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Milford Haven: Port Authority denies Lower Priory flood liability

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A REPORT by civil engineering consultants Atkins concluded that obstruction of trash screens leading from Lower Priory did not materially contribute to the extreme flooding which took place both there and at Haven Head last November.
Over three days of torrential rainfall, fourteen properties were flooded at Lower Priory and there was significant flooding at Haven Head.
The Port Authority continues to deny any liability for damage caused by the flooding.
However, Hakin Councillor Mike Stoddart pointed out that Atkins’ assessment was based on evidence produced by Milford Haven Port Authority.
Councillor Stoddart alleged that Atkins’ finding could not necessarily be relied upon. He noted that the Port Authority had an obvious interest in saying the trash screens were not obstructed in order to support its claim it was not liable for the damage caused by the flood.
Defending the Port Authority’s position, both Andy Jones and Tim Bownes, said the report found that the major factor in the flooding was the large increase in levels of silt in the lakes at Haven Head and Lower Priory combined with high tides and unprecedentedly levels of rainfall.

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

Under further questioning from Mike Stoddart, Mr Bownes conceded that the electronic flood warning system had been a casualty of the flooding and had stopped recording the water volumes at Lower Priory well before the peak of the inundation.
When one resident produced photographs of a truck tyre in front of a trash screen taken in February which remained in place six months later, he was tersely told that the presence of the tyre did not count as an obstruction of the trash screen.
The resident shook his head in disbelief, while several councillors wondered what did constitute an ‘obstruction’.
Notwithstanding councillors accepting that silt build up contributed to the flooding, a number of members of the Services Overview Committee nevertheless probed the Port Authority’s actions in relation to the lakes.
Cllr Stephen Joseph observed that a large amount of infill had taken place at the lakes. He suggested that this, combined with the development of Haven Head over a former tidal plain contributed to the flooding.
This was a point made by a local resident addressing the Committee earlier in the day. She observed that were it not for the development at Haven Head, no flooding would have taken place.
Cllr Joseph further pressed on the culverting of water towards Haven Head. When he asked what inspections were carried out of the culvert when it was extended to take account of the increased infill of the lakes, he was told by Tim Bownes from the Port Authority that his point could not be addressed. Mr Bownes said, however, he supposed the relevant checks had been done at the time through the normal planning process.
When probed about the level of water drainage into the system, which included run off from the Johnston bypass, Mr Bownes said he believed that Atkins had taken into account the new housing developments and bypass drainage when preparing the report on last November’s flooding.
Cllr Viv Stoddart cited a legal precedent which she said indicated that, whether or not the extent of flooding risk was foreseen or not, a landowner diverting a watercourse or otherwise changing its characteristics was responsible for damage caused by subsequent flooding. She was asked to provide a copy of the precedent to the Port Authority so it could be considered by its lawyers.

Stephen Crabb MP visits flooded resident (Pic: Herald)

When Cllr Tony Wilcox asked about records of the amount of infill that had taken place and whether there was any record of volumes infilled at the lakes since 1991, he was told that the four-year statutory limit for planning for operational reasons had expired and no enforcement action could be taken by the local authority.
One issue arising from the report was the recommendation that the culverts should be increased in size to cope with increased volumes of water run-off. Several councillors asked why, if the current culverts were adequate and fit for purpose, was a recommendation made that the culverts should be increased to handle three times the volume of water they dealt with currently.
The Committee members were told that it was because the design assessment said that the system needed to handle a one in a one-hundred-years storm event.
Cllr Brian Hall noted the recommendations of the report, specifically the one relating the Council seeking its own advice on the issues raised by last November’s catastrophic flooding. He formally moved the recommendations should be adopted by the Committee so that rapid progress could be made to address residents’ concerns.
The Committee agreed that a working group should be established to streamline the reporting process and that the matter should return to the Committee for further scrutiny.

 

 

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Crabb slams Barclays Post Office cash opt-out

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has criticised Barclays Bank’s ‘short-sighted’ decision not to allow its customers to withdraw cash from Post Office counters.

A new agreement has seen 28 banks and building societies sign up with the Post Office for three years from January. The agreement will see postmaster paid more to take in and dispense cash on behalf of these banks.  However, Barclays is the only bank to exclude cash withdrawal as part of the agreement.

Government ministers have been urging the banks to make greater use of the Post Office network so that bank customers will still be able to save and withdraw cash following a large number of bank branch closures.

Preseli MP Stephen Crabb, who has spoken out against bank closures and the shortage of free ATMs, said:

“This is another slap in the face from Barclays for its own customers.

“The Post Office has become essential to high street banking as banks have closed their doors, taking with them free ATMs. To not allow Barclays customers to withdraw money from the Post Office is a short-sighted decision, which will likely result in Barclays customers paying to take their own money out.

“Earlier this year I spoken in Parliament about the drive towards a ‘cashless society’ which goes against the needs of rural communities.

“I have now written to the Treasury Minister to ask him to challenge this decision by Barclays.”

Barclays customers currently make 1.2 million cash withdrawal from the Post Office each month.

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Pembrokeshire turns pink and blue for Baby Loss Awareness week

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CASTLE HILL Tenby, Manobier Castle and Pembroke Castle will be illuminated in pink and blue lights between 9 th and 15 th October to show Pembrokeshire’s support for Baby Loss Awareness Week 2019 (9 th to 15 th October).

The annual awareness week, now in its 17 th year, is an opportunity for bereaved parents, families and friends, to commemorate babies’ lives and break the silence around pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.

Nia Payne originally from Tenby, now living in Cilgerran, said: “We hope turning these landmarks pink and blue will spark conversations about baby loss and give local bereaved parents and families an opportunity to talk about their precious babies. Since our daughter
(Gwennie) was born sleeping in March of this year I have been shocked by the number of people that have experienced a pregnancy or baby loss, yet it is almost a taboo subject. I have reached a point were I enjoy sharing our story with people and keeping Gwennie's
memory alive. Trying to arrange these light ups has given me a focus while hopefully helping others to communicate about their personal experiences.”

All of the buildings and landmarks turning pink and blue for Baby Loss Awareness Week 2019 will be featured on the interactive map and the Facebook album Anyone in Pembrokeshire can share their photos of the landmarks on social media with the hashtag #BLAW2019.

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity), said: “Baby Loss Awareness Week is a unique opportunity for parents to commemorate their babies who died. I hope bereaved families in Pembrokeshire seeing these landmarks lit up pink and blue will feel less isolated and alone in their grief.

“Pregnancy loss or the death of a baby is a tragedy that affects thousands of people every year. It is devastating for parents and families and it’s vital they get the bereavement support and care they need, for as long as they need it.”

For further information about Baby Loss Awareness Week visit: www.babyloss-awareness.org

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Spooky celebrations and events at National Park

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THIS half-term a creepy concoction of events and activities will be taking place at all three visitor attractions run by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, Castell Henllys Iron Age Village and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre will all be hosting Halloween-themed events, from witch hunts to ghost tours and encounters with woodland fairies.

Events at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill will include Fireside Tales on 19, 20, 26 and 27 October, where guests will be invited to sit around a fire and listen to spooky tales and stories of brave knights and beautiful princesses.

For those interested in honing their sorcery skills, The Carew School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will open its doors to new pupils on 29, 30 and 31 October. The syllabus will include wand-making, discovering spirit animals, spell-casting and broomstick agility. For those in costume, there will be a competition at noon.
Ghost Tours of the Castle will also take place during this period.

At Castell Henllys the thinning of the veil between this world and the next will be celebrated on 31 October with Samhain – Haunted Henllys. With a variety of spooky activities on offer, including a Ghost Walk, the day will end with the spectacle of the burning of the wicker man.

Scary Fairy Fun on 28 and 30 October offers visitors the opportunity to meet the woodland fairies at Castell Henllys and take part in activities such as face-painting, storytelling and enchanted woodland crafts.
Those of a magical mindset might also be interested in attending Wizards and Witches on 29 October and 1 November, with magical crafty activities organised throughout the day.

Between 20 October and 3 November, Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St Davids will host a Halloween Trail around the grounds and centre. The Trail will cost £2 per sheet and will run between 10 am – 4 pm each day.

For those seeking a less hair-raising half-term experience, places are still available for the Wildfowl of the Western Cleddau walk arranged to take place at Little Milford between 1 pm – 3 pm on 26 October. Guided by a Ranger, this gentle stroll along the banks of the Cleddau will offer the opportunity to see wading birds, such as the curlew and redshank. Children must be supervised and no dogs are allowed.

If culture holds greater appeal than the occult, two exhibitions, A Celebration of Contemporary Welsh Painting and The Cabinet of Curiosities will be hosted at Oriel y Parc during October and November, featuring top contemporary Welsh artists and members of the Carmarthen Artists’ Network respectively.

For details of all the events taking place in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events.

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