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MP backs first Small Business Saturday

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small businessPEMBROKESHIRE’S local businesses got a day of recognition as part of the UK’s first ever national event to celebrate small businesses.

Small Business Saturday, held on December 6, celebrated the vital role that all small businesses play in the economy and in local communities. MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Stephen Crabb, hit the High Street in Haverfordwest to show his support for businesses in the county. He spoke to a number of retailers in the town about their businesses including Maggs, The Welsh Bakery, Victoria Bookshop, Just Nice, Coffee Cave and Musician’s World, an independent instrument and music shop on High Street.

During his time in the town centre, Stephen was also able to talk to business owners about the steps announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement which pledged more support to the small businesses community and high-street retailers.

Small businesses in England also received a shot in the arm with the announcement that business rate rises will be capped at two per cent next year, and business rate relief will be extended for another year. There will also be a £1,000 discount on business rates for small businesses.

Stephen has called on the Welsh Government, who has responsibility for business rates in Wales, to follow suit and provide similar help to shops and small businesses on high streets in Wales.

The Government also confirmed that new loans would be made available for start-ups, along with tax relief for investment in social enterprises, and a 50 per cent discount on business rates for the reoccupation of empty shop units.

Stephen has worked hard to champion the needs of drivers in our rural county by calling for the Treasury to take more action to help drivers with the cost of fuel. He welcomed the news that the planned fuel duty rise (of 2p a litre) which was due to come in next year will be scrapped and fuel duty will continue to be frozen at the current level. This will mean that by next year the price of petrol will be 20p per litre lower than had the duty increases planned by the previous Government gone ahead.

Stephen Crabb MP said: “The small business community in Pembrokeshire is vitally important. They are the backbone of our local economy. I’m pleased that the Autumn Statement has reflected the Government’s backing of small businesses by introducing some important business- friendly policies which I hope will make a real difference.”

“Unemployment levels have continued to fall in Pembrokeshire and it is our local businesses that have been helping to get people into work. I’m hopeful that the scrapping of NI contributions for younger people will boost the number of young people in work.”

“Small Business Saturday is a great way to remind people of the importance of shopping locally particularly at a time when they face tough competition online in the run up to Christmas. At the end of the day, people need to remember that when they support their local businesses, the money they spend and the jobs that are created as a result stay here in the community.”

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Coastal car parks at beauty spots remain closed

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THE RECENT changes in regulations reinforce that movement is restricted to your local area.

This has been identified by the Welsh Government as an approximation of a five mile radius from your home.

Members of two separate households from the same local area (not travelling more than five miles) can now meet outdoors, as long as they maintain social distancing.

You should aim to meet another local household as close to your home as possible. Always take care to maintain social distancing and hand hygiene.

Pembrokeshire County Council car parks at attractions and beauty spots (including public toilets) currently remain closed so you should check before travelling.

They remain closed as a clear message that travel remains restricted, and associated tourism amenities remain closed.

A critical point for all to note is that lifeguards are not currently patrolling beaches and toilets and other facilities are not open.

Full details of the car parking facilities which remain open for the local community can be found on the Council’s website:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/emergency-planning/service-changes

Councillor Phil Baker, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure said: “The emphasis is on careful, structured unlocking, and not to put in danger any of the recovery measures that relate to public health and not to undo the safeguarding that lockdown has delivered.

“We will continue to review and monitor this carefully and take cautious, measured steps only to provide the benefits of the eased regulations without putting our residents at risk.”

Motorists are reminded not to contravene parking restrictions – such as yellow lines – where they exist as parking enforcement is still being undertaken.

As with other service areas, car parks will be reviewed in line with current advice.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Leaders coronavirus update

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PEMBROKESHIRE County Council Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Tuesday, 2nd June, as follows:

‘I want to thank everyone for the continued support to myself, Elected Members and officers of the Authority.

‘We have all experienced many challenges over the years but this continued struggle is very testing for all. We continue collectively to work together to ensure we, in Pembrokeshire, remain safe and avoid catching Covid-19

‘It is clear that we still have to remain “local”. There is no remit for travelling outside our local community. You will have read and heard clear guidance on only travelling five miles from home.

‘As always and where you can, please exercise from your home. The more we can do to reduce the spread of the virus, the better we will all fare in the long term.

‘I want to highlight that today marks the 50 th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge. This was indeed a tragedy as lives were lost and it is a sad chapter in Pembrokeshire’s history.

‘As in any incident, people can, and do, rebuild and also learn lessons. After Covid-19 the new “normality” will look different from what we were used to. But we will all move forward and regain Confidence.

‘I’m sure, like you, I question how I should be tackling this issue. Should I be doing more? The answer is simple and direct – we need to ensure social distancing is maintained; wash our hands regularly and listen to the advice given by experts.

‘Remember: ‘Stay Strong and Stay Local.’

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‘Check in, Catch up and Prepare’ All school’s in Wales prepare to enter next phase

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ALL children will have the opportunity to “Check in, Catch Up, Prepare for summer and September”, the Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced today as she published details of the next phase for schools in Wales.

It is proposed that all schools will start the next phase on 29 June, with the term extended by a week, therefore ending on 27 July.

In the next academic year, beginning in September, the intention is that the autumn half-term break will be expanded to two weeks.

In each school there will be a phased approach. Year groups will be split into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks. It is expected that this will mean, at most, a third of pupils present at any one time, though schools may need time to reach this level of operation.

There will be much smaller classes, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates. This time will include online and personalised classroom experience, getting children and teachers ready for a similar experience in September.

Next week, the Welsh Government will publish guidance to support schools, as well as further and higher education institutions. This will include information on managing their facilities and logistical arrangements, including buildings, resources, cleaning and transport.

The Government is also today publishing a paper from its COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, representing the latest understanding of the virus with respect to children and education.

Further Education colleges are ensuring that appropriate measures are being taken to re-open for face-to-face learning from 15 June. They will prioritise those students requiring licence to practice assessments and vulnerable learners. This follows close working with Government and the joint trade unions.

Guidance for childcare providers will also be published in the next week, supporting them to increase the numbers of children in attendance alongside schools.

Kirsty Williams said:

“My announcement today gives schools three and a half weeks to continue preparing for the next phase.

“We will use the last weeks of the summer term to make sure pupils, staff and parents are prepared – mentally, emotionally and practically – for the new normal in September.

“29 June means there will have been one full month of test, trace and protect, which will continue to expand. I can also announce that teachers will be a priority group in our new antibody-testing programme. As we continue to keep Wales safe, this approach will be critical.

“The evolving science suggests that warm weather and sunlight gives us the best opportunity to ensure more time in school. Waiting until September would mean almost half a year without schooling. That would be to the detriment to the wellbeing, learning progress and mental health of our young people.

“This is and has been a worrying period for us all. I know that many will feel apprehensive. We have not rushed this work and this decision.

“The three and a half week period before the next phase also gives us time to keep watch on developments elsewhere and provides further check-points to review evidence and the roll-out of testing.

“This is the best practical option that meets my five principles which underpin my decision making.

“I am also convinced that it is only by returning to their own school that we will see increased attendance from our more vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

“Working together we will secure equity and excellence for pupils as they check in, catch up, and prepare for summer and September.”

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