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Paddle boarders’ inquest opened and adjourned as police probe continues

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THE INQUESTS into the deaths of four paddle boarders who were killed after the accident on the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest have been adjourned pending the outcome of the police investigation.
Paul O’Dwyer, 42, from Port Talbot; Morgan Rogers, 24, from Merthyr Tydfil; Nicola Wheatley, 40, from Swansea; and Andrea Powell, 41, from Bridgend died after the incident on October 30.

They were part of a group of nine who were on a weekend paddleboarding trip together.

Pembrokeshire Coroner’s Court in Llanelli heard on Tuesday (nov 16) how just after 9am the group got into distress on a weir in the river in the centre of the town.

Coroner’s officer Lisa Jenkins told the hearing: “On Saturday October 30 2021 at 9.02am Dyfed-Powys Police received a call stating there were a number of paddle boarders in distress at the weir on the Cleddau River in the centre of Haverfordwest.

Victims were Paul O’Dwyer, Morgan Rogers, Nicola Wheatley and Andrea Powell


“A number of emergency services attended the scene and commenced a search and rescue operation resulting in a major incident being declared.”

Ms Jenkins said that “tragically” Mr O’Dwyer, Ms Rogers and Ms Wheatley were declared dead at the scene.

Ms Powell was taken to the nearby Withybush Hospital but died six days later on November 5.

A post-mortem examination has been carried out on the four who died but the results are yet to be published.

Acting senior coroner Paul Bennett said: “Can I extend my belated personal condolences to the families of the four individuals who sadly lost their lives in this case.”

The inquests have been adjourned pending the outcome of the police investigation into potential criminal offences.

The Herald understands that a serving police officer, 36-year-old Nerys Bethan Lloyd, is the person arrested and bailed over the incident.

She is the sole director of the company which organised the excursion- Salty Dog Co Ltd.

Under The Police Regulations 2003, a serving officer must have permission from the Chief Constable before undertaking a business venture whilst working for the police, to avoid conflict of interest.

The Herald understands Ms Lloyd was one of the paddle boarders who got into difficulty and was rescued.

The Herald asked South Wales Police if they had suspended Ms Lloyd because of her arrest for a serious offence.

We also asked the force if she had been given special permission by the Chief Constable to operate a water sports and clothing business while serving as a serving police officer

A senior communications officer for South Wales Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald that they could not release any information saying only: “This is an on-going investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police, and it is not appropriate to comment.”

Business

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre fined £2.3m for ‘woeful pensions advice’

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THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY (FCA) has fined Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre Limited, which was based in Saundersfoot, £2,354,331 for unsuitable advice to consumers to transfer out of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) and other defined benefit pension schemes.

The FCA’s view is that most people should keep the guaranteed income provided by a DB pension.

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre advised 420 consumers, nearly two-thirds of whom were BSPS members, on whether to transfer out of their defined benefit scheme – 93% were advised to transfer, and as a resulting PMC earned over £2m in transfer and ongoing advice fees.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre advised hundreds of consumers to give up valuable defined benefit pensions without any adequate justification or rationale, using generic, templated advice not tailored to the specific circumstances of their customers while earning fees in doing so.

“The quality of advice seen here was woeful.”

As of 30 November 2022, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has upheld 213 pension transfer claims against Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre and paid out more than £13.3m in compensation.

Many of the people advised were in a vulnerable position due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of the British Steel Pension Scheme and the short timescale they had to make a decision.

But the regulator found that 60% of people did not receive the quality of advice they needed to make an informed decision.

However, the FCA said they did not receive the quality of advice they needed to make an informed decision.

The regulator said they needed clear, objective and expert advice. Instead, Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre gave unsuitable advice in 60% of cases, even higher than BSPS as a whole.

The failings included the provision of generic suitability reports that were not tailored to the circumstances of individual consumers and contained contradictory, misleading and confusing statements.

The FCA said Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre also failed to have adequate resources to deal with the increase in cases caused by BSPS, further impacting the quality of advice provided.

Many consumers, according to the regulator, were advised to transfer out even though they were relying on the guaranteed income to fund their retirement and could not afford to bear the risk of transferring out.

This included those who needed the money to provide for dependents needing long-term care.

Steward added: “The failings were particularly egregious in the context of the British Steel Pension Scheme, where customers were in an unusually vulnerable position.

“The FCA’s investigation into the involvement of others in these matters remains ongoing.

“Any consumers who were advised to transfer should contact the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to see if they are owed redress.”

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre Limited is currently in liquidation, The Pembrokeshire Herald understands.

The said that it would FCA will give preference to creditors (some of whom may be consumers), ahead of its financial penalty, to maximise funds available for redress – meaning it is unlikely that the fine would ever be paid.

The FCA has said that it continues to progress around 30 ongoing enforcement investigations into firms and individuals relating wholly or partly to BSPS advice, all of which are at a very advanced stage, and some are in litigation.

A former director

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Appeal after pedestrian suffers serious injuries in collision

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OFFICERS from Dyfed-Powys Police are investigating a collision between a car and a pedestrian, who was using a walking frame, in Pembroke Dock on Friday (Dec 2).

Officers were called to Laws Street at around 12.30pm following the collision involving a black Chrysler Grand Voyager.

The man was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The Police said: “Do you have information or CCTV or dashcam footage that could help us with this investigation? Please, let us know:

🖥️ | https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline

📧 | 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk

📞 | 101

Quote reference: DPP/2171/03/12/2022/02/C

“You can also get in touch anonymously with Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111, or visit crimestoppers-uk.org

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

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Police and Crime Commissioner: Stark financial pressures facing the force

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THE POLIC AND CRIME COMMISSIONER, Mr Llywelyn has launched a public consultation on police funding, giving the public the opportunity to have their say on the police precept level for the next financial year.

Police and Crime Commissioners are responsible for setting the police precept which is the amount that local council taxpayers contribute towards policing.

The Commissioner’s overall budget for 2022/23 is £127.4m with £60.7m of funding coming from UK/Welsh Government and £66.7m from local council tax precept. Currently, a Band D Council tax payer in Dyfed-Powys pay £290.16 through their Council Tax to support policing.

In launching the precept consultation for 2023/24, Mr Llywelyn has warned of stark financial pressures and resultant operational risks which could threaten the continued safety of our communities.

Mr Llywelyn said: “Deciding on the precept level is always a challenging process but this year sees unprecedented challenges given the severe financial landscape.

“Inflation, rapidly rising costs and uncertainty about how much money forces will receive from the Government for the next financial year through the Police Grant Settlements, has put policing in an incredibly difficult position.

“There are also additional pressures arising from both the increase in volume and complexity of crime, which we must take into consideration as we look to the future.

“Given the scale of all the challenges, the Chief Constable initiated a Force Review during the summer to critically assess all areas of activity seeking efficiencies, savings and transformational opportunities.

“I am painfully aware of the pressure the cost-of-living crisis is putting on people across Wales and indeed locally.

“Sadly, these challenges and rising costs are hitting emergency services too, and we need to act now to protect our vital service to the public.

“Despite careful financial planning by the force, we will have to make increasingly difficult decisions over the next few years, but my priority is to ensure we can continue to run an efficient and effective Police force to continue to keep our communities safe.

“All options being put forward within this precept consultation rely on the force making efficiency and savings of between £4.1m and £5.9m in the next year.”

As he appealed to the public to complete the short consultation, Mr Llywelyn concluded: “It is a very challenging year, but it is very important for me to hear people’s views, therefore I am urging our residents and businesses to have their say through this consultation.”

The survey will remain open until 8 January 2023, and can be accessed here:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/R2WY8HV

Other formats of the survey are available on request from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office by emailing OPCC@dyfed-powys.police.uk or calling 01267 226440.

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