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Fire service ‘in disarray’

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fire serviceCONCERNS have arisen this week over potential safety risks posed to Pembrokeshire’s refineries, as the Fire and Rescue Service for Mid and West Wales announced a possible budget cut of up to £4 million.

The proposed cut backs could mean that every full time firefighter employed at Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven and Ammanford fire stations would be replaced by part-time staff, sparking fears of compromised safety, of which the Fire Brigades Union secretary for Mid and West Wales, Barry Davies, said:

“These cuts will put the lives of the public and firefighters at risk. The Welsh Government must recognise fire services now face a severe funding crisis.”

Paul Miller, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Preseli, said of the crisis: “Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock Fire Stations have already been downgraded more than once.

“Last week’s proposal from the Fire Authority will mean we have no whole time firefighters on station in Milford Haven. Coupled with the same in Pembroke Dock, that’s two LNG terminals, two oil refineries and one, soon to be two, power stations, whose nearest Fire Station will be home to zero full time fire-fighters.

“People in and around Milford Haven will be put at risk and all to maintain less critical services elsewhere. The Tory and Plaid members who run the Fire Authority, plan to make savings in Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock (whatever the risk) to ensure their areas are protected.”

Mid and West AM, Simon Thomas of Plaid Cymru, said in response to Mr Miller: “I am obviously concerned about the proposals. I’ve already called on the Labour Minister to intervene, but she has refused to do so. I will be making strong representations to the Fire Authority to ensure Pembrokeshire is protected from cuts imposed on the authority by the Labour Welsh Government.

“The Labour candidate forgets that it his own party which is responsible for any changes in the fire service locally. I will be also urging the Fire Authority for their assurances that public safety will be met at all times.”

Cllr David Howlett, Leader of the Conservative Group on the County Council, had this to say in response to Mr Miller’s statement: “With Milford Haven being the energy capital of the United Kingdom it is vital that we have a fire service that is able to cope with any incidents that may occur. I am amazed at the comments of Cllr Miller who claims ‘Tory and Plaid members who run the Fire Authority’. In fact, Labour have 11 members on the fire authority compared with four from Plaid Cymru and only one Conservative.”

Delyth Evans, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, added to her colleague’s concerns, saying: “To remove full fire response cover from Pembroke Dock would expose this community to unnecessary risks. Labour will be launching a campaign this week to ensure that we are not put at risk by the worst kind of political decision making by the fire authority.”

William Powell AM, Liberal Democrat for Mid and West Wales, commented: “I am aware that the proposals are causing considerable anxiety. Clearly, there are essential services across the area which need fire and rescue coverage. There are now genuine questions over whether that will be possible should the proposed reconfigurations take place.”

However, Wynne Evans, councillor for Narberth Ward and Chairman of the Resources Management Committee, said: “We have some very difficult decisions to make. This will have implications across all six local authority areas. All that has been discussed are options, not decisions.”

The Herald contacted LNG and Valero to enquire as to what safety implications any reduction in service may have, but both companies declined to comment.

However, a spokesperson for the Murco refinery explained that, along with the other refineries, they had their own equipment and fire crews which made them self-contained operations.

Only this week the Fire Brigade Union held a one-day strike across the country. Haverfordwest firefighter and watch manager, Chris Collins, speaking on behalf of FBU members, said: “The strike is an ongoing dispute. The Government have increased our pensions contributions from 11% to 14.2% of our salary. The Government wants us to work beyond the age of 55 and, with the job and its physicality, we do not think that is a feasible way to go. The FBU have said we are going for a second ballot, but we are trying to get an agreement beforehand.”

On the issue of the potential cuts in services, Mr Collins added: “One of the initial proposals to the Fire Authority was to save £4 million over two years. The only way to do this is the downgrading of stations or maybe redundancies. A retained only station would mean that personel would be alerted from their home address, creating a delayed response.”

Milford Haven Fire station watch manager, Andy Syme, added to Mr Collins’ comments: “Firefighting is a physiologically strenuous job which necessitates firefighters retiring earlier than the majority of the workforce. Milford firefighters realise the concerns of the public and we urge them to remain vigilant and to protect their families during this difficult time. But we hope that they can find some degree of empathy towards our current situation.”

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Blue Gem Wind begins digital aerial surveys for 300MW Valorous floating wind project

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BLUE GEM WIND, the joint venture between TotalEnergies, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and Simply Blue Energy, has begun offshore digital aerial surveys for a proposed 300MW floating wind project.

APEM Ltd have been chosen by Blue Gem Wind to deliver 24 consecutive monthly bird and marine mammal surveys of the early-commercial scale Valorous site. The high resolution data obtained will support baseline environmental characterisation of the site and environmental impact assessments for key ecological receptors.

The survey programme commenced in March 2021 and four of the 24 monthly surveys have been completed
to date.

Sean Evans, Environmental Specialist at Blue Gem Wind said, “It is important for us to begin long-lead in items
such as bird and marine mammal surveys as early as possible. These surveys will provide crucial species specific
data on the number, spatial distribution and activity of individuals across the Valorous site. This enables us to
undertake robust environmental impact assessments ahead of our planned consent application submission in
2023.”

Matt Rohner, Senior Consultant at APEM, “APEM Ltd are delighted to be able to support Blue Gem Wind’s
proposed Valorous offshore wind farm with our best-in-class survey design approach. Imagery captured using
state-of-the-art cameras is of ultra-high (1.6cm) resolution, providing industry leading image quality that is
essential for species level identification.”

The Celtic Sea is poised to play a key role in Net Zero, the Committee on Climate Change’s 100GW offshore
wind target, and crucially, the UK Government’s target of 1 GW of floating wind by 2030. The ORE Catapult also
estimated that the first GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea could potentially deliver over 3,000 jobs and
£682m in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030.

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Three arrests as suspected cocaine worth £12,000 seized in Milford Haven

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POLICE in Milford Haven have disrupted the supply of cocaine in the town in a major operation which saw people detained and a large quantity of drugs found.

Three people were arrested and suspected cocaine worth up to £12,200 was seized, police said.

Dyfed-Powys Police carried out a warrant at a house in Hubberston on the evening of Friday, June 11, “where 122g of what is believed to be cocaine was found.”

This is estimated to have a street value of between £9,760 and £12,200 depending on its purity.

The occupant of the address – a 59-year-old man – was not present at the time, however he was later arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

He has been released under investigation pending the result of forensic, digital and financial enquiries.

As enquiries progressed, officers made two further arrests over the weekend.

A 33-year-old man from Manchester, was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and possession of an offensive weapon after police stopped the car he was driving.

A quantity of white powder was seized by Greater Manchester Police during a warrant at the address he gave officers in custody.

A 27-year-old woman from the Stockport area was also arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.

Both have been released on bail with the condition not to enter Pembrokeshire.

Detective Constable Phillip Jones said: “This was a significant drugs seizure, and we will continue our enquiries with the view to securing a swift outcome.

“I would like to thank all officers involved over the weekend for their dedication and diligence.”

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Major blaze destroys well known Tenby chip shop

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EMERGENCY services have sealed off part of Tenby following a major fire at a chip shop.

Fire fighters rushed to Park Road Fish & Chip Shop after a blaze broke out late on Tuesday morning (Jun 15).

Emergency services are still at the scene. Police are asking people to avoid the area.

Diversions for traffic are in place.

Four fire appliances responded to the blaze at the Tenby chip shop (Image G Davies Photography)
Fire fighters take off BA kits after the blaze was put out (Image G Davies Photography)

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