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Barnard’s Tower ‘belongs to the people’

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Barnard’s Tower: Will the Town Council change their minds about the tower

Barnard’s Tower: Will the Town Council change their minds about the tower

ONE of Pembrokeshire’s most historic buildings is currently up for sale but there is a reluctance to do anything with it.

Barnard’s Tower in Pembroke, has been up for sale since July 2013 and many discussions have been held over what to do with it.

The tower is described as being ‘part and parcel of Pembroke’ by Cllr Jonathan Nutting who feels that Pembroke Town Council should take ownership of the building for the people of the town.

However, Pembroke Town Council have said they do not want to take the tower on because of potential costs that may be incurred in the future.

Cllr Jonathan Nutting says that the council should work together with organisations to turn the tower into a tourist attraction.

Pembrokeshire County Council have said that they may be able to gift the tower to the Town Council but there has been no movement since.

The Town Council has discussed the Tower at a number of its Town Council meetings but in January, it was agreed that the Town Council would not go ahead with the purchase.

Many people in the town see the Tower as an important part of Pembroke and are willing to work with the Town Council should they decide to take the building on.

HISTORY

Barnard’s Tower is of great historic importance to Pembroke and is a 13th century three storey tower which is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The building overlooks the Mill Pond and forms part of the town wall.

It was founded by William de Valence and flanks the north-east angle of the medieval town wall of Pembroke, it was built for independent defence.

The entrance to the fore-building was once defended by a bridge-pit and its vaulted passage was guarded by a gate and a portcullis. A spiral stair case , gives access to all the floors and the dome-vault roof supports the remains of a parapet.

The deep, plunging arrow loops are similar to those seen in the Barbican Tower at Pembroke Castle, where they date from c.1260 and from which they were probably derived.

The roof dome is intact, and the whole structure with its fireplace and lavatory is a strong, almost self-contained defensive unit; this was probably necessary as it was isolated on the north-eastern end of town, almost half a mile from the castle.

Barnard’s Tower has been subject to regular and on-going programmes of consolidation and repair since at least the mid-1970s, including the construction of the low walls against the southern face of the tower.

Today the tower is home to a nursery roost of Daubentons Bats.

TAKE A CHANCE

Cllr Jonathan Nutting wants to convince the Town Council that they should take ownership of the tower to take a chance for the future of the town of Pembroke.

Pembrokeshire County Council has been in talks with interested parties in the past about the Tower but they are now looking to gift the tower to the Town Council.

Barnard’s Tower, along with two other buildings, was put up for sale by the council in July 2013.

At the time a spokesperson said that the main reason for selling the Tower was that the Council does not have the resources to hold underutilised assets.

The Council also said they would welcome expressions of interest for the tower from the Town Council.

There was anger at the plans to sell the buildings in the community as it was felt that there had not been enough dialogue between the Council and Town Council about their plans.

Cllr Jonathan Nutting said that Pembrokeshire County Council had acted disgracefully in their advertisements of the buildings as there was no consultation with Pembroke Town Council.

He even suggested that the Town Council should make a starting offer of £1 for the tower and another offer was also made in April 2014.

Two months later Pembrokeshire County Council said they were happy to work with Pembroke Town Council to create a plan for the tower.

BAT SURVEY COST £1,270

Almost a year later, after meetings about purchasing the tower, the Town Council was asked to do a bat survey of the building.

It was revealed that the survey would cost £1 , 270 and some councillors felt that was too much and asked for another valuation.

However, a second valuation came back higher than the first and in June 2015, it was agreed to go ahead with the survey at the price originally quoted.

The results of the survey came back to the Town Council in November 2015 but councillors were still unsure over the cost of the building.

COUNCILLORS CONCERNED OVER FUTURE COSTS

Cllr Wyn Jenkins said that they should not purchase the building as, in his opinion, they could not afford it.

Cllr Keith Nicholas stated that he was originally in favour of the council purchasing the building but added that they may be expected to pay further costs of services in the town which meant that the Town Council could not take it on.

Cllr Jon Harvey said he was concerned about costs which could be involved in the upkeep of the tower and asked for full costs to be prepared.

Cllr Jonathan Nutting said that the Town Council should not make knee-jerk reactions and felt that they should be looking at the long term and not the short term.

Following a vote of 11 in favour and two against it was resolved to withdraw from the purchase of the tower.

Despite this, in December 2015, Pembrokeshire County Council said that they may be able to gift the Tower to the Town Council.

Councillors were still unsure about the future costs of the building while Cllr Nicholas commented that nothing had changed from the previous meeting.

Pembrokeshire County Council had received other offers but it was felt that the best option would be to pass it on to the Town Council.

This could be done by a Community Asset Transfer at less than market value for local social, economic or environmental benefit.

At the Town Council meeting in January, it was agreed that the matter would be laid on the table and that they would not be going ahead with the purchase of the Tower.

PEMBROKE NEEDS ATTRACTIONS

Speaking to the Herald on February 2, Pembroke Cllr Jonathan Nutting said: “It’s all part of a plan. Pembroke needs attractions to keep people in Pembroke for the whole day rather than just going to the castle and then going off to the beach.

“Barnard’s Tower is part and parcel of what I see as integrated plan because what I did try and sell to them was that it would make a possible interpretation centre for the Town Walls, it would make a possible interpretation for the bats of south Pembrokeshire and we have to take them into account.

“It would make a brilliant interpretation centre because the Mills Ponds are a brilliant bat sanctuary and a place where you can pick up lots of things so it gives a potential for other visitors to use the town in a different way rather than just going to see the castle.

“What we’re trying to get them to do is see the castle as a start off point and they actually go around and in a circle of things that are happening in the town.

“The Council now want to gift the tower to Pembroke, they’re not interested in money, Pembroke doesn’t desperately want to take it on because they can’t see the money for where to do the tower up and put the floors back in.

POTENTIAL IS THERE

“CADW have got no worries as long as the structure is not changed, the bat people have got no problem as long as we take the bats into account. The potential is there but there is no money.

“All the Town Council can see at the moment is that they might have a white elephant on their hands where they have to pay for insurance and then maintenance which could be horrendous.

“We don’t want it just sitting there as a dead tower. The vast majority of visitors don’t even know it’s there because they never get that far and it is quite an important part of the town walls.

“Obviously Pembroke is now looking to invest in the future, we’ve got 21C, the Town Walls Trust and lots of different groups working in the town but they are not coordinated very well and we need a professional so what I am trying to get from the county council and Welsh Government is for them to put a town coordinator in.

“That has the potential to coordinate these groups, coordinate where the income comes from and where the town goes forward.

“We need a tourist industry that attracts people all the time so the tower is an integral part. There is potential to bring together the Town Council, 21C and the Town Walls Trust on a joint project.”

PEMBROKE 21C

Gareth Jones from Pembroke 21C told the Herald: “I was part of a group working in partnership with the Town Council to scope out any potential uses for the Tower.

“Pembroke Town Council are still in discussions about it and we will wait to see what their response is before moving forward.

“We are happy to work with anyone who is trying to retain Barnard’s Tower.

“Barnard’s Tower is a fantastic feature in the Town Wall and it could paint an even richer picture of town and its history as a heritage centre or information centre. Obviously we would have to consider the bats that are in there at the moment.

“It is a great opportunity and I would certainly be up for it and I think we should just go for it and I would like to be a part of any group dealing with this in the future.”

PEMBROKE TOWN WALLS TRUST

Janet Drogan from the Pembroke Town Walls Trust confirmed that they had been to two meetings with the Town Council about the tower.

She added: “The Town Walls Trust has got plenty on its plate to deal with the town walls but it is a part of Pembroke’s heritage. All things need funding.

“It is definitely an asset but there are so many assets that have a potential for the future but we can’t deal with all of them at once.”

In April 2014, The Town Walls Trust posted the following about the state of the wall and Barnard’s Tower on their website. They said: “While some stretches remain well maintained and other parts have been patched up from time to time, other stretches of wall are showing signs of long-term neglect – ivy-covered and in urgent need of re-pointing.

“The town’s three great medieval gateways are all long gone and it is partly in order to ensure that the remaining walls do not go the same way that the Pembroke Town Walls Trust has recently been formed.”

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Although the building may have been declared surplus to requirements there is definitely an appetite to do something with the Tower.

Pembroke Town Council held a full council meeting on Thursday (Feb 11) after The Herald went to press.

Nobody wants this to become a ‘dead tower’ but will the Town Council change their minds to help bring this tower back into use?

Will the Town Council also accept Pembrokeshire County Council’s gifting of the tower to them?

It is clear that there is potential for the tower to become an important part of the town and the people in Pembroke would clearly like to see something done with it.

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Launch of Haverfordwest Castle Conservation Management Plan

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MEMBERS of the public are being asked to help shape the future of Haverfordwest Castle as a draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is launched.

One of Pembrokeshire’s most important historical assets, the Castle is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which has produced the CMP.

The plan:

▪ sets out the significance of the castle and describes how the building will be protected with any new use, alteration, repair or management; 

▪ will help with the planning of maintenance, conservation and repair work and adaptation of the site to meet new or changing uses; 

▪ will help promote understanding of the site and look at improving public access and activities for local people and visitors; 

▪ will support proposals to conserve the castle and adaptations of the site in response to climate change; 

▪ and underpin funding applications to support improvements

An engagement exercise has been launched alongside the Plan, giving members of the public with an interest in the historic and/or environmental significance of the castle an opportunity to comment on the document and share their views.

To take part in the engagement exercise, please click on the following link: 

https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/regeneration-communities

The deadline for responses is Sunday, March 28, 2021.

 

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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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