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Haverfordwest mayor vote descends into chaos as fiery dispute breaks out among councillors

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SCENES of pandemonium, including three councillors resigning and the mayor being called a disgrace to the town, broke out during the election of Haverfordwest’s mayor for the forthcoming year.

For most councils the election of mayor is almost a formality, the deputy mayor traditionally taking on the role.

However, Haverfordwest took a somewhat different view to allowing Councillor Jill Owens, a decorated former police sergeant who was once forced to resign after falling in love with an armed robber, to slide seamlessly into the role.

Despite there being no argument about Cllr Owen’s fitness for the role, the March meeting of the town council contained an agenda item considering applications for the 2023-24 mayor, with both Cllr Owens and Cllr Rhys Evans listed.

Haverfordwest Deputy Mayor and former Dyfed-Powys police sergeant Jill Owens at her home in Havefordwest – Photo: Ben Birchall / PA Media

Intention

From the outset of the meeting, the “wisdom and integrity” of that decision was questioned, with current mayor Alan Buckfield and town clerk Juliet Raymond coming in for flak.

Former town councillor Peter Lewis was one of several former town mayors present as members of the public, along with county councillor Tim Evans.

Mr Lewis said: “This council is being asked for the first time in its history to break its own rules,” adding that he understood no other nominations could be received if the deputy mayor had offered to stand – a motion in the meeting itself being needed to overcome this.

Citing the code of conduct, members raised concerns of “pre-determination,” with claims some councillors had already made their intention to vote for Cllr Evans clear.

Cllr Evans, formally making a proposal he be considered for election, said: “I have been approached by several members of the community asking if I would stand as mayor,” adding: “I think it would be negligent of me not to stand.”

Cllr Owens said the decision to take additional nominations was against the advice of One Voice Wales – the national representative body for community and tow councils in Wales – and that four councillors had pre-determined their vote by saying they would vote for Cllr Evans.

“There is a procedure in place, for hundreds and hundreds of years in this town, this hasn’t happened before.”

“Ashamed”

She told the mayor: “You, as a council – mayor – are looking to ride roughshod over the Code of Conduct, you will be responsible to the Ombudsman.”

She later added: “I would just like to put on record you should be ashamed of yourself Mayor, you and the clerk have ignored advice. It’s disgusting the way you have conducted this,” adding:  “You [Clerk Juliet Raymond] are a clerk on this council and you are not impartial.”

Cllr Buckfield, attempting to steer the meeting along, said: “You should be talking about procedure, not personality.”

He later said: “A chair can only do what council wants me to.”

Cllr Owens replied: “You are duty bound to abide by standing orders and the code [of conduct]; these people [the four said to have made their voting intentions clear] should’ve left. You [Cllr Buckfield] are a disgrace to the town.”

Councillor Jonathan Twigg proposed members actually support Cllr Owens taking over as mayor, a call that was not accepted by the mayor.

Members then voted to consider Cllr Evans take on the role of mayor, which was defeated.

After that vote failed, several councillors were seen leaving the meeting, with Councillor Richard Blacklaw-Jones, Councillor Gareth Roberts, and Councillor Rhys Evans formally resigning the following day.

After the deputy mayor was formally adopted as mayor for the following year, Cllr Evans said: “I just want to say – in the most humble way – congratulations. This council should always remember we are here to serve the people of the town.”

Cllr Owens said: “I am happy for the history of the town that the right result has happened.

“There are clear fractures in this council, let’s now try and move together and work together for the good of this town, and do a good job, let’s all support each other and work to one goal.”

“Change”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Owens said: “It’s never, ever happened in 900 years, the town council of Haverfordwest needs to change, it needs to be more open and transparent, at the end of the day justice did prevail.

“It wasn’t about me becoming mayor, it was about more being in the right place for the town, and that history continuing.”

Also speaking after the meeting, Mayor Alan Buckfield said: “I believe in democracy, I believe people have the right to express themselves in a proper and distinguished manner. The whole point of the debate was to test the standing order; to my mind the only way to test that was by voting.”

Relating to comments made about his fitness to drive he said: “In a debate on procedure and the interpretation of Standing Orders, there should be no place for personal remarks or references to illness and disability.”

He also expressed his concern about criticism of the clerk: “What really worried me about that meeting was the way the clerk was spoken to, the duty of care towards the clerk was sadly lacking.”

Clerk Juliet Raymond said: “Prior to the March full council meeting, I passed on the impartial advice given by One Voice Wales to every member.  This advice was requested by Councillor Jill Owens, Councillor Martin Lewis and Councillor Jonathan Twigg.”

Councillors Richard Blacklaw-Jones, Gareth Roberts and Rhys Evans have all been contacted for a comment.

Crime

Man found not guilty of stalking beauty salon owner

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FRANK JANIUREK, 43, of Heol Glyndwr in Fishguard, has been acquitted of stalking the owner of a beauty salon after a trial at Swansea Crown Court. The jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict following approximately two-and-a-half hours of deliberations.

Janiurek was accused of causing serious alarm or distress to the woman between 25 March and 10 July 2022. The prosecution claimed that after receiving a facial treatment at the salon on 8 March 2022, Janiurek began sending numerous emails and making frequent calls to the salon, often repeating questions that had already been answered. He was also alleged to have walked past the salon daily and liked one of the complainant’s Instagram pictures using an account under a false name. Additionally, it was claimed that he stared at the complainant for an extended period while she was out in Cardigan celebrating her birthday.

Caitlin Brazel, prosecuting, argued that these actions constituted stalking, causing serious alarm or distress. However, Janiurek pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Matthew Murphy, defending Janiurek, contended that the complainant had not directly communicated her discomfort to the defendant until 1 June. Murphy stated, “She doesn’t tell him anything about his behaviour and the effect it’s having on her before June 1.” He argued that if the complainant felt uncomfortable, she should have been more direct in her communication.

Murphy also highlighted that the complainant’s actions, such as signing off emails with ‘All the best’ and stating she had an injured arm and was not taking on new clients, did not clearly indicate that she wanted the contact to end. He noted that Janiurek, who is neurodivergent and has Asperger’s syndrome, was primarily engaging with the business, not the complainant personally. Murphy emphasised that all of Janiurek’s messages were related to beauty treatments, except for one occasion when he inquired about the complainant’s injured arm.

Regarding the Instagram picture, Murphy pointed out that it was posted on the business’s account, not the complainant’s personal account.

Recorder David Elias KC, who presided over the trial, thanked the jury for their careful consideration of the case. Following the not guilty verdict, Janiurek was allowed to leave the dock, having been acquitted of all charges.

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Crime

Cannabis factory with over 800 plants found in west Wales drugs bust

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POLICE in Carmarthenshire made a major drugs bust this week when they found over 800 cannabis plants in what was supposed to be a vacant property.

A 26-year old man was arrested and has now been remanded into custody.

The police are appealing for information and have released photographs of the illicit cannabis production facility.

A police spokesperson told The Herald on Friday (May 24): “Dyfed Powys Police executed a warrant at the Mountain Gate, Tycroes, Ammanford on Tuesday May 21.

“The vacant property was found to have a large hydroponic set up inside, with approx. 800 cannabis plants seized by officers.

“One man, Beni Mirashi age 26, was arrested and was charged with being concerned in the production of cannabis.

“He appeared at Llanelli Magistrates Court on 23 May and was remanded to next appear at Swansea Crown Court on June 24.”

Police asked that if anyone has any information that may support officers in their investigation, they are asked to contact us either through a direct message on social media, online at: 
https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected], or by calling 101

Quoting reference: 24*459007

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News

Red Bull Hardline Wales confirms rider list for 2024

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RED BULL Hardline, known as the most challenging downhill mountain bike race world wide, confirms the final rider list for this year’s Wales event. 

Following its first event overseas, with a stop Down Under, Red Bull Hardline returns to its home in Wales’ Dyfi valley to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The brainchild of Dan Atherton a decade ago, 34 of the brightest and best talents in downhill mountain biking are set to descend on the north Wales course. With the 2023 event sadly curtailed by the Welsh weather, there’s old scores to settle and it’s all to play for in 2024.

Confirmed Rider List:

NameNationality
Ronan DunneIRL
Bernard KerrUK
Brook MacDonaldNZL
Charlie HattonUK
Adam BraytonUK
Craig EvansUK
Theo ErlangsenSA
Matteo IniguezFRA
Juanfer VelezCOL
Gaetan VigeFRA
Jim MonroUK
Matt JonesUK
Edgar BrioleFRA
George BranniganNZ
Sam GaleNZ
Jono JonesUK
Sam BlenkinsopNZ
Brendan FaircloughUK
Josh BrycelandUK
Dennis LuffmanUK
Sam HockenhullUK
Josh LoweUK
Taylor VernonUK
Thibault LalyFRA
Thomas GenonBEL
Szymon GodziekPOL
Sebastian HolguinCOL
Alex StorrUK
Vincent TupinFRA
Harry MolloyUK
Matteo IniguezFRA

Female riders will begin training on Monday, giving them ample time to familiarise themselves with the new course, with Tahnée Seagrave, Cami Nogueira and Hannah Bergmann all set to continue to push the boundaries of their sport once again. Louise-Anna Ferguson will be returning to Wales fresh from her success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, putting on a gutsy performance to finish a full finals race run despite an early crash. New to Red Bull Hardline, Vaea Verbeeck will make her first appearance, bringing fresh fire power to the women’s lineup 

Following his stand-out success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, Ronan Dunne will be taking to the start line with aims of achieving the double. Nipping at his heels will be three-time winner Bernard Kerr, who placed second in Tasmania back in February. 2017 champion Craig Evans is back once again and eager to replicate his success of 7 years previous.

The breathtaking race will be broadcasted live globally on Red Bull TV on Sunday 2nd June at 2.30pm GMT. Ahead of the event, fans can enjoy the week’s best action from course walk and practice on the Red Bull Bike YouTube ahead of the main event. 

For further Red Bull Hardline rider updates and for more information visit www.redbull.com/hardline and make sure to save the link to Red Bull Bike YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@RedBullBike/featured to not miss out on the week’s best action.

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