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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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Council’s cannon stolen from outside Cleddau Bridge Hotel

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A LARGE cannon has been stolen from the now closed Cleddau Bridge Hotel in Pembroke Dock in the last few days.

A local councillor and the police have appealed for information which will lead to the safe return of the gun.

Ward councillor Joshua Beynon said: “Dyfed-Powys Police have just telephoned me to say they are investigating the cannon that was stolen from the former Cleddau Bridge Hotel. It is believed to have gone missing sometime between the evening of Wednesday 20th March to the morning of Thursday 21st March.”

The police said in a statement: “If anyone has any information then can I urge you to call the police on 101 and quote the crime number: DPP/0064/21/03/2019/01/C as soon as possible.”

The cannon, one of two dug up from the ground at Hobbs Point and later restored, used to stand outside Llanion Park, the former offices of South Pembrokeshire District Council, which is now the head office of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The canon is the property of Pembrokeshire County Council and was given to the hotel on loan.

The hotel’s management neglected to make arrangements for its return to the local authority on closing down.

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How to get a refund for unused Cleddau Bridge tickets after April 1

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has announced details on how it plans to refund Cleddau Bridge users left with unused books of bridge tickets after it becomes toll-free.
From 1st April until 30th June refunds will be available from the Cleddau Bridge office itself and the North Wing Customer Service Centre in County Hall, Haverfordwest.
Refunds for all three classes of tickets will be available at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The classes are:

Class A blue-coloured tickets (for motorcycles)
Class B red tickets (cars and light commercial vehicles)
Class C orange tickets (HGVs).

Refunds at the office will be available round-the-clock from 12 noon on 1st April and will be paid – wherever possible – back to the original debit/credit cards up to a maximum of £150 with cash refunds up to £30.

Any refunds over £150 will be made by BACS transfer unless otherwise agreed in advance.

Only Class B red tickets will be refunded at the North Wing Customer Service Centre in Haverfordwest.

Here, refunds will be paid back to the original debit/credit card up to a maximum of £90 (ie three books of 50 tickets)

The maximum cash refund at this location will be £30 (ie one book of 50 tickets).

Refunds at the North Wing Customer Service Centre will be available weekdays between 9 am and 1 pm and 2 pm until 5 pm.

Organisations which have previously purchased tickets with a value exceeding £400 will be contacted during the week commencing Monday, 25th March with instructions on how to reclaim their refunds on an appointment basis at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said: “I am delighted to announce that bridge users who have unused tickets due to the cessation of tolls will be reimbursed and not find themselves out of pocket.”
Those who qualify for refunds are asked to wait a few days before making a claim so as to avoid a long wait. This particularly applies to refunds at the Cleddau Bridge office.

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Council issue ‘rave alert’ to farmers, landowners and local communities

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and Dyfed-Powys Police are asking farmers, landowners and local communities to be on alert over the coming weekend (23rd and 24th March) for warning signs of any illegal raves planned for their land.

Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the police, especially if there are unusual numbers of vehicles – in particular, camper vans, vans or trucks – seen in the locality.

Illegal trespassers may recce sites in advance of any rave, or people may approach landowners and ask around for land, in the guise of hiring it for acceptable activities such as gymkhanas or scout camps.

Raves can cause anxiety to the community they are held in and, if not dealt with swiftly, are difficult to stop due to the sheer numbers of people involved. There is also a safety concern involved in breaking up such events.

Anyone with concerns should call Dyfed Powys Police on 101 and ask to speak to the Duty Sergeant or Duty Inspector at Haverfordwest Police Station.

Alternatively, please call Pembrokeshire County Council’s out-of-hours service on 01437 775522.

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