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AM questions schools shakeup meeting validity

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Expressing concerns: Paul Davies AM

Expressing concerns: Paul Davies AM

LOCAL Assembly Member Paul Davies is questioning the validity of the Extraordinary Council at County Hall on the January 29, 2015.

The AM is voicing concerns that Pembrokeshire County Council may have not complied with the new School Organisation Code set out under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.

Mr Davies said: “I want to see an education service in Pembrokeshire that’s fit for purpose and delivers real outcomes for pupils across the County. Any shake up of the current service provision must follow the correct procedures and engage with local people and their elected representatives. I am not convinced that this is the case, and I have therefore written to the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, following concerns that the extraordinary council meeting may be invalid.”

The AM added: “I have asked for evidence that the Council have complied with the new School Organisation Code and that each of the proposals have met the criteria. In light of these circumstances, I believe it’s only appropriate that the meeting is called off until robust evidence is provided to demonstrate that the Council has complied with the Code.”

Responding to the statement by Paul Davies AM, the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Councillor Jamie Adams, said: “I am pleased that Paul supports our ambition for an ‘education service that’s fit for purpose and delivers real outcomes for pupils across the County’.

“However in relation to his concerns around the process we have followed, he is mistaken. We have carried out extensive informal consultation prior to tomorrow’s meeting which will determine the options that will then be subject to statutory formal consultation.”

Cllr Jamie Adams

Cllr Jamie Adams

Cllr Adams continued:  “I have written to Paul to confirm that the suggestion that we have not complied with the School Organisation Code is incorrect.”

An examination of the relevant legislation indicates that the Council must jump through a considerable number of hoops before getting to the point where it is ready to move forward with its radical plans for the future of secondary education.

The stage which the Council appears to have reached at this point is that, having completed a review, it now seeks to move forward with a formal consultation process.

The statutory consultation period is 42 days of which 20 must be school term days. After that period, the Council must publish consultation report. Within 13 weeks of the end of the period allowed for responses (and in any event prior to publication of the proposals), the Council must publish a consultation report. In addition, once the Council decides to proceed with a proposal they must publish the proposal by way of statutory notice.

Having published its proposal, the 2013 Act requires that anyone wishing to make objections to a school organisation proposal has the opportunity to do so. To be considered as statutory objections, objections must be made in writing or by email, and sent to the proposer within 28 days of the date on which the proposal was published.

In addition the Council must consult with children and young people affected by the changes and with schools similarly affected. This would appear to mean that every school in the county will need to be consulted as the plans reveal a significant change to post-16 education in Pembrokeshire, with Pembrokeshire College being ultimately responsible for its provision.

The Council appears to have based its current position by reference to previous ‘informal’ consultations predating the review’s start in October 2014. The School Organisation Code states: “From time to time proposers will have conducted ‘informal’ consultation with particular stakeholders at an earlier stage in the development of proposals. Such consultation must not be seen as a substitute for any part of the formal consultation processes.”

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Reminder from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to pre-book for attractions

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MEMBERS of the public are being reminded to pre-book their entry tickets before visiting two popular National Park Authority-run attractions.

To allow for social distancing on site, both Carew Castle and Tidal Mill and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village have been operating a pre-booking system since last summer.

Those wishing to visit should book their tickets online before arriving at the site. This applies to Annual Pass holders and others who qualify for free entry, such as wheelchair users and accompanying carers.

Carew Castle is open to pre-booked visitors between 10am and 4pm (Tidal Mill 11.30am – 5pm), while those wishing to visit Castell Henllys will be asked to book either a morning slot (10am-1pm) or an afternoon slot (2pm-5pm) before visiting the site.

Daisy Hughes, Visitor Services Manager at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have made some changes to the site and how we operate to ensure that we keep you, our staff and our local community safe.

“All areas of the Castle and Tidal Mill are open, including the Walled Garden and play area. Nest Tearoom, which has plenty of outdoor undercover seating, will be serving light lunches and homemade cakes along with hot and cold drinks throughout the day, and the Castle and Mill Shops remain open – although face coverings must be worn and only card/contactless payments are currently being accepted.

“With the exception of Nest Tearoom, pre-booking is essential, though, and we’re asking all visitors to make sure they book their entry tickets in advance, in order to avoid any delays or disappointment when they arrive on site.”

Entry tickets for both Carew Castle and Castell Henllys can be purchased by visiting www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events

A dynamic programme of events suitable for all the family will be running at both sites throughout the summer months. Visit the above website for more information and to book tickets.

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Salvage Hunters: New series is filming in Pembrokeshire, and they need help

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SALVAGE HUNTERS, the well-loved and most watched Quest TV and Discovery Network show, is on the hunt for locations to film at in the Pembrokeshire and the wider South West Wales area to feature in the upcoming series.

We follow decorative antiques expert Drew Pritchard as he travels around various locations in the UK and abroad on his quest to find and buy unusual objects with an interesting history.

Drew really visits everywhere – beautiful estates, old family businesses, barns and attic’s stuffed full of unwanted things, museums, factories, collectors and iconic religious sites buying all sorts along the way – from gorgeous country house furniture and railwayana to 6ft 1980s disco balls and anything in-between.

Now in its sixteenth series and airing to over half a million people in the UK and millions more worldwide, this is a great opportunity for you to promote your business or home to a broad audience, sell a few items that perhaps you no longer need, make some money and celebrate the history and heritage of the UK.

If you think you fit the bill or know somebody that might then please do not hesitate to reach out and speak with a member of our team.

Call us on 0203 179 0092 or alternatively send us an email to – salvagehunters@curvemedia.com

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Haverfordwest and Cardigan high streets listed as among the ten worst in Britain

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TWO west Wales high streets have been listed in a UK wide report detailing Britain’s worst high streets.

In the highly respected report Cardigan High Street has been listed as the 4th worst in Britain, whilst Haverfordwest has come 8th.

The Harper Dennis Hobbs rankings, which come out every two years, in sadly listed six Welsh High Streets in the worst 10 category.

Some retail centres have performed well since 2019 but most Welsh towns have fallen down the list.

Overall the performance in Wales was poor with a major drop in the average position of Welsh high streets on the UK list.

More shops in Haverfordwest’s town centre have closed since the coronavirus hit (Pic: File image)

The average rank was 797 – the worst of any nation and region in the UK, showing the huge challenge Welsh Government has to revive town centres. Six of the bottom ten UK high streets were in Wales.

Normally Harper Dennis Hobbs releases the full ranking but when the firm published its 2021 report in February, it only made the top 50 best-performing locations publicly available. Now, a copy of the full list shared with i lays bare the shopping centres and high streets that have fared worst over the past year.

Top of the worst list is Girvan in South Ayrshire.

Girvan is home to around 6,500 people and has suffered the same difficulties as many cities and towns across the UK when it comes to its high street’s declining appeal – but it is the area’s “very weak retail offer” and the large number of empty shops that helped seal its place at the bottom of the league table.

Haverfordwest in 2014. can you spot any differences to now?

“Girvan along with Haverfordwest and Cardigan all scored poorly due to a very weak retail offer [and] the towns have a relatively high vacancy rate,” said Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs.

Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at HDH, explained: “Our analysis is unique as we use variables that both consumers and retailers consider when assessing shopping locations to rank the top 1,000 retail centres in Great Britain. This Vitality Ranking looks very different from previous years as the ‘retail health’ of high streets across the country has seen contrasting fortunes since the start of the pandemic.

“The most vital retail centres currently provide services that are essential to people’s lives, such as grocers and pharmacies. These essential retailers have been able to trade throughout the strictest lockdowns, and consumers have not been willing or able to travel far to visit these stores. Shopping patterns have therefore changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, and consumers’ local high streets are benefitting at the expense of major destinations.”

Turning empty retail spaces in the town into homes or offices could help rejuvenate the area and bring “demand to the doors” of shops that survive, Mr Metherell said.

Cardigan High Street before Covid-19 (Pic Stay In Wales)

Top 10 best high streets 2021

  1. Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
  2. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
  3. Tenterden, Kent
  4. Wimbledon Village, south-west London
  5. Marlborough, Wiltshire
  6. Sevenoaks, Kent
  7. Kingston upon Thames, Greater London
  8. Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
  9. Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  10. Ilkley, Bradford

Top 10 worst high streets 2021

  1. Girvan, South Ayrshire
  2. Bristol – Baldwin Street
  3. Chepstow, Monmouthshire
  4. Cardigan, Ceredigion
  5. Southsea, Portsmouth
  6. Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  7. Ammanford, Carmarthenshire
  8. Haverfordwest, Permbrokeshire
  9. Canning Town, east London
  10. Newtown, Powys

(Source: Harper Dennis Hobbs)

Cardigan High Street pictured in the early 2000’s before Currys left town (Pic Geograph)
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