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Local MP seeks answers from Home Secretary over Penally Training Camp plans

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FOLLOWING the protest which took place at Penally Training Camp, the local member of parliament has said that he is trying to find out the exact details on how the camp will be used, and how long for.

Simon Hart has contacted the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, seeking clarification, he says.

Approximately two hundred people were at the demo at the entrance to the base from 6pm on Tuesday night (Sept 15) – police attended and closed the road to keep the attendees safe. The protest passed peacefully.

Protestors said that they were unhappy with the lack of communication regarding the plans, which could see 250 male asylum seekers staying at the camp, very near to the village of Penally.
Simon Hart MP posted on his Facebook page saying: “I have spoken to the Home Secretary to seek further clarification regarding plans to house asylum seekers at Penally Training Camp.

“Whilst being mindful of our legal obligations and our responsibilities, as well as the extensive powers held by the Home Office on all security and immigration scenarios, I appreciate that residents are concerned about a number of issues so I have included as many of these as possible in our submission.

“For example, I have asked how long the site will be used, what the security arrangements will be and whether the Home Office will be funding any additional costs that Pembrokeshire County Council, Hywel Dda Health Board and Dyfed-Powys Police might incur.

“I also want to know how many people could be housed at one time, what the gender balance and likely age profile could be as well as how local residents’ welfare will be ensured.

“I have enquired about the arrangements for occupants entering or leaving the site and further detailed queries regarding healthcare and COVID testing of staff and occupants.

“I have also asked for an explanation of the day-to-day workings of the site in relation to processing asylum claims.

“As soon as I receive a reply, I shall post it on my website and Facebook page. In the meantime, I am keen to avoid too much speculation in case this causes increased tension and concern.”

Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner,  has added his voice to the row over the cap.  Mr Dafydd Llywelyn has also contacted Priti Patel.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I am deeply concerned about the lack of clarity relating to the proposed arrangements. Greater strategic planning and engagement is needed to ensure we support and safeguard these vulnerable individuals and respond to local concerns.”

In an open letter to the Home Secretary he says: ‘I write in relation to plans being considered to utilise the Ministry of Defence camp at Penally in Pembrokeshire, Wales as emergency asylum accommodation in the near future. I am personally grateful for the actions of your Home Office in Wales Team who coordinating, at short notice, a meeting for an initial discussion with your officials yesterday. I will continue to work with the team on this issue over the coming days and weeks.

‘However, I write to express my significant concerns in relation to the lack of a clear strategy, detail and consultation surrounding these plans. I was not suitably reassured by your officials of the existence of any detailed planning, impact assessment or implementation arrangements on a practical level. Alongside other agencies, a number of practical concerns were communicated to your officials that I hope can be addressed.

‘You will be aware that this evening a protest was held at the proposed site and that since the news has been in the public domain local concerns have been raised. I believe that this largely stems from the lack of consultation and limited information being provided. You will know that in 2016, communities within the Dyfed Powys area successfully supported the Syrian Vulnerable Person Relocation Programme. This was achieved through careful planning and significant community engagement, ensuring that the local community felt a part of the decision making. I repeat to you the comments that I made at yesterday’s meeting in that there is an urgent need for greater clarity on the strategic plan and considerable engagement to ensure we support and safeguard these vulnerable individuals whilst addressing local concerns.

‘I am personally unable to fully understand the rationale for selecting the Penally site and would like clarification on how this decision was reached and how the proposed logistics will work. Asylum seekers, upon arrival at the UK, will have to travel a further 5 hours and 300 miles to a proposed site in Penally, Pembrokeshire albeit there will be no power to detain once at the site. The site and local community is unlikely, in my opinion, to have the necessary infrastructure to support their needs and the location of the site would make accessing services unnecessarily difficult for vulnerable individuals.

‘I fully realise that difficult decisions need to be made in the interests of both those seeking asylum and our local communities and therefore trust that you will understanding and support of my position of wanting detailed planning, community engagement and transparency of decision making.’

Wants answers: Simon Hart MP

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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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