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‘Ambivalent’ label blamed on admin error

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admin errorMILFORD HAVEN Councillor, Viv Stoddart has received an apology after her views regarding the amalgamation of Hakin and Hubberston schools were misrepresented by Pembrokeshire County Council.

Cllr Stoddart told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Despite ticking the box for opposing the merger of the two schools, and attendant comments against the proposal, some functionary labelled me in the public document as “ambivalent.” Given the strong feeling amongst my constituents, this label is potentially damaging. The explanation from the Council was an admin error.”

Kate Evan-Hughes said in an email to Viv Stoddart: “Further to your comments regarding misrepresentation of your views in the consultation document, I have now been able to undertake a review of the correspondence and your online submission and can confirm that you did indeed make it clear that you objected to the option to amalgamate Hakin and Hubberston schools. Please accept my apology for this.”

“To remedy the situation the Cabinet member will make it clear at the start of the agenda item that we have received correspondence from you that your views have been misrepresented and that due to an administrative error the report will need to be amended to reflect the error. This will ensure that there is a formal minute of the change and this will then in turn be available publicly via the Council website.”

At the Cabinet meeting on Monday, February 10, Jamie Adams, leader of the Council, told committee members: “I have received a letter from Cllr Viv Stoddart which I will read out to you”.

Cllr Stoddart’s letter read: “The responses the authority has received are articulate, thoughtful, and responsible. Over 90% of the comments from the Hubberston School community are against the proposal to merge the two schools. The proposal needs to be set in context. Hakin and Hubberston are a single community.

“Parents are as one in supporting a long-overdue new build for Hakin Community School. This was promised when Hakin Infants and Juniors agreed to amalgamate in 2010/11 under the umbrella of the 21sC schools programme. The drive to amalgamate Hakin CS and Hubberston VC School came from this authority only last year, not from the community. There is no grass roots support for a merger, which will destroy much-valued parental choice. As the director reports, there is little appetite for the proposal. Hubberston School governors have been steadfast in their opposition to a merger.

“Estyn says that both schools currently offer a sound basis for developing primary education in the area in the future. Large schools do not automatically perform better than small schools. There is ample research to say this is not the case. And within the county Wolfscastle Community Primary School with just 36 pupils was recently ranked fourth amongst the best primary schools in Wales. It was the only one in the county to make the top twenty. Estyn also notes that the key factor in a school’s success is good leadership.

“There is a precedent for maintaining Hubberston as a separate school. Llangwm and Burton schools amalgamated some time ago, and are now housed as Cleddau Reach VC School (193 pupils aged 3-11) in a new building on the edge of Llangwm. Hook (94 pupils aged 3-11) which is less than a mile away from Cleddau Reach chose not to merge.

The authority seems comfortable with this situation, and the education provided by this thriving small school, which is akin to the good education provided by Hubberston VC school (134 pupils aged 3-11).”

The statement concluded: “If the consultation process is to be meaningful, I ask you to fulfil the promise this authority made three years’ ago to the community: to construct new premises for Hakin Community School; and to listen to the many voices in the community who oppose the proposal. They wish for Hubberston VC School to continue as a very successful, all-through primary school.”

There were three recommendations in the report: To establish a single all-through medium school, to retain the status quo and to deliver a new build just for Hakin School.

However, after considering the letter from Cllr Stoddart and the view that there was little support for those proposals, it was decided that they should defer from making a decision to further consider the options available.

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Education Chief to leave Council

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IAN WESTLEY, Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire County Council, announced to staff and Members on Wednesday (Dec 11) that Kate Evan-Hughes, the Director for Children and Schools, will be leaving the Authority at the end of January, 2020.

She is taking up an appointment as Strategic Director with a local authority in England.

Interim arrangements have been discussed with the Leader of the Council, David Simpson, and the Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, Guy Woodham.

Following Kate’s departure Steven Richards-Downes will act up as Chief Education Officer and James White will undertake the duties of deputy.

Discussions about permanent arrangements will begin in the New Year.

Mr Westley said he wished Kate all the very best as she embarks on the next phase of her career.

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‘Just do it’, advises 91-year-old leisure centre member

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ARE you struggling to find the motivation to keep fit?

Then help is at hand! Meet the inspirational Valerie Coleman – one of Pembrokeshire Leisure’s oldest members at 91 years of age.

Valerie attends an astonishing 10 classes a week at Fishguard Leisure Centre, from swimming to Pilates, chair aerobics and back care classes.

Centre manager Lisa Starkey said she was amazing. “Val really is an inspirational woman,” she said. “We are always so pleased to see her once, twice and sometimes three times a day. Her determination to keep healthy and active is inspiring to us all.”

A former nurse, Valerie was also an active PTA member who helped to fundraise for Fishguard’s old Leisure Centre which was replaced by the new centre 14 years ago.

“Val has been involved with leisure for some time and absolutely loves it,” said Lisa. “She has made so many special friends and coming to the leisure centre now is such an important social aspect of her life.

“Her mental health along with her physical health and wellbeing all benefit from her visits to the centre that she loves.”

Valerie praised staff at Fishguard for their support in helping her to recover after suffering a fractured femur, and said the centre had a ‘great atmosphere’.

“They have very helpful and understanding staff who are there for everyone and give encouragement to all of their customers,” she said.

“If you’re thinking about joining a leisure centre, just do it. The staff and facilities are here for everyone and all the encouragement you will ever need will be given.”

For information on leisure centre facilities and classes, or how to join as a member, please visit www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/leisure or pop into your local leisure centre.

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Warning to vessels after a dozen shipping containers lost off cargo ship

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MILFORD Haven Coastguard is investigating reports of up to 12 shipping containers adrift in the sea around the island of Grassholm, it has been confirmed.

It is believed the containers may have been lost by the Cyprus-registered Elbcarrier cargo ship, caught in storms while en-route to Dublin from Rotterdam.

Warnings have been given that at least a dozen containers overboard in the Celtic Sea on Sunday afternoon, December 8, after being caught in rough seas.

The drifting containers were spotted in the sea late on December 8, and further reports have stated they may now be near Grassholm Island.

Feetmon.com states: “Container ship ELBCARRIER lost containers overboard in Celtic sea in the afternoon Dec 8, while en route from Rotterdam to Dublin Ireland, being caught in rough weather. 12 drifting containers were spotted at 2330 UTC in vicinity 51 40N 005 50W,. Number of lost containers unknown. The ship reached Dublin in the afternoon Dec 9.”

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