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Council’s prosecution over shed was a ‘wheelie bad idea’

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman has succeeded in overturning a decision that he breached planning rules.

James Kershaw, of Lower Priory, was convicted when a Court ruled that a shed he placed on wheels was a permanent fixture at his home.

However, in an appeal hearing on Friday (Aug 23), Swansea Crown Court found that the Council’s prosecution of Mr Kershaw was an abuse of process.

The Judge accepted Mr Kershaw’s evidence he undertook work to put wheels on the shed in January 2018.

When he did so, Mr Kershaw relied on the advice given to him by an officer of Pembrokeshire County Council. In September 2017, the officer told Mr Kershaw that provided he placed the shed on wheels there would be no problems with planning and enforcement.

The Judge decided that it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute to allow the planning authority to prosecute Mr Kershaw after he relied upon the advice given to him by one of its employees.

After the case James Kershaw, who was awarded substantial costs, said: “The judge made the only fair and reasonable decision he could have in this case. I would like to thank my legal team, including my very capable barrister Mr. Matthew Paul.

“The Council’s incompetence has cost the local taxpayer over £10,000.

“The shed doesn’t harm anyone and is a mobile, movable structure which replaces a more permanent shed which was dilapidated and in the same location.”

“I hope the Council can concentrate now on more pressing issues like sorting out the flood risk at Lower Priory.”

“The Council’s planning department, who were keen to prosecute me, are responsible in part for the flooding which affected so many people last year in my neighbourhood; they allowed development lower down stream at Haven’s Head Business Park.”

“Sorting this issue for the other locals and myself is clearly more important than them wasting time and money on a pointless legal challenge”, jokingly Kershaw said, “it was a wheelie bad idea”

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure, Phil Baker, said: “While accepting the Court’s decision, the Council wishes to point out that the ruling hinged on a legal argument over process due to the discovery of advice provided by a planning officer given to the applicant during the planning application.

“The Appeal Judge determined that this subsequently invalidated the Authority’s ability to bring a prosecution.”

Councillor Baker explained: “The Council is keen to stress that it should not be accepted that the outcome of this case implies that by adding wheels to a structure that it is no longer a building and therefore not subject to planning regulations.”

He added that the planning officer in question is no longer employed by the Authority.

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Protest planned after Town Council votes to keep child rapist’s portrait

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A PROTEST will be held on Monday (Feb 24) from 3pm. Organisers said: “This is for Pembroke Town Council to take down the peadophile’s picture and replace it with a plaque in honour of the survivors. Posters said: “Do not stand by and allow abuse to happen – please join the protest to show your support. Stop our children from being sexually enslaved!

The news of the demo comes after an attempt to have the photograph of a disgraced former mayor of Pembroke removed from the Town Hall’s walls was defeated by the town’s councillors last week.

Convicted child molester David Boswell’s portrait will remain hanging alongside those of other mayors but turned towards the wall.
Last year, Boswell was convicted of four counts of indecently assaulting two children and a further offence of raping one of them. He is currently serving an eighteen-year prison sentence.

Two town councillors, County Council Cabinet member Jon Harvey and former County Council Chair Aden Brinn proposed Boswell’s portrait should be removed. They cited the seriousness and appalling nature of Boswell’s crimes. However, their move was not supported by any of the other town councillors present at the meeting.

Instead, the councillors agreed upon a proposal made by Cllr Jonathan Nutting, who said the portrait should remain in place but reversed.

During a speech in support of his motion, Cllr Nutting said that he regretted that the Council’s dirty laundry had been aired to the public and impugned the integrity of those who called for the removal of Boswell’s portrait. An action he repeated subsequently in a personal post on Facebook.

Cllr Nutting posted the full text of his speech online after the Western Telegraph failed to publish his lengthy peroration in full in its reporter Bruce Sinclair’s hard-hitting and accurate report of the meeting.

In the version published online, Cllr Nutting said: “To me, the picture on the wall is a testament to the shame of this council and our region. There was a failure to protect vulnerable children from a predator. People had some idea of what was going on and turned a blind eye. We need to be reminded as a community that we failed those children. If we can decide on some way to mark this event that shows our disgust. I think we should do it.”

To summarise those sentiments: ‘we’re all to blame for Boswell’s crimes’.

Cllr Nutting remarkable proposition that guilt for Boswell’s grotesque offending is spread as widely as possible was accompanied by the statement: “I accept the fact that in a few tens of years what happened will be forgotten. To put it away in a cupboard or to actually burn it will not bear witness to this man’s crimes.”

Cloth-eared comments made by Cllr Daphne Bush that the portrait’s removal would upset members of Boswell’s family appeared to ignore the toll its presence would exact on his victims.
Unsatisfied with refusing to remove the portrait, Cllr Dennis Evans alleged comments made about councillors permitting it to remain in place were ‘libellous’.

Cllr Evans reportedly said: “I’ve heard rumours that people want us to give a public apology; it should be the other way around, the editor of the Western Telegraph should be giving us a public apology.”

The Herald invited response to that suggestion from our rival publication’s editor, Steve Adams, but Cllr Evans’ remarks speak volumes; as Mr Adams’ silence speaks of their merit.
In response to his fellow town councillors’ vote, Jon Harvey quit the Council during the meeting.

In a statement given subsequently, and in response to criticism levelled at him, Cllr Harvey said: My resignation from Pembroke Town Council was by no means pre-planned.
“Following concerns expressed by residents just over a month ago I emailed the Town Clerk (copied to all Town Councillors) expressing my view that the photograph of the former Mayor should be taken down. I also pressed for an Extraordinary Meeting to be held so that a decision would be made quickly on this matter. Including myself, only two Town Councillors supported this idea, with five needed to do so to allow the meeting to take place. As a consequence, the matter rolled on to the meeting of the Town Council held on the 13th February.”
Describing the decision to place the portrait back on the wall after the current Mayor had it removed as ‘a grave error of judgement’, Cllr Harvey continued: “It became clear that many of those Councillors present were more concerned about the former Mayors place in history, as well as attacking the member of the public who initially raised this matter on social media. Next up it was the turn of the press to be criticised for publishing the story and quoting the member of the public in the article.”

Cllr Harvey said: “Whilst I will always respect a democratic vote on any issue, this decision of the overwhelming number of Town Councillors was not one I could subscribe to given the clear strength of public opposition. I am not aware of any member of the public supporting the retention of the photograph in situ, either facing out or turned around. I am sure there are no pictures of Jimmy Saville facing the wall in Stoke Mandeville Hospital or Hitler hanging in the Reichstag.
“Members of the Town Council seem more concerned with history, attacking a member of the public and attacking the freedom of the press than actually grasping the simple concept that the public doesn’t want that photograph on the wall.”

He concluded: “As a matter of principle, I tendered my resignation with immediate effect following the vote. I do not want to remain a part of a Town Council that does not represent the views of the electorate, shows no understanding of the importance of this matter to the public and does not believe in press freedom. I remain as County Councillor for the Pembroke St. Mary North Ward and will continue to serve the good folk of the Ward to the best of best of my abilities.”
Marcel Laval, who originally drew attention to the photo’s presence, came in for particular criticism both indirectly during the meeting and subsequently directly from Cllr Jonathan Nutting on social media.

Mr Laval told us: “I remain convinced that this slap in the face to the public should give cause for the community as a whole concern.
“Those in the majority decided instead to be outraged that their lack of understanding of the issue and the lack of compassion for the survivors of the most horrific crimes was such a great issue.
“The adopted motion instead of accepting the wishes of many in the real community to remove said portrait will be to further debase the town council and councillors by making the reversed portrait a tourist attraction to be explained by whoever is left to supervise the Town Hall Museum. If a worse outcome could be found, a majority of councillors tried their best to find it and voted to accept it. Those responsible for this situation must resign for the good of Pembroke.”

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Nine Dyfed-Powys Police officers assaulted in one weekend

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NINE Dyfed-Powys Police officers were assaulted in five incidents over the weekend, including a Special Constable who was bitten while on her probation period.

Officers across the force were punched, kicked, bitten and spat at as they responded to domestic assaults, harassment, a disturbance and a missing person.

The offences were alleged to have been committed by women aged between 14 and 61, all of whom were arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker.

Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “Policing, by its very nature, is a challenging occupation, and officers do expect to be put in difficult situations. However, it is completely unacceptable that they should be subject to assaults while they are carrying out their duties – particularly when they are assaulted by the very people they are trying to help.

“Nine officers being assaulted as they respond to five incidents is shocking – and this doesn’t include the verbal abuse and near misses they face daily.

“We take these matters very seriously. For every officer who is assaulted, a plan is put in place to support them, whether they are able to remain on duty or not.

“Our view is that assaults on police officers and staff should be investigated with the same care, compassion and commitment as an assault on a member of the public. This sounds obvious, but too often our response to assaults on officers and staff can be rushed or treated as secondary to other offences.”

Charges have been brought against two of the alleged offenders.

Chantelle Thomas, aged 18, of Water Street in Carmarthen, was charged with two counts of assaulting an emergency worker by kicking and biting them. Police had been called to a disturbance at Maes yr Ysgol at around 9.40pm on Saturday, where the defendant was found to be distressed. Officers attempted to calm her down, but she is alleged to have become irate, kicking out at one Special Constable and biting another.

One of the SCs, who is still in their probation period has been praised by their sergeant for their patience and composure during the incident.

Rhian Jeremiah, aged 32, of Adpar, Newcastle Emlyn, was also charged with two counts of assaulting an emergency worker following an incident on Saturday. She is reported to have bitten two PCs while they attempted to arrest her. She is due to appeal at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on March 4.

In other incidents, a PC was kicked while attending a report of a mother assaulting her daughter in Pembroke Dock, and others were assaulted while at a domestic disturbance.

An officer and a sergeant were also kicked, punched and spat at after finding a teenager who had been reported missing.

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Stepaside: Residents group seeks to stop building of 80 houses

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A PLANNING application is causing controversy in south Pembrokeshire.

Stepaside and Pleasant Valley Residents Group have said that they are against 80 “houses” proposed on flood plain over the historical mine workings

The people living around Pleasant Valley have come together to keep their valley ‘pleasant’ and not developed by a remotely owned company just for profit.

The residents group was formed last year by local residents to oppose this planning application for the Heritage Park in Pleasant Valley, Stepaside.

Their Objection, submitted in October 2019 has raised awareness locally and the level of resistance has continued to grow with more and more people joining the mailing list and Facebook group.

The planning application, doubling the size of the Heritage Park in Pleasant Valley may be given the go ahead as early as the Planning Committee on 10th March.

The project proposes to cover the whole area at the top of the valley with a significant development on land riddled with unmapped old coal mines and over a floodplain.

It includes around 80 accommodation units, some of which will, from historic experience in this kind of development, be used as permanent residences, and will surround, and discourage access to, an important CADW heritage industrial site with walks, trees and wildlife, the campaign group have said.

They told this newspaper: “The car parking and access to walks and woodland, that have been enjoyed by large numbers of local people and visitors for many years, will be restricted.

“It will increase light and noise pollution, which along with human activities will significantly repress wildlife such as rare bats, dormice, a wide range of shy birds – woodpeckers, owls, herons, dippers, treecreepers, etc. and proposes to remove trees at the very time we understand the importance of re-wilding our countryside and retaining mature trees.

The pressure group says that the proposal goes against the PCC recently published aim to encourage tourism development ‘while balancing this with the need to protect and celebrate the very features that make Pembrokeshire an attractive visitor destination.’

Ben Morris said: “Our objections are to protect this small community from over development and maintain the long held, access for local people and visitors to this heritage and wildlife area`. He added ‘If there is demand for more self-catering spaces there are many less sensitive sites where such developments could take places.

“The scheme is opposed by Friends of the Earth, Woodland Trust, other environment groups and a high proportion of local residents and visitors.

“Local residents wanting more information, or to join SPVRG should go to http://spvrg.wales”

The Herald has contacted the developer’s agent for a comment to the objections.

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