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Simon Hart under pressure to explain swastikas on election sign

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THE RE-ELECTION campaign of south-county MP Simon Hart is mired in controversy, as the Tory flatly refuses to publicly respond to speculation over who daubed swastikas on his own campaign material whilst in his own possession.

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire’s nine-year incumbent, hoping to retain his seat in next month’s election, is coming under increasing pressure to explain the appearance of the Nazi icons on a poster he had removed from public display two years ago.

During his successful campaign at the June 2017 snap general election, Mr Hart gained national press coverage after publicly sharing a photograph of written graffiti on one of his small roadside promotional billboards.

After Simon Hart’s name on the placard, a black marker pen had been used to daub in block-capitals the words: “WILL STARVE YOUR NAN AND STEAL HER HOUSE!”

The graffitiing episode generated some sympathy for Mr Hart, who has turned the affair into a campaigning platform since 2017.

He has revisited the matter numerous times, even in the House of Commons – during parliamentary debate on life in public service and the abuse of political candidates, after gaining a seat on the Standards in Public Life Committee as a result of his experience.

Criticising what he called the “criminal damage” in 2017, Mr Hart also claimed he had “Nazi swastikas daubed over [his] election boards in Carmarthenshire, between Pendine and Laugharne”.

No photographs of the alleged swastikas were publicly shared on social media by Mr Hart then, or since.

As part of his current campaign, Mr Hart posted, on his Facebook page, a new photograph of the “…will starve your nan…” defaced poster on November 3, stating that he is “determined that the tone and nature of this election should be a big improvement on 2017”.

In his emotive 650-word post accompanying the defaced poster image, Mr Hart says abuse in public life “is hard to hide from, can be anonymised, and can have a debilitating impact on work colleagues, family and friends”.

He also puts out the appeal: “I want to invite my challengers at this election, irrespective of their views or allegiances, to publicly endorse standards of behaviour that have been proposed by organisations such as the Committee for Standards in Public Life (of which I was a member) and the Jo Cox Foundation”.

Among the list of nine standards Mr Hart promotes, and pledges to abide by, is that: “Candidates and their supporters must set and protect a tone of public discourse which is not dehumanising or derogatory”.

But an eagle-eyed opponent of Mr Hart, Jim Scott, noticed that the “…will starve your nan…” poster has been crudely embellished since it was widely shared after being originally photographed by Mr Hart in June 2017.

For its 2019 outing, it is clear by comparison to earlier images of the ‘nan’ placard that two swastikas have been added, in blue marker pen, where not one appeared before.

Mr Scott, a strong critic of the Conservatives who has been chiefly involved in anti-austerity rallies as part of the Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly, says Mr Hart needs to explain how this could happen long after the already-defaced poster had been taken down from public display and kept in safe storage by Mr Hart over the last two years:

“You can tell by the handwriting that this is exactly the same placard being shared by Simon Hart, yet somehow in the intervening two years, two swastikas have been added to it. Who had the opportunity to do it? Who did it? And why?”

Our editor put Mr Scott’s views in writing to Mr Hart, along with a more serious theory that has been speculated online to account for the additions. Mr Hart gave the matter short shrift – responding only to dismiss the matter as mere election mischief from his political opponents.

Promoted by prime minister Boris Johnson to government minister at the Cabinet Office this summer, Simon Hart says he is REFUSING to give a public statement or explanation for the Nazi graffiti. We reproduce in full his brief written response:

“Really?! I have to say even by Corbynista standards arguing about this reaches new depths. I am not going to say anything public whatsoever. Totally outrageous and hope you treat it with suitable contempt!”

At the Herald we believe that the onus is on Mr Hart to end speculation. That, as a seasoned campaigner, senior political figure, and latterly government minister, he owes his prospective constituents a clear, credible, on-the-record explanation for the swastikas’ appearance LONG AFTER he had taken the poster down from public display.

This is a sentiment shared by Jim Scott, who describes Mr Hart’s repeated references to the defacing of his 2017 election material as “Simon Hart’s hobby horse”.

He says: “The question for Simon is: Who drew the swastikas between June 3, 2017 when he first published a photo of the ‘nan’ poster, and November 3, 2019 when he shared a photo of the same poster on Facebook, but this time with two swastikas added to it, when previously there wasn’t a single one?”

Mr Scott said: “Mr Hart’s use of the poster – however the swastikas got there – is a classic case of the big bully playing bullied which won’t wash with the people of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire who need a credible explanation”.

Mr Scott shared his findings on Facebook, where many others said they, too, had noticed the unexplained addition of the shocking Nazi imagery.

“All very mysterious”, says one, whilst another speculates that Mr Hart could claim the offensive penmanship is the handiwork of “the Russians!”

As it was: The graffitied ‘nan’ placard, published by Mr Hart on June 3, 2017

As it is now: Two swastikas have been added to the ‘nan’ placard by November 3, 2019

THE SWASTIKA SAGA IN BRIEF

MR HART, who has served as parliamentarian for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire since defeating incumbent Labour MP Nick Ainger in 2010, is hoping to defend his slimmest majority yet.
In 2017 his majority was 3,110 over his Labour party rival Marc Tierney, a candidate he will be facing in two weeks’ time, along with the Lib Dems’ Alistair Cameron and Plaid Cymru’s Rhys Thomas.

– Mr Hart originally shared an image of the ‘nan’ placard on social media on June 3, 2017
– It says “SIMON HART WILL STARVE YOUR NAN AND STEAL HER HOUSE!”
– Although not photographed and shared by Mr Hart, he claimed he had swastikas daubed on his posters, too
– The story is picked up by the local and national press
– Then-PM Theresa May discusses Mr Hart’s case, and the issue of political abuse
– Mr Hart gains a seat on the parliamentary Standards in Public Life Committee as a result of his experience, exploiting the affair to bring attention to dirty campaigning tactics
– Mr Hart kickstarts his 2019 re-election campaign with an appeal for civility
– His 650-word emotive appeal uses the now-altered image of the ‘nan’ poster
– This image, dated November 3, 2019, is of the same ‘nan’ placard
– Eagle-eyes spot that the defaced poster now has TWO SWASTIKAS ADDED to it
– Questions mount: who had the opportunity to further deface the placard, once in Mr Hart’s possession, and who, in fact, added the offensive icons?
– Mr Hart REFUSES to make ANY public statement, says questions are “totally outrageous” and: “I am not going to say anything public whatsoever”.

This week’s cartoon in The Pembrokeshire Herald featured the Simon Hart story.

Charity

Fishguard RNLI Lifeboat station welcomes new Mechanic  

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CHRIS THOMAS, 41, is to become the new full-time mechanic at Fishguard RNLI lifeboat station after serving as an assistant mechanic for the charity’s lifeboat station for five years. 

Chris will take over from Stephen (Hose) Philips who will retire from his post next month. Stephen, known locally as ‘Hose’ due this former role as  fireman will this month begin a detailed handover to Chris.   

‘Hose’ joined the crew in 1997 so has completed 25 years’ service. He joined the RNLI as a crew member, later became 2nd Coxswain and was made full-time mechanic in Feb 2005.  

Following a family tradition as mechanics for the charity Chris Thomas became the full-time mechanic on 8 August. His father was the assistant mechanic for the RNLI during the 1970s. 

Born and raised in Dinas Cross, near Fishguard and now living in Goodwick, Chris is excited to be the full-time mechanic. 

Speaking about the new role, Chris said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Fishguard lifeboat crew on a full-time basis and to serving the Fishguard & Goodwick community for the foreseeable future.”

Fishguard RNLI lifeboat station has a rich history of outstanding crew with the likes of Coxswain Francis George who was honoured by Her Majesty The Queen, in the 2003 New Year’s Honours List with an MBE for services to the Institution. 

Chris hopes to continue this as he takes on his new role at Fishguard. 

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New ward extension opens at Werndale Hospital

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WERNDALE Hospital opens its £1millon ward extension, featuring a suite of new spacious patient en-suite rooms and additional light and airy ward space for new nurses’ stations, new technology and medical equipment, in pleasant and comfortable spaces. 

Werndale is part of Circle Health Group, the UK’s largest provider of private healthcare. The group is carrying out a £125 million redevelopment programme across its 50 hospitals in the UK.

Werndale has a strong history in the village of Bancyfelin, where is has been serving the local communities of Wales for over 32 years.

James Davies, Wales and Scarlets rugby player, from Bancyfelin, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening on Monday 1st August. His nickname “Cubby”, is reference to his brother’s nickname, “Fox”; this refers to the Fox & Hounds pub their parents ran in Bancyfelin, the village where they grew up. Staff and consultants were given the chance to view the new extension, with a small gathering to mark the occasion and celebrate all the hard work that has gone into this project over the last 12 months.

Jacky Jones, Executive Director of Werndale Hospital said: “The investment programme is an exciting opportunity to expand what we can offer to patients at Werndale. Our staff and consultants are delighted with this expansion which will allow us to meet the private healthcare needs of patients and families in Wales and will decrease waiting times which will positively impact the patient’s experience. Having the new patient rooms here increases our ward capacity by 20%, it is a great investment”.

Gaynor Llewellyn, Director of Clinical Services said: “At Werndale we are committed to continuous improvement of clinical facilities and services. We continually invest in the hospital so that we can offer our patients and consultants reassurance when they visit us for treatments”.

Werndale Hospital is seeing increased demand for its services across all specialities particularly orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, and general surgery. Nearly 4,000 patients had surgery at Werndale Hospital, Bancyfelin during 2021 and the new investment will enable ward capacity to be increased by 25 per cent.

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Next week’s Pembrokeshire County Show promises to be an action-packed two-day event

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WALES’ largest county agricultural show, Pembrokeshire County Show, promises to be action-packed next week. The event, taking place on 17 and 18 August at Pembrokeshire County Showground in Haverfordwest, will have something for everyone.

Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society are pulling out all the stops to make the new style two-day event better than before with new attractions and a new showground layout will make the 2022 show one to remember.

Enjoy listening to the all-day entertainment from the music stage, tickle your tastebuds at the fabulous food court, marvel at the livestock classes, be wowed by the showjumping, explore the horticulture, arts and crafts area, shop til you drop in the NEW Country Market area, showcasing over 40 quality local and award winning product and craft stalls.

Mansel Raymond, Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society President said, “We are very excited about the prospect of seeing our wonderful members, competitors, trade stands, sponsors and community coming together once again next week. Whether you’re a Pembrokeshire local or visiting we’re sure you’ll have a fantastic day out. This year’s show is jam-packed with great attractions and events meaning so there’s something for everyone.”

Thousands of visitors are expected to see some of the best livestock, taste fabulous local food and drink, experience country life and enjoy a wealth of entertainment.

Every day, there will be live entertainment from 6am until 7pm from the Pure West Radio stage. Together with broadcasting live from the show both days there will live music, choirs, special guests, competitions, workouts, arts, dance and performances.

There truly will be something for everyone at next week’s show with over 300 trade stands to explore. Entertainment also includes: Sheep dog trials display, vintage demo and static displays, Classic Cars, Zip Wire, Little legs football, Funfair with promotional discount tickets with thanks to Andrew Holmes Funfairs, Pembrokeshire Food Court, Craft & Horticulture, eggs and pigeon show, cattle on the Wednesday, Children’s calf showing; Children’s equine ring, sheep and pigs showing on the Thursday, horses both days, Dog Agility and the Country Market.

There’s always an emphasis on great Welsh produce, celebrating the show’s ethos of ‘field to fork’ and ‘soil to spoon’. Visitors will be able to tickle their taste buds at the huge food court, sponsored by Castell Howell, which celebrates the very best local produce on offer.

In the Countryside Park there will be BASC Wales displays by gun dogs and retrievers; Canine displays by specialist search and detection dogs; live talks and demonstrations timetabled throughout the day by Old Park Apiaries, beekeeping/honey production/pollinator support. There will also be a chance to try your hand in the BASC Air Rifle target shooting range, learn about the British Bird of Prey Centre, White tailed Eagle project, watch Brendan Rocke’s chainsaw sculptures and carvings demonstrations and enjoy Body Canvas, Stilt walking & Balloon sculptures.

The Community Zone, supported by South Hook LNG, brings together a number of voluntary and community groups. Coordinated by Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services (PAVS) the marquee is an opportunity for organisations, who might not normally be able to have a presence at the show, to promote their activities in Pembrokeshire. From giving advice, supporting those in need or providing training and volunteering opportunities.

Getting around at an agricultural show can sometimes be difficult, however at the Pembrokeshire County Showground there is a good network of tarmac making conditions underfoot easier for visitors with limited mobility. Parking is available for Blue Badge holders and we have disabled toilets and Mobiloo at this year’s show. Mobility scooters and wheelchairs hire are available to hire from Advanced Mobility Solutions please visit the website for bookings: www.pembshow.org

To get to the Showground: for SatNav, use the following address: County Showground, Withybush, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, SA62 4BW. The show is signposted from the main A40 trunk roads. Please look for the ‘P’ signs for public parking.

Dogs are very welcome at the show provided they bring their responsible owners with them! Dog drinking bowls are available around the showground. Dogs must be kept on leads.

Tickets are available on the website: www.pembsshow.org and for up-to-date details of this year’s event follow Pembrokeshire County Show on facebook, twitter or Instagram.

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