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Murco: Workers told to down tools following Herald probe

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THE MANAGEMENT of the firms contracted to decommission the former Murco Oil Refinery site in Milford Haven are remaining tight lipped about work stopping on the site on Tuesday (Nov 7).

Several workers and contractors at the refinery, which is being dismantled and shipped to Pakistan, have contacted this newspaper to say that they were told to down tools and were sent home. Workers told The Herald that they were not sure if or when they would be going back to work.

SOLICITORS TRY TO SILENCE HERALD

In a separate development, following the exposé in The Herald on 22nd October, WRD Ltd have instructed Manchester based solicitors Farleys LLP to try and gag The Pembrokeshire Herald from printing any further articles, and have threatened us with legal action for publishing what workers said, claiming they are libellous defamatory statements.

They also want the article Murco: Someone is going to die taken of the Pembrokeshire Herald website, presumably because it is not good for business.

The Health and Safety Executive is currently investigating a serious accident which took place in May, the worker involved is still at home recovering/ having received what a family member has described, as life changing injuries.

But the solicitor’s letter went on to seemingly pass the buck from WRD Ltd to the other contractor REM Engineering Ltd. It said: “The stark reality is that the statements [in the article], regardless of their veracity in all likelihood relate to REM Engineering Ltd and not WRD.”

But WRD and REM have denied that work had come to a stop for health and safety reasons, and that the present time they were in compliance with health and safety rules. Through their solicitor they said: “Our clients confirm that work at the site has not been stopped due to any health and safety breaches. Our clients confirm that neither company are currently in breach of any health and safety regulations.

INSPECTION FOLLOWING HERALD ARTICLE

One worker on site who telephoned The Pembrokeshire Herald on Tuesday said: “Top engineers and bosses walked around site last week after your story was printed, and were happy with everything –  but three days later everyone sent off site.

Attributing what had happened to “client and health and safety issues”, he told this newspaper that sixty three people were sent home from the former refinery.

Our source added: “My boss said to me to blame the whistle-blowers… ‘Blame your friends who talked to The Herald’ he said.
“They said they would be in touch [about getting back to work], but it is not great this side of Christmas.
“Another employee asked how long [the shutdown was] for, but he was told it was a zero hour contract. It wasn’t true.”

This was also confirmed by a secondary source

PROBE CONTINUES

Jack Rimmer from the Health and Safety Executive told The Herald on Tuesday: “We have spoken with our inspectors regarding your enquiry.

“HSE’s investigation into the incident in May is ongoing, and HSE is not aware of the reasons why work has stopped.

“HSE does not have any involvement in commercial or contractual decisions are a matter for the company.

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One thousand march to save Withybush Hospital A&E services

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Over 1,000 people marched in Haverfordwest today (June 16) to show their support for the A&E department at Withybush General Hospital.

The protesters marched from Haverfordwest football club, leaving  at 11.30am and made their way via Bridge Street to Castle Square, and then around to the Riverside Shopping Centre, and back to the field behind the football club where a family fun day had been organised.

There were rumours that there would be inclement weather for the protest, but just on cue, the sun came out as the first walkers left the field for what many were describing as a “now or never” attempt to retain services at Withybush.

Conservative politicians joined the march including local MP’s Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb as well as Paul Davies AM. County Councillors and representatives from the Labour party were also at the protest, amongst others.

Stephen Crabb MP told The Herald that all of the University Health Board’s proposals for Withybush Hospital included a “downgrade”, and that this was not acceptable for the people of Pembrokeshire. In a passionate interview with Herald TV he said that today was the day that “local people fight for the services that they deserve.”

Mr Crabb said that he knew that recruitment of staff was a “challenge across the whole of the UK” but the Health Board need to be told they need to do more for Pembrokeshire.

Just before the protest, the admin of the Save Withybush Group on Facebok posted: “Over 22,000 have joined this group and almost 23,000 have signed the petition so we know there is massive support among the people of Pembrokeshire to save our hospital. Now we just need everyone to turn out this Saturday and show Hywel Dda Health Board that we mean business and that they will not get away with closing our A&E or any of the vital services at Withybush.”

Drivers of vehicles honked their horns as they drove past the protest which was led by musicians from the Saint City Jazz Band from St Davids.

Many people told Herald reporters that they felt that the hospital had been “deliberately undermined” ans that uncertainty created by the Health Board themselves in relation to hospital services was having a negative effect on the recruitment of staff.

This large march and fun day is described by organisers as the first stage in a summer of action to fight for services at Withybush Hospital.

Those who have not already done so are urged to fill in the consultation document published by Hywel Dda University Health Board.

  • Photography by Mike Hillen and Aad Oostermeijer.
  • Additional reporting by Matthew Roberts

 

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Pembroke Dock: Dog in black bag found dead in water

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A SHOCKING image of a dead dog which was found in the water at Pembroke Port, wrapped in a black bag, has been sent to The Herald.

The image was sent to us by a local man who pulled the bag out of the water.

Once on the dry land, he realised that tragically the remains of a dog was inside.

The shocking uncensored image is below.

WARNING: Upsetting imagery follows.

A witness at the scene told the Herald that police were called to the scene following the discovery.

The man who made the discovery told us: “The bag was down floating by the tugs, Pembroke Port, it looked like a tent bag at first.

“We pulled it up and took it on the walkway to cut it open – we didn’t know what it was.

“Once it was opened, we could see there were stones inside, and then as we opened it more it was obvious the dog was inside.

“To be honest, it looked like it had been in there a while.”

The man then told us that as he left the scene, a member of the tugboats called the police.

“It’s not nice, horrible to see, not nice at all. It didn’t look like a young dog but you don’t have any idea really with it in that state,” he added.

The Herald has contacted Dyfed-Powys Police for more information.

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Judge halves jail term for man convicted of fraud

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A FIRST CLASS honours graduate who targeted stores in Haverfordwest for fraud will soon be free after senior judges halved his jail term.

Siphosenkosi Hutton Maplanka was jailed for 12 months at Swansea Crown Court on March 22.

The 31-year-old, of Ger Yr Ysgol, Burry Port, near Llanelli, admitted three counts of fraud.

Maplanka targeted Debenhams and Tesco branches on July 12 last year, Judge David Stockdale QC told London’s Appeal Court today.

His mode of operation was to take clothing from displays and put it in a bag and then seek to exchange it.

He would claim to have bought the items previously from another store in the same group.

Using this method, he got Debenhams to refund him £260 and Tesco to shell out £140.

He came unstuck when he returned to Debenhams on July 23 last year and tried to repeat the scam but was recognised by staff.

Maplanka had been before the courts on 13 previous occasions for 22 offences, including 10 frauds, said the judge.

His barrister, John Tarrant, argued that his jail term was far too harsh and should be reduced.

Maplanka’s crimes were not sophisticated, nor the result of significant planning, claimed the barrister.

While he had ‘similar’ previous convictions, they dated back several years – and he had won a first class honours degree since then.

Judge Stockdale, sitting with two other judges, said Maplanka’s crimes were ‘not in our judgment sophisticated’.

The frauds ‘did not require significant planning’ and the loss to the stores was ‘modest’.

Maplanka’s previous convictions were ‘a significant and potent aggravating factor’, said the judge.

But he added: “In view of the absence of offences in the last five years and, allowing for all we have heard and read in mitigation, we do consider the sentence is manifestly excessive.”

Judge Stockdale reduced Maplanka’s jail term from 12 months to six months.

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