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Silverdale residents ‘frightened for their lives’

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A RESIDENT of The Silverdale Lodge, Johnston, has spoken exclusively to The Herald today (Jul 22) to vent his frustrations over the current spike in ‘undesirable’ residents within the lodge.

After becoming increasingly concerned with what he has witnessed at the Lodge, Mark Thornton has set up a committee which he hopes will benefit the residents of the Lodge and those in the wider Johnston community.

The Silverdale Lodge has been a centre of controversy for the local community since the beginning of the lockdown restrictions in March, where it has been used to facilitate the homeless in the county through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Herald has previously reported on the increase of anti-social and criminal activity in the Johnston area, which the community believes is the doing of the residents of The Silverdale Lodge.

Mr Thornton previously gave an interview to The Herald, where he stated at the time he was not aware of any residents causing issues. He insists that this was true at the time, however now he says he has seen incidents himself.

Mr Thornton, who will now lead the group as the official representative of The Silverdale Lodge residents, hopes the Johnston community will band together with him to create a safer environment for them all to live.

Mr Thornton said “We don’t want anymore criminals here and we are going to do our hardest to get the troublemakers removed and ensure they do not return.

“The reason for doing this is to make both the decent residents of The Silverdale Lodge and the Johnston community safe again.

“I have spoken myself with the police today, who have advised me that this is the best way to deal with the issues. I am actively seeking to set up a meeting with the residents of the Lodge, the council, police and the Johnston community.

“Dyfed-Powys Police have assured me they will attend all of the meetings that I arrange.

“Silverdale residents currently feel as if they are in a jail because of the types of people that are being housed here, they need to feel safe and not trapped. We need it to be back to a facility to tackle homelessness within the county.”

Mr Thornton said that it has got to the point where some residents of the Lodge are ‘scared for their lives’, with police in attendance at the Lodge countless times a day to deal with multiple incidents.

Mr Thornton also believes he is being ‘starved into silence’ by Pembrokeshire County Council as punishment for speaking to this newspaper about the ongoing issues at the Lodge.

In the exclusive interview, Mark explains his frustrations about life at the Lodge, his on-going battle with the council and his struggle with receiving food parcels.

As a way to tackle the issues on site a 24-hour security team was placed at the Lodge, however Mr Thornton has told us that this service has now diminished to just a shift covering the evenings.

He added that he spoke to the security team, who have alleged that as of August their service will cease to exist at the lodge, which has infuriated residents who are fearful of the repercussions.

Security guards at Silverdale gave exclusive interview with The Herald

Mr Thornton told The Herald that the only support now available to the Lodge residents throughout the day, is an on-site support worker, which has resulted in residents relying solely on the police for their protection.

The Herald has received reports that on Tuesday (July 21) the police were in heavy presence on two separate incidents at the lodge.

We have contacted Dyfed-Powys Police for a statement, we are awaiting their reply.

The Herald contacted Pembrokeshire County Council with regards to the ongoing issues at the Lodge, a spokesperson said: “ In order to fulfil the Covid-19 guidance from Welsh Government, as a local authority we are required to assist through the provision of accommodation. This is to ensure that individuals are able to comply with social distancing and self-isolate should it become necessary.

“Pembrokeshire County Council is grateful to the Silverdale Lodge in Johnson for supporting the Authority with additional accommodation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Silverdale has individual lodges that allow for social isolation precautions to be applied within individual rooms so we have moved some of our service to this site temporarily.

“We may at times also be working with people who no longer need to stay in hospital but who cannot go home as their property requires some adaptions and we may also have people who need to isolate themselves from vulnerable people they live with.

“The site offers the Council an additional alternative temporary accommodation for people who are in this position.

“It is not a bail hostel nor halfway house.

“At Silverdale we have support on site. Pobl and Goleudy Housing & Support Services are currently offering support for the residents in the Silverdale. The service is available seven days a week from 9 am to 7pm.

“The service is working with the residents to assist with practical,emotional and wellbeing support and to help people develop and maintain the skills and confidence necessary to secure and maintain sustainable housing for their longer term.

“In addition we have security on site to ensure the site is covered across a 24-hour period.

“We also continue to provide support from our experienced homelessness prevention team within the housing department.

“We are unable to comment on specific individual cases but we can confirm that, as a local authority, we do work closely with Dyfed Powys Police.

“We do not have a planned heavy police presence on the site but are grateful to them for their support if needed and for their proactive work to help residents across the county adhere to the current requirements in relation to social distancing and travel.”

Police were made aware of a gathering at Princess Royal Way in Haverfordwest at around 9pm on Tuesday, July 21.

Around 60 people had gathered peacefully to light candles and lay tributes following the tragic death of a two-year-old child.

Officers attended to ensure there was no community tension.

Later that night, eight people were spoken to by police following a gathering outside a property in Johnston.

Officers also spoke to a small group which had gathered outside Haverfordwest Police Station shortly after.

All gatherings passed without incident.

Superintendent Ross Evans said: “Pembrokeshire is a close-knit community, and we understand that the death of a child will be a cause for grief.

“However we would appeal to the public to refrain from any actions that could impact the ongoing investigation, including comments shared online and on social media.

“Officers will be more visible in the local area over the coming days as enquiries continue, and any concerns can be addressed through them.”

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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans

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PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a witch hunt by the police, a jury has heard.

But at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), the Clare Wilks for the prosecution said that the defendant had “abused the trust of parents and staff” by sexually touching children in his care.

James Oulton, denies 30 charges of sexual assault against the eleven children who were aged eight or nine years old at the time.

The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

The jury heard how the pupils, now aged between 11 and 17, claimed he touched them sexually.

But the court was also told that Mr Oulton claimed he received cards at the end of term, and he believed letters sent by Pembrokeshire council to parents encouraged false complaints and collusion between pupils.

Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, told the court he had behaved appropriately.

The jury heard how the alleged abuse occurred while Mr Oulton was working at a primary school in Haverfordwest.

Clare Wilks, prosecuting, said some of the children alleged that they had been assaulted on a daily basis, while others had had given statements to say it only happened the one time.

The trial continues.

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