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Application for Cleddau Bridge Hotel to become care home approved

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THE FORMER Cleddau Bridge Hotel in Pembroke Dock will become a care home after an application was approved by the Planning Committee today (May 22).

The Cleddau Bridge Hotel closed in January and its staff were left without jobs and were not paid.

Since then the application to change it to a care home has come about and it has been the subject of much debate and a public meeting has also been held.

The ownership of the building has also been called into question with three different changes in the last couple of years.

Pembroke Dock Town Councillor George Manning had hoped to question the previous ownership of the building but was stopped twice as he was warned by the Chairman, Cllr David Howlett, that those issues were not planning matters.

Cllr Manning said: “When this came before Pembroke Dock Town Council we decided to put this open to the public and we had a public meeting about it.

“The consensus of opinion is that there is no great objection to the use of this building as a care home. But, what is most concerning, to not only the Town Council but to the general public is that this property and the management of it will still be in the ownership of the Kular family.

“Over the past five years, the hotel itself has changed hands within the Kular family at least three times.

“Although there is no strong reason for refusal on planning issues, I think there are strong reasons to ensure that whoever takes over that this applicant has the credibility to undertake and run a care home.

“I would urge, before you make a decision on this application, that it would not be unreasonable for this committee to seek further evidence of the ability for this company and Mr John Smith to run a care home, it is important to everybody.”

The agent for the application, Mr Richard Bowen said: “The application before you today has been thoroughly examined, resulting in a positive recommendation from your officers.

“The applicant is aware that there are some concerns and whilst the officers report has sought to address these matters, I take this opportunity to reinforce the fact that this application accords with the spirit of local and national planning policy.

“In terms of fit and proper people to run nursing home, you’ll be aware this will need a license from yourselves as the local licensing authority and that matter can be dealt with appropriately at that time.

“The former Cleddau Bridge hotel comprised a 54-bed hotel and despite its success in early years, following the closure of key clients, the occupancy rates fell and dropped significantly below a level which enabled a successful and viable operation to continue and therefore closed in January 2018 resulting in the regrettable loss of 40 jobs.

“Once it is operational, it will result in the creation of 40 full-time employees, allowing for shift patterns it could be a far higher number of people employed at the facility.”

Cllr Tony Wilcox said: “It is worrying for the people of Pembroke Dock that this hotel has changed hands frequently over the last couple of years and as soon as it wasn’t viable it was closed virtually overnight.

“What’s to stop that happening again if it’s not viable and closed overnight and you’ve got incredibly vulnerable people there literally homeless.”

Cllr Brian Hall said: “If we go down the lines of refusing this today, along the lines of the Town Council, as has already been mentioned, they are not viable planning reasons.

“I can understand the concern of the staff but you’ve got to be realistic, we’ve been told by the agent they are going to employ 40, 50, 60 people, there is a distinct possibility that some of them will apply for another job and they would be delighted to get another job, albeit it’s a different use.”

Cllr Hall then moved the application for approval and that was seconded by Cllr Peter Morgan.

Cllr David Pugh added he would rather see a building in use rather than be empty and deteriorating and also indicated his support.

The application was approved by a majority with Cllr Tony Wilcox abstaining from the vote.

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Narberth: Two men wanted in connection with assault

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POLICE are investigating an allegation of assault which occurred just before 1pm on Wednesday (Aug 15) in  C.K.’s supermarket car park in Narberth.

A 61-year-old male was injured and checked over by the ambulance service.

The two male suspects are described as being 17/18 years old, one approx. 6ft tall with blonde hair and one a shorter, stocky built male. Both were wearing black hoodies.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101.

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

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Pembrokeshire rural crime team launched

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FROM investigating reports of agricultural theft, to helping ensure the mental health of farmers is supported, Dyfed-Powys Police’s newest rural crime team is set to tackle a host of issues in Pembrokeshire.

Coming from farming and horsing backgrounds in the county, with knowledge of the issues and concerns these communities face, PC Gerwyn Davies and PCSO Jude Parr are a perfect match for the role.

The Pembrokeshire rural crime team was officially launched at the Pembrokeshire County Show in Haverfordwest on Wednesday (Aug 15), where they spent time meeting farmers, visitors and rural organisations to inform them of the work to come.

The pair will cover the Pembrokeshire division, dealing with issues ranging from sheep worrying and livestock theft, to offering crime prevention advice and support. They will also work closely with agencies including the National Farmers’ Union, the Farmer’s Union of Wales and the Welsh Government.

Speaking about his new role, PC Davies said: “It’s something I’m looking forward to. I’m a farmer’s son, I was born and bred in north Pembrokeshire and I worked on farms while I was at school. I have the background knowledge of the issues faced by farmers, and having been a response officer for 14 years, I’d now like to be a face for this community and have the chance to make a difference.”

PCSO Parr has worked for Dyfed-Powys Police for 13 years – with nine of those spent on the rural neighbourhood policing team, covering a wide farming and coastal area. She received a commendation in 2009 for her work in establishing a Farm Watch scheme, which was followed by a Horse Watch and tack marking scheme.

She said: “I’m looking forward to having the time to dedicate to schemes like these as part of this new, exciting and much-needed role in the rural crime team.

“It’s all about forging links with farmers and the rural community. The trust had gone, and it’s essential that we build that back up. It’s about getting them to report to us and to talk to us. We want people to know that we are here, and we will listen to them, and most importantly that we care about the issues they face.”

The new team has come as a direct result of the force’s rural crime strategy, which was launched in November and committed to identifying named points of contact for rural crime matters, as well as developing the specialist rural skills and knowledge of its officers.

One of the team’s key roles is to impress on rural communities the importance of reporting crimes to police, so the force has a greater understanding of the scale of issues faced and is able to put plans in place to tackle them.

“I think there’s more of an issue than people report back to us,” PCSO Parr said. “People won’t report theft for example if it’s below a certain value as they don’t think it’s worth it, or that we can’t investigate it. We want people to know that’s not true, that we take all reports of crime seriously, and we will investigate.

“But our role is about more than crime. It’s also about things like mental health and vulnerabilities. Farming can be a very lonely occupation, and you can feel isolated, but people might not necessarily know where to look for help. We will be linking in with vets and people who see farmers on a regular basis so we can signpost those who need help and advice.”

PC Davies and PCSO Parr will undergo enhanced training with North Wales Police’s rural crime team later this month, with a mixture of classroom based learning and time on patrol with officers and PCSOs to get a feel for how the team operates.

PC Davies said: “It will be really interesting to see how the team in North Wales works as they have been running for five years now. They have different issues to us, but I’m sure we will be able to take a lot away from them. We are also looking at what our own team is doing in Ceredigion, and how they have worked over the past two months.”

A rural crime board has also been established in Pembrokeshire in conjunction with PLANED, which aims to increase the understanding of the issues impacting on rural communities, and through work with partner agencies, to agree priorities and jointly address the concerns that are having the greatest effect on rural life.

For further information about the rural crime board, contact Chief Inspector Amanda Diggens or Inspector Alan Millichip by calling 101.

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Pembrokeshire has second most public toilets in UK

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AS public toilet provision has declined over a number of years, it has been revealed that Pembrokeshire maintains the second most public toilets in the UK.

The BBC conducted research on the issue, contacting 430 councils and receiving data from 376. Under the Freedom of Information law, the BBC found that despite a growing population, since 2010, at least 673 public toilets across the UK have stopped being maintained by major councils.

The data showed that UK councils have stopped maintaining around 13% of public toilets in the past eight years, with 4,486 toilets currently run by major councils in the UK, down from 5,159 in 2010. 37 major councils do not provide any public conveniences.

The most public toilets maintained are by Highland Council with 92, followed by both Pembrokeshire and Gwynedd with 73.

Yet Pembrokeshire has still seen a reduction, having 92 in 2010. Ceredigion currently has 34 public toilets, a reduction of 14 in the past eight years, whilst Carmarthenshire County Council did not provide any data.

It is not a legal requirement for local authorities to provide toilets, but budget pressures mean that many councils look to close them.

Others have instead shifted responsibility to smaller parish or town councils, or even community groups that pay for the services through fundraising. These smaller councils then face the dilemma as to whether to close local toilets, or take them on and face a ‘toilet tax’ of business rates paid on the premises.

Yet many feel that whilst there is no legal requirement to provide access to public toilets, there is a moral responsibility.

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