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Holiday bookings booming in Pembrokeshire

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A HOLIDAY lettings agency is posting a remarkable increase in booking numbers for the first quarter of the 2017/2018.

FBM Holidays, based in Tenby, have seen a rise of 22% in bookings made from November 1, 2017 to the end of January 2018.

The hike in bookings has been forecast for a while, driven by an expected increase in international visitors taking advantage of the value of the Euro to the Pound, as well as a rise in ‘Staycations’ due to Brexit and other factors.

However, FBM Holidays have been growing their booking figures for well over 6 months now, helping them achieve higher overall figures year-on-year for 2016/2017.

Tenby-based FBM Holidays, with a holiday rental history dating back to 1899, has invested a large heavily in resources that benefit both customers and holiday property owners in Pembrokeshire and West Carmarthenshire, and as such has seen a huge influx in the number of holiday home owners renting through their Pembrokeshire office.

Thom James: Marketing Executive at FBM Holidays

Marketing Executive Thom James has looked at the booking numbers from year to year, and found that holiday rental companies have to move with the industry in order to grow.

Speaking about the boom in Q1 figures for this year, he said: “Bookings in general have been fantastic this year, which has continued the trend from the second half of last year. We’ve invested a lot of time in our online booking platforms, our promotion of Pembrokeshire as a destination and also in our customer service team, who are retained all-year round, who have excellent local knowledge of all rental areas we cover and who provide what we feel is an exceptional service for our customers.

“We work very closely with our owners and we have put a huge emphasis on getting a line of best fit that suits our holidaymakers and owners to provide the best packages and we feel this has paid off, as bookings have increased exponentially.

“We are well placed in Pembrokeshire and west Wales in general to drive booking figures even further forward, and our wider impact on the promotion of Pembrokeshire as a destination has seen us nominated for two awards this year – the West Wales Business Awards and the Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards.”

The company has said they will continue to invest in marketing the region and their fantastic holiday lets to a high standard and with the prospect of continued success, they are looking out for more and more owners who want to holiday let due to phenomenal demand and widening customer base.

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Can Pembrokeshire still afford Wales’ lowest council tax?

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PEMBOKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Finance Director, Jon Haswell said council tax would need to rise significantly to meet service needs in the wake of a 0.4% cut in Welsh Government funding.

Although its the smallest cut out of all the councils in Wales, the cut puts the authority £600,000 out of pocket

He was effectively saying that the councils coffers will be empty and that something has to change, and change fast.

Last year Pembrokeshire’s council tax went up by 12.5% – the first double-digit increase in Wales since 2004 – but Pembrokeshire’s Council Tax bills are still the lowest in Wales.

At the Audit Committee meeting on Thursday (Oct 18), Mr Haswell warned that on current predictions, based on the Welsh Government’s standard spending assessment of what it thinks the council needs, council tax would need to rise by 28% or more unless services were cut.

That is 2% less than Plaid Cymru councillor Mike Williams’ said it would be at Full Council the week before (Oct 11), but it’s pretty close.

As we reported on Friday in our print edition, Cllr Williams turned his own fire on the previous administration for placing Pembrokeshire into its current financial position, pointing out that the actual rise in Council Tax needed to address the funding gap in March this year was in excess of 30%.

He said: ‘It’s about time some members had a wake-up call’ as to the current state of the Council’s finances and the previous administration’s totemic policy of having the lowest Council Tax in Wales. Firmly pointing the finger at Cllrs Adams and Davies following their earlier questions, he suggested they needed to look to themselves to find the origins of the authority’s current difficulties.

RECAP – WHAT WE REPORTED LAST WEEK

A 0.5% cut in funding to Pembrokeshire County Council will result in significant and potentially devastating cuts to public services.
As we previously reported, the Welsh Government announced its budget settlement for Welsh local government last week.
While that settlement shows ‘only’ a 0.5% cut in the Pembrokeshire’s Revenue Support Grant, the reality behind that headline figure is grim.
And there is little comfort to be taken in the news that Pembrokeshire’s cut is smaller than that inflicted on neighbouring Carmarthenshire. Pembrokeshire’s budget is far smaller in proportion to Carmarthenshire’s. Our County’s resources are stretched to breaking point following years of the folly of the ‘lowest Council Tax in Wales’ policy in twenty-two years of rule by the ‘Independent’ group, most lately under Jamie Adams.
While money was washing around local government that policy was sustainable. However, once systemic cuts came in 2008 – and persisted for ten years and rising – there was no fat to trim and cuts are now deep into the bone of frontline services.
The Welsh Government funding takes little or no account of the Council’s obligation to pay wage increases negotiated centrally which far outstrips the money provided to meet them, changes in National Insurance, changes to teachers’ pensions, the effects of inflation, and the impact of regulations affecting buildings’ maintenance.
Hit seven ways from Sunday by a barrage of deep cuts to its budget delivered year-on-year for the last decade and in the teeth of the fallout of a Council Tax policy which has left the Council’s cupboard bare, there is no way for the Council to resolve its financial position without making even deeper cuts than those already contemplated and revealed exclusively in this newspaper last week.
The social care budget’s ‘protection’ by the Welsh Government has left all Councils floundering; because Pembrokeshire has a high proportion of older residents, it has been hit hard. The Council has even less money to spend on other services as the proportion of a smaller revenue ‘pie’ is taken up by protected budgets.
The devastation being wreaked by cuts is unsurprising. In 2014 dire warnings were given about the cumulative effects of continuing cuts before that year’s budget. Almost five years’ on, the situation is even worse than predicted.
With the Cabinet unwilling to ask for a further large Council Tax increase for next year, real savings will be hard to find. Something somewhere has to give.
The only hope is that the UK Government actually delivers real relief from austerity instead of tinkering at the edges.

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Man who assaulted Tenby barmaid avoids jail

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A MAN who touched a barmaid’s bottom and then offered her money for sex has been made the subject of a suspended prison sentence.

Mark Adams, aged 55, had denied sexual assault but was convicted by a jury after a trial at Swansea Crown Court.
Today, Adams was jailed for six months, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 20 days of rehabilitation.
He must also pay £3,230 in prosecution costs.
The jury heard how Adams did not dispute that he asked the barmaid in a Tenby pub for a “selfie” as a pretext to get close to her and touch her bottom.
He then offered her £300, and then £400, to spend time with him but agreed that really meant having sex with him.
Adams, of Tintagel Way, Portsmouth, told the jury the approach had worked in the past with other women.
Judge Keith Thomas told Adams he had followed up with sexual assault with a humiliating offer of money for sex.
His behaviour, said the judge, came from an inflated sense of his own importance.
The court heard that his victim no longer felt safe in her place of work or in her home town of Tenby.
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Missing pensioner last seen in Haverfordwest

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is conducting enquiries to find missing 72 year old, Gordon Phillips. He was last seen on the afternoon of Sunday October 14 at the County Hotel in Haverfordwest.

He is described as white, approx. 5’8 tall, has white collar length un-brushed hair, a white beard, and was wearing a shiny black puffer jacket, black baseball hat and baggy blue jeans.

Anyone who has seen Gordon, or has any information about his whereabouts is asked to contact police by calling 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number: 07811 311 908.

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