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Time period for penalty notices scrapped

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PH270516_Page_06_Image_0002PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has agreed to changes in the way it will issue penalty notices for low school attendance.

The Council had intended to use a 12-week rolling period but after consultation it was agreed that the council should not proceed with the idea because of the burden placed on schools.

At the Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday (May 23), Councillors agreed that a notice would be issued if a pupil’s attendance dropped below 90% in the school year.

Cabinet Member for Education and Safeguarding, Cllr Sue Perkins said: “We’re obliged under Welsh Government regulations to administer penalty notices and this report simplifies and clarifies the criteria under which the penalty notices might be considered.

“There are a range of views about the use of penalty notices and a fair degree of opposition to the policy as a whole, however it is the law in Wales and we are expected to implement it.

“In Pembrokeshire, we will base every decision we make on penalty notices on the circumstances of each individual case and we will not operate a blanket policy.

“We must acknowledge that school attendance is crucially important to children’s achievement as the data shows.

“The penalty notices are an option in some cases where we think that the child’s educational prospects are suffering because of excessive and unauthorised absence from school.”

Head of Performance & Community, Mr James White added: “The penalty notices are an option to be used in some circumstances but it’s part of the tool kit around attendance and it is far from being the only thing that we do.

“We have six pupil support officers working on the attendance agenda with our schools and the penalty notice workload would be less than half of one of those posts so it is a small fraction of the resource that we put into this.

“If the standard of teaching is good and the educational offer is good then the attendance will almost certainly be good and that is probably the key message.”

Cllr Adams asked about the relevance of a recent court case in England but James White added: “There are two issues which make the high court judgement, I think, not so relevant in Wales.

“One of which is, education is devolved in Wales and there is a different policy framework around it although the high court does have jurisdiction over England and Wales.

“The second point is, in England they take the view that any term time holiday absence, they will take action against it whereas in Wales we take the view that action could be taken if it takes a child’s attendance below 90%.

“In Wales, we have a view that a moderate amount of absence during term time can be authorised by head teachers if they think it’s not going to damage the child’s education prospects.”

Cllr Huw George said: “The issue of these notices is the last resort, are we doing everything we can to make sure that the school/home agreement is clear for parents that they have buy-in and they understand from the beginning because otherwise schools are being looked at in a negative light and that’s not fair because schools are there to educate and I welcome the last proposal where we take away ‘holiday in term time’.

“It’s not about holidays it’s about attendance in school.”

James White added: “We’ve issued 26 penalty notices so far which I think demonstrates that we’re not trigger happy about this and we consider cases on their merits and we do it were we feel the point needs to be made.

“Other authorities have gone well into three figures on this and that shows we are being reasonably sparing in our application of this.”

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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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