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Crime Commissioner welcomes removal of asylum seekers from Penally Camp

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Dafydd Llywelyn says he welcomes this week’s news that the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) has begun an inspection of the use of hotels and barracks as contingency asylum accommodation, which includes the Penally Camp in Pembrokeshire.

The number of users in Penally Camp is down to less than half the peak numbers, with around four asylum seekers a week so far being moved out to alternative accommodation by the Home Office.

The gradual move of residents follows the statement by Immigration Minister Chris Philp that it is intended to move all the men from the camp into ‘suitable dispersed accommodation as soon as reasonably practical’. Some 115 men are understood to be currently living in the former Ministry of Defence facility.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn has been calling for an independent inspection of the camp for weeks, following recent protests held by individuals from the camp, and met with David Bolt, the Chief Inspector of Asylum and Immigration earlier in January to discuss his concerns.

Against Penally plans: Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said; “I welcome today’s news that the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has begun an inspection. I have seen first-hand the difficult circumstances encountered by individuals that are residing at the centre, and on the 5th of January, I met with David Bolt, the Chief Inspector of Asylum and Immigration, who reassured me that an independent inspection of the Centre would take place in the near future.

“This will be a welcomed relief not only to residents of the local community, but also for the individuals who have been residing at the camp”.

The inspection will examine the use made of hotels and other forms of contingency asylum accommodation, including Penally Camp and Napier Barracks, since the beginning of 2020. It will focus on the roles and responsibilities of the Home Office and the accommodation service providers, and also communication between the Home Office and stakeholders such as local authorities, health services, police forces, who PCC Dafydd Llywelyn has criticised on several occasions.

The cost of policing the camp has been higher than expected, running into millions of pounds (Pic Herald)

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said; “The lack of strategic planning around the use of the Penally camp since September 2020, as well as the lack of community engagement has been extremely frustrating. This has led to unnecessary pressure being put on local resources at a time, when we are trying to protect our communities from a global pandemic. As a result, I’m pleased that the inspection will include a focus on communication between the Home Office and stakeholders.

PCC Llywelyn has actively been involved in ensuring adequate resources and planning is in place within Dyfed Powys Police since September 2020, and has confirmed that he is pushing for additional funding from the Home Office to support local resources that have been put under pressure as a result of the decision to utilise the camp as an asylum centre.

ICIBI is inviting anyone with relevant knowledge or experience of the Home Office’s contingency asylum accommodation to submit their evidence to chiefinspector@icibi.gov.uk. The call for evidence will remain open for four weeks, until 19 February 2021.

At a virtual press conference on Thursday (Jan 28) a in english speaking former resident said that the representative who visited the camp this week was unable to give him satisfactory answers. He said that the Government’s primary excuse is “Covid [to] all questions”

Speaking at the same meeting, sometimes Herald correspondent Vicky Moller, who is amongst many Pembrokeshire residents who are offering support to the asylum seekers, said that there had been offers of alternative accommodation in the county, but ‘we are just ignored’.

“We could do it so much more intelligently and humanely – there is so much generosity locally”, she said.

 

Police and protestors in stand off in Penally in 2020 (Pic: Herald)

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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