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MPs should be ‘a bloody nuisance’

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simon hart

A nuisance: Simon Hart

SIMON HART arrives for his interview with the air of a man eager to get cracking with business. That does not, however, stop him from taking time to chat about his experiences as a surveyor in and around Tenby and the deep connection he feels to his home locality. With a message sent on his mobile phone to explain he would be late for his next stop on a journey that had seen him visit a trampoline factory in Pembroke Dock before heading to The Herald offices and then off to visit Llawhaden, he gives the impression of being a man constantly active and on the move.

The same habits permeate his speech: he is, by turn, measured and bubbling with infectious enthusiasm as he warms to a subject. We start off with a subject featured in last Friday’s edition of The Herald. A couple of weeks ago, our columnist Badger offered an assessment of how the local seats in the coming election would pan out. In that column he described Mr Hart, whose chances he did not fancy, “a humane and committed constituency MP of a type becoming increasingly rare at Westminster”.

Badger’s words were met with correspondence from those who wished to draw attention to their contention that Mr Hart’s past as Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance made the word “humane”, at best, moot. That correspondence was featured, as was Badger’s somewhat pithy response. Mr Hart said: “I am interested that those who are opposed to hunting are those who appear to be obsessed about it and are constantly raising it.

“My priorities in my constituency are, I hope, basically the same as everyone else: jobs, housing, health, the future of Withybush. Of course, I have never made any secret about what I did before I was an MP.I am proud to have been associated with a 200 year old Pembrokeshire institution – the South Pembs Hunt. So, I have no problems. People must make their own judgements and if they found what I did before I was an MP too much to stomach, then I have to live with that.”

He continued: “The usual thing you hear about MP’s is that we are all the same and nobody knows what anyone stands for. I personally think that voters these days would prefer to vote for somebody who has beliefs and opinions and is prepared to stand by them. “It was not my party who spent 700 hours of parliamentary time debating hunting. In this Parliament not a single hour of debate has been devoted to the issue. I am not going to be accused of devoting time to a subject which, as I say, I never raised and which I never would have raised.”

We asked Mr Hart whether he was optimistic about the prospects for economic regeneration in his parliamentary constituency. He said: “I’m always somebody with a positive demeanour. Entering 2015, and trying to be realistic about the obstacles some families face, I am immensely proud of the fact that we have great businesses around here. Some of them are long-standing and some of them relatively new. This morning, I was at Atlantic trampolines in Pembroke Dock, who have sold 50,000 trampolines over the last few years and are selling their goods across the UK and worldwide.

“There is a lot to be positive about with small and medium-sized business opening up: the manufacture of the ZANO drone based at the BIC, in Pembroke Dock, puts us at the forefront of new and developing technologies. The lists of these new businesses is endless.” Simon Hart paused to take a sip of tea and continued: “It is fantastic we are seeing unemployment fall in the area. I hate it when people talk about jobs in tourism as “not proper jobs”.

If you are working on that caravan site or in that hotel, earning your own money and spending it in your community: that’s a proper job. I did that once and I think it is condescending of people to suggest that they are not proper jobs.” Looking at the loss of manufacturing jobs, at Murco and Cambrian Windows, Mr Hart acknowledged the challenges but remained upbeat: “There are career prospects in the County: I don’t want it to seem that I am looking at things through rose-tinted spectacles. There are a signifi cant number of new jobs being created and maintained. People are fi nding Pembrokeshire is a very good place to do business.”

In terms of what he has done for his constituents he replied: “My ambition is to provide a voice for people that they otherwise would not have. I like sticking up for the small guy. I think the role of an MP is become a bloody nuisance on behalf of people in need of help. “If that means knocking on the doors of the Welsh Government, the County Council and the Health Board, so be it. I know that there are times when the phone rings at County Hall when people go ‘oh no not him again’. Good!”

Moving on to discuss Withybush Hospital and the actions of the Health Board in respect of health services within Pembrokeshire, Simon Hart was very clear: “My frustration with Hywel Dda, and that should indicate how I feel about it, is that its communication is poor. It does not think it communicates either its intentions or its decisions effectively, either its staff or the public. This creates an information void which can be alarming.”

Visibly warming to a subject upon which he has campaigned vociferously, Mr Hart continued: “We need to know what the longterm is and whether the Board sees a future for Withybush. Without that we cannot plan for our families or our businesses. “One thing the Board says is an issue is recruitment, and it has blamed a lot of things for that being a problem for it, but the real issue affecting recruitment is the lack of certainty about Withybush’s future.

How does the Board think it will attract professionals to Pembrokeshire if nobody knows whether the jobs on offer are permanent? “The Board has created a selffulfi lling position for itself in recruitment. Until we have certainty about the future of the hospital for the next ten or fifteen years, we are still going to encounter that problem.”

Discussing the Welsh Government’s role in the NHS, Simon Hart expressed concerns that the Welsh NHS had not had its funding protected in the same way as the NHS in England. Speaking of a meeting he had the previous day with Mark Drakeford he said: “Mark Drakeford made some sensible points about the treatment of patients, but it worries me that the budget has been cut and that the public is losing confidence in the NHS.

“In relation to comparisons between the performance of the NHS in England and Wales, Mark Drakeford said that comparisons were unfair, and then proceeded to make some to illustrate his argument. “Whether it is true or not, people believe that the Welsh NHS is not as good and it has a signifi cant economic impact on Wales. We are trying to encourage people to come to Wales with their businesses and families, and the negative perception of the Welsh NHS is discouraging them.” The Herald will reveal part two of this interview next week.

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Business

Maintenance plant shutdown planned for Dragon LNG

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DRAGON LNG is scheduled to commence a 26-day planned maintenance shutdown at its Waterston
site from Monday May 17

The 24/7 shutdown will enable Dragon to carry out periodic maintenance and inspection, whilst
taking advantage of the opportunity to carry out some small improvement projects in a safe and controlled manner.

In addition to the normal preparations for a shutdown, which started in February 2020, Dragon
have been working extensively with Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, Pembrokeshire County Council TTP team and UK Government, including the Department for Business, Energy
and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to align already in place COVID controls in preparation for our
additional workforce from 15 key vendors to support a successful event.

During the shutdown, there will be over 140 valve overhauls, approx. 960 COVID-19 LFD | PCR
tests carried out by a specialist company and over 200 virtual site safety inductions (enhanced with
COVID site controls).

With the works taking place within the site process area, any impact to our community, including
noise and dust disturbances is not anticipated. Please do note that flaring will be undertaken
during the shutdown.

A Dragon spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Whilst this is a major event at Dragon, the 1st shutdown since 2011, our top priority always is the safety of our team and community”.

Dragon continues to update its’ community and stakeholders on the progress of the work.

For any enquiries, please contact karen.wood@dragonlng.com / 01646 691730.

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Community

Encouraging responsible dog ownership so everyone enjoys their day at the beach

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is encouraging and promoting responsible dog ownership to ensure that we can all enjoy the County’s glorious beaches this summer.

With Covid-19 restrictions easing and lots of people expected to head to the coast, respecting one another and the natural environment will be more important than ever.

And, as a dog-friendly County, Pembrokeshire will be welcoming many four-legged friends too.

While visiting and enjoying Pembrokeshire beaches, dog lovers are asked to be mindful of some restrictions regarding their pets.

Between 1st May and 30th September dogs are not permitted on the North Beach in Tenby, or Whitesands Beach near St Davids. However, some other beaches have specific dog-free areas Designated.

Other areas indicate where dogs must be kept on leads.

The byelaws are in place so that everyone, dog owners and non-dog owners alike, can enjoy their time at the seaside.

Updated signage detailing the byelaws will be displayed on all beaches, main beach access and exit points, plus signs and flags being displayed and flown by lifeguards.

This will help pet owners to take their pets to the areas of beach designated for their enjoyment.

The signage used will be part of a wider campaign to encourage responsible behaviour while visiting and enjoying Pembrokeshire.

While engaging with members of the public, explaining the byelaws and encouraging responsible behaviour will always be the preference, there has also been a change to how the restrictions will be monitored.

Enforcement Teams will be working alongside the patrols currently undertaken to address littering and dog fouling in our communities.

Where appropriate, Fixed Penalty Notices of £75 can be issued. This can rise up to £500 if the matter were to be successfully prosecuted in court.

It is hoped that by engaging, advising and promoting the byelaws, supported by new signage, the Council can encourage people to be even more responsible dog owners.

This will result in a fun, positive experience for all beach users this Summer.

Pembrokeshire County Council Leader Cllr David Simpson, said: “Pembrokeshire can’t wait to welcome all those who have been dreaming about a walk on the beach throughout much of the past year.

“We know and understand that dogs are part of the family and taking your pets out to the beach for the day or a simple walk at the seaside is so important.

“We hope that by engaging and explaining we can promote responsible dog ownership this summer to ensure everyone can enjoy their time on our incredible coast.

“Please plan your visits and take the time to have a look at the maps of the dog free areas and other information available and we look forward to welcoming everyone, whether two legs or four, once again.”

For more information, see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/dog-control

Maps of the dog free areas and further information can be downloaded at: https://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/downloads

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Community

Speedy Sanna’s second shot at Pembrokeshire Coast Path record

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A DETERMINED Pembrokeshire woman will reattempt to set a new record next week by running the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in the fastest time.

Sanna Duthie, 32, from Milford Haven, is aiming to become only the second person to run the whole of the 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Sanna attempted to break the record in August last year, but after clocking off more than 63 miles she had to abandon the record attempt for her own safety, due to the horrendous weather conditions.

She hopes to complete her run in under 64 hours and 32 minutes and is using the opportunity to raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. Sanna has already smashed her fundraising target of £2,000 by raising an amazing £2,162.

The current record is held by Haverfordwest’s Richard Simpson, who completed the challenge in 2018.

As an ultra-runner, she has previously completed a 100-mile run in under 28 hours, but she is now hoping to exceed that and raise money for a charity close to her heart at the same time.

Reflecting on how she feels about re-attempting the challenge, Sanna, who likes to run ‘silly races’ said: “I am very nervous but feeling determined and strong. I’ve trained over 300 miles a month since March 2020, so I’ve done all the training I can. I would have liked to have gone to the gym, but I’ve done what I can at home. I’ve been out on difference sections of the coast path since restrictions have eased and it’s in good condition.”

Weather permitting Sanna, who is ‘overwhelmed’ with how much money she has raised, will start the challenge at 8am on Friday, 7 May at St Dogmaels and finishing in Amroth on Sunday, 9 May.

In preparation of the challenge Sanna has received a lot of support from her partner, family and friends, she said: “My dad and partner have been amazing. Making sure I’m fed after long runs and just being there. My friends have been amazing and although we haven’t been able to run together just knowing they support me helps. I’m hoping some can join me on the challenge it will be great to catch up. The chatter will be a great distraction.”

Katie Macro, Wales Air Ambulance South West Wales Community Co-ordinator, said: “We’re so grateful to Sanna for taking on this huge challenge once again. Her determination is outstanding, and she has so far raised an amazing amount for our lifesaving charity.

“Despite the horrendous weather during her last attempt she managed to run over 63 miles and only stopped the record attempt when it became unsafe to continue. Her determination is inspiring.

“On its own, it is a significant personal challenge, and we will be supporting her all the way to the finish line – and hopefully to a new record. For Sanna to choose to raise money for our lifesaving service at the same time is incredible. We are so grateful for her support and we’d like to wish her all the best. Thank you to everyone who has supported Sanna and continue to support her with her fundraiser.”

You can show your support to Sanna by donating to her Just Giving page – Sanna’s 186 miles – Pembrokeshire Coastpathhttps://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sanna-duthie2.

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