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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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Crabb backs veterans of Irish Troubles

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VETERANS of the Northern Irish Troubles have been backed by Preseli MP Stephen Crabb during votes in the House of Commons.

In the absence of a functioning administration in Northern Ireland, Members of Parliament have been voting in an effort to keep Northern Ireland running.

Stephen Crabb co-sponsored an amendment put forward by Johnny Mercer MP which passed. The Secretary of State must now report on the options available to allow veterans of the Troubles to assist in a truth recovery process, for the benefit of bereaved families, without fear of prosecution.

Commenting following the vote, Stephen Crabb MP said: “This is a positive step towards ensuring the hounding of veterans is stopped. The proud, local veteran community, along with myself, have been deeply troubled by the ongoing pursuit of current and former British Soldiers for actions carried out while under orders on active service.

“I have made the point previously to Ministers that we risk a serious breach of trust with our Armed Forces by opening the door to such prosecutions. The pressures placed on a solder in conflict situations are enormous and it cannot be right that actions carried out in these circumstances are re-opened decades later by people with no understanding of what happened on the ground.“

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Identical ‘call-out’ within three days for Fishguard RNLI lifeboat

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FISHGUARD RNLI inshore lifeboat launched on Thursday evening 18 July to the very same inflatable dinghy they rescued on Monday July 15

The inshore lifeboat and three volunteer crew launched at 8.45pm after the inflatable was reported drifting out to sea from Fishguard harbour. The flimsy inflatable and the young men onboard were taken under tow back to the area of Goodwick beach and they were again spoken to regarding the dangers of inflatable craft. On this occasion there was an off-shore wind and an ebbing tide which potentially presented much more dangerous conditions for the persons onboard.

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Rosslare ready to go it alone

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THE UK Government stands ready to revoke legislation governing the relationship between the ports of Fishguard and Rosslare.

The abolition of the current arrangements is a step closer according to Irish newspaper reports of a recent meeting between Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesperson Robert Troy and Wexford TD James Browne.

According to the reports, Mr Grayling told the Irish politicians that the UK has ‘no strategic or economic’ interest in keeping the ports’ governance structure.

The Irish Government, meanwhile, regards Rosslare as a major part of its Brexit plans and has acquired further land to provide additional facilities there.

The ports are governed by a UK Act of Parliament from 1888, which created the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company.

The Act continued to govern the relationship between the Ports, even after most of Ireland secured its independence from the – then – British empire.

However, the old legislation has – in the view of Irish TD James Browne – hindered the Irish Government’s ability to expand activities at Rosslare to the benefit of the local and Irish economies.

Stena Line: Looking at the long term development of both ports

Fishguard and Rosslare ports are part of the one company, namely the Fishguard and Rosslare Railway and Harbours Company set up by an Act of Parliament.

Mr Browne explained to The Herald: “In effect, ownership of the port lies with UK government. But in turn the ports are effectively run as private companies: Irish Rail control and operate the Rosslare end and Stena control and operate the Fishguard side and there is an agreement in place as to the division of profits of the company.

“In Ireland, this complex and archaic ownership model has regularly been cited as an inhibiting factor in the development of the port. In short, no one will invest in a port whose ownership is unclear.”
The opportunity is not, however, all on one side, says the Wexford TD: “The decoupling of the two ports, and the transfer of Rosslare to Irish state ownership would free up both ports from this complex ownership model and allow investment in the ports.”

Mr Browne also highlighted the potential for growth in economic activity in West Wales’ closest trading neighbour: “Dublin Port is so busy that it is turning away business. Rosslare Port is in an ideal geographical location to attract shipping business and to take the pressure off of Dublin. Port. It, in turn, would act as an economic driver for the entire South East of Ireland.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb told us: Stephen: “The importance of the Fishguard – Rosslare ferry connection is unquestionable with 80% of all goods from Ireland passing through Welsh ports.
“However, the historic legal framework for the ports is outdated and does not give either side the freedom they need to develop and innovate. I can well understand why change is being sought at this time.

“I have met with the management on both sides of the Irish Sea to discuss Brexit planning and other aspects of the industry and will continue to do so.”

Ian Hampton, Chief People and Communications Officer, Stena Line said: “Stena Line hopes that by removing the historical legislation that governs the status of The Fishguard Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company it will enable Stena Line and the Irish Government to work closer together creating greater opportunity, such as the options for the long term development of both the respective ports.”

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