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Members ‘encouraged’ after Riverside purchase call-in

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MEMBERS of the Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee have been reassured following the call in of a Cabinet members’ decision to look into the purchase of Haverfordwest Riverside.

A number of councillors had been concerned about the decision to appoint a consultant to develop and evaluate proposals for the site’s redevelopment because of the Council’s budgetary position.

Cabinet member for Economy and Tourism, Cllr Paul Miller, made his decision at the end of April as part of wider council plans to revitalise the Town of Haverfordwest.

However, on May 3, that decision was called in by Cllrs Jamie Adams, David Pugh, Brian Hall and Di Clements.

A special meeting of the Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee was called for Tuesday, May 14.
During the meeting a number of points were raised but it was highlighted that the money for the consultants would not be coming out the tax payers money.

At this stage the Council would only be looking at whether or not they should purchase the site and are asking consultants to look into it.

Members were reassured by what they had heard and asked for an update at their September meeting.

Cllr Jamie Adams said that there needed to be some understanding of the desire of the people to see council tax money well spent and added that his worry was that they would be further burdening tax payers.

Cllr Miller said he was very concerned that the Pembrokeshire was becoming a disconnected retirement county but highlighted his strategy for improving the county.

He added that he wanted to get Pembrokeshire better connected in terms of broadband, ensuring that Pembrokeshire has an offer adding that although they were ‘well endowed’ with natural assets, it wasn’t enough ‘on its own’.

His third point was to make sure that the county is discovered and said: “Let’s appoint the right people to guide us through this.”

Cllr Bob Summons asked a number of questions including what due dilligence had been done.

Cllr Miller said some had already been done but added that the majority of it would come when the business case would be considered.

Cllr Summons said that town centres were dying because of online shopping and asked what could be done.

Cllr Miller outlined that the area being considered included Haverfordwest Castle, Bridge Street, the Ocky White building, the Riverside Shopping centre and that redeveloping the multi-storey car park was an area of interest.

He went on to say they would be relying on external consultants as they didn’t have the in-house resources to do so.

A report to the committee stated that finance officers had not been involved but when challenged, Council Leader David Simpson said that they had been involved in discussions over the last two years, just not on the specifics of the project.

Cllr Adams added that the meeting to discuss the concept had only happened on Monday, after the call-in, and asked was it a case of the ‘stable door being bolted after the horse is out’.

Cllr Bob Kilmister said a meeting had been scheduled but because he was away it was put back to Monday.

Cllr Adams asked if it had also been discussed at a meeting of the Strategic Asset Management group.

Cllr Paul Miller said it hadn’t but added that when the business case was made they would be involved.

Cllr Adams also asked about further investment in Bridge Street and Cllr Miller said there would be as part of the Castle project.

He went on to say that the Welsh Government were also involved in this and that they had been asking for all sorts of information.

Cllr Brian Hall warned the Cabinet to ‘be cautious’ or risk the situation coming back to bite them.

After hearing what had been said a number of members were reassured by what had gone on and Cllr David Pugh said he admired the Cabinet’s ambition.

Cllr Simon Hancock asked what the consequences would be if they did nothing adding that he was supportive of the Council trying to do the right thing.

Cllr Tony Wilcox added: “To not engage specialists would be remiss of us. We’ve got to at least go through this process.”

Cllr Tim Evans added he was ‘really encouraged’ by what he had heard and added the consultants would tell them whether this was right or wrong saying: “It’s something we’ve got to go through with.”

Members agreed that an update report should be presented to them at their September meeting.

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Met Office: More rain and flooding warnings for Wales

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ALTHOUGH the severe weather associated with Storm Dennis has passed, there is further wet and windy weather to come this week.

With much of the ground around the UK saturated from heavy rain over the last two weeks, further severe weather warnings are in force for some of the worst hit areas. Yellow National Severe Weather warnings for rain have been issued for southern and north west Wales on Wednesday evening and through Thursday.

Chief Meteorologist Andy Page said: “Further rain will arrive on Wednesday evening and this is likely to become prolonged and possibly heavy over areas of high ground. For example, there is a chance that 60mm of rain could fall in parts of south Wales over 24 hours. With the ground already saturated there is a chance of further flooding, members of the public should check their flood risk and stay up to date with flood warnings from Natural Resources Wales, SEPA, NI Direct and the Environment Agency.”

Blustery showers will continue through the day on Monday and Tuesday, particularly in the west, these showers are likely to fall as snow over higher ground especially in Scotland over 200m in elevation. Although there will be sunny spells for many, thunder and hail could accompany the heavier showers.

Under clear skies on Tuesday night pockets of frost are likely as more settled conditions associated with a brief ridge of higher pressure pass through.

Rain and increasingly strong winds will move in from the west on Wednesday morning spreading across the whole of the UK through the day. Rain will be persistent and heavy at times in Wales and north western England overnight and a further front will move through on Thursday bringing heavy downpours.

Storm Dennis brought wet and windy conditions after what was an unsettled week, with Storm Ciara bringing stormy conditions the weekend before. South Wales saw the most rain from Storm Dennis, with 157.6mm recorded at a Natural Resources Wales site in Crai Resr, Powys, between midnight on Saturday morning to 10:00 this morning (17 February). The highest wind speed recorded during the storm was 91mph on Saturday evening at Aberdaron, Gwynedd.

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Public should ‘be alert’ as flood water causes disruption across Wales

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NATURAL RESOURCES WALES is warning people to be alert as flood water causes disruption across Wales.

Coastal areas in west Wales have taken a battering, with Newgale flooding again.

The situation is stabilising, and river levels have started to peak but there are still warnings and alerts in place, and Natural Resources Wales are continuing to monitor the situation.

There are currently 2 Severe Weather Warnings, 83 Flood Warnings and 63 flood alerts in place across Wales.

Donna Littlechild, Duty Tactical Manger said: “Storm Dennis has caused significant impacts across Wales particularly in the south and west, from strong winds and heavy, persistent rain. With further rain forecast for the next few hours, we are urging people to heed advice from ourselves and emergency services.

“Our teams have been out day and night over the last 48 hours to reduce the risk to people and their homes. We have installed temporary defences to protect communities as much as possible, as well as deploying pumps, closing flood gates and supporting emergency services.

“Our thoughts are with those people who have been affected as we know how devastating flooding can be. If you’ve been affected, please keep safe and listen to the advice of the emergency services. Advice and information available about what to do if you’ve been flooded in available on our website”

People are advised to take extra care and allow extra time for their journey as driving conditions may be hazardous. People should also avoid walking or driving through any flood waters as it can be extremely dangerous. People should also avoid fast flowing rivers and streams as they could get swept away and avoid coastal areas.

Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes and are available to view at www.naturalresources.wales/flooding

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Farmer Sean Burns has been given a 20 weeks custodial sentence

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THE FARMER behind the ‘farm of horrors’, Bramble Hall Farm, in Pembroke has been sent to prison following a sentencing hearing this morning.

Sean Burns has been given a 20 weeks custodial sentence, to commence immediately, for illegal dog breeding, animal welfare charges and other summary matters.

He was given an indefinite ban from keeping animals (which by virtue of the legal definition includes having any involvement or influence over the care or welfare of animals),

No costs were awarded against him due to prison sentence being instigated.

The date for the sentencing in Crown Court for operating an illegal slaughterhouse, related hygiene offences, supply of unsafe food and animal by-product offence is currently awaited.

The hearing took place in front of District Judge Chris James at Swansea Magistrates’ Court

FULL REPORT IN TOMORROW’S HERALD

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