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Council Leader David Simpson responds to Home Office’s Penally Camp plan

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EARLIER this week, following speculation on social media, The Pembrokeshire Herald broke the news of the confirmed Home Office decision that Penally Camp had been chosen by the Home Office as a site to provide safe and secure accommodation. This in line with their statutory responsibility to provide destitute asylum seekers with accommodation.

Responding to the news, Council Leader, David Simpson, said: “I am aware there is a lot of discussion and concern about this announcement.

“I want to make it clear that Pembrokeshire County Council were ‘informed’ of this decision by the Home Office and did not have any discussion or say in the matter.

“It was immediately obvious to us that the Home Office’s decision has the potential for a number of impacts affecting our local community.

“Therefore, this week, we have been undertaking urgent work to review this in order to provide support to the community, provide reassurance, and support partner agencies.

“All formal communication about the accommodation is being undertaken by the Home Office, and I am not able to comment on issues relating to the camp accommodation.”

The Home Office had issued the following press communication earlier this week: “During these unprecedented times the government is working with a range of partners and across departments to secure further accommodation and the MOD has offered use of some of its sites.

“When using contingency accommodation, we work closely with organisations, including local authorities and law enforcement, throughout the process to ensure value for money and that vulnerable asylum seekers, who would otherwise be destitute, have suitable accommodation while their claims are processed.”

The Leader added: “I understand there are concerns and queries from all different viewpoints on this matter and I stress again the Council have not been involved in the decision to allocate Penally Camp as a site to provide safe and secure accommodation for destitute asylum seekers.

“We are, however, now trying to work with the Home Office and other key partners to try and manage the impacts of this decision.

“I am fully aware that this decision by the Home Office is leading to all sorts of comments and actions relating to the site. I would urge anyone involved to please respect our local community. ”

Member of the Senedd, Eluned Morgan has said that she is concerned local communities were not consulted prior to decision to repurpose the Penally Training Camp as accommodation for asylum seekers by the UK Government.

 

WELSH MINISTER FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ‘CONCERNED’

Eluned Morgan, who is also Minister for International Relations in Welsh Government confirmed that the Welsh Government received no prior notification of the decision taken by the Home Office but that she had been engaged in discussions this week to seek clarity on plans and to relay the concerns of her constituents in relation to the suitability of the location.

Commenting, Eluned Morgan MS for Mid and West Wales said: “The decision to select Penally Training Camp was taken solely by the Home Office without any prior discussion with Welsh or local government. I am concerned also at the lack of consultation with the local community. I would hope the local MP will take this up with his cabinet colleagues in Westminster.

“In my discussions, I have asserted that the UK Government must provide proper resources to Pembrokeshire Council, the NHS and Police to support those asylum seekers who will be arriving from as early as next week.

“Initially, Welsh Government was told that 454 people would be placed in Pembrokeshire. However, the Welsh Government has been clear with the Home Office that the site must be Covid-19 secure limiting the number of refugees who will be temporarily housed at Penally to 250.

“The UK has an international obligation to support people fleeing war and persecution. Within that context, I am proud that Wales has been clear about how we will step up to that commitment as a nation of sanctuary. We have seen in Pembrokeshire how the local community has come together to help resettle people from Syria. Whilst recognising that there are concerns, I know that most Pembrokeshire people will be supportive of providing a safe haven in Wales and we will not tolerate the small minded minority who are seeking to use genuine concerns for their own personal hate-filled agendas.”

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Vulnerable man targeted by rogue trader

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A ROGUE trader has been ordered to pay almost £2,000 by a court after carrying out shocking DIY work for a vulnerable Jameston man.

Pembrokeshire Trading Standards prosecuted 20-year-old Douggie James Whitbread who traded as Wales and West Property Solution.

Haverfordwest Magistrates were told on Friday (Oct 23) that a joint investigation with Dyfed-Powys Police discovered that Whitbread of 8 Coldwell Terrace, Pembroke, first approached the 66-year-old victim in the summer of 2019.

After agreeing to cut the man’s grass, Whitbread made regular accompanied visits looking for other jobs and pressurising the pensioner to have them done.

The victim did not know him as Douggie Whitbread as the defendant gave a false name.

Whitbread offered to fit new floor lino in the toilet and small adjoining passageway of the victim’s home, saying he would do a good job. Instead, the court heard, he and a fellow worker spent less than an hour and charged £300.

The standard of the work was shocking and showed Whitbread’s inept ability. Jagged edges and numerous gaps were left where it had not been fitted correctly, exposing the existing floor underneath.

Despite there being enough lino on the two metre by two metre roll, Whitbread told the victim he needed more to finish the job.

A few weeks later the victim was approached by Whitbread at a bus stop near his home. He said he would return the next day to finish the work and that he wanted another £300.

The victim informed a neighbour and Pembrokeshire County Council’s Trading Standards team and when Whitbread returned he was arrested by police.

Whitbread was also questioned about another incident involving hedge-cutting for an elderly lady and admitted taking away the waste as advertised on his business flyer. However, he did not hold a Waste Carrier Licence at the time.

Whitbread admitted four offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. These were: carrying out work not fit for purpose; trading without professional diligence; omitting to give required information for doorstep contracts and advertising and conducting waste removal services when not licensed.

A £200 fine was imposed for each offence together with £1,000 costs plus a £110 victim surcharge. A compensation order for £300 was also awarded to the victim and a restraining order imposed prohibiting Whitbread from approaching the pensioner indefinitely.

“I am appalled by the standard of work and how this vulnerable gentleman has been hounded and taken advantage of” said Sandra McSparron, Lead Trading Standards Officer. She added that the incidents had left the victim anxious and unwell.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Cris Tomos, said: “This court case sends a clear warning to rogue traders that targeting the elderly and vulnerable for financial gain will not be tolerated. We will pursue and prosecute all those who commit such despicable crimes.”

Councillor Tomos also said the case showed the great community spirit of Jameston residents looking out for one another and was a fine example of successful partnership work between the police and Trading Standards.

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Drug driver arrested in Milford Haven after driving through stop sign and into roadworks

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A DRUG driver who drove through a stretch of roadworks on the wrong side of the road, before hitting a parked car and trying to hide from police has appeared in court.

Christopher John Brown led Dyfed-Powys Police officers on a pursuit through Milford Haven on Friday afternoon (October 23), putting pedestrians and other road users at risk.

Pembrokeshire Roads Policing Unit have thanked people for their help in tracing the 31-year-old, of Meyler Crescent, after the manner of his driving became so dangerous they could no longer follow him.

A Roads Policing Officer had attempted to stop Brown at around 1pm when he was seen driving out of The Mount estate at speed.

However, he failed to stop when requested and sped away in his BMW.

As police followed, Brown drove on the wrong side of the road, overtook a number of cars waiting at roadworks, and drove through a stop sign, forcing an off duty officer to take evasive action as the defendant drove towards him.

Police deemed the danger level too high to continue the pursuit when Brown drove through a coned area of roadworks where there were a number of people working.

At this point, members of the public pointed out to officers which direction he had driven in.

Brown went on to collide with a parked car, before getting out of his vehicle and attempting to hide behind another. He was found by a PC, who arrested him on suspicion of dangerous driving and administered a drug wipe.

A Pembrokeshire RPU spokesman said: “This was a highly dangerous incident, during which Brown put a number of people’s lives at risk.

“Driving through a stop sign and into a coned area of roadworks was simply beyond comprehension, and could have had a tragic outcome.

“As we decided to end the pursuit, we were assisted by a number of people, and the team would like to thank members of the public in Milford Haven for their help in tracing Brown.

“Your support is greatly appreciated.”

Brown was charged with dangerous driving, driving with no insurance, driving while disqualified, failing to stop when requested by police, and possession of cannabis.

His vehicle, which had no insurance, tax or mot, was also seized.

He was remanded to appear in front of the next available court, and admitted all five offences at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, October 24. He also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of driving whilst unfit through drugs, which was laid on at court.

He will be sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on November 16.

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Five arrested in connection with large cannabis grow in Whitland

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FIVE people have been arrested in connection with the discovery of a large amount of cannabis in Carmarthenshire.

Dyfed-Powys Police carried out a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act at an address in Whitland, on the morning of Friday, October 23.

Officers found a significant number of mature cannabis plants, with a sophisticated hydroponics set-up, numerous bags of cannabis bud, and cannabis resin.

Police seized electronic devices, several thousands of pounds in cash and silver bars, as well as vehicles under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Five people – a 58-year-old woman and four men aged 28, 30, 60 and 61 – were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the production of cannabis, and possession with intent to supply.

They have been bailed with conditions pending further enquiries.

Detective Inspector Rhys Jones said: “This is an example of excellent collaborative work between a number of different departments in the force, which has taken a significant amount of drugs off the streets.

“As our investigation into this cannabis cultivation continues, we ask anyone with information that could help enquiries to please get in touch.

“We urge anyone with information about suspicious or unusual activity in rural areas report it to us, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.”

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