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Ignite your vocal powers with the new Torch Voices Choir

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A VOCAL coach who has worked with stars from the West End and Broadway is to launch a new community choir this autumn at the Torch Theatre.

Torch Voices, led by Angharad Sanders, is a choir open to all abilities, from those who would like to give singing a go for the first time to those who may wish to sharpen up their vocal skills. Covering music off all genres, this is a fantastic opportunity to sing in a friendly and fun ensemble. The choir will meet weekly on Thursday’s at the Torch Theatre from 5 September.

Angharad has many years of experience working in theatre and with choirs and singers across the globe. Previous students include Pixie Lott, both recent lead actors from the West End smash hit Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; John McRea and Layton Williams (Bad Education, Hairspray UK Tour) and new Broadway leading man Sam Primack (Understudy Evan in Dear Evan Hansen). She most recently was the musical director for the 5-star original U.K. touring production of Madagascar: the Musical, starring X Factor winner Matt Terry.

Angharad commented: “I’m extremely excited to be at the musical helm of the new Torch Voices. It’s long been a desire to return to Wales and work with local talent. At Torch Voices we will be covering all musical styles, from pop songs by artists such as The Pentatonix, Madonna, Adele and Queen through musical theatre repertoire and classical material. I would love to welcome passionate singers of all ages and abilities to come along and join us bringing this music to life. The choir is open to anyone aged between 16 (those aged 8 and over can attend if accompanied by an adult) and up and there will be no audition needed or requirement, other than a desire to make some great music.”

If you are looking to join the Torch Voices or just give singing a go, the theatre is offering two free taster sessions on Thursday 5 and Thursday 12 September from 6pm. The choir will run until Thursday 19 December before taking a Christmas break and costs £55 per term to take part. To sign up, please contact Box Office on 01646 695 267 or via boxoffice@torchtheatre.co.uk.

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Community

Trecadwgan farm to be sold by auction

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has decided to sell Trecadwgan Farm by way of public auction.
The Council’s decision has been made in order to bring the sale process to a conclusion and give interested parties a fair and transparent opportunity to purchase Trecadwgan Farm.

The property was originally placed with a local agent for sale by way of public auction in July 2019 after the Council’s Cabinet resolved to sell the Farm on the open market to create a significant capital receipt.
However, it was withdrawn from public auction at the request of the community group known as ‘Save Trecadwgan Farm’ to give them an opportunity to prepare a business plan and seek finance in order to purchase the same on the open market.

Due to the interest shown in the Farm and the offers being made by interested parties, the Council decided that having withdrawn the property from public auction, to conduct the sale by way of private treaty.

Offers were made via the Council’s agent who undertook a standard sales process up to the set date whereby any party who made an offer were advised whether or not the offer made was the highest received.

As part of the process a local charitable foundation made the highest offer by the specified date to purchase the Property and accordingly the Council issued the draft documentation to their solicitors.

It is understood that the foundation had agreed to allow the local community group to use the Farm.

Notwithstanding that the terms and conditions of the transaction were disclosed to all interested parties in the particulars of sale, the foundation would not accept the contract conditions and subsequently withdrew their offer.

Having taken the advice of its agent, the Council agreed that the parties who made unsuccessful offers should be contacted to confirm whether they were still interested and if so to confirm the value of their offer.

At this time a third party who had not been part of the original offer process made the highest offer which again was accepted by the Council subject to contract.

Although the third party was not a party approached by the Council’s agent, as the third party had not previously made a bid, the offer was accepted on the basis of the Council’s duty under section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972 to obtain the best consideration which can reasonably be obtained. It is understood that the third party also intended to allow the Community group to occupy the Farm although the terms and conditions are unknown to the Council.

However, the statutory duty and supporting case law relevant to the sale of property by local authorities indicates that the Council has a duty to give consideration to any offer made to the Council.

The Council has now received a number of further higher offers to purchase the Farm.

“Having originally taken the property out of the auction at the request of the Community Group, the Council has, due to the statutory provisions found itself in a difficult and time consuming sales process,” said Cllr Bob Kilmister, Cabinet Member for Finance.

“Therefore to ensure that the sale process can be brought to a conclusion and ensure that all interested parties are given a fair and transparent opportunity to purchase the Farm, the Council has decided to sell the Farm by way of a public auction.”

Cllr Kilmister went on to explain that it is sound practice that local authorities should dispose of surplus land wherever possible.

“Generally it is expected that land should be sold for the best consideration reasonably obtainable,” he said.
“However, it is recognised that there may be circumstances where an authority considers it appropriate to dispose of land at an undervalue. Authorities should clearly not divest themselves of valuable public assets unless they are satisfied that the circumstances warrant such action.

“The General Disposal Consent (Wales) 2003 which enables the sale at an undervalue gives local authorities autonomy to carry out their statutory duties and functions, and to fulfil such other objectives as they consider to be necessary or desirable. However, when disposing of land at an undervalue, authorities must remain aware of the need to fulfil their fiduciary duty in a way which is accountable to local people.

“The Council has not resolved to use the general consent in this matter on the basis that the Farm will create a substantial capital receipt which is essential given the severe financial pressures the Council is presently facing.”

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Assembly Member visits childcare centre in Milford Haven

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HAPPY DAYS Childcare Centre in Milford Haven were delighted to have a visit from Welsh Assembly member for the Conservative Party, Suzy Davies on February 7.

The minister, along with her colleague Stefan Rysewski, was given a tour of the setting and spent some time with the children and staff.

During her visit Ms. Davies was interested to know how some government initiatives were affecting Early Years and the Private Sector. Topics discussed included Use of Welsh Language, the new Apprenticeships Programme, Staff recruitment, Funding and Mental Health Schemes for Staff and Children.

Debbie Forrest, one of the owners of Happy Days commented that the visit had been very enjoyable, and how Ms Davies had been very responsive to all points raised giving her a better understanding of the challenges facing private businesses which she could take back to the assembly.

Happy Days Childcare Centre in Milford Haven and Haverfordwest are owned by Debbie Forrest and Helen Mathias and have been operating in Pembrokeshire for almost 30 years. Both settings offer a variety of services for children up to age 12 in order to support families with their work/life balance and childcare needs.

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Community

COUNTY COUNCIL WINS ‘INSPIRATIONAL EMPLOYER’ AWARD

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Pembrokeshire County Council has been named an ‘Inspirational Employer’ at a ceremony in Cardiff for Welsh employers. The award was presented on Wednesday (5 th February) by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). It recognises the Council’s achievement not only in becoming the first local authority in Wales to achieve the Disability Confident Leader
status but also the work that it has done through Norman Industries and Workways+ to support people with disability and long term health conditions to gain paid work. Norman Industries is the Haverfordwest-based factory employing people with disabilities.

The award was collected by Karen Davies – project manager for the Council’s supported employability projects – and Rachel Bailey who was a Workways+ participant but now works for the Authority as a Learning Disability Champion for Employability.

The journey to Disability Confident Leader began when Rachel – who has cerebral palsy – gave a presentation at a DWP conference in December 2018 about the work she has been doing to promote employment for people with learning disabilities.

The process culminated in the Council achieving Disability Confident Leader status in September 2019.

Through this process the County Council was able to demonstrate the extensive support that it provides both in its own workforce and through projects like Norman Industries and Workways+. Said Karen: “Becoming a Disability Confident Leader was the culmination of a lot of work by a number of people including the Council’s Human Resources department.
“Pembrokeshire County Council is definitely leading the way in employing people with disability with over 60 people working within Norman Industries and Workways+ alone. “We have been able to demonstrate the benefit of employing people with disability and there is now interest across the council to open up employment opportunities.

Rachel revealed that working at Norman Industries had given her a lot more confidence.

She explained: “It has provided me with a purpose to be able to work. I really enjoy going out to events and I like getting the message across to people that being employed with disabilities and learning disabilities means that it is achievable.”

The inaugural Disability Confident awards attracted nominations from across Wales for employers and organisations who have shown outstanding commitment to the Disability Confidence campaign. The Council was nominated by Alyson Phillips, DWP’s Partnership Manager in Pembrokeshire.

RACHEL’S STORY
In September 2018 Rachel was a participant of Workways+. She really wanted a job – her first ever paid job – and worked with her Employment Mentor to consider work opportunities. When the opportunity to become a Learning Disability Champion came up, it seemed like a good match. Rachel does not have learning disabilities but her physical disability means that she understands the issues. With the help of her mentor Rachel applied for the job. Due to her pronounced speech impediment, the team at Norman Industries needed to amend the interview process to ensure that Rachel had a fair chance to demonstrate her ability in the interview.

Having accepted the offer, the team then worked with Rachel and Access to Work to ensure that she had the support both with physical adaptations and support in work to ensure she could do the job.

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