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Silverdale still a worry for the residents of Johnston

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THE RESIDENTS of Johnston have said the Silverdale Lodge has been a worry for the village since the council rented the premises to house the homeless throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

But The Herald has spoken directly with homeless people staying at the Silverdale. One of them is Mark Thornton.

He wants the local community to come and speak to the residents, and to get to know them first-hand before condemning them.

He said “I’m not here to disrupt, I just want a bed.

“I’m in the Silverdale Lodge because I’m homeless. How does that mean I’m a criminal?”

He added that he is not aware of any trouble from residents within the lodge and that the “majority of recent incidents within the village are a result of kids” and they are unjustly “getting the blame”.

The Herald has this week been contacted by numerous concerned residents.

They overwhelmingly have expressed their disappointment at the increase in anti-social behaviour in the village and blame the Silverdale.

The council say that there has been hardly any trouble at the premises – but residents and an email from police to the local community suggest otherwise.

A petition has been set up against the new temporary use of the premises, signed by over 500 people.

Locals claim onsite security guards and regular police patrol have been ineffective in culling the behaviour of some individuals.

Security guards at Silverdale gave exclusive interview with The Herald

Johnston’s county councillor Ken Rowlands said he had not been told of the Silverdale’s use before arrangements were made and confirms he has been inundated with complaints about drunken and yobbish behaviour by some of those moved there.

Not satisfied with the information he has received Cllr Rowlands made representations to Council Chief Executive Ian Westley, the police and the council’s social services department.

Jonathan Griffiths, County Council’s Director of Social Services, said the council were aware of complaints and were in constant communication with police about the nuisance alleged to have been caused.

Mr Griffiths said that the council was placed under an obligation placed on it by the Welsh Government and the lodges at the Silverdale were available and identified as suitable accommodation to meet it.

Adding that not all of those at the Silverdale should be or deserved to be tarred with the same broad brush.

In a recent video interview with this newspaper, published on our Facebook page, two security guards working on the premises, said that residents have to adhere to an 11pm curfew, a statement that Mr Thornton refutes.

He said: “There is a register of attendance, but no curfew has been issued to the residents.”
Speaking on past troubles, Mr Thornton admitted there had been an issue prior to his residence at the lodge, but the individual concerned had since been removed. He added that to his knowledge there has been no arrests made of any residents of the lodge.

Head of adult services, Jason Bennett, said: “A larger number of people at Silverdale are adhering to all the social distancing and working positively with the housing team.

“A small minority we’ve had to engage with, and police have had to engage with, are tarnishing the otherwise good work that’s happening”

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson confirmed the premises has been leased to ensure social distancing for people who would otherwise be using shared facilities at its homeless hostel in Pembroke.

Adding “There have been some rumours circulating that the site is being used specifically for prison leavers or as a bail hostel or halfway house and will bring more people into Pembrokeshire.”

“We would seek to reassure the community that our primary focus is to use the site to support people from Pembrokeshire who are faced with homelessness”

The Herald has also obtained emails between local residents, Pembrokeshire County Council and the police which confirm that they are aware that some individual’s behaviour are causing problems for the wider community.

In an email from a council representative to one Johnston resident, it said “There is a small minority that are not adhering to the required terms and I have written to all the current occupants to remind them of their responsibilities and to ask for their support and cooperation.

“We are also issuing formal notices to individuals who do not comply and will ask them to leave if this continues.”

One Johnston resident, who wishes not to be named, expressed to us his frustration at comments made on Facebook towards the Johnston community branding the villagers as Heartless.

Our source said: “We are being painted to be heartless. That is not the case. We are more than happy to help those genuinely homeless or vulnerable and support them in any way we can.”

“But as a community we are scared to even walk down our cycle path, we’re avoiding all of our local beauty spots through fear of certain individuals.”

“They congregate in groups of anything from ten to even bigger, they are strewn across the paths with beer cans and apparent drug paraphernalia”

“It is not a case of we don’t want to help vulnerable individuals.

“We have been told that there is a young family that has fled domestic violence being housed there. With the incidents that I have seen at the lodge, it is very sad for that poor family, they must be petrified, and my heart goes out to them.

“The council has a duty of care to both the vulnerable residents of the lodge and the wider Johnston community to do something about this situation”

In an email sent by police to some local residents, the police said: “We have taken proceedings against some individuals and issued relevant paperwork to others to ensure that their attendance at the site is prohibited in the future.”

The resident also told us he had an off record conversation with a county councillor who said that one of the residents at Silverdale had been sent “back to prison”.

This has increased the current feelings of the villagers that the council are not being truthful with the type of residents that are being housed at the accommodation.

Another resident contacted this newspaper to tell of another recent incident, which apparently took place at Nisa, Johnston by an alleged Silverdale resident on Tuesday (June 30).

Image sent to the Herald of the most recent incident in Johnston

We contacted Dyfed-Powys Police for a statement on the incident.

A spokesperson said: “Police were called to the Nisa shop in Johnston at approximately 8.10pm on Tuesday, June 30, following a report of a man being verbally abusive to staff and customers.

“Michael Carruthers, who had also been throwing items around the store and smashing bottles of wine, was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

“Following his arrest and subsequent charge of theft, criminal damage and assaulting a police officer, Carruthers of no fixed abode, was transported to Swansea Magistrates Court on Thursday, June 2.

“He pleaded guilty to theft and criminal damage, however a third charge of assaulting a police officer was withdrawn.

“Carruthers was given unconditional bail and will be sentenced at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Monday, 27 July.”

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Milford Mercury to cease publication on August 20

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NEWSQUEST, the publishers of the Western Telegraph and Milford Mercury has moved to reassure their readers after deciding to close the Milford Mercury down.

The edition of August 20, 2020 will be the last date that that newspaper will be printed, the company has confirmed.

In a letter to newsagents dated August 6, Group Editor Fiona Phillips said: “Covid-19 has affected many businesses across Wales, particularly news brands that operate in similar local markets. The Milford Mercury is one of those news brands affected by the loss of casual sales  as well as by the turn-down in the advertising market.”

Fiona Phillips said that the Mercury website would continue to operate.

She added: “I want to re-assure Milford of our continued support through the Western Telegraph.”

Cllr Viv Stoddart said: “As the founding editor of the Milford Mercury it is sad news to  hear of the closure of the print  copy of the weekly newspaper.

“The Milford Mercury was  launched at the height of the 1992 recession.
“Despite the downturn in the economy, as  family team, Tessa (marketing) Helen (chief sub) Mike (sport) ably assisted by Claire Beavan, and the
wonderful support of our advertisers, volunteer contributors, and readers, the Merc  proved to be a success with the community.
“The reason for hitting the news stands with a new weekly was that Pembrokeshire’s largest town was worthy of, and deserved its own voice.
“From our  small, but beautiful beginnings, the Merc went from strength to strength.
“Its unique selling point was  bold investigative journalism, excellent local news coverage,  engaging readers in fun items such as Page Five Fellas, Where are they now photos, the Merc Abroad, sport coverage,  and Old Grumpy’s popular column holding the elite establishment to account.
“As circulation increased we were able to recruit more wonderful staff to create a very happy team.
“I remember hard work by everyone to make the independent weekly a success; the stress of meeting deadlines was leavened by office banter, goodwill, and laughter, resulting in very happy Merc memories.”

MORE TO FOLLOW ON THIS DEVELOPING STORY

Latest Milford Mercury logo

 

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Johnston: Police appeal for witnesses

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POLICE have again appealed for witnesses after a collision in Johnston, near Haverfordwest, on Wednesday (August 5).

A boy on a scooter sustained minor injuries during the collision, which took place at around 4.20pm. A red 4×4 is believed to have been involved also.

Anyone who was in the area of the St Peters Road pelican crossing, or nearby Langford road, and either witnessed the collision or who has CCTV that covers this area is asked to get in touch.

You can telephone 101, visit bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, or email contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired you can text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Dyfed-Powys Police Ref DP-20200805-249

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Police investigate ‘Chinese government vehicle’ spotted near Puma Oil Terminal

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POLICE have confirmed that they are conducting “the appropriate enquiries” after a suspicious vehicle was spotted in the vicinity of Puma Oil Terminal on Saturday afternoon (Aug 8).

Following a tip off a Herald reporter was dispatched to the area, and saw a black Volvo SUV with three IC5 (Korean, Japanese or Chinese) looking males inside the vehicle. The vehicle had diplomatic number plates identifying that it belonged to the Chinese government.

However, a DVLA check suggested that the plates were registered to a BMW and not the Volvo they were displayed upon.

South Hook LNG security was notified as a precaution.

A police spokesman said: “Members of the public are advised to contact the police to report any suspicious activity or incidents.”

Both the UK and US governments are currently on alert following incidents of spying relating to key infrastructure, computer systems and state secrets by the Chinese authorities.

[The image used in this report is a computer generated artist’s impression.]

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