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Park housing policy is ‘’bonkers’’

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PembsNPATHE AFFORDABLE housing policy in the National Park has been described as a ‘disaster’ by authority member Bob Kilmister as the final scrutiny report on the scheme was received.
Members of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority considered a report from Scrutiny Committee chairman Ted Sangster which examined the affordable housing policy which included ambitious targets for the number of such dwellings to be built in the park by 2014.
The committee considered a large amount of evidence before coming to a conclusion. They said: “The local development plan affordable housing policy is not fully achieving its key outcome in terms of the number of affordable homes anticipated as being built or under construction by the end of the financial year 2014/15.
‘’The evidence shows that the delivery of affordable housing is currently falling short of the authority’s target.”
A number of reasons were considered for the failing, including the economic situation as well as a perception that the authority was not as ‘flexible’ on considering affordable home contributions during the planning phase.
The policy, adapted from national policy which all parks had to incorporate, sought to negotiate a minimum of 50% affordable housing as part of developments of two or more dwellings with a contribution element attached to the development on one building.
Authority member David Ellis said: “This is quite clearly a failed policy.
“I can’t think of a better way to put off developers than a punitive tax on his efforts. Even a single dwelling is being charged £250 a square metre, it’s a punitive tax and bound to put off anybody building or developing.”
There are currently permissions in place for 35 affordable dwellings and three contributions, of £250 per square metre, have been received since the policy came in on October 1 2011.
Authority member and county councillor Bob Kilmister was in full support of the committee and said that they needed to be more innovative in the future.
“I congratulate the members of the PCNPA scrutiny committee who have examined this policy in considerable detail. I agree with their conclusions and I hope that that we can now start the task of replacing this failed policy.
“The economic situation over the last few years has contributed to its failure, but there is no doubt in my mind that it would have failed even if the economy had been booming.
“The idea of a percentage of affordable housing in the local development plan is bonkers and it doesn’t work. We need to be more innovative about what we do.
“The principle of percentage targets and stealth taxing developers has simply seen the market shrink and reduced the numbers of affordable homes that can be provided. It has also had a very negative affect on employment within the construction industry. It has been a disaster.
“The fact that we don’t actually know the number of affordable homes we really need in each community is extremely worrying. The data we have is based on information prior to 2008 plus the housing waiting list.
“Many people who want housing are not on this list and others are on it for insurance purposes. Unless we can ascertain the accurate numbers required it is difficult to see us implementing an effective policy.”
Members agreed that the policy would be re-examined as part of the local development plan review and more effort would be made to engage with developers and promote the flexibility of the park be made.

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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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