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Welsh Government ministers ‘economical with truth’ over Withyhedge

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THE FIRST MINISTER couldn’t have been clearer.

There was no room for misinterpreting his words.

Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives asked him whether the Welsh Government would take the lead in resolving the ongoing scandal at Withyhedge.

Vaughan Gething tried slipping the question, but finally volunteered: “NRW, as the regulator, need to take the required action. I’m not aware that a single member of the Government has attempted to influence the action of NRW; it is for them to undertake the required action to ensure that improvement is delivered, and that’s the very clear position of the whole Government.”

That was the Welsh Government position at around ten-to-two on Tuesday afternoon, May 14.

The following day, Paul Davies asked a series of questions about Withyhedge.

Answering the Preseli Pembs MS, Huw Irranca-Davies, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Climate Change, said: ” “NRW are very clear what our steer is and what our priority is: that the enforcement orders that have been put in place to do the work on the ground and to resolve the problem need to be done for the benefit of local residents.”

On Tuesday, the Welsh Government had not been in touch with NRW about Withyhedge, or at least the First Minister was “not aware” of any such contact.

On Wednesday, NRW not only knew the Welsh Government’s position but had also received “a steer” from it.

The two statements are mutually exclusive.

The answers cannot be reconciled by semantics or wordplay.

Mr Irranca-Davies was being asked directly about Withyhedge. He was not speaking generally about any nebulous influence the Welsh Government might exert. He was not speaking about what he expected NRW to do in all circumstances, including Withyhedge. He referred directly to Withyhedge in each of the answers he gave Paul Davies.

There can be no doubt he meant the Welsh Government had influence over and had influenced NRW’s actions (or lack thereof) at Withyhedge.

One of the Welsh Cabinet misspoke, at the very least.

You cannot go from no contact on Tuesday to “providing a steer” on Wednesday and understand both to mean the same thing.

We put our questions to the Welsh Government.

We asked if no member of the Welsh Government attempted to influence NRW’s actions over Withyhedge, how NRW could be clear about its steer.

We asked what contact the Welsh Government has had with NRW regarding Withyhedge, when it took place, and who from the Welsh Government – minister or civil servant – delivered a steer to NRW.

While we did not get a direct answer, a Welsh Government spokesperson confirmed: “The response from the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs speaks for itself, of course we expect NRW to carry out its regulatory functions to resolve these issues.”

That doesn’t wash.

The context of Mr Irranca-Davies’s could not be clearer.

“From my perspective as the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, NRW are very clear what our steer is and what our priority is: that the enforcement orders that have been put in place to do the work on the ground and to resolve the problem need to be done for the benefit of local residents.”

If he is not speaking specifically about Withyhedge, what is he speaking about?

And it’s noticeable that when he was asked point blank by Joyce Watson what conversations the Welsh Government was having with NRW and Pembrokeshire County Council, Huw Irranca-Davies did not say “none”. In fairness, he also didn’t say any. But if the totality of his words speak for themselves, it’s clear the WG is involved in what is happening at Withyhedge at closer than arm’s length.

We raised the contradictory answers with Paul Davies MS.

Paul Davies told us: “This whole situation stinks and it’s clear that the Welsh Government has been engaging with Natural Resources Wales and giving them a steer. 

“Whatever that steer is clearly isn’t working – as residents are continuing to live with potentially toxic emissions. 

“The only appropriate action now is to close the site immediately and hold an independent public inquiry to get to the bottom of all of this.”

Andrew RT Davies added: “Vaughan Gething’s Welsh Government is developing a reputation for being economical with the truth.”

Crime

Police appeal for information following assault at railway station

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OFFICERS in Pembrokeshire are investigating a report of an assault on a woman that happened outside Haverfordwest Railway Station at approximately 8:10pm on Monday (Jun 17).

One man, aged 49, was arrested on suspicion of common assault and remains in police custody.

Did you witness the assault or have any information that could help officers with their investigation? If so, get in touch:

🖥️ | https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline

📧 | [email protected]

💬 | Direct message us on social media

📞 | 101

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Busy weekend for the rescue team at HM Coastguard Dale

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HM Coastguard Dale said they were paged at 05.35 HRS to assist police in the Milford Haven area on Sunday (Jun 16).

Police received a call at 5am, raising concern for the welfare of an individual.

The individual is now safe they said.

Angle Lifeboat RNLI also attended the incident

Then at 10.13 HRS the team were called on again after a vessel reported a person face down on a cliff near Wooltack point. The team made their way to the scene and rendezvous with NCI Wooltack Point. It was quickly ascertained that this was a false call with good intentions. Team then stood down.

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Tributes paid to ‘much-loved’ couple who died in A477 collision

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THE FAMILIES of a much-loved couple who died in a collision on the A477 on Thursday, June 13, 2024, have paid tribute to them.

Katie Worrell, aged 25, and Adam Muskett, aged 27, were involved in a two-vehicle collision between Llanddowror and Red Roses at around 4pm on Thursday, June 13. Two cars were involved in the collision – a black Jaguar and a black Ford Fiesta.

A statement from Katie’s family said: “Katie was a much-loved daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin. She lived life to the full, loving to travel and achieving so much in such a short time, she graduated with a Masters and worked hard. She loved her friends and Adam beyond words. Katie was kind, caring and beautiful and our lives will never be the same without her.”

Adam’s family have issued a statement to say: “Adam, our loving son, brother, grandson and nephew. He loved life, his friends, Tenby, football and Katie very much. How do we move on without you, your big kind heart and cheeky smile. We are heartbroken and forever proud.”

Anyone travelling on the A477, at or near to that location at the time, is requested to contact Police.

Investigating officers would particularly like to speak to any motorists who were in the area at that time who have dash cam in their vehicles.

Anyone with any information can contact the police on 101.

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