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Mustang creditors furious

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creditors furiousANGER is growing amongst creditors of insolvent Pembroke Dock company Mustang Marine.

Local companies that have extended credit to the boat building firm have been left vulnerable, and in financial difficulty.

The Herald understands that other Pembrokeshire businesses are owed £330,000, with one firm claiming that they are owed nearly £70,000.

Speaking on the grounds of anonymity, the director of one local firm said: “We felt safe doing business with Mustang because it was listed as a subsidiary company of Milford Haven Port Authority.”

He added: “The Port Authority is sitting on a bank balance of millions of pounds, there is a moral responsibility to sort this mess out. That would provide economic and social benefits as it will prevent companies such as mine from laying off staff.”

The Milford Haven Port Authority Act 2002 says that the Port Authority’s right to invest in local firms ‘may be exercised if, and only if, in the opinion of the Authority the exercise of the powers is likely to provide economic, social, cultural or environmental benefits to all or some of the population of Pembrokeshire or any part of Pembrokeshire.’

Questions have been raised by the Welsh Government in Cardiff regarding the Port Authority’s responsibilities to local firms, but last week, Alec Don, Chief Executive of the Port Authority said: “The Port of Milford Haven is a 50% shareholder and remains a separate corporate entity to Mustang Marine. The Port is not liable for Mustang’s debts. Any specific questions about that business, including queries about creditors, must be directed to the administrators Grant Thornton.

“As a Trust Port we continually look to invest in growth and economic activity in the Port. On this basis, and in good faith, the Port of Milford Haven invested in Mustang Marine. The company approached us with a firm business plan and orders that required our support and investment to achieve.

“Any investment we make has to be balanced with our central commitment to keep the UK’s largest energy port operating efficiently, and safe for everyone who uses the waterway.

“This is a difficult time for all those involved in Mustang. Our priority now is to get new and sustainable businesses established as quickly as possible, both for employees and for businesses up and down the Haven who rely on this busy working port.”

MP’s questions

Simon Hart MP has written to Port Authority raising questions about the organisation’s responsibilities to local firms who are out of pocket. He spoke exclusively to the Pembrokeshire Herald yesterday about his concerns.

Simon Hart said: “The fact that Pembrokeshire companies are owed hundreds of thousands of pounds seems to have been glossed over. They cannot talk about growth and activity on the one hand and then refuse to even consider the plight of local people left out of pocket on the other. These people undertook work for Mustang as they felt comfortable that the company was part of a larger trading operation of which the Port was a central part.”

He added: “As far as the port accounts are concerned, Mustang was listed as a trading subsidiary. The Authority’s responsibilities are a legal question that I have put to chief executive, Alec Don. If you have a trading subsidiary then this is a different position, in my view, than if you are a minor shareholder. The Port Authority has always referred to Mustang as a subsidiary company. Every conversation that I have had about Mustang has been with Alec Don. He was very much sewn in the structure at Mustang. At the very least, the Port Authority should explain why it thinks it has no obligation at all to the many local creditors.

“I know that local companies did business with Mustang because they felt comfortable that it was part of a bigger organisation. Nothing was ever done to suggest that MHPA had no responsibilities. Rather than just say it’s not our problem, Alec Don should explain what the true legal position is.”

“The Port Authority’s employees have been embedded in the company. Frankly, I can understand why creditors may want to challenge the assertions of the Port Authority.”

Simon Hart concluded: “A question that I would like to ask is – Who in the Port Authority did the due diligence over the purchase of 50% shares in Mustang? Alec Don should explain very clearly, after the Port Authority has had such an intimate relationship with the company, why is it that now they are distancing themselves.”

Help for workers

Rebecca Evans, AM for Mid and West Wales, has welcomed an update from the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science on the situation facing Mustang Marine and its workforce. In a letter to Assembly members, the Minister said: “The administrator is currently exploring all options for securing the future of operations at the site within the Enterprise Zone. My officials are working with the administrator and a number of potential third party investors to seek to secure the long term viability of the company. Those discussions are on-going and I will update members of the outcome of those commercial discussions as soon as I am able.

“As a government, we are determined to do all that we can to support the employer and its workforce at this difficult time and are working with the administrator to provide support and advice to any of the workforce in Wales facing redundancy through our ReAct scheme.”

Mrs Evans continued: “The news that Mustang Marine in Pembroke Dock had gone into administration with the loss of 66 jobs was a bitter blow for the area.

“I am glad that the Welsh Government is working closely with the administrator to try and find a secure way forward for Mustang Marine, and to ultimately save the remaining jobs. I sincerely hope that the Welsh Government’s work with the administrator leads to a positive outcome.

“I recently asked the First Minister what support and assistance will the Welsh Government offer to those 66 workers facing redundancy, and he told me that ‘those threatened with redundancy will be offered ReAct support and advice.’ I am glad that this is in place.

“I look forward the next update from the Minister, and hope for good news.”

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 worker who has been made redundant.

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Crime Commissioner continues to secure funding for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual violence

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police is again making the offer for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual abuse to bid for additional funds.

Funding was made available last year, in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on organisations supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence.

It was part of a £76 million package of support made available by the UK Government.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “Thanks to this additional funding, we can ensure that victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Dyfed-Powys can access specialist services for support, at a time when they are needed the most.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in domestic violence during the pandemic and victims need help now more than ever and I am grateful for the work of all the service providers across the Force area that help these men, women and families who are most in need.

“I want to reassure anyone who is in an abusive situation or relationship that you do not need to suffer in silence, and I urge anyone to report abuse to the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“This funding is open both to providers whom I currently commission and those that I do not currently fund. However, unlike the extraordinary Covid-19 funding provided in 2020/21, organisations do not need to be a registered charity, a charitable incorporated organisation, or a social enterprise to be eligible for this funding. They must, however, provide support services which have the purpose of helping victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse cope with the impacts of crime and, as far as possible, recover from the harm they have experienced. We would also encourage applications from small specialist organisations that support groups with protected characteristics.

“If you wish to submit a request for this funding, further guidance is available on my website, and can be requested via the office e-mail address.”

Closing date for submissions is close of play on Friday, March 12, 2021.

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Covid alert level lowered for whole of UK

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THE COVID alert level for all four nations of the United Kingdom has been lowered to alert level 4.

The decision comes following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in light of the most recent data.

In recent weeks, the R-rate and the number of covid cases has been on the decline.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.

“The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

Under the Welsh Government’s Alert level 4 restrictions, schools and colleges, places of worship, community centres, playgrounds and public parks are among those that can be opened.

Theatres, entertainment venues, leisure facilities and outdoor visitors attractions are among the places that must remain close while the country is in Alert Level 4.

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Postmaster and politicians welcome Goodwick cash machine U-turn

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GOODWICK post office will now be keeping its ATM, after a U-turn by Post Office Ltd.

The machine was due to be removed within months with the post master, Jon Moverley saying that it would be a disaster for the village.

If the ATM had been removed, there would have been just two 24-hour ATMs serving the whole of Fishguard and Goodwick in the short term and three when the Co-op renovations are completed.

Both politicians and local residents then got behind the campaign to keep the ATM

Pembrokeshire politicians Paul Davies and Stephen Crabb have welcomed the news that Goodwick post office is now set to keep its ATM facility. Following representations made by both politicians to the Post Office, it’s now been confirmed that Goodwick Post Office will be included in the rollout of ATM machines across the post office network.

Mr Davies said “This is really welcome news. I’m pleased that the Post Office has listened to the representations made by the local community and decided to retain the ATM at Goodwick post office. The facility is so important for local people and businesses and it’s great that that’s been recognised and the Post Office has committed to keeping it.”

Following the Post Office’s decision to invest in Goodwick’s ATM rather than remove it, Stephen Crabb MP, who campaigned for the ATM to stay, commented: “It’s great news that the Post Office has overturned its own decision and will be keeping an ATM machine in Goodwick.

“Access to cash continues to be incredibly important for a number of people and businesses and I’m pleased to have played my part in working with John from the Post Office in Goodwick, Paul Davies MS and the wider community to highlight the ATMs importance to the area. It shows what can be achieved when we work together.”

The postmaster described the news as ‘brilliant’. Mr Moverley thanked supporters.

He said “Many thanks to all of you who have used the machine and complained to POL about the removal. We were also supported by our MP, MS and mayor, the National Federation of Sub-postmasters and our Chamber of Trade.

“Everyone did their bit, and it says an enormous amount about the strength of the community.

“We are delighted that locals and so many other people have come together to save this essential facility in the village.”

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