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Train stop journey arrives at Haverfordwest

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Vicki and Geoff: Travelling to 2,563 train stations across the UK

A COUPLE from East London have taken on the challenge of travelling to every train station in the UK, and this week they arrived at Haverfordwest.

Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe have travelled to over 1,400 train stations out of the 2,563 stations in the United Kingdom, and have so far travelled by train across Kent, Birmingham and Derbyshire, but this week is their ‘Wales Week’.

Updating their YouTube channel, ‘All The Stations’, they have been documenting their journey on a daily basis.

So, what are the rules? Geoff and Vicki must be on a train that stops – they can’t get on a fast train that goes all the way through to the final destination, so ideally they need to be on a train that does stop at every station.

The Herald caught up with Geoff and Vicki at Haverfordwest Train Station after they got off the 2pm train with their camera, wearing their ‘All The Stations’ t-shirts yesterday afternoon (Jun 27).

When asked where it all started, Vicki said: “I’m very interested in the social history side and how the railways connect people.”

Pulling into the station: Haverfordwest

Geoff managed to be the record holder of travelling to all the tube stations in London in the fastest time – twice. He said: “Off of that came the conversation, is there a record to go to all of the train stations?”

“We’re not trying to do it in the fastest time, but at a more leisurely pace!”

The pair didn’t want it to just be a journey in which they stopped and explored places that they thought were interesting, and wanted other people to contribute.

They came to Haverfordwest after being approached by a local, who offered them the chance to travel to Pembrokeshire and take a look around.

So far, it has taken Vicki and Geoff 6 weeks to travel to half of the stations across the UK, however they anticipate it will take them an extra 8 weeks to complete the rest as they take their journey through Wales, due to trains running less frequently than in other areas.

Geoff said: “One of the most obvious difference is we live in a world in South East London, where we’re from, where a train runs every 10 minutes.

“One of our local stations, I don’t even bother to check when the next train is going to be, I just rock up and know that another one is going to be along in the next three or four, at most seven minutes, there’s going to be a train, and here at Haverfordwest we’re looking at the board and there’s a train every two hours.

“It does bring it home how infrequent trains are out of the cities and commuter areas.”

Whilst travelling through Wales, Vicki has been trying to learn some of the Welsh language, and has been speaking to people across the country in an attempt to help her learn more.

She said: “It’s been brilliant trying to learn Welsh as well, and people have been so happy to give us tips, and I really hope by the end of the week I’ll be able to reel off a few sentences without having to look at my notes!”

Half way there: Vicki and Geoff are almost half way through their ‘All The Stations’ journey

The love of railways all stemmed from a box of old black and white photogaphs of railways owned by Geoff’s grandad, before they were closed by The Beeching cuts in 1965, along with maps of the railways that Geoff’s grandfather used to cycle to.

Geoff said: “The more you look at a map and the place names, the more you think why don’t people just get on a train and get out and explore more? And there’s something quite marvellous, with that expression the thrill is in the chase not the capture, I would definitely bump that up to the experience is in the journey not getting to your destination.

“And, I’d rather do it on a train where you can look out the window, read a book, talk to someone, have a nap, get up and go for a walk around – if I was taking a long journey I’d prefer to do it by train, and it’s good for the environment too!

“And I really mean that – we come from London where the air quality is an issue, and we’ve been in Wales this week breathing in some fresh mountain air, so it brings it home. So, more than ever, I’m thinking we need to get people onto trains.”

The Herald asked Geoff and Vicki if they think the train lines will change over the next few years.

Vicki said: “I think there’s going to be loads of investment in the train network over the next few years, and that’s going to dramatically change the way we travel, such as the speed of which we travel, how we buy our tickets and the service we expect once we get on board a train, and in a way it felt like 2017 was the time to take a look and take a snapshot of what the railways are like now before all of that change happens.

“We’ve joked about maybe coming back in 15 to 20 years to see what it’s like!”

To follow Geoff and Vicki’s journey, go to www.allthestations.co.uk or find them on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: Leader’s coronavirus update, Wednesday, 8th April

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Pembrokeshire County Council Leader, Councillor David Simpson,
has provided a further coronavirus update for Wednesday, 8th April,
as follows:

‘Once again I want to reinforce this week’s message which is “stay
home and save lives.”

‘Over the Easter weekend Council officers will be visiting
accommodation providers and checking “hot spots” to monitor and
assess compliance with the legislation.

‘Enforcement action may be considered where it is necessary and
proportionate. I can confirm that our officers will also be liaising with
the police.

‘During these unprecedented times we are asking people not to visit
Pembrokeshire. We are all aware that our county is a beautiful place
and it will still be here awaiting visitors once this pandemic is over.
‘Everyone should avoid all unnecessary travel.

‘I will be on Radio Pembrokeshire tomorrow (Thursday) to emphasise
the Authority’s messages. I want to ensure that our key messages,
service updates and Covid-19 developments are shared with as many
people as I can across our county.

‘We have a dedicated Covid-19 page on our website which is
constantly updated.

‘I urge you all to view the information published to enable you to keep
up to date with developments, service updates and press releases.

‘I want to thank our web team and press department for all their hard
work in keeping the information flowing as I am aware that these
updates are keeping people well informed. I have also received
messages thanking us for the updates which are much appreciated
and they have been forwarded to the teams.

‘We are appealing for people to join our Social Care emergency
response team during this challenging time to help support some of
the most vulnerable members of our community.

‘We urgently need a large number of home care (domiciliary) and
residential care workers to work with us on a temporary basis starting
immediately. Full details can be found on our website at:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/workinsocialcare
‘I want to thank everyone who is helping to tackle this virus. What I
am seeing and hearing is heart-warming. Everyone is pulling together
and I want our communities to know we are all here to support each
other.

‘Remember: together we are stronger and together we will get
through this.

‘Public Health Wales is updating and adding to their resources
regularly. Please find all assets here:
https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-
covid-19/coronavirus-resources/
‘Press releases issued since my update yesterday are:
 Smarter Working For A Smarter Workforce:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/smarter-working-
for-a-smarter-workforce
 Star Wars Message for Young Musicians:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/star-wars-actor-
has-stellar-message-for-young-musicians
‘Also, please keep an eye on our newsroom at:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom
‘Stay Safe. Thank you.’
Useful links:
 www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/coronavirus
 www.sir-benfro.gov.uk/coronafeirws
 https://phw.nhs.wales/
 Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru – Coronafeirws Newydd (COVID-19)
– Cyngor hunan-ynysu
 https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-
19-list-of-guidance

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Stay at home this Easter, urges First Minister

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WALES’ First Minister and emergency services are calling on the people of Wales to stay home and respect social distancing this Easter holiday. The call comes as warm weather is predicted, sparking fears people will venture out of their homes.

The letter from First Minister Mark Drakeford is signed by Wales’ emergency and health services and council leaders, as well as the Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Health minister Vaughan Gething and chief medical officer Frank Atherton join the NHS, the police, fire and ambulance services, charities, councils and voluntary organisations as signatories to the letter.

It reads: “As the Easter bank holiday approaches, we have one message for everyone. Stay home and save lives.

“Our public services are working around the clock to care for and keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Frontline workers are putting our health and care first, every day.

“We must continue to do everything we can to support them; to protect our NHS and to save lives.

“Stay at home and help stop the virus spreading.

“We know it’s hard and we want to thank you for sticking to the rules. There are some early signs this is having a positive impact but there’s still a long way to go. We know that staying at home for long periods is difficult and families all over Wales are making many sacrifices every day.

“Most people are doing just this, but it’s really frustrating to see some people flouting the rules and putting other people at risk. We are taking action to stop this happening.
“These rules are there to protect you and your loved ones. For most people the virus will cause a mild illness, but there’s a large number of people – children, adults and grandparents – who are at risk of serious illness if they are exposed.

“Sadly, a lot of people have already died after catching coronavirus. Families across Wales have lost loved ones to this virus – if we don’t act now, even more deaths will follow.
“Our actions and decisions over the Easter bank holiday weekend, and in the coming weeks and months, will shape Wales for years to come.
“Please – stay home and save lives.”

The letter is signed by:

Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister of Wales
Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services
Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales
Andrew Goodall, NHS Wales Chief Executive
Tracey Cooper Public Health Wales Chief Executive
Carl Foulkes Chief Constable, North Wales Police
Mark Collins Chief Constable, Dyfed-Powys Police
Matt Jukes Chief Constable, South Wales Police
Pam Kelly Chief Constable, Gwent Police
Andrew Morgan WLGA Leader, on behalf of all Welsh Local Authorities
Arfon Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales
Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys
Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales
Jeff Cuthbert, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent
Jason Killens, Chief Executive, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust
Ruth Marks, Wales Council for Voluntary Action Chief Executive
Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer North Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Chris Davies, Chief Fire Officer Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Hugh Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Emyr Williams, Chief Executive, Snowdonia National Park Authority

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Business

Smarter working for a smarter workforce

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THE WAY an organisation responds to challenges is testament to its values, its planning and its employees.

Covid-19 has gathered pace which has been unprecedented – and is a situation that the majority of us could never have anticipated.

Facing this pandemic and being prepared has been a challenge for all tiers of Government – but Pembrokeshire County Council’s capability to reposition its workforce is thanks to embracing the Smarter Working approach.

Our investment in technology has enabled the organisation to have more than 750 staff working flexibly to keep vital services running.

Introduced in the summer of 2018, the Smarter Working project is about harnessing the potential of flexible working in a strategic way, to deliver benefits both for employees and the business.

It is well-recognised that the principles of Smarter Working acknowledge that technology and flexible working patterns are changing the way we work for the better.

Councillor Neil Prior, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Transformation and IT said: “The Council’s employees understand that we are in a fast-changing communication and technology world.

“Culture and behaviour change has enabled us as an organisation to benefit from the advances in IT and an improved flexible use of our estate.

“I’d like to thank the IT team who have been working incredibly hard to support our Business Continuity planning. The investment we have made in technology over the last couple of years has meant that we’ve been able to see a greater number of staff work from home, which is exactly in line with the Government’s advice to ‘work from home where possible’.

“I would also like to thank staff who have adjusted their working patterns and are going over and above in their efforts to prepare our County to respond in the best possible way to the current situation.”

The world of work is changing, and people no longer need be tied to a desk. Pembrokeshire County Council can now work smarter, in a way that saves money, time and improves productivity.

As part of the Council’s approach to smarter working and refining the estate – two key changes were implemented.

The conversion of Haverfordia House – which previously accommodated staff – into a reablement centre also enabled the Council to list the Cherry Grove building in Haverfordwest as surplus to requirements, ensuring cost avoidance over the next 10 years stretching into millions of pounds.

Regarding the response specifically to Covid-19 – the stats are impressive. They include:

  • 95 per-cent of IT department working remotely
  • Skype – average unique users logged in: 1,200
  • almost 14,000 one-to-one skype sessions – this equates to more than 1,200 conferences and in excess of 60,000 audio and video minutes used
  • figures showcase the Council’s ability to enable its staff to work flexibly and keep vital services running
  • Community Hub has received more than 700 calls
  • the Council’s Cabinet is continuing to meet via videoconferencing.

Councillor Prior added: “We take pride in the relationships that we are building with our communities – and I am extremely proud of the work that has gone into the planning and the commitment shown by the Council’s staff.

“Pembrokeshire County Council has a history of positive relationships with our colleagues within health, third sector agencies and emergency services – and we are all working together to support each other through this challenging time.”

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