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Family of five on housing wait list for three years while council builds no new homes

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A FAMILY of five from Milford Haven say they’re forced to live in a two-bedroom council flat that is full of mould. 

Holly Elliott, 24, from Milford Haven claims her children have faced a number of health problems due to the mouldy conditions. 

Latest figures show she’s one of the 5,000 households on the social housing waiting list in Pembrokeshire.  The number waiting on this list has increased by more than 50 per cent since 2018.  

Pembrokeshire Council says it is struggling with a national shortage in council housing which is felt more acutely in this county.  And housing charities are calling for authorities to build more affordable housing to help those in need of a new home.

Holly’s family have been waiting for a new house from the council for almost three years. She began looking when she was two-months pregnant with her second child. He’s now two-years old. 

“My heart breaks for my son. He’s had problems with his chest ever since we bought him into this flat. He’s been back and forth to the doctors and still nothing helps,” Holly said.

“How they expect a family to live and fit in a tiny two-bedroom mouldy flat is beyond me.”

Since the family joined the council housing waiting list, they’ve had a third child – Ashley. Holly says he’s also suffered several health issues.

And while the family try and move out – they were given a glimmer of hope:

“A year ago I was moved up to the gold band. I was told my house was overcrowded and wasn’t an ideal place to have three small children,” added Holly.

The gold band is for families that need to move out of their current home.

Despite being put in that band – they are still living in the two bedroom flat.  

“It breaks me. I just want a nice home. This isn’t a home, it’s just a place we’re stuck in. 

“I’m just asking for a safe home where my kids can breathe and sleep properly,” explained Holly. 

This is the reality for a number of households across Pembrokeshire.  

Sasha Dalkin, her partner Boz Norris and their daughter were finally moved into a new house in May after almost three years of being on council waiting lists.  

They said their previous house also had mould problems which were causing issues for the couple as well as their infant daughter.  

“We were on the bronze band for so long. I can’t figure out why,” Sasha said. 

“I had sent the council and local MP’s pictures of the damp in our house. We even had letters from the doctors explaining why we needed to move.” 

The bronze band, according to the council, is based on want rather than needing to move home. 

Sasha continued: “We had inspectors out who said it was definitely rising damp. These conditions were not only unsafe for me and Boz but they were extremely unsafe for our 14 month old daughter.” 

Boz also had issues with mobility and their previous house did not have any adaptations, making living difficult for him, even in his own house.  

The family have since moved to a new house. 

It comes as latest figures show that in the year to March 2023, Pembrokeshire saw the smallest number of houses completed for more than a decade at only 164. One of the smallest numbers since 1996. 

Over the last 2 years, less than 10% of those completed homes were by registered social landlords or the local authority – the smallest proportion for a decade.  

In 2022, information obtained by a freedom of information request shows the average wait on a social housing waiting list was more than 700 days. The longest was 10,377 days – 28 years.  

Councillor Joshua Beynon, who represents Pembroke Dock, explained why the lists were getting bigger:  

“I think this has been made worse by coronavirus, the number of second homes in Pembrokeshire along with a national shortage which has seen people travel across the UK.” 

He added that Pembrokeshire County Council is looking to develop 350 new build housing units by 2027.  

“I think the council needs to continue to work with partners to increase the range of affordable housing projects including the development of Community Land Trusts and making available smaller plots of council land for those seeking self-build opportunities.” 

The council has 400 affordable housing units identified in their business plan with sites in Johnston, Tiers Cross, Milford Haven, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Newport and Neyland in the active work programme.  

“They are currently building homes on the sites in Johnston and Tiers Cross with completions later this year.” 

Other sites in the programme include the former Haycastle School Site, the former Hakin School Site, the former Hubberston School site and the former Riverside Hostel in Pembroke.  

According to council figures, the total estimated cost of delivering this programme is £115m with external funding of £57m. 

In response to the ever growing waiting list for homes, Pembrokeshire Council confirmed the area’s struggling with a shortage of housing.  

“An increase in second homes and short-term holiday lets, due to both its natural beauty and changes in the behaviour of the housing market, has led to an increase in house prices and a shrinking private rented sector  – a combination that has increased pressures on the social housing sector. 

“We have seen significant increases in the number of those in temporary accommodation year on year, with a 5.1% increase between 2019 and 2020, 87.8% between 2020 and 2021, and 171.4% between 2021 and 2022. 

“By 2030 Pembrokeshire County Council should hopefully have completed 350 new builds if not more – as long as there is sufficient social housing grant available.” 

Charity

Calls for help over VHF radio may have been a hoax, say RNLI

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THE ANGLE All-Weather Lifeboat was requested to launch on service at 10:23am this morning, Monday (July 22).

Following a call to the Coastguard from Milford Haven VTS, the crew were tasked after the VTS operators overheard a female voice calling for help on VHF channel 12.

After narrowing down the transmission to having been received on the Pembroke aerial site, the crew were requested to conduct a search.

Launching at 10:30am, the lifeboat made best speed to the moorings at Hazelbeach, and a hasty search was requested by the Coastguard of any moored vessels. The crew began making their way amongst the moorings, heading up to the moorings off Neyland. With nothing untoward sighted, the crew proceeded to search the moorings off Hobbs Point, Barnlake Point, Burton, Llanion and Rudders Boat Yard.

With nothing found, the Coastguard requested that the crew continue their search up river to Picton Point. The lifeboat continued searching up the western shore encompassing Llangwm before altering course just past Landshipping and searching the eastern shore back down the river, calling in to Lawrenny on the way to check any vessels moored there.

The RNLI said that the search continued back down as far as the Cleddau Bridge.

On Facebook the organisation posted :”Following a thorough visual, communications and radar search the crew were subsequently stood down when no further information or calls had been received.

“The tasking was therefore deemed to be a hoax call.

“The lifeboat was back alongside and readied for further service by 1pm.”

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Crime

Police investigating after man injured during altercation in cemetery

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POLICE have confirmed that they are investigating a report of an altercation which occurred in the cemetery off Gelliswick Road, Hakin, Milford Haven sometime between 4.30 and 5.00pm, Wednesday 17th July, 2024.

Following the incident, a 32-year-old man went to hospital for treatment and was later released.

A 19-year-old male has been arrested on suspicion of assault and released on bail pending further police enquiries police have confirmed.

The incident caught the attention of locals, who said there was a large police response to the incident included armed officers.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected], or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Quote reference: 394 of the 17th

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

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Crime

West Wales man jailed for rape after victim’s cries heard

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A WEST WALES man has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for raping a woman in an attack that ended only when her cries for help were heard by others. Charlie Evans, a 22-year-old former Exeter University student, ignored his victim’s repeated pleas for him to stop during the 45-minute ordeal.

The incident took place after Evans and his victim had attended a party, where both had been drinking. The court heard that after kissing, the pair left together, with the woman under the impression that Evans lived in a flat with her friend.

Upon returning to the flat, the woman used the toilet before Evans raped her, despite her repeatedly saying no. The prosecutor described the victim as crying hysterically and added: “She did not want these things to happen.”

During the attack, one student testified they could hear the victim not consenting and begging Evans to stop. Another person said they were so concerned they inquired about what was happening.

Police were alerted after the incident was reported to campus staff, who then contacted the emergency services. Evans was told to leave his flat and was subsequently removed from the university. He denied the offence during his police interview.

Evans, of Victoria Avenue, Mumbles, Swansea, was convicted earlier this year at Exeter Crown Court of rape and sexual assault. He was sentenced on July 12. In a victim statement, the woman said her life had been forever changed by Evans’s actions. She expressed feelings of fear, confusion, and shame during the incident and continues to suffer from nightmares. She now feels distrustful of men and has sought support to cope with her trauma, the court heard.

Christopher Quinlan KC, defending, presented multiple good character references for Evans, describing him as a “kind and respectful” young man who was “always positive, compassionate and thoughtful.” He argued that his client’s life was “in ruins” as a result of his actions.

However, Judge Stephen Climie told Evans he had “completely misrepresented” his victim’s position, adding: “She was so far away from wishing to engage in your sexual activity that the only explanation for your attitude and approach was alcohol that blinded you to what was clearly and obviously the word ‘No’.” He continued: “So far as your life is concerned you will be crushed as a result of the sentence I’m required to impose.”

Following the sentencing, DC Michele Hicks from Devon and Cornwall Police’s major crime investigation team praised the victim for her courage and resilience throughout the investigation. She said: “I hope this case reassures the community how seriously the police take reports of sexual violence against women and girls and gives people the courage to come forward in future.”

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