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Leader backs down over shutting Ysgol Dewi Sant as hundreds protest

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p2COUNCIL LEADER Jamie Adam’s surprise u-turn in Council on Thursday (Jan 29) may well have been spurred on by community pressure culminating in a huge protest outside County Hall.

Over three hundred protesters, members of the St David’s Community, greeted councillors as they entered the council offices attending the extraordinary meeting. A roar of ‘Save our School’ went up each time a councillor arrived, as the peaceful, but loud, protest gathered momentum.

Speaking to the crowd was Canon Dorian Davies who led a prayer asking for the councillors to be guided to see beyond pounds shillings and pence, and to think of what is the optimum benefit for the local children and community, by keeping the small secondary school open.

The Herald spoke with a number of members of the community who expressed anger, frustration, dismay and doubts over the legality of the proposal to close their school.

Vicky Skeats, a community member, said: “The school in St. Davids is vital: it is the best school in Pembrokeshire, as only two schools are graded 2B yellow, one is Preseli and the other one is Ysgol Dewi Sant. This school is vital to the peninsula, County and community. There is another option; make it a church school. This will address cost cutting issues. It’s a complete mess and Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) haven’t even consulted us on losing the 6th form!”

p4Abby Voice, a pupil at the school, pleaded for her school, saying: “It’s ridiculous to close our school, without the school there is no community and why close a school full to capacity? It means everything to everyone. It is disgusting”.

Claire Raymond, a parent of two children at the school told The Herald: ‘It’s very important we keep our school as it has close associations with the Cathedral. It’s a well performing school so why would you close it? I asked them (PCC) to consider looking at the boundaries and primary schools that feed in, which was an option.”

Cannon Dorian Davies of St. Davids Cathedral also spoke with The Herald, adding: “The whole of the community oppose this proposal. The people are speaking, as you can see from the turnout, and hopefully the councillors will respond in the most positive way, which is that they need to reconsider to close Ysgol Dewi Sant whilst looking at the whole schools policy.”

Lisa Reeves was holding up a banner saying: “We moved 200 miles for Ysgol Dewi Sant”. She explained what the banner meant: “We are from Liverpool and it was our dream, for me and my partner, since we were 18 to move to St. David’s and bring our children up here. We came for a better life and better education in a smaller school. To hear our dreams are being crushed is awful. We don’t want our kids to go to Fishguard and if the school is taken away this will tear the place apart. I went to a massive comprehensive school and I didn’t want that for my kids; the teachers here are part of the community, it’s more personal.”

protest1Claire Dunn was holding a poster that accused Pembrokeshire County Council of being corrupt. she explained to the Herald the sentiment behind the emotive words: “As we all know there have been a lot of mis-dealings within Pembrokeshire County Council. We (the community) don’t trust the efficiency of the Council to do their jobs properly, especially in matters like this. They shouldn’t vote at all today as they haven’t gone through the proper procedures. What they should do is listen to the views of the community because no one wants super schools; we want individual schools that work. They want us to send our children to a school that is in special measures? They aren’t competent enough to make this decision and they should be taken to task over it. There should be a thorough investigation and then, if they are found to be competent, they can carry on with council activities.”

Hannah Robinson held up a poster reading, ‘Schools not Porsche’s”, stating: “As we all know a certain gentleman had a Porsche; our money should be better spent. None of us want a super-school.”

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Castell Howell Foods highlights sector concerns over Covid recovery

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THE HOSPITALITY sector may be opening up, but transport and supply issues are hampering the industry’s recovery – according to Castell Howell Foods.

One of the UK’s largest independent food wholesalers, Castell Howell, has taken the step of contacting customers to highlight the significant challenges faced by the sector as it recovers from the pandemic.

While there is relief at easing lockdown and optimism for a busy summer with bookings for UK ‘staycations’ and leisure activities, pressing issues remain.

Shortages of key staff and problems faced by some suppliers have resulted in the Welsh wholesaler being forced to make some “uncomfortable” decisions and changes to its operation, including having to pass on some supply chain price increases.

In particular, a shortage of qualified delivery drivers has meant the Cross Hands based business has had to be resourceful to maintain its delivery frequency to its customers. To help bridge the gap in the short term, other Castell Howell staff who hold an HGV licence have been temporarily redeployed to the transport department. Among them are area sales managers.

Castell Howell Sales Director, Kathryn Jones, said “Unfortunately, due to the drastic reduction in sales in 2020, our workforce decreased by over 100 colleagues. Whilst we now need most to return to the workplace, many have found alternative employment; this is a common theme across the supply chain.

“We have been actively advertising and recruiting for several months. However, as highlighted in the press, there are over 75,000 vacancies across the UK for HGV drivers alone.

“We too are currently short of drivers, especially Class 2 HGV. Driving a multi-drop vehicle for Castell Howell is a very different proposition to driving a limited drop schedule. Consequently, as you can imagine, it has been challenging to fill these vacancies.”
Stock availability is also an issue, as some suppliers struggle to manufacture under new social distancing rules. Delivery to Castell Howell from suppliers is also being affected by the UK-wide shortage of haulage drivers.

Kathryn Jones said, “To build up buffer stocks, we are increasing our volume of orders, especially for commodity lines. We aim to mitigate future stock shortages the best we can. We are constantly seeking substitute products from manufacturers who have the capacity to deliver. However, this is becoming increasingly more difficult.”

Castell Howell has made changes to its ordering process to improve its own deliveries, with earlier cut-off times.

“These changes go against the grain and were extremely difficult decisions to take. However, it is imperative to implement these in order to continue operating under these difficult circumstances whilst still maintaining a high level of service. We are very grateful to our customers for their support, patience and understanding.”

For Castell Howell, the difficulties arising from the pandemic were exacerbated by the loss of business with SA Brain & Co. This loss occurred following the Welsh company’s deal with brewery giant Marston’s to operate SA Brains pubs from January 2021.

Before that date, Castell Howell had been the sole supplier to SA Brain since 2008, including supplying 80 of the Welsh brewery’s managed public houses.

Kathryn Jones said, “However, despite the challenges in the supply chain and deliveries, we remain optimistic that the sector in the UK will work together to navigate through these unprecedented times and have a successful summer.”

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Port boss: Pembroke Dock development full permission an ‘important step’

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THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Port of Milford Haven has welcomed a decision of “non-intervention” by the Welsh Government over plans to re-vamp Pembroke Dock’s historic port facilities.

The redevelopment scheme, approved by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Planning Committee in May, will see some areas such as a dock covered with sand and “infilled”.

Plans also include the demolishing of some buildings, erection of buildings and ancillary works.
Despite planning being granted at council level, full authorisation to go ahead with the development was not to be issued until the Welsh Government made its decision regards the matter.

More about the planning application can be read here: https://www.herald.wales/west-wales/pembrokeshire/major-marine-project-causes-concern-about-visual-impact-and-heritage-loss/

Now that the Welsh Government has decided not to interfere with Pembrokeshire County Council’s grant of planning permission, the Port’s boss, Andy Jones, expressed his delight, saying: “This marks an important step forward in the development of Wales’ clean energy centre at Pembroke Dock.

“It will provide sustainable opportunities for the many people who rely on the activity along the Milford Haven Waterway for employment.

CEO: Port Authority’s Andy Jones (Pic MHPA)

“Pembroke Dock Marine will unlock new opportunities for young people to enter the maritime, renewable and engineering sectors, build resilience within Pembrokeshire’s business community, and make a positive contribution to our natural environment as we transition to a low carbon energy generation.”

Tim James, head of commercial and energy at the Port of Milford Haven called the project a “once in a generation opportunity to improve Pembrokeshire’s economy for years to come”.

Objectors had complained that the plans were too large and would damage the historic dockyard, as well as having a visual impact on the dock.

The was opposition from local heritage campaigners, with complaints over the size of two huge proposed hangars which the project’s critics said would impact adversely the landscape.

The economic benefits of the £60 million marine energy “far outweigh” any impact on the historic environment, a report earlier this year to council planners said.

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Medical evacuation from LPG tanker off St Ann’s Head

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ANGLE Lifeboat was launched on service at 12:59pm on Thursday afternoon (Jun 10) to assist in a medical evacuation from a LPG tanker 13 miles SSW off St Ann’s Head.

The coastguard helicopter from Newquay in Cornwall was also on route. With the poor visibility due to fog, Angle all-weather lifeboat was to stand by the vessel to provide an alternative route for evacuation if needed.

After a choppy route in the poor visibility the RNLI volunteers arrived on scene at 2:07pm.

At the time of their arrival, the paramedic from the coastguard helicopter was aboard the vessel preparing the casualty to be winched to the helicopter.

In less than ten minutes the casualty was winched up to the helicopter and flown to hospital, at which point the lifeboat and crews were stood down and headed back to the station.

After rehousing shortly after 3:30pm the lifeboat was washed fuelled and made ready for service shortly after.

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