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Christian Bookshop to shut its doors



Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 09.55.23ANOTHER familiar Haverfordwest landmark will be lost following the announcement that the much loved Emmanuel Christian Bookshop is set to open for the last time at Easter.

The Bookshop, which is currently situated in the Riverside Market, has a long and illustrious history, as Pastor John Welsby’s wife Cherrie explained in an interview with Pastor Rob James for The Herald: “When John and I came to work with Rev and Mrs Norman Ellison in Emmanuel Missions, Pembrokeshire in 1979 we had the weekly job of helping Mrs Ellison with her Christian bookstall in the old Haverfordwest Market. It was a busy, happy day sharing with the entertaining butcher giving out tasters of his hams and crowds doing their Saturday shopping.”

Mrs Ellison started her book room in their house at 71 Pembroke Road, Merlins Bridge in the 60’s and many teachers with their Sunday School classes from all over the county would come to visit Cherrie said: “They would come to choose annual prizes and enjoy one of Mr Ellison’s Fact and Faith films, games and a good supper.”

In 1982 the Riverside Market was built, and as existing table holders in the old Market, the book room was offered the choice to have a unit there.

Cherrie said: “It was a daunting adventure to agree to open the shop 6 days a week! But together with some other friends who valued Bibles, Christian literature, and quality children’s books, we bit the bullet and set up shop in 23 Market Courtyard.”

34 years on and Cherrie thanks God for their successes: “as we look back down the years we see how God has increased our small beginnings from one unit to the present day four, blessed a very willing, happy stream of volunteers working in the Emmanuel Christian Bookshop”.

Other the years the volunteers have been under the leadership of three manageresses: Mrs Ellison (1982– 1985), Mrs Carol Smith (1985-2007) and the present day Manageress, Mrs Jane Jones.

Mrs Welsby said: “It has been the joy of all who worked there to see customers appreciate the feel and smell of a good leather Bible and hear the rustle of gilt-edged pages as they examine the print size and consider their purchase”

She also explained of the book shops’ un-surprising influence was helped by Pembrokeshire’s popularity as a holiday destination: “Holiday– makers and school teachers from all over the UK have stocked up on resources for Assemblies and RE classes.”

Since the beginning of the Emmanual Christian Bookshop’s venture many churches throughout Pembrokeshire have had bookstalls on loan from the shop and benefited from their discount policy for account holders.

Cherrie continued: “It has been a special delight to see children in the county’s Sunday Schools receiving Bibles and Bible story books, biographies and autobiographies of Christians who left stories of God’s goodness for future generations”.

“Haverfordwest is a much changed and changing county town” she added: “And we have become aware of the shifting shopping habits of the local population and have had to seriously consider our usefulness in the town. No longer is Saturday the busy weekend shopping trip to town! I have noticed over these last couple of years as I work in the bookshop on Wednesdays, that I have much more time to “have my nose in a book” between customers”.

The decision to close has not been taken lightly by anybody involved with the shop but those responsible for it have come to the conclusion that it is time to move on to something new: “It has been a very difficult decision on the part of our Trustees and shop staff, but we are all of the same opinion that the Bible verses in Ecclesiastes 3v1 and 11 sum up our situation, Mrs Welsby said: “To everything there is a time and a season and a purpose under Heaven.”

The Bookshop has also been a big part of the work of Emmanuel Christian Centre at 87 Pembroke Road, Merlins Bridge, Haverfordwest. Before the shop started, Emmanuel has had Sunshine Centre on Saundersfoot beach every year in July and August with teams of young people, students and families sharing Bible lessons, games, drama and music.

She concluded: “This year is our 60th anniversary and there are plans afoot for a special weekend of events in Saundersfoot on August 6.

“While the shop has been in business and the Beach Mission rolls along, Emmanuel Church which was planted in 1983 has grown and developed in Merlin’s Bridge As a church family, we feel the loss of the Bookshop very sorely and at the moment we feel a big space in our usefulness. However, there is a fresh wind of new ideas blowing round and while these settle and become reality, perhaps it is time to re-read a few good old books that have been sitting too long on our bookshelves!”

Voicing his sympathy for the trustees and staff Baptist Pastor Rob James of Pembroke added: “We are truly grateful to all who have made this wonderful bookshop such an enduring blessing over the years. It will be strange for it not to be there. It has been an important part of the Christian landscape ever since I came to Pembrokeshire and I have valued its ministry very, very highly. But I know that while they are feeling sad they are also looking to the future because the cause they serve is unstoppable. Lots of Christian bookshops have closed in recent years but changing times always bring fresh opportunities”.

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Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears



A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said in Swansea Crown Court.

In total, 11 former pupils, who were all under 13, have come forward and accused James Oulton, 34, of sexually assaulting them.

Oulton denies all the charges – saying the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he had behaved appropriately all times.

One of the pupils, who was in year four at the time, opened day four of the trial by giving evidence via a video link.

The girl told the court: “He would put his arm around by back and backside.”

Under cross examination Chris Clee QC, for the defence, asked the witness: “Did you tell the police that you were touched in an inappropriate way?”

The witness answered: “Yes, teachers should not be touching in that way.”

James Oulton

Asked if what he was doing wrong, the witness replied:

“Yes, very wrong”

In cross examination letters and cards were produced, made the witness whilst in school, where she had said Mr. James Oulton was “the best teacher in the whole world.”

One of the cards said: “You’ve made my life complete”.

Another card said: “Thank you for being so nice, and thanks for everything that you’ve done for me.”

The witness added: “Despite what he did do, he was a good teacher.  

“He used to buy us treats.

“He was nice caring and a sweet and fun teacher – but not what he was doing.

Referring to the cards, she said: “I would definitely not be saying that stuff now.”

Explaining how she told her parents the witness said: “Once I realised that [x] was in his class, I asked her ‘did he do this stuff to you?’

“She said yes.

“I realised more and more it was wrong and it was time to grow up now, and to speak.

“As soon as I found out that this was happening to [x] I stood up and told my parents.

Asked if she had seen inappropriate behaviour happening to anybody else the witness answered: “He did it to most of the girls in the class, but he had his favourites.

Asked if she had spoken to other girls about the touching, the witness said: “Yes, I was just curious was it just me, or was it normal?”

“Teachers should most definitely not be doing that to students.

“Doing what?”, the witness was asked, “You said in your police interview that he would pull you off your chair and make you sit on his lap, is that true?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

“Did you try and stop him?” she was asked.

“Yes, I tried to push him off sometimes and said, ‘get off its weird’, but I didn’t want to make a scene.

“He would make me sit on his lap whilst he was marking my work.”

When asked by the defence barrister how she was sat on her teacher’s lap, and if it was under a desk, the witness answered: “No, not under the desk, as both of our legs wouldn’t fit under.”

The witness also said that when she was sat on the defendant’s knee he would make “a low grunting noise.”

Asked if she had spoken others about this case, the girl said: “Police told my mum and dad that there were very many people involved in the case.

“I thought it was just me and [x] that was going to be at court, I only recently discovered that others had come out.”

A second female pupil was also giving evidence via video link. She was 9-years-old at the time of the alleged offending.

Firstly, a pre-recorded interview was played in court in which the witness said: “My teacher, Mr. Oulton always put his hand up my leg like that and up my t-shirt.”

She added: “If he calls you over and he pulls you onto his lap, if you don’t, he pulls your chair over and makes you.”

“How would he make you?” the QC asked.

“He would grab your arm, push you, and then pull you in”, she replied.

When asked if this was a one off, the witness said that the defendant “did it every day.”

“How would you be sat on his lap?”, she was asked.

“He would have one arm on my stomach, then the other arm would be rubbing my leg.”

“He would swap arms and then put one arm up my t-shirt.”

When asked to clarify if it was under her t-shirt the girl explained: “Yes it was under my t-shirt rubbing his hands up and down.”

The witness added: “If I tried to get up for work, he would just grab my arm.”

“He would make a funny sound like a hissing airplane.”

“We had a helper in the class, and when he came in, he would stop, and then I could go and sit down.”

The trial continues.

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New trees planted to help town



SEVERAL new trees have been planted on Riverside Avenue in Neyland.

They were planted by Grandiflora, courtesy of the Town Council which recently pledged to plant more trees in the town in an attempt to help the environment.

As well as helping the environment, the trees will prevent vehicles from being parked on the grass verges on Riverside Avenue, which had been severely churned up over the winter and looked unsightly.

The Town Council will be working with Pembrokeshire County Council regarding parking issues in Neyland.

The trees will be tended and watered over the summer period to ensure they reach their maximum potential and enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

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Golden goodbye report likely to be critical



A REPORT by Audit Wales into the departure of former CEO Ian Westley is very likely to contain criticism of senior council officers.

In November 2020, Mr Westley left Pembrokeshire County Council with a £95,000 pay-out, something which has been criticised by a number of councillors.

In a document before the Audit and Governance Committee on Tuesday (April 13), it says that termination payments to Chief Officers are routinely examined by Audit Wales but in the case of Mr Westley, the audit team was unable to locate a recorded decision to enter into the settlement agreement which led to a termination payment being made to the Chief Executive.

An Audit Office spokesperson said: “This appeared unusual and therefore the audit team decided to undertake an early examination of the process that resulted in the payment being made.”

No complaints were raised, by councillors or any other body, with Audit Wales but the number of concerns and questions being raised at following council meetings prompted them to commence an audit.

Audit Wales state: “Our audit fieldwork is substantially complete. However due to the complex nature of some of the issues involved we considered it necessary to take some external legal
advice. We are currently considering that advice. 

“In the near future we will draft a document setting out our provisional findings and conclusions. 

“Once this document is ready we will commence a clearance process to confirm factual accuracy. 

“If the document contains criticism of identifiable individuals, in the first instance we will provide those individuals with any extracts of the document that pertain to them. Once
we have confirmed the factual accuracy with individuals, we will send the full draft document to the Council’s Chief Executive to identify any remaining factual inaccuracies. 

“We will only issue the finalised document once the clearance process has been completed. #

“We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process.”

Only a handful of senior officers were involved in the procedure surrounding Ian Westley’s departure.

The inference which can be safely drawn from Audit Wales’ report to the Audit Committee is that some of its content will be critical either of councillors, senior officers, or both.

The process of asking those named to respond is known as Maxwellisation, a legal practice that allows persons who are to be criticised in an official report to respond prior to publication.

The report highlights the exceptional nature of the case at Pembrokeshire County Council and demonstrates the sensitivity of the issues raised.

If senior officers are sharply criticised or found to have failed in their duty to their employer, they will almost certainly have to go.

The council’s interim Chief Executive will read the document after maxwellisation.

It is also likely that the council’s newly appointed Chief Executive, Will Bramble, will have a chance to see it.

The Audit Wales spokesperson added: “We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process. We are unable to respond to queries about our emerging findings whilst the audit is progressing, and until we have finalised our conclusions.”

In January, Cllr Jamie Adams had called for the council to commence an internal investigation into Mr Westley’s departure but that was deferred to allow for the Audit Wales review to be completed.

Cllr Adams said that the decision of payment should have been a ‘democratic decision’ and has asked why that wasn’t the case.

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