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Rumours resurface that Penally Camp could be turned into a camp for immigrants

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RUMOURS have circulated on social media, suggesting that Penally Camp near Tenby is being adapted from its current use with the military into an immigrant camp.

There was talk in 2016 about the proposed change, with the Home Office in London saying they had considered the move, but had not made any decision.

The UK Government said, four years ago, that no decision had been made as to the future of the site, and things went quiet.

But on Sunday afternoon (Sept 13), a widely shared post on Facebook group ‘Wales for a United Kingdom’ stated that the camp will be used as a ‘transit camp for illegal immigrants arriving in the UK’, but the post does not cite any source for its claims.

The post, which has been seen by several thousand people, then blames Plaid Cymru for the plans stating: “The reason Plaid Cymru are so unpopular in Wales is because they plan to turn Wales in to the world’s largest refugee sanctuary…”

This statement obviously has no basis, as any decision regarding the future of the camp would be taken in London, not Wales.

Penally county councillor Jon Preston issued the following statement on social media shortly after the post went up. Cllr Preston said: “Many of you will quite understandably be concerned with information that is being shared by some that suggests Penally Training Camp is to be used to accommodate asylum seekers.

“I am told that a ‘scoping exercise’ has been carried out by the home office and that no decision has yet been made.

“I have written to the Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart MP to seek clarification on the matter and how he intends to make representation for the people of South Pembrokeshire. I have also contacted the First Minister Mark Drakeford and I await their responses.

“I understand that a statement on behalf of the Home Office will be made shortly. In the meantime, please be assured that I remain resolute in protecting the best interests of the people I represent. I will also actively seek more suitable solutions to accommodate those who are in genuine need,”

In 2016 a Welsh Government spokesperson told the press: “Decisions regarding the dispersal of asylum seekers are the responsibility of the Home Office; immigration is not devolved to the Welsh government.

“The Home Office has informed us no decisions have been taken on the future use of this site.”

In 2016 the UK government said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had been “advised on the possibility of providing temporary accommodation for asylum applicants on the Defence estate. No decisions have been made.”

The MOD and Home Office have been contacted for a statement.

LIVE UPDATES

Monday 13:05HRS – PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL have confirmed that a meeting is to take place later today (Sept 14) regarding the future of Penally Camp.
A spokesperson said: “A meeting is due to take place between the Home Office and the Council later today but as of this moment we have had no official confirmation on the plans for Penally Camp…Any official confirmation would come from the Home Office itself.”

Monday 13:11HRS – County Councillor Preston told The Herald that key points to note are as follows:

  • No decision has yet been made but the situation is developing at pace.
  • Immigration officials are meeting with Pembrokeshire county council, Welsh government and the chief of police this afternoon. (my request to attend was declined)
  • If Penally training unit is to be used it would be in the ‘short term’ of approximately six months.
  • All incoming refugees are screened on arrival and placed in appropriate accommodation (for deportation or asylum)
  • The impact on the local community will be assessed

Monday 13:40HRS – Simon Hart MP said: “A number of people have asked for further information about the possible use of Penally Camp for the housing of asylum seekers whose status is being assessed. The Home Office is meeting Pembrokeshire County Council later today, after which further information should be available.”

Monday 14:22HRS – Mart Tierney, of Welsh Labour said on his Facebook page: “I have written to Simon Hart MP to ask him to clarify plans for the Penally Training Camp. Dear Simon, As I’m sure you’re aware, rumours have been circulating on social media since the weekend regarding the future use of Penally Training Camp by Landmarc on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. You will be familiar that similar claims about the use of the facility to house asylum seekers were made in 2016 which, when they were not clarified, caused concern in the local community. It is disappointing that neither Landmarc, the UK Government in Wales office nor yourself as the local MP have addressed these concerns over the weekend, despite my understanding that queries were raised as early as Saturday. I hope you will agree that Britain has an important and vital role to play in supporting those seeking refuge in our country. Voluntary organisations such as Croeso Arberth alongside Pembrokeshire County Council have played a much-needed role in supporting refugees who have been successfully resettled and now call Pembrokeshire their home. Pembrokeshire has a recognised reputation for welcoming those displaced by conflict thanks largely to the work of Croeso Arberth and Pembroke Open Doors volunteers with whom I have met on several occasions. However, I am concerned that the communication vacuum which currently exists is being filled by online suspicion and unsavoury comment by some on social media. Therefore, I would encourage you to make a statement on the future use of Penally Training Camp at the earliest opportunity. Sincerely, Marc Tierney Former Parliamentary Candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

 Monday 14:43 HRS – Latest from Simon Hart MP: “I have now spoken to the Home Secretary, who is exploring – with a range of partners and government departments – opportunities for further Covid-19 compliant accommodation for those seeking asylum. Following the submission of a request, the Ministry of Defence has commenced scoping options across the UK. One of the sites under active consideration is Penally Training Camp. The Home Office and the Ministry of Defence are working hard to ensure Penally Training Camp is compliant with Covid-19 regulations and will have minimal impact on the local community. It is estimated by the Home Office that the site would temporarily house around 250 people if this option is agreed. I am in contact with the Home Secretary and Pembrokeshire County Council who in turn are speaking to Dyfed Powys Police and other stakeholders.”

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Pembrokeshire residents aged 75 to 79 years to receive their first COVID vaccine

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LETTERS will arrive in the coming days inviting Pembrokeshire residents aged 75 to 79 years to receive their first COVID vaccine at a mass vaccination centre, Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) has announced.

The letter will provide an appointment time at one of the following mass vaccination centres: Haverfordwest – Pembrokeshire Archives, Prendergast; and Tenby – Tenby Leisure Centre.

These mass vaccination centres will provide a safe environment, space to maintain social distancing while allowing more people to be vaccinated as efficiently and as quickly as possible.

It is vital that you make every effort to attend your appointment.

You will need to delay your vaccination if you have had a positive coronavirus test within 28 days of this appointment or if you are unwell with a fever, have a new continuous cough or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell.

Please let us know if you cannot attend or need to delay your appointment as soon as possible by calling the number provided in your appointment letter. This will mean we can give your appointment to someone else and save NHS resources.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Until now we have been using our mass vaccination centres to vaccinate our front-line staff in health, social care and care homes. With over 85% of front-line health workers having had their first dose, and seeing rapid progress with care home staff and social care staff, we are now moving onto the next phase of our delivery plan.

“The opening of our mass vaccination centres to the public will allow us to offer more people a vaccine as soon as supplies are available to us. If you have received an invitation it is because you are in a priority group and at greater risk of complications if you catch COVID-19.

“Vaccines are safe, effective and save lives and the COVID vaccine offers our community hope. By receiving your vaccine, you will continue to play your small but incredibly important part in protecting yourself, the most vulnerable in our communities and our local NHS. Thank you.”

When you attend your appointment please bring with you:

Your appointment letter

Some ID such as your passport, driving license or utility bill in your name
A face mask (if you don’t have one, you will be given one)
People aged 80 years and over will continue to be invited by their GP practice to receive the vaccine, all of which have now received a supply of vaccines. The health board has also commissioned GP practices to vaccinate housebound patients and residents in our care homes.

Hywel Dda UHB is working to offer a vaccine to everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 by mid-February. People over 70 years of age and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable as part of priority group 4 will be invited next to receive a vaccine. The health board will provide further information at the earliest opportunity.

Please do not attend any vaccination venue without an appointment and do not contact your GP, pharmacy or health board to ask when you will be invited. People are being invited to receive the vaccine in order of priority and we thank you for your patience.

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A4076 reopens following accident where everyone ‘miraculously walked away’

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THERE was a road traffic accident in icy and snowy conditions on the A4076 Dredgemans Hill on Sunday afternoon.

Emergency services were called to the scene at around 1.30pm to an accident involving a number of vehicles.

A number of readers sent photos in to the Herald.

The road re-opened at 3pm after a brief closure.

A witness said: “It was a miracle but we have all walked away from this.”

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Welsh Conservatives appoint new Senedd Leader

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IT HAS been announced that Andrew RT Davies MS has been appointed as the new Leader of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Welsh Parliament.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “Becoming leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd once again is a great honour and privilege, and I’m pleased to enjoy the unanimous support of my colleagues to take us forward after a difficult few days for us all.

“On behalf of the Group I want to pay tribute to Paul Davies for his service as leader. Paul is not only a colleague but a trusted friend, who has served his constituents and party with distinction, and will continue to do so.

“There is urgent work in front of all of us and our immediate focus will be continuing to hold the Labour administration in the Senedd to account on vital issues such as the vaccine rollout, and fighting May’s election alongside our excellent slate of candidates and dedicated volunteers.

“We are in a moment like no other, and the COVID-19 pandemic has sadly only served to shine a spotlight on the challenges in people’s everyday lives; challenges that have been made all the harder by twenty of Welsh Labour Government failure.

“From our fragile economy to ever increasing NHS waiting lists, people in Wales have been badly let down by successive Labour administrations. Let me be clear; devolution isn’t the issue, it is the socialists in the Labour Party, and Wales deserves better.

“In just over 100 days, the Welsh public will head to the ballot box to decide on the future they want for our country and in the coming weeks and months the Welsh Conservatives will put forward a positive plan to get Wales moving again and build back our country better than ever.

“This will be in tough election during a tough time for our country and whereas other parties want to use this period to divide and separate, we’ll seek to unite our country and deliver a strong voice for Wales, in a strong United Kingdom.”

Chairman of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Senedd, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said: “Following a meeting of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Senedd this morning, I’m pleased to confirm that Andrew RT Davies has been endorsed unanimously as our new leader in the Senedd.

“As Chairman of the Group, I want to say thank you to Paul Davies for his immense efforts in the post since 2018. Paul played a key role in our record-breaking General Election in 2019, whilst setting the groundwork ahead of May’s Senedd election.

“Our attention now turns to May and taking the fight to the Labour Party.”

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