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Badger and the Christmas card

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badgerxmascardHELLO readers! This is Badger’s last column before Christmas and so he is sure that those who elect to subject themselves weekly (or weakly, or weakly weekly, for that matter) to his ramblings about the surface world, will know that Badger is not a fan of Yuletide festivities. Badger peeked up out of his sett the other evening. Instead of the reassuring gloom of the Pembrokeshire night, he was assailed by what seemed to be an outdoor discotheque; a riot of fl ashing lights illuminated the gloaming, while dancing plastic snowmen tinkled the tune to Jingle Bells. Plastic. Snowmen. Jingle. Bells.

Are you people mad up there? It’s quite bad enough that John Lewis think that the meaning of Christmas can be conveyed by encouraging simpering toy penguins to form romantic relationships with other simpering toy penguins: but why are ordinary houses in ordinary streets lit up like a New Orleans bordello at Mardi Gras? Badger thought he was back in a bad 1980’s night club. All it needed was for the snowmen to start boogying on down to “Disco Inferno” and the illusion would have been complete. So far, so Badger, readers. But then at the madhouse where Badger’s human friends work, a Christmas card was received. It didn’t say much, just “thank you”.

A “thank you” to Badger’s chums at The Herald for everything they have done to shine a light into the gloomier corners of Pembrokeshire and drag out and into the light some pretty unpleasant facts and inconvenient truths. Badger was, quite unaccountably, moved. Badger is a strong believer in the power of words and the care that should be applied to their use. But the words “thank you” have a very specifi c power, even if they are used casually.

“Thank you” says that what you have done has been discovered, appreciated and acknowledged. Even if sincere thanks comes from one person, that one person has taken the time to notice what you have done. “Thank you” gives a little tickle of pleasure to the recipient of the sentiment. And that is why Badger offers his very sincere thanks to the members of the IPPG at Pembrokeshire County Council. From Johnny Allen-Squirehouse to Steve Yelland, they never cease to provide Badger with material. Badger does not believe – as some do – that Jamie Adams and his chums are involved in some sort of conspiracy against Pembrokeshire’s people.

He has always preferred the cock up theory of history. And the IPPG’s membership provide ample evidence to support Badger’s point of view. Look at them, readers: pay attention to the webcasts from County Hall. See how your IPPG representatives behave and how they misrepresent the public they are supposed to serve. Badger has often heard it said that it is better to be thought an idiot than to open one’s mouth and dispel all doubt. Badger has heard that aphorism: Johnny Allen- Squirehouse has clearly not heard it. Or perhaps he cannot hear anything over his own booming drawl. Imagine having an internal voice that sounded so pompous, readers.

It would drive you crackers. Look at Johnny A. Join the dots. From Johnny, we whizz all the way to the arse end of the alphabet to Cllr Steve Yelland. Rudbaxton’s representative at County Hall is not a councillor who has drawn himself to Badger’s attention before now. For a few brief seconds last week, readers, Cllr Yelland – by dint of nothing than there happening not to be a councillor Adrian Zebedee – was a very important person. The vote to have an annual election, or the possibility of one, for the leadership of the Council was tied 28-28. Cllr Yelland’s vote was the next, and last, to be taken.

“Independent” Cllr Yelland put as his description on the ballot paper in 2012. Indy – bloody – pendent. Badger supposes that independence has some peculiar quality of blind obedience of which Badger was previously unaware. Perhaps Cllr Yelland is as notionally independent as the satellite states were of the Soviet Union. A sort of Bulgaria, as it were. Not a place anyone paid much attention to way back then, readers, Bulgaria was a reliable ally to the USSR. A country whose secret service was happy to do Moscow’s dirty work. It would be a lie to say that there was any doubt about the way Cllr Yelland would vote. Jamie says “for”, Cllr Yelland says “for”.

Jamie says “against”, Cllr Yelland says “against”. Jamie makes an attempt at humour, Cllr Yelland laughs. Jamie does the sad and patronising voice, Cllr Yelland nods along. He is the yes man’s yes man. Lobby fodder. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. And so Bulgaria Yelland had a moment on Thursday when the eyes of his fellow members were fi xed upon him. “Against,” Cllr Yelland murmured. Barely a beat he missed, readers. Not for Bulgaria the moment of tension beloved of television reality shows. No hesitation of the type beloved of Chris Tarrant when “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” was a popular quiz.

The question – as is the nature of these things – had been reduced to one right answer and the remaining wrong answer. Bulgaria had already phoned a friend, so he knew what to do. He did not need to ask the audience. “Against,” Bulgaria murmured and the door slammed on an opportunity to reign in an over-mighty executive. Badger does not believe that Cllr Yelland is a bad person. For all Badger knows, Cllr Yelland donates generously and widely to charity and helps grannies remove boy scouts from horses’ hooves. But as a sterling example that the word “independent” means less than you might think when it comes to your representatives, readers, Bulgaria Yelland is diffi cult to beat. And for that Badger wishes to extend sincere thanks to Cllr Yelland. Because when – and if – Pembrokeshire’s electors go to the polls in 2017, it will be the conduct of Bulgaria and others like him that will make the job of sweeping the IPPG from power that much easier. And on that positive note, Badger wishes all of his readers – whatever or whomsoever they believe in – a peaceful and merry Christmas.

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Pembrokeshire embraces future with new e-bike scheme

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL, under the chairmanship of Thomas Baden Tudor, has announced an exciting new initiative aimed at boosting sustainable transportation across the region. The council has introduced a “pay as you go” electric bike (E-Bike) service, now available in Haverfordwest, Fishguard, Goodwick, and Tenby as part of a 12-month trial that commenced on 8th April 2024.

The scheme, managed by Zeus Mobility, features the Zip bikes—electrically powered bicycles designed to make cycling less strenuous and more accessible to a broader demographic. Each location will start with 10 E-Bikes, with plans to increase the fleet to 50 by summer. The service will include three main charging stations and numerous satellite bays for convenient access and returns.

Priced competitively, the E-Bikes can be hired for £3.00 for the first hour, with subsequent time billed at 5p per minute. Daily and weekly rates are also available, offering users more flexibility for longer trips. The bikes are aimed at reducing reliance on motor vehicles, promoting healthier living, and contributing to national decarbonisation targets.

Councillor Tudor tested the new bikes himself, describing the experience as “brilliant fun for the whole family” and encouraging all residents and visitors to give them a try. The initiative is part of a broader effort by the council to offer eco-friendly travel options that align with environmental objectives.

To use the E-Bikes, riders need to download the Zipp Mobility app, which allows for bike unlocking, ride tracking, and payment. The app also provides information on bike locations, parking bays, and cycling routes within the county.

Funded by a £150,000 grant from the Swansea Bay and South West Wales Metro, the project focuses solely on this E-Bike trial, aiming to make Pembrokeshire a leader in sustainable travel. For further details on hiring and operating the E-Bikes, residents can visit the Cycle Pembrokeshire webpage or contact the team directly via email at [email protected].

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20mph U-turn: Some roads will return to 30mph following public outcry

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IN a recent shift in policy, Transport Secretary Ken Skates announced that some roads in Wales will revert to a 30mph speed limit following significant public opposition to the Welsh Government’s £34 million initiative to impose a default 20mph limit. This move addresses the concerns consistently raised by many citizens.

The controversial policy, initially rolled out across Wales under former First Minister Mark Drakeford and his transport minister, Lee Waters, aimed at enhancing road safety. However, it has since faced backlash, illustrated by nearly half a million signatures on a Senedd petition opposing the change.

“We’ve put our hands up to say the guidance has to be corrected,” Skates stated, acknowledging the widespread dissatisfaction with the policy’s implementation. He emphasised the need for targeted 20mph zones, particularly in sensitive areas such as near schools, hospitals, and densely populated housing estates. Yet, he admitted that certain routes should not have been included under the stricter speed limit.

Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart welcomed the revised approach but highlighted the financial burden of changing road signage, urging the Welsh Government to assist with the expenses. Stewart praised Skates’ “pragmatic approach” and stressed that the government should not impose the financial strain on local councils, which are already facing tough budgetary decisions.

The policy has had its proponents, particularly among cycling groups and safety advocates who argue that the lower speed limits contribute to safer community spaces. Despite this, many have called for a more nuanced application of the speed limits rather than a blanket reduction.

In response to the backlash, Skates is set to present the planned adjustments in a forthcoming statement to the Senedd. The changes will allow local councils the autonomy to restore the 30mph limit where deemed appropriate, potentially affecting up to 10 roads in Swansea alone.

Leaders from other councils, including Huw Thomas of Cardiff, expressed relief over the change. Cardiff, where the majority of roads were already under a 20mph limit, saw a favourable reception of the policy. Nonetheless, the decision to empower local governments has been largely welcomed.

The Welsh Conservatives, through their transport spokesperson Natasha Asghar, have voiced strong opposition to the original policy, criticising its expansive application. Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth called for a more carefully considered implementation, supporting the principle of 20mph zones but criticising their inconsistent enforcement.

Responding to comments made by Ken Skates, Labour’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport on potential changes to the 20mph guidance, Natasha Asghar MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister said: “The people of Wales have rightfully taken significant issue with Labour’s 20mph policy and ‘correcting guidance’ will not be enough to ease concerns.

“The Welsh Conservatives are the only the party to have consistently voted against the ridiculous 20mph policy involving 97% of previously 30mph roads and a £9 billion hit to the Welsh economy.

“The Welsh Conservatives want to see this policy scrapped and have given the Labour Government a number of opportunities to vote to do so. A more targeted approach is needed with the support of the Welsh people.”

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Miracle pup finds her forever home after heart-wrenching journey

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AERIAL, a remarkable six-legged spaniel, has captured hearts worldwide, culminating in her adoption this week. Found abandoned in a Pembrokeshire car park and famously nicknamed after Disney’s Little Mermaid due to her unique condition, Ariel’s journey from despair to joy is nothing short of miraculous.

In September 2023, the then 11-week-old puppy was discovered outside a B&M store in a neglected state. Suffering from severe physical anomalies including two extra hind limbs and an additional vulva, Ariel faced daunting challenges. A subsequent medical examination revealed a more complicated internal scenario: a missing kidney and a malformed pelvis that jeopardised her mobility.

Despite the grim prognosis, Ariel’s plight touched many, leading to a worldwide fundraising campaign that raised approximately £15,000. These funds enabled her to undergo critical surgeries at Langford Vets Small Animal Referral Hospital, Somerset, where surgeons successfully removed the surplus limbs and preserved her four functional ones.

“Both procedures went well, and remarkably, Ariel was walking and eating by the next day,” explained Mikey Lawlor, founder of Greenacres Rescue, where Ariel was rehabilitated. “It was crucial that we avoided any post-operative infections, but she’s been in the best hands,” he added, reflecting on the complexities of her care.

Ariel’s recovery was supported by numerous vet visits, specialised surgeries, and extensive physiotherapy. Her resilience and endearing character garnered media attention globally, from radio and television appearances to newspaper features, highlighting her inspirational battle for a normal life.

“We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Ariel has been officially adopted,” announced a recent post by Greenacres Rescue. “Her journey of transformation from a discarded pup to a beloved family pet has been extraordinary.”

The post also extended a heartfelt thank you to June, Ariel’s dedicated foster mother, whose relentless support was pivotal during the rehabilitation process. “June’s care and energy have been instrumental in Ariel’s recovery,” the rescue centre noted.

Surgeon Aaron Lutchman, who led Ariel’s medical team, remarked on her progress, “She’s bounced back and is a happy little dog. We hope she goes on to lead a fabulous life.”

As Ariel embarks on this new chapter with her adoptive family, her story remains a profound testament to the power of community support and the unwavering spirit of animals overcoming adversity. Greenacres Rescue encapsulates this sentiment in their message, “Ariel is symbolic of everything we stand for—love, hope, and the chance for a new beginning.”

For further updates on Ariel and other rescue stories, follow Greenacres Rescue on their social media platforms.

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