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Badger knows best: Badger goes beyond The Pale

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PEMBROKESHIRE is a very pale county.

The fields are green. The beaches a sandy yellow. The sea is blue. The mountains are grey. The uplands bare and brown.

But Pembrokeshire’s people are pale.

Around 3% of the population belong to black and ethnic minority groups or are of mixed parentage. Out of a population of 125,000, that’s 3,750 individuals.

To put that in perspective, one-third of Pembrokeshire’s population wasn’t even born in Wales. That’s a pinch over 41,500 people.

Those figures might offer some explanation – but hardly an excuse – for some of the attitudes published on social media over the last few weeks about the Black Lives Matter campaign.

The people who have shouted the loudest and made the biggest arses of themselves online are those whose experience of other cultures and people of colour is received wisdom transmitted via right-wing tabloids. Either that, or their views are formed out of the outfall of filth spread online by neon-Nazi groups (for example, ‘Britain First’), racist thugs like ‘Tommy Robinson’, and propaganda and lies provided by sites and pages like ‘British Patriot News’.

How many people out there, how many of you – readers – have seen something online with a Union flag in the corner carrying a sentiment like ‘Our Troops are all Heroes’ carrying the message that ‘only my true friends will dare share this’. Most of those posts eventually link back to pages, groups or websites operated by the sort of vile racist scum who rampaged through London last weekend.

They are not run by patriots. Badger is pretty sure that most of the people running them are exactly the sort of arm-waving shits Badger’s granddad spent time shooting during the Second World War – or of a piece with those interned like Mosley or hanged like William Joyce.

The nature of experiencing racial politics at second or third hand, at least if you don’t live through the experience of sharing space with people of different ethnicities daily, is that it is impossible the casual racism of everyday language.

In Pembrokeshire, where 97% of people are white, the chances of getting exposure to other cultures are minuscule.

It is not that long ago that a noisy minority of those in Pembrokeshire who voted to leave the European Union did so to stop mosques being built in places like Hakin.

It’s not that long before that you couldn’t go into a pub without hearing abusive racial epithets flung around like confetti.

It follows, in Badger’s view, any surprise that more than a handful of people in Pembrokeshire cling to familiarity and fear difference and express that through repeating racist language and ideas – either knowingly or unknowingly – is just a pile of horse apples.

People – most of them – are not stupid. They are not thick, uneducated yokels.

SOME of the people repeating offensive racist and bigoted language are racist bigots who happen to be stupid. They are the sort of people who use Alf Garnett as a poster boy for their views without realising Alf Garnett satirised views like theirs.

SOME people are racists because they honestly and sincerely believe that they are members to a superior race or have a chip on their shoulder about the fact they’re not.

MOST of the remainder simply don’t see the issue.

That’s because the experience of living in Pale Pembrokeshire insulates them from the daily reality of living in a diverse society.

Many, in all of the groups identified above, are reasonable, intelligent human beings. Many of them are genuinely baffled about why their language offends.

It is the minority which pisses in the pool of public discussion and mean to pollute it.

Badger has phrased all of the above very carefully. He has studiously avoided tarring everyone out there with one brush. But there is not a grey area here.

It’s not a difference between black and white. It’s the difference between right and wrong.

Bigotry in any form makes Badger angry. He has sat and listened for too long to far too many people spout too much racist and bigoted bollocks not to express his view.

He will do so in his usual roundabout way.

On the eve of the NHS’ creation, battered and bruised by Conservative carping at the jewel in Labour’s legislative crown and attempts to derail it, Aneurin Bevan used the following words to describe his experience and the experience of millions under Conservative rule.

‘No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So, as far as I am concerned, they are lower than vermin’.

Badger knows plenty of Conservatives, both shy and vocal. They’re not lower than vermin. Badger may not agree with them on politics, but Badger doesn’t agree with other parties’ policies, too. Most politicians – at every level – are decent people trying their best to deliver the impossible to voters who are in a more or less continuous state of outrage about something.

However, those racists and bigots who know they’re racists and bigots, who wrap themselves in the flag to hide who they are, who despise democracy and the rule of law, who espouse racism and bigotry, and who encourage others to do the same… they aspire to be ‘lower than vermin’, readers. They have a long way to crawl out of their sewers to get to vermin’s underbelly.

Badger has looked at some of the comments on The Herald’s Facebook page on stories about the comments made by Cllr Paul Dowson. He has stared with horror and at some of the exchanges on social media about the row over other councillors’ conduct and at the responses those posts have attracted.

Reading those comments and some councillors’ social media has left Badger with this thought: it is better to be thought a fool and remain silent than to speak and dispel any doubt.

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to Herald reporter said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, Callum Hicks said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

“The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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