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Baby unit closes – Carmarthen ‘cannot cope’

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Twins: Mum Bianca with her newborns

Twins: Mum Bianca with her newborns

WITHYBUSH baby unit has been closed for less than a week, despite a long campaign to save the essential service that the Welsh Government deemed unnecessary for Pembrokeshire. 

Already Carmarthen’s Glangwili Hospital has proved it is unable to cope with its new responsibilities as a Pembrokeshire baby is diverted from there to Swansea’s hospital, adding significant and potentially life threatening time on to the wait for specialist care. The baby unit, which closed on August 4, has been a stalwart of essential services for our county since the late seventies. There are many stories of lives it has saved over the years, history that has now come to an end.

The Herald has learnt that already the new history being written by the diversion of this service to Glangwili has begun with a story that could have ended in tragedy. Speaking about an alarming incident this week was parent Martin McGeown: “We went to Withybush on Friday, August 1 for a scan. We were told that one of the twins, the boy, had a problem as his blood flow from the placenta was reduced. We then saw a doctor in Withybush who said we had to go to another hospital to be monitored which should have been Carmarthen, which wasn’t ready.

The closest hospital with a bed was Singleton Hospital in Swansea, but they had no cots, so the nearest hospital then was in Bridgend. I asked if Withybush would take us by ambulance but we were told no, we would have to take her by car. “Whilst it was not an emergency, because she wasn’t actually in labour, they wouldn’t take her by ambulance. We got to Bridgend two and a half hours later. On the maternity ward she had to be monitored 2-3 times a day. I begged the midwives in Bridgend to please transfer my wife Bianca to Swansea.

“They were excellent in Bridgend and they could all see how upset we were, so the midwife begged Singleton on behalf of me to take us in. She got us a bed because someone had left, and purely by chance as the hospital was full. I had to sign my wife out of hospital in order to get to Swansea which was at 12 o’clock at night. She had a C-section on Tuesday, August 5.” He went on to describe how he felt about what had happened and the implication this had for future births in Pembrokeshire: “A Pembrokeshire family is now distraught over what happened to them.

How are people supposed to get to Carmarthen? We were even told that if Bridgend was closed to us, and a bed wasn’t available, we would have to go to Birmingham hospital! It is unbelievable. My son will be in intensive care for another two weeks”. Bianca McGeown added to her husband’s concerns, stating: “The problem was that the twins could have been split up as a result of all this travelling to and from different hospitals. It was a real shock as we expected Carmarthen to be up and running.

Who wants to be driving up and down the motorway panicking, about where they are delivering a baby that will need help. What if someone didn’t have a car – how would they get there? Especially with no ambulance provision, even though I needed a C-section as it turned out”. She finished by commenting on the baby unit’s closure in Withybush: “It’s a shambles and it’s also really sad. In Pembrokeshire we are cut off: what about in the winter in bad weather and getting to Carmarthenshire safely? For people who are in labour, and not straight forward labour, I dread to think what could happen.”

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Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case

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A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week.

Derek Lister, 72, of Marloes is accused of making indecent photographs of children.

He appeared before the bench, on Tuesday (Apr 13).

Lister was represented by Redkite Solicitors.

The court heard that between June 2009 and November 2019 in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, Lister allegedly created 3 indecent category A images of a child, 14 indecent category B images of a child and 152 indecent category C images of a child.

He will now appear at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am for the next hearing after the local court declined jurisdiction.

Lister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans

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PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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