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Fishguard: Peaceful protest stands up for LGBTQ+ community

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A PROTEST was held in Fishguard yesterday afternoon (Jul 15) in response to a planned meeting which was intended to host anti-LGBTQ+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) topics of conversation.

The meeting, organised by the group Evangelists Corner, had been advertised in the town via a leaflet which promoted anti-LGBTQ+ opinions.

The leaflet explained that the meeting would deal with the subject of same-sex marriage and transgender people, as well as their desire to stop teaching LGBTQ+ material in schools and replace it instead with creationism.

The protest was organised in response to the ‘homophobic’ message of the flyer and meeting agenda, and was well attended by various age groups and people of different sexual orientations.

Following the controversy caused by the leaflet, the meeting was cancelled, however the protest went on as planned to show ‘unity’ and ‘love’ which is strong in the community.

Police have received numerous official complaints about the literature and are now investigating.

Following the protest, two organisers of the protest, Matt Townsend and Jackie Jones, met with the spokesperson of the Evangelist group, John Fransham, at Fishguard police station.

There they discussed the issues raised in the literature – however Fransham defended the content of the flyer and the reasons for organising the meeting.

A spokesperson for Pembs LGBTQ Plus said after the event: “Thank you. This all too often is a gesture over-used, underappreciated, and haphazardly used. Today though, I use it with heart-felt appreciation for what you managed to achieve yesterday.

“Yesterday, you all did Pembrokeshire, the LGBTQ+ community and yourselves proud. We turned something that was extremely hurtful, upsetting and negative into something beautiful, positive and almost cathartic. To see you all united with a common goal sent a clear message: love overcomes hate.

“I spoke to many of you yesterday and felt privileged to hear individual stories, reasons for protesting and what yesterday meant to you. We have also been inundated with beautiful photographs. The adage reminds us that a photo says a thousand words – and many words were spoken.

“The public response to the weekend’s  events has been overwhelming. We have received messages of support, encouragement and love from many people at home and abroad. It is no exaggeration to say that your voices were heard globally. To think this happened from a small (and beautiful) town in Pembrokeshire is all the more humbling.

“I was invited to speak with the distributors at the police station yesterday. The police investigation is still ongoing. All I will say is that it was a very emotional dialogue and reaffirmed for me why we had to do what we did yesterday. As I said to the police and the distributors of the leaflet, we are not in any way protesting of their right to their own opinions. When this opinion does cross the line of law and has the potential to incite hatred and put at risk the safety of the LGBTQ+ community, then we have a duty to act.

“We have received a few messages and emails in the last 24 hours stating that the leaflet does nothing to incite hatred and/or violence. However, PembsLGBTQPlus challenges this. The content of the leaflet is such that it has the potential to incite hatred, to the extent that the police are investigating.”

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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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