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41% of Murco workers have found new jobs



saddazREBECCA EVANS AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has welcomed the actions laid out in a letter to AMs by the Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport to help those affected by the collapse of the sale of the Murco refinery in Milford Haven – both directly and indirectly.
The letter from the Minister to all AMs outlines all that the Welsh Government’s Taskforce – put in place following the devastating news last year that the site would end its refinery work – has done and is doing to help the local economy and the employees recover. The Murco Taskforce meets regularly to help implement a delivery plan that has so far seen 41% of employees find alternative employment, with more than half of those in Pembrokeshire.
Welcoming the actions being taken Mrs Evans said: “The Welsh Government did all it could to try and help secure a sale, and has also been quick to act since the announcement that the sale had fallen through. I am pleased that the Minister quickly put into place a dedicated taskforce and delivery plan. The Minister has also recognised that the contractors, sub contractors and the further parts of the supply chain in need of attention. I also welcome the promise from the Minister that any future developments of the A40 will include contractual requirements to maximise spend in the local economy with the appointment of local businesses and individuals.”
The actions currently being taken by the task-force include:
• Delivery plan to secure alternative employment for displaced workers with help from industry employers, notably Valero
• Workshops and training sessions run by companies including Penna
• Business Wales Start Up & High Potential Starts Programme help and support to help people set up their own business
• Careers Wales action to support and help develop ReAct funded action plans
• The Wales Economic Growth Zone for Pembrokeshire with Welsh Government match funding which has attracted nearly £3.3 million of projects so far
• SME Capital Grant fund (closing at the end of the month) which has attracted 18 companies to apply
• A bespoke workforce development intervention will be launched at the end of February
The South Pembrokeshire Labour party have also released a statement regarding supporting those who have lost their jobs due to Murco’s closure:
According to new figures released by the Welsh Government, 41% of former workers at the Murco oil refinery have found work elsewhere, and more than half of these jobs are within Pembrokeshire. In an update on the Welsh Government’s efforts to mitigate the threat to the local economy posed by the closure of Murco, Economic Minister Edwina Hart said 324 of the original 532 Murco employees and contractors have now been made redundant, with a further 72 finishing this quarter. The sale of the Murco site is underway and is expected to be finalised in June.
One ex-employee who didn’t want to use his real name, but was known on site as ‘Honey Monster’  was devastated when he lost his job last November has told us things are looking up:  “I was gutted last November as I loved working there, but things change and I’ve got myself a new start with a local company, and I’m really happy.”
Mrs Hart praised the work of the Murco Taskforce to support those who had lost their jobs:  “I welcome the significant progress that has been made to secure alternative employment for displaced Murco workers. I also welcome the fact that through the commitment, focus and coordinated efforts of the Taskforce there is a clear route of actions to retain the high skilled Murcoworkforce within Wales.”
Delyth Evans, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for South Pembrokeshire, said it was very important for the Welsh Government to maintain its focus on supporting the local economy because of the massive impact of the Murco closure.  “Contractors and sub-contractors have been hit exceptionally hard as well as those directly employed by Murco. I am pleased the Minister and the Task Force are keeping up their efforts to provide assistance. The focus has to be on identifying opportunities for developing the regional economy in a way that is sustainable for the future, by supporting local
businesses, improving skills and training, and bringing in new investment.”
Stephen Crabb MP called for a new focus on tidal energy following closure of Murco when asked about supporting ex-Murco workers.
The MP emphasised the importance of a new strategy for the local economy following the closure of Murco. The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that unemployment rose in Preseli Pembrokeshire last month, and the local MP has stated his commitment to addressing this important matter.
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Delight as foundation phase learners return to class



PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update



PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”


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Sergeant Hillier ‘died doing the job he loved’, says his heartbroken father



THE ARMY SERGEANT who died after being injured in a live firing exercise, has been named locally.

The incident occurred at Castlemartin Training Area, and led to the death of Sgt Gavin Hillier, who was in the Welsh Guards.

In a post on social media, his father wrote: “Absolutely devastated to be writing this post, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

“At 3.45am this morning I received a phone call that will forever change my life. My eldest son Gavin Mark Hillier was in a fatal accident yesterday in the army (the job he loved).

“Sleep tight & rest in peace son. I’m so proud of you. Goodnight and god bless, love your heartbroken dad.”

An Army spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on March 4.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

It is understood that Sergeant Hillier, who served as part of the Welsh Guards’ motor transport platoon, was due to be deployed to Iraq and had previously been awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal by Prince Charles, the regiment’s Colonel in Chief, in 2019.

The tragic incident is the latest in a number of accidents at Castlemartin.

In 2017, The Herald reported that two soldiers died in a tank explosion, which a coroner ruled was due to a design flaw.

The following year, an Army captain was jailed in July 2018 after a 21-year-old soldier was killed by a stray bullet during an exercise at the range in 2012.

An investigation has been launched into the death of a soldier at Castlemartin RAC Range following a military exercise.

Police were called to the site at just before 10.45pm on March 4.

Sadly, a man was pronounced dead shortly after. Our thoughts are with his family, who have been informed of the incident and are being supported by specialist officers.

An investigation is underway led by Dyfed-Powys Police. Officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and MoD.

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