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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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10% Council tax rise supported

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IN A RECORDED vote, Pembrokeshire County Council has approved its draft budget for 2019/20, which will see a 10% rise in council tax.

The budget was approved at Thursday’s (Feb 21) Full Council meeting but was met with some opposition by some members who said other options were available.
Cabinet member for Finance, Cllr Bob Kilmister described his role as a ‘poisoned chalice’ but went on to say: “We are still cheaper in Pembrokeshire than any other local authority in Wales. I have heard that increasing the council tax may have a burden on many who fit into the category of working poor.
“However, if we cut more services it will affect these people the most.”

He went on to highlight a number of outcomes should council tax not be increased by 10% and added: “An additional £1.89 a week avoids these outcomes.”

There is also an extra £1m to cover Brexit but Cllr Kilmister said he had ‘no idea’ if that would be enough.

Cllr Brian Hall asked how many redundancies would be made if certain services were changed but Cllr Kilmister said they were looking at what they have got in the council and looking to train for those people who are leaving vital jobs.

Cllr Hall said that the majority of staff were really concerned, and Cllr Kilmister said they could not start that process until a decision was made on the budget.

Cllr Jamie Adams said they needed to come up with a budget that was more ‘wider-thinking’ and said it was about ‘delivering value for money for Council Tax payers.
He said he was unable to support the budget that demands 10% and challenged other members saying: “Don’t be afraid of doing that, there are different ways to square the circle.”

Cllr Josh Beynon said that while a 10% rise was not the most popular it was the right thing to do.

Cllr Phil Kidney said he was finding it tough to get his head round the customer service centre closing and said they would ‘disenfranchise’ a lot of people by doing so.
However, Cllr Kilmister later said that the service would still be provided but in a different way.
He also said that the current administration was doing more of getting rid of buildings that the previous administration ever did. He added: “This is not something I am doing out of choice, I am doing it out of necessity.”

Cllr Pat Davies said she was ‘dismayed’ to find the previous administration had no strategic plan and said that she had done a lot of catching up over the last 18 months.
Speaking on the transformation program, Cllr Michelle Bateman said progress was being made and that she didn’t want to be part of a council that cuts services and keeps council tax low.

Cllr John Davies explained that the council does have other options and Cllr Kilmister challenged him saying he was welcome to make a new proposal but told Cllr Davies he would have to tell him where the money would be coming from.

Cllr Kilmister went on to say they could only do the budget on the information they have.
Council Leader Cllr David Simpson praised Cllr Kilmister for what he had done over the past 12 months saying he had done an ‘exceptional job’.
He went on to say that he was ‘proud’ of his whole cabinet who had the ability to answer any questions that came their way.

Cllr Simpson then said: “The staff we have in this building are superb, do we want to slash their jobs? No we don’t. We are looking at departments and making cuts where we can.”
When it was put to the vote, 37 members voted in favour of the budget, with 21 voting against.

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Councillor denies ‘bullying’ claim

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A COUNCILLOR has denied that he ‘bullied’ a senior officer of the council when he said that the Chief Executive and Dyfed Powys Police enjoyed a ‘cosy relationship’.
That was the claim made by Cllr Jacob Williams at a recent meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee in relation to the delay in sending a letter of complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The complaint related to the Pembroke Dock Commercial Property Grants scheme, which is still being investigated by Dyfed Powys Police.
At a meeting of Full Council on Thursday (Feb 21), Cllr Ken Rowlands submitted a question asking if the leader agreed with his statement.
The leader, Cllr David Simpson simply replied: “No, I do not.”
In response, Cllr Rowlands said: “Would you agree that the member concerned slandered our chief executive and the police?”
He went on to say that he was far from happy for an officer to be insulted and bullied in such a way.
Cllr Rowlands felt it was a breach of the code of conduct and added that Cllr Williams should make a public apology.
Cllr Simpson responded: “I have had three communications after the Jacob Williams and Chief Executive incident. All three left a meeting with me understanding that it is not the leaders’ role to interfere with members.
“If the actions are unreasonable the chair is there to make sure members act in a good way. There are sixty members and I can’t alter their opinions. As for a breach of the code of conduct, that is a matter for you and if you think he has you have an obligation to go to the monitoring officer.”
Cllr Jacob Williams stated that he ‘categorically denied’ the claims made by Cllr Rowlands and said he understood that he did make a complaint to the monitoring officer but that it wasn’t considered appropriate to refer to the ombudsman.
At the same meeting, questions were also asked by Cllr Mike Stoddart in relation to the council’s handling of the letter of complaint.
He asked which officers were involved in drafting a letter and was told that the Head of Legal services made a decision to provide a draft which was authorised by the committee services manager.
Cllr Stoddart also asked why there was a lack of clarity as to who the letter should be sent too.
Cllr Simpson responded saying the resolution was unambiguous and that the IOPC website directed complaints to Dyfed Powys Police which was contradictory to the resolution of council.
Finally, Cllr Stoddart asked when the letter of rejection was received by then chair Cllr Paul Harries, how long after putting it in his briefcase did he rediscover it.
Cllr Simpson replied on behalf of Cllr Harries stating it was found on October 10, 2018.
Cllr Stoddart replied simply to say that it had been ‘lingering in the bottom of his briefcase for five months’.

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Haverfordwest: Pedestrian killed on A4076 at Dregeman Hill

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AT 11.10PM on Wednesday, February 20, Dyfed-Powys Police received a report of a road traffic collision on the A4076 at Dredgeman Hill, Haverfordwest.

The collision involved a car and a pedestrian. Tragically, the pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene.

The police told The Herald: “We are appealing for any witnesses that may have been travelling along that section of road at that time. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit quoting message 431 of February 20.”

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