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Major incident declared as Milford Haven fuel train derails in Carmarthenshire

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RESIDENTS are being evacuated from their homes after a large diesel freight train, taking fuel from Milford Haven to Reading, caught fire in Carmarthenshire.

Dyfed Powys Police said emergency services were dealing with the blaze, involving at least three carriages, at Llangennech, near Llanelli.

It is thought that the train was hauling hundreds of thousands of litres of diesel fuel.

Command post for the incident (Pic Herald/R Milsom)

Dramatic images and footage from the scene near Llangennech show flames and smoke towering into the sky.

An evacuation zone has been put in place, with residents taking shelter at both Bryn School and at the Llangennech Community Centre.

British Transport Police added on Twitter: “Emergency services are currently dealing with an incident on the railway near Llangennech, Wales.

“A large diesel freight train has caught fire. A cordon is in place, with roads closed and surrounding homes being evacuated. Please avoid the area.”

Dyfed-Powys Police Superintendent Ross Evans said: “This is a fast-moving situation, which has been declared a major incident.

“There are a significant number of emergency services personnel at the scene, and an evacuation zone has been put in place.

“Officers are in contact with people within that area asking them to leave their homes, and we urge people to comply with officers’ requests to ensure a swift and efficient evacuation.

“We are working closely with our colleagues at British Transport Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Carmarthenshire Council, and Natural Resources Wales to bring the incident to a safe conclusion.”

Firefighters from Llanelli and Swansea dealing with the train fire (Pic Herald/R Milsom)

Updates will follow as the incident progresses, Mr Evans added.

In an official statement, Dyfed-Powys Police said: “Emergency services are currently dealing with a train fire in Llangennech.

“The incident was reported at just before 11.20pm on Wednesday, August 26, when three carriages of a diesel train were alight.

“Dyfed-Powys Police, British Transport Police and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are currently in attendance, with support from Carmarthenshire Council and Natural Resources Wales.
“Road closures are in place. People are asked to avoid the Llangennech and Hendy areas, and vehicles on the M4 are being asked to continue to Pont Abraham.

“Dyfed-Powys Police Superintendent Ross Evans said: “This is a fast-moving situation, which has been declared a major incident.

“There are a significant number of emergency services personnel at the scene, and an evacuation zone has been put in place.

“Officers are in contact with people within that area asking them to leave their homes, and we urge people to comply with officers’ requests to ensure a swift and efficient evacuation.

“We are working closely with our colleagues at British Transport Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Carmarthenshire Council, and Natural Resources Wales to bring the incident to a safe conclusion.”

“Updates will follow as the incident progresses.”

Emergency services coordinate to tackle train fire (Images: Herald/R Milsom)

LIVE UPDATES

02:13am UPDATE: Fire service: That three carriages of the train are currently on fire.

02:14am UPDATE: Police: “An evacuation zone has been put in place, with officers contacting people in this area to leave their homes and convene at Bryn School.”

02:14: UPDATE: Police: “Please comply with requests to ensure a swift evacuation process. Several roads are also closed. Please avoid the Llangennech area.”

03:30am UPDATE: Police: “We are receiving a lot of enquiries about the evacuation zone in Llangennech, as people in the area are understandably concerned.”

3:35am UPDATE: Police: “We would like to reassure that officers are calling at homes which need to be evacuated, and a police presence will remain in these streets. If you have not had personal contact from a police officer, please stay indoors and keep your windows closed.

5:00am UPDATE: Herald reporter on scene: “Locomotive has just arrived. Taking 18 carriages 300 meters away from the crash site, as they can’t take them away due to investigation.”

5:52am UPDATE: Dyfed-Powys Police Superintendent Ross Evans said: “This was a fast-moving situation, which was declared a major incident due to the initial risk of harm to people living in the area.

“The policing response was large scale, with officers across the force retained on duty to ensure we had sufficient resources to carry out the evacuation swiftly, as well as the deployment of a logistics specialist to assist and advise our officers on safely moving people from their homes to the reception points.

“The evacuation no doubt caused a significant amount of disruption for those evacuated in the middle of the night, and I would like to personally thank residents for their response, as well as our frontline officers who swiftly moved hundreds of residents out of their homes.

“My thanks also go to our emergency services colleagues for their response, and partners at the local authority for their assistance in finding and opening Bryn School and Llangennech Community Centre as safe points.

“Officers will continue to be visible in Llangennech, and we will continue to work closely with our colleagues at British Transport Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Carmarthenshire Council, and Natural Resources Wales to bring the incident to a conclusion.”

06:12 UPDATE: Reporter on scene: “Initial reports are that the locomotive involved was a Class 66 locomotive belonging to DB Cargo UK. Unconfirmed source from railtrack said that the driver managed to uncouple and move undamaged carriages to prevent a larger fire.”

06:14 UPDATE: Reporter on scene: “Driver was not injured in the incident.”

6:30: UPDATE: British Transport Police: “Enquiries are underway into the causes of a major incident on the railway in LLangennech, Wales, where a freight train carrying large quantities of diesel caught fire. British Transport Police were called to the scene at 11.29pm on Wednesday 26 August. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Dyfed-Powys Police are also in attendance. A number of carriages derailed and caught fire. Two employees were on board the freight service. They have since been accounted for and no injuries have been reported. The fire continues and there is still a substantial risk within its immediate vicinity, so our advice remains for people to avoid the area. Our officers will be conducting initial enquiries into the incident and are in the process of securing key witness statements and CCTV.  Once the fire has been extinguished, and the scene is safe to assess and investigate, we’ll be working with the Office of Rail and Road and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to establish the exact circumstances behind the incident.”

09:31: UPDATE: Dyfed-Powys Police Superintendent Ross Evans  said “My thanks also go to our emergency services colleagues for their response, and partners at the local authority for their assistance in finding and opening Bryn School and Llangennech Community Centre as safe points.

“Officers will continue to be visible in Llangennech, and we will continue to work closely with our colleagues at British Transport Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Carmarthenshire Council, and Natural Resources Wales to bring the incident to a conclusion.”

13:06: UPDATE: Fire brigade update Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service remain at the scene of a major incident in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire.
Joint Fire Control received the first call at 11:10pm on Wednesday (Aug 26).
A freight train, carrying large amounts of diesel oil, caught fire and a number of its carriages had also derailed.
British Transport Police, Dyfed-Powys Police, Wales Ambulance Service Trust, Carmarthenshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales have also attended the incident on the railway line near Llangennech.
At the height of the fire, 14 main appliances were deployed to the incident, along with a high-volume pump, a support vehicle, an environmental unit, a water bowser and a foam pad. Firefighters fought the fire from two sectors.
Fire Service operations have since been scaled down to 8 main appliances, a high-volume pump and a foam tender.
As a precaution, roads were shut, and Dyfed-Powys Police evacuated a large number of homes within a radius of the fire.
Area Manager Simon Jenkins, Corporate Head of Response said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to our crews, who have worked tirelessly to fight and contain the fire at a challenging location and in difficult weather circumstances. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the local community for their support and patience to our crews, during what is a very difficult time for local residence and business.”

13:33: UPDATE: Carmarthenshire County Council: “We continue to support emergency services and partner organisations to deal with a major incident in Llangennech. Over a hundred residents were evacuated overnight after a freight train carrying diesel derailed and caught fire. People living within an 800m cordon were asked to leave their homes as a precaution, with a rest centre set up by the council at the nearby local primary school. They have since been allowed to return. Roads around the area were closed for several hours overnight, however only one remains closed – the B4279 Pontarddulais Road, near the Talyclun junction, at Llangennech. British Transport Police are leading the emergency response to the incident, with Dyfed-Powys Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales, Carmarthenshire County Council and other partner agencies working alongside them. Natural Resources Wales has confirmed it will assess the impact of the diesel spill as soon as it is safe to do so. Further information will be made available throughout the day. Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “I would like to thank all emergency services, including our officers, for their swift response to this major incident. I thank all residents who have been affected and who co-operated with requests in what was a frightening situation. Thanks also to staff at Llangennech and Bryn primary schools that opened up to support the emergency response. We will continue to work with emergency services and partners to deal with the aftermath of this incident for as long as is necessary.”

A police helicopter circles above the train fire (Pic R Milsom/Herald)

Police block access to the exclusion zone (Pic Herald/R Milsom)

 

The fire has been described has huge (Image @MissJones1994 Twitter)

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Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said in Swansea Crown Court.

In total, 11 former pupils, who were all under 13, have come forward and accused James Oulton, 34, of sexually assaulting them.

Oulton denies all the charges – saying the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he had behaved appropriately all times.

One of the pupils, who was in year four at the time, opened day four of the trial by giving evidence via a video link.

The girl told the court: “He would put his arm around by back and backside.”

Under cross examination Chris Clee QC, for the defence, asked the witness: “Did you tell the police that you were touched in an inappropriate way?”

The witness answered: “Yes, teachers should not be touching in that way.”

James Oulton

Asked if what he was doing wrong, the witness replied:

“Yes, very wrong”

In cross examination letters and cards were produced, made the witness whilst in school, where she had said Mr. James Oulton was “the best teacher in the whole world.”

One of the cards said: “You’ve made my life complete”.

Another card said: “Thank you for being so nice, and thanks for everything that you’ve done for me.”

The witness added: “Despite what he did do, he was a good teacher.  

“He used to buy us treats.

“He was nice caring and a sweet and fun teacher – but not what he was doing.

Referring to the cards, she said: “I would definitely not be saying that stuff now.”

Explaining how she told her parents the witness said: “Once I realised that [x] was in his class, I asked her ‘did he do this stuff to you?’

“She said yes.

“I realised more and more it was wrong and it was time to grow up now, and to speak.

“As soon as I found out that this was happening to [x] I stood up and told my parents.

Asked if she had seen inappropriate behaviour happening to anybody else the witness answered: “He did it to most of the girls in the class, but he had his favourites.

Asked if she had spoken to other girls about the touching, the witness said: “Yes, I was just curious was it just me, or was it normal?”

“Teachers should most definitely not be doing that to students.

“Doing what?”, the witness was asked, “You said in your police interview that he would pull you off your chair and make you sit on his lap, is that true?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

“Did you try and stop him?” she was asked.

“Yes, I tried to push him off sometimes and said, ‘get off its weird’, but I didn’t want to make a scene.

“He would make me sit on his lap whilst he was marking my work.”

When asked by the defence barrister how she was sat on her teacher’s lap, and if it was under a desk, the witness answered: “No, not under the desk, as both of our legs wouldn’t fit under.”

The witness also said that when she was sat on the defendant’s knee he would make “a low grunting noise.”

Asked if she had spoken others about this case, the girl said: “Police told my mum and dad that there were very many people involved in the case.

“I thought it was just me and [x] that was going to be at court, I only recently discovered that others had come out.”

A second female pupil was also giving evidence via video link. She was 9-years-old at the time of the alleged offending.

Firstly, a pre-recorded interview was played in court in which the witness said: “My teacher, Mr. Oulton always put his hand up my leg like that and up my t-shirt.”

She added: “If he calls you over and he pulls you onto his lap, if you don’t, he pulls your chair over and makes you.”

“How would he make you?” the QC asked.

“He would grab your arm, push you, and then pull you in”, she replied.

When asked if this was a one off, the witness said that the defendant “did it every day.”

“How would you be sat on his lap?”, she was asked.

“He would have one arm on my stomach, then the other arm would be rubbing my leg.”

“He would swap arms and then put one arm up my t-shirt.”

When asked to clarify if it was under her t-shirt the girl explained: “Yes it was under my t-shirt rubbing his hands up and down.”

The witness added: “If I tried to get up for work, he would just grab my arm.”

“He would make a funny sound like a hissing airplane.”

“We had a helper in the class, and when he came in, he would stop, and then I could go and sit down.”

The trial continues.

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New trees planted to help town

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SEVERAL new trees have been planted on Riverside Avenue in Neyland.

They were planted by Grandiflora, courtesy of the Town Council which recently pledged to plant more trees in the town in an attempt to help the environment.

As well as helping the environment, the trees will prevent vehicles from being parked on the grass verges on Riverside Avenue, which had been severely churned up over the winter and looked unsightly.

The Town Council will be working with Pembrokeshire County Council regarding parking issues in Neyland.

The trees will be tended and watered over the summer period to ensure they reach their maximum potential and enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

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Golden goodbye report likely to be critical

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A REPORT by Audit Wales into the departure of former CEO Ian Westley is very likely to contain criticism of senior council officers.

In November 2020, Mr Westley left Pembrokeshire County Council with a £95,000 pay-out, something which has been criticised by a number of councillors.

In a document before the Audit and Governance Committee on Tuesday (April 13), it says that termination payments to Chief Officers are routinely examined by Audit Wales but in the case of Mr Westley, the audit team was unable to locate a recorded decision to enter into the settlement agreement which led to a termination payment being made to the Chief Executive.

An Audit Office spokesperson said: “This appeared unusual and therefore the audit team decided to undertake an early examination of the process that resulted in the payment being made.”

No complaints were raised, by councillors or any other body, with Audit Wales but the number of concerns and questions being raised at following council meetings prompted them to commence an audit.

Audit Wales state: “Our audit fieldwork is substantially complete. However due to the complex nature of some of the issues involved we considered it necessary to take some external legal
advice. We are currently considering that advice. 

“In the near future we will draft a document setting out our provisional findings and conclusions. 

“Once this document is ready we will commence a clearance process to confirm factual accuracy. 

“If the document contains criticism of identifiable individuals, in the first instance we will provide those individuals with any extracts of the document that pertain to them. Once
we have confirmed the factual accuracy with individuals, we will send the full draft document to the Council’s Chief Executive to identify any remaining factual inaccuracies. 

“We will only issue the finalised document once the clearance process has been completed. #

“We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process.”

Only a handful of senior officers were involved in the procedure surrounding Ian Westley’s departure.

The inference which can be safely drawn from Audit Wales’ report to the Audit Committee is that some of its content will be critical either of councillors, senior officers, or both.

The process of asking those named to respond is known as Maxwellisation, a legal practice that allows persons who are to be criticised in an official report to respond prior to publication.

The report highlights the exceptional nature of the case at Pembrokeshire County Council and demonstrates the sensitivity of the issues raised.

If senior officers are sharply criticised or found to have failed in their duty to their employer, they will almost certainly have to go.

The council’s interim Chief Executive will read the document after maxwellisation.

It is also likely that the council’s newly appointed Chief Executive, Will Bramble, will have a chance to see it.

The Audit Wales spokesperson added: “We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process. We are unable to respond to queries about our emerging findings whilst the audit is progressing, and until we have finalised our conclusions.”

In January, Cllr Jamie Adams had called for the council to commence an internal investigation into Mr Westley’s departure but that was deferred to allow for the Audit Wales review to be completed.

Cllr Adams said that the decision of payment should have been a ‘democratic decision’ and has asked why that wasn’t the case.

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