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Narberth traders worry over Sainsbury’s plans

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sainsburys-5795657DESPITE an announcement last week from Sainsbury’s that some new store developments, nationally, will not go ahead, it seems a supermarket still wants a convenience store in Narberth. Sainsbury’s proposition has left many Narberth traders both worried and shocked.They believe it could spell the end of their town as a tourist destination and specialist retail area. The application for development has been made by Abbeymore Estates, and Knox and Wells Limited.

It proposes demolition of the old school which would be replaced by a new two-story development. The plan then proposes the two acre site has non-food retail units, a betting shop, a cafe and takeaway, a day nursery and residential apartments. Narberth Chamber of Trade secretary, Gordon Barry, told The Herald: “It saddens the Chamber that there has been no contact with the developer to explore the thought and design with them, since it was fi rst announced in April of this year.” Our reporter went to Narberth and spoke with some of the traders that would be affected by a Sainsbury’s store moving into the area.

Jenny Thomas, who is the owner of “6 The High Street”, expressed her concerns: “All the shops in Narberth are independent and there are no big names or chain stores here. I’ve seen it grow for the last 30 years, and our customers come to Narberth to shop because it is an area with independent shops. You have to bear in mind the population here is only 2000 people. If it’s a superstore coming, then surely they sell what we all sell, and we struggle in January, February and March as it is. We rely on tourists to come here.

The uniqueness will go with this development and there has been no offer of a discount of rates. Narberth is the same size as a village; to split the trade we already have is a disastrous proposition”. On the subject as to getting information from the County Council with regards to any proposed plans for the local traders she continued, saying: “It’s diffi cult. You are here all the time (as an owner) and can’t get to these meetings. It’s grim as it comes through our Chamber of Trade, and that’s all we learn.” From the store “No 47” Richard Swingler said: “It’s a shame the old school wasn’t used as a community service project. If people had got together perhaps we could have provided a community area (a library or boxing club), then maybe incorporate a retail section with it.

The number of units are far too many for Narberth to sustain, but the biggest complaint has to be the lack of car parking; the car parking is to be reduced! Surely, you need more for more units, it doesn’t make sense and it will no doubt have an adverse effect on the town”. Co – Director of Wisebuys, Anthony Ryan, expressed his grave concerns as to what the effect on Narberth’s traders would be: “It’s a bit of a shock. I always thought Narberth was a ‘jewel in the crown’ for Pembrokeshire. I would have thought it would have been a good idea to preserve Narberth as it is, rather than kill it like they (Pembrokeshire County Council) have with every other town in Pembrokeshire, due to out-of-town developments.

Surely they should learn a lesson by looking at what Carmarthen have done, and join it on to the town. Narberth is a specialised country town and people come here for those specialist shops – we are known all over the country for this. Why spoil it? There aren’t enough customers in Narberth to warrant this and it will reduce the foot fall in Narberth. Look at CK’s, the other chain store development, with a free car park? They pay half the rates and then take our customers! It should be the other way round. We are struggling and just about surviving and any more pressure and we will close.

It’s what I am expecting in Narberth; Spa and Cost- Cutter wont survive – which will reduce footfall again”. Asked what the Council should do at this point, he said: “Stop it. Don’t let them go ahead with it – sell it to someone else – make it a useful building for the community; but they won’t because it will cost them money and they are too tight to spend it on sensible things, they’d rather throw it away on pointless things like cycle lanes etc. The Council spout on about Narberth being fantastic, yet they slit our throats.

Narberth is doing ok, not brilliantly, but our takings have gone down 20% in the last 5 years and I know of hundreds of customers who don’t come here anymore because they can’t park anywhere”. Tom Trenchard, Head of Convenience Acquisitions South at Sainsbury’s, told The Herald: “We are currently fi nalising negotiations to open a store as part of a development at the site of the former school. If we were to open at the development, our store will create between 20-25 new jobs for local people.

We would aim to complement, rather than compete with existing local traders, and contribute to help people keep shopping locally, while bringing additional footfall to the town, benefi tting all”. On the subject of concerns over parking space, a spokesperson for Sainsbury’s sated: “We would be a tenant as part of the wider development, so probably best to address those wider concerns to the developer himself, whose planning application it is. Clearly we can only talk about our proposal”.

Cllr Wyn Evans, spoke with The Herald: “The school has been empty for fi ve and a half years now and is becoming an eyesore, subjected to vandalism. This development is welcome indeed. I am in consultation with the Chamber of Trade, discussing the parking situation and I’m forming a working group at County Hall on January 19, where organisations from the community are invited to sit along with council offi cers.

We are aware of parking issues and we need a strategic plan to go forward that may involve reconfi guration of existing spaces and readjustment of current waiting times. It is important we have consultation with the community and I look forward to continued dialogue. There is also an urgent need for accommodation for people in Narberth, and people may now have opportunities to move to these fl ats freeing up larger properties for larger families.”

 

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Crime Commissioner continues to secure funding for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual violence

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police is again making the offer for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual abuse to bid for additional funds.

Funding was made available last year, in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on organisations supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence.

It was part of a £76 million package of support made available by the UK Government.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “Thanks to this additional funding, we can ensure that victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Dyfed-Powys can access specialist services for support, at a time when they are needed the most.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in domestic violence during the pandemic and victims need help now more than ever and I am grateful for the work of all the service providers across the Force area that help these men, women and families who are most in need.

“I want to reassure anyone who is in an abusive situation or relationship that you do not need to suffer in silence, and I urge anyone to report abuse to the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“This funding is open both to providers whom I currently commission and those that I do not currently fund. However, unlike the extraordinary Covid-19 funding provided in 2020/21, organisations do not need to be a registered charity, a charitable incorporated organisation, or a social enterprise to be eligible for this funding. They must, however, provide support services which have the purpose of helping victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse cope with the impacts of crime and, as far as possible, recover from the harm they have experienced. We would also encourage applications from small specialist organisations that support groups with protected characteristics.

“If you wish to submit a request for this funding, further guidance is available on my website, and can be requested via the office e-mail address.”

Closing date for submissions is close of play on Friday, March 12, 2021.

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Covid alert level lowered for whole of UK

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THE COVID alert level for all four nations of the United Kingdom has been lowered to alert level 4.

The decision comes following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in light of the most recent data.

In recent weeks, the R-rate and the number of covid cases has been on the decline.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.

“The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

Under the Welsh Government’s Alert level 4 restrictions, schools and colleges, places of worship, community centres, playgrounds and public parks are among those that can be opened.

Theatres, entertainment venues, leisure facilities and outdoor visitors attractions are among the places that must remain close while the country is in Alert Level 4.

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Postmaster and politicians welcome Goodwick cash machine U-turn

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GOODWICK post office will now be keeping its ATM, after a U-turn by Post Office Ltd.

The machine was due to be removed within months with the post master, Jon Moverley saying that it would be a disaster for the village.

If the ATM had been removed, there would have been just two 24-hour ATMs serving the whole of Fishguard and Goodwick in the short term and three when the Co-op renovations are completed.

Both politicians and local residents then got behind the campaign to keep the ATM

Pembrokeshire politicians Paul Davies and Stephen Crabb have welcomed the news that Goodwick post office is now set to keep its ATM facility. Following representations made by both politicians to the Post Office, it’s now been confirmed that Goodwick Post Office will be included in the rollout of ATM machines across the post office network.

Mr Davies said “This is really welcome news. I’m pleased that the Post Office has listened to the representations made by the local community and decided to retain the ATM at Goodwick post office. The facility is so important for local people and businesses and it’s great that that’s been recognised and the Post Office has committed to keeping it.”

Following the Post Office’s decision to invest in Goodwick’s ATM rather than remove it, Stephen Crabb MP, who campaigned for the ATM to stay, commented: “It’s great news that the Post Office has overturned its own decision and will be keeping an ATM machine in Goodwick.

“Access to cash continues to be incredibly important for a number of people and businesses and I’m pleased to have played my part in working with John from the Post Office in Goodwick, Paul Davies MS and the wider community to highlight the ATMs importance to the area. It shows what can be achieved when we work together.”

The postmaster described the news as ‘brilliant’. Mr Moverley thanked supporters.

He said “Many thanks to all of you who have used the machine and complained to POL about the removal. We were also supported by our MP, MS and mayor, the National Federation of Sub-postmasters and our Chamber of Trade.

“Everyone did their bit, and it says an enormous amount about the strength of the community.

“We are delighted that locals and so many other people have come together to save this essential facility in the village.”

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