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Pembrokeshire County Council housing services update

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FOLLOWING the most recent Government guidance, Pembrokeshire County Council’s housing department has had to cut back on all face-to-face meetings and home visits.
Staff are still working to support tenants, those who are homeless and those who are on the Choice Homes waiting list but they have had to make changes to some of those services.
Choice Homes Allocation Scheme

• allocations under the Choice Homes Scheme have now been suspended for the time being. Instead the focus will be on working with the Housing Associations and businesses to identify, match and prepare properties for those in an emergency situation. This includes the suspension of Mutual Exchanges and Transfers.
• customers can still complete housing applications but there may be a delay in these being responded to as the Council prioritises other areas. If customers wish to discuss their housing application they should call: 01437764551 or email: haalloc@pembrokeshire.gov.uk
• if customers have any information to add to their housing application, they are asked to email a picture or a scanned copy of it to: haalloc@pembrokeshire.gov.uk and where possible avoid sending anything in the post.

Homelessness

Staff are available to give advice and assistance over the telephone to those who may be at risk of becoming homeless in the near future.
Demand remains high for this service and given the current circumstances and any landlords who are interested in working with the Housing Department to supply accommodation for those in an emergency situation are asked to get in touch.
Accommodation will need to be fully self-contained and furnished to include cooking and washing facilities in order for people to self-isolate where necessary. To enquire, please email: haalloc@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

Emergency Legislation has been introduced which bans both social and private landlords from starting possession proceedings to evict tenants for at least the next three months.
Support has also been introduced to home owners and landlords in the form of a three-month mortgage payment holiday if they are struggling to meet payments as a result of COVID-19 outbreak.
If you are homeless and need advice, contact the duty team by emailing: housingadvice@pembrokeshire.gov.uk or phoning: 01437 764551 and asking for the housing advice team.

Current Tenants

The housing department will continue to provide advice and support to tenants by telephone for emergency tenancy issues only.
It is in the process of identifying tenants who may be vulnerable and in need of additional support during this time. If you are a tenant who may need additional support, please let us know so that we can link you in with the essential services that you need.
You can also access the Community Hub on: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-communityinformation/i-need-some-help or call: 01437 776301
Housing staff is also asking tenants to let them know if they are in self-isolation or displaying any symptoms so that we can ensure staff safety in the event of an emergency.
Please email: tenman@pembrokeshire.gov.uk or call 01437 764551 and ask to speak to the Tenancy Management Team.

Sheltered Housing Schemes

The department has taken several measures to support and comply with the Government guidance for self-isolation and social distancing within our Sheltered Housing schemes.
• communal lounges have been closed
• tenants have been advised that they must socially isolate themselves.
• wardens are available via phone or email to support tenants and ensure they have access to food, medication and essential services
• tenants are advised to only allow essential visitors to their property (or example to deliver food, medication etc)
• always keep two metres separation from people
The Council is concerned that some residents and visitors are not adhering to the strict government guidance and would plead to keep themselves and others safe by maintaining isolation during this period.

Anyone who is a Sheltered Housing tenant, or concerned about a Sheltered Housing tenant who may need help and assistance during this time, can contact the warden for the scheme or call: 01437 764551 and ask to speak to the Housing Customer Liaison team.
Building Maintenance Service
Our Maintenance teams are working hard to make sure we can respond to emergency repairs only, which should be reported as normal. All other repairs that involve social contact have been suspended.
All customers reporting repairs are asked to inform the department if they are self-isolating or showing symptoms of the virus so that staff and customers alike can be protected
We will keep you updated in the coming weeks as we react to the evolving situation.
Paying Rent
It is important that tenants continue paying their rent where possible, either via the automated phone line on 01437 775164 or by paying online through: https://myaccount.pembrokeshire.gov.uk
If customers need advice or assistance regarding paying their rent, they can email: revenue.services@pembrokeshire.gov.uk
For tenants who are worried about paying their rent or who are in financial difficulty, they may be entitled to help to pay their housing costs through Universal Credit or Housing Benefit depending on their circumstances. To find out about the financial support available, go to: www.GOV.UK or for Housing Benefit and Council Tax enquiries, email: revenue.services@pembrokeshire.gov.uk
If customers require additional support with this, Citizens Advice are continuing to support customers online and via telephone. Local Advice line number is: 01437 806070.
Opening times are: Tuesday and Thursday: 10 am to 5 pm and Wednesday: 10 am to 5.30 pm. Further information is available at: www.pembscab.org

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Storm Christoph set to batter Wales says Met Office [Video]

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STORM Christoph will cause heavy rain and flooding in Wales on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the Met Office has said.

Forecasters are warning that there could be up to 200mm in some parts of north Wales and say that the heaviest and “most persistent” rain will be in Wales.

The warning states: “Several days of persistent, and occasionally heavy, rain are expected to affect the region as Storm Christoph affects the UK.

The heaviest and most persistent rain is likely to be across Wales and the high ground of northern England.

“By early Thursday, 30-60 mm of rain is expected to have fallen widely across the warning area, with 100-150 mm over the high ground of Wales and northern England.

“Up to 200 mm is possible across parts of north Wales and northwest England.

“Melting snow across higher parts of the Pennines may exacerbate the potential for flooding. Strong winds will also accompany the rainfall and may add to travelling difficulties across areas higher and more exposed routes.”

The warning is in place from midnight on Tuesday until noon on Thursday (January 21).

Welsh forecaster Derek Brockway says: “Large rainfall totals on high ground in south and northwest Wales.

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Enabling works start at regeneration site in Pembroke

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WORK has started on the highly anticipated South Quay regeneration project in Pembroke.

Ambitious plans by Pembrokeshire County Council will see the site next to Pembroke Castle developed into a Visitor Centre, celebrating the town’s history and heritage and incorporating a new Library and Café.

The scheme will also include major enhancements to the public realm and landscaping improvements and public access to the building’s gardens at the rear.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economic Development, welcomed work starting on site.

“I’m delighted to see work getting underway. These buildings, right in the heart of Pembroke, have been left to rot for more than a decade by previous Council administrations but thankfully no longer. I am committed to Pembroke and am personally determined to help the town see a brighter future.

“Our investment in South Quay is just the first and most visible part of our commitment to the future of Pembroke and I’m looking forward to engaging with the community on the next steps over the coming months.”

The enabling works, undertaken by contractors Lloyd and Gravell are to ready the site for the development contract. They include the clearing and preparation of the site ready for the stabilisation of derelict buildings in Castle Terrace.

The South Quay project has secured £901,590 of Welsh Government Transforming Towns funding to support delivery of the first stage enabling works.

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “The regeneration of South Quay is a fantastic example of how support though our Transforming Towns programme can be used to breathe new life into an old building to create a centre that will become as asset to the local community and celebrate the town’s history.  I look forward to seeing how this work progresses.”

Cllr Aaron Carey, County Councillor for Pembroke St Mary South, said it was good to see progress on site.

“No amount of plans or drawings can prepare you for the huge task at hand when the project is seen up close,” he said.

“We as a community are putting our generation’s mark on a thousand year old town and it’s really exciting to see the work being started on site after so many years as an eyesore in the castle’s shadow.”

(Pictured are Cllr Paul Miller and Cllr Aaron Carey at South Quay in Pembroke, where work has started on a key regeneration project.)

 

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Stephen Crabb MP to defy whips on Universal Credit uplift

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb will defy the Conservative whip for the first time today.

The former Work and Pensions Secretary will ignore an instruction to abstain on a non-binding Labour motion to keep the £20 uplift to Universal Credit beyond March 31.

In his Spending Review last November, Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to commit to keeping the £20 payment. The Chancellor introduced it last year to compensate families of the unemployed or
those on low incomes for the extra costs they incur during the Covid pandemic.

Stephen Crabb has repeatedly made it clear that he wants the £20 top-up to continue to give the poorest and most vulnerable at least some cushion from the effects of the deepening recession.

Although the Westminster Government claims it is optimistic about the economy’s future, the short-to-medium term looks grim.

Many businesses have closed and are unlikely to reopen. Not all of those who lost their jobs will get back into employment. It is likely any jobs on offer once the economy picks up will be low
paid and leave many still dependent on Universal Credit in some form.

Speaking on Times Radio this morning, Mr Crabb said: “No one can say we have a generous benefits system. We don’t. The unemployment component of benefits is at its lowest for a generation.

Withdrawing that additional £20 per week at the end of March will cause hardship. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

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