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‘A tax on the bereaved’ causes upset

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Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 14.08.46AN INCREASE of cemetery fees is set to increase to 20% following a Town Council Meeting in Milford Haven on Monday (Jan 18).

Despite concerns from councillors and a local funeral director, plans are still going ahead to increase the fees in an attempt to help the Council’s rising deficit.

Monday’s meeting was the second to have talked about the rise, with the first being in November last year. At November’s meeting, Funeral Director at Tom Newing and Sons, Shane Morgan told the council that he thought the increase was “unacceptable in this economic climate.”

Shane, who has been an undertaker for 30 years, told The Herald that he had written a letter to the Council in November last year. He said that the increase would see the cost of fees being increased “way above inflation” and lead to the bereaved not being able to afford a burial and having to opt for cremation when it is not the deceased’s wish to be cremated.

He also explained that eight families have already had to opt for cremation instead of burial, as the cost is currently at £371, which is cheaper than the cost of a grave.

He said: “How can the council justify an increase of 55% in charges over the last 5 years, if this further 20% increase is implemented.

“During the last 5 years, burials have reduced by 10% at Milford Haven Cemetery. This is owing to the cost against cremation.

“I must stress that if this is implemented that as a company we may have to direct the bereaved to the council to pay for the grave when required.”

Shane also brought attention to the fact that Milford Haven Town Council is the only council to implement extra fees when the person who has died is living out of the area.

He asked the Council to consider cancelling this charge just as Neyland and Lanstadwell Burial Board and Haverfordwest Town Council have, and only charge additional fees if the deceased is living outside Pembrokeshire.

The increase was also described as a “tax on the bereaved” by Cllr Tony Eden, who was also showing emotions of disappointment.

However, prices for headstones are currently the same as they were before, and are staying at £176 for the first inscription, and £87 for the second.

Behind the decision is Town Councillor Guy Woodham, who explained that burial fees in Milford Haven are significantly lower than the Pembrokeshire County Council run cemeteries.

He said: “Unlike the Town Council, Pembrokeshire County Council has not yet published its new charges applicable from April 2016 but I would anticipate a fee increase for both their cemeteries and crematorium so, Milford Haven Cemetery fees should continue to remain lower.

“It is important to consider a number of factors with regard to Milford Haven Cemetery fees.

“An initial burial includes a fee for ‘Exclusive Right of Burial’ (EROB) for 100 years – as do the higher Pembrokeshire County Council burial fees. The initial purchase of the EROB does take the fee higher than a standard cremation service but this does not apply to future burials in that grave, the charge for which is lower than a standard cremation service.

“Due to the nature of cremation, this fee does not need to be applied at the Crematorium although there are also increased Crematorium fees depending on the time of day a cremation service is held and how the cremated remains are stored.”

He also explained that the maintenance of the land and buildings at Milford Cemetery has to be covered by the burial fees otherwise this cost is passed onto Milford Haven households as part of the Town Council element of the Council tax.

For 2016/17, estimated income was over £26,000 less than the forecasted cemetery expenditure, a figure that would have been higher had there been no increase applied to Cemetery fees.

Cllr Woodham continued: “To stop the forecasted deficit being added to the Council Tax the majority of Town Councillors agreed that this cost should be covered by the Reserves held by the Council – this decision has had the effect of keeping the Council tax lower in 2016/17 than it otherwise would have been.

“However, it will not be possible to use Town Council Reserves each year to bridge the difference between the Cemetery forecasted income and expenditure and it is therefore necessary to consider increasing the Cemetery fees each year.

“For the Town Council not to increase Milford Haven Cemetery fees, which I hope will always be lower than those set by the County Council, would mean that every year the Council tax will need to include a potentially larger and larger amount to cover the shortfall in Cemetery income and expenditure. I do not believe it is fair for Milford Haven Council Tax payers to bear the cost of this without also proportionately increasing Cemetery fees.”

Cllr Woodham also expressed his final point, stating: “As less land becomes available for burials the Town Council is in the difficult position of having to identify the best way in which to continue to allow the option of burial within the town, without introducing exorbitant burial fees while at the same time not overburdening the Council tax payer all at a time when the trend is more towards cremation than burial.”

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Business

Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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