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Council’s rubbish plan goes ahead

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THE COUNTY COUNCIL has given the go ahead to controversial plans to cut domestic rubbish collections. The Council’s scheme, to change from a weekly to a fortnightly collection for black bag rubbish, was this week rubber-stamped by the Council’s IPPG Cabinet.
The new regime, affecting black bag and glass waste, will be introduced in October.
Irate residents and concerned local Councillors have already voiced their fears that the changes are potentially hazardous. Questioned have been raised about the wisdom of the Cabinet’s decision and the impact it will have on the people of Pembrokeshire. Some Councillors are unconvinced that the cut in services was implemented to meet Welsh Government recycling targets, as the Council has claimed.
Speaking to The Herald, Councillor Huw George, Cabinet Member for Environment and Regulatory Services, claimed that fortnightly collections would reduce costs by an estimated £500,000 a year. In response to the question of whether or not this saving would be passed on as a rebate to residents who have already been billed for this year’s Council Tax, Cllr. George stated that:
“With regards to the question in respect of a reduction in Council Tax, you should be aware that the vast majority of funding for Pembrokeshire County Council services comes through the Welsh Government and they have announced very significant cuts to our income for future years, with greater reductions likely to come. We do therefore need to take some difficult decisions about the services we deliver and how we do so in order that we can continue to operate within the reduced budget available to us.”
He went on to say, “As you will be aware, the orange recycling bags and the food waste will continue to be a weekly service. Typically, over 70% of all domestic household waste is recyclable, which actually means that if someone is fully using the recycling services they will have less black bag waste to store over a fortnight than they were previously generating in a week. There is no compunction upon individual householders to recycle but, clearly it is their choice if they wish to minimize the amount of waste they have to store for up to two weeks.”
Lyndon Frayling, vice chairman of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, supported the new policy saying, “I make no apologies for doing so. This decision will help us achieve the huge savings we need to make (like every Council in the country) and make it easier to make the tough recycling targets set by the Welsh (Labour) Government. It will mean a change of routine for people but if the rest of Wales can cope with fortnightly collections, I do not believe it is beyond the scope of Pembrokeshire householders to do so as well.”
One angry parent, who wished to remain unnamed, spoke to The Herald by stating that she would face storing soiled nappies for up to two weeks in a small flat. Liberal Democrat Councillor for Dinas Cross, Bob Kilminster picked up her point:
“My biggest concern is for the large number of adults who receive social care packages and have to use incontinence or sanitary wear on a daily basis. These people are, by their conditions, rarely mobile and rely on the refuse collection service to dispose of the products they have to use on a regular basis. Going to a two week collection for these people may well cause huge problems. We could even experience increased social care costs as a result of this.”
Castle Ward resident, Dave Chalker, expressed his fear of a return to the scenes witnessed during the 1970s during the so-called ‘Winter of Discontent’, with rubbish building up in people’s yards and gardens, causing smells that could encourage scavengers and vermin.
That view was supported by Sarah Llewellyn, Town Councillor for Castle Ward, who was sceptical about the value of the policy as a cost cutting measure. She told The Herald, “I would have thought this is a real backward step. Many householders simply do not have the space to store their household waste for prolonged periods or the means to make journeys to the nearest civic amenity sites. Who is going to clear up the mess, and at what cost?”
The Herald sought a response from Keep Wales Tidy on the issue of the carbon footprint left by motorists making additional trips to municipal sites but, even though the action group’s website states they ‘research environmental issues and identify good practice at a local and national level’, they took the position that they were ‘declining to comment because it is a local authority issue’.
A Garth Ward resident, who wished to remain anonymous, was more forthcoming in her criticism of the idea of transporting waste to a municipal refuse tip, saying, “I’m so angry. How is a mother with no car supposed to just take their rubbish to a tip some miles away? In a pram? On the bus? It is ridiculous. I will simply find the nearest area for communal weekly collection and leave it there”.
On this point Councillor David Howlett, Conservative, attempted to reassure constituents by stating that, “At last week’s meeting of the Environment Committee, concern was expressed in relation to sanitary waste, and we voted on an amended proposal that will mean this aspect will be given further consideration. Also, I understand that for certain flats and multi-occupancy properties that do not currently have food and glass collections, they will continue with weekly black bin bag collections until a solution is found.”
Councillor David Bryan, of Haverfordwest Priory ward, who supported the shift to fortnightly collections, commented on this issue, saying that, “The only caveat that is needed is that there must be consideration given to the particular problems concerned with multi occupied properties and the need to collect soiled disposable nappies. It is also extremely important that weekly food refuse collections should be retained.”
Lyndon Frayling, Councillor for Garth Ward, stated that flats and multi-occupancy properties are not affected. However, when pressed on how the Council defined multi occupancy properties, in light of the fact that several housing estates have communal collection points for multiple households, he failed to respond.
Councillor Huw George further explained the need for voters to take personal responsibility, saying, “We do acknowledge that there will be varying levels of inconvenience for some households but this can be minimized by increasing the amount recycled and as we have seen from other areas across Wales, people do adapt their habits and do cope. I do not accept that if the rest of Wales can successfully introduce fortnightly collections for the black bag rubbish that Pembrokeshire cannot also do the same, but I appreciate that it will be more difficult for some than others”.
On the issue of transportation of refuse he merely stated that, “If an individual does have more waste than they can store between collections on any particular occasion then they will still be able to take their rubbish to their nearest civic amenity and recycling centre, but obviously they would have to get it there”.
Thomas Tudor and Paul Miller, from the Labour Group, both confirmed their support of the new policy, stating it was intended to encourage recycling, whilst acknowledging the resulting difficulties it would pose, promising electors that the situation would be monitored with an expectation that it should be ‘working’ in six months’ time.
Two Councillors expressing grave concerns over this issue were Vivien and Mike Stoddart, of Hakin and Hubberston respectively, who, speaking exclusively to The Herald, issued the following statement,
“We have expressed our concern to the County Council about the impact of fortnightly black bin bag collections on our constituents, particularly those living in flats and multi-occupancy properties. We have many such properties in our wards. Fortnightly collections of black bags (residual waste which, for family households, is a euphemism for nappies and sanitary waste) will bear down especially hard on our constituents, as storing this waste will be a problem for families living in flats. At the urging of a few opposition Councillors, the Council has agreed to consider the arrangements for dealing with sanitary waste, but the Council has also stated they will not provide additional collections; nor will they provide wheelie bins. So, we are not sure what these arrangements might be and if they will solve the problem for our families”.
Both Councillors, as of Wednesday of this week, were awaiting assurances from Cllr George that face to face contact would take place between flat dwellers, landlords and Council to ensure provision of suitable storage space.
Only last year, Eric Pickles, speaking as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, described weekly collections as a ‘basic right’ and accused Councils that were reducing the frequency of collections as actions which were both ‘lazy and unnecessary”.
From October 14th 2013 Pembrokeshire residents will have no choice but to see how this shift in policy affects them, their families, their neighborhood and their well-being.

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Crabb takes up the reins as Wales Committee chair

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has been elected as the new chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee in Parliament.

Stephen Crabb, who served as Secretary of State for Wales from 2014 to 2016, secured support from across the political divide to be elected unopposed, and is looking forward to taking on the new role.

He received nominations from MPs drawn from of all parties in Wales as well as being supported by numerous other MPs from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The committee examines the work of the Wales Office and other UK departments in Wales. It takes evidence from Ministers, experts and other witnesses in order to make recommendations that benefit Wales and its economy.

Following the announcement, Stephen Crabb said: “This is an exciting opportunity and I’m grateful to have received support from such a wide cross-section the House of Commons, including from Conservative, Labour and Plaid Cymru MPs. By drawing on the knowledge and passion of MPs from all parties, the committee can help to shape a positive and optimistic agenda for Wales at a time of enormous change.

“Post-Brexit trade deals, the Shared Prosperity Fund, infrastructure investment and the climate challenge will all have an impact on Wales in the years ahead. The Welsh Affairs Committee will provide an essential forum for examining Government action in these areas and ensuring that the unique circumstances of Wales are properly understood.”

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Business

Old barracks promised new lease of life

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THE COMPANY which has purchased the iconic defensible barracks in Pembroke Dock have promised to breathe new life into the historic building.

The grade II fort was built in the Victorian era to provide a military defence to the Royal Dockyard. It was recently sold for an undisclosed sum to VR1844 Ltd. The company directors are listed as Jonathan McDermott, Emma Jane Morby, Lai Hang Seto, and Iain Trevor Walker.

VR1844Ltd office manager Tanya McDermott said: “VR1844 believe people never truly own a building but are the buildings guardians for a period of time.

“Taking the view that it is only the right development for the right building at the right time it is our privilege to bring the building back into life, repair, nurture and give back to the local community, not to shut the main doors and lock the building away from people who are interested in it and its history.

“VR1844 Ltd who have brought this very under-loved and not looked after building, want to bring the buildings back into life with a mix of community uses, together with a number of dwellings that will breathe life back into the buildings.
“To do this VR1844 are already working hard with CADW, Pembrokeshire County Council and local councillors to bring forward a scheme that all parties can support, and the community can once again be proud of.”

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Town councillors object to hotel on health and safety grounds

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TOWN COUNCILLORS in Milford Haven have unanimously voted to object to a planning application my Milford Haven Port Authority to build a 100-bedroom hotel on Milford Docks.
Town Mayor Terry Davies said he had had numerous requests from members of the public to try to get it refused.
Several members of the public were at the meeting to watch, including Ian Bannister and his daughter and James Kershaw – whose homes were seriously flooded in 2018 causing tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage.
Cllr Lynne Turner told councillors: “We look forward to the development of the marina and the town desperately needs a hotel, but we have been contacted by a number of representatives from the Lower Priory and Havens Head area who are very concerned about the impact on flooding in their villages.
“The sewage waste from this development, and the change to water run-off, unless the Port Authority addresses the culverts in the area, then we have to assume that this must present a big risk to increased flooding.”
“We need to wait for the outcome of a report to see how the hotel will affect the villages”
“Then that report needs to be acted upon, if needs be.”
Cllr Rhys Sinnett said: “It is clear from the representation from the communities affected by the floods in 2018, they are still awaiting answers and actions from Pembrokeshire County Council to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.
“Whilst no action is being taken, I don’t see how we can support anything that might raise water levels and I suggest we need to delay this as long as possible.
“There is no reference in the report to the flooding in 2018 so how can we support an application that has faulty information.”
“We have to object to this application within the scope of planning rules, and I propose that we can object in terms of health and safety.
What happened in 2018 was a had a huge impact on the health and safety of those who were living in Lower Priory and in Havens Head.
Cllr Turner then formally that the town council object, as Cllr Sinnett suggested, to the application on health and safety grounds.
Cllr Sinnett added that because of the controversial nature of the application, he would be strongly suggesting the application go before the council’s planning committee.
“That would be best for local democracy” he said, adding “this application should not be decided by officers under their delegated powers.
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