Tonteg dog electrocuted by telegraph pole suffers seizure

A dog had a seizure when it suffered an electric shock from a telegraph pole – leaving its owner fearing it might die.

Wire-haired dachshund Charlie is thought to be one of seven dogs to have suffered a shock, in Tonteg, Rhonnda Cynon Taf.

Owner Martin Pitman said he thought Charlie “was gone” when he was hurt on Saturday.

Openreach said an electrical charge was not found on the pole but engineers would return for further investigation.

Mr Pitman said his son was walking Charlie on Saturday afternoon along Church Road in Tonteg, near Pontypridd.

“He was walking past the telegraph pole and he said the dog sniffed something then jumped out into the road, then behind him and then he lay on the floor,” Mr Pitman said.

Mr Pitman drove to the scene and said the dog was “lying stiff” on the pavement after a “seizure”.

He took Charlie to see a vet, who told him it “made sense” that the dog had suffered an electric shock.

Charlie recovered within two hours and is now “back to his normal self”.

Mr Pitman said: “I thought he was gone. I phoned my wife and I thought this dog is not going to make it through here, because he was looking really poorly.”

Cones have since been put up around the pole, as well as warning signs, but Mr Pitman said he was concerned it was not enough.

“It’s really dangerous for anyone, not just animals. We’ve since learned that six or seven dogs have been injured from it,” he said.

Lyndon Walker, an independent county councillor for Tonteg ward, said he had heard reports of several dogs getting shocked by the pole.

Openreach said: “Our engineers have examined the pole and can find no electrical charge on or around the pole at this time.

“As a precaution, additional safety measures have been put in place around the pole and the team will go back first thing [Monday] to make further checks and, if necessary, will seek further expert advice.”

Meghan and Prince Harry expecting second child

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting their second child, a spokesperson for the couple has said.

Harry and Meghan are preparing to welcome a brother or sister for their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, who turned one last May.

A spokesperson for the couple said they were “overjoyed”.

The couple shared a black and white picture of themselves under a tree, with Harry resting his hand on Meghan’s head as she cradles her bump.

Their child will be eighth in line to the throne.

The news comes after Meghan revealed in November that she had suffered a miscarriage last July, writing in an article of feeling “an almost unbearable grief”.

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: “We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child.”

Misan Harriman, a friend of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the photographer who took the photo that accompanied their pregnancy announcement, tweeted: “Meg, I was there at your wedding to witness this love story begin, and my friend, I am honoured to capture it grow.

“Congratulations to The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on this joyous news!”

The Valentine’s Day announcement comes just five days after the royal family celebrated the arrival of Princess Eugenie’s first child – a baby boy.

Harry and Meghan’s second child will be the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s 10th or 11th great-grandchild depending on whether he or she arrives before or after Zara Tindall’s baby, which is also due in 2021.

They will follow the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Harry, and Archie Mountbatten-Windsor in the line of succession.

But they will not be entitled, at this stage, to be an HRH nor a prince or a princess due to rules set out more than 100 years ago by George V.

The baby is entitled to be a Lord or a Lady.

This week Meghan won a privacy case against Associated Newspapers (ANL), saying the damage the publisher had done “runs deep”. She had brought a claim against ANL, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over the publication of extracts from a letter to her father.

Harry and Meghan met on a blind date, arranged by a mutual friend, and got engaged 16 months later.

The duchess had first found fame as an actress, playing Rachel Zane in US legal drama Suits, but gave up her career when she got married.

The Sussexes married in May 2018 in a ceremony at Windsor Castle and then a year later welcomed their first child, Archie, who was born on 6 May 2019.

Meghan and Harry quit their roles as senior working royals in March 2020, and now live in California.

Harry and Meghan expecting second child

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting their second child, a spokesperson for the couple has said.

Harry and Meghan are preparing to welcome a brother or sister for their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, who turned one last May.

A spokesperson for the couple said they were “overjoyed” at the news.

The couple shared a black and white picture of themselves under a tree, with Harry resting his hand on Meghan’s head as she cradles her bump.

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: “We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child.”

In November, Meghan revealed she had suffered a miscarriage last July, writing in an article of feeling “an almost unbearable grief”.

“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” Meghan said in a piece for the New York Times.

The couple quit their roles as senior working royals in March 2020, and now live in California.

Girls rescued from frozen River Trent were extremely lucky

Two 11-year-old girls were “extremely lucky to be unharmed” after becoming trapped on a frozen section of the River Trent, police said.

The girls were rescued in Clifton on Saturday afternoon after a passer-by raised the alarm.

Nottinghamshire Police said the friends were “extremely cold” and treated by the ambulance service.

It captured the rescue on a drone and reminded people not to enter the river, especially when icy.

The force said one of the girls had fallen through ice into the water while the other had made it onto an island surrounded by frozen water but had become stranded.

They were brought to safety with the help of police and firefighters at about 16:45 GMT using an inflatable piece of equipment called a pathway to help them back across the frozen water.

Ch Insp Duncan Southall said: “The girls are extremely lucky to have been unharmed.

“If it hadn’t been for the person raising the alarm there could have been tragic consequences. It was getting dark at the time and was freezing cold.

“I hope this serves as a stark reminder to others that it is not safe to play on the ice as it can easily crack and put people in great danger.”

David Stevenson, from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, reiterated the dangers, adding: “Luckily for us, the girls were rescued and are OK, however this will not be the case for everyone.

“You can very quickly develop hypothermia from cold weather conditions. We cannot emphasise enough that cold water shock can turn into tragedy very quickly.”

The girls were rescued close to Beeston Weir where 12-year-old Owen Jenkins died in July 2017 trying to rescue two friends from the water.

His mother Nicola Jenkins founded the Open Water Education Network safety programme in his memory and urged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of playing near water and ice.

Ex-MP Hywel Francis dies: Tributes to lovely and compassionate person

Former Labour MP and historian Dr Hywel Francis has died, his family has confirmed.

Dr Francis – described as “lovely and compassionate” – was the MP for Aberavon for 14 years until he stood down at the 2015 general election.

He died at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, surrounded by his family.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said Dr Francis proved the “power of solidarity” through his life and work.

UK Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds MP said he was “devastated”, saying Dr Francis – the son of National Union of Mineworkers’ official Dai Francis – “strove to make life better for others”.

Mr Drakeford said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of Hywel’s passing.

“Hywel’s legacy will be forever etched in our nation’s story, and his deeply held values shown in his contribution as the Welsh Labour Member of Parliament for Aberavon.” 

Paying tribute on Twitter, Mr Thomas-Symonds added he was an “all-round lovely, compassionate person”.

During his time in parliament, Dr Francis served as chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Welsh Affairs Committee, and two all party groups on archives and history and Down’s Syndrome.

Working with the late Lord Jack Ashley, he successfully introduced the Carers Equal Opportunities Act in 2004, which was often referred to as Sam’s Bill, in memory of his and wife Mair’s son Sam who died in 1997.

Dr Francis’s son Dafydd issued a statement, thanking the hospital staff who had cared for his father.

“As a family we want to thank everyone for their messages of condolence,” he said.

“We also want to thank all the nurses and doctors at Morriston who looked after my father at such a difficult time for the health service. We have nothing but praise for them.”

Mr Drakeford extended “all our thoughts” to “Mair, their family, and friends, at this difficult time.”

“[Dr Francis’] books documenting the struggle of Welsh miners against Thatcherism, and their fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, stand as monuments to our collective history.

“Through his work and life, he showed how powerful the idea of solidarity can be.”

Shadow Welsh Secretary Nia Griffith MP said Dr Francis “did so much for so many causes” and was a “great friend to many of us”.

Labour’s Caerphilly MP Wayne David, said: “Devastating news that Hywel Francis has passed away.

“Hywel was a brilliant historian and educationalist.”

Following his work on “Sam’s Bill”, Dr Francis established and chaired the All Party Parliamentary Carers’ Group.

Before entering politics, he was a professor of continuing education at Swansea University, aimed at widening community access to learning.

Hammersmith Bridge turned red in stunt by fed-up residents

A London bridge which has been closed for six months over safety concerns has been illuminated red in protest at delays to its repair.

The 133-year-old Hammersmith Bridge was shut to all traffic in August when cracks in the structure worsened during a heat wave.

Organisers of the stunt said they created the “Valentine’s Day card” to “draw attention” to the issue.

A feasibility study into a temporary solution is expected “in weeks”.

Motorists were stopped from using the west London crossing in April 2019 before it was closed to all users last year.

As well as turning the structure red, a message reading “Broken Hearts. Broken Promises. Broken Lives. Broken Bridge.” was projected onto the suspension towers.

Organisers said it was directed at Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, and Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Cowan.

Helen Pennant-Rea, chairwoman of the Hammersmith Bridge SOS Residents’ Group, said the stunt was intended as a “fun and entertaining way to draw attention to what remains a serious issue”.

“It is a great shame that we need to raise further attention to the complete inability of politicians from all parties to find a satisfactory solution, to proceed with the funding and works to repair Hammersmith Bridge,” she said.

The special taskforce was set up last September by the Department for Transport to work with bodies like Hammersmith and Fulham Council and Transport for London to carry out repairs and organise a temporary crossing.

At a meeting on 4 February, project director Dana Skelley said a “feasibility study” commissioned to look at a “temporary bridge proposal” was expected “to be completed in the next three weeks”.

The three shortlisted bidders for running a temporary ferry service will also be revealed “in the next few weeks”.

The taskforce previously said it was aiming to start the ferry crossings in the spring.

Cars buried overnight in huge snow drifts near Buckie

Cars have been buried overnight under huge banks of drifting snow blown from fields next to the A98 in Moray.

The vehicles were trapped as gale-force winds carried mud-coloured waves of snow onto the road near Buckie.

Snow ploughs were used to try and clear the stretch, close to its junction with the B9016, but were unable to make it through and the road remains closed.

Elsewhere in the north east, stretches of the A90, A95 and A96 were also closed overnight due to drifting snow.

The A9 has also been affected, with the snow gates being closed between Dalwhinnie and Trinafour.

All major roads were at least partially cleared on Sunday morning but road management firm Bear Scotland said its teams were still working to keep them passable.

Drivers have been urged only to travel in the area if absolutely essential.

Bear Scotland tweeted: “All early morning treatments are now complete. We are still dealing with drifting snow on the A9 at Drumochter.

“Our teams have been working tirelessly overnight and will continue to keep working hard to keep the carriageway clear.

“If you are out an about please #DriveSafe.”

Johnson: US democracy strong after Trump impeachment kerfuffle

Boris Johnson has insisted US democracy remains “strong”, despite the “kerfuffle” over former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate acquitted Mr Trump of incitement to insurrection following the storming of Congress on 6 January.

Mr Johnson told US broadcaster CBS his relationship with new President Joe Biden was “excellent”.

And he promised the American and UK governments would work well together on issues like climate change and defence.

Mr Biden, who was inaugurated on 20 January, has never met the prime minister in person, but this is set to change later this year, with the UK hosting the G7 summit in the summer and the COP26 climate change gathering in the autumn.

During his interview for CBS’s Face the Nation show, Mr Johnson was keen to stress that their two countries were “coming together” on the environment, ways of dealing with Iran and the future of Nato.

These were all issues on which Mr Trump took a different line to the UK government, but the prime minister called recent statements by Mr Biden “incredibly encouraging”.

Having previously condemned the violence inside Washington’s Capitol building last month, he was asked about the impeachment trial of Mr Trump, in which prosecutors failed to get the two-thirds majority in the Senate needed to convict the ex-president.

“I think the clear message that we get from the proceedings in America is that, after all the toings and froings and all the kerfuffle, American democracy is strong,” he said.

“And the American constitution is strong and robust. And we’re delighted now, I’m very delighted, to have a good relationship with the White House, which is an important part of any UK prime minister’s mission.

“I’ve had some good conversations already with President Biden, fantastic conversations about the way he sees things.”

Five people died in the violence in Washington on 6 January.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Biden described democracy – in contrast to Mr Johnson – as “fragile” in the face of “violence and extremism”.

He said of Mr Trump’s trial: “While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute.”

In his first telephone call to the prime minister last month, Mr Biden said he wanted to “strengthen the special relationship” between the US and UK.

Deliveroo: Run Eat Out to Help Out again, says takeaway giant

Takeaway firm Deliveroo and 300 restaurant groups are urging the government to run Eat Out to Help Out again when restaurants finally reopen.

They said the discount scheme, which gave 50% off meals in August, would boost demand for ailing restaurants.

They also said other urgent support was needed to stop “viable” hospitality firms failing despite optimism about the vaccination programme.

It came as one worried pub boss called for pubs to be reopened by April.

Young & Co’s Patrick Dardis accused the government of a “lack of respect” for the sector and of basing the decision to close pubs on “unproven” science – a claim which experts dispute.

In a letter to the prime minister, Deliveroo and partners including Itsu and Pizza Hut said that with all restaurant businesses closed, many were “under immense financial pressure”.

“Even when they are able to reopen to customers, restrictions around mixing of households and social distancing measures mean that a return to trading at full capacity will remain dependent on the successful vaccine rollout,” they wrote.

They said continued government support was “critical” to protect jobs, adding: “The withdrawal of support too early or too suddenly risks viable businesses failing just as the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming clearer.”

They said the Eat Out to Help Out scheme had helped restaurants “survive” in 2020 and should be run again “when it is safe to do so”.

The scheme – which gave discounts of up to £10 per diner on food and soft drinks from Mondays to Wednesdays – was used 100 million times in August. The impact was felt after the scheme ended too.

“The boost the scheme provided not only helped protect restaurants from closure but also showed customers the work we have done to make sure they are safe and can get back to enjoying great food,” the letter said.

It also called for support measures including:

In a separate letter to the prime minister, Young’s & Co’s Mr Dardis accused the government of a “lack of interest and respect” regarding the plight of pubs.

He said major pub chief executives, including himself, were quitting an industry forum set up by small business minister Paul Scully. He declined to name the executives.

He added that the industry needed a “road map” to reopening with social distancing restrictions in place, but that these should only be in place for a few months.

Questioning the science behind the current pub restrictions, he said: “We are shocked and appalled that the government is basing its decisions to keep the great British pub closed on unproven and unfounded statistics.”

But Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter medical school, said talk of reopening pubs by April was premature.

“What the executives of pubs need to know is that failure to get it right equals back to square one. And back to square one equals much more pain economically, much more hardship.”

He added: “Whichever way you want to cut it, you drink alcohol to relax and have a bonhomie with your friends.

“One of the consequences of relaxing is that you drop your guard,” he said.

Dr Julian Tang, honorary associate professor at the University of Leicester, agreed.

The consultant virologist said: “Opening pubs will bring more people into closer contact with each other – this will allow the virus to spread – we already know and understand this concept.”

Welsh independence: More people in favour, Plaid say

The level of support for independence in Wales is similar to that in Scotland’s a decade ago, Plaid Cymru’s leader has claimed.

Adam Price told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show “more and more” people were supporting the idea because of the state of the economy and the level of inequality in Welsh society.

Mr Price said independence would put Wales “on a better path”.

But Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said a referendum now would not be “wise”.

Mr Price said: “We are not going to be able to put Wales on a better path, on a better trajectory, without independence.

“The level of support for independence now in Wales is where it was in Scotland 10 years ago.

“A few short years after that, Scotland came within touching distance of voting yes in the independence referendum.”

With the prospect of Scotland holding another independence referendum “in the near future” and “Northern Ireland cooperating more with the Republic”, Wales’ Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Lord Elis-Thomas said he did not think it would be “wise” to hold a referendum in Wales “at the moment”.

But he added there was a “great need” to “strengthen” devolution in Wales.

Speaking on BBC Radio Cymru’s Dewi Llwyd ar Fore Sul, Lord Elis-Thomas said the pandemic had made it obvious that “the United Kingdom is a country of four nations” and there was a need to “intensify” those arrangements.

“I don’t know if it is wise to hold a referendum on independence here in Wales at the moment but it’s obvious that the discussion on devolution for Wales is not going to subside,” he said.

“Co-dependency, co-operation and self-governance, those are the things that are important to me”.