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Council warning over faulty installation of wood or coal burners

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County Hall

County Hall

HOUSEHOLDERS in Pembrokeshire who have had wood or coal burning stoves installed in their properties by the late Steven Poole from Johnston are urged to avoid using them and to get them checked as soon as possible, as they could be dangerous.

The advice comes from Pembrokeshire County Council and HETAS, the official body recognised by government to approve solid fuel domestic heating appliances, fuels and services.

It follows a court case in which Mr Poole (trading as SM Poole) pleaded guilty to regularly fitting wood burning stoves in Pembrokeshire contrary to legal requirements.

The case was heard at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court a short while before his death, of which Council officers were sorry to learn. 

The court heard that he sometimes fitted flue connections incorrectly so that they were dangerous. He was also supposed to supply and fit carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, which he failed to do.

He would then certify to HETAS (the Heating Equipment Testing & Approval Scheme) with whom he was registered, that he had correctly carried out the installation and all safety requirements when he had not.

HETAS recommend that any stoves fitted by SM Poole should be tested by an independent HETAS-registered engineer to establish whether they are safe to use, if this has not already been done.

“Mr Poole fitted a large number of wood or coal burning stoves in Pembrokeshire over the last six or seven years,” said Cllr Huw George, Cabinet Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services.

“We are very concerned that there could be several hundred incorrectly fitted stoves in the county, which may very likely be unsafe.”

The prosecution was brought by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Public Protection Trading Standards team. It followed a consumer complaint received about a wood burning stove which Mr Poole fitted at the consumer’s home. Mr Poole was formally interviewed and admitted to officers that he regularly fitted wood burning stoves contrary to legal requirements.

The information was passed to HETAS who tested 12 appliances installed by SM Poole, and reported that 10 out of the 12 stoves were found to be dangerous.

HETAS subsequently wrote to more than 500 of its customers, suggesting they should have their appliances tested, and have dealt with the responses from customers who responded with concerns. 

However, Cllr George said that Pembrokeshire’s Public Protection department was not convinced that many people had responded to the letters.

“We are concerned that a significant number of people may not have responded to the letters and we urge anyone affected to contact HETAS without delay,” he said.

There may also be other consumers whose details were not passed to HETAS by Mr Poole and who would not be on the HETAS database.

HETAS CEO Bruce Allen says regular chimney sweeping and stove servicing is essential to keep appliances operating safely and should be happening as part of a normal safety routine for stove owners.

“Many customers will have had stoves serviced and chimneys swept since the installation as part of the regular safety routine required for wood or coal burning stoves, so will already be aware if there are any safety issues,” he said.

“If there is any doubt, get a HETAS registered installer or chimney sweep to undertake the necessary maintenance and safety checking.  

“In particular, householders need to ensure ventilators are never blocked and batteries of CO alarms should be regularly tested.”

ADVICE:

The advice to anyone who has had a wood or coal burning stove fitted by SM Poole is as follows:

        Do not use the stove unless or until it has been checked by an independent HETAS-registered engineer or a HETAS-approved chimney sweep

        Buy a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t have one already. Carbon monoxide detectors are available at most supermarkets or home and garden stores

CONTACT:

        Contact HETAS for details of local HETAS-registered engineers or HETAS-approved chimney sweeps who can come and check your wood or coal burning stove. HETAS can also provide more information and advice

        Telephone: 01684 278170

        Email: info@hetas.co.uk

        The HETAS office is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm, closing on Friday at 4:30pm

        There is also lots of advice and a list of local HETAS-registered engineers and chimney sweeps on their website at www.hetas.co.uk

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The Pembrokeshire man on the Titanic

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ON the morning of April 15 1912, in the North Atlantic some 450-miles south of Newfoundland, the RMS Titanic slowly slid beneath the sea just two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg.

Stories from that night are famous, from the lookouts misplacing their binoculars to the ship’s band playing even as the sea washed over their feet, the sinking of the Titanic holds a special place in the public consciousness and continues to grab our attention some 109 years after the ‘unsinkable’ ship sank.

Over 1500 people lost their lives in the biggest maritime naval disaster at that point.

Among the dead were American and British millionaires, White Star Line employees and countless anonymous immigrants from across Europe who were all seeking a better life in America.

908 crew were on board the Titanic when it left Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, one of the crew was a man called Charles Essex Edwards, 38, who sometimes gave himself the first name of ‘Clement’.

Charles was born in 1862 to John and Harriet Edwards of St. Martin’s Place, Haverfordwest.

He worked as a carpenter as a 19-year-old man and would end up moving out of Pembrokeshire and going to sea.  By the time he married a lady called Lavinia Ann Poulter, from Llanstadwell, in May 1892 he was living in Newport.

Lavinia, a Pembrokeshire woman herself, was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Poulter who lived on Lawrenny Terrace in Neyland.

By 1895, Lavinia had returned to Pembrokeshire following the death of her mother. Charles and Lavinia’s marriage suffered but Charles would continue visiting Lavinia and stayed at his father-in-law’s house when he was on shore leave.

Although still married in the eyes of the law, Charles and Lavinia were basically separated by 1901.

Charles signed on to work on the brand new RMS Titanic after it had completed its sea trials in Belfast Lough, he gave his address as 7 Brunswick Square, Southampton. He worked on the Titanic as an assistant pantry-man steward who earned a monthly wage of £3 15s on his previous ship the SS Zeeland.

SS Zeeland: The ship Charles worked on before the Titanic

When RMS Titanic left Southampton a massive crowd had gathered to see the newest addition to the White Star Line fleet depart. Charles Edwards was there. He was there when the ship picked up more passengers at Cherbourg and Cobh.

He would’ve been working during the day, his job entailed keeping the ship’s pantries stocked with food and wine, a vital job on a ship with such a high-class passenger list as the Titanic.

He was, more than likely, sleeping when Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg in the ship’s path at 11:40pm on Sunday, April 14. He would’ve been woken by the noise of metal on ice and the ship shuddering as it was torn open on the starboard side.

As the ‘unsinkable’ ship took on water Charles, as a White Star Line employee, would’ve been given the unenviable task of waking up passengers, informing them of what happened and getting them to put on their lifejackets.

Once the scale of the situation on the Titanic became apparent, the command structure effectively disintegrated.

Captain Edward Smith would’ve cut a forlorn figure as he wandered around near the wheelhouse and his last words to his crew, according to reports at the time were:

“Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you.

“You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.”

This would’ve been around 2:10am, at that point Charles would’ve faced a literal up-hill battle with male members of the crew only having a 24% chance of survival and many people gathering ‘like bees’ on the stern of the stricken liner which, experts say, raised to a 12 degree angle.

The Pantryman-stewards from the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic

Many male crew members elected to stay at their posts as, according to Victorian culture it was better for men to die than to live and be perceived a coward, so the lights of the ship remained on until about 2:18am, just two minutes before Titanic broke apart and began its journey to its final resting place some 12,000ft below on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But now you know there was a man named Charles Edwards who was born in Haverfordwest and who died when the Titanic sank in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. His body, if it was recovered, was never identified and we don’t even have a picture of him.

When news of the disaster broke, The Pembroke County Guardian described the tragedy as ‘one of the most appalling calamities in the long history of shipwreck’.

Four men from Maenclochog, it was later revealed, had a lucky escape as their plans to emigrate that April on the Titanic were thwarted by one of their number being unable to travel, so the group decided to wait for their friend. That decision saved their lives.

Pembrokeshire responded to the sinking by raising money for the Titanic Relief Fund, Pembroke Dock raised £12 2s 0d through a collection at the Royal Dockyard and, in Haverfordwest, Sidney White, who would later go on to own The Palace Cinema, hosted benefit performances to packed houses which raised £5 15s.

Lavinia, after a legal battle with Charles’ brother William, was given £192 in compensation for Charles’ death and went on to look after her father at Railway Terrace, Neyland until he passed away.

Lavinia went on to move to Middlesex where she lived until 1934. She left her estate to her chauffeur.

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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.

Derek Lister: Accused of making child abuse images
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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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