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Rumours resurface that Penally Camp could be turned into a camp for immigrants

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RUMOURS have circulated on social media, suggesting that Penally Camp near Tenby is being adapted from its current use with the military into an immigrant camp.

There was talk in 2016 about the proposed change, with the Home Office in London saying they had considered the move, but had not made any decision.

The UK Government said, four years ago, that no decision had been made as to the future of the site, and things went quiet.

But on Sunday afternoon (Sept 13), a widely shared post on Facebook group ‘Wales for a United Kingdom’ stated that the camp will be used as a ‘transit camp for illegal immigrants arriving in the UK’, but the post does not cite any source for its claims.

The post, which has been seen by several thousand people, then blames Plaid Cymru for the plans stating: “The reason Plaid Cymru are so unpopular in Wales is because they plan to turn Wales in to the world’s largest refugee sanctuary…”

This statement obviously has no basis, as any decision regarding the future of the camp would be taken in London, not Wales.

Penally county councillor Jon Preston issued the following statement on social media shortly after the post went up. Cllr Preston said: “Many of you will quite understandably be concerned with information that is being shared by some that suggests Penally Training Camp is to be used to accommodate asylum seekers.

“I am told that a ‘scoping exercise’ has been carried out by the home office and that no decision has yet been made.

“I have written to the Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart MP to seek clarification on the matter and how he intends to make representation for the people of South Pembrokeshire. I have also contacted the First Minister Mark Drakeford and I await their responses.

“I understand that a statement on behalf of the Home Office will be made shortly. In the meantime, please be assured that I remain resolute in protecting the best interests of the people I represent. I will also actively seek more suitable solutions to accommodate those who are in genuine need,”

In 2016 a Welsh Government spokesperson told the press: “Decisions regarding the dispersal of asylum seekers are the responsibility of the Home Office; immigration is not devolved to the Welsh government.

“The Home Office has informed us no decisions have been taken on the future use of this site.”

In 2016 the UK government said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had been “advised on the possibility of providing temporary accommodation for asylum applicants on the Defence estate. No decisions have been made.”

The MOD and Home Office have been contacted for a statement.

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Monday 13:05HRS – PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL have confirmed that a meeting is to take place later today (Sept 14) regarding the future of Penally Camp.
A spokesperson said: “A meeting is due to take place between the Home Office and the Council later today but as of this moment we have had no official confirmation on the plans for Penally Camp…Any official confirmation would come from the Home Office itself.”

Monday 13:11HRS – County Councillor Preston told The Herald that key points to note are as follows:

  • No decision has yet been made but the situation is developing at pace.
  • Immigration officials are meeting with Pembrokeshire county council, Welsh government and the chief of police this afternoon. (my request to attend was declined)
  • If Penally training unit is to be used it would be in the ‘short term’ of approximately six months.
  • All incoming refugees are screened on arrival and placed in appropriate accommodation (for deportation or asylum)
  • The impact on the local community will be assessed

Monday 13:40HRS – Simon Hart MP said: “A number of people have asked for further information about the possible use of Penally Camp for the housing of asylum seekers whose status is being assessed. The Home Office is meeting Pembrokeshire County Council later today, after which further information should be available.”

Monday 14:22HRS – Mart Tierney, of Welsh Labour said on his Facebook page: “I have written to Simon Hart MP to ask him to clarify plans for the Penally Training Camp. Dear Simon, As I’m sure you’re aware, rumours have been circulating on social media since the weekend regarding the future use of Penally Training Camp by Landmarc on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. You will be familiar that similar claims about the use of the facility to house asylum seekers were made in 2016 which, when they were not clarified, caused concern in the local community. It is disappointing that neither Landmarc, the UK Government in Wales office nor yourself as the local MP have addressed these concerns over the weekend, despite my understanding that queries were raised as early as Saturday. I hope you will agree that Britain has an important and vital role to play in supporting those seeking refuge in our country. Voluntary organisations such as Croeso Arberth alongside Pembrokeshire County Council have played a much-needed role in supporting refugees who have been successfully resettled and now call Pembrokeshire their home. Pembrokeshire has a recognised reputation for welcoming those displaced by conflict thanks largely to the work of Croeso Arberth and Pembroke Open Doors volunteers with whom I have met on several occasions. However, I am concerned that the communication vacuum which currently exists is being filled by online suspicion and unsavoury comment by some on social media. Therefore, I would encourage you to make a statement on the future use of Penally Training Camp at the earliest opportunity. Sincerely, Marc Tierney Former Parliamentary Candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

 Monday 14:43 HRS – Latest from Simon Hart MP: “I have now spoken to the Home Secretary, who is exploring – with a range of partners and government departments – opportunities for further Covid-19 compliant accommodation for those seeking asylum. Following the submission of a request, the Ministry of Defence has commenced scoping options across the UK. One of the sites under active consideration is Penally Training Camp. The Home Office and the Ministry of Defence are working hard to ensure Penally Training Camp is compliant with Covid-19 regulations and will have minimal impact on the local community. It is estimated by the Home Office that the site would temporarily house around 250 people if this option is agreed. I am in contact with the Home Secretary and Pembrokeshire County Council who in turn are speaking to Dyfed Powys Police and other stakeholders.”

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Vulnerable man targeted by rogue trader

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A ROGUE trader has been ordered to pay almost £2,000 by a court after carrying out shocking DIY work for a vulnerable Jameston man.

Pembrokeshire Trading Standards prosecuted 20-year-old Douggie James Whitbread who traded as Wales and West Property Solution.

Haverfordwest Magistrates were told on Friday (Oct 23) that a joint investigation with Dyfed-Powys Police discovered that Whitbread of 8 Coldwell Terrace, Pembroke, first approached the 66-year-old victim in the summer of 2019.

After agreeing to cut the man’s grass, Whitbread made regular accompanied visits looking for other jobs and pressurising the pensioner to have them done.

The victim did not know him as Douggie Whitbread as the defendant gave a false name.

Whitbread offered to fit new floor lino in the toilet and small adjoining passageway of the victim’s home, saying he would do a good job. Instead, the court heard, he and a fellow worker spent less than an hour and charged £300.

The standard of the work was shocking and showed Whitbread’s inept ability. Jagged edges and numerous gaps were left where it had not been fitted correctly, exposing the existing floor underneath.

Despite there being enough lino on the two metre by two metre roll, Whitbread told the victim he needed more to finish the job.

A few weeks later the victim was approached by Whitbread at a bus stop near his home. He said he would return the next day to finish the work and that he wanted another £300.

The victim informed a neighbour and Pembrokeshire County Council’s Trading Standards team and when Whitbread returned he was arrested by police.

Whitbread was also questioned about another incident involving hedge-cutting for an elderly lady and admitted taking away the waste as advertised on his business flyer. However, he did not hold a Waste Carrier Licence at the time.

Whitbread admitted four offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. These were: carrying out work not fit for purpose; trading without professional diligence; omitting to give required information for doorstep contracts and advertising and conducting waste removal services when not licensed.

A £200 fine was imposed for each offence together with £1,000 costs plus a £110 victim surcharge. A compensation order for £300 was also awarded to the victim and a restraining order imposed prohibiting Whitbread from approaching the pensioner indefinitely.

“I am appalled by the standard of work and how this vulnerable gentleman has been hounded and taken advantage of” said Sandra McSparron, Lead Trading Standards Officer. She added that the incidents had left the victim anxious and unwell.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Cris Tomos, said: “This court case sends a clear warning to rogue traders that targeting the elderly and vulnerable for financial gain will not be tolerated. We will pursue and prosecute all those who commit such despicable crimes.”

Councillor Tomos also said the case showed the great community spirit of Jameston residents looking out for one another and was a fine example of successful partnership work between the police and Trading Standards.

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Drug driver arrested in Milford Haven after driving through stop sign and into roadworks

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A DRUG driver who drove through a stretch of roadworks on the wrong side of the road, before hitting a parked car and trying to hide from police has appeared in court.

Christopher John Brown led Dyfed-Powys Police officers on a pursuit through Milford Haven on Friday afternoon (October 23), putting pedestrians and other road users at risk.

Pembrokeshire Roads Policing Unit have thanked people for their help in tracing the 31-year-old, of Meyler Crescent, after the manner of his driving became so dangerous they could no longer follow him.

A Roads Policing Officer had attempted to stop Brown at around 1pm when he was seen driving out of The Mount estate at speed.

However, he failed to stop when requested and sped away in his BMW.

As police followed, Brown drove on the wrong side of the road, overtook a number of cars waiting at roadworks, and drove through a stop sign, forcing an off duty officer to take evasive action as the defendant drove towards him.

Police deemed the danger level too high to continue the pursuit when Brown drove through a coned area of roadworks where there were a number of people working.

At this point, members of the public pointed out to officers which direction he had driven in.

Brown went on to collide with a parked car, before getting out of his vehicle and attempting to hide behind another. He was found by a PC, who arrested him on suspicion of dangerous driving and administered a drug wipe.

A Pembrokeshire RPU spokesman said: “This was a highly dangerous incident, during which Brown put a number of people’s lives at risk.

“Driving through a stop sign and into a coned area of roadworks was simply beyond comprehension, and could have had a tragic outcome.

“As we decided to end the pursuit, we were assisted by a number of people, and the team would like to thank members of the public in Milford Haven for their help in tracing Brown.

“Your support is greatly appreciated.”

Brown was charged with dangerous driving, driving with no insurance, driving while disqualified, failing to stop when requested by police, and possession of cannabis.

His vehicle, which had no insurance, tax or mot, was also seized.

He was remanded to appear in front of the next available court, and admitted all five offences at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, October 24. He also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of driving whilst unfit through drugs, which was laid on at court.

He will be sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on November 16.

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Five arrested in connection with large cannabis grow in Whitland

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FIVE people have been arrested in connection with the discovery of a large amount of cannabis in Carmarthenshire.

Dyfed-Powys Police carried out a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act at an address in Whitland, on the morning of Friday, October 23.

Officers found a significant number of mature cannabis plants, with a sophisticated hydroponics set-up, numerous bags of cannabis bud, and cannabis resin.

Police seized electronic devices, several thousands of pounds in cash and silver bars, as well as vehicles under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Five people – a 58-year-old woman and four men aged 28, 30, 60 and 61 – were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the production of cannabis, and possession with intent to supply.

They have been bailed with conditions pending further enquiries.

Detective Inspector Rhys Jones said: “This is an example of excellent collaborative work between a number of different departments in the force, which has taken a significant amount of drugs off the streets.

“As our investigation into this cannabis cultivation continues, we ask anyone with information that could help enquiries to please get in touch.

“We urge anyone with information about suspicious or unusual activity in rural areas report it to us, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.”

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