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‘Abandoned communities’ need answers from Port, says MP

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STEPHEN CRABB MP has called for answers to ‘very serious’ questions after a flood devastated homes in the communities of Havens Head and Lower Priory two weeks ago.

At a meeting on Friday (Nov 23) outside the flood-damaged Priory Inn public house, displaced residents – some of whom are not insured – explained to their Member of Parliament that they firmly believed that the Milford Haven Port Authority was to blame for the flooding of their homes.

Mr Crabb said that questions raised about the adequacy of the pipes and culverts leading to the docks and their maintenance ‘deserve full answers’ and said that he felt that those affected felt ‘abandoned’.

The Port, however, denies that it is responsible for the incident. Tim Bownes, Engineering Director at the Port, released a statement last week saying that the flooding was not caused by any failure to act. He said it was caused by ‘two days of heavy rainfall, combined with extremely high tides combined with a tidal surge of up to half a metre.’

Mr Bownes also said that water was ‘flowing as expected’ down the Port’s culvert system on November 8

Some of the residents were clearly emotional showing their MP around their wrecked homes. The landlady of the local pub, where water levels reached the ceiling, said she could not handle going inside to see the devastation.

“Nobody from the Port gives a shit about us,” landlady Glenda German told Mr Crabb.

She added: “I’ve lost everything in this flood, and we need to get to the bottom of who is to blame.

“Someone has got to pay for this; my whole life is on stop.”

Ian Banister said that he felt that lack of maintenance was the cause of the problem, and he wanted to see records and logs to prove that the Port was telling the truth. He showed Mr Crabb several classic cars which were submerged; including a rare 1930’s Singer Le Mans sports car, and a recently rebuilt Austin A35.

Another resident pointed out that the Port was not bound by the Freedom of Information Act and information could be difficult to obtain.

Flood was deep: Stephen Crabb MP with Cllr Viv Stoddart and property owner James Kershaw (Pic Herald)

James Kershaw who lives at Pill Priory, just behind the pub, said that the culverts were either blocked, or if they were not, then they were clearly inadequate.

“Either way the Port are to blame,” he said. 1.5m of sewerage contaminated flood water has destroyed his ground floor furniture and kitchen. A lorry used for his gardening business has also been written off.

Following a tour of damaged properties Mr Crabb told The Herald: “What this group of families has been through is heart-breaking.”

He went on: “People have literally lost everything as a result of the flooding and now face many months of living in temporary accommodation waiting for their homes to dry out and repairs to be done.”

Mr Crabb addressed the accusation from many residents that Milford Haven Port Authority had contributed to the flooding by not properly maintaining the culvert which runs under Haven’s Head Business Park and into Milford Dock.

Emotional moment: Ian Bannister from Lower Priory clearly upset by the damage caused (Pic: Herald)

He told this newspaper: “The questions being raised by the residents of Lower Priory and Havens Head about the adequacy of the pipes and culverts leading to the Docks are very serious and deserve full answers.

“The speed and severity of the flooding has raised questions about whether the infrastructure has been maintained properly by the Port Authority to allow water to run out in the Dock and not build up in the way it did.”

Mr Crabb added: “These communities currently feel abandoned. It is a bewildering and stressful experience to suddenly lose your home and possessions.

“It is entirely fair for these residents to demand a full explanation as to how this happened and what can be done to prevent it in future. I’m committed to bringing together the relevant authorities to ensure that some answers can be found.”

Stephen Crabb MP visits flooded resident (Pic: Herald)

High tide mark: The level of water in James Kershaw’s home (Pic: Herald)

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Fishguard: Traws Cymru bus destroyed in vehicle fire

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THE TRAWS CYMRU T5 Bus caught fire on Friday evening (May 17) in Fishguard, no passengers onboard.

According to local reports, only the driver was in the bus, which was on the way back to the depot.

The Herald understands that the driver got off safely.

Police and fire service were at the scene and the blaze was quickly extinguished.

Bus enthusiast Jim Horrissey said on Facebook: “The bus was Optare Tempo X1200 YJ56 WUG.

“It had finished it’s device on the T11 and was heading back to Fishguard when the fire started. Nobody was hurt, and only the driver was onboard.”

The 19 year old bus was formerly on service with the Norfolk Green Line, which is owned by Stagecoach before being put into general Statecoach service.

It was most recently operated by Richard Brothers.

According to their website, The TrawsCymru T5 provides a regular and direct service along the scenic Cambrian Coast, linking Aberystwyth, Aberaeron, New Quay, Cardigan, Fishguard and Haverfordwest.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Parked up: Bus before the fire

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Dementia Action Week

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LIBRARIES across the county will be supporting Dementia Action Week this month.

Dementia Action Week (20-26 May) aims to unite individuals, workplaces and communities to take action and improve the lives of people living with dementia.

“Unfortunately there are many people living with dementia in Pembrokeshire,” said Laura Evans, Library Development Officer.

“It is important that we do all we can to raise awareness of the condition and to help those people who are living with it.”

Reminiscence sessions will be the focus in some libraries, with members of the public invited to bring along old photographs of their local area to help people recall events, places or people.

Craft activities will be taking place to make ‘twiddle sheets’, that provide visual, tactile and sensory stimulation to people with dementia, with the finished sheets being donated to local groups and charities.

Libraries in Pembrokeshire offer a range of books about dementia, including the ‘Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia’ collection.

The collection, which has been recommended by experts and endorsed by well-known charities and health organisations, provides information and advice for living well after diagnosis, as well as personal stories and practical support.

Information on all Dementia Action Week events taking place at local libraries will be available from:

· www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture,
· on the Libraries Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PembrokeshireLibraryService
· or ask at your local library for details

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TPS scam alert issued

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PEMBROKESHIRE Trading Standards are warning local residents of a current telephone scam.

Callers claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) have been phoning residents asking them to pay for the service or to update their contact details.

In fact, the TPS is free – and it does not contact its customers to update their details.

“The TPS is the official service for people to register to opt out of receiving marketing phone calls to land and mobile telephones. It is free and once a phone number is registered, it remains on the list with no need for it to be updated,” said Sandra McSparron, Trading Standards Officer at Pembrokeshire County Council.

“If you have been contacted by phone asking you to pay for TPS services, or update your details, it is a scam.”

Pembrokeshire Trading Standards has also received a report of someone being phoned regarding national insurance fraud and asking for details of the person’s National Insurance number.

Trading Standards would advise people not to share this information with unknown callers.

· If you suspect a scam call, hang up and report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 / 03454 040505 (Welsh Speaker).

· Registering your telephone number with the TPS can be done via their telephone number 0345 070 0707 or the website www.tpsonline.org.uk

· The Trading Standards Team offers talks to any groups in Pembrokeshire advising how to spot and avoid scams and what to do if you or someone you know is receiving these contacts. For further details please phone 01437 764551 or email tradingstandards@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

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