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Port’s report shows £3m fall in profits and fewer shipments

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THE PORT OF MILFORD HAVEN has published its 2017 Annual Report and Accounts, revealing a £3m fall in profits alongside a 2.8m tonne decrease in throughput for the year.

The Port feels this was due mostly to the ongoing volatility in the Liquefied Natural Gas industry which saw record low shipments in 2017, and in part to an additional £1m pension service charge due to changes in long term interest rates.

The report also records an increase in the number of employee concerns and incidents over the past year, with the Port suggesting this is merely a result of the updated complaint mechanism.

To illustrate the volatility of the Gas Industry, in 2011 the port handled 126 LNG vessels. In 2013 this had fallen to 54, rising again to 91 in 2015, before falling to a low of 36 in 2017-just over one quarter of the throughput in  2011.

This volatility is driven by the differential in the price of wholesale gas in the UK market compared to other markets such as the Far East and Latin America.

This is not due to Brexit, nor low oil prices, but is due to the balance of supply and demand in the gas wholesale markets, not only in the UK, but also across the globe.

The global market for LNG is heavily influenced by the regularly fluctuating price, with increased demand in locations such as China and India seeing it sold there rather than being transported to Milford Haven.

In 2016’s report, the Port recorded a 26% reduction in the volume of LNG handled and they had anticipated this headline trade being substantially lower again in 2017.

Chris Martin, Chair of Board conceded that the significant reduction in LNG activity supports the need to diversify the Port’s revenues into new areas of business, reducing the impact of oil and gas market influences or the loss of a major customer.

A major investment was completed last year which saw the acquisition of Havens Head Retail Park. The retail park will complement the Port’s extensive property portfolio and become a key part of the Milford Waterfront development, creating close to 600 new jobs in Milford Haven. The first construction element is now underway.

Pension costs in 2017 were, at £2.3m, nearly £1m higher than in the preceding year. This additional charge taken through the profit and loss account is based on a technical calculation driven by accounting standards of the true annual cost to the port of funding pension obligations.

The calculation is highly dependent on current long term interest rates which reduced significantly in 2016 and which led to the £6.6m reversal of the Port’s scheme into a 10% deficit position shown in 2016’s accounts.

The accounting entries serve to underline why, in terms of employee benefits, it is now almost universally the case that businesses have moved substantially towards offering defined contribution schemes only.

The Port’s policy is to provide employee pay and benefits in line with the median market and therefore it is currently consulting on a move to a  defined contribution scheme for new employees.

In the past year the Port has set up an Assurance Framework (AF) to provide a mechanism for reporting incidents, near misses and concerns, whether they are minor or major in nature.

Employees are encouraged to submit AF reports, which resulted in the number rising from 247 in 2016 to 318 in 2017.

During the year the number of near misses fell from 81 to 20, concerns increased from 67 to 124 and incidents rose from 99 to 174.

The Port were however able to record zero lost time accidents in 2017.

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Police call for vigilance to report illegal raves

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is asking farmers and local landowners to be on the alert over the next few months for warning signs of any illegal gatherings planned for their land over the summer.

Gatherings – such as illegal raves – can cause considerable anxiety to the community and if they are not dealt with swiftly, they are difficult to stop or otherwise control, due often to the sheer numbers of persons involved and the safety aspects surrounding breaking up such an event.

Superintendent Robyn Mason said: “There is little doubt that these type of events are very well planned, organised and that local knowledge is important in drawing down the main group to a particular ‘vulnerable’ field, or area of land which has been targeted previously as a suitable venue.

“Farmers, landowners and local communities are encouraged to report any suspicious activity immediately to the Police; this may be an unusual numbers of vehicles, especially camper vans, vans or trucks in the locality, illegal trespassers who may be doing ‘recce’ of sites in advance of the event.

“I can assure local communities that Police will take the appropriate action to deter illegal gatherings and deal robustly with any criminal offences discovered or disclosed.”

Members of the public are also urged to be vigilant of persons who approach landowners or enquiring for land, in the guise of hiring for apparently acceptable activities such as gymkhanas and scouts/guides events.

Please contact Police on 101 with reports on any suspicious activity.

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Discover Coast and Cleddau boat trips launched at Milford Waterfront

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A NEW way to appreciate the spectacular Pembrokeshire coast has been officially launched at Milford Waterfront.

Discover Coast and Cleddau offers two exciting boat trips; ‘Discover Coast’ takes passengers on a guided tour around Skomer Island to see the array of wildlife while ‘Discover Cleddau’ explores the more tranquil waters around Benton, Cosheston Woodlands and Lawrenny.

Both trips celebrate the rich history of the Waterway. Suited to all ages from five upwards, what makes these trips unique is that all passengers are seated comfortably inside a heated cabin.

Director of Property and Tourism at the Port of Milford Haven which owns and operates the vessel, Clare Stowell, said “There is so much to see within the Milford Haven Waterway and out towards the islands that we’re confident both trips will be really popular. The trips form part of our wider strategy to transform Milford Waterfront into a vibrant destination where visitors will enjoy a memorable leisure experience.”

As well as the regular boat trips, a number of special tours will be publicised throughout the summer such as photography expeditions.

Excursions can be booked by calling the Skipper Gareth Light on 01646 696370; tickets are £25.00 per person with the boat departing from Mackerel Quay at Milford Marina.

For the latest information on Discover Coast and Discover Cleddau please follow Milford Waterfront on social media.

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Man who gets ‘a sexual buzz’ from touching bottoms avoids prison

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A HAVERFORDWEST man who cannot stop grabbing women’s bottoms has today (Jun 22) received a suspended prison sentence.

John Robert Hancox told police he could not understand where the urge had come from at the age of 66.

Hancox, of Hanover Court, was arrested on May 15 for touching the bottoms of two women in the town. Police cautioned him and released him.

Helen Randall, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that just eight days later Hancox said hello to a 23-year-old woman walking along Milford Road and then grabbed her bottom.

The following day he approached a 16-year-old girl who was clearly wearing a school uniform in the car park at Tesco, Haverfordwest and did the same to her.

Miss Randall said her friends spotted a police van and alerted the officers, who happened to be looking for Hancox for the offence the previous day.

Hancox admitted sexually assaulting two females.

During police interviews he said he got ‘a sexual buzz’ out of touching his victims and felt embarrassed.

His barrister, Carina Hughes, told the court: “These urges are recent in his life and he is crying out for help.”

The judge Mr Recorder Peter Griffiths told Hancox he presented a problem to the court as the public needed protecting but he needed help.

Hancox was jailed for two months, suspended for two years, and placed under supervision for two years coupled with an order to complete up to 30 days of a rehabilitation activity designed by the probation service.

He was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order under which he must not approach girls aged under 18.

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