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Police search home of former Carmarthenshire County Council boss Mark James

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POLICE OFFICERS have executed search warrants at properties in Carmarthenshire, Swansea, and Kent. Their actions are part of an investigation into allegations of corruption involving the
Wellness Village project at Delta Lakes, Llanelli.

On Thursday, Aug 8, The Herald received a tip-off which identified three properties in Carmarthenshire at which officers from Tarian, the Regional Organised Crime Unit, executed those warrants.

The tip-off was anonymous. As is usual with such tip-offs, we sought to verify it by reference to independent and reliable sources.

As a result of our further enquiries, we can confirm that Police executed a search warrant at the home of controversial former Carmarthenshire County Council CEO Mark James.

The use of a search warrant in such circumstances is not unusual. The use of one is not a sign of any criminality or dishonesty on Mr James’ part. It is possible the warrant was procured routinely to preserve material which might assist an ongoing investigation.

Police executed a further warrant at County Hall, Carmarthen.

Again, the use of a warrant is not a sign of any criminality. Police acted to obtain documentary evidence and computer material, including email trails, to help with their investigation.

It is entirely possible that Police learned a lesson from a separate probe of Pembrokeshire County Council. In that case, officers failed to secure evidence which was subsequently either lost or destroyed.

A separate Council press release states the local authority is ready and willing to help the Police in any way they can and is already offering any assistance it can to investigators.

That statement points out that a review by the WAO and an internal probe by a firm of solicitors found no administrative or compliance issues affecting the tender processes for the Wellness Village.

The Herald has been given a further address at which a search warrant was executed. That third address has not been confirmed by all of our sources and, accordingly, we do not report it here.

As we went to press, Carmarthenshire County Council exclusively confirmed to us that a search warrant was executed at County Hall last week.

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Two charged following serious Llanelli assault

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TWO people have been charged following a serious assault in Llanelli.

Police were called to the incident in Clos Sant Paul, in the early hours of June 16, following a report that a serious assault had occurred with a number of casualties.

Three victims -two females and one male- were taken to hospital for examination.

Following investigations, one male and one female were later arrested and charged with assault.

Chad White, 28, was charged with Assault by beating, GBH without intent, affray and ABH.

Alicia Clark, 21, was charged with assault by beating, GBH without intent and affray.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said “Police were called to Clos Sant Paul, Llanelli, at around 2.10am on June 16 following a report of a serious assault and a number of injured people.

“Three victims – two women and a man – were spoken to, saying they had been punched and that one had been struck to the head with a TV.

“All three were taken to hospital to be examined. Two suffered cuts and bruises, with the third sustaining a suspected fractured eye socket.

“Two people were arrested later that day, and were charged to appear at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on June 18.”

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Socially distant but always on duty – using technology to catch waste criminals

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is using high-tech surveillance techniques to tackle unscrupulous waste operators seeking to take advantage of the Coronavirus crisis.

Government guidelines on social distancing mean NRW officers are unable to use their usual investigation methods. As such, they have turned to sophisticated drone technology and satellite cameras to help in the tracking of waste criminals.

The new approach includes:

• Using drone footage to investigate illegal waste disposal.
• Participating and benefiting from research and tools created in partnership with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency through the Life SMART Waste Project.
• Trialling the use of satellite imagery obtained from the European Space Agency, as well as high resolution commercial satellite data.
• Adrian Evans, head of NRW’s Tackling Waste Crime initiative, explained:

“Social distancing is impacting on how companies supplying goods and services operate and waste criminals are taking advantage of this.

“We have had to modify our ways of working by developing technological solutions to support our work and ensure that waste operators comply with environmental regulations.

“This technology will ensure the environment of Wales is protected for the people who live here and for legitimate waste operators who abide by the rules and work in a responsible manner.

”Those hoping to exploit the lockdown restrictions to commit waste crime should think again. We have the capability and technology to continue to identify and pursue those that flout the law.”

This type of surveillance is already underway in south east Wales, where NRW and Gwent Police are using drones to investigate illegal activity.

PC Matt Andrews, who, as part of Gwent Police’s Rural Crime team, is the embedded officer with NRW and assists the South East Wales Operations team in tackling all types off illegal activity, said:

“During lockdown our waste team continues to have close communications with permitted waste sites, but we’ve also strived to find alternative ways to having boots on the ground.

“Drone work has helped us investigate illegal activity in remote locations while adhering to the social distancing guidelines.

“For example, the imagery can be used to identify the extent of illegal tipping on land which would normally take two NRW waste officers to physically investigate.”

The public and businesses can help by reporting any suspected illegal waste activity on our hotline 0300 065 3000.

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Police and Crime Commissioner reveals plans for proposed new Policing Hub and Custody Suite

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn has revealed planning application documents for the proposed construction of a new Policing Hub and Custody Suite for Dyfed Powys Police, to be built at land west of Heol Aur, Dafen, Llanelli.

The new build is to be an ambitious sustainable construction, with a BREEAM excellence rating.  BREEAM related developments offer more sustainable environments that enhance the well-being of the people who live and work within them, and help protect natural resources. 

Amongst some of the sustainable credentials of the new build will be a photovoltaic solar power installation to minimise the carbon footprint of the building; a rainwater harvesting facility for toilets and non-potable water, and electric car charging facilities.

The proposed Dafen suites

Earlier in 2019, Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn approved a decision to pursue the purchase of a council-owned site in Dafen, valued at £150,000, for the purpose of constructing the new Policing hub. 

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said; “This is a major investment for us which will see an ambitious, modern, sustainable fit for purpose policing hub and custody suite that will meet the needs and expectations of modern policing. 

“We are still very much in the early stages in terms of the planning permission process, but I’m pleased to have reached this point in the process.  I’ve worked extremely hard with partners over the last couple of years to get to this position, and to announce and make public the initial planning application documents for the proposed new construction”.

As well as the planning consultation documents, proposed building plans and supporting documents have also been made available as part of a pre-application public consultation period.  The consultation provide those who may be interested in the proposals with an opportunity to view the draft application package and express their views. 

Usually, all planning consultation and application documents would be available to the public at their local library and online.  However, due to current circumstances with government enforcing social distance measures due to COVID-19, libraries within the local area are closed.   As such, anyone who wishes to view the application package are able to visit Asbri Planning’s website to view all documents;  www.asbriplanning.co.uk/statutory-pre-application-consultation, or to contact their office on 02920 732652.

Public consultations on planning applications usually last for 28 days, but due to the current circumstances, the consultation period has been extended by five working days to 35 days, to account for any delays associated with the circumstances. 

Dafydd Llywelyn said, “All these planning documents have now been made available for public consultation.  I encourage local residents in Llanelli and the wider community to obtain the planning application pack from agents Asbri Planning, and should they wish to submit any comments, they can do so by writing formally to colleagues at Asbri.”

The new Custody Suite will be one of seven custody locations across the force area with others located in Newtown, Ammanford, Brecon, Cardigan, Aberystwyth and Haverfordwest.

Chief Inspector Richard Hopkin, Dyfed-Powys Police’s operational lead on the new build, said: “We feel very fortunate to be having a new build custody suite and hub coming to Llanelli.

“Our current Llanelli estate is old, so to see a new build that is being designed with such consideration for the environment and the wellbeing of our staff and the community within which it sits is really positive.

“This build will not replace the existing presence of our neighbourhood team in Llanelli town centre, but will enhance the service across the town and the wider communities.”

Once planning is granted, the aim is to complete the construction of the new build within a period of two years.

Heddwyn Thomas, Director of Estates at the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner at Dyfed Powys said, “The development will provide a fit for purpose future proof solution which will complement the town centre Neighbourhood Police Team base. This process brings us another step closer in the delivery of the new facility.”

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