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Police and Crime Commissioner wants Penally Asylum Centre closed immediately

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Mr Dafydd Llywelyn, is today calling for the immediate closure of the asylum accommodation in Penally, Pembrokeshire following a damning inspection report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) and the independent chief inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI).

As well as a lack of Covid protection, fire safety and living conditions concerns, the inspectors found that managers lacked the experience and skills to run large-scale communal accommodation and the Home Office did not exercise adequate oversight. The report also reveals that many residents at the centre said they had mental health problems.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn told The Herald in a written statement: “Following this independent report, and its damning verdict, I am calling for the immediate closure of the asylum centre at Penally, Pembrokeshire.

“I have been in continuous condemnation of the Home Office’s decision to use the camp to house asylum seekers since September last year, and my concerns are vindicated following the Independent Inspector’s initial findings that have been published this week.

“I have seen first-hand the difficult circumstances encountered by individuals residing at the centre. In January, I met with David Bolt, the Chief Inspector of Asylum and Immigration, who reassured me at the time that this independent inspection of the Centre would take place.

“I am now pleased that the report findings highlight the concerns and fears that myself and other local stakeholder have raised with the Home Office on several occasions.

“The lack of strategic planning around the use of camp since September 2020, as well as the lack of community engagement has been extremely frustrating. This has led to unnecessary pressure being put on local resources at a time when we are trying to protect our communities from a global pandemic.

“I am now calling on the Home Office to make alternative arrangements and that we see the closure of the Penally Centre once and for all”.

In a statement released on Tuesday (Mar 9) Plaid Cymru also said Penally Camp should be shut down immediately and have asked local MP Simon Hart to resign.

In a statement, the party said Mr Hart, also Welsh Secretary, should ‘consider his position’ due to ‘his failure to resolve conditions in the camp and consult with local people’

The Plaid comments, made by prospective Plaid Cymru candidate in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Cefin Campbell follow a damning report on conditions in the camp by The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, describing it as run-down, impoverished, and filthy.

Cefin Campbell said: “These people should not have been located at Penally in the first place. It was a rush job by the Home Office, which resulted in local alarm and degrading conditions for the camp residents. It also caused conflict outside the camp which was a drain on police resources. By keeping everyone in the dark, the UK Government created a dire situation which caused grief all round.

“It’s quite incredible that local MP Simon Hart, a Minister in the UK Government, was not told of plans to house asylum seekers in his constituency by his own cabinet colleagues. It shows that Wales is treated with contempt by the Tory Government in London.

“Throughout this sorry saga, Mr Hart has failed dismally to cope with the situation in Penally, within and without the camp, both as a local MP and Secretary of State for Wales. Due to his failure to be up-front with his constituents and the obvious contempt towards his post as Secretary of State by the Tory Government, he should seriously consider his position. If he can’t influence events of this magnitude in his own constituency what hope is there of Wales benefitting on a wider scale?”

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Tragedy above Milford Haven takeaway

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DYFED POWYS POLICE has confirmed that a 20-year-old male passed away in Milford Haven last Saturday, April 17.

Police were called to the USA Fried Chicken store on Charles Street at around 1:30pm but have said there are no suspicious circumstances.

A Herald reporter was at the scene and witnessed a number of police cars and an ambulance while plain-clothed officers were also seen.

HM Coroner has been informed.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson added: “We were called to Charles Street in Milford Haven on Saturday 17 April at approximately 1.34pm to reports of a medical emergency. We attended the scene with one emergency ambulance where we assisted colleagues from the police.”

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Tavernspite School the ‘healthiest of schools despite the pandemic’

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THE STAFF, governors, parents, and of course, the children of Tavernspite Community Primary School are delighted to gain the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes National Quality Award for an incredible 5th time after a recent and very rigorous assessment.

The school is already well known and highly regarded for its outstanding work in developing the health and wellbeing of all members of its school community. To achieve this prestigious recognition in the midst of a pandemic is all the more impressive. 

Health and Wellbeing at the school is led by teacher, Lauren Arthur, who has done an incredible job preparing for this re-assessment and raising the profile of the Healthy Schools scheme.

The assessor Mrs Lynne Perry, enjoyed a virtual tour and presentation by Year 3 pupils who took great pleasure in proudly showing Mrs Perry all the wonderful work the school has done to ensure its children are safe, happy with high levels of emotional and physical wellbeing.

In her report, Mrs Perry wrote, ‘Tavernspite School continues to be an outstanding health promoting school. The health promoting school ethos is evident across the whole school population and it runs seamlessly throughout everything that the school does. Tavernspite School continues to give high priority to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the whole school community.’

The school received fantastic support from Mrs Liz Western, Senior Public Health Officer and Lead for Healthy Schools and Pre-schools, Pembrokeshire, to whom they are very grateful.

Head teacher Kevin Phelps said, ‘We were delighted to receive this award for the fifth time, particularly considering the experiences we have all been through these past twelve months. Health and wellbeing has never been so important and we are proud to be leading the way like this.’

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Joinery learner through to Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year Finals

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE joinery learner, Conor Ratcliff has made it through to the final ten in this year’s Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year competition.

Now in its seventh year, the competition celebrates the next generation of tradespeople as they start out on their career. With over 2,500 nominations, Conor was shortlisted to the top 30 where he had to deliver a video presentation to industry-leading judges and trade body representatives. Judged on professionalism, creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and knowledge of their trade, Conor impressed the judges and is now in the final 10.  

Simon Jackson, Screwfix Customer and Digital director, commented: “Every year we are amazed by the outstanding quality of entrants and, this year, we are on the lookout for apprentices who go above and beyond to succeed within their chosen trade.

“We’ve seen how this career-boosting accolade and £10,000 prize bundle helps kickstart an apprentice’s career. I’d like to wish everyone through to this stage the best of luck!”

The prize package includes everything a future tradesperson may need to start up their own business including £5,000 of tools, a £3,000 training budget and £2,000 worth of technology. The college where they study will also receive £2,000.

Conor is thrilled to have made it through to the finals and commented: “I am extremely honoured to have made it this far in the competition and I am very excited for the final event. It would be an amazing opportunity for me, if I won this competition.

“I hope it encourages more people to consider an apprenticeship in a trade, the Carpentry and Joinery department have been incredibly supportive during my studies.”

The Final is due to take place imminently where the judges will conduct an online interview with the ten finalists before selecting and announcing their overall winner.

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