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Shadow Minister speaks

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Owen Smith MP: We must try and maintain high quality jobs

Owen Smith MP: We must try and maintain high quality jobs

AFTER the shock news of the collapse of the Murco takeover deal, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales joined local councillor Paul Miller to meet with Herald Deputy Editor Jon Coles and discuss the buyout’s traumatic failure. With rumour and counter-rumour swirling about the cause for the Klesch Group’s abortive acquisition of the refinery, we asked Owen Smith about what had gone wrong. He told us: “My understanding is that this is a problem that has occurred on behalf of the buyer in this group, Klesch Group. The buyer couldn’t come through with a deal now.

That’s what the unions at the plant told us; that’s what the management at the plant we met today told us at the plant. I will take their word that is the case.” Rejecting ideas that either the UK or Welsh Governments were at fault, Owen Smith pointed out the generous funding arrangements that both governments had made and told us: “Governments at both ends of the M4 have been doing all they could to make sure that the funding that they were going to provide was in place We will want to get to the bottom of what went wrong and I am going to be writing to David Cameron and to Stephen Crabb as to why Klesch didn’t come through.”

Acknowledging the shattering effect on the economy, Owen Smith said: “The deal’s failure is a devastating blow for this community. These are high quality jobs, well-paying jobs and they will not be replaced easily. There are wider implications for the entire Pembrokeshire economy and the West Wales economy.” Owen Smith was hopeful that all parties would strive to put steps in place to soften the impact of the blow: “The Welsh Government – Carwyn Jones, Edwina Hart and others – will absolutely put their shoulder into the wheel.

They will be under no illusions as to how important this closure would be. They know precisely the nature of the economy in Pembrokeshire and I they can be relied on to do or within their power to make sure whatever happens. “We must try and maintain high quality jobs in this area. Westminster has to play its part. The Westminster parliament is a government for Pembrokeshire as well in London, and we need to make sure that they understand their role. A very large amount of money was supposed to come from the government in Westminster to support the takeover bid. We now to make sure that the UK Government plays a full part not only in supporting those workers who may lose their jobs, but also trying to replace those jobs.

Warming to his theme, he continued: “We need to make sure that we pull out all the stops on this because, I say again: these jobs are so important for this community; established jobs; high skilled jobs; high paid jobs. Whether the government is Labour or Tory, we’ve got to do all we can to try and make sure that the bits of Britain at the fringes, a long way from London and the south-east, don’t have to see our children, our sons and daughters leave to find good work when it could be right here, on our doorsteps.” On the broader elements of how to sustain jobs in primary industries, Owen Smith was clear as to where he saw Labour’s priorities lying: “There are key things that governments need to do in order to support industry especially in more peripheral parts of Britain.

“The next Labour government, in my view, will have to have a really solid infrastructure plan, but more importantly a very strong industrial strategy. I think you could argue that successive governments have not had a powerful enough industrial strategy, especially for key industries like refining, steel and chemicals. We need to get back to that. We need to get back to supporting manufacturing jobs – jobs in high skilled, perhaps old, but still vital industries. Those are the jobs that we have got in communities like Milford Haven.

They’re some of the jobs we’ve got in steel producing areas of Britain and they are still going to be hugely important part of our industrial mix for the next twenty years, more hopefully. “We need to be looking into the jobs for the future but we also need to remember what we have got now and what governments can do right now to make sure that we maintain and sustain those industries and those jobs.” Paul Miller put a personal perspective on the collapse of the refinery deal: “My family’s been supported by that particular site for the last few decades. My brother still works there; so I know just how important that site is and just how difficult a period it is for the families working there.

“I want to make absolutely sure that everyone on the Labour front bench being in Cardiff or Westminster are under no illusions of how important this site is, how important those jobs are and how difficult a period this is going to be for the Pembrokeshire economy. No stone must be left unturned in finding the solution for this particular problem. “I’m delighted that Owen accepted the invitation to come to see what was happening on the ground. We needed to hear from management and from staff about what’s going on and if there’s anything at all we can do to help them.”

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Pembrokeshire Leisure welcomes back school swimming

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PEMBROKESHIRE Leisure is welcoming back school swimming lessons around the county for the first time since March 2020.

Swimmers from over 20 schools will be attending in their class bubbles to enjoy learning vital water competency skills in Pembrokeshire Leisure’s six swimming pools.

In a county which is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coastline, being safe in and around water is a potentially life-saving skill.

The programme of school swimming lessons helps to achieve the Welsh national priority that every child is a swimmer by the time they leave primary school.

The National Curriculum requirement which has been designed in line with this is that every key stage 2 child should be able to:

  • Swim 25 metres with clothes on (shorts and t-shirt), then tread water for 30 seconds and demonstrate an action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P)
  • Demonstrate a shout and signal action to attract attention.

The first school to return was Ysgol Glannau Gwaun at Fishguard Leisure Centre and there are now 20 primary schools which will be attending swimming lessons around Pembrokeshire.

On Monday 14 th June, Coastlands County Primary School attended and their Head Teacher Sonja Groves said: “We are delighted to finally get back to swimming after such a long time away. The children were so happy to be back in the water learning and enjoying. Swimming is a vital life skill which helps to keep the children of Pembrokeshire safe in and around all types of water.”

Leisure Services Manager Gary Nicholas said: “It is fantastic to be able to safely welcome back school swimming to our facilities. Primary school aged children have missed over a years’ worth of swimming lessons and Pembrokeshire Leisure are committed to supporting the aim of every child a swimmer by age 11.

“We will continue to do this by delivering quality school swimming lessons following the Swim Wales Nofio Ysgol programme, using the Free Swimming Initiative to provide targeted sessions for the most deprived swimmers and by continuing to provide swimming lessons at all sites in our Learn to Swim programme.”

For more information about how you can book your child swimming lessons and support their journey to becoming a competent swimmer, contact your local leisure centre.

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Landmarc flies the flag at local training camp to celebrate Armed Forces Week

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TO CELEBRATE Armed Forces Week 2021 and the contribution made by local military personnel, Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) has raised the Armed Forces Day flag at Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire.

Following an unprecedented year for the UK’s troops as they responded to the challenges raised by the pandemic, Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), wanted to extend an extra special thank you, by flying the official Armed Forces Day flag at military training estates across the UK, including local camp, Castlemartin.

Landmarc employees were joined by Armed Forces personnel and staff from DIO to witness the raising of the flag, where it will fly proudly until Armed Forces Week comes to a close on the 28th of June.

This Armed Forces Week, Landmarc has pledged its support and sponsorship of Team Emotive in its mission to complete one of the world’s most difficult ocean rowing challenges – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – all in the name of raising money for mental health charity, Veterans at Ease.

Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, including one Landmarc employee, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally. 23 rd June 2021

In addition, Landmarc has also announced its official partnership with the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, working together to support veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc, comments: “Each year, every one of us at Landmarc gives thanks to our troops during this special week. As part of the 25 per cent of veterans and reservists that make up Landmarc’s workforce, I know first- hand how important this event is for morale within the Forces community.

“It’s always fantastic to see so many people and organisations come together each year for Armed Forces Week, but the events of the last fifteen months have heightened our gratitude. The efforts from our servicemen and women have been immense and impossible to ignore in the nation’s fight against COVID-19; with our own staff working alongside the military to support the demands of the training estate as it hosts troops from across the country.”

For more information on Landmarc Support Services, please visit www.landmarcsolutions.com.

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Endurance runner tackles Pembrokeshire Coast

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ENDURANCE runner Sean Conway has successfully completed his epic series of marathons in the UK’s National Parks.

On Thursday, June 17, Sean tackled the Pembrokeshire coast, running from Newport to Dinas Head and back, fuelled by sports nutrition brand ‘Grenade’.

Sean, who is from North Wales, has ran the length of Britain before but says this was the longest stretch of days where he has had to constantly do a marathon every day.

Speaking of his run in Newport, Sean said: “It was so hilly. Honestly, the weather was amazing. It wasn’t too hot and there were some nice views along the way. At Dinas Head, it was amazing looking down at the lagoons and there are some amazing rock formations.”

He took six hours to complete his marathon but there was little time for recovery as he moved on to his final run in Snowdonia the day after.

“This was my second-last marathon so my body was feeling pretty battered and I’ve had to do it fully self-supported so I was doing one run out then back to the car and then out again”, Sean added.

“With covid we’ve all been staying at home more so I wanted to show off how amazing the National Parks are.

“There will be more of us visiting as restrictions are eased but we don’t want to ruin it by being silly.”

Sean was provided with his nutrition for the runs by Grenade and he said he ‘would not have been able to survive without them’.

In the morning he would have an energy drink which contained vitamins and electrolites and he would also mix this in with his water for some of his runs.

Sean would also have protein bars to give him an extra boost as he tried to keep on top of his protein intake.

“Pembrokeshire was so scenic. When I announced the runs this was the run that stood out online and I was really looking forward to doing it. We’ll definitely be coming back soon” Sean concluded.

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