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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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Police appeal after man found dead near Kilgetty roundabout

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POLICE in Pembrokeshire are  investigating the sudden death of a man in Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire.

The man, aged in his 60s, is often seen on or near Kilgetty roundabout. Concerns for his welfare were raised this morning (Saturday, Nov 28) and sadly, a body was found near the Kilgetty roundabout a short while later.

Police said: “Anyone with information that could help piece together the circumstances surrounding his death, which is being treated as unexplained, is asked to contact police.

“Though formal identification has not yet taken place, the man’s next of kin has been informed. HM Coroner is also aware.

“Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DP-20201128-076.”

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Garage planning appeal dismissed

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A PLANNING inspector has upheld a Pembrokeshire County Council decision to refuse planning permission for a detached garage.

The Inspector dismissed the appeal by Mr Peter Baker against the Council’s decision to refuse the proposed development at Amroth Road, Ludchurch.

Planning Inspector J P Tudor agreed that the development would cause unacceptable harm on the character and appearance of the area.

The planned garage was to be placed in front of a detached bungalow.

Other properties nearby generally have garages situated to the side or rear or integrated into the main building.

The Inspector said: “Given its size and position, the garage would appear prominent in public views along the highway and be noticeable from neighbouring properties. It would compromise the existing sense of space and openness to the front of most dwellings.

“Therefore, the development would have an adverse effect on the character an appearance of the area.”

The appeal was dismissed.

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New guidelines for hospital visiting during Coronavirus outbreak

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NEW revised NHS Wales hospital visiting guidance during the coronavirus outbreak will be published on Monday 30 November 2020. This supersedes previously published guidance.

The revised guidance sets out the baseline for visiting in Wales during the pandemic, but allows health boards, trusts and hospices to have more flexibility to depart from the guidance.

This flexibility is due to the changing picture of coronavirus transmission across Wales, with significant variations in community transmission across different parts of the country and differences in the rate of nosocomial transmission.

The new guidelines allow health care providers to asses local factors and work with local infection prevention and control teams and Public Health Wales when agreeing visiting arrangements.

Healthcare providers may depart from the guidance in response to:

  • rising levels of covid-19 transmission in their localities, including levels which result in a national lockdown and/or evidence of nosocomial transmission in a particular setting; or
  • falling levels of transmission in their local area.

In addition to allowing for this flexibility the revised guidance has been amended for maternity services after listening to feedback from women and families and consulting with Heads of Midwifery and Sonography/Radiography Services. Visiting in maternity services will now be based on a risk assessment approach by health boards. This will take into consideration local environmental factors such as room sizes, ability to socially distance and infection prevention and control risks in enabling partners to safely accompany pregnant women and new mothers. This risk assessed approach should be taken in collaboration with relevant health professionals, local infection prevention and control teams and Public Health Wales. All women will be supported to have at least one partner with them during active labour, birth and for the period immediately after the birth, except in an extremely limited number of circumstances.

The updated guidelines also recognise that some people may require an essential support assistant for specific additional support eg a support worker or interpreter. Essential support assistants will not to be classed as visitors, in some circumstances, where people receive care and support from a family member or partner, they may nominate this person as their essential support assistant.

Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething, said: “We recognise that the restrictions on visiting has a huge impact on patients, their families and loves ones. We have announced further changes to the guidelines today to provide health boards, trusts and hospices with flexibility to depart from the guidelines in response to local levels of Covid-19 transmission. It is important to remember that the virus has not gone away and the health, safety and wellbeing of patients, communities and NHS staff remains an absolute priority for both the Welsh Government and health care providers. Tough choices will still need to be made but we hope the revised guidelines will allow more flexibility for health care providers. ”

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