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Port Talbot scaffolder jailed for heading-up drug gang

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A Port Talbot scaffolder has been jailed for 12 years for heading up a drugs gang.

Three men, who were part of the organised crime group which sold illegal drugs, were jailed for a total of 23 years after an 18-month long Police investigation.

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Operation Formby is an investigation conducted by South Wales Police Force Intelligence & Organised Crime Unit into the drug trafficking activities of Daniel Baker and his gang.

Daniel Baker, aged 30 from Sandfields, Port Talbot, was the head of the organised crime group involved in trafficking Class A Cocaine and Class B Ketamine throughout the South Wales region, and in the Oxfordshire area of England.

His connections with Oxfordshire were through his legitimate scaffolding employment.

He was arrested at his home address on August 18, 2021, where he was found in possession of a significant quantity of Class B Ketamine, a firearm and in excess of £44,000 cash.

The investigation uncovered that Baker had been supplying Cocaine since at least 2016 and had been using various individuals to collect debts on his behalf, collect and courier the drugs for him, and other individuals to supply both Cocaine and Ketamine on his behalf.

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Baker and his gang were proven to have supplied 1kg of Cocaine between 2015 and 2018 and a further 9kg between May 2021 and August 2021. The 10 kilograms of Cocaine would have had an estimated street value of between £1.1 million and £1.4 million.

The co-defendants convicted in the conspiracy to supply Cocaine with Daniel Baker were Steven Hughes, age 46, from Abercynon and Mark Lapper, age 41, from East Hanney, Oxfordshire.

The three appeared at Swansea Crown Court today (Monday 9 May 2022).

Daniel Baker pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Supply Class A Cocaine, Possession with intent to supply Class B Ketamine and Possession of a s.5 Firearm. Baker was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Steven Hughes pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Supply Class A Cocaine and Possession of Class B Cannabis. Hughes was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

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Mark Lapper pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Supply Class A Cocaine. Lapper was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings are now ongoing in relation to these individuals to recover assets realised as a result of their drug trafficking activities.

Detective Inspector Russ Jenkins from the Force Intelligence & Organised Crime Unit said: “Organised Crime Groups such as these have continued to operate within our local communities and have been brazen in their activities and believed they are beyond the reach of law.

“Our investigators have worked tirelessly, and continue to utilise all opportunities available, to investigate these offences and successfully prosecute those involved.

“The continued success of these operations provides reassurance and confidence to the communities of South Wales.”

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(Lead image: South Wales Police)

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Port Talbot

Port Talbot RNLI shop open again for business

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Following refurbishment, visitors to Port Talbot will once again be able to visit the shop located at the lifeboat station at Aberavon seafront.

The shop refit marks the start of a new era. The shop was opened in loving memory of the previous shop manager, Phil Jones, who sadly passed away in early 2021.

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Phil had kept the shop open single-handedly for over twelve years with much success. Phil’s wife and daughter kindly agreed to officially open the new shop on Sunday 12 June when many memories were shared and there were plenty of best wishes for the future.

RNLI shops started out as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local station. Around 1920 commemorative RNLI products were added and shops were selling souvenirs and Christmas cards, all profits helping to save lives at sea.

The RNLI now has over 170 shops around the coast and inland all of which are run by dedicated volunteers: Port Talbot is no exception.

The shop volunteer team has grown since April 2021 from a team of one to thirteen and is also involved with fundraising.

New Shop Manager Kirstee David says: “It has been amazing watching the shop team develop over the last twelve months and to see how passionate the team is about developing what we offer – and about the RNLI!”

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(Lead image: Port Talbot RNLI)

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Port Talbot

Search begins for Port Talbot panto princess

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A South Wales theatre production company is looking for a member of the public in Neath Port Talbot to join its professional pantomime cast this year by playing a princess in Jack and the Beanstalk.

Newly formed MTAZ Productions Ltd is behind Jack and the Beanstalk which runs at The Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot from December 1st to 10th this year and the company is looking to the local community  to find its princess. 

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The lucky person will star alongside a professional cast of actors and will be chosen from an open audition being held on July 21st at the theatre. 

In order to audition you must be 18 years old or above and be available for all rehearsal and show dates. 

The show’s director, Anthony Argyle said: “We are incredibly excited to meet possible actors to play the princess. We have a great line up for this year’s panto and would love to cast a local actor in the role.”

Zoe Richards, Producer at MTAZ added: ‘It’s the first time we have produced the panto at Port Talbot and with Anthony being a local lad we want to make sure it’s a traditional panto experience created by professionals who grew up and have connections in the area.’

To find out how you register for an audition email themtfest@gmail.com 

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MTAZ Productions’ spellbinding Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime will be taking over The Princess Royal Theatre’s stage in December – with both family and ‘adult only’ performances. 

Audience members can expect plenty of laughs, incredible music, spectacular special effects, magic beans and bundles of audience participation in what is planned to be a “giant” of a pantomime!

Tickets are on sale now and already selling fast, to book call The Princess Royal Theatre’s Box Office phone line on 01639 763214 or book online at  www.princessroyaltheatre.com .

MTAZ Productions Ltd is a newly formed company co-owned by Anthony Argyle and Zoe Walters. Established to create experiences in storytelling in family and young people’s theatre. 

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Education

Port Talbot school’s shipping container shop lets people ‘pay what they can’ to combat cost of living crisis

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Port Talbot’s Central Primary School is the latest in Wales to open its own ‘pay as you can’ shop aimed at helping not only pupils but members of the surrounding community.

The Welsh Government funded Big Bocs Bwyd project in the Valleys Taskforce area helps children develop an early understanding of healthy food choices while providing affordable priced food to families in the local community who may be in need of support.

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The scheme originally started at Cadoxton and Oak Field primary schools in Barry and has now spread to a number of schools in Wales including Ynysfach Primary in Resolven.

The project operates from converted shipping containers based on the school grounds. Food is donated from local supermarkets and shops. Charities such as FareShare, which aims to reduce food poverty by re-distributing quality surplus food produced by the food industry, are also part of the scheme.

Central Primary School Head Teacher Samantha Hopkins said: “Our Big Bocs Bwyd is essentially a ‘pay as you can’ shop which is open to everyone in both our school and our wider community.

“Weekly re-stocks from a variety of charities not only help prevent food ending up in landfill, but our families also benefit from good quality food at a cost they can personally afford.

“Big Bocs Bwyd not only supports our families and wider community but it is also an integral part of our new curriculum. The opportunities it provides enable our children to be exposed to truly authentic learning experiences while enhancing their understanding of key concepts.

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“Time devoted to these rich, ‘hands on’ experiences enables them to dwell on the skills they are developing.”

The Big Bocs Bwyd was officially opened in bright sunshine at Central Primary School on Friday, June 10th by the school’s Chair of Governors, Suzanne Amos.

Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Training, Cllr Nia Jenkins said: “We welcome this enterprising scheme which is in line with a number of our key priorities particularly improving education for all and helping people locally with the cost of living crisis.

“I’d like to congratulate all those involved in setting up this latest Big Bocs Bwyd shop. It will be a real asset to the school and those living around it.”

(Lead image: NPT Council)

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