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Haverfordwest: Retailer and Pembrokeshire Council in war of words

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Dangerous: The steps to the car park are very steep, unlit and often slippery

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has become embroiled in a war of words with a discount retailer just days before a deadline to sign a land transfer agreement.

An alley next to Poundland in Haverfordwest has been at the centre of contentious planning and anti-social behaviour issues for years.

The alley is frequently the source of complaints involving drug taking, litter, dog mess and lack of access for people with limited mobility.

Pembrokeshire Council is keen to redevelop the alley which includes building on a small section of land to the rear of Poundland.

The redevelopment will see the alley extended through Poundland’s backyard allowing pedestrians to access Castle Lake car park, without having to traverse steep, unlit and often slippery steps up towards the castle.

Pedestrian and disabled access to the car park is currently via an archway on the High Street next to West Wales Properties.

Lisa Evans runs El Sabor, a popular Latin American restaurant at the entrance to the alley in Castle Square. She said the alley is used by gangs of teenagers and people using it as an outdoor toilet.

The Council says it has allocated £240,000 to complete the work, of which £100,000 has been allocated through the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

The THI scheme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cadw, but the money must be spent by next March.

​ Alley: Frequent reports of anti-social behaviour including drugs, urination and litter

Pembrokeshire Council says that if Poundland ‘fails to sign’ the agreement before the end of this month (June), ‘there is a real risk that the scheme will not be able to progress’.

In a statement to the Herald, Pembrokeshire Council said: “Unfortunately, not all of the land required to complete this development is in the ownership of Pembrokeshire County Council”

“Despite terms having been agreed with Poundland for some time, they have yet to formally sign the transfer agreement which would allow works to commence on site.”

The Cabinet Member responsible, Councillor Paul Miller, said: “The Council are committed to this scheme and are in a position to commence work on site within weeks of the required land transfer being signed.

“Unfortunately, however, our ability to complete the scheme is entirely reliant on Poundland doing what they have promised to do for months – sign on the dotted line”

“While the previous administration committed to the use of compulsory purchase powers, they never actually took this forward and, as a result, there is no longer the time available to complete that process.

“This leaves us in a position where we are completely dependent on Poundland and frankly, it’s not a great position to be in.”

When asked for a response to the Council’s statement, Poundland responded: “We lease the land, we don’t own it.

“We’re surprised at [Councillor Miller’s] remarks, as all parties – the Council, owners and ourselves – know we’re working to sign a tripartite agreement ahead of the deadline.”

When pressed on whether the agreement is likely to be signed before the end of this month, Poundland declined to give any further information.

Education

Delight as foundation phase learners return to class

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PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”

 

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Sergeant Hillier ‘died doing the job he loved’, says his heartbroken father

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THE ARMY SERGEANT who died after being injured in a live firing exercise, has been named locally.

The incident occurred at Castlemartin Training Area, and led to the death of Sgt Gavin Hillier, who was in the Welsh Guards.

In a post on social media, his father wrote: “Absolutely devastated to be writing this post, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

“At 3.45am this morning I received a phone call that will forever change my life. My eldest son Gavin Mark Hillier was in a fatal accident yesterday in the army (the job he loved).

“Sleep tight & rest in peace son. I’m so proud of you. Goodnight and god bless, love your heartbroken dad.”

An Army spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on March 4.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

It is understood that Sergeant Hillier, who served as part of the Welsh Guards’ motor transport platoon, was due to be deployed to Iraq and had previously been awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal by Prince Charles, the regiment’s Colonel in Chief, in 2019.

The tragic incident is the latest in a number of accidents at Castlemartin.

In 2017, The Herald reported that two soldiers died in a tank explosion, which a coroner ruled was due to a design flaw.

The following year, an Army captain was jailed in July 2018 after a 21-year-old soldier was killed by a stray bullet during an exercise at the range in 2012.

An investigation has been launched into the death of a soldier at Castlemartin RAC Range following a military exercise.

Police were called to the site at just before 10.45pm on March 4.

Sadly, a man was pronounced dead shortly after. Our thoughts are with his family, who have been informed of the incident and are being supported by specialist officers.

An investigation is underway led by Dyfed-Powys Police. Officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and MoD.

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