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Community frustrated with lack of superfast broadband completion

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THE RESIDENTS of West Williamston feel they have been left on hold after all the technology needed for superfast broadband was set up for the village, except the final connection.

The village, made up of 20 houses, currently has no mobile coverage and a broadband speed of 3 Mbps, well below the 24 Mbps that is considered superfast.

The Welsh Government has said contracts were being awarded to complete the rollout of superfast broadband as soon as possible. Superfast broadband has now reached 733,000 premises across Wales, but there has been a setback regarding the final phase of 100,000 homes.

One resident of West Williamston, Alistair Edwards, said he signed up through BT after he was told that his postcode was eligible.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: “According to their records we have superfast, but we don’t.

“It’s frustrating because 80% of the work has been done. There is a fibre cable just outside the village hanging from a telegraph pole. It just hasn’t been connected to the properties.”

BT have said that they were sending an engineer out to investigate the issue and will let Mr Edwards end his contract if they cannot provide the promised speeds.

In January 2018 the Welsh Government had said it expected to release details of a succession plan worth £80m for superfast in the spring, yet that date has been pushed back to the autumn.

Openreach, a division of BT plc, owns and maintains the telephone wires, ducts, cabinets and exchanges that connect nearly all homes and businesses in the UK to the national broadband and telephone network. The company have explained that there is the option to apply for a Community Fibre Partnership, which is in place for communities out of range for superfast.

The community only pays for half of the scheme, whilst Openreach funds the other half the scheme. The community can also apply for grants from the Welsh Government to help.

Despite this, Mr Edwards is not convinced, saying: “We’re not being told whether we will be covered or not. We don’t want to pay out as a community only to find out later we would have qualified for a free connection.”

A Welsh Government spokesman has said that they were working to award contracts as quickly as possible.

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Amroth: RNLI rescue three people swept out to sea

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THE RNLI rescued three people after they were washed off rocks by huge waves at Telpyn Point near Amroth.

At 5pm on Sunday (Dec 9) as the lifeboat crew’s children’s Christmas Party was ending, both of Tenby’s RNLI lifeboats were requested to launch after a report that three women were cut off by the incoming tide somewhere between Marros and Amroth.

The casualties had been forced to cut their call to the Coastguard short as their mobile phone battery was about to run out, so the Coastguard didn’t have an exact position for them.

The lifeboats were quickly on the water and the volunteer crew made best speed to towards Amroth to begin their search in pitch black conditions and with a large swell running into the rocks.

Despite the low battery, once the casualties spotted the lifeboat in the distance, they turned on their phone’s screen and began waving the phone towards the lifeboat. The volunteer crew on the inshore lifeboat immediately spotted the light and headed for it, closely followed by the all-weather lifeboat.

Once on scene, it was apparent to the lifeboat crew that this would be a difficult rescue due to the heavy swell crashing on the rocks, just feet from where the casualties were precariously perched, so Tenby and St Govans Coastguard Rescue teams were paged in case a rope rescue was required.

With the numerous underwater rocks making it impossible for the all-weather lifeboat to get anywhere near, the bigger vessel illuminated the rocks with floodlights, whilst the inshore lifeboat prepared their anchor to veer down into the rocks through the swell in an attempt to reach the casualties.

As the crew made attempts to get close enough to shore in very tricky conditions, a large wave hit the rocks, washing one of the casualties into the sea. As the casualty struggled in the heavy swell, the helmsman managed to get the lifeboat alongside her and the crew pulled her to safety.

She was rushed to the all-weather lifeboat where the crew were waiting to assess and treat her. On their return to check on the remaining two casualties, the inshore lifeboat crew could only watch as another wave hit the rocks and washed them into the surf. Again, the helmsman managed to get inside the surf line and the crew plucked them to safety, before dropping them aboard the all-weather lifeboat.

With everyone accounted for, the boats returned to the station, where the casualties were further assessed and were delighted to be able to take warm showers. Despite the ferocity of the surf that washed them off the rocks, the women were lucky to escape with only a few minor grazes.

Once they were warmed up enough and had had a warm drink, they thanked the crew and then made their way home.

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Interviews to take place this week for £91k council job

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INTERVIEWS are to be held this week for a controversial senior role within Pembrokeshire County Council, with an advertised salary of up to £91,000.

On Wednesday (Dec 12), interviews will be held for the Head of Economic Development and Regeneration post, which has a salary bracket of £53,982 – £91,443.

In addition, the job was advertised with £5,259 subsidy for a leased car and a ‘generous pension scheme’.

Relocation assistance was also being offered for applicants outside of Pembrokeshire.

In July, at a meeting of Full Council, the new job post was approved, with most agreeing that the post should be advertised in order to ensure improvements and large investments are made around the county. The former head of regeneration recently retired.
Despite initial concern at the meeting, the only councillor strongly against the new role was Cllr Reg Owens, saying: “I really can’t see any justification in filling this post, I’ll say that from the start.

“Over the past year quite rightly we have been lectured… about the need to be far more prudent in our expenditure. When we approved the budget last year, and we approved the 12.5% [council tax] I did say at the time we are asking the people of Pembrokeshire to contribute towards Pembrokeshire County Council and we have also got to be seen to be doing our bit as well.

“When I look at the job description…we have certainly got those skills with our current chief officers and heads of services and of course the cabinet members, so I don’t think we will be cast adrift by not making this appointment, in fact, if we don’t make this appointment, we will be showing everybody that we do mean business trying to save some money.”

Despite this, Cllr Owens was ultimately persuaded by justifications of others.

Cllr Michael Williams of Plaid Cymru argued: “If you want justification just go and walk through our towns. I mean the whole economic base that used to be in these towns is now almost dead.

“To do nothing is not an option. We have got to show some ambition for the benefit of this county, otherwise the whole place is going to fail.

“I think this is an opportunity, I think we’ve failed in the past because we haven’t resourced in any way adequately enough this unit. And we have got to get that right.”

The proposition by Cllr Williams, seconded by Cllr Miller, detailed how the Senior Staff Committee recommend to the Council that the role of Head of Economic Development and Regeneration be advertised.

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Milford Haven: Defibrillator donated to town

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ON SUNDAY (De 9) a defibrillator was presented to the town of Milford Haven by The 3 Amigos & Dollies motorcycle group.

After the death earlier in the year of fellow 3 Amigo Little Bri (Brian Craig), money was raised at his funeral by the Amigos to make the donation possible.

The defibrillator is now dedicated to Little Bri, with a brass plaque hung on the wall in his honour. Brian’s widow, Kath, his friends, and the Amigos all attended the presentation.

The defibrillator can be found on the wall by Tom Neewing & Son funeral directors.

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