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Councillors back ‘vitally important’ tourism department

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MEMBERS of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee have given their unanimous support to the continuation of the Destination Pembrokeshire Partnership.

The committee were unanimous in their decision that tourism was a vital part of the economy and that they did not want to see the partnership cease.

The Partnership was set up in 2010 to coordinate the work of key partners supporting the tourism sector. The work focuses upon destination management, destination marketing and sector collaboration and diversification.

The Council has been looking at a number of different models of delivery in order to take the work forward but has not yet found a sustainable plan.

At the meeting on Thursday (Jan 10), the Council’s Head of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mike Cavanagh, said there is fierce competition between areas in trying to get people to come to certain areas and added that tourism was vitally important to the economy.

He added that if the service was cut it would save the council in the region of £132,000 but went on to say that editorials in newspaper and magazines were just as important in getting people to come to the county.

Cllr David Bryan suggested that individual firms such as hotels, B&B’s or pubs should be making a contribution to tourism.

Jane Rees Baynes from Pembrokeshire Tourism added that this was something they would be looking at as part of the new model.

Cllr Phil Kidney said the report was quite ‘scathing’ of the council and added that the general feel of it was that there wasn’t a ‘great appetite’ to see the partnership forward.

Welsh Government officer Gerwyn Evans added that if the local authority stopped its support it would make things more difficult and said they would be looking for the council to be making a commitment.

Questioning whether or not the Partnership should cease, Cllr Simon Hancock said: “Absolutely not.”

He went on to say: “We should actually re-dedicate ourselves to tourism in Pembrokeshire. In the past we haven’t had decisive decision making or leadership and there is a worrying trend that there has been no increase in spend over the past decade and there has been a slight decline in seasonality.

“We are suffering from a stagnation and other areas are stealing a lead on us and I hope the message from us is that it is extremely important.”

Cabinet member Paul Miller said Cllr Hancock was right to point out the lack of decision making or leadership but did say that they had the right view in setting up the partnership.

Cllr Miller said: “We can only do this collaboratively, it got confused in the past in all sorts of things that it shouldn’t have done. Let’s get this show back on the road and let’s make this partnership work.”

Cllr Vic Dennis spoke of the number of tourism businesses in the county with 1,576 paying business rates but only 346 of those are signed up with Pembrokeshire Tourism. He went on to say there was significant potential for development and added that the industry needed to ‘take ownership’.

James Parkin from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park added that small and medium business enterprises were the back bone of tourism. He added that a review of the service was done in 2014 but because nothing came of that they saw a ‘significant drop’ in its membership.

Cllr Dennis highlighted the work that was going on in Narberth and added that it was a model that could be replicated elsewhere.

Mike Cavanagh added that in recent years the tourism service had been ‘cut through the bone’ and said they only have two officers working on the service as well as himself at the moment.

Cllr Michael Williams said that Tenby and Saundersfoot had been packed over the winter weekends adding that a ‘core season’ no longer exists. He said: “I don’t think the service should cease, it is vitally important. The businesses are the main beneficiaries and they have to play their part.”

Speaking on the Tenby Tourist Information Centre Cllr Williams said his heart says to keep it but his head says perhaps not. He suggested that Pembrokeshire Tourism might take it over as the council would be struggling to find £45,000 to keep it going.

“We’ve got to step up and do it better than we have in the past”, he concluded.

Cllr Bryan added that cinemas were an important part of the tourism offer while Cllr Williams added that a cinema in Tenby ‘could be a huge success’.

Cllr Bryan concluded by saying that tourism was a ‘vital part’ of the economy and recommended that the Committee would like to see the Council continue with the Destination Pembrokeshire Partnership and give it their ‘utmost support’.

That was supported unanimously.

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Police officer was assaulted on Christmas Day

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A 25-YEAR-OLD woman from Haverfordwest appeared before the town’s magistrates on Tuesday (Jan 15) to face a charge of assault by beating against a police officer.

Tiffany Rowlands, of West Court, pleaded guilty to assaulting PC Gareth Potter on Christmas Day.

Prosecutor, Sian Vaughan said: “The officer was at the defendant’s property searching the childrens’ bedrooms.

“Rowlands pushed the officer to the chest, and after she calmed down apologised following the incident.”

Defence solicitor, Mark Layton, said: “There’s no record of any injury. They were upstairs, the lights were off so it was dark, and she realises it was wholly inappropriate.”

Magistrates fined Rowlands £40 for the offence and ordered her to pay £85 prosecution costs and £30 victim surcharge.

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Milford Haven: Booms to be removed following oil spill

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BOOMS installed earlier this month to contain an oil spill in the Milford Haven waterway will be removed tomorrow (Jan 17).

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and partner agencies have continued to survey the affected areas since the incident on 3 January and are satisfied that they have contained as much oil as possible.

Where oil has been found on local beaches, Valero’s clean up team have removed it under advice of NRW officers.

The investigation into how this incident, and the previous oil spill in December 2018, happened is ongoing.

Following further assessments and an inspection of the affected fuel pipelines, Valero now believe that no more than 500 litres of oil was released during the incident on 3 January – significantly less than originally feared.

But the pipelines will remain closed after NRW took action last week to suspend their use. NRW will not allow Valero to reopen the pipelines until it is satisfied they can operate without causing further damage to the local environment.

Andrea Winterton, Operations Manager from Natural Resources Wales, said: “Following a swift response from everyone involved, much of the pollution has been contained and cleaned up quickly, reducing the impact it could have had on wildlife and the environment.

“Along with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation and will respond to any further reports of oil washing ashore in the coming weeks.

“Valero continue to support our efforts and cooperate with our enquiries into how the incidents happened. Our investigation also continues as we consider what further action we need to take to stop this happening again.”

NRW is asking people who live in the area to report any signs of pollution to their 24/7 incident hotline on 03000 65 3000.

The multi-agency response to this incident has involved the following organisations: NRW, Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Milford Haven Port Authority, Marine and Coastguard Agency, Public Health Wales, Food Standards Agency.

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Fishguard: Sex offender caught trying to flee to Ireland

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A sex offender from Bow Street near Aberystwyth who tried to move to Ireland without telling anyone has been jailed.

Dennis Bull, aged 67, was caught trying to drive a van onto the Fishguard–Rosslare ferry with his belongings in the back ready for a new life in the Republic.

Bull, of Nirmit, admitted failing to comply with the conditions of registration as a sex offender and was jailed for 16 months.

Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court it was the third time he had breached the order, imposed at Caernarfon crown court in February, 2016, for possessing indecent images of children.

That conviction was on top of earlier offending in New Zealand that included indecent exposure, outraging public decency and gross indecency with a child.

Mr Thomas said Bull had been jailed for 16 months in 2016 and ordered to register with the police. The restrictions imposed included a requirement to tell the police if he intended to change address.

On November 13 last year police at Fishguard harbour became aware of a Ford Mondeo registered to Bull.

A few minutes later Bull was arrested as he attempted to drive a van onto the Stenna ferry, which was loaded with household items.

Bull told the police he had made arrangements to move to Ireland “lock, stock and barrel” because he understood the monitoring of sex offenders was less strict.

In particular, said Mr Thomas, Bull did not like prospective employers being told about his convictions.

Judge Geraint Walters told Bull, “This was a planned and determined attempt to avoid detection. It was only the eagle eyes of the authorities that brought you to book.

“Your record is troubling and you present a risk of committing more offences of a sexual nature.

 “You are defiant of court orders that are there to protect others and it is truly disturbing that you are so keen to breach them.”

Bull was warned that the 2016 order remained in place for a further seven years.

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