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No reprieve for Pembrokeshire bank branches

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BARCLAYS BANK have said they will still close the doors of Barclays Fishguard and St David’s branches despite an appeal by Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas to reconsider closure.

In a letter to Mr Thomas, Stephanie Smith, Barclays, Community Banking Director for South Wales states: “The decision to close a branch is never taken lightly, and we are particularly mindful of the impact this will have on the local community in locations such as Fishguard and St Davids.”

Mid and West AM Simon Thomas said: “It is disappointing that there will be no reprieve for Barclays branches in Fishguard and St David’s. I’d hoped that they would reconsider their decision. I’ve raised the issue of bank closures in rural Wales in the Senedd. I’d like to thank Plaid Cymru Letterston Community councillor Llyr Williams for alerting me to this issue.”

Mr Thomas demanded a statement from the Labour Government in the Senedd chamber on the situation of banking in Wales, and particularly banking in rural Wales.

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs Simon Thomas said: “I asked the Welsh Government to consider the Bill put forward by my Plaid Cymru colleague Ceredigion MP Ben Lake in the House of Commons.

“We should change the protocol on access to banking in terms of distance rather than time to access. When you think of rural areas, the distances can be quite short, but the time that it takes to access those services can be much longer, particularly if you are reliant on public transport.

“Banking regulators should look at the possibility that different banks could share premises, share equipment and even share staff, if required, of course. We will need a change of regulation to allow that, but you could see how that could be beneficial to many rural towns, and you will be aware that this has happened in the context of mobile telecommunications. So, it is something that we should be open to.

“We need to enhance the services provided by the Post Office. Often, they can provide excellent services but it’s not always appropriate for business banking, particularly businesses that still deal with cash, for example.

“I hope the Labour Government will consider these three issues to improve the situation of banking in Wales.”

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Burton Ferry: Public advised to avoid oil on beach

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MEMBERS of the public have been asked to avoid a section of the beach at Burton Ferry following the discovery of oil on the shoreline.

Officers from the Public Protection team at Pembrokeshire County Council have put up warning signs advising people that part of the shore between the Jolly Sailor and the NATO jetty has been contaminated with oil. 

The County Council and other agencies are investigating the source of the oil. Work to clean up the beach will be starting soon to ensure there is minimum impact on the public and the environment.

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Stephen Crabb MP speaks out in 40 hour Brexit debate

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has spoken out against a so-called ‘No Deal Brexit’ which would see Britain leave the EU next March without a transition period or an agreement in place for the rules that will apply to trade after next March.

He defended his support for Brexit and said that he had promised on the night of the Referendum in 2016 to implement the result and do it in a responsible way which protects the economy of Pembrokeshire.

Speaking on Wednesday night in the House of Commons, Mr Crabb drew attention to the risks facing local industries like oil refining and the ferry ports connecting to Ireland if Brexit is mishandled.

“How we leave the EU really does matter to the lives of people who work in these sectors,” he said.

He warned of “very serious and specific reasons” why a No Deal Brexit would be “very bad news indeed” for the Valero oil refinery in Pembroke. He described the closure of the Murco oil refinery in 2014 as a “horrible” time for the County and said that he could not vote for anything that would create new risks for Pembrokeshire’s last remaining refinery.

Mr Crabb said that no responsible Member of Parliament for Preseli Pembrokeshire could vote for No Deal and look their constituents in the eye again.

He closed his speech by saying that he would vote for this “imperfect” deal because a perfect Brexit does not exist and Britain needs a way forward from the current divisions and argument.

FOR MORE SEE THIS WEEK’S PAPER

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Welsh Assembly Government will probe Bay City Deal

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THE WELSH Government has announced an independent investigation into the Swansea Bay City Deal.
Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Ken Skates, issued a written statement this evening which said that the UK and Welsh Governments had agreed the project required ‘a rapid and independent review’.
While Mr Skates’ statement is upbeat about the progress made on elements of the Deal, saying ‘all partners are committed’ to its success, the review will cover due diligence and governance in respect all aspects of the deal.
The statement concludes the review will ‘ensure that governance and oversight at programme and project level are robust’. If the review identifies weaknesses, it will recommend measures to strengthen them.
The Cabinet Secretary’s statement follows suspensions of staff from Swansea University who were concerned in elements of the Deal’s delivery, particularly the £200m+ redevelopment of the bog at Delta Lakes into a Wellness Village and Life Sciences Centre.
The move follows a call for the WAO to examine the web of companies and the tendering process made by Carmarthenshire Labour Leader, Rob James.
Carmarthenshire blogger Jacqui Thompson has highlighted potentially serious issues affecting due diligence on the Delta Lakes project. Pat Dodd Racher of West Wales News Review has also probed the project and highlighted a series of overlaps between personnel in different parts of it.
If governance and failures are identified or due diligence is shown to have been less than optimal sub-par, Mark James CBE, the Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council who also heads up the City Board could find himself considerably embarrassed.
The Wellness project has been the subject of a number of articles in The Herald which have examined the corporate backgrounds of the County Council’s development partners in the project.
Tomorrow’s Herald digs further into the tangled web of connection between key individuals concerned in the Deal and particularly at Delta Lakes.

Exclusive By Jon Coles, Senior Reporter

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