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Members ‘encouraged’ after Riverside purchase call-in

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MEMBERS of the Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee have been reassured following the call in of a Cabinet members’ decision to look into the purchase of Haverfordwest Riverside.

A number of councillors had been concerned about the decision to appoint a consultant to develop and evaluate proposals for the site’s redevelopment because of the Council’s budgetary position.

Cabinet member for Economy and Tourism, Cllr Paul Miller, made his decision at the end of April as part of wider council plans to revitalise the Town of Haverfordwest.

However, on May 3, that decision was called in by Cllrs Jamie Adams, David Pugh, Brian Hall and Di Clements.

A special meeting of the Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee was called for Tuesday, May 14.
During the meeting a number of points were raised but it was highlighted that the money for the consultants would not be coming out the tax payers money.

At this stage the Council would only be looking at whether or not they should purchase the site and are asking consultants to look into it.

Members were reassured by what they had heard and asked for an update at their September meeting.

Cllr Jamie Adams said that there needed to be some understanding of the desire of the people to see council tax money well spent and added that his worry was that they would be further burdening tax payers.

Cllr Miller said he was very concerned that the Pembrokeshire was becoming a disconnected retirement county but highlighted his strategy for improving the county.

He added that he wanted to get Pembrokeshire better connected in terms of broadband, ensuring that Pembrokeshire has an offer adding that although they were ‘well endowed’ with natural assets, it wasn’t enough ‘on its own’.

His third point was to make sure that the county is discovered and said: “Let’s appoint the right people to guide us through this.”

Cllr Bob Summons asked a number of questions including what due dilligence had been done.

Cllr Miller said some had already been done but added that the majority of it would come when the business case would be considered.

Cllr Summons said that town centres were dying because of online shopping and asked what could be done.

Cllr Miller outlined that the area being considered included Haverfordwest Castle, Bridge Street, the Ocky White building, the Riverside Shopping centre and that redeveloping the multi-storey car park was an area of interest.

He went on to say they would be relying on external consultants as they didn’t have the in-house resources to do so.

A report to the committee stated that finance officers had not been involved but when challenged, Council Leader David Simpson said that they had been involved in discussions over the last two years, just not on the specifics of the project.

Cllr Adams added that the meeting to discuss the concept had only happened on Monday, after the call-in, and asked was it a case of the ‘stable door being bolted after the horse is out’.

Cllr Bob Kilmister said a meeting had been scheduled but because he was away it was put back to Monday.

Cllr Adams asked if it had also been discussed at a meeting of the Strategic Asset Management group.

Cllr Paul Miller said it hadn’t but added that when the business case was made they would be involved.

Cllr Adams also asked about further investment in Bridge Street and Cllr Miller said there would be as part of the Castle project.

He went on to say that the Welsh Government were also involved in this and that they had been asking for all sorts of information.

Cllr Brian Hall warned the Cabinet to ‘be cautious’ or risk the situation coming back to bite them.

After hearing what had been said a number of members were reassured by what had gone on and Cllr David Pugh said he admired the Cabinet’s ambition.

Cllr Simon Hancock asked what the consequences would be if they did nothing adding that he was supportive of the Council trying to do the right thing.

Cllr Tony Wilcox added: “To not engage specialists would be remiss of us. We’ve got to at least go through this process.”

Cllr Tim Evans added he was ‘really encouraged’ by what he had heard and added the consultants would tell them whether this was right or wrong saying: “It’s something we’ve got to go through with.”

Members agreed that an update report should be presented to them at their September meeting.

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Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case

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A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week.

Derek Lister, 72, of Marloes is accused of making indecent photographs of children.

He appeared before the bench, on Tuesday (Apr 13).

Lister was represented by Redkite Solicitors.

The court heard that between June 2009 and November 2019 in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, Lister allegedly created 3 indecent category A images of a child, 14 indecent category B images of a child and 152 indecent category C images of a child.

He will now appear at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am for the next hearing after the local court declined jurisdiction.

Lister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans

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PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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