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New ferry service brings uncertain future for Pembrokeshire ports

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A DIRECT ferry service between Ireland and Spain could have an impact on Pembrokeshire’s ports.

The ferry service, which will sail from Cork to Santander, in two return journeys a week, could result in traffic bypassing the UK.

This highlights the preparations being made by Irish businesses for a hard Brexit, a Liberal Democrats spokesperson has said.

The spokesperson said: “Whilst the establishment of a new service is not explicitly linked to Brexit, the new route does give firms the opportunity to bypass Welsh ports in the event of a hard Brexit.

“Should we get a bad Brexit deal that leads to substantial customs delays at our ports, that opportunity will begin to look very attractive.”

Andrew Lye: With Jane Dodds

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Jane Dodds, commented: “This is yet more evidence of the devastating impact Brexit could have on Welsh ports. These ports make a vital contribution to their local economies and the economy of Wales. Leaving the customs union could lead to lengthy delays at these ports, increased costs for companies and even rotting produce. It is essential the UK stays in the single market and customs union to protect our ports and the Welsh economy.”

Andrew Lye, Chair of Carmarthenshire & Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats, said: “News that Ireland and Spain will be linked by a direct ferry service for the first time should set the alarm bells ringing. With Brexit negotiations continuing, Ireland is preparing for a hard border with the UK and who can blame them! But the creation of a direct route between Ireland and Spain rightly concerns us here in Pembrokeshire.

“The ports of Pembroke Dock and Fishguard are crucial to their communities and the economy of Pembrokeshire. A hard border after Brexit would have devastating consequences for these ports and the jobs, trade and tourism they support. No-one wants to see Pembrokeshire lose out, but the signs are worrying.”

The Commercial Manager Captain for the Port of Corck, Michael McCarthy, said:  “The option for freight carriers to bypass the UK land bridge will be seen as very attractive, as Brexit uncertainty continues.

“We have no doubt that both exporters and importers will make this a viable service.”

The service will start in April.

A Brittany Ferries ship, Connemara, will have the capacity for 500 passengers and 195 cars.

Brittany Ferries Chief Executive, Christophe Mathieu, said: “Green Spain promises visitors a wealth of opportunities, whether they travel with us from the UK or Ireland.

“However, this new route will also present more options to freight companies operating throughout Ireland, Spain, Portugal and southern France.”

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Ongoing incident closes busy Haverfordwest road

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A MAJOR road in Haverfordwest has been closed due to a police incident this afternoon (May 5)

A man was seen holding onto the outside railings of a bridge, talking to police officers.

The police said: “We are dealing with an ongoing incident, with concern for the welfare of a male, which has meant the A487 between Cartlett Road and Thomas Parry Way in Haverfordwest has been closed.

“Motorists are asked to avoid the area and find alternative routes.

There are reports of long queues for motorists in and around Haverfordwest with some drivers messaging The Herald saying “Town is gridlocked.”

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James Oulton found not guilty of 30 counts of sexual assault against 11 ex-pupils

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JAMES OULTON, 34, the primary school teacher who was accused of 30 charges of sexual assault against pupils has been found not guilty of all charges at Swansea Crown court today, following a lengthy trial (May 4).

The charges, now dismissed, had related to his time as a Haverfordwest primary school teacher, between 2012 and 2018.

Mr Oulton had described the accusations as a “witch-hunt”.

He confirmed he had made a formal complaint against one officer involved.

Speaking after the verdict, James Oulton said: “I am glad two years and eight months of hell for my family, colleagues and friends has come to an end.”

“I’m just glad it’s over and that the jury came to the right verdict.”

The press was only able to report on the prosecution case, but not the defence case – because Oulton him self via his barrister had made an application to the court for a press restriction.

The Herald feels that this press restriction on the reporting of both sides of the case, once granted, was unlawful, and is appealing to the Court of Appeal on a point of law.

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Nineteen arrests and weapons seized during knife crime action week

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NINETEEN people were arrested and a number of weapons were seized as police took part in a national week of action against knife crime, police have said.

Dyfed-Powys Police has released its results from Op Sceptre, which ran from April 26 to May 2, during which officers across the force took part in activity to crack down on crime involving blades.

The week was led by the force’s roads policing units (RPU), with a focus on targeting operations in key areas throughout the four divisions.

Neighbourhood policing teams were instrumental in engaging with shopkeepers, creating educational videos for communities on social media, and working with RPU on joint patrols in crime hotspots.

Inspector Andrew Williams said: “There have been some excellent results forcewide  from this year’s Op Sceptre, and as a result of the increased proactivity in key areas, there has also been a vast amount of other offences detected.

“This was thanks to some outstanding work by roads policing units, neighbourhood policing teams, the joint firearms unit and response officers.

“Our approach was to educate our communities on the laws around carrying and selling knives, and the dangers associated with having a blade on your possession, which was backed up with operational activity across the force.

“This has been very well received, and will be continued during the next operation.”

During the week 20 stop searches were carried out, resulting in seven arrests and numerous weapons being seized.

Twelve people were arrested for drug driving following stop checks on vehicles, one of which led to the discovery of a cannabis cultivation in the Cardigan area.

Traffic offence reports were issued to 41 drivers, and two people will be dealt with for failing to stop for officers when requested.

Neighbourhood policing activity saw engagement with 95 shop owners and community leaders, with officers and PCSOs reassured to find that most businesses were complying with the Challenge 25 policy. Those who were not will be dealt with accordingly.

Insp Williams said: “Our work to tackle knife crime will continue as we consider intelligence logs that were submitted during the operation and develop targeted plans to deal with concerns in our communities.

“We would also like to remind people that while our knife amnesty has now concluded, the best way to dispose of an unwanted blade is to take it to your local recycling centre.”

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