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Leisure centres and libraries to close across Pembrokeshire

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ALL Pembrokeshire County Council leisure centres and libraries will close at 3.15pm on Friday, 20th March until further notice.

The Pembrokeshire Archives and Local Studies ceased its front-line service at 5pm last night (Wednesday, 18th March).

At Scolton Manor, the Museum, Tea Room and Visitor Centre will close at 3.15pm on Friday, but the grounds and play areas will remain open.

The closures are as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the need to increase social distancing and the requirement to redeploy staff.

Leisure

Leisure centre users have been reassured that all existing memberships will be frozen and no further deductions taken from direct debits during the closure period.

Club and pre-paid bookings / will be refunded or alternatively be moved to other suitable, future dates.

Libraries

The libraries closure includes the Mobile Library service.

All existing items on loan from the library service will be extended for the period of closure.

There will be no need to return items during the closure period and there will not be any overdue fines for these items once normal service is resumed.

Library users can access ebooks, audio books, emagazines and ecomics online, 24-7 at www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/using-library-services/24-7-e-library

Archives

The research room has closed until further notice.

However, the service will continue to respond to remote enquiries and correspondence, although responses may be delayed.

Archives users are encouraged to keep in contact via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PembsArchives/

Paul Miller, the Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure & Culture, said: “I have today, based on the best advice available to me, agreed to the closure of the county’s libraries, leisure centres, and the Manor House museum at Scolton with effect from 3.15pm on Friday 20th March.

“In addition, I have also agreed to the closure of the archive search room from 5pm Wednesday 18th March.

“This has been done firstly to minimise the risk in relation to the spread of the coronavirus and secondly to enable us to release non-critical staff to support the Council’s wider response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“All leisure members will have their direct debits frozen (we will not collect payment for services that are not available) and these will resume when service is restored. For those customers who have paid for an annual membership, an extension to that membership in line with the closure period has been agreed. We will also refund any payments for bookings which will not now take place.

“These closures will be reviewed regularly and services will resume once the advice suggests it is safe to do so.

“We will continue to do all we can to keep our communities safe.”

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Welsh Ministers refuse to offer safeguards for Withybush A&E

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THE FIRST MINISTER and Health Minister of Wales are united in their decision not to offer any reassurances to the safeguarding of A&E services at Withybush Hospital.

With the recent u-turn of Cwm Taff health board not to remove services at Royal Glamorgan Hospital, the ministers have come under pressure to offer reassurances to the future of Withybush services.

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford has said the decision was down to local health boards, with Vaughan Gething, Health Minister taking a similar stance.

Speaking at a coronavirus briefing on Monday, July 6, when asked whether now as the time for the Welsh Government to encourage Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) to reverse it’s closure plans, Mr Drakeford said he would not encourage the health board to make a similar change.

Mr Drakeford said: “It is for the local health board to make those decisions, I feel like I have lived in this conversation over many years.”

“When I was health minister, I was repeatedly having to answer questions claiming that various parts of Withybush Hospital were about to be closed.

“They didn’t turn out to be true because the health board has an aim of sustaining as many services as can safely be provided at Withybush as in it’s other settings.”

In 2018, plans to withdraw A&E services from Withybush were announced as part of long term plans to downgrade Withybush to a community hospital.

Withybush has already seen the downgrade to its maternity services, with it now being a mostly day time service with expectant mums with pregnancy complications or those giving birth after 5pm mostly having to travel across the border into Carmarthenshire to give birth.

Mr Drakeford has said that HDUHB knew whether A&E services were necessary more than him.

Mr Drakeford added: “They are better placed than I am to know what the capability and the capacity of the services on the ground is, what demand that there is for it, and I know that they will talk very carefully with their local populations – as Cwm Taff health board did in the case of The Royal Glamorgan.”

Speaking at Plenary last Wednesday (Jul 8) Vaughan Gething, was asked by Pembrokeshire MS Paul Davies, the Welsh Government’s position on the delivery of A&E services at Pembrokeshire and if they would remain at Withybush.

Mr Davies said: “You’ll be aware, there is a strong campaign to retain A&E services at Withybush General Hospital.

“Given the recent news that Cwm Taff health board has decided to retain A&E services at The Royal Glamorgan Hospital, the people of Pembrokeshire are now looking at that decision and, quite rightly, asking for the same safeguards.”

The Health Minister said that the decision to overturn the removal of services at Royal Glamorgan Hospital, was due to a consultation by Cwm Taff health board after they were able to recruit more staff which would help them safely deliver that service.

Mr Gething said “The member will also know, over a long period of time, the challenges that have been faced in delivering healthcare across Wales and the plans for the future delivery of healthcare.”

He added “The health board is now planning for the continued provision of essential and key services alongside caring for patients affected by Covid-19.”

Mr Drakeford has also confirmed that a review has been carried out with regards to field hospitals, like Bluestone.

“The current thinking is that we will want to retain field hospital capacity here in Wales against the danger there is a second spike in the autumn or winter.

“But we may not need field hospital capacity on the scale that we produced it in this first wave.”

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Milford Waterfront ready to welcome back visitors

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MILFORD WATERFRONT says it is ready to welcome visitors back to eat, shop and enjoy. The Port said in a statement that businesses worked hard throughout the lockdown to ensure they were ready to welcome customers when restrictions were eased, with measures in place to keep people safe, including social distancing and sanitisation. Graphics have also been installed on location to help visitors maintain social distancing on site.

During the lockdown many businesses at Milford Waterfront adapted and continued offering services to customers, with takeaway options, as well as online ordering and delivery services. With the recent announcements from Welsh Government, retail businesses are starting to re-open to the public, and restaurants and cafés are preparing to offer outdoor, sit-down services. Health, beauty and wellbeing businesses are also preparing to re-open shortly.

Clare Stowell, Head of Commercial Development at Milford Waterfront commented: “It’s great to see so many more businesses re-opening after a long but necessary shutdown period. The safety of the business owners and their customers is of course a top priority, and we are looking forward to seeing visitors safely returning to Milford Waterfront again. It has been so positive to see so many businesses adapting throughout the lockdown, and we have seen how strong the community spirit is in Milford Haven during this time. We’re now ready, with social distancing guidance in place, so that businesses and visitors can make the most of the summer.”

More information on the businesses at Milford Waterfront can be found on: www.milfordwaterfront.co.uk, and information on businesses across Milford Haven can be found here. Milford Waterfront’s latest blog also details how businesses are planning on welcoming back visitors, and can be read by clicking here.

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21st Century School Project shortlisted for award

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ONE of Pembrokeshire County Council’s biggest construction projects to date has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

The £38.3m project to build Ysgol Harri Tudur/ Henry Tudor School in Pembroke has been announced as a finalist in the Constructing Excellence in Wales’ ‘Buildings Project of the Year’ Award 2020.

The scheme was funded jointly by Pembrokeshire County Council and the Welsh Government as part of the 21st Century Schools & Colleges Programme.

When the building opened in September 2018, it represented the largest investment in the programme so far by the County Council which commissioned Bouygues UK to carry out the two-year building project.

Ysgol Harri Tudur/ Henry Tudor School replaced the old Pembroke School, providing education for more than 1,400 pupils and a 30-place autism centre.

Cllr Bob Kilmister, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for the 21st Century Schools and Education programme, said: “We’re delighted to have been shortlisted for a CEW award, which are recognised across the Welsh construction environment as the most significant celebration of best practice.

“Ysgol Harri Tudur/ Henry Tudor School is an outstanding example of our successful 21st Century Schools & Colleges programme, which is continuing to create first-class learning environments for pupils across Pembrokeshire and enabling them to achieve better educational outcomes.”

The winners of the CEW Awards 2020 will be announced at a virtual ceremony in September.

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