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Father and son jailed for their part in family drug operation in Carmarthenshire

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A FAMILY who set up a sophisticated cannabis factory in rural Carmarthenshire, which estimated to have brought in £4.3m during a five-year period, have been jailed.

Father and son Edward, aged 62, and Daniel McCann, aged 37, were today sentenced at Swansea Crown Court to seven years and seven months and eight years and six months respectively for their part in the production of cannabis in their isolated property Blaenllain in Cwmbach, near Whitland.

Edward’s wife Linda McCann, aged 60, was sentenced to six years and seven months at a hearing alongside hired hands Jack Whittock, who got two years and 10 months, and Justin Liles, 22 months, on August 26.

On October 23, 2020, police executed a drugs warrant at the property where the McCanns lived. They uncovered a large-scale and sophisticated set-up in a barn, which saw them produce herbal cannabis, cannabis resin and cannabis oil. During the raid, Linda McCann, Liles, of Glasfryn, St Clears, and Whittock, of High Street, Narberth, were arrested in the barn.

Edward McCann was found in the house on the same site, while Daniel McCann, of Highcroft Lane, Horndean, Waterlooville, who owned the property near Whitland and was identified from CCTV at the premises, was arrested in Portsmouth on 15th February 2021.

During the warrant, officers identified six purpose-built rooms downstairs in the barn which contained cannabis plants at various stages of growth.

Upstairs in the barn there was a number of clothes horses which were being used to dry out cannabis and several plastic bags and boxes containing large quantity of herbal cannabis.

The plants in the barn had a potential value of up to £460,000, while officers also recovered around 80kg of cannabis products which was worth up to £1.5million.

A search of the house uncovered £10,000 cash in a bedroom and a cannabis-infused chocolate bar on the kitchen table.

All five pleaded not guilty but changed their pleas after their trial had begun.

Ch Insp Rhys Jones said: “Targeting producers and dealers is a priority for our force in our efforts to take out people who are spreading misery through our communities.

“The McCanns picked out this property to come to a rural, secluded spot where they felt they could get away with their illegal empire. They were mistaken.

“Now these sentences have been handed down we will seek to remove their ill-gotten gains through the proceeds of crime act.”

DS Owen Lock said: “Thanks to the efforts of our officers, during what has been a significant investigation, these people are now behind bars.

“It shows the importance of people telling police when they suspect something suspicious is going on, particularly in rural areas.”

If you believe someone is growing or selling drugs report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Milford Haven: Police investigating sexual assault

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POLICE are investigating an incident of sexual assault which occurred in Hakin, Milford Haven.

Milford Haven Police say that the alleged incident took place in Croft Avenue on February 7, 2023 at around 19:50hrs.

If anyone is able to give any information regarding this incident please ring 101 quoting reference DPP/0956/07/02/2023/02/C.

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Pembrokeshire County Council faces less bleak finances than previously expected

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL faces a less bleak financial position than had previously been expected, to the tune of nearly £10m, members of a schools committee have heard.

At the February 6 meeting of the Schools and Learning Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack, presented outline draft 2023-’24 budget proposals to members.

He told members an updated draft budget was to be reported to the February meeting of the council’s Cabinet after a previously feared funding gap of £28m was now smaller, at £18.6m, due to a higher settlement from Welsh Government.

An expected 3.5 per cent settlement ended up being 7.9 per cent, which meant some expected cuts were now unlikely to happen, he told committee members.

“A large number of the most severe cuts are now very, very unlikely; we’re now looking at a deficit of £18.6m, it’s not as severe as it was.

“The officer team is looking at how that funding gap could be closed with budget savings and with different levels of council tax.”

Members heard the budget is expected to be addressed through an increase in council tax – potentially in the area of 7.5 per cent – along with significant cost reductions.

Director of Resources John Haswell said: “It was a better settlement, but still an £18.6m gap; this isn’t a one-year issue, this is an issue over the medium-term plan, over £50m over the four-year period.”

He said that Pembrokeshire, having the lowest council tax rates in Wales, meant that each potential percentage increase returned less than other local authorities.

Members heard papers listing the latest budget proposals for Cabinet discussion are expected to be released soon, in advance of the February 13 meeting.

Members agreed to defer making any recommendations to Cabinet, pending the release of the revised papers.

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Welsh Freeport competition heats up with Senedd vote

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ON WEDNESDAY, the Senedd will hold a debate regarding freeports as the competition for UK and Welsh Government funding nears its conclusion.

Currently, three bids are in from across Wales for a chance to benefit from £26 million of direct UK Government funding, as well as reduced taxes for businesses in the freeport area. A Welsh freeport could see up to 16,000 jobs created and further investment or the local area into the billions.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS said:

“Benefits of a freeport cannot be understated, bringing much needed jobs and investment into some of the most deprived areas of Wales.

“The UK Government put the challenge to Wales to submit exceptional bids, and Wales has delivered.

“All three bids would help to transform their local communities in different ways. It’s essential that the UK and Welsh Governments work together to deliver that second freeport for Wales, maximising the opportunities that these bids have to offer.”

The three Welsh Freeport bids are:

  • The Celtic Freeport (covering Pembrokeshire to Neath) which has estimated that it would create over 16,000 new jobs and up to £5.5 billion in new investment.
  • The Anglesey Freeport would support up to a £1 billion contribution to UK GDP by 2030, while also creating up to 13,000 new, high salary jobs in Ynys Môn.
  • The Newport Freeport (including Cardiff Airport) is aiming to increase non-passenger revenues to 50%, ending their reliance of passenger generated income.

The UK Government stated that “if a truly exceptional proposal were presented at the bidding stage” than a second freeport would be funded.

The Welsh Conservative debate reads:

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Recognises the opportunities for freeports to energise the Welsh economy, create high quality jobs, promote regeneration and investment.

2. Notes that three bids from Wales have been submitted for consideration by the UK and Welsh Governments.

3. Calls on the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government to deliver two freeports in Wales, recognising the truly exceptional proposals submitted and the transformational benefits they can deliver for the Welsh economy.

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