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Pembrokeshire County Council appoints Major General as new Chief Executive

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL appointed a military man as Authority’s the new Chief Executive on Wednesday (Mar 31).

After the Senior Staff Committee interviewed the final shortlist of candidates for the position, it took the unusual decision to recommend only one of them for the permanent post at the local authority’s head.

The candidate put forward to councillors has a distinguished record of service both at the sharp end of action and in administering a large organisation.

Major General Will Bramble CBE’s appointment was approved by 48 votes for, to one against (Cllr Stephen Joseph).

After attending the Royal Military academy Sandhurst Will Bramble commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1987.

As a Troop Commander, he saw operational service in Belize, Northern Ireland and in Iraq in 1991 during the liberation of Kuwait.

Further service as a junior officer included operations with the UN, 5th Airborne Brigade and the Air Mobile Brigade.

He attended the Joint Staff College 1997-1999, after which he was Chief of Staff of 4th Armoured Brigade in Kosovo and Germany.

After commanding his Battery, he became Military Assistant to the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mike Jackson, 2003-2005. This included a period of significant reorganisation of the Army and increased overseas operations.

He commanded the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Task Force in Kosovo in 2005 and 19th Regiment between 2006-2008, leading them in Afghanistan in 2007.

As a Brigadier, he commanded the Royal Artillery in the 3rd Division and then the current operations division at the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters 2012 – 2014, overseeing the day to day running of the UK’s worldwide operations, including the withdrawal of the UK’s 10,000 troops from Southern Afghanistan.

He attended the Royal College of Defence Studies 2014-2015 before being promoted to Major General and deploying again to Kabul 2015-2016 as the senior NATO advisor to the Ministry of Interior and Police.

He was Chief of Staff and Chief Executive Officer of the UK’s NATO Corps between 2016-2019 and is currently the Senior British Officer in Italy and Deputy Commander of the NATO Corps in Italy.

Having represented the Army and UK Armed Forces at Rugby, he was Chairman of the Army Rugby Union 2014-2019.

He is married to Sophie and they have three children.

He is passionate about the outdoors, sustainability, the sea and sailing, remote islands, and sport. He is also an active artist and conservationist.

In terms of his interests outside work, Major-General Bramble looks a close fit for Pembrokeshire. His organisational experience and background are also impressive.

At an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council, that candidate was presented to the members to face their questions. Key topics raised included identifying the new Chief Executive’s priorities in the role and what they could bring to the County to improve services and drive forward the sort of change the Council must make in the years ahead.

A few councillors expressed disquiet about being presented with only one candidate, however, members of the Senior Staff Committee defended the move, saying where a plainly outstanding candidate was ready, willing, and available, there was little point in potentially wasting another candidate’s time by putting them forward to make up the numbers.

Councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of Major General Bramble’s appointment by 48 votes to 1. Councillor Stephen Joseph opposed the appointment.

As the Cabinet look to build a resilient team for the years ahead, interim Chief Executive Richard Brown – whose performance in the temporary role has attracted praise for his straight-talking – is likely to have a leading role.

The Council appointed business process advisors earlier this year to assess how it can best deliver key services in a shrinking budget. The Council’s services in Legal, Property, Planning, and Leisure are all being examined, as the Cabinet seek to drive through its transformation and improvement agenda

A keen sailor with a passion for the environment and the outdoors, Mr Bramble is looking forward to making the move to Pembrokeshire.

He said: “I am extremely honoured and excited about joining the team and working for the people and communities of Pembrokeshire.

“I’d like to thank the Council for placing their trust in me to deliver their vision and I’d also like to publically thank and praise Richard Brown who has not only headed up the response to the pandemic but has also stepped up and led the team as Interim Chief Executive during this particularly challenging time.”

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County lines intensification week sees drug supply disrupted into west Wales

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Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police carried out 11 raids during a week of action tackling county lines drug gangs.

COUNTY LINES intensification week (Monday, 11 October to Sunday, 17 October) saw officers carry out warrants, intercepting vehicles potentially involved in the supply of drugs, and working with partners to raise awareness of drug-related crime.

Seventeen people were arrested during the week, with crack cocaine (0.8grams), heroin (77g) and cocaine (6g) seized.

The value of those drugs is estimated to be around £4,500, while officers seized £6,500 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Also seized were an extendable baton and an ammunition magazine.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Cotterell said: “The county lines intensification week was successful for Dyfed-Powys Police, and we had a number of excellent results thanks to the proactive work of officers and police staff across the four divisions.”

As well as the front-line warrants and police work, a lot went on behind the scenes, leading to:

  • More than 2,000 people educated about County Lines and exploitation during the intensification week in the community and partner agencies.
  • Some 50 letting agencies/estate agents educated about the dangers of criminality, such as County lines activity in rented properties.
  • More than 150 businesses educated about county lines, with an emphasis on those who provide mobile top-up services and the use of ‘burner phones’.
  • 50 ‘at-risk’ or vulnerable children, young people and adults received targeted safeguarding support on a 1-2-1 basis and in group settings.

DCI Cotterell added: “Few people are aware of the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to support victims, or the measures we put in place to stop people from becoming repeat victims of drug-related crime.”

“It is very important to us as a force that while we act on all new intelligence to disrupt county lines, we also take a victim-oriented approach to working with those affected by these gangs to protect them from becoming repeat victims.”

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Pembroke Dock: Pensioner sentenced to 20 years for child sex offences

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A PENSIONER from Pembroke Dock has been given an extended sentence of 20 years in prison with a further year on licence after being found guilty of historical rape of a child in the 1980s.

Barry Lake, aged 70, was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court today (22 October) having been found guilty of 10 counts of rape of a child and two charges of gross indecency with a child last month.

Lake, now of Newton-le-Willows in St Helens, had denied all 12 charges relating to offences between January 1986 and January 1989.

Lake was first questioned by Dyfed-Powys Police in April 2020 in what would become an intensive and complex investigation.

Investigating officer DC Claire Lewis said: “Lake denied all charges, putting his victim through the ordeal of a trial.

“As they have done throughout the investigation, they showed great courage and dignity in the face of adversity to help us convict their abuser.

“This was a long and intensive investigation with a lot of work to achieve this outcome today.

“This sentence shows that it doesn’t matter how long ago a victim has suffered sexual abuse, we as police are here to listen and take seriously any person who has suffered any form of sexual abuse albeit a day or 35 years after.

“Please do not be scared to come forward, we are here to listen to you.

“Once again, I would like to commend the victim for their bravery for coming forward and achieving this outcome today.”

After serving 20 years in prison Lake will serve another year on licence.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register indefinitely and made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

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Civil Aviation Authority launches #ShotOnMyDrone competition

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THE UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a new photography campaign and competition – #ShotOnMyDrone – to both highlight the amazing images that drones can produce and educate people around using drones safely and responsibly while exploring the UK’s beautiful towns, cities, and countryside.

The competition will run until 31 January 2022 and provides a platform for UK drone users to display their skills. From a safety perspective it is designed to raise awareness of the rules and permissions required to fly a drone and that these vary from the countryside to built-up areas.

Wherever in the UK the participants choose to take their potentially winning competition shot, all entrants to #ShotOnMyDrone must comply with the CAA’s Drone and Model Aircraft Code. This law and advice covers everything users need to know on how to make their flight safe and legal, including how to register as a drone operator and get a UK drone Flyer ID. The competition categories include; urban night, urban day and countryside, for which drone users must have varying levels of approval to enter, with tighter restrictions around flying in built up areas.

First prize in the competition is a DJI Mavic Air drone. Other prizes included special backpacks designed to carry drones from Thinktank and Torvol. The winners in each category will have their images placed on display at the prestigious London headquarters of the UK Royal Aeronautical Society. A selection of the images will also be featured in the Society’s Aerospace magazine.  

Drone use continues to grow, with over 300,000 registered drone and model aircraft users in the UK. New research by the CAA of UK adults revealed that 20% of drone users and half of the general public are unaware that CAA approval is needed to fly a drone in a town or city in most cases.

The survey also showed that two-thirds of drone users would be looking take their ideal drone photo in the countryside, followed in popularity by city centres and then towns and cities. Of those who would prefer to take their photo in the countryside, almost a third (31%) would choose to take the shot over hills or mountains. Over a quarter (28%) would prefer the coast, while one-fifth (19%) would do so at a lake or river. As many as 12% would use the drone to take a photo of a historic building/monument, with 10% opting to photograph a forest or woods.

Drone users can enter the competition at caa-dronecomp.uk. The site will also host entries as they come in to enable anyone to see the images submitted. The highly anticipated competition will be judged by a panel of experts including CAA Chair and keen photographer Sir Stephen Hillier; Anna Henly an award-winning professional photographer; drone pilot and photography tutor; CAA drone inspector and BAFTA award winner John Livesey; and Tim Robinson, from the Royal Aeronautical Society.

A separate award will be given by UK air traffic control provider NATS which will be polling all its colleagues to decide their favourite image. 

Jonathan Nicholson, Assistant Director of Communications at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The launch of #ShotOnMyDrone aims to showcase some of the stunning images that UK drone users take while also reminding everyone that whether they’re flying in a town, city, or the countryside, they must comply with our Dronecode and stay safe when flying a drone.”

#ShotOnMyDrone follows the success of CAA’s 400ft Britain drone photography competition in 2017 which received over 1,200 individual submissions from across the UK including James Farley’s winning image of the lighthouse at Point of Ayr in North Wales, captured below 400ft (120m) – the Dronecode limit at which drones can be flown in the UK.

The competitions form part of a wider initiative looking at establishing a safe and responsible attitude toward drone flying to protect the safety of the wider aviation industry and the future success of drones.

To enter the competition, simply visit the competition website caa-dronecomp.uk. Entries close on January 31 2022. The competition terms and conditions can be read here.

For more information on drone safety and the laws covering drone flying please go to www.caa.co.uk/drones

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