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Mustang Marine goes into administration

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mustang marine• 65 jobs lost • Local firms owed hundreds of thousands • Politicians want reassurances over remaining jobs

THE WELSH GOVERNMENT MINISTER for the Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart, has confirmed to The Herald that Pembroke Dock based Mustang Marine is now in the hands of administrators Grant Thornton, but is continuing to trade. Around 65 employees have been laid off and 50 staff will remain, according to the firm.

Interim managing director Stewart Graves said he was still hopeful a buyer could be found.

Mustang has had millions of pounds in funding from the Milford Haven Port Authority and a cash injection from the Welsh government. Last week, the interim managing director said the company had a significant cash shortage in December which left it facing closure.

He said with assistance from a new management team and external advisers a long-term funding package was secured in February from the Welsh government and Milford Haven Port Authority and an external third party.

However, after completing its review of the business, the external party withdrew its offer, and “without that party the long-term funding package could not proceed”.

Alec Don, Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven said in a statement: “Mustang Marine is 50% owned by the Port of Milford Haven and therefore is an associate company.”

“We are obviously concerned about the great anxiety amongst staff and other stakeholders that this administration announcement will be causing. We have always been supportive of Mustang’s efforts to grow their business and establish themselves as a manufacturer based in West Wales in competition with other ship builders in the UK and beyond.”

“As a Trust Port we remain committed, more than normal commercial considerations would allow, to working with the administrator and other stakeholders to see a viable business re-established. We will do all we can to attract investors who can make a success of the outstanding facilities and location we have here, and employ as many of the highly skilled staff as possible.”

Politicians express concern

Delyth Evans, Parliamentary Candidate for South Pembrokeshire said: “I am extremely disappointed to learn of the news that administrators have been appointed to Mustang Marine. This is very bad news for the employees and their families and other local businesses that are also affected. I know the Welsh Government has been working hard to help the company find a way out of its difficulties. It is vital that every opportunity is explored to secure a future for the business and to support the workforce.”

Cllr Paul Miller, said: “I share Delyth’s concern for those people who are affected by this difficult outcome. Mustang Marine has been a major employer over the years and has directly and indirectly contributed to the Pembrokeshire economy.”

“I’ll be raising this with officers of Pembrokeshire County Council and with the Milford Haven Enterprise Zone Board. It’s critical that both organisations re-double their efforts to support job creation around the waterway.”

Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has asked the First Minister what advice and support the Welsh Government will make available to members of the Mustang Marine workforce facing redundancy.

AM seeks assurances over jobs

Speaking at the weekly questions to the First Minister, Mrs Evans said: “The news that Mustang Marine in Pembroke Dock has gone into administration with the loss of 66 jobs is a bitter blow for the area.

“What support and assistance will the Welsh Government offer to those 66 workers facing redundancy, and how can you help to work towards safeguarding the remaining 48 jobs?”

In response, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones confirmed that “We are exploring a number of options at the moment, but I can say that those threatened with redundancy will be offered ReAct support and advice.”

ReAct is the Welsh Government’s Redundancy Action Scheme which has been put in place to help people affected by redundancy gain new skills and encourage recruiting employers to employ a redundant worker.

ReAct can offer help to individuals facing redundancy, or those who are newly out of work, by offering recruitment and training support, as well as discretionary awards toward vocational training. Help can include 100 per cent of training costs to acquire new skills (up to a maximum of £1,500), help with the cost of special equipment to remove barriers to training, help towards the cost of travelling to training courses, overnight accommodation costs – where appropriate, and a contribution towards childcare costs whilst training.

Mrs Evans said: “ReAct also offers packages for employers taking on someone who has been made redundant.

“The Welsh Government’s employer recruitment support initiative funds employers who recruit individuals who have been made redundant in the past six months. The award offers up to £3,000 paid in four instalments as a contribution towards wage costs.

“There is also an employer training support fund, which is a separate discretionary fund of up to £1,000 that an employer can put towards the cost of the new recruit’s job-related training.

“I urge local employers to consider whether this funding would be right for them.”

Uncertainty for suppliers

Last month The Herald reported that there were hundreds of thousands owed to local businesses by Mustang Marine. The administrators have now confirmed that the figure is around £350,000 and that there are over sixty firms owed cash. A local business man who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity said: “Our company is only a small firm, and we have been waiting for payment since before Christmas. If we do not get paid, which is now looking unlikely, we will be forced to lay off staff at our company too. The knock on effect of Mustang going into administration may very well be greater than the job losses at the firm itself.”

Alec Don said: “The interests of creditors and employees will be best served by all parties working together to ensure a strong business emerges from the administration process.”

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Bar 10 licensing hours extended

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THE COUNTY COUNCIL’s Licensing Sub-Committee granted an extension of hours to a Tenby pub this Tuesday (Feb 18).
The Committee considered an application from the licensees of Bar 10 in St George’s Street to allow it to remain open until 2:00 am.
Tenby Town Council objected to the application and Cllr Paul Rapi represented the Town Council in front of the Committee.
Cllr Rapi told the Committee that people walking past the premises during the day tended to avoid the front of the premises ‘because it can be a bit lively for some people’.
Licensing officers issued a noise abatement to the bar in September last year.
Cllr Rapi said that he and other councillors continued to receive complaints about noise from the pub, even though those complaints had neither been recorded nor reported.
He continued: “Tenby Town Council want to see some sort of control over this noise that’s coming out of Bar 10.
“It’s the main street in Tenby, the sort of rowdiness that occurs between 5 and 7 pm in the summer is not acceptable.”
The Committee also heard from Police that there general noise and disturbance were prevalent in the confines of Tenby’s town centre during the summer months. The area around Bar 10 is a ‘cumulative’ noise area caused by the presence of a significant number of pubs and bars in the vicinity
A report regarding noise pollution prepared by the local authority said that ‘despite a number of complaints and interventions by … the Designated Premises Supervisor has not shown sufficient consideration and understanding of the need to control noise from activities at the premises to ensure disturbance is not caused to nearby residents’.
When cross-examined by the solicitor acting for the applicants, Mr David Lewis, the Council officer presenting that report, Nathan Miles, confirmed his department received no complaints about noise since a noise abatement was issued the preceding September. Questioned once more by Mr Lewis, Mr Miles also confirmed no complaints were received by the Council following the issue of seasonal temporary extensions granted to the premises over Christmas and New Year.
Objections to the hours’ variations raised by the Licensing Inspector, Geraint Griffiths were also examined both by members of the Committee and David Lewis.
Licensing inspector Geriant Griffiths said in the past there had been issues with CCTV not working and there was a “serious disregard for licensing objectives.”
During questioning, it emerged that the Licensing Inspector had no information about the premises following his previous visit to it over two years ago. The Licensing Inspector agreed that comments about the quality of CCTV in his report were similarly out of date. Mr David Lewis pointed out that the premises’ owners installed a new CCTV system at considerable expense after the Licensing Inspector’s 2017 visit. The Licensing Officer could not contradict the applicant’s solicitor on that point.
The most contemporary information in front of the Committee came from Dyfed Powys Police’s Pembrokeshire Licensing Officer, Nigel Lewis.
The Licensing Officer set out that he met with the applicants to discuss their application and conducted ‘amicable mediation’ regarding the most contentious elements of it. He explained how, once he related the level of opposition to the original proposal, the applicants eagerly embraced the opportunity to address concerns and alter their application from its original form.
Nigel Lewis was questioned closely by Cllr John Davies about public order incidents and related the only one linked to the premises in the last year was one in which staff were assaulted. The Herald reported that incident in our February 7 edition and confirm that a Torfaen man pleaded guilty to assaulting staff when he was asked to return inside the pub to prevent a public nuisance.
The Licensing Officer reported during mediation, the applicant accepted there appeared to an issue of noise escaping from the premises and they needed show diligence regarding it in the future
After retiring to consider their decision, the Committee reconvened and approved the application subject to the following conditions with immediate effect: Bar 10 would be permitted to serve drinks until 1:00 am on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday each week with the premises to be closed at 1:30 am; recorded music would end at midnight on each night; two qualified door staff would be engaged for weekend nights and also for other evenings to which extended hours applied; on Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and on Sundays before a Monday Bank Holiday, Bar 10 could supply alcohol until 1:30 am and the premises must close by 2:00 am. On each of those dates, recorded music must stop at midnight.
Committee Chair Cllr Tim Evans concluded by adding the mediation conducted between Nigel Lewis and the applicants had ‘enhanced the application’.

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Tesco grant boost for Haverfordwest children

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AN ORGANISATION working with children in Haverfordwest has received a £1,000 grant from a special costal voting round of Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme.

The grant for Clybiau Plant Cymru will go towards delivering workshops and out of school childcare clubs that encourage children to play outdoors and connect with nature in coastal areas.

Alex Fudge, the Regional Manager for Clybiau Plant Cymru, said the funding will help combat issues of childhood obesity in Wales, giving children the opportunity to play freely and get active away from distractions such as social media.

“We’re truly grateful to Tesco for its support and funding through the Bags of Help scheme,” she said We aim to promote health, wellbeing and environmental awareness through fun, outdoor activities, so every donation has a huge impact on kids’ lives.

“The clubs provide valuable play and learning opportunities outside of the school day, enabling parents to work and train, which in turn drives economic growth, tackles poverty and reduces inequalities.

“Through the funding we are delivering six workshops within three clubs in the Haverfordwest area to children and our staff,” she added. “It will engage up to 100 individuals, as well as providing skills and knowledge which staff can apply on an ongoing basis to provide quality childcare for years to come.”

Tesco shoppers in Haverfordwest cast their votes using blue tokens handed out at checkouts as part of the special voting round supporting groups in 42 coastal communities across the UK. More than 100 projects working to improve Britain’s coastline shared the combined funding pot worth £300,000.

Bags of Help, run in partnership with the charity Groundwork, sees funding awarded to thousands of local community projects every year. To date £80m has been awarded through the scheme, with more than £5m awarded to projects in Wales.

Claire de Silva, Tesco’s Head of Community, said: “Bags of Help has been a huge success since we introduced the scheme and we are glad to be able to support great projects, including this coastal scheme in Haverfordwest.

“We saw a fantastic mix of projects shortlisted and I’d like to thank customers for casting their votes for projects that will have a positive impact within their community.”

The scheme is ran in partnership with community charity Groundwork. Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said: “Bags of Help continues to enable local communities up and down Britain to improve their local spaces and the places that matter to them. We’re pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to groups enjoying, protecting and improving Britain’s coastlines.”

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Monkton bus service to be axed

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FIRST Cymru has confirmed that it will be dropping its 348 bus service which runs from Monkton to Haverfordwest.
The service will cease on March 29.
A spokesperson for First Cymru said: “First Cymru can confirm that it has notified the Traffic Commissioner and the Council of its intention to deregister service 348, which operates between Haverfordwest and Monkton via Johnston and Pembroke Dock, from Sunday, March 29.
“Across the section between Monkton, Pembroke & Pembroke Dock we are better matching the number of journeys available with level of usage.
“It’s important to note that no bus stop is left without a bus service as a result of our intention to withdraw Service 348, and that Service 356 will continue to serve Monkton, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock.
“First will use the freed-up resources to extend Service 349 beyond Tenby to Saundersfoot and Kilgetty from Easter. We are confident passengers will welcome with this improvement.”

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