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PM’s flying visit



flying visitTHE FIRST visit to Pembrokeshire by a serving UK Prime Minister since 1991 took place in a mist shrouded Newgale on Wednesday, February 19.

Landing by helicopter, the Prime Minister’s visit included a visit to the Duke of Edinburgh pub, pictures of which, surrounded by flood waters and the remains of sea defences, have become iconic images of the recent storms.

Jasper Slater, the owner of the pub for fourteen years told The Herald: “The Prime Minister arrived by helicopter and landed in the car park. He was greeted at the door of the pub by myself and was shown around the damage by landlord Chris Lugg and his partner. He looked around and spoke with the workmen inside such as plasters and electricians. He was very interested to see how the bad storms had affected the community and offered his concerns.”

The Prime Minister joked to Mr Slater that he may be back to enjoy a pint with him once the reconstruction work was completed.

Later during his visit, the Prime Minister called in at St David’s Assemblies’ plant on Glasfryn Road, St David’s and met with local and national press representatives.

Herald assistant editor, Jon Coles, attended along with representatives of the Western Mail, Western Telegraph, and Radio Pembrokeshire. He writes:The road to St David’s was shrouded in mist as the local press headed to and from the site of St David’s Assemblies Ltd, a leading supplier of parts to the automotive and domestic appliance industries. Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire told the local press pool:

“It’s quite surprising that this type of manufacturing still exists in a place like St David’s. There are high-quality, skilled jobs, employing local people on good wages. The company has partnerships with local colleges to train apprentices and employs over forty people, many of them women. This is a Pembrokeshire success story.”

There was quite a wait to see the Prime Minister, before the four of us were ushered into a small office to ask one question each to David Cameron. He’s significantly less full-faced than he appears on television: dressed down for his visit, as you might expect, he was friendly in the way that professional politicians are friendly and invited us to sit down with him around a low table for what was described as “a huddle”.

He was clear and precise with his answers. On the issue of tackling flooding, David Cameron said:

“Tackling floods is a devolved issue to the Welsh Government. I rang the First Minister to offer military help. Of course, there is the question of insurance, which is not devolved and we shall be speaking to the Welsh Government about that. In terms of offering additional funding, funding for flood defences is a devolved issue and we have the Barnett formula for public funding in Wales. We (the UK government) are always happy to talk with the Welsh Government about needs and problems. That is one of the reasons we have come today”

With roads blocked and railways damaged, the question of what opportunities existed to review and replace existing transport infrastructure:

“In England, there is an annual review of the resilience of our transport infrastructure. In Wales, that process is a devolved area. I think it is sensible, once the flood waters have drained down, to ask how we can better build in resilience to our infrastructure, for example signalling equipment able to withstand flooding. I am sure the Welsh Government will be doing that and we will share expertise and experience with them.”

In relation to “planned withdrawal” from coastal areas, David Cameron was forthright:

“I think we should look at our flood defences and work out how to make them more robust. Where I was this morning (Newgale) was flooded from in front and behind, from the river and the sea. It was flooded twice in one month. We need to make sure that we restore the defences from the sea and clear the river. We shouldn’t feel powerless in the face of these extreme weather events. Of course, across the UK many thousands of homes were flooded, but flood defences protected over a million homes. I am confident in using modern technology and improving our forecasting, we can protect ourselves even better.”

On a change of tack, the Prime Minister took a strongly partisan line to a question about Withybush Hospital:

“Health is a matter for the Welsh Government. I’m very clear that the Welsh Government, controlled by Labour, made a bad decision because they decided to cut the funding to the Health Service. In England, we took the decision to protect the funding for the Health Service. So we’re not making cuts to the health budgets in England, we’re protecting them. Here in Wales, they are being cut; they are being cut by over eight percent and that has had very bad consequences for the NHS in Wales. That was a political decision taken by the Labour Party in Cardiff and I think it was a mistake.”

And that was it, polite exchanges, 5 minutes out of the Prime Minister’s schedule, and he was ushered out to meet the BBC and ITV Wales. While we waited for the camera crews to clear the outside of the building, we took the chance to speak with Stephen Crabb, who praised the efforts of local council workers during the recent floods.

“Today the Prime Minister has paid tribute to the County Council’s workers who helped keep Pembrokeshire open during the recent storms, during which the County Council got a lot of things right. The way in which it used social media to get information quickly to the public was particularly effective.”

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Haverfordwest: Primary school teacher accused of 34 sexual assaults



A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher was in court on Monday (Aug 3) accused of 34 sexual assaults.

James Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, denies all the charges.

Oulton, who was granted a continuation to his bail, was represented in court by his barrister Chris Clee QC.

The case is listed for administrative hearings in November and the trial date is provisionally set for April 12, 2021.

Oulton is currently suspended from work at Mary Immaculate School.

It is understood that the case does not involve children who are pupils at the Roman Catholic primary school.

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Phased re-opening for Leisure Centre facilities



FACILITIES at Pembrokeshire County Council’s Leisure Centres will begin to re-open in a phased and safe manner from Monday, August 17.

Following further easing of Welsh Government restrictions, Pembrokeshire Leisure will be opening its doors for the use of fitness suites only in the first phase.

The fitness suites at Fishguard Leisure Centre, Haverfordwest Leisure Centre, Milford Haven Leisure Centre, Pembroke Leisure Centre and Tenby Leisure Centres will open from Monday, August.

You must book and pay for your gym slot in advance.

Without a pre-booked slot you will not be able to gain access to the facilities.

There will be no bookings or payments taken at the centres. In order to make a reservation you will need to be a registered user of Pembrokeshire Leisure.

You can register via the website or by calling 01437 775504, Monday to Thursday, 9am – 3pm.

See below for further membership information.

Bookings can also be made via the website and telephone numbers above and through the Pembrokeshire Leisure app which is available to download on both Apple IOS and Android.

You will be able to book your session from Tuesday, August 11, onwards.

For everyone’s safety please do not attend any Pembrokeshire Leisure facilities if you are experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms.

Users are asked to bring only a full water bottle (drinking fountains will not be in use), a towel and their Pembrokeshire Leisure Card for their exercise session.

Please note there will be no changing facilities available so please arrive dressed ready for your session.

Buildings may operate one-way systems and equipment may be set out differently than normal with some equipment set up in other areas of the centre to allow more space to exercise.

Those visiting with pre-booked appointments are respectfully asked to adhere to social distancing rules in operation.

There will be an enhanced cleaning operation in place with hand sanitising stations and customers will need to use the provided cleaning products to clean equipment before and after use.

The second phase, from Tuesday, September 1, will see Crymych Leisure Centre re-open and swimming pools, indoor fitness classes and facility hire available at all centres.

Again, all activities will be via pre-booked appointments only.

Further details will be released in due course, including opening arrangements for all of the remaining leisure facilities.

Currently all Pembrokeshire Leisure memberships are frozen with no payments being taken.

To allow members to return when they feel safe and happy to do so Pembrokeshire Leisure will be offering the following:

If you are ready to return to us:

  • Everyone with a frozen current membership will be able to access the fitness suites for free from August 17 to 31.
  • We will be offering a ‘BeActive’ membership while our facilities have a reduced offering at £19/month.
  • You will need to sign up to the membership using our app or website.
  • This membership will be paid on a monthly basis with no minimum term.
  • It will be available until our centres are able to offer a more complete selection of activities, when existing membership subscriptions will be restarted.

If you don’t feel ready to return to us yet:

  • All memberships will remain frozen and you will not need to contact us until you are ready to return.
  • All subscriptions will receive an extension as Appropriate.
  • When we are able to offer a more complete provision of activities then memberships will be restarted. Members will be given notice before the payments are taken.

More information regarding the BeActive membership will be sent to all members.

All relevant information will also be published on and the Pembrokeshire Leisure App.

If you are unclear on the process of re-joining please contact 01437 775504.

Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism. Leisure and Culture, Cllr Paul Miller, said: “With restrictions easing further in the coming weeks the team have been working hard to ensure we can offer a safe, phased, return to leisure facilities across the county.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming back members and the general public from the 17th.”

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Milford Haven coastguards launch six lifeboats and task helicopter to hoax call



MILFORD HAVEN Coastguard Operations Centre swung into action last night following an emergency call, tasking SIX lifeboats and a rescue helicopter to search for a sinking yacht with three crew on board.

But the call – which led to rescuers to search a large part of the Bristol Channel – turned out to be a hoax.

The RNLI said that the call out cost valuable funds, which could have been used to save lives in a real emergency.

Barry Lifeboat station volunteers posted on Facebook saying: “Whilst out on its first exercise since the start of the Covid 19 restrictions, the Barry Dock All-weather lifeboat was tasked by Milford Haven coastguard to reports of a sinking yacht with three people on board.
“Volunteer crews from RNLI Penarth Lifeboat Station, RNLI Weston Lifeboat Station and RNLI Lifeboats at Burnham-on-Sea launched their lifeboats to the mayday call.
“The six lifeboats and coastguard rescue helicopter carried out a coordinated search pattern around the Flat Holm and Steep Holm Islands
“A dredging vessel the Arco Dart also assisted in the search.
“After an investigation by the coastguard team at Milford Haven it was deemed to be a hoax call.
“The volunteers from the four separate RNLI stations returned home and prepared each lifeboat for its next service.
“A hoax call is a massive drain on the resources of the RNLI and it’s volunteers during this challenging time.”

Speaking to The Pembrokeshire Herald on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the RNLI said: “Volunteer crew members will respond to any request to help those in trouble at sea.
“However, when a false 999 or 112 call is made, it uses volunteers’ time, which they selflessly give to help those in trouble.
“It costs the charity valuable funds, which could be better used elsewhere, and a false call can take lifesaving resources away from a real emergency.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have been approached for a comment.

Barry lifeboat after being tasked to hoax call on Monday night (Pic: RNLI)

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