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Credit union’s shock closure

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THE CLOSURE of the Haven Credit Union on Tuesday March 3, is a severe blow to those who depended upon its services whether as investors or borrowers. A statement by Chair of the Board of Trustees, Ted Sangster, disclosed that the credit union has been seeking a partner with which to merge for the last twelve months. Those efforts to preserve the union in some form have, however, come to nothing. Savings with the credit union are protected and it is anticipated that savers will have their money returned to them, in full, in around a fortnight’s time. Mr Sangster’s told The Herald: “As our statement reads, we have taken this decision only after long and serious consideration of the alternatives. The rules on Credit Union reserves have recently changed. That was not a determining factor in our decision, but it was something we took on board.” Mr Sangster continued: “We explored the possibility for merging with another credit union, but we were unable to reach an agreement. The board therefore took a principled decision. We could have carried on for another three to six months and then had the regulator step in.

That would have created uncertainty for our members and it the board decided not to let that happen. The board decided that it was better to arrange matters so that our members could be dealt with in a fair and orderly way. It was a painful decision, but it was the right one.”

After extending his thanks to the statutory bodies which have assisted the credit union, Mr Sangster paid tribute to the union’s volunteers and staff: “The board wishes to thank all those staff and volunteers who have worked on behalf of the credit union to provide this much valued service to the people of Pembrokeshire over the past 22 years. Many people have been helped and supported by their unstinting work for which again, our heartfelt thanks.”

Paul Brindley the appointed administrator said: “It’s a real disappointment that Haven Credit Union should be forced to close as there is a very real and necessary demand for their services. Members can be assured that their savings are safe. They will be paid back in full within the next two weeks.”

A spokesperson from Pembrokeshire County Council said: “We are disappointed to learn of the closure of the Haven Credit Union (HCU) but respect the board’s decision to discontinue the business. HCU was a professionally-run organisation offering a valuable service to the local community.”

They continued: “The council has been pleased to be associated with HCU over the years and has offered support wherever possible. This has included facilitating payroll deductions for council employees who were customers of HCU.”

The spokesperson added: “Over the past several months, the council has been supporting HCU to mediate a merger with other credit unions but unfortunately this has not proved possible.”

What is a credit union?

Credit unions are member-owned financial cooperatives operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit and other financial services to their members.

Credit unions in the UK now offer a wide range of services to their members; including current accounts, payroll deductions, standing orders and insurance. The UK Government has endeavoured to encourage the expansion of credit unions’ operations in order to stop people relying on high-interest door-step loans and loan sharks. A few credit unions now offer services more akin to a mainstream bank (such as the provision of ATM cards).

In 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, launched a Church of England plan to support credit unions, to combat the rise of UK payday lenders charging extremely high interest rates.

Despite the moves to encourage people to use credit unions, the number of credit unions has tumbled over the last ten years. In 2004 there were 565 credit unions in the UK. Following the closure of the Haven Credit Union, there are around 370.

There remain two credit unions operating in Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Credit Union, in Fishguard and the Save Easy Credit Union in High Street, Haverfordwest.

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Health

Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

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POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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Tenby’s famous walrus ‘Wally’ has been spotted again

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TENBY’S most famous marine animal has been spotted again after fears she had been scared away.

Wally was spotted on Friday evening by the seaside town’s Lifeboat station.

Thought to be a two-year-old male, the walrus’s return comes after it was feared she had been disturbed by people flocking to catch a glimpse of her and “getting too close”

The animal has attracted hundreds of people to the seaside town now that the travel restrictions with Wales have been lifted to coincide with the Easter school holidays.

Wally was last seen on Monday, but  members of the public were warned it was in the animal’s “best interests” to be “left alone” as much as possible and they were urged to “avoid the temptation to get near and disturb” her.

A joint statement was issued by the RSPCA, Tenby harbour master Chris Salisbury, Welsh Marine Life Rescue, Tenby lifeboat coxswain Phil John, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Natural Resources Wales and CSIP Marine Environmental Rescue said that they were concerned to hear that people had tried to get close by using personal watercraft or paddle and surfboards.

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Police plan to deter badly behaved youths from gathering in Tenby

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POLICE in Tenby responded to community concerns over antisocial behaviour and groups of between 15-20 youths gathering and clashing over the Easter bank holiday weekend. They moved the youths on, seized alcohol from them and stopped matters escalating when there were clashes between the groups. And they have a clear message ahead of this weekend – there will be extra police patrols and presence in Tenby, including on the trains, so this type of behaviour won’t be tolerated.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers used powers under the Antisocial Behaviour Act to disperse groups of youngsters meeting to drink alcohol in and around Tenby, many of whom had travelled by train to the area to meet up.

Based on these scenes from last weekend, plans are in place as part of a joint operation with Pembrokeshire County Council licensing officers and British Transport Police, to address and prevent any further gatherings.

A Section 34 Order is in place covering Tenby, which allows officers to move people out of the area and prevent them from returning for up to 48 hours.

Sergeant Stuart Wheeler said: “Following last weekend we had some concern from the community of Tenby, due to antisocial behaviour related to the groups of youths from Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and Tenby, and subsequently those groups clashing. Alcohol consumption by these youngsters was a factor.

“Proactive action was taken, and we are keen to avoid a repeat of this behaviour this weekend, and have therefore put plans in place. Additional resources have been allocated, which will allow us to respond quickly and prevent matters from escalating.

“Tenby Neighbourhood Policing Team and response officers, will be carrying out high visibility patrols in the area, covering areas known to be popular with youngsters. Pembrokeshire County Council licensing officers will be assisting us in ensuring youngsters can’t buy alcohol in the area by visiting shops and reminding them of the laws around selling alcohol, and if they bring it with them it will be seized. And our colleagues in British Transport Police will be patrolling the train network to prevent problematic groups getting to Tenby by train.”

Police are also appealing to parents and carers to know where their children are, and what they are doing.

Sergeant Wheeler added: “We would like to appeal directly to parents to be aware of where their children are, and prevent them from gathering in large groups. This type of behaviour is distressing for people living and working in Tenby, and we are urging you to be accountable for your children’s actions.

“We understand that the past few months have been difficult, and that children want to see their friends, but remember that only 6 people from 2 households can meet outdoors still. Please do your best to ensure they are adhering to regulations that are in place for all our safety.”

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