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Being homeless in Pembrokeshire

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By Tess Delaney

I HAD reason recently to get in touch with the homeless unit at Pembrokeshire County Council.
I spoke to a nice lady, and they can help me.
As I’m responsible for my son, we can be accommodated at the hostel in Pembroke. The thing is, I used to work at the Prince’s Trust, with kids that lived at the hostel, and there is no way on earth I’m taking my kid there.
Not happening.
And Pembroke? A forty-five-minute drive from my land, which I have to visit twice each day to tend my livestock. Given that one of the reasons for a Council officer’s refusal of my OPD planning permission was it involved too much driving, that’s a solution to a problem created by the Council which seems absurd, to say the least.
So now what?
Luckily, having procured a gig here at your favourite local newspaper, I’ve got a few more resources available.
So, let’s have a look, shall we?
Looking around at the prices of properties available to rent can leave one feeling pretty bereft.
What I want to know, is how does anyone afford these rents?
The cheapest two-bedroom I can find close to my land is in Clunderwen.
It looks fabulous in the pictures, but I know it’s rough because someone I know used to live there.
It’s a pretty little place, with a good amount of space, but the garden is shared – which isn’t mentioned in the particulars of course – and there are usually snails in the front room.
The fridge has to live in a cupboard under the stairs because the kitchen isn’t big enough, and there’s a washing machine, but it doesn’t work.
My point is, anything close to affordable is slightly sketchy.
It’s weird when you’re renting, and you lie there in bed, looking up at someone else’s peeling paint on the ceiling, unable to do anything about it because they don’t want you to, and you’re not really inclined to, being that your contract is at most a year long.
And who in Pembs is in a position to buy? Really? Are there any first-time buyers left? And what do they buy? There’s not much on the market locally for under 100k. How do people raise mortgages?
Some people have to rely on parents or suchlike, but some don’t have that kind of help. And there are no council houses because they all got sold.
I remember my grandad refusing to buy his council house. “They’re social houses for people in need” he used to say. The next people to live there bought it. Now, it’s a private let, with rent as high as any other three bed in that particular town.
I’ve put my name down on the council house register because the council are basically not giving me a lot of choice.
It’s daft.
I own and work on land that I have to leave at night times. I’m there all day. What’s the big deal about where you actually sleep? Why does that constitute home? What is home?
I can’t be homeless when I’ve got more of a potential home than someone who is actually proper homeless, but they’re telling me I’m homeless.
Define homelessness.
When I bought my land I tried to rent a house nearby.
Even though there are loads of empty and dilapidated properties, none are available for use. I put a shout out on the local Facebook page and got not one reply.
A week or so later, someone put a post on the same page, asking for a holiday let for their family to use at Christmas. About thirty people replied, with photos of lovely little houses that looked small enough to be affordable to a local family to rent. But they’re all holiday homes.
Every single one.
It’s no secret that many villages in our county are made up almost entirely of holiday lets and second homes.
Our prices are inflating all the time, especially when bright sparks at the Daily Mail publish articles on how you can get a house in Pembs for half the price of Cornwall, so why not move to Pembs, and buy up all the housing stock?
It wouldn’t be so bad if the housing stock got replaced, but every time someone puts a planning application in for affordable homes, or even any homes, the vigilantes come out, insisting on keeping as big a radius as possible around them, even though they’re usually people that moved here to retire, and all they’re really worried about is their property prices and the feeling that any new builds will spoil their postcard.
It’s an endless circular mess, and to be honest, who of you, reading this, would rather take your kid to the hostel than move onto your land illegally and face court? If that’s the choice, I know what I’ll be doing.
I’m lucky in that my son’s dad is letting me, as well as the kid, crash at his place while I look for somewhere, or get planning at appeal, whichever comes first.
So, ultimately, if you don’t have an ex that’s a brilliant dad and not only takes responsibility for the kid, but for me too, and steps in to help in this way, what do you do?
If you don’t have friends offering you places to stay, like I’ve had, you have the hostel as an option, and that’s it.
How can there be, as reported recently, so many homeless people wandering around Tenby that the Tenby Chippy is giving out free meals? How did that happen? When did that happen?
There was no homelessness back in my school days in Tenby. If there was one homeless person they were almost a curio, like that guy who used to wander around Whitland and tragically, and almost unnoticeably, died in that fire.
Now we have so many homeless that they’re noticeably cold and alone in a place like “Fair and Fashionable” Tenby, relying on the kindness of the chip shop?
According to the council’s reasoning, I’m eligible for free chips. Perhaps I’ll gather up everyone down there and let them live on the field.
It’s always an option…

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Haverfordwest: Primary school teacher accused of 34 sexual assaults

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher was in court on Monday (Aug 3) accused of 34 sexual assaults.

James Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, denies all the charges.

Oulton, who was granted a continuation to his bail, was represented in court by his barrister Chris Clee QC.

The case is listed for administrative hearings in November and the trial date is provisionally set for April 12, 2021.

Oulton is currently suspended from work at Mary Immaculate School.

It is understood that the case does not involve children who are pupils at the Roman Catholic primary school.

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Phased re-opening for Leisure Centre facilities

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FACILITIES at Pembrokeshire County Council’s Leisure Centres will begin to re-open in a phased and safe manner from Monday, August 17.

Following further easing of Welsh Government restrictions, Pembrokeshire Leisure will be opening its doors for the use of fitness suites only in the first phase.

The fitness suites at Fishguard Leisure Centre, Haverfordwest Leisure Centre, Milford Haven Leisure Centre, Pembroke Leisure Centre and Tenby Leisure Centres will open from Monday, August.

You must book and pay for your gym slot in advance.

Without a pre-booked slot you will not be able to gain access to the facilities.

There will be no bookings or payments taken at the centres. In order to make a reservation you will need to be a registered user of Pembrokeshire Leisure.

You can register via the website https://pembrokeshireleisure.co.uk/ or by calling 01437 775504, Monday to Thursday, 9am – 3pm.

See below for further membership information.

Bookings can also be made via the website and telephone numbers above and through the Pembrokeshire Leisure app which is available to download on both Apple IOS and Android.

You will be able to book your session from Tuesday, August 11, onwards.

For everyone’s safety please do not attend any Pembrokeshire Leisure facilities if you are experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms.

Users are asked to bring only a full water bottle (drinking fountains will not be in use), a towel and their Pembrokeshire Leisure Card for their exercise session.

Please note there will be no changing facilities available so please arrive dressed ready for your session.

Buildings may operate one-way systems and equipment may be set out differently than normal with some equipment set up in other areas of the centre to allow more space to exercise.

Those visiting with pre-booked appointments are respectfully asked to adhere to social distancing rules in operation.

There will be an enhanced cleaning operation in place with hand sanitising stations and customers will need to use the provided cleaning products to clean equipment before and after use.

The second phase, from Tuesday, September 1, will see Crymych Leisure Centre re-open and swimming pools, indoor fitness classes and facility hire available at all centres.

Again, all activities will be via pre-booked appointments only.

Further details will be released in due course, including opening arrangements for all of the remaining leisure facilities.

Currently all Pembrokeshire Leisure memberships are frozen with no payments being taken.

To allow members to return when they feel safe and happy to do so Pembrokeshire Leisure will be offering the following:

If you are ready to return to us:

  • Everyone with a frozen current membership will be able to access the fitness suites for free from August 17 to 31.
  • We will be offering a ‘BeActive’ membership while our facilities have a reduced offering at £19/month.
  • You will need to sign up to the membership using our app or website.
  • This membership will be paid on a monthly basis with no minimum term.
  • It will be available until our centres are able to offer a more complete selection of activities, when existing membership subscriptions will be restarted.

If you don’t feel ready to return to us yet:

  • All memberships will remain frozen and you will not need to contact us until you are ready to return.
  • All subscriptions will receive an extension as Appropriate.
  • When we are able to offer a more complete provision of activities then memberships will be restarted. Members will be given notice before the payments are taken.

More information regarding the BeActive membership will be sent to all members.

All relevant information will also be published on

https://pembrokeshireleisure.co.uk/ and the Pembrokeshire Leisure App.

If you are unclear on the process of re-joining please contact 01437 775504.

Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism. Leisure and Culture, Cllr Paul Miller, said: “With restrictions easing further in the coming weeks the team have been working hard to ensure we can offer a safe, phased, return to leisure facilities across the county.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming back members and the general public from the 17th.”

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Milford Haven coastguards launch six lifeboats and task helicopter to hoax call

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MILFORD HAVEN Coastguard Operations Centre swung into action last night following an emergency call, tasking SIX lifeboats and a rescue helicopter to search for a sinking yacht with three crew on board.

But the call – which led to rescuers to search a large part of the Bristol Channel – turned out to be a hoax.

The RNLI said that the call out cost valuable funds, which could have been used to save lives in a real emergency.

Barry Lifeboat station volunteers posted on Facebook saying: “Whilst out on its first exercise since the start of the Covid 19 restrictions, the Barry Dock All-weather lifeboat was tasked by Milford Haven coastguard to reports of a sinking yacht with three people on board.
“Volunteer crews from RNLI Penarth Lifeboat Station, RNLI Weston Lifeboat Station and RNLI Lifeboats at Burnham-on-Sea launched their lifeboats to the mayday call.
“The six lifeboats and coastguard rescue helicopter carried out a coordinated search pattern around the Flat Holm and Steep Holm Islands
“A dredging vessel the Arco Dart also assisted in the search.
“After an investigation by the coastguard team at Milford Haven it was deemed to be a hoax call.
“The volunteers from the four separate RNLI stations returned home and prepared each lifeboat for its next service.
“A hoax call is a massive drain on the resources of the RNLI and it’s volunteers during this challenging time.”

Speaking to The Pembrokeshire Herald on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the RNLI said: “Volunteer crew members will respond to any request to help those in trouble at sea.
“However, when a false 999 or 112 call is made, it uses volunteers’ time, which they selflessly give to help those in trouble.
“It costs the charity valuable funds, which could be better used elsewhere, and a false call can take lifesaving resources away from a real emergency.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have been approached for a comment.

Barry lifeboat after being tasked to hoax call on Monday night (Pic: RNLI)

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