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​Farmer banned from keeping animals

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A FARMER was told that he was ‘very lucky not to be going to prison’ for a series of animal welfare offences.

Deep in slurry: Aled Morgan failed to provide basic needs for his animals.

Deep in slurry: Aled Morgan failed to provide basic needs for his animals.

Aled Morgan, aged 28, previously of Brynhyfryd, Penffordd, Clynderwen, but now residing at Llan Isaf, Llangynog, Carmarthen, was disqualified from keeping or owning livestock for seven years at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (Feb 17).

This was suspended for a month to allow for him to sell any remaining animals that are still in his possession.

On February 10, Morgan pleaded guilty to 21 offences relating to the care of his animals in court on January 19 and the case was adjourned to allow for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

Nine of the offences relate to Morgan failing to comply with animal by-products and another nine relate to him failing to ensure the welfare of his animals.

The others related to him failing to notify the National Assembly of deaths of animals, one of failing to provide an animal for TB testing and one of failing to record the arrival of animals to the farm.

The chairman of the bench said that she and her colleagues were so appalled by the photographs provided and that they had never seen such appalling conditions.

The case followed complaints about animal welfare of cattle and pigs at his Penffordd livestock farm.

Prosecuting, Rhian Young told Magistrates: “Ten visits were made to the farm following a number of anonymous complaints. There were reports of carcasses and improvement notices have also been issued. On April 8, Pembrokeshire County Council Animal Health and Welfare inspectors and vets from the Animal Plant and Health Agency visited the farm. In one shed they found an open bail of silage and bovines were deep in slurry. They were all in a thin condition. There was also a carcass of a new-born calf. In the second shed there was a cow that had died trying to calve. There was also a build-up of faeces and the bovines had access to contaminated water. In the next shed there were carcasses of two calves. In the fourth shed there was another build-up of faeces. They contacted Morgan and told him that this was unsatisfactory. Another complaint was made and three carcasses were found. The inspector noted that the conditions were worse than the previous visit. They tried to contact Morgan but they couldn’t get hold of him and officers did what they could to improve the conditions. They went back and found that a number of the animals had been moved from where the officers had put them. They also noticed that animal by-products had not been properly disposed of. In June, 2014, four young cattle and two pigs were taken into possession by the Council after an Animal Welfare Act section 18 was signed by a vet to prevent further unnecessary suffering. A check was done and it was found that he had not notified the authorities of the deaths of the animals or for the movement of pigs.”

She continued: “There was another anonymous complaint of dead animals and seven carcasses were found in the same place as before. Letters were sent to the defendant reminding him to remove the carcasses. One of the bovines was lying down and when the officer encouraged it to stand it could not do so as its legs were weak. The pig was dehydrated and had no food or water. A decision was made to euthanize the pig to prevent any further suffering. He has had a huge amount of guidance over the past 12 months but he has failed to meet their needs. In total, 14 cattle have died between December 2013 and August 2014.”

Probation officer Julie Norman told the court: “Problems arose following the death of his father. The farm has been in his family for generations. After his father died there were numerous debts that needed to be paid. He was struggling to pay and took up another job on another farm to pay costs. He left his sister in charge of his farm. The needs of the animals were quite basic and whilst his sister told him everything was ok he accepts that it wasn’t. He was so busy on the other farm and he no longer works at this farm. He has moved away and is working on a large dairy farm in Carmarthenshire.”

Defending, Matt Greenish said: “He did what he could to get rid of the debt following the death of his father and he has failed to take adequate steps to look after the animals on his farm. He was working at another farm but he should have taken more responsibility for his own farm. He has little contact with his family now and he is sorry for these offences. Although it has gone on for some time, this can be deemed as an isolated incident. If you do disqualify him that will place difficulties on him but he accepts that he will have to be punished.”

Mr Greenish also asked the Magistrates to consider not banning Morgan but they did not agree with that suggestion.

On sentencing, the chairman of the bench said: “We are so appalled at the photographs and you are very lucky not to be going to prison. We have never seen such appalling conditions.”

As well as the disqualification, Morgan was given a community order with the requirement of 300 hours of unpaid work.

Morgan was also fined £2446.76 to cover legal and investigation costs and he was also ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge.

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Pembrokeshire airport lease expected to be completed by end of year

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HAVERFORDWEST’S council-run airport, which had a circa £119,000 deficit last year, is expected to be leased out by the end of the year following “reasonably complex” negotiations, councillors heard.

Back in May, members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet supported the leasing of Withybush Airport as part of plans to make the facility cost-neutral to the authority.

Last year, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, members heard the financial position at the council-supported Haverfordwest/Withybush airport deteriorated in 2022/23, with an out-turn position for 2022/23 of £238,000.

That loss has been reduced to an expected £119,000 for 2023/24 “following an extensive review of the operations of the airport”.

At the July 18 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s full council, a series of submitted questions on the airport were heard.

Merlins Bridge councillor John Cole asked: “With the council leasing out the Haverfordwest airport, can members be assured that the lease is at comparable rent with similar airport facilities, and the airport being offloaded purely as a cost savings measure?”

He also asked a second related question: “Are current users protected and assured that their tenancy and rents currently payable to the authority are taken into consideration?”

Responding, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said the proposed letting was considered to be “best letting,” with restricted private documents detailing the figures available to all members.

On the second question, he said existing tenants had been involved throughout the process, and once the new overall lease was in place tenants would be protected through legislation.

However, he stressed the new leaseholder would be able to change conditions in the future and the council would “not dictate terms” in the future.

A further question was asked by Saundersfoot South councillor Chris Williams: “On a recent services meeting back in 2023, we had a productive meeting at Withybush Airport to look at the impact regarding costs to PCC and to consider options with regards to its future operation.

“Can you please clarify if the airport is still owned and operated by Pembrokeshire County Council and if so at what cost since April 1, 2024?”

Cllr Miller said the airport was still currently owned by the council following the Cabinet decision, with “reasonably complex” negotiations ongoing, complicated by land ownership issues and the need to obtain the civil aviation licence.

“Hopefully by the end of the calendar year we will have completed that transaction,” Cllr Miller said, adding that £25,000 had been spent since April 1.

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Farming

FUW sets out its key priorities at the Royal Welsh Show

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THE Farmers’ Union of Wales has set out its robust asks of the UK and Welsh Governments despite the challenges presented by navigating through a constantly changing political landscape.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show this week, FUW President Ian Rickman reiterated the fact that the Union’s stance remains constant and relentless in an ever changing political arena.

“Welsh farming is at an important crossroads which will determine our future for decades to come. Whilst our direction of travel depends heavily on the development of devolved agricultural policies, we must not forget how decisions made by the newly elected UK Government will effectively determine the degree of funding the Welsh Government has available to support agriculture and rural development.

“This, in turn, will have an impact upon the extent to which Welsh food producers can be expected to compete against producers in other UK nations and across the globe on various levels.

“Despite these challenges, our focus as a Union is to keep-on lobbying governments relentlessly for the best possible outcomes for our members, Welsh agriculture and our rural communities.

“The recent Senedd Cabinet reshuffle and UK General Election certainly brought about considerable change to the political landscape in Wales, not least the appointment of Huw Irranca-Davies MS as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and a new UK Labour Government holding a majority at Westminster.

“However, turmoil in Cardiff persists as Vaughan Gething’s resignation leaves the door wide open for yet another reshuffle within a matter of a few months.

At a UK level, the FUW is calling for a fair, multiannual funding settlement of £450 million per year in EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) legacy funding for agriculture and rural development in Wales.

“The role of this support in underpinning food production, environmental protection and rural communities in Wales cannot be underestimated.

“We also need to see a far more robust approach to future trade deals with other countries and trading blocs if we are to protect Welsh farmers and UK food security. Food imports and exports must be subject to the same customs and adherence to similar standards if we are to provide a level playing field for both UK and EU producers.”

The FUW is calling for incentives and support for farmers to invest in on-farm renewable energy production that benefits local communities. Food production should be recognised as a national asset and the use of productive agricultural land to meet tree planting and other environmental targets should be halted.

Procurement policies must prioritise public sector support for Welsh and British businesses, recognising the range of benefits such properly designed policies can deliver for society. The newly elected UK Labour Government must also protect and promote the UK’s high animal health and welfare standards and bring in a law that ensures that all dogs should be kept on a lead in fields near or adjacent to livestock.

“Despite the uncertainty in Cardiff, we call on the Welsh Government to build strong relations with the newly elected UK Labour Government to ensure that Welsh agriculture receives the attention it deserves. EU CAP legacy funding allocated for Welsh agriculture and rural development must be protected for this purpose and such funding should continue to be co-funded using national funds.

“The ongoing process of negotiating a revised Sustainable Farming Scheme that provides stability for our food producing family farms must also continue if the scheme is to be implemented in 2026. It is crucial that the scheme considers economic, social and environmental sustainability on equal footings and is accessible and achievable for all active farmers in Wales.

“We also want to see the adoption of practical and innovative technological solutions as a central part of the Control of Agricultural Pollution ‘NVZ’ Regulations review. The process must be based on robust data and evidence while seeking to address water quality issues through innovation rather than regulation.”

Mr Rickman added that the Welsh Government has to, now more than ever before, adopt a scientific and holistic approach to bovine TB eradication in Wales by working with the Technical Advisory Group in investigating the effectiveness of current testing regimes and methods for addressing disease transmission by wildlife.

“Finally, moves towards net zero must be sustainable and based on robust science in such a way that actions carried out in response to short-term targets are not reversed. Reducing our carbon footprint must be manageable and realistic, and must not compromise production or the economic viability of farming businesses.

“The coming days are a celebration of Welsh agriculture and the farmers who continue to produce high quality food and protect the environment against a constant backdrop of political uncertainty and challenge.”

Mr Rickman said that the impacts of such uncertainty across the UK and some fundamental policy questions would be the focus of the FUW’s seminars being held over the coming days, as panels of professionals tackle a diverse range of areas of concern for Welsh farming.

“As always, in addition to these events, our staff and Presidential Team will be meeting officials and stakeholders in order to highlight FUW’s farming members’ good news stories and industry concerns. Rest assured, despite navigating a constantly changing political landscape, our constant and relentless stance remains; to represent the interests of Welsh farmers,” concluded Mr Rickman.

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Health

Health Board to make decision about the future of St David’s GP Surgery

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THE FUTURE of Primary Care provision for patients registered with St David’s GP Surgery in Pembrokeshire will be discussed by Hywel Dda University Health Board at a meeting on Thursday, 25 July 2024.

An engagement exercise was undertaken to gather patient and local stakeholder views on the future of GP services following the decision of the one GP who runs the Surgery to resign his General Medical Services Contract, which takes effect from 31 October 2024.

The engagement with patients and stakeholders included a drop-in event St David’s City Hall in June. This event was well-attended and gave people an opportunity to discuss their concerns in person with the Health Board and Llais, the patient’s voice organisation for Wales.

Patients and members of the local community were also able to share their views via a questionnaire which was available at the engagement event, and also from the Surgery, the local Pharmacy, online, or by contacting the Health Board by phone or e-mail.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long-Term Care, at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to feed back their views to us. The Health Board is committed to listening to and engaging with our local populations and we would like to thank patients and stakeholders for their involvement in the process so far.

“We would like to reassure patients that we are working to find a sustainable solution from the limited options available so that services can be delivered as locally as possible for patients from the 1 November.

The main themes picked up during the engagement period include concerns about the impact on the community of St David’s if the Surgery were to close, continuity of care and also travel to another GP surgery, especially with regard to public transport.

“People at the drop-in event were provided with information about the frequency of public transport and other transport support available in the community,” said Ms Paterson.

“There was also much appreciation expressed for Dr Stephen Riley and his team and for the care that they have provided over the years. We very much appreciate the continuing support given by the Community to the team at St David’s Surgery throughout this challenging period.”

On Thursday, 25 July, the Board will consider the feedback received.

Ms Paterson continued: “We understand local people will want to know what the future of their GP services will look like, and we will be writing to all patients to inform them of the outcome once a decision is made by the Board.”

To read the Board papers and watch the meeting on the day, please visit: Board Agenda and Papers 25 July 2024 – Hywel Dda University Health Board (nhs.wales)

An update, following the Board’s formal decision on Thursday, July 25 will be shared with patients and stakeholders.

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