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Stena and Conygar withdraw from Fishguard development

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CONYGAR, the development company, is to end its involvement in the Goodwick and Fishguard Marina scheme.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange made at 10am on Thursday​ (Jan 25), the company announced that it was writing off its £2m investment in the Marina, effectively bringing an end to its involvement in the town.

The Herald understands that at a meeting with Conygar CEO Robert Ware on Thursday, Cabinet member for Economic Development Paul Miller was informed that ferry operator Stena had withdrawn from participation in the scheme.

Outline planning permission for the development was granted in April 2012, subject to the signing of a S106 Agreement by both Conygar and Stena, the Fishguard harbour operator. The planning consent gave Conygar permission to construct 253 residential apartments, a publicly-accessible promenade, a public slipway and a visitor centre and Stena to build a substantial platform that would facilitate the potential expansion of the existing port.

Conygar has been informed by Stena that they do not wish to have any further involvement in the proposed marina development and do not wish to proceed with the reclamation works of the harbour.

Stena state that they are concerned that the marina development will interfere with the operation of the harbour and their ferry operations. They will also not support the promotion of the Harbour Revision Order, which is necessary to progress the development.

Stena’s withdrawal means that the project cannot proceed.

Robert Ware, Chief Executive of Conygar, commented: “We are disappointed that after nearly seven years of working in partnership with Stena, they have decided to withdraw their support for the Fishguard Waterfront Development, making it impossible for us to proceed with the plans.

“We firmly believe that the development would have been of significant benefit to the local community and to businesses in and around Fishguard and Goodwick.”

The Marina development has been a divisive issue within the north Pembrokeshire town, with some locals expressing considerable fears that it would harm the marine environment and expressing serious doubts about the economic benefits claimed for the project.

Questions are bound to be asked about the extent of the Council’s involvement in and financial exposure to the development, which has been winding on for thirty years since it was first proposed.

Oliver Blakiston​,​ owner of The Royal Oak in Fishguard,​ told The Herald: “I think the development would have meant there being national bars and restaurant chains, such as Pizza Express and Frankie and Bennys, in the new development.

“This would have had an impact on my trade, as well as many other local businesses in the area.

“However, any effect on the ferry services would be very worrying.”

County Councillor Sam Kurtz said: “If this is true, this is hugely disappointing news for Fishguard and Goodwick, where a marina has been talked about for over 25 years. Although not without its flaws, the marina could have brought real development and economic benefit to the area.”

Conygar has a significant track record in Pembrokeshire and the rest of west Wales of submitting ambitious planning applications and then either withdrawing from them or scaling them back. Planned Sainsburys’ stores in Cross Hands and Haverfordwest did not materialise and the company withdrew from involvement in the Pembroke Dock Marina plan which had been knocking around for over a decade.

The withdrawal of Conygar from the scheme means that a large slice of prime development land near the Port now has extensive planning permission but no developer to take it on.

The economic regeneration rationale behind the marina development – including the need for such an extensive housing build – would now appear to be up in the air.

Any new scheme would need to produce much the same economic benefits as those projected for the Conygar project.

Pembrokeshire Council is obviously disappointed at the news that the Fishguard and Goodwick Marina development will not now be progressing as planned.

Council officers have invested a lot of time with both Conygar and Stena in support of their aspirations for Fishguard and Goodwick and it is particularly disappointing that after all the time and effort expended by all parties, Stena has chosen to unilaterally withdraw from the scheme.

Councillor Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Development said: “From my perspective this is disappointing news both for Fishguard and Goodwick and North Pembrokeshire as a whole.

“Having met with the Conygar Chief Executive, Robert Ware, in London this morning (Thursday, 25th January) it would appear that in the last few days Stena – the ferry operator which holds the land interest surrounding the port – has unilaterally withdrawn from participation in the scheme.

“This makes it impossible for Conygar to proceed with the development envisaged.

“It is clear we need to radically rethink our approach to economic development in Pembrokeshire and a short formal review process will commence immediately.

“A summary of the findings of that review will be made public in due course.”

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Haverfordwest: Pupils collected by parents after feeling unwell in school following Italy ski trip

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THREE PUPILS from Haverfordwest High School have been collected by parents after feeling unwell today (Feb 25). It is understood that all the pupils involved were on a half term skiing trip to Italy.

This has been confirmed by a Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson.

No case of COVID-19 has been confirmed.

The Pembrokeshire pupils were in the resort of Fanano, the council said.

In a letter to all staff, head teacher Jane Harries said: “The ski trip which returned from Italy on the weekend did not travel to the two areas of lock-down in Italy affected by the corona-virus. Advice is for staff or pupils who have returned from Italy (not the quarantined areas of Lombardy and Veneto) should they develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, they should immediately please follow this advice: stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would the flu, and call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country.
“They do not need to follow this advice if they have no symptoms.
“Staff who have any symptoms have been sent home and we are in the process of contacting all parents and pupils on the trip…”

A school statement released at 14:31 HRS on Tuesday reads: “We do have two pupils who were on family holidays in these areas and they have gone home.

“Three staff have been sent home as a precaution and we are in the process of contacting all parents of pupils on the trip. If they then feel that their son/daughter has any of the above symptoms they can come to collect them and follow the advice above.

“At the time of making this statement 15 parents have collected pupils although many of these are parents who are collecting pupils due to concern over messages on social media.  There are no confirmed cases of corona-virus at Haverfordwest High VC School.

“Over the border in England, one school has closed, and another has shut its sixth form today after students returned from half-term ski trips in Italy. The two schools, both in Cheshire, made the decision on Tuesday and comes as Italian authorities struggle to control an outbreak of COVID-19.

“A message to parents from Richard Pollock, the headteacher of Cransley School in Northwich, said the closure would remain in place for the rest of the week in order to “completely minimise” the risk of infection. Sky News reported that this comes after a number of students and staff at the school had visited Bormio – 350km from where the Pembrokeshire pupils were skiing – and had since been advised to self-isolate.

“Regardless of the current Public Health England advice (that the school should remain open to all other pupils) I have decided… to completely minimise possible spread of infection and close the school for the remainder of the week,” he wrote.

“During this time, the school will be able to conduct a deep clean and monitor the results of tests amongst those pupils who are currently showing flu-like symptoms.”

Meanwhile, Brine Leas Academy in Nantwich said on Twitter that is had decided to close its sixth form “due to staff shortages.”

 

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Folly Farm’s giving away 5,000 free places to primary school pupils

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IN CELEBRATION of the birth of a critically endangered Eastern black rhino in January, Folly Farm is offering primary school pupils in Wales the opportunity to visit for free to learn more about its conservation work.

The free school visits week will take place between Monday 01 June and Friday 05 June 2020 to coincide with World Environment Day on Friday 05 June. Folly Farm’s zoo keeping team will be running activities each day to highlight conservation work, breeding programmes and sustainable initiatives at the attraction to educate and inspire school children.

Tim Morphew, zoo curator at Folly Farm, said; “The birth of our critically endangered Eastern black rhino, the first rhino to be born in Wales, is such a significant event, not just for us here at Folly Farm but also for the breeding programme and the species. We wanted to use this amazing opportunity as a catalyst to highlight our conservation work and motivate the next generation to act.
“We’re delighted to be offering free school visits to primary schools across Wales for a week of organised activities designed to educate and provide school children with some key takeaways about how they can make better decisions for the environment.”

5,000 free places will be provided for the week, up to a maximum of 1,000 visits on each day. The successful schools will be chosen on a first come first served basis and notified by the 27 March 2020.

Primary schools in Wales need to apply for the free places by filling in an application form on Folly Farm’s website indicating their 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice of day and total number of pupils.

The application form can be found here: https://www.folly-farm.co.uk/news/free-school-visits/

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Stephen Crabb MP calls for an end to Cawdor closure plans  

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THE IMPORTANCE of Cawdor Barracks will be debated this week in Parliament thanks to Preseli MP Stephen Crabb.

In a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday (Feb 26), the local MP will discuss the importance to Pembrokeshire of the army base at Brawdy before urging the Minister for Defence to reconsider its closure.

The facility was first opened as RAF Brawdy in 1944 and, over the years, has provided a base for all three branches of the armed forces. During the Cold War, the US Navy also resided at Brawdy, to monitor underwater listening devices in the Atlantic Ocean. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, large-scale changes to NATO armed forces resulted in both the US Navy and the RAF leaving Brawdy.

The British Army’s 14 Signal Regiment, specialists in Electronic Warfare, took up residence in 1995. It is the only British Army Regiment capable of conducting sustainable electronic warfare in support of national operations worldwide.

Intended as a temporary base for the Regiment, Brawdy has proved a popular location for the soldiers and their families with many putting down deep roots in the County.  With the Regiment used heavily on operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and many other overseas locations, Pembrokeshire people have turned out in their hundreds for local Homecoming parades. The Regiment has been awarded the Freedom of both St Davids and Haverfordwest.

With nearly 600 troops at Brawdy and over 120 children from forces families in Pembrokeshire’s schools, the barracks play an important role in the County. Economic analysis of the closure of Cawdor Barracks estimated the effect at £26-£30 million.

However, for more than 10 years there has been uncertainty over the future of Cawdor Barracks with plans for full closure put forward and then changed. The year 2024 is the current date for closure of the base.

In the lead up to the debate, Stephen Crabb said: “For over 75 years, Brawdy has played a hugely important role in our national security, and those who have been based there have become an important part of the Pembrokeshire community.

“The uncertainty surrounding its future, with its closure date being pushed back time and time again is unsettling for those soldiers and their families who have made Pembrokeshire their home.

“In securing this debate, I hope to highlight the importance of Cawdor Barracks to Pembrokeshire and I’ll be calling on the Government to end the uncertainty over the base, putting an end to the on-off closure plans that have caused so much confusion for the soldiers and for the local community.

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