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Silverdale still a worry for the residents of Johnston

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THE RESIDENTS of Johnston have said the Silverdale Lodge has been a worry for the village since the council rented the premises to house the homeless throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

But The Herald has spoken directly with homeless people staying at the Silverdale. One of them is Mark Thornton.

He wants the local community to come and speak to the residents, and to get to know them first-hand before condemning them.

He said “I’m not here to disrupt, I just want a bed.

“I’m in the Silverdale Lodge because I’m homeless. How does that mean I’m a criminal?”

He added that he is not aware of any trouble from residents within the lodge and that the “majority of recent incidents within the village are a result of kids” and they are unjustly “getting the blame”.

The Herald has this week been contacted by numerous concerned residents.

They overwhelmingly have expressed their disappointment at the increase in anti-social behaviour in the village and blame the Silverdale.

The council say that there has been hardly any trouble at the premises – but residents and an email from police to the local community suggest otherwise.

A petition has been set up against the new temporary use of the premises, signed by over 500 people.

Locals claim onsite security guards and regular police patrol have been ineffective in culling the behaviour of some individuals.

Security guards at Silverdale gave exclusive interview with The Herald

Johnston’s county councillor Ken Rowlands said he had not been told of the Silverdale’s use before arrangements were made and confirms he has been inundated with complaints about drunken and yobbish behaviour by some of those moved there.

Not satisfied with the information he has received Cllr Rowlands made representations to Council Chief Executive Ian Westley, the police and the council’s social services department.

Jonathan Griffiths, County Council’s Director of Social Services, said the council were aware of complaints and were in constant communication with police about the nuisance alleged to have been caused.

Mr Griffiths said that the council was placed under an obligation placed on it by the Welsh Government and the lodges at the Silverdale were available and identified as suitable accommodation to meet it.

Adding that not all of those at the Silverdale should be or deserved to be tarred with the same broad brush.

In a recent video interview with this newspaper, published on our Facebook page, two security guards working on the premises, said that residents have to adhere to an 11pm curfew, a statement that Mr Thornton refutes.

He said: “There is a register of attendance, but no curfew has been issued to the residents.”
Speaking on past troubles, Mr Thornton admitted there had been an issue prior to his residence at the lodge, but the individual concerned had since been removed. He added that to his knowledge there has been no arrests made of any residents of the lodge.

Head of adult services, Jason Bennett, said: “A larger number of people at Silverdale are adhering to all the social distancing and working positively with the housing team.

“A small minority we’ve had to engage with, and police have had to engage with, are tarnishing the otherwise good work that’s happening”

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson confirmed the premises has been leased to ensure social distancing for people who would otherwise be using shared facilities at its homeless hostel in Pembroke.

Adding “There have been some rumours circulating that the site is being used specifically for prison leavers or as a bail hostel or halfway house and will bring more people into Pembrokeshire.”

“We would seek to reassure the community that our primary focus is to use the site to support people from Pembrokeshire who are faced with homelessness”

The Herald has also obtained emails between local residents, Pembrokeshire County Council and the police which confirm that they are aware that some individual’s behaviour are causing problems for the wider community.

In an email from a council representative to one Johnston resident, it said “There is a small minority that are not adhering to the required terms and I have written to all the current occupants to remind them of their responsibilities and to ask for their support and cooperation.

“We are also issuing formal notices to individuals who do not comply and will ask them to leave if this continues.”

One Johnston resident, who wishes not to be named, expressed to us his frustration at comments made on Facebook towards the Johnston community branding the villagers as Heartless.

Our source said: “We are being painted to be heartless. That is not the case. We are more than happy to help those genuinely homeless or vulnerable and support them in any way we can.”

“But as a community we are scared to even walk down our cycle path, we’re avoiding all of our local beauty spots through fear of certain individuals.”

“They congregate in groups of anything from ten to even bigger, they are strewn across the paths with beer cans and apparent drug paraphernalia”

“It is not a case of we don’t want to help vulnerable individuals.

“We have been told that there is a young family that has fled domestic violence being housed there. With the incidents that I have seen at the lodge, it is very sad for that poor family, they must be petrified, and my heart goes out to them.

“The council has a duty of care to both the vulnerable residents of the lodge and the wider Johnston community to do something about this situation”

In an email sent by police to some local residents, the police said: “We have taken proceedings against some individuals and issued relevant paperwork to others to ensure that their attendance at the site is prohibited in the future.”

The resident also told us he had an off record conversation with a county councillor who said that one of the residents at Silverdale had been sent “back to prison”.

This has increased the current feelings of the villagers that the council are not being truthful with the type of residents that are being housed at the accommodation.

Another resident contacted this newspaper to tell of another recent incident, which apparently took place at Nisa, Johnston by an alleged Silverdale resident on Tuesday (June 30).

Image sent to the Herald of the most recent incident in Johnston

We contacted Dyfed-Powys Police for a statement on the incident.

A spokesperson said: “Police were called to the Nisa shop in Johnston at approximately 8.10pm on Tuesday, June 30, following a report of a man being verbally abusive to staff and customers.

“Michael Carruthers, who had also been throwing items around the store and smashing bottles of wine, was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

“Following his arrest and subsequent charge of theft, criminal damage and assaulting a police officer, Carruthers of no fixed abode, was transported to Swansea Magistrates Court on Thursday, June 2.

“He pleaded guilty to theft and criminal damage, however a third charge of assaulting a police officer was withdrawn.

“Carruthers was given unconditional bail and will be sentenced at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Monday, 27 July.”

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Milford Haven: ‘Unnerving droning sound’ coming from LNG tanker

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RESIDENTS of Milford Haven and Hakin have been complaining on social media about the noise coming from an LNG tanker berthed at the South Hook LNG terminal.

The Bu Samra arrived in Milford Haven at 10am on Tuesday (Aug 4) and there has been a noise, described as sounding like a distant droning helicopter, or low vibrating sound ever since.

The sound is caused by the reliquefication plant compressors on the 163,000-tonne vessel as she is waiting to offload her cargo of liquefied natural gas.

It is not the first time that there have been complaints. Eleven years ago, in 2009, official complaints were made to Pembrokeshire County Council over a similar vessel, the Tembrek.

At the time officials from South Hook LNG said: “South Hook would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the sound residents may have heard coming from the LNG Carrier since its berthing
“This is due only to this particular phase of the initial commissioning as she is keeping her cargo in a liquefied state.
“In the meantime, the Master… will do everything he can to minimise the impact of the sound on local residents.”

Local marine expert Berty Barrett said on Facebook: “All part of living alongside these oil and gas installations.”

Sianie Roberts, a Hakin resident, commented: “It’s really unnerving. Never heard anything like it before for so long a period.”

South Hook has been contacted for a comment.

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Haverfordwest: Primary school teacher accused of 34 sexual assaults

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher was in court on Monday (Aug 3) accused of 34 sexual assaults.

James Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, denies all the charges.

Oulton, who was granted a continuation to his bail, was represented in court by his barrister Chris Clee QC.

The case is listed for administrative hearings in November and the trial date is provisionally set for April 12, 2021.

Oulton is currently suspended from work at Mary Immaculate School.

It is understood that the case does not involve children who are pupils at the Roman Catholic primary school.

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Phased re-opening for Leisure Centre facilities

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FACILITIES at Pembrokeshire County Council’s Leisure Centres will begin to re-open in a phased and safe manner from Monday, August 17.

Following further easing of Welsh Government restrictions, Pembrokeshire Leisure will be opening its doors for the use of fitness suites only in the first phase.

The fitness suites at Fishguard Leisure Centre, Haverfordwest Leisure Centre, Milford Haven Leisure Centre, Pembroke Leisure Centre and Tenby Leisure Centres will open from Monday, August.

You must book and pay for your gym slot in advance.

Without a pre-booked slot you will not be able to gain access to the facilities.

There will be no bookings or payments taken at the centres. In order to make a reservation you will need to be a registered user of Pembrokeshire Leisure.

You can register via the website https://pembrokeshireleisure.co.uk/ or by calling 01437 775504, Monday to Thursday, 9am – 3pm.

See below for further membership information.

Bookings can also be made via the website and telephone numbers above and through the Pembrokeshire Leisure app which is available to download on both Apple IOS and Android.

You will be able to book your session from Tuesday, August 11, onwards.

For everyone’s safety please do not attend any Pembrokeshire Leisure facilities if you are experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms.

Users are asked to bring only a full water bottle (drinking fountains will not be in use), a towel and their Pembrokeshire Leisure Card for their exercise session.

Please note there will be no changing facilities available so please arrive dressed ready for your session.

Buildings may operate one-way systems and equipment may be set out differently than normal with some equipment set up in other areas of the centre to allow more space to exercise.

Those visiting with pre-booked appointments are respectfully asked to adhere to social distancing rules in operation.

There will be an enhanced cleaning operation in place with hand sanitising stations and customers will need to use the provided cleaning products to clean equipment before and after use.

The second phase, from Tuesday, September 1, will see Crymych Leisure Centre re-open and swimming pools, indoor fitness classes and facility hire available at all centres.

Again, all activities will be via pre-booked appointments only.

Further details will be released in due course, including opening arrangements for all of the remaining leisure facilities.

Currently all Pembrokeshire Leisure memberships are frozen with no payments being taken.

To allow members to return when they feel safe and happy to do so Pembrokeshire Leisure will be offering the following:

If you are ready to return to us:

  • Everyone with a frozen current membership will be able to access the fitness suites for free from August 17 to 31.
  • We will be offering a ‘BeActive’ membership while our facilities have a reduced offering at £19/month.
  • You will need to sign up to the membership using our app or website.
  • This membership will be paid on a monthly basis with no minimum term.
  • It will be available until our centres are able to offer a more complete selection of activities, when existing membership subscriptions will be restarted.

If you don’t feel ready to return to us yet:

  • All memberships will remain frozen and you will not need to contact us until you are ready to return.
  • All subscriptions will receive an extension as Appropriate.
  • When we are able to offer a more complete provision of activities then memberships will be restarted. Members will be given notice before the payments are taken.

More information regarding the BeActive membership will be sent to all members.

All relevant information will also be published on

https://pembrokeshireleisure.co.uk/ and the Pembrokeshire Leisure App.

If you are unclear on the process of re-joining please contact 01437 775504.

Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism. Leisure and Culture, Cllr Paul Miller, said: “With restrictions easing further in the coming weeks the team have been working hard to ensure we can offer a safe, phased, return to leisure facilities across the county.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming back members and the general public from the 17th.”

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