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Dic Penderyn pardon gathers steam

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A memorial: Erected to Dic Penderyn

A memorial: Erected to Dic Penderyn

NEARLY two centuries after he went to the gallows protesting his innocence, a campaign seeking a posthumous pardon for one of south Wales’ best-known martyrs is under way.

Richard Lewis, more commonly known as Dic Penderyn, was a miner working in Merthyr Tydfil at the time of the Merthyr Uprising of 1831. Along with another man, Lewis Lewis, he was convicted of wounding a Scottish Dragoon who was part of the force brought in to quell the disturbance. At least sixteen of the protesters were killed, and it is considered that this figure represented a deliberate underestimation.

Although the soldier was unable to identify either of his ‘assailants,’ the pair were convicted. Lewis Lewis had his sentence commuted to Transportation after the testimony of a special constable, who Lewis shielded from rioters, was heard.

The case caused outrage across south Wales and further afield. A petition demanding a pardon for Richard Lewis received 11,000 signatures, and it was widely believed that he had been targeted for his involvement with workers’ rights groups. A Quaker ironmaster who initially went to comfort Lewis during his incarceration, became so convinced of his innocence that he convinced the trial judge that the conviction was unsafe.

However, the Home Secretary at the time, Viscount Melbourne, who had described south Wales in Parliament as ‘the worst and most formidable district in the kingdom’, granted a two-week stay of execution but refused to review the sentence. It has been subsequently claimed that his refusal to review Lewis’ sentence was motivated more by the desire to make an example of someone than through any legal motivation.

Richard Lewis was hanged at the old Cardiff Jail on August 13 1831. He was just 23 years-old. His last words were “O Arglwydd, dyma gamwedd” (“Oh Lord, here is iniquity”). He was buried in Aberavon.

The Merthyr Uprising is considered to be one of the touchstones of industrial action in south Wales, and Richard Lewis has long been considered a martyr by workers and Unions alike. One of the solicitors campaigning for his pardon, Bernard de Maid, has said that ‘the irony of this is if he had not gone to the gallows, Wales would have had one hero less’.

Richard Lewis has been the subject of many songs, poems, and works of fiction. Gwyn Thomas’ All Things Betray Thee was a thinly fictionalised treatment of the Merthyr Uprising, and when researching his novel The Fire People, Alexander Cordell claimed to have found new evidence that proved Lewis’ innocence.

In 2000, Mr de Maid began proceedings to challenge the original decision, pointing out that the testimony of 12 witnesses who stated that Lewis was innocent was not heard at the original trial.

Jane Hall, a descendant of Lewis, who lives in St Dogmaels, has been involved in the campaign, which was started by her late mother, since 2000, along with her four sisters. At present, the National Assembly is joining in calls to the Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove to ‘grant Richard Lewis a pardon at the earliest possible opportunity’.

The petition has received cross-party support, and has been signed by Labour AM Joyce Watson, and Preseli Pembrokeshire’s Paul Davies, among others. Eighteen AMs have already signed.

Speaking to the Herald, Mrs Hall said that the original conviction had been a ‘major injustice’. “I know there have been many injustices in the world since, but in this case 16 people were killed by soldiers that night and that wasn’t enough. They had to make an example. The family has always considered that a great wrong was done to an innocent man. It would be rather nice if history could be righted.”

When we asked Mrs Hall how the appeal was progressing, she told us that it was ‘a wait and see game’.

“It’s in the lap of Michael Gove now,” she added.

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Scrub removal at Pembrey to improve dunes for biodiversity

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If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

SCRUB provides a splash of greenery in our sandy spaces, but too much scrub smothers the sand dunes and has a devastating effect on the specialist plants and invertebrates which live there. 

This winter Natural Resources Wales will be removing non-native, invasive plant species from areas of dune at Pembrey to help wildlife thrive.

The coast around Pembrey is home to 20% of all the plants in Wales and features a large sand dune system. Sand dunes are listed as the habitat type most at risk of biodiversity loss in Europe.

The Dynamic Dunescapes project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in Wales by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), is working at Pembrey with Carmarthenshire County Council’s Outdoor Recreation Service to improve the condition of these dunes for wildlife.

Some non-native plant species, like the dense scrub plant sea buckthorn, are invasive and they are growing quickly in this dune system – spreading further across large areas of dune each year. 

Many of the dunes’ rare and specialist wildlife needs bare sand or low grassland habitat to survive and gets lost under or outcompeted by scrub. 

If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

Scrub removal in specifically chosen locations will help to restore the habitat types that these species need, and this work will play a part in ensuring the dunes at Pembrey have a healthy, biodiverse future. 

Improving the ecological condition here will increase this coastal landscape’s resilience to other threats, such as extreme weather events and changing conditions brought on by climate change in the future.

The first phase of this work is to take place in Pembrey Country Park around Car Park 8 and the second will take place on the foredunes in front of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate which is managed by NRW. 

It is scheduled to begin in the last week of November and will last for two weeks. There will be a temporary closure of Factory Road outside the Country Park for one week – reopening on 5th December.

Ruth Harding, Senior Environment Officer at Natural Resources Wales, said:

“Sea Buckthorn control is important to improve the dune grassland habitats at Pembrey. Carmarthenshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales have carried out this type of habitat management over a number of years which has resulted in restoring the area to a dune grassland rich with different species of plants. 

You can best enjoy this during the summer months within the Pembrey Burrows and Saltings Local Nature Reserve. As part of Dynamic Dunescapes, we are now continuing this work, which will result in an overall increase in dune grassland habitat.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for leisure, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said:

“Whilst scrub is a valuable habitat it does need management to maintain it in good condition for wildlife. Cutting back the scrub will ensure it does not spread into areas where it is not wanted and or where it can destroy other habitat.”

Dynamic Dunescapes is not the only project working to restore Pembrey’s important sand dunes. The EU LIFE-funded Sands of LIFE project, managed by (NRW), has also been undertaking sand dune management to improve conditions for wildlife in recent years. The two projects work closely to build on and support each other’s work.

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Demolition of 4 Tys begins in Tyisha, Llanelli

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Four Tys

WORK to demolish the Four Tys housing blocks in Tyisha, Llanelli has started, marking the next exciting step in Carmarthenshire County Council’s plans to Transform the area. 

The demolition work is set to be completed by civil engineering contractor Walters over the next 20 weeks and will enable the build of modern, mixed-use housing which meets the needs of the community.

Improvements to existing homes and the creation of community facilities and green spaces will also form part of changes on the horizon for Tyisha. 

Cllr Linda Davies Evans, chair of the Transforming Tyisha steering group and cabinet member for housing said: “The demolition of the Four Tys marks an important step in the Transforming Tyisha project. Although this process will evoke powerful memories for many of the people who have lived and worked in Tyisha since the Four Tys were built in the 1960s, their demolition will enable us to provide the housing and facilities that the community needs.

Local residents and businesses who may be impacted by the demolition process will be contacted throughout to ensure minimum disruption.”

This forms a part of the council’s ambitious plans to regenerate the Tyisha ward and the wider Llanelli town centre area which is undergoing massive investment.

The council is also seeking a partner to develop new housing and create a vibrant community. An early market engagement exercise is currently live which gives potential partners the opportunity to express their interest in working with the council to transform the area.

Fresh and innovative ideas for this exciting project can be submitted to the council until December 7.

For more information on the early market engagement process or the council’s Transforming Tyisha regeneration project please visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/tyisha

The demolition of the ‘Four Tys’ forms part of the council’s ambitious Transforming Tyisha project which looks to regenerate the area through increasing community safety, developing housing and community facilities and improving the environment.

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Serious assault in Ruby’s Bar Llanelli being investigated by police

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POLICE are investigating a serious assault which occurred in Ruby’s Bar, Llanelli, between 10:40pm and 11pm on Saturday, November 20.

A 35-year-old man received injuries which required hospital treatment.

A 31-year-old female and a 36-year-old male have  been arrested on suspicion of assault. Both have been released on bail pending further police enquiries.

Anyone who witnessed, or took footage of, the incident, or anyone who has any 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 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, 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: DP-20211120-336.

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

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