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Former teacher in court over alleged Novichock hoax

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A FORMER teacher accused of carrying out a ‘Novichok’ hoax at Pembroke Castle, has appeared at The Old Bailey on Friday, (Jul 24) for the first stage of court proceedings.

Sixty-six-year-old John Ap Evans, is accused of placing bottles of a hoax noxious substance in caverns at Pembroke Castle five times during July 2018.

Two bottles labelled with “Novichok” were found in Wogans Cavern at Pembroke Castle a couple of months after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal from Salisbury, England in March 2018.

The discovery caused panic and resulted in The Castle being evacuated.

More were placed later in the month before police set up a covert camera.

Evans, who gave his address as Northgate Street, Pembroke, previously appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this Month, where he denied the charges and told the court he wanted to appear at Crown Court to “explain to the judge what happened”.

Evans’ appearance at The Old Bailey laid out the next stage of proceedings, where he will appear again on October 12, for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

The trial is expected to start on February 1, 2021.

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Cabinet to decide on £165,000 of grants

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Cabinet will meet next week (Monday, Nov 2) to decide on grants totalling almost £165,000.

The Cabinet will consider nine recommendations for approval for grants under the Second Home Council Tax – Community Element Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant scheme.

The scheme uses funds from raised from a Council Tax premium on Second Homes and empty properties in the county.

Among the projects applying for support is Age Cymru Dyfed, which wants to promote and provide outreach services from Haverfordwest throughout Pembrokeshire.

The Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre is applying for money to help the centre gain nationally recognised museum accreditation.

And a project by Resilience Network Pembrokeshire seeks to champion and develop allotments, encouraging new sites and community growing land.

The Cabinet meets remotely at 10am on Monday, Nov 2 and the meeting will be webcast live.

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Crabb defies government over free school meals

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STEPHEN CRABB, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, says his abstention in a vote on extending free school meals during school holidays to English students eligible for them was a protest against the UK Government.

Although the Welsh Government decided to retian provision for children who qualify for free school meals to cover half terms until Easter 2021, Pembrokeshire’s two MPs have endured a huge social media backlash for their voting record on a similar scheme for England.

Simon Hart MP has been ‘named and shamed’ by The Daily Mirror for voting with his Government to remove the free school meals the holiday for 1.4 million of the most vulnerable children in England.

Stephen Crabb MP, abstained from voting on the bill – a decision he says was done in protest to let his government know he did not agree with their views.

Mr Crabb has spoken previously of his background. He came from a single parent family, was raised in a council house and receivws free school meals.

Many social media users took Crabb’s decision not to vote as a decision that was just as bad as voting with the government with some branding him a hypocrite.

Taking to his Facebook page, Crabb defended his decision.

He told his constituents: “I took a decision to abstain on the vote, which is a well-recognised form of protest. I have made it very clear to the Government that I do not agree with them on this issue.”

Even though Crabb abstained from voting, he told his followers that the free school meal provision wasn’t the way to tackle the problem of child poverty.

He added: “I am supportive of the holiday provision of free school meals but I think we also need to be looking at solutions that go beyond just vouchers. The main poverty charities I speak to have different views about whether vouchers are effective or not.
“I did not like the nature of the Labour Party’s debate in the Commons last Wednesday and I think some of the abuse being thrown around is appalling. The vote last week would have had no material impact on provision even if it had passed.”

Mr Crabb added: “More widely, whilst the issue of free school meals is important, ultimately we should be aiming to lift people out of poverty so that they no longer need this support. I have spent much of the last few months working hard on the campaign to keep the temporary £20 uplift to Universal Credit.
“The UK Government introduced a much welcome per-week increase in UC at the start of the crisis but this measure will expire in April, unless the Government commits to an extension.”

Mr Crabb assured his Pembrokeshire constituents he will continue to try and tackle child poverty.

He added: “I have spent a large proportion of my time in Westminster over the last few months campaigning on the issues of child poverty and pushing for more support for families on low incomes. I will continue to make this a priority.”

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Webpage details penally camp information

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A WEBPAGE has been set up to keep residents of Penally and the surrounding areas up to date with key information relating to the housing of asylum seekers at the MoD base in the village.

The web page here includes a list of frequently asked questions relating to the site.

Residents are urged to check the page for updates.

People will also be able to find links to virtual community meetings held on the issue, Pembrokeshire County Council press releases regarding the camp and a contact email address for further information.

Pembrokeshire County Council Leader Cllr David Simpson said: “It is important for residents to be able to find information about the camp easily and to know that information is accurate, collated by the Council, Dyfed-Powys Police and the Home Office.

“Hopefully the FAQs will answer some of the questions that are being asked and we will have the ability to update and add further information to the page as required.”

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