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Councillors defy officers over £6m development



defy officersPEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’s planning and rights of way committee met on Tuesday to discuss a major development at Heatherton.

The multi-million pound project to develop 33 log cabins, 16 yurts and the development of attractions was recommended for refusal by planning officers. Some of the new attractions would include a BMX track, Zip wire, Segways and Body Zorbs. Cutting through the red tape, forward thinking councillors defied the officers’ recommendation by approving the project. The £6m being spent at Heatherton is an opportunity to ‘raise the tourism bar’ said Councillor David Pugh. The new development would also create around 30 jobs, something which councillors felt was very important. Phil Kidney, council member for St Florence, said:

“Heatherton has been open for 20 years and only shuts for three days a year. The application before you today, if successful will add another 29 jobs. Due to the current economic climate there is a very great risk that Heatherton would have to close during the winter months”.

Alison Belton, former chief executive of Pembrokeshire tourism said to councillors: “Heatherton offers a wide range of events, activities and sports for all ages. I don’t need to tell members of the importance of tourism”.

Councillor Brian Hall added: “Heatherton is a fantastic tourist attraction, it is one of the top five in Pembrokeshire, but regrettably I have to move the recommendation for refusal simply because it’s contrary to our policies”.

However, Cllr Hall’s motion was not supported and Cllr Jacob Williams then moved that the proposals be accepted and said:

“I am disappointed that this is down for refusal, I could not support this more, now is the time to get on with it. It’s a well-established business; I think we should applaud Heatherton for wanting to do this”.

Cllrs Keith Lewis, David Pugh, Peter Stock and Phil Baker also gave their support to the application.

Cllr David Pugh added: “We have a county that relies very heavily on tourism. It doesn’t charge for entry, it has a range of activities that appeal to a wide range of families. This is an application that has been two years in preparation, let’s get on with it”.

Cllr Peter Stock said: “The benefits of this project outweigh the other objections. It’s in an excellent location, it’s a natural progression and this is the type of development we must look for in the future”.

Cllr Stephen Joseph added: “This is crucial for Pembrokeshire going forward”.

They were then asked to give their reasons why they had gone against the original decision and all councillors were of the opinion that the economic benefits outweighed the recommendations for refusal.

Heatherton director Charles Davies said: “Diversifying the business model by including accommodation as well as increasing the range of activities will enable Heatherton to be successfully marketed to a wider range of customers which in turn will generate increased income and jobs to Pembrokeshire and spread those benefits throughout the year.

“I would really like to thank the forward thinking of the council members in supporting our application and those that helped in its preparation”.

The only councillor that was against the scheme was Cllr Brian Hall who said: “Regrettably, I have to move the recommendation for refusal as it goes against a number of policies”.

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Storm Christoph set to batter Wales says Met Office [Video]



STORM Christoph will cause heavy rain and flooding in Wales on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the Met Office has said.

Forecasters are warning that there could be up to 200mm in some parts of north Wales and say that the heaviest and “most persistent” rain will be in Wales.

The warning states: “Several days of persistent, and occasionally heavy, rain are expected to affect the region as Storm Christoph affects the UK.

The heaviest and most persistent rain is likely to be across Wales and the high ground of northern England.

“By early Thursday, 30-60 mm of rain is expected to have fallen widely across the warning area, with 100-150 mm over the high ground of Wales and northern England.

“Up to 200 mm is possible across parts of north Wales and northwest England.

“Melting snow across higher parts of the Pennines may exacerbate the potential for flooding. Strong winds will also accompany the rainfall and may add to travelling difficulties across areas higher and more exposed routes.”

The warning is in place from midnight on Tuesday until noon on Thursday (January 21).

Welsh forecaster Derek Brockway says: “Large rainfall totals on high ground in south and northwest Wales.

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Enabling works start at regeneration site in Pembroke



WORK has started on the highly anticipated South Quay regeneration project in Pembroke.

Ambitious plans by Pembrokeshire County Council will see the site next to Pembroke Castle developed into a Visitor Centre, celebrating the town’s history and heritage and incorporating a new Library and Café.

The scheme will also include major enhancements to the public realm and landscaping improvements and public access to the building’s gardens at the rear.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economic Development, welcomed work starting on site.

“I’m delighted to see work getting underway. These buildings, right in the heart of Pembroke, have been left to rot for more than a decade by previous Council administrations but thankfully no longer. I am committed to Pembroke and am personally determined to help the town see a brighter future.

“Our investment in South Quay is just the first and most visible part of our commitment to the future of Pembroke and I’m looking forward to engaging with the community on the next steps over the coming months.”

The enabling works, undertaken by contractors Lloyd and Gravell are to ready the site for the development contract. They include the clearing and preparation of the site ready for the stabilisation of derelict buildings in Castle Terrace.

The South Quay project has secured £901,590 of Welsh Government Transforming Towns funding to support delivery of the first stage enabling works.

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “The regeneration of South Quay is a fantastic example of how support though our Transforming Towns programme can be used to breathe new life into an old building to create a centre that will become as asset to the local community and celebrate the town’s history.  I look forward to seeing how this work progresses.”

Cllr Aaron Carey, County Councillor for Pembroke St Mary South, said it was good to see progress on site.

“No amount of plans or drawings can prepare you for the huge task at hand when the project is seen up close,” he said.

“We as a community are putting our generation’s mark on a thousand year old town and it’s really exciting to see the work being started on site after so many years as an eyesore in the castle’s shadow.”

(Pictured are Cllr Paul Miller and Cllr Aaron Carey at South Quay in Pembroke, where work has started on a key regeneration project.)


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Stephen Crabb MP to defy whips on Universal Credit uplift



PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb will defy the Conservative whip for the first time today.

The former Work and Pensions Secretary will ignore an instruction to abstain on a non-binding Labour motion to keep the £20 uplift to Universal Credit beyond March 31.

In his Spending Review last November, Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to commit to keeping the £20 payment. The Chancellor introduced it last year to compensate families of the unemployed or
those on low incomes for the extra costs they incur during the Covid pandemic.

Stephen Crabb has repeatedly made it clear that he wants the £20 top-up to continue to give the poorest and most vulnerable at least some cushion from the effects of the deepening recession.

Although the Westminster Government claims it is optimistic about the economy’s future, the short-to-medium term looks grim.

Many businesses have closed and are unlikely to reopen. Not all of those who lost their jobs will get back into employment. It is likely any jobs on offer once the economy picks up will be low
paid and leave many still dependent on Universal Credit in some form.

Speaking on Times Radio this morning, Mr Crabb said: “No one can say we have a generous benefits system. We don’t. The unemployment component of benefits is at its lowest for a generation.

Withdrawing that additional £20 per week at the end of March will cause hardship. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

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