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‘Abandoned communities’ need answers from Port, says MP

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STEPHEN CRABB MP has called for answers to ‘very serious’ questions after a flood devastated homes in the communities of Havens Head and Lower Priory two weeks ago.

At a meeting on Friday (Nov 23) outside the flood-damaged Priory Inn public house, displaced residents – some of whom are not insured – explained to their Member of Parliament that they firmly believed that the Milford Haven Port Authority was to blame for the flooding of their homes.

Mr Crabb said that questions raised about the adequacy of the pipes and culverts leading to the docks and their maintenance ‘deserve full answers’ and said that he felt that those affected felt ‘abandoned’.

The Port, however, denies that it is responsible for the incident. Tim Bownes, Engineering Director at the Port, released a statement last week saying that the flooding was not caused by any failure to act. He said it was caused by ‘two days of heavy rainfall, combined with extremely high tides combined with a tidal surge of up to half a metre.’

Mr Bownes also said that water was ‘flowing as expected’ down the Port’s culvert system on November 8

Some of the residents were clearly emotional showing their MP around their wrecked homes. The landlady of the local pub, where water levels reached the ceiling, said she could not handle going inside to see the devastation.

“Nobody from the Port gives a shit about us,” landlady Glenda German told Mr Crabb.

She added: “I’ve lost everything in this flood, and we need to get to the bottom of who is to blame.

“Someone has got to pay for this; my whole life is on stop.”

Ian Banister said that he felt that lack of maintenance was the cause of the problem, and he wanted to see records and logs to prove that the Port was telling the truth. He showed Mr Crabb several classic cars which were submerged; including a rare 1930’s Singer Le Mans sports car, and a recently rebuilt Austin A35.

Another resident pointed out that the Port was not bound by the Freedom of Information Act and information could be difficult to obtain.

Flood was deep: Stephen Crabb MP with Cllr Viv Stoddart and property owner James Kershaw (Pic Herald)

James Kershaw who lives at Pill Priory, just behind the pub, said that the culverts were either blocked, or if they were not, then they were clearly inadequate.

“Either way the Port are to blame,” he said. 1.5m of sewerage contaminated flood water has destroyed his ground floor furniture and kitchen. A lorry used for his gardening business has also been written off.

Following a tour of damaged properties Mr Crabb told The Herald: “What this group of families has been through is heart-breaking.”

He went on: “People have literally lost everything as a result of the flooding and now face many months of living in temporary accommodation waiting for their homes to dry out and repairs to be done.”

Mr Crabb addressed the accusation from many residents that Milford Haven Port Authority had contributed to the flooding by not properly maintaining the culvert which runs under Haven’s Head Business Park and into Milford Dock.

Emotional moment: Ian Bannister from Lower Priory clearly upset by the damage caused (Pic: Herald)

He told this newspaper: “The questions being raised by the residents of Lower Priory and Havens Head about the adequacy of the pipes and culverts leading to the Docks are very serious and deserve full answers.

“The speed and severity of the flooding has raised questions about whether the infrastructure has been maintained properly by the Port Authority to allow water to run out in the Dock and not build up in the way it did.”

Mr Crabb added: “These communities currently feel abandoned. It is a bewildering and stressful experience to suddenly lose your home and possessions.

“It is entirely fair for these residents to demand a full explanation as to how this happened and what can be done to prevent it in future. I’m committed to bringing together the relevant authorities to ensure that some answers can be found.”

Stephen Crabb MP visits flooded resident (Pic: Herald)

High tide mark: The level of water in James Kershaw’s home (Pic: Herald)

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Dale Morgan charged with murder of Judith Rhead, police confirm

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DYFED POWYS POLICE have charged a man in connection with the alleged murder of 68 year old Judith Rhead who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Saturday (Feb 20).

Dale Morgan, 43, will appear at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court today by video link.

Dale Morgan, in court today

A spokesman for the force said: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that Dale Morgan, aged 43, has been charged with the murder of Judith Rhead, aged 68, who was found in a property in Market Street, Pembroke Dock.

“He is due to appear before Llanelli Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday, 25 February).”

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Judith Rhead murder investigation – Detectives given more time to question suspect

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POLICE have been given more time to question a 43-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder.

The man has been in police custody since Saturday night, after being arrested over the death 68-year-old Judith Rhead.

She was found in a residential property in Market Street.

The police now have until Thursday afternoon (Feb 25) to question the suspect.

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All people eligible for vaccination will get theirs by end of July

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PEOPLE eligible for the coronavirus vaccine will get theirs by the end of July, the Health Minister has said.

Wales achieved its target of getting everyone in the first four priority groups vaccinated by the middle of February and is now working on offering the vaccine to those in groups 5 to 9.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with severe or profound learning disabilities or with a mental illness will be among priority group 6.

Mr Gething said that they were would make sure that no one is left behind.

The latest figures from Public Health Wales show that 878,506 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.

59,279 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We have achieved our first milestone of offering everyone in the first four priority groups vaccination by mid-February.

“We are now making progress in achieving our next milestone, which is to offer the vaccine to all individuals in priority groups 5 to 9.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with a severe/profound learning disability and individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment, should be invited for vaccination as part of priority group 6.

“There are challenges with identifying individuals within these groups, particularly given the JCVI language is not generally in use in Wales, and we are working hard to make sure that no one is left behind. Today we have published guidance on identifying eligible individuals in these groups and on how to support them to take up their vaccine offers.

“The JCVI has also said that some of our invaluable unpaid carers should be included in priority group 6.

“Today we have also published guidance on identifying those unpaid carers eligible for vaccine prioritisation and the process around this. I am grateful to the national carers’ organisations for their support with this work.”

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