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Questions remain after helicopter briefing

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Nia Griffiths MPhelo

Concerns: Nia Griffith MP

MPs whose constituencies are set to be affected by changes to police helicopter provision attended a briefing on Friday (Jul 10).

Those in attendance at Police Headquarters included Nia Griffith and Jonathan Edwards, who have both publicly voiced their opposition to the NPAS 15 base model which will come into use early next year. Conservatives Simon Hart and Chris Davies (Brecon and Radnorshire) were also in attendance, as were the leaders of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion Councils. Stephen Crabb MP had pre-arranged meetings in his constituency, but has apparently requested a one-to-one meeting with the Chief Constable to discuss the matter.

The briefing included statistics which repeated the NPAS claim that 85% of priority one cases should be reached within 20 minutes. However, thetimesgiveninthebriefingshowthat Milford Haven and Aberywstwyth, two of the main population centres in west Wales, will take more than half an hour to reach from St Athan.

The benefits of fixed wing aircraft were also mentioned, though their inability to land and hover was brought up – which is significant bearing in mind that according to the force’s data, 11 casualties have been evacuated from the Dyfed Powys area by X99 this year alone.

Nia Griffith agreed that questions were raised by this briefing: “I am grateful to the Chief Constable and the Police Commissioner for arranging the helicopter briefing, but I am very concerned at what I heard. We, the police tax payers of Dyfed Powys, will be paying into a National Police Air Service, but without the Pembrey helicopter, it looks like we could get a very raw deal. With the few remaining helicopter bases ( down from 34 to 22 then to 15) situated near the big centres of population, our nearest being St Athan, this inevitably means longer response times for us here in West Wales. The response time for our area is up from 4 minutes to 18 minutes, and for Milford Haven up from 12 minutes to 32 minutes and the time left actually to spend on the task in either area is halved from two hours to one hour. And what if there are competing demands for police helicopter time, who knows what response we would get? We have also been given to understand that use will also be made of ‘fixed wing aircraft’ (tiny aeroplanes to you and me… They look like something you would expect Amelia Earhart to jump out of) although NPAS’ own study in 2012 concluded these would not be anything like as good as helicopters on mountainous terrain or coastal cliffs, of which we have a great deal in Dyfed Powys. It is not even clear how much Dyfed Powys Police is going to be charged for its use of the service. If we are paying into this ‘National’ service ( and we have no choice), then we should be getting the same access and response times as other areas of the UK, and a 24 hour base at Pembrey would achieve that. We should not accept second best, and I shall continue to pursue ministers on this matter.”

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Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach

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THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.

Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.

The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.

Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.

The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.

The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.

If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.

The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.

Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.

The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.

During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.

They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

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Family tribute to Carole Patricia Fowler

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Carole was a teacher for 30 years at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Llanelli. She loved children and they loved her. 

As one of her past colleagues said: “I know she made such a difference to every child she taught.” She was very popular with staff and well respected and loved by parents. She was dedicated and conscientious, always 100% for the children. She led the music there and was always popular with her guitar accompaniments for services and concerts. 

Likewise, she was a valued member of the choir at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Gendros, Swansea, where she would often accompany hymns with her guitar and gave guitar lessons to the children in the church’s Saturday Music Club. She was also a keen member of Côr Persain, Ammanford. 

She was talented, loved and in demand. A convicted and devout Catholic all her life, through good and bad.

Carole was an avid and very gifted crocheter and was always crocheting or knitting something for someone. She had been spending her time recently, during the Covid crisis, crocheting NHS teddies in scrubs and rainbows, with many given to practising nurses. Carole had recently started learning to make bobbin lace. She was also capable of some very decent sewing, too. 

She was also learning Welsh, doing ‘pilates’ and was considering taking up yoga lessons as well.

She was a busy lady! As one of her work colleagues said of her: “She was wise, strong, beautiful, generous, devout and feisty. And I loved her for all those qualities.”

Above all, she was an immeasurably loved Mam, daughter, sister and a doting Mamgu and so much loved by her fiancé. Having been together for 14 years, they would have been married last July 20th had covid allowed! 

Her premature passing at 61 is tragic and she is already sorely, painfully missed. She leaves behind a huge chasm in so many hearts that cannot be filled.

“Eternal rest grant unto her, o Lord, may perpetual light shine about her, may she rest in peace.”

If anyone witnessed the collision or may have been travelling on the M4 at the relevant time, please contact the Serious Collision Unit quoting police reference DPP-20210113-317

Police can be contacted either online at: 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.

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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