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Haverfordwest: Rally to unseat MP takes to streets

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HUNDREDS of people took to the streets of Haverfordwest on Saturday (Oct 14) as part of a campaign to unseat Preseli Pembrokeshire’s Conservative MP.

Organised by Labour campaign group Momentum, the rally – which was the first such event since the Suffragettes visited in 1908 – featured television personality and author Owen Jones along with politicians and activists.

The event, described as ‘an unprecedented day of action against local Tory MP Stephen Crabb’, followed a cross-party meeting of the People’s Assembly last month, at which senior members of Labour, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, the Lib Dems and Momentum came to an agreement to cooperate in campaigning directly against the MP.

In June’s snap General Election, Mr Crabb’s majority was cut to 314 from almost 5,000 as the Conservative Party led by Theresa May lost their majority and formed a minority government supported by the DUP.

Subsequently, the Labour Party has remained on an election footing, and Saturday’s rally in Haverfordwest formed part of a wider Momentum-led campaign to unseat eight prominent Tory MPs.

Labour AM Eluned Morgan opened proceedings, stating that without a Labour Government in Westminster, the Welsh Assembly was ‘restricted’.

Ms Morgan criticised Mr Crabb for ‘taking his own constituent to court’ when he was DWP minister. “People here know the name of Stephen Crabb, but not in a good way,” she added, telling the crowd that ‘without Preseli Pembrokeshire, Jeremy Corbyn will not be Prime Minister’.

Branch Secretary of Carmarthenshire Unison Mark Evans said that the workforce across local authorities had been reduced by 20% over the past five years. “This is causing stress levels to rise – it is not unusual for our members to be working four or five jobs to make ends meet,”  he added, recommending that local authorities led by Labour and Plaid Cymru should refuse to implement cuts and instead take money from reserves.

Local activist and Head of the People’s Assembly Jim Scott thanked Mr Crabb ‘for getting everyone this active’, while leader of the Green Party in Wales Grenville Ham claimed he had entered politics after being ‘haunted’ by footage of Stephen Crabb dancing.

Other high-profile speakers included Paul Rutherford who successfully took the DWP to the Supreme Court over the bedroom tax, and representatives of Disabled People Against Cuts and Women Against State Pension Inequality, along with Ceredigion’s candidate in 2017 Dinah Mulholland.

However, the star speaker was Owen Jones, who told an audience of over 200 people that ‘if we have an inspiring message we can turn things around’.

“This Tory government, just a few months ago was drunk on its own triumphalism – now look at them, fighting amongst themselves like rats in a sack,” he added, to loud cheers.

Explaining that this was the first such rally in Haverfordwest since 1908, Mr Jones referenced the history of protest movements including the Chartists and the Suffragettes. “We stand on the shoulders of giants,” he said.

It is not clear whether, given that it could be anywhere up to four-and-a-half years until the next general election, what direct impact if any this Momentum-led campaign will have, but it clearly touched a nerve with numerous attenders. One told The Herald that it was ‘great to see people getting off their a***s and doing something’.

The rally was followed by a comedy event in the Merlins Theatre that evening, which featured performers including The Artist Taxi Driver.

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Redberth: Police appeal following fatal crash

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POLICE are appealing for information following a fatal crash yesterday evening (Nov 21) on the A477 at Redberth.

The crash happened on the stretch of road between Pembroke Dock and Kilgetty and involved a red Renault Clio and Red Mazda 6.

The incident happened at approximately 6:40pm.

Tragically, the 80-year-old driver of the Clio died.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “At approximately 6.40pm on Tuesday, November 21, a fatal road traffic collision occurred between two vehicles on the A477 at Redberth between Pembroke Dock and Kilgetty.

“A red Renault Clio travelling towards Kilgetty, and a Red Mazda 6 travelling towards Pembroke Dock have collided, and the driver of the Clio sustained fatal injuries.

“Anyone who witnessed this incident is asked to contact PC 1049 Griffiths of the Roads Policing Unit on 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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High winds could cause disruption to travel

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DRIVERS have been warned that high winds which are hitting the county today (Nov 22) may lead to the closure of the Cleddau Bridge.

Pembrokeshire County Council has said that a closure for high-sided vehicles is likely. A full closure to all vehicle is ‘less likely’, it was said.

The sustained high winds may also cause debris to be blown onto roads causing delays.

Drivers are advised to take caution at all times.

A spokesperson for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “Pembrokeshire is forecast to be hit by strong winds over the next 48 hours.

“With a view to helping road users plan any journeys during this period, and given that the disruption may extend through the peak commuter times, please be advised of the following:

“Looking at the current forecast for the bridge, it is thought likely that the bridge will be closed to high sided vehicles tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 22nd November) possibly from as early as 7 am or 8 am, and lasting through the majority of the working day untill say 5 pm or 6 pm.

“Please note that this information is indicative only and it is impossible to give any guarantees. A small change in wind direction may result in no closures being implemented.

“A full bridge closure is not anticipated, at this time.

“Road users are advised to monitor the situation carefully and adjust travel plans accordingly.

“It is stressed that the above information is based on current information and experience and provided to give maximum notice of possible disruption. However, the bridge status can change at any time, and no guarantees can be given.”

To check Cleddau Bridge closures either:

· Visit www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/bridge
· Text BRIDGE or PONT to 80039. (Texts are charged at standard network rates)

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Saundersfoot: Hampshire man admits sexual assault following plea bargain

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A MAN who was accused of raping a woman in Saundersfoot has this week admitted a charge of sexual assault (Nov 20).

Fritz Ortega, aged 35, was warned by a judge at Swansea Crown Court a prison sentence could still be the outcome.

Ortega, from Farnborough in Hampshire, had been due to go on trial today for rape, which he had denied.

The Crown Prosecution Service introduced a lesser charge of sexual assault, to which he pleaded guilty.

Nicola Powell, prosecuting, said the charge represented the full extent of Ortega’s offending as alleged by the prosecution

Ortega will be sentenced on December 11 after a probation officer has prepared a report into his background.

He was granted bail until then, but warned by Judge Heywood that prison could still be outcome.

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