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Coroner raises need for anti-bullying law following 14-year-old’s death

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A PRELIMINARY hearing into the death of St John Lloyd student Bradley John was adjourned last Friday (Nov 30) to allow further information to be gathered.

Carmarthenshire coroner Mark Layton said that while preliminary enquiries were making progress, he thought it would be a further four months before he had the information needed to proceed to a final inquest hearing.

“The police are doing an awful amount of work and really are on top of this,” Mr Layton said.

Bradley’s family attended the pre-inquest review hearing, during which the Court heard Police had recovered CCTV footage from the school’s cameras for the day of his death.

The Police will examine Bradley’s movements around the school and in class on the morning of September 12.

Mr Layton said: “We will be going through that evidence with a fine-toothed comb.”

Bradley John was found at St John Lloyd Roman Catholic Secondary School in Llanelli on September 12. He subsequently died at Morriston Hospital.

Bradley’s father, Byron, handed in a letter calling for members of staff to resign in the wake of Bradley’s death.

Byron John said that Bradley’s ADHD made him a victim of bullying at the school. He accused staff of doing little to address the alleged bullying in spite of previous assurances that it was on top of the issue.

Speaking to The Herald, Mr John said that his presence at the school to hand in the letter was not a protest, but ‘a show of feeling and show of support and strength for what has happened and events which need looking into concerning the death of my son’.

“It seems like the entire nation knew Bradley – I would like to thank the people who were there for him during his short life and have been there after his passing,” he added.

“Bradley was a very special individual to me, and I feel that failings have led to his death.”

Neither Carmarthenshire County Council nor Dyfed-Powys Police has commented on the allegations of bullying at this stage.

A Facebook group set up to support staff and pupils at St John Lloyd following the incident currently has over 700 members.

Speaking at the time, Inspector Chris Neve said: “We are following up all possible lines of enquiry to establish a picture of what happened in the lead-up to Bradley’s death.”

At Friday’s hearing, Coroner Mark Layton said he wondered whether a specific law should be introduced to tackle bullying behaviours.

Mr Layton said he had used the inquest as an opportunity to discuss with Dyfed Powys Police whether more action is needed over bullying and cyber-bullying.

“I have asked the police to look at existing legislation covering bullying,” he said.

“At the moment there is no statutory offence of bullying. Is there a need for any formal legislative procedures to cover bullying and cyber-bullying, which is very much in the public domain at the moment?”

Speaking on behalf of Carmarthenshire council, Edward Ramsay confirmed the option of a child death review had been put forward for consultation last week and would be considered at the next board meeting in December.

Mr Ramsay confirmed the local education authority would be represented separately at the inquest.

Following the claims that Bradley was bullied, Dafen County Councillor Rob Evans suggested that volunteer bullying protection officers be appointed by schools.

“In schools, we have child protection officers. Why can’t a bullying protection officer be officially appointed?” he asked.

“This person could be contacted by telephone and the help number extended for every child through Carmarthenshire. This way bullies will be unaware that the child affected has triggered a call for an emergency response.

“The authorities could then take immediate action to protect that child. This position doesn’t have to be a paid position. I would volunteer as would others. I know there are children’s helplines but this could be unique in Carmarthenshire.”

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Rescuers attend to injured construction workers in New Dock Street

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A MULTI AGENCY rescue operation is underway in Llanelli involving all three emergency services after an incident at a construction site.

Workers have been at the New Dock Street site, working for around three years, The Herald understands.

The Herald has been told that a piece of plant malfunctioned causing the emergency, which happened earlier this evening (Mar 19).

Four fire engines and three ambulances are at the scene, our reporter said.

A specialist line rescue team is involved in the recovery operation.

An eye-witness told the press that three workers have been affected.

The source said: “Concrete had just been mixed and had been poured into a skip which was then lifted using a machine. The concrete was being lowered into the hole, it’s probably about 20ft and then the machine toppled over.”

He added: “Two men climbed out of the hole on their own and as a precaution the third man was told to stay down there. The workers were told to leave the site as a precaution.”

At least one person has been seen being taken away in an ambulance.

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Llanelli: Met Bar incident investigated

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AN INCIDENT which resulted in a 51-year old man having to go hospital is being investigated by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The man has been discharged from Glangwili Hospital but police are looking in to how the incident happened and how the man fell down some steps.

The incident happened outside the Met Bar in Llanelli on Saturday night (Mar 16).

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Herald: “At approximately 10.55pm on Saturday March 16, officers responded to reports of an injured man outside The Met Bar, Station Road, Llanelli, after he’d fallen down some steps at the location.

“Ambulance was at scene, and the 51 year old man was conveyed to Glangwili Hospital with what was thought to have been a serious head injury. He was then later discharged from hospital, and the head injury was no longer believed to be serious.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact police by calling 101 and quoting DPP/3011/16/03/2019/02/C. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908

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Reports damning for City Deal management

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THE PUBLICATION of two reports on Friday, March 15, has shone a light into corners of the Swansea Bay City Deal.

The first report released, prepared on behalf of the UK and Welsh governments, written by Actica Consulting, suggests a combination of concerns over funding and of the “much-publicised concerns on the wellness village (Delta Lakes, Llanelli, the single largest project) could cause a loss of confidence within the region”

In the meantime and, The Herald understands, over the anguished objections of the Regional

Office/Carmarthenshire County Council, the second report – an internal review – was circulated to county councillors in Pembrokeshire this morning.

The second report makes for grim reading.

The report lays bare the amount of distrust between the City Deal partners, particularly between Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire councils on the one side, and Carmarthenshire County Council on the other.

Each report highlights deficiencies in the management of the Deal, which Carmarthenshire County Council and its controversial CEO Mark James are meant to lead.

Familiar to those who have kept a close watch on the activities of Carmarthenshire County Council are complaints of a lack of transparency and openness in the way the City Deal has been managed to date.

Particular criticism is made of two key aspects of the project: that under Mr James’ leadership the Deal has failed to consider the City Deal as a truly regional opportunity and focussed on building individual, local projects of limited regional value; the second major criticism is the failure of leadership given to the project and an abject lack of clear financial processes and accountability.

In spite of an attempt to spin the ‘success’ of two elements of the deal, Swansea Waterfront and Yr Egin, it is worth noting that Yr Egin was only tacked on to the City Deal when already underway because UWTSD revealed it couldn’t afford to complete the project on its own as it had promised.

Cllr Rob James, the Leader of the Labour Group on Carmarthenshire County Council told The Herald late on Friday afternoon: “I am pleased that this review has highlighted many of the concerns that we have raised on governance.

“Frankly, the report validated our actions to date.

“Trust has broken down between partners and public confidence in one of the projects, in particular, has taken a big hit.

“There are clear lessons that need to be learnt and this report highlights several of them. I now hope that the administration in Carmarthenshire consider the review in full and ensure that radical changes on governance are delivered immediately.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee, said: “This review was carried out alongside the UK and Welsh Government’s independent review of the City Deal programme and sought to assure that it will deliver full economic benefits for the region.

“The findings and recommendations of the internal review will be formally considered by the SBCD Joint Committee at the next meeting.

“Looking to ensure governance is as robust as possible reflects that we’re still in the very early stages of a 15-year programme, but we’re ready to support any recommendations that would benefit the region’s economic prosperity in future by speeding up the City Deal’s delivery.”

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