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Call for support for flood victims

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flood victimsIN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, William Powell AM has called on both the First Minister and the Natural Resources Minister to apply for aid from the EU’s Solidarity Fund and the European Investment Bank to help rebuild communities devastated by flooding in recent weeks.

The EU’s Solidarity Fund, which has a budget of up to £414 million for 2014, was set up to provide financial assistance to EU countries struck by major national disasters. William Powell recently visited the European Investment Bank, based in Luxemburg, and learnt how the Bank can also be an avenue that can be explored for extra resources for longer term coastal flood defence projects.

William Powell, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales and Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Natural Resources Minister, said:

“I’ve seen first-hand the devastation that has been caused by the recent weather in my region. I’m immensely proud of the resilience local people have shown in this crisis.

“However, we need extra resources made available to support these local communities. The EU Solidarity Fund was created in 2002 for just these types of events and the European Investment Bank is also an option too. I believe we have a strong case for extra help and the Welsh Labour Government needs to look closely at making an application while there is still time. The money is there and we need a Government that is willing to go and get it.

“The recent floods have been devastating for many homes and businesses. People need all the support they can get at the moment. I therefore urge the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government to ensure that we can access all the support that is available.

“I will be raising these points again during a debate on the recent floods in the National Assembly next week.”

Alec Dauncey, Welsh Liberal Democrat European candidate and resident of Aberystwyth, said:

“This fund is a Europe-wide insurance. It’s all about member countries working together to deal with large scale natural disasters which might hit one of them. All countries pay into it and the money goes to a country or region which needs extra help.

“Elected MEP’s have to authorise these payments. I hope a case can be made for help that will reach Wales.”

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Cleddau Bridge Hotel fire started deliberately

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A RESPONSE to a Freedom of Information Act request made by Llanion councillor Joshua Beynon reveals that the fire which devastated the Cleddau Bridge Hotel on March 30 this year was arson.

The blaze followed a protracted period during which the hotel had been empty following the refusal of a planning application for change of use to residential accommodation.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that investigators have now concluded the fire investigation regarding the fire that took place at the Cleddau Bridge Hotel on March 30, 2019.

“The investigation determined that the fire was started deliberately, and all relevant information has duly been passed on to Dyfed Powys Police.”

The Herald has asked Dyfed Powys Police to comment on the progress of its investigation.

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No prosecutions in Pembroke Dock grant fraud allegations

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MORE than five years since allegations of impropriety in publicly-funded building restoration grants were taken up by the police, the local force tells Pembrokeshire County Council chief executive, Ian Westley, in a letter circulated to councillors: “The Crown Prosecution Service has determined that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any of the suspects.”

More details to follow – the matter will also be discussed at this Thursday’s full council meeting.

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Fishguard school last in Wales without broadband

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CHILDREN in a school in Fishguard are excited about next term before the summer holidays have even begun.

Ysgol Llanychllwydog is the last school in Wales without broadband.

The pupils sometimes have to wait half an hour for pages to load. Sometimes videos won’t play. Now the school is looking forward to an ultra-fast future, and for the head teacher the changes cannot come quickly enough.

Currently when the internet goes down Amanda Lawrence has to drive 10 minutes to her other school to send an email to report it.

“It’s frustrating. There are lots of schools that are able to use schemes where you can plan electronically, but it’s difficult for staff here to do that,” she said.

As part of a scheme to target hard-to-reach places, fibre optic cable is being laid along a 15-mile route from Haverfordwest.

Matt Lovegrove, who works for Openreach, admitted it had been ‘a massive challenge’.

He said: “We’ve had to plough 1.5 miles of new trench to put new duct in, we’ve had to put new poles and had to span the cable between 50 poles as well, so a real variety of challenges.

“The product is limitless in terms of speed. It’s gigabit capable, that means they can download music, interactive learning et cetera, and it will be instant for them.”

The wider community will also benefit from the upgrade, he said. “We are looking to work with local government and residents to expand that fibre footprint to as much of the village as possible.”

“They’ll be able to access the high speed broadband and again get all the benefits from that.”

The last school in Wales without broadband

Broadband is a Welsh Government priority. It’s invested £13.8m in school broadband.

But Llanarchllwydog has been a tough nut. It’s taken the efforts of Welsh and UK governments to bring broadband.

“Because of the challenging topography, that we are familiar with, it has taken rather a long time to make sure that every school is equipped with the broadband speeds that they need,” said Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams.

“This means that schools will have the external infrastructure that they need to deliver our exciting new curriculum and I hope to be making an announcement shortly on further investment on kit and equipment inside schools.”

The work is being done through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme.

DCMS minister Margot James MP agrees cooperation between the two governments has helped deliver the project.

“That’s not the end of it for Wales,” Ms James said.

“The other aspects of the rural gigabit connectivity programme is that we are using that £200 million to bring full fibre to local public buildings like hospitals and schools so that they get the gigabit connectivity first.”

The cable has now reached the telegraph post outside the school. The final work will happen over summer.

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