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Opposition slams new Cabinet ‘kick in the face’ for Welsh language

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S new Cabinet, under new council leader Jon Harvey, is a “kick in the face” for Welsh speakers, and is now independent “in name only,” opposition members have said.

At the May 10 annual meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembroke St Mary North member Cllr Harvey beat fellow leadership hopeful Conservative group leader Di Clements by 30 votes to 27, following former leader David Simpson announcing he was to step down after seven years in the top job.

Cllr Harvey yesterday, May 14, announced his new Cabinet, with two councillors Joshua Beynon and Jacob Williams joining the Cabinet for the first time, the former replacing Cllr Alec Cormack, who has stepped down as Cabinet member for Corporate Finance.

Welsh Conservative group members responded to the new cabinet.

St Florence councillor Rhys Jordan said: “Jon Harvey promised change when he became leader, yet here we are with the same council tax-raising Cabinet as we saw previously.”

“Increasing the number of Labour Cabinet members shows already that the Leader was not serious about working cross-party and is more interested in keeping the Deputy Leader [Cllr Paul Miller] happy.”

Cllr Aled Thomas, the group’s business manager and one of the authority’s member champions for the Welsh language described the Cabinet as “yet another kick in the face for Welsh speakers across the county as well as a lack of representation for residents in the north of the county”.

“Cllr Jon Harvey is showing his utter contempt for the Welsh Language by not appointing any Welsh-speaking Cabinet Members, just as the previous leader Cllr David Simpson failed to do.”

New Independent Group leader, Cllr Huw Murphy said the new Cabinet was “now more South Pembrokeshire-centric than of his predecessor, with no Welsh speakers and only two Cabinet members north of East Williamston”.

“It’s regrettable that prior to forming his Cabinet the newly-elected Leader did not reach out to the largest political group, but entirely expected. Cllr Harvey failed to gain the support of the majority of members on May 10 which is an inauspicious start, and he will have severe challenges passing policies at full council if genuine collaboration is not made. Cllr Harvey needs to understand that collaboration is not a one-way street, and his new Cabinet continues the divide of his predecessor.”

He described Cllr Jacob Williams’ appointment as “probably the worst kept secret in County Hall,” warning the blogger and unaffiliated councillor may face “some difficulties now that his new Cabinet post carries with it collective responsibility and the acceptance of taking instruction from a Labour Deputy Leader and no doubt on occasions having to accept Cabinet decisions made by other Labour Cllrs as well as Cllr Sinnett from Plaid Cymru”.

He paid tribute to Cllr Cormack’s departure from Cabinet, saying: “The departure of Cllr Cormack was unexpected, and it has to be the consequence of the 2023/24 budget when Cllr Miller was forced to present an amendment to fend off a rebellion from ruling group Cllrs to avoid inevitable defeat with regards to a Cabinet recommended rise of 16 per cent.

“Cllr Cormack is viewed as a thoroughly decent person across the Chamber and his calm and measured conduct will be missed and he appears to be the victim of the previous administration’s failure to pass the budget they themselves recommended.”

He said Cllr Beynon, as Cllr Cormack’s replacement “will face huge pressures in dealing with the financial crisis Pembrokeshire finds itself in and in time presenting a budget to full council next March in the knowledge that the diplomacy of his predecessor failed to garner sufficient support to approve a 16 per cent council tax rise this year”.

He added: “The Independent Group is now the only group of councillors within PCC that are independent and free of political party influence. The stark reality is that unaffiliated councillors have allowed a Cabinet to be formed comprised of many Labour and Plaid councillors, who represent 12 out of 60 wards in Pembrokeshire with only five unaffiliated/independent councillors in Cabinet from 35 elected independent county councillors. Therefore, the claim by unaffiliated councillors of being truly independent is a myth.”

Referring to a statement he made upon recently becoming leader of his group, Cllr Murphy said: “The Independent Group as made clear [we] will be a critical friend of the new administration and are already doing do by highlighting an increasingly strong Labour influence over an administration which now appears to be independent in name only.”

Responding, Leader Cllr Jon Harvey said: “I have already invited the leaders of the Independent Political Group and Conservative Group to meet with me prior to these statements coming out and look forward to working constructively with all councillors.”

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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