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Cabinet member commits to improving broadband

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COUNTY COUNCIL Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, has pledged to improve Pembrokeshire’s  digital connectivity so that it becomes the best in Wales.

And he’s willing to commit Council money in order to achieve the ambition.

Councillor Miller said he agreed with the recent statement by the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, that every household in the UK should have access to a full fibre broadband connection by 2025.

“Sitting on the very western tip of Wales it is obvious to anyone that we’re never going to be the best connected county in terms of road or rail – that we accept”, said Councillor Miller.

“We could, however, be the best digitally connected place in Wales, maybe even the UK. That’s our ambition.”

Councillor Miller said the issue was the scale of the challenge facing those trying to provide it.

He went on: “When I arrived behind the economic development desk in Pembrokeshire I quickly realised that there weren’t many things I could do, that would have as big an impact on the Pembrokeshire economy as dramatically improving our digital connectivity. I also realized that it was just too important to rely on someone else doing it for us.

“In Pembrokeshire right now 88 per cent of households and businesses have access to 30 Megabits per second (Mbps) – the EU’s definition of Superfast. That not terrible, actually, by UK standards but fewer than 6 per cent of premises have access to Ultrafast (100 Mbps) and 2.5 per cent of our households are still stuck with less than 2 Mbps.

“The story in a nutshell? If you are in a town or big village, broadband speeds are, for the most part, bearable but perhaps not for long. Just outside those areas and you are probably pulling your hair out.

“The economics of rural broadband mean that without intervention, providers aren’t going be doing much to improve that position anytime soon.

“Our challenge is how we intervene in a way that actually starts to fix the problem and in Pembrokeshire we have come up with a plan that we are convinced can make a difference.

“Step one: we’re going to intervene where we can easily do so.

“We’ve applied for funding under the Department for Culture Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Local Full Fibre Networks Programme (LFFN). We know the outcome of that application, but I cannot yet say. Let us assume though that we will be successful.

“That funding enables us, by 2021, to connect up a large number of public sector buildings – GP surgeries, libraries, leisure centres to full fibre broadband. It creates a great base from which suppliers will make full fibre connections available to the homes and businesses nearby.

“Step two: we have divided the county into eighty, loosely defined, project areas that cover the whole of Pembrokeshire We’ve invited providers to give us an indicative price to connect every property in those areas to full fibre.

“We’ve had some big numbers back, but, based on what we’ve seen so far, we believe it can be done.
“Step three: we’ve employed a team, funded by the Council, specifically to work with communities in those zones to draw down as many funding vouchers as possible.

“Vouchers are a UK and Welsh Government initiative that provides funding of up to £1,500 per household and £5,500 per business to support the build of fibre infrastructure.

”Step four: Cabinet will soon be considering a proposal to create a £2 million pot of Council funding to top-up the voucher money where it isn’t enough to complete a zone.

“£2 million will not be enough, but it’s a start. If the Prime Minister really wants to deliver by 2025, we will be looking to him for more. On top of that direct intervention, I am determined that we do everything in our power as a local authority to ‘get out of the way’ as we seek to have fibre provided across the County.

“Our property team have been tasked with ensuring we never refuse permission to broadband providers to use our land.

“Our highways team are exploring innovative ways of using the highways and footpaths criss-crossing Pembrokeshire to bring fibre cables to people’s front doors and our planning team are working out how we best ensure that all new development in Pembrokeshire incorporates a direct fibre connection.

“This is a big undertaking. It is going to require commitment from all levels of government but it can be done.

“I am making a start on getting the message out there – we are absolutely determined to deliver a step-change in digital connectivity in Pembrokeshire.

“I want our residents to know we are on the case. I want government to know that we are ready to get stuck in. I want business in Pembrokeshire to know that we are determined to get them better connected.

“And perhaps most importantly, I want businesses all over the UK to know, that there’s a dynamic, forward-thinking county on the tip of West Wales that’s getting itself connected and which is open for business.”

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Dale Road: Several have minor injuries after two vehicle accident

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EMERGENCY SERVICES are attending a two-vehicle road traffic accident on the B4327 Dale Road.

Two fire crews from Haverfordwest as well as police were called at around 3pm today (Aug 16).

A van and a car are involved.

Avoid the area at the present time

The Herald understands that several people are being treated for minor injuries.

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Tenby: Hotel goes into administration as new owner’s business empire collapses

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A POPULAR Pembrokeshire hotel has gone into administration.

The Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby how faces an uncertain future. It’s parent company Northern Powerhouse Developments reportedly suffered a £14m operational loss last year.

The 40-bedroomed hotel, which had been in the ownership of the same family for over 70 years, was bought by Northern Powerhouse Developments for an undisclosed sum in January 2017.

New boss Gavin Woodhouse said at the time: “This is the first of four hotels we are acquiring and opening in South Wales to complement our existing hotels up and down the coastline of the United Kingdom.”

“The Fourcroft will be the sister hotel to the Llandudno Bay Hotel and Spa and part of the group’s premier hotel collection.

“We are keen to compliment the local businesses and hope to be part of the future success of Tenby and the surrounding areas.”

NPD was founded by Gavin Woodhouse to focus on investment in the leisure and tourism industry.

According to ITV News, at the High Court hearing, Justice Alastair Norris was told that Woodhouse had been withdrawing tens of thousands of pounds from a bank account he had kept secret from administrators.

Below: Video by The Guardian regarding the missing millions which have plagued Gavin Woodhouse’s businesses

Appointment of Administrators

In the High Court of Justice

Court Number: CR-2019-005297

FOURCROFT HOTEL (TENBY) LIMITED

(Company Number 00772050)

Nature of Business: Hotels and similar accommodation

Registered office: Unit D2 Elland Riorges Link, Lowfields Business Park, Elland, HX5 9DG

Principal trading address: The Croft, Tenby, SA70 8AP

Date of Appointment: 8 August 2019

Names and Address of Administrators: Philip Francis Duffy (IP No. 9253) and Sarah Helen Bell (IP No. 9406) both of Duff & Phelps Ltd, The Chancery, 58 Spring Gardens, Manchester, M2 1EW

Further details contact: The Joint Administrators, Tel: 0161 827 9000. Alternative contact: Chloe Chan, Email: Chloe.Chan@duffandphelps.com

Ag JG50885

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Coastguard call-out after missing cliff climbers fears

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EMERGENCY services were called to the Stack Rocks area on Thursday August 15, following concerns for the safety of two climbers.

The emergency services were called following fears over the safety of some climbers when climbing gear had been found at the top of the cliff near Bullslaughter Bay, with the owners nowhere to be seen.

At 9.11pm, Tenby Coastguard rescue team, St Govan coastguard rescue team, Tenby Lifeboats RNLI ALB, Angle Lifeboat RNLI ALB and Coastguard rescue helicopter 187 were called to search for possible missing persons in the vicinity of Stack rocks.

Tenby’s RNLI all-weather lifeboat was launched just after 9pm and made best speed towards the scene, 10 miles west of Tenby, while Tenby and St Govans Coastguard rescue teams and Coastguard rescue helicopter 187 also made their way.

An RNLI spokesman said: “Once on scene, the volunteer crew began their search from Stackpole Head towards Bullslaughter Bay.

“With darkness fast approaching, it was decided to launch Angle all-weather lifeboat so that the search for anyone in difficulty could be widened.

“Sometime later, the helicopter spotted some climbers and directed Angle lifeboat to their position, and, while speaking to them, they confirmed it was their climbing gear and that they were in no difficulty.

“All units stood down and returned to their respective stations, with Tenby lifeboat arriving back on station at about 12.15am.”

H M Coastguard Tenby, posting on Facebook, added: “Coastguard and RNLI were quickly on the scene with the Coastguard officers searching from land along the coastline and RNLI lifeboats commencing a water search.

“Once Coastguard rescue helicopter 187 arrived on scene they managed to quickly locate two climbers using FLIR [Forward-Looking Infra-Red].

“Angle RNLI was then directed to the persons and made contact with the climbers and confirmed that the equipment found belonged to them and that they did not require assistance.”

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