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No one wants a ‘concentration camp’ for asylum seekers in Penally

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A COUNTY COUNCILLOR is slamming the Home Office for creating a “concentration camp” in Pembrokeshire.

Cllr Paul Dowson says that putting people in huts behind barbed wire fences against their will, against the will of the people of Pembrokeshire, and against the will of community and religious leaders of all faiths “is nothing short of barbaric, is immoral and is probably unlawful.”

His words come as a letter sent by leaders at Pembrokeshire Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board, along with local faith leaders, to the Secretary of State for the Home Department is stating that proper consultation would have made it ‘immediately clear’ that Penally was not suitable for an asylum seeker camp.

‘It is unprecedented in Wales that people seeking asylum are ‘cohorted’ together in such a large number in unsuitable accommodation. We have real concerns that they are being moved out of rented accommodation within the Wales refugee support network.’, the letter states.

Demo to support asylum seekers in Penally (Photo Herald)

The letter shows community leaders are for supporting those in need of asylum, but not in unsuitable accommodation. The letter goes on to say: “We are keen to hold out the hand of friendship to those in need but we are also aware of the feelings of local residents and are keen to maintain a sense of ‘community cohesion.”

More protests took place in Penally on Saturday (Sept 26). At 11am those supporting the asylum seekers, around 70 in number, gathered holding colourful banners and placards.

The Liberal Democrats, Welsh Labour, and unions were all represented. There were several photographers from national, regional and local press as well as a BBC camera crew and documentary film makes from London present. During the demonstration which lasted for about an hour and a half speeches were made by Jim Scott (People’s Assembly Wales), Alistair Cameron (Lib Dem) and Marc Tierney (Labour). There were a similar number of anti-asylum seeker protestors on the other side of a line of police – holding banners, and signs. They moved to the main gate once the other protestors had left.

At 1pm they held one minute’s silence for Matiu Ratana, the New Zealand born police officer who was shot at a police station in London on Friday.

Cllr Paul Dowson was at the protest he said that he was there to support the voice of the real people of Pembrokeshire who were against the camp being used for asylum seekers. Cllr Dowson called for all sides to join together as one voice.

“We have to stop this concentration camp from being in operation. Everyone has got the same goal. Today we saw two groups of people from our community separated by a line of police officers. But why do we need to be separated. Every single person here, on both sides, does not think that this camp is suitable for asylum seekers. The council thinks the same, the police think the same, the health board thinks the same, the church leaders think the same.

“We have seen people in the camp shout that they are being kept against their will and want freedom.”

“People may think that calling this a concentration camp is harsh – but the legal definition is a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms. That is exactly what is happening here.”

“I will be doing what I can to get all sides together to form one voice for Pembrokeshire – one united people to turn up the pressure on Westminster to get these poor people moved out of our county to somewhere more suitable, so Penally can get back to normal, and so Pembrokeshire people can breathe easy again.”

Below is the full letter sent to the Home Secretary.

The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Home Secretary
Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

Dear Home Secretary

We are writing to you to express our concern about the decision to relocate asylum seekers in Penally, Pembrokeshire. We are particularly disappointed by the lack of communication and discussion with local stakeholders such as Pembrokeshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board and the local community.

Proper consultation would have immediately made it clear that Penally Camp is unsuitable accommodation, particularly for men who may have experienced trauma, great hardship and have been separated from their families. The buildings are in a poor condition, in a rural location with one village shop and no established support network. It is unprecedented in Wales that people seeking asylum are ‘cohorted’ together in such a large number in unsuitable accommodation. We have real concerns that they are being moved out of rented accommodation within the Wales refugee support network.

We have four dispersal centres in Wales: Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham. These areas have well- established infrastructures to welcome and care for asylum seekers. Accommodation, health, pastoral and cultural care and legal advice are readily available and funded in these areas No such infrastructure or funding exists in Pembrokeshire. It is our opinion that this decision is wrong both for our local community and for the welfare of these men who are seeking sanctuary in our Country.
Pembrokeshire is a warm, welcoming county and we can assure you that those who live here would be only too keen to show their compassion for those who have suffered greatly. Sadly, the way in which this sensitive issue has been handled can only have added to their trauma and given them the wrong impression of the area in which we live.
It has also created a sense of fear and uncertainty among those who live here.
We are keen to hold out the hand of friendship to those in need but we are also aware of the feelings of local residents and are keen to maintain a sense of ‘community cohesion.’ If there had been a more considered and caring approach, we would not have witnessed the ugly scenes that took place outside the camp last Monday (21st September 2020).

It is vital that all stakeholders be involved in any future decisions. We need no ‘winners’ and losers. We will all lose if we do not move together. We will do all we can to support both the local community and the asylum seekers you intend to place here, but we ask you to listen to our real concerns and reverse your decision.

Yours sincerely

Cllr David Simpson: Leader, Pembrokeshire County Council
Ian Westley: Chief Executive, Pembrokeshire County Council
Maria Battle: Chair, Hywel Dda University Health Board
Steve Moore: Chief Executive, Hywel Dda University Health Board
Angela Burns MS: Member of the Senedd for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Cllr Jonathan Preston: Pembrokeshire County Council (Penally)
Reverend Rob James: Church Moderator, Deer Park Baptist Church, Tenby
Reverend Stella Hayton: Minister St John’s Methodist and United Reformed Church in Tenby and United Reform Churches in Pembroke, Templeton and Reynalton
Reverend Michael Bave: Bethel Baptist Church, Pembroke Dock
Father Mansel Usher: Holyrood and St Teilo’s Catholic Church Tenby and St Brides Saundersfoot
Father Matt Roche-Saunders: St David & St Patrick Catholic Church, Haverfordwest
Father Liam Bradley: St David and St Patrick Catholic Church, Haverfordwest
Abdul Haseeb Hussain: Imam Hamad Bin Khalifa Islamic Centre, Milford Haven
Dr Baba M Gana: Chairman, West Wales Islamic Cultural Association
Euryl Howells: Senior Chaplin, Hywel Dda University Health Board

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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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