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Vulnerable pensioner pressured to withdraw cash

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A VULNERABLE pensioner was subjected to a frightening ordeal after two men supposed to be carrying out work on his house forced him to get into their van, before driving him to three towns in an attempt to withdraw money to pay them for work not yet carried out.

36-year-old Edmund Lee, of Ty Gwyn, Whitland, pleaded guilty to engaging in an aggressive commercial practice when he appeared before magistrates in Haverfordwest this week. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide the complainant – a man in his sixties – with notice of his right to cancel their contract.

His cousin Benjamin Lee, 21, of St Clears, pleaded guilty to a charge of contravening the requirements of professional diligence. The offences were all committed between March 31 and April 10 of last year.

Prosecuting on behalf of Pembrokeshire County Council, Jeff Harries explained that complainant lived alone in the Tenby area. He required daily care as a result of ongoing medical issues, and was unable to read or write.

The court heard that the money was ostensibly to pay for power-washing garden paths and guttering and a garden clearance, and the total sum involved was £732.

The complainant’s bank records showed that, in addition to his regular weekly cash withdrawal, he took out sums of money on three occasions – £182 in Tenby on March 31, £450 from the same bank on April 6, and £100 from the Carmarthen branch of HSBC on April 8. Due to his literacy issues, the complainant was only able to withdraw money with help from bank staff.

“He states that he was approached on a number of occasions between March 31 and April 10,” Mr Harries added.

On April 8, he was standing at a bus stop waiting to visit family when the Lees pulled up in a van. He was told to get in and made of trips to banks in the Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carmarthen areas. The first two were closed, and he eventually managed to withdraw £100 from Carmarthen HSBC – the maximum he could take out due to lack of id. He was told to meet the complainants at the former Playhouse with more money, or they would visit him at a later date to collect it.

The police received a complaint from a member of the victim’s family on April 8 after he told them about the money. Police spoke to him on April 9, and he ‘appeared anxious and concerned’ that the men could return.

As a result, when Benjamin Lee knocked on the complainant’s door on April to it was answered by a police officer. Lee then ran away, but returned after answering a phone call from police on the complainant’s phone.

In interview, Edmund Lee said that he had been posting flyers advertising his business in the area on March 31 when he saw the defendant walking near his house. They then agreed a price to do some work.

Benjamin Lee made no comment except to confirm that he had not been present when his cousin agreed the contract with the complainant on March 31.

“There are no mitigating features, only aggravating ones,” Mr Harries commented.

“The complainant would simply obey their orders, jump in the van and go to the nearest bank.

“He would sit in the middle between the two defendants – I can only imagine how intimidating that must have been.”

Representing Edmund Lee, Gavin Rofer said that the defendant had ‘simply been unaware’ that he had to provide written cancellation rights, and added that due to his own inability to read or write, Lee was unaware of many small trader regulations.

Mr Rofer said that Lee had been insistent on checking that the complainant had the money because customers had failed to pay him before. “Perhaps in an abundance of caution he offered to take him to the bank for the money,” he added, stressing that Lee was unaware at the time that this could have appeared aggressive to a person in the complainant’s situation.

Representing Benjamin Lee, Mike Kelleher drew attention to his minor role in events, as someone in effect hired by his cousin to clean the guttering, and pointed out that had he not run a similar business of his own he would not have been liable for prosecution.

Edmund Lee was fined £900, and ordered to pay a total of £1,840 in costs and compensation.

Benjamin Lee was given a £250 fine and ordered to pay £250 compensation and £780 towards costs.

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Ongoing success for Carmarthenshire sixth form students

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THE HIGH quality of support and guidance received by sixth form students across  Carmarthenshire’s schools continues to impact positively on the standards achieved at both AS and A Level.

The number of entries for AS and A Level examinations continues to increase, bucking the national trend and preparing students well for their future learning and career pathways.

The commitment and dedication shown by our students and their schools has resulted in nearly 78% of students achieving A*-C grades, reflecting an increase of 1.8% in comparison to results in 2017 and remaining comfortably above the Welsh national average of 73.8%.

Almost a quarter of the grades awarded, 24.8%, are A*- A, ensuring that our pupils are well placed when competing nationally for university placements, apprenticeships and career opportunities.

The improved outcomes are also reflected in the AS Level grades with 91.8% of entries being awarded an A-E grade. The increasingly effective learning opportunities on offer to our AS students have ensured a 4.6% increase in the A-E pass rate over the last three years.

The results have been warmly welcomed by Carmarthenshire County Council which has congratulated both students and schools, acknowledging the many inspiring opportunities that these encouraging grades will enable our young people to access.

Cllr Glynog Davies, Executive Board Member for Education, said: “Education in Wales is currently undergoing an exciting period of change and reform, reflecting the changing needs of our communities. The AS and A Level grades achieved by our pupils this year reflect, yet again, the successful partnership working between students, families, schools and the county council, equipping students with an aspirational range of learning opportunities. Students are very well prepared by our schools for the demands of the AS and A level examinations and they achieve highly as a result.”

“On behalf of Carmarthenshire County Council I wholeheartedly congratulate all of our students on the progress that they have made and on the grades that they have achieved. We wish you every success for the future.”

Director of Education and Children’s services, Gareth Morgans, added: “Our schools continue to prepare our students exceptionally well for the reformed AS and A Level qualifications that they have been working so hard towards over the last 2 years. The results achieved across Carmarthenshire this year once again reflect the dedication of our students, developing considerable resilience and a positive work ethic that will equip them well in their future studies and careers. I would like to sincerely congratulate them on all that they have achieved.”

“It is also pleasing to note the ongoing trend of 100% pass rates for both the Welsh first and second language courses, as well as in history, government and politics, English Language and literature and physical education, for example.

“The number of students achieving A*-A grades increased favourably this year, by 2.8%, reflecting the high expectations that we, and our schools, have of our young people.

“Warmest congratulations to all who have contributed so positively towards today’s success. Our students have many exciting decisions to make as they embrace their future journeys.”

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Adam Price AM to launch his leadership campaign

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PLAID CYMRU Assembly Member, Adam Price, will officially launch his campaign to be the new leader of Plaid Cymru today (Aug 17) in which he will outline his vision for Wales in 2030 with ‘seven steps to independence’ which, he will say, is a ‘clear and credible path to an independent Wales.

Mr Price will tell party members that the time ‘to talk in vague terms about independence as a long-term goal is over’.

Adam Price is expected to say: “The process of nation-building that will lead to independence has to start now without delay.

“Semi-policies and soundbites will not get us there.

“Welsh politics writ large can be seen as a battlefield between those with old ideas, new ideas and no ideas.

“Welsh independence is the biggest, most transformational, most radical idea of them all.

“Anyone who seeks to lead our party needs to set out a credible plan as to how we achieve it.”

In his ‘Seven Steps to Independence’ Adam Price will outline his plan which includes the election of a pro-independence government; passing a Wales 2030 Referendum Act; reducing Wales’ fiscal gap to 6% and increasing the Welsh economic growth rate by 1-1.5%.

Adam Price says the necessary legislation for an independence referendum will also provide for the holding of a referendum earlier than 2030 if the Welsh Government so chooses.

Speaking ahead of his launch in Carmarthen on Friday night, Assembly Member Adam Price said: “There is a growing number of people that are coming to the view that the only way in which we can face the challenges and grasp the opportunities of a changing world is to change Wales.

“And that change can only come through the most fundamental change of all:  to own our own future as a people and a nation.

“Independence is the reason I joined Plaid Cymru and the reason I have remained a member for 36 years.  I have always been consistent that we should make it our express purpose to achieve an independent Wales, and sooner not later.

“Independence can never be the safe or ‘middle of the road’ option.

“When we have tried to avoid saying anything that might frighten the voters we ended saying nothing at all.

“Over the coming weeks I hope to be able to convince party members that in electing me as the new leader of Plaid Cymru we will have a clear and credible path to an independent Wales.”

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Red Roses: MP asks drivers for crash stories to improve safety

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A LOCAL MP is asking drivers who have had crashes or near misses on the A477 junction to Red Roses to contact him following another smash on Saturday (Aug 11).

Philip Huw Davies posted on the Facebook group ‘Red Roses Village’ about a car which ploughed into him as he was waiting at the junction.

He says the driver of the other car mistook the section of road as a slip road in the rain.

Mr Davies said: “So our lovely junction to the A477 claimed my 4WD as its latest victim on Saturday when I was ploughed into by this car that mistook it for a slip road in the torrential rain.

“I’ve written to the Trunk Roads Authority asking if they’re waiting for a fatality before addressing the matter. I also went to see the MP yesterday and he’s going to speak to the Minister of Transport and the Assembly Member for transport.

“I’m also pretty tired of the abuse and aggression I get from drivers behind me when I’m slowing down enough on the main road, to take the junction safely.”

Mr Davies said he called an ambulance for the father of the other driver as he was bleeding from the nose. As a result he was transported to hospital by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Now Simon Hart MP is asking for others who have had crashes or near misses to contact him with details.

Mr Hart said: “A lucky escape for the occupants of these two cars at the Pendine junction on the A477.

“There has been a lot of local concern about it yet Welsh Gov say they haven’t collated three years worth of evidence yet, despite that timescale elapsing nearly a year ago.

“So anybody else with experiences of this junction, let me know!”

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