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Politicians view operations at the UK’s largest energy port

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PARLIAMENTARY Under-Secretary of State for Wales Kevin Foster MP was joined by Stephen Crabb MP and Paul Davies AM recently as he visited the Port of Milford Haven to view operations at the UK’s largest energy Port.

The party were taken on a tour of the Waterway onboard a pilot vessel, hosted by the Port’s Chief Executive Andy Jones, Chairman Chris Martin and Harbourmaster Mike Ryan, where they were able to discuss the Port’s vital role as an important hub of regionally and nationally significant economic activity and employment.  Naturally this included topics such as Brexit preparedness and the potential opportunity, post-Brexit, for the Port of Milford Haven to be designated as a Freeport.

As supporters of Pembroke Dock Marine which aims to anchor wave, tidal and floating wind renewable energy developers in Pembrokeshire, the Minister, Stephen and Paul were also keen to hear how that project was progressing as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal.

Andy Jones, Chief Executive at the Port of Milford Haven, discussed the potential impact that 0% import tariffs on petrol will have on UK refineries with the Minister.  

“Not only is Valero a national asset,” said Andy, “in Pembrokeshire it plays a critical role in supporting an otherwise rural economy and is one of Pembrokeshire’s largest employers. Post Brexit, providing the necessary conditions for continued business investment of businesses like Valero in the face of global competition will be essential in order to secure the viability of the energy cluster here”.

“We welcomed the opportunity to share our thoughts on the idea of Milford Haven being designated as a Freeport and expanded on that idea to develop the concept of a Port Zone” continued Andy.  “Port Zones would include accelerated regulatory processes. Prioritising Port Zones would also help reduce investment risk and uncertainty and make the Port a more attractive proposition for potential global investors.”

 “The UK Government has a vision for Freeports to boost investment, drive innovation, attract high skill jobs, support free enterprise and drive growth in left-behind areas across the UK,” continued Andy “and while Freeports tend to be associated with general purpose manufacturing and logistics, the Port of Milford Haven’s internationally significant energy sector offers a unique opportunity.”

“As the UK’s leading energy port with its cluster of anchor businesses, excellent grid connectivity and world-class supply chain, the Port of Milford Haven would have a strong competitive advantage attracting relevant investment opportunities were it to be a Freeport.  A Freeport designation, aligned with the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone, would seek to support UK oil and gas refining and processing capacity as it competes for global foreign direct investment, restore fish processing capability and support tidal and wave energy development to name a few of the potential opportunities.”  

UK Government Minister for Wales Kevin Foster said: “It is fantastic to see the Port of Milford Haven developing plans for a world class centre for marine energy, attracting inward investment and creating more highly skilled jobs. I look forward to working closely with the Port and Welsh Government to develop this project as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal, generating transformational growth across the region.” 

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Carers Rights day goes online

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CARERS RIGHTS DAY is taking place across the UK on Thursday, November 26 and in Pembrokeshire the event will be celebrated with a programme of activities and information sessions for unpaid carers of all ages.

Across Pembrokeshire, there are about 15,000 people who provide unpaid care and support to family and friends.

Many people don’t recognise themselves as carers, but the role they play in society is invaluable and it is estimated that across Wales carers provide care worth around £8.1 billion to the Welsh economy every year.

Under normal circumstances events for Carers Rights Day are planned around the county for carers to attend.

However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, this cannot happen this year.

So, a group of organisations supporting unpaid carers in Pembrokeshire, including the Pembrokeshire Carers Information and Support Service (PCISS) run by Hafal Crossroads, Action for Children, PAVS, Alzheimer’s Society and Pembrokeshire County Council, with support from Hywel Dda University Health Board, have put together a timetable of events for unpaid carers to access on and around Carers Rights Day.

These activities are free and will provide an opportunity for carers to access advice, support and a chat with other carers too.

Events include wellbeing workshops, quizzes and information sessions and more information can be found on the Connect Pembrokeshire website: https://connectpembrokeshire.org.uk/campaign/carers-rights-day

If you aren’t online or would like some support to build your confidence about using a laptop or tablet, so that you can join carers groups and activities over the winter, then the Community Hub can help.

Call the Community Hub on 01437 776301 for assistance to get connected.

Cllr Mike James, the Elected Member Carers’ Champion said: “Carers Rights Day may look and feel a bit different this year but it remains an important event to celebrate the hard work of carers in Pembrokeshire and provide information and support where required.

“The theme of this year’s event is ‘know your rights’. Whether you are a new carer or have been caring for someone for a while, it’s important that you understand your rights. It is critical that you are able to access the support that is available to you, as soon as you need it.

“Please get involved and have a look at the different events and support information being offered.”

If you look after a family member or friend, there is lots of information and support available in Pembrokeshire to help you look after yourself as well as the person you care for:

Pembrokeshire Carers Information and Support Service is available on 01437 611002 or by emailing: pciss@hafal.org 

Pembrokeshire Young Carers Service can be contacted on 01437 761330.

 

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Bluestone National Park Resort achieves international environmental award

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S Bluestone National Park Resort has achieved the international Green Key award in recognition of its excellent environmental standards.

With awarded establishments in 65 countries, Green Key is the fastest-growing eco-label for the tourism industry. In Wales, Green Key is operated by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, who also manage the iconic Blue Flag programme.

Bluestone has joined an exclusive group of prominent hospitality industry leaders in Wales who have been awarded Green Key accreditation, where the award clearly demonstrates their ongoing commitment to the high environmental standards being implemented.

Marten Lewis, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Bluestone National Park Resort said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the prestigious Green Key eco award. Our team have worked so hard to achieve this and we are so proud to be accredited.

“At Bluestone, we take sustainability – and protecting and supporting our environment – very seriously. Free Range Future is our sustainability movement. We thank Green Key, our guests and our teams for all their fantastic efforts and great support as we all work towards a more sustainable, and Free Range Future.”

Bluestone has committed to sustainability since the resort first opened in 2008, but dedicated improvements have been made across the site over the past year to meet Green Key standards.

These have included a staff engagement programme, halving the amount of general waste produced and using a local anaerobic digestion facility to turn all food waste into biofuel and fertiliser. Bluestone is also investing in new infrastructure to help reduce shower and tap water usage by more than half.

Lesley Jones, Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy said: “It’s fantastic to see one of Wales’s leading holiday resorts taking action to help protect and enhance our environment. We’d like to congratulate the Bluestone team on their success and welcome them to the Green Key family.

“After a difficult period for the tourism industry, Green Key provides an opportunity to put Wales on the map as a 21 st century, sustainable destination. By opting to visit a Green Key establishment, you can be sure that you are visiting somewhere with the highest possible environmental standards.”

For more information or to apply for Green Key visit the Green Key website www.greenkey.cymru

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Camp security boss threatened unpaid staff

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  • Guards walked out last week over wage dispute, police on stand-by

SECURITY staff guarding the Asylum Seekers Accommodation Centre in Penally have told The Pembrokeshire Herald they have not been paid regularly or on-time.

They claim their managers have been putting profit before safety.

One shocking revelation is that those tasked with ensuring the safety of asylum seekers have been told to ‘toss any weapons found, such as knives over the fence’.

The company in charge, AK security, does not want any complications which could jeopardise its contract with the Home Office, it seems.

One security guard provided The Herald with a recording of what he says is a telephone conversation between the managing director of AK Security and himself.

In the phone call, the security guard is apparently threatened after asking for £1,000 in unpaid wages.

AK Security managing director Ali Mohammed Khan is heard in the recording of a mobile telephone conversation.

Mr Khan says: “If you show up again, I promise you I am going to do something.

“And trust me you don’t want me to do it. I do not like threatening people, but I am not a kid my friend. You’re a boy, listen to me innit – you don’t want me to do it.”

In the phone call with AK Security’s MD, the security worker is heard politely asking for his pay to which Khan replies: “Do you understand English? Are you thick in your head? Do you have a brain? Do you know how the bank system works? I am a company.

“When companies do transfers it isn’t done within minutes. It’s coming from the company account…. It takes three working days for your payment to come through. I told you yesterday that within three working days the money will be in your account.”
A previous payment had been made instantly. The worker consequently questioned the 3-day transfer – normally reserved for substantial companies who pay using the now-outdated BACS system.

The guard questions Khan again saying: “How is it you paid me alright on Sunday, but it is taking forever now?”

Kahn answers: “The last payment was done differently – why are you asking so many questions. The payment has been done. I am not a guy who is going to run away with someone else’s money – I am bigger than that!”

Other security guards told this newspaper they were instructed to throw any weapons they found at the camp ‘over the wall’ and not to report the weapons’ presence at the Camp.

The reason given for this was to prevent AK Security from losing their contract with the Home Office to guard the asylum seekers in Penally.

Police were put on standby on Tuesday night (Nov 17), after reports security staff had walked out in protest over non-payment of wages.

The Tenby Observer reported: “[Because] they had not received any wages from their employers at the firm ‘AK Security’, the staff ‘downed tools’ and refused to work, standing outside the gates for a period of time on Tuesday night, with one eye-witness stating that police officers were also on hand to monitor the situation.’

Since the Home Office repurposed Penally Camp almost two months ago, the facility has been dogged by controversy and unrest. The facility currently houses around 170 asylum seekers, with scope for that to increase to 234.

This week’s incident is the latest in a string of controversial events surrounding AK Security.

The firm, whose base is in London, has been contacted by The Pembrokeshire Herald to respond to this article’s content.

The Herald also contacted the Home Office regarding the serious allegations.

As we went to press, neither the Home Office nor AK Security had responded to our invitation.

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