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Cabinet asked to re-think cuts to Youth Service

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Milford Haven Mayor: Cllr Eric Harries addresses the community, Cllrs Viv and Mike Stoddart sit either side.

Milford Haven Mayor: Cllr Eric Harries addresses the community, Cllrs Viv and Mike Stoddart sit either side.

THE COUNCIL’s Cabinet has been asked to re-consider its decision to make cuts to the youth services across the county. The chair of the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny committee, Cllr Pat Davies, called in the decision that was made by Cabinet in September and her committee discussed the issues on Wednesday (Oct 8). Much of the debate centred on the proposed closure of the community centre in Hubberston and Hakin but concerns were also raised about centres in Neyland, Manorbier and Solva. The head of performance and community, James White, said: “We were required to save £125,000 and this led to a review of open access youth provision. We visited all youth clubs and spoke to young people attending and we spoke to staff as well. We had a set list of questions such as – what’s good about your youth club? What’s not good, if you could go anywhere else would you?

We made a decision sooner rather than later to give us more time to mitigate the impact of the decision.” Cllr Jonathon Nutting said: “It’s slightly worrying that overview and scrutiny is one port of call that isn’t looked at straight away.” James White acknowledged that the issue should have come to the Scrutiny committee. Cllr Guy Woodham said: “Were cabinet fully informed of evidence and information in order for them to make an informed decision? I don’t think so, and I think we should send this back to Cabinet to review this decision.

We have to ensure that the service maintains a county-wide presence. Putting Hakin and Hubberston Youth Club into the same youth club doesn’t take into consideration how local people feel about that. What about the capacity of the Milford Haven centre? You are proposing to relocate people who have a local connection to somewhere where they haven’t got that. There are also concerns from parents that the child would be going further away than normal.” James White responded: “There weren’t any background documents to the report in the week leading up to the Cabinet meeting.

The data around attendance was provided to Cabinet as was information around costs and mapping work. I appreciate there is an element of separate communities. When we looked at mapping, we looked at the addresses of those attending. Roughly one third of those who go to Hubberston live in Milford Haven and one third of people who go to the Milford Haven centre live in Hubberston or Hakin so there is significant crossing between the two youth clubs.The Milford Haven centre will be able to cope, it is the second newest in Wales and it has a wide area which isn’t split into different rooms.

They could easily handle the additional numbers.” Cabinet member Cllr Sue Perkins said: “We were talking about this for some time so it wasn’t something that was new to us but the information should have been in the cabinet papers.” Cllr Reg Owens said: “This is very sad that we are thinking of closing the centre at Hubberston. I have had a very close association with the youth centre and an awful lot of money went in to the development of it. The youth club there was booming. Hubberston Community centre is right in the heart of a densely populated community.

I accuse the authority of making Hubberston second class to Milford Haven Youth Club. It seems they are deliberately running down the youth service in Hubberston. It doesn’t seem to be open when people need it. It just wouldn’t be practical, parents are very wary about their children walking over from Hubberston or Hakin to Milford Haven – that’s going to put a lot of people off. It is obvious that youngsters do mix but this is going to be a sad blow if this centre is going to close. I beg the management team and the Cabinet to really re-think this.

The community centre is part and parcel of that community.” Hubberston Cllr Viv Stoddart endorsed the comments made by Cllr Owens and Cllr Woodham and added: “The proposal to remove youth services will have a huge impact. Out of all the youth centres 3 of 13 will potentially be closed. Hakin and Hubberston is the only one that serves what is classed as a deprived area. The review that went to Cabinet said there was an emphasis on not continuing provision which is well used, cost effective and valued by young people and if you look at the comments from young people who attend Hakin and Hubberston, they do value that youth club.

The centre is extremely well used; it’s used in the morning, afternoons and in a few evenings. The net costs actually represent good value for money for this authority.” “There was a public meeting on Friday and there were around 70 people who attended. There are two rooms in that centre and the lower of those was full. There was a huge range of ages and they were unanimous that they want to keep the hall and they want Pembrokeshire County Council to keep running it and the cost to this authority would be minimal. Of all the centres, Hakin and Hubberston is unique as it is housed in a multi-purpose building.”

Hakin Cllr Mike Stoddart added: “It is completely unfair to budget all the money against the youth service.” Cllr Jonathon Nutting added: “I don’t think you’ve made a very good case at all. It comes over as knee-jerk reaction. I can’t see that there is any thought of bringing in other things. There seems to be no breadth here. You seem to be stuck in one place with one idea. Are there other ways we can bring in provision? I can’t see where we’re thinking outside the box. Is this based on the needs of the child or other things?”

James White said: “We would have to close other services as a result of keeping Hubberston open.” Cllr Wynne Evans commented: “That is coming across as a clear threat.” Cllr Paul Miller, Leader of the Labour Group, addressed the committee and attacked the authorities priorities citing the £17,000 potential saving in Hubberston and £13,000 potential saving in Neyland against the £2m spent at Cherry Grove providing office accommodation and well over £1m spent in Prendergast building yet more offices together with an archive building.

Cllr Miller challenged cabinet to define their priorities asking – ‘was it their priority to empire build with office accommodation in and around county hall or was it, as it should be, to provide real services to real people out in Pembrokeshire communities?’ Cllr Miller went on to say he felt provision for young people in Pembrokeshire was vital and should be right at the bottom of the list of things to be cut. Service Manager for youth services, Steve Davies said: “This was a young person centred approach. We asked ourselves, what’s the least-worst decision we could put forward? We don’t want to be managing retreat. We are looking at developing a model with the youth consortium.”

James White added: “The tendencies may not be as good as they were and we may need to look at ourselves and we may be doing something wrong. We have not been involved in any kind of attempt to run down things since we have become involved. We want to raise the quality right across the service.” Cllr Daphne Bush said: “We have a responsibility to safeguard the needs of all users. Taking that facility away is life changing. We have to think about human beings and I really think a way of working with communities must be found to keep this open.” James White went on to say: “The belief is this is the best we can do with what we’ve been given. These proposals are the most equitable that we can do.” The committee decided that they would refer this back to cabinet where they would be asked to re-consider their decision.

Cllrs came up with four reasons why they wanted the cabinet to reconsider which were:

• There was insufficient information available at the time when Cabinet made its decision.

• New information has come to light since that decision was made, specifically in relation to Hubberston Community Centre and the objects of the charity of which the local authority is a trustee and this should inform the decision in relation to Hubberston Youth Centre.

• The closure of the centre would have a devastating effect on the youth and community that is already suffering from deprivation.

• There hasn’t been enough careful consideration given to finding alternative provision across the board and the wider community. The next meeting of the Cabinet is scheduled for November 3.

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Kill the Bill protest to take place in Haverfordwest on Saturday

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INDIVIDUALS and activists from local groups, including Extinction Rebellion Pembrokeshire, Stand Up to Racism West Wales, Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly and Reclaim These Streets Pembrokeshire are campaigning against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and are to hold a demonstration against the Bill at 1pm this Saturday April 17, in Haverfordwest.
One of the organisers told  The Herald: “This is an enormous piece of draconian legislation that includes significant expansion in police powers to curtail the right to protest. The right to peacefully assemble and protest are a fundamental part of any democracy; empowering people to have their voices heard, in addition to holding the Government to account. These rights are universal –they protect peaceful and legitimate protest whatever the cause.
“The events at the Clapham vigil and at demonstrations over the last few weeks are a dangerous indication of what the future of protest will look like if the police powers bill gets through parliament.”
A local campaigner, a mother and grandmother said “We are in the process of losing a fundamental part of our democracy, It is important we protect it for future generations. We have messed up so much of their future already-we need to hold the Government to account”.
Aspects of the Bill include:
  • The power for Police forces to shut down protests that they deem too disruptive at their own discretion.
  • Up to a 10-year sentence for demonstrators considered to be causing a “public nuisance”.
  • The power for police forces to impose start and end times on static protests of any size.
  • The power to expand stop and search powers, which already discriminate against marginalised communities. If you live in the Dyfed Powys police area, you are 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black than white.
  • Up to 10-year sentences for damage to public monuments’ Police powers will be expanded and custodial sentences increased to “protect” women.
  • These measures are not sufficient to prevent violence and are troubling, considering some police officers’ involvement in cases of violence against women. Significant restrictions on where protests around Parliament may take place.
  • The elevation of trespass from a civil offence to a criminal offence, meaning police and courts can give harsh sentences to Travellers.
  • Increased power of police to seize vehicles and homes from Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities and demanding proof of permission to travel.
  • The bill will criminalise a way of life for these communities.
A peaceful, Covid-compliant march and rally will be taking place in Haverfordwest on Saturday April 17 , assembling at Picton Fields at 1pm.
People will be asked to wear masks and keep to social distancing regulations.  It is one of a number of protests being organised nationally on the same day against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill.
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Everything you need to know about the current coronavirus restrictions in Wales

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THE GOVERNMENT guidelines in Wales are changing today (Apr 12).

There are major changes coming into force today across the country as the government coronavirus guidelines are starting to relax.

The changes affect household bubbles, non-essential retail, education and travel.

As of Monday, April 12, the following changes have come into force:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet and exercise outdoors and in private gardens
  • Households or support bubbles can holiday in self-contained accommodation – including hotels with en-suite facilities
  • All pupils and students can now return to school, college and other education
  • All shops and close-contact services can open
  • The ban on travelling in and out of Wales has ended
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (Remainder on April 22)

Non-essential retail are able to open up today for the first time since the country was put into a national lockdown with non-essential retail ordered to close in December of last year.

With infection rates falling and the national vaccine rollout success, the Welsh Government have set out a road map of restriction easing.

Unlike England, the hospitality industry in Wales will have to wait until April 26 to open their doors to customers, but only for those who can operate in an outdoor space such as beer gardens.

The current guidelines in force for Wales are as follows:

Meeting friends and family

From May 3:

  • Two families can once again form an “extended household” and meet indoors.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet up outdoors, including gardens.
  • If you are an adult living alone or you’re a single responsible adult in a household (a single parent, for instance), you can form a support bubble with one other household.
  • You can also end it and form another support bubble with a different household, as long as you leave a 10-day gap between.

Going to work

  • You must work from home if you can. The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible.
  • Tradespeople can work in someone else’s private home, as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus.

Schools and nurseries

  • All pupils will return to face-to-face teaching at school from 12 April.
  • From that date all students can return to further education and training centres.
  • University campuses will be able to open for blended (face-to face and online) learning for all students.
  • Internal GCSE, A-level and AS-level assessments have been cancelled.

Leisure time

From April 26:

  • Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen.
  • Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants, but indoor hospitality will remain restricted.

From May 3:

  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place.
  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Self-contained holiday accommodation, including hotels with en-suite facilities and room service, can open to people from the same household or support bubble.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as golf, tennis and basketball are open. A maximum of six people from two households can take part.
  • Organised outdoor sport for under-18s can now take place.
  • All gyms and leisure centres are closed.
  • Professional sports will continue but stadiums are closed to fans.
  • Bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs are closed – except for takeaway and delivery.
  • The outdoor areas of some historic places and gardens can reopen in a limited way.
  • Libraries and archives can reopen

Shopping

From April 12:

  • All shops can reopen.
  • All close contact services such as hairdressers or beauty salons can open, including mobile services.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Hairdressers and barbers are open for business – by appointment only.
  • Non-essential shops remain closed.
  • Garden centres are now open.
  • Alcohol cannot be sold in shops between 22:00 and 06:00 BST.
  • Face coverings must be worn by customers and staff.
  • Indoor shopping should be done alone, or with people in your household.

Other

From April 12:

  • You can travel anywhere in the UK or the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands)
  • Outdoor canvassing for the Welsh elections can begin.
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (remainder on 22 April).

From April 26:

  • Weddings receptions can take place outdoors, but will be limited to 30 people.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Weddings and civil partnerships can take place at licensed venues, but receptions are not allowed.
  • Care home residents can receive one designated visitor.
  • You can travel anywhere within Wales.
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Ten years in prison for Milford Haven taxi driver who raped passenger

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ANTHONY MARCUS JONES, 43, a taxi driver from Hawthorn Path, Mount Estate, Milford Haven has been sentenced to ten years in jail for rape.

The sentencing hearing took place at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), following a guilty verdict at a previous hearing.

The defendant had already been remanded into custody.

Jones, who was working for local taxi firm Kars Kabs at the time, was working a late shift on a Saturday in April 2018.

On the same night, the victim was out for a night on the town in Milford Haven.

In the early hours of the Sunday morning, the victim was seen on camera in a Milford Haven bar.

In an extremely drunken state and unable to converse, staff at the premises decided it was best to call her a taxi shortly after 1am.

A ‘Kars Kabs’ taxi responded, Anthony Marcus Jones was not the driver.

At this point, Anthony Marcus Jones was hackneying for business in Haverfordwest, a normal technique used by Milford Haven taxi drivers as business ‘dries up’ in Milford earlier than in Haverfordwest.

The victim was put into the back of a Kars Kabs taxi and the driver headed off towards the home address of the victim.

When the taxi pulled into her street, the victim was too inebriated to point out her house, even after several minutes of being asked.

After this, she became unresponsive.

Eager to return his passenger safely and becoming frustrated by her apparent lack of coherency, the Kars Kabs driver contacted his colleague, Anthony Marcus Jones, who had known the victim for years, to assist in getting her home.

At that point it was decided that the best thing that could be done would be for Jones to get the victim home, Jones however couldn’t leave Haverfordwest as he was in the middle of a run.

It was decided that the Kars Kabs taxi from Milford Haven would take the victim to Haverfordwest multi-storey car park where the victim would then be transferred into the taxi operated by Jones who would then return to Milford Haven, this would also allow the taxi drivers to effectively swap towns ensuring that no business would be missed.

This exchange took place at about 1:30am.

Minutes later Jones was seen on camera heading back towards Milford Haven via Haverfordwest High Street.

At this point Jones did not take her to her home address as planned, he took her to a car park where he admitted engaging in sexual intercourse in the back of his taxi.

Forty minutes after leaving Haverfordwest, the victim finally made it home missing several items of clothing and wearing Jones’ jacket.

She was put straight to bed by friends.

The victim was in so much of a state that night that she claimed to have ‘slept the whole next day’.

Later that day, Jones spoke to a friend and boasted about what he had done to the victim, he asked his friend not to tell the taxi firms boss.

The Kars Kabs owner was then messaged via Instagram by a friend of the victim who asked him where her missing items were and how to get Jones’ jacket back to him.

This was the first time the Kars Kabs owner knew that anything happened in his taxi.

At this point he messaged Jones and asked him to return the victim’s items, a regular event for taxi companies after busy nights out and thought no more about it.

The following Tuesday, the owner of the now defunct Kars Kabs was informed of what had happened, fired Anthony Jones and informed the police, leading to Jones’ arrest.

As well as the ten year term in prison, it was also decided at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12) that Jones’ details would be entered onto the sex offender’s register for an indefinite term.

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