastikas got there?

“I’m not sure why but he was recording our conversation on his phone. At the end of the visit no one from Mr Hart’s party would accept the poster back – so I threw it in the road and then it was picked up.”

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Jeremy Corbyn 100% confirmed to visit Pembrokeshire this weekend

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LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn will be visiting Pembrokeshire this weekend to shore up support for Labour candidates in the area.

Although the exact itinerary has not yet been confirmed, Labour HQ in Cardiff has confirmed to The Pembrokeshire Herald that Mr Corbyn will definitely be in attendance.

Mr Corbyn will be keen to rally votes for Philippa Thompson, who is standing in the Preseli Pembrokeshire seat – the second most marginal in the UK.

At the 2017 election she lost to Stephen Crabb by just 314 votes.

An email sent out to Labour members states: “Jeremy Corbyn will be in Haverfordwest to talk about how we win a better society, and we hope you can join him.

“This election is a once in a generation chance for us. Together we can reverse a decade of austerity. Take power from the billionaires, the bad bosses and the big polluters and give it to workers, young people, communities and everyone the Tories have failed for so long.

“We’re coming together to make our voices heard in Haverfordwest this weekend. This is about getting together, being inspired, and making a difference in the final week.”

The exact location will be sent out to those who register to attend, the email ads. The indoor rally is expected to start at 5.30pm.

Corbyn’s supporters said they hope that their leader will also attend an outdoor rally taking place in Haverfordwest town centre, at a location to be confirmed, the same afternoon.

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Haverfordwest boy caught taking drugs by officers thirty miles away

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A TEENAGE boy was arrested in Haverfordwest last week, after he was caught smoking cannabis on CCTV cameras which are monitored in Carmarthen (on Nov 28).

As part of the ongoing effort to crack down on anti-social behaviour in the town centre, known as Operation Spitfire, Haverfordwest Inspector, Reuben Palin, was at police headquarters, where the cameras are monitored, when he spotted the boy on-screen.

He saw a group of teenagers known to police, and the camera operator was able to zoom in for a closer look at their activities. After a call to local officers, they quickly arrived at the scene. The group was searched and one of the youths was arrested for possessing the class B drug.

Insp. Palin said: “We’re doing all we can to address community concerns about anti-social behaviour in Haverfordwest, and this includes putting the town’s new CCTV system to best use.

“Seeing the capability of the cameras in live-time has shown that CCTV is not just useful when an incident has occurred, but can also help us monitor what’s happening in town, and will hopefully deter bad behaviour.

“Obviously this can’t replace good old fashioned foot patrols, and we have a plan that sees CCTV complementing a visible police presence.”

The teenage boy arrested on suspicion of possessing the small amount of cannabis admitted the offence, and will be dealt with by the Youth Offending Team to ensure he gets support for his drug use.

He continued: “We are also working with other agencies, in particular the council, which has recently opened a drop-in centre for young people at No 2 Old Bridge, with the aim of offering a wide range of activities and opportunities that reflect their interests.

“While we have a strategy to minimise anti-social behaviour in this area, we would like to remind parents that the actions of their children are not the responsibility of the police. We urge you to be aware of what your children are doing, and where they are spending their time.

“No one should have to put up with anti-social behaviour and I would encourage the community to contact Haverfordwest Police to report any issues or concerns.”

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