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Letter to Drakeford: The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality sector



IN AN OPEN letter from the Pembrokeshire hospitality industry, business leaders have written to the First Minister to express their concern regarding uncertainty over the lockdown being lifted.

The letter has been singed by seven of the county’s top hospitality businesses owners. The letter reads as follows:

Dear First Minister,

Re: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Pembrokeshire Hospitality Sector – An open letter from the industry

We operate numerous hospitality businesses within Pembrokeshire and write to outline our collective concerns about the significant challenges that we face from the impact of COVID-19. Our industry is one that has been most affected by the Government measures that have been put in place to control the spread of the virus in Wales. It is now at a critical point as we face increasing financial pressures and great uncertainty for the future. We ask that you listen to the views of our sector and urge you to take them into consideration.

We were very pleased to see the leisure, tourism and non-essential retailers given the green light to open during your recent announcement on Friday 19th June. This announcement has provided a sense of optimism and an important lifeline for businesses operating within these sectors. Sadly, the lack of reference to our own sector, has highlighted Welsh Government’s lack of recognition of the important contribution that the hospitality industry makes to the Welsh economy, the visitor experience and to the quality of life for residents in Wales.

The hospitality industry is a fundamental part of tourism in west Wales and we are concerned that this has not been acknowledged at a Ministerial level. The west Wales tourism experience is intertwined with accommodation, leisure and hospitality business working together to deliver the unique brand that has been successfully developed over the years. This symbiotic relationship is key. They rely on one another to attract, entertain and accommodate tourists and will not work successfully without the other.

We understand from your statement, and the subsequent detail released, it appears that pubs and restaurants will be closed for a further 5-6 weeks. This means that the industry will have been dormant for nearly four months with still no clear picture of a road to recovery provided for our businesses. This will have a far-reaching and devasting effect on the sector with thousands of jobs across west Wales, and the whole of Wales, now at risk.

For the industry in Pembrokeshire, we rely heavily on a good spring/ summer tourism season which helps sustain us through the winter months. Being closed for one third of the year will pile unimaginable pressure upon us as we fight with every breath to keep staff and suppliers paid and our businesses afloat.
We have been left in an uncertain and worrying position at a time when we need strong leadership to help support us through this extremely vulnerable period. We now urgently call upon you to review and reconsider your position on the hospitality industry. We ask that you give due attention to the critical areas of support (listed below) that we need to give us a lifeline and prevent the collapse of business for so many in our sector.

Our industry asks you to…
1. Offer a detailed pathway out of lockdown. We need to be provided with set dates subject to continued control of the “R” number;
2. Review financial support via grants to the sector. This needs to address the prolonged closure faced by this industry compared to others who have already begun to trade normally yet have received the same level of grant funding. Co-financing of Job Retention Scheme from July will be impossible with zero income. Welsh Government must intervene, or risk thousands of jobs being lost.
3. Provide strong and enforceable commercial lease guidance. This will allow operators to seek rent-free periods from their landlords. Welsh Government must either make funding available to remove barriers currently created by landlords or create a financial incentive.
4. Revisit the 2m social distancing rule. We acknowledge the 2m rule has been critical in controlling the virus in Wales. However, we ask that this is reviewed in line with other nations and reduce the 2m social distancing rule. We do not believe that it is sustainable and will make the difference between businesses achieving profitability or collapsing.
5. Provide positive communication about the sector. Positive communication and engagement with the sector are vital at this time. It would help to re-build confidence and forge a closer working relationship between Welsh Government and the sector as we move forward in these uncertain times.
We are professional business people who have the ability to work with Welsh Government and with all the necessary guidelines issued. We must be given the responsibility to work collaboratively across our industry to ensure that we can safely get back to business in the coming weeks.

We ask that you give consideration to the voices of the industry echoed in this letter.

Kind Regards,

Dan Mills – DM Catering (Pembs) Ltd
Martha’s Vineyard, Milford Haven

Oli Blakiston – B.G. Betterspoons Ltd & West Coast Inn’s Ltd
The Sloop Inn, Porthgain; The Farmers Arms, Fishguard; The Bishops, St David’s; The Royal Oak, Newport & St Davids Cross Hotel, St David’s.

Simon Vickers
The Griffin, Dale

Ross Barnes
The Buccaneer Inn, Tenby; Harbwr Bar and Kitchen, Saundersfoot & Harbwr Brewery, Pembrokeshire

Chris Vane – Coco’s Pembs Ltd
Coco’s Restaurant, Milford Haven & Coco’s Brasserie, Dale

Shayne Busby
The Lounge, Milford Haven & Foam, Milford Haven

Matt & Helen John
The Swan Inn, Little Haven


Education Minister announces ‘back to school’ plans for September



DECISION backed with £29 million to recruit, recover and raise standards

The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has today confirmed that all pupils will be able to return to school in September.

“plan to open in September with 100% of pupils physically present on school sites, subject to a continuing, steady decline in the presence of COVID-19 in the community.”

The Minister announced that:

  • Schools will return to full capacity, with only limited social distancing within
    contact groups.
  • At full operations, a contact group should consist of around 30 children. Some direct or indirect mixing between children in different contact groups will also be unavoidable, such as on transport, receiving specialist teaching or due to staffing constraints.
  • Social distancing for adults should remain in line with regulations and guidance.
    Schools will be required to minimise the risk of transmission by taking other mitigating measures using the hierarchy of risk controls.
  • Every school should continue to be “Covid Protected” – having carried out risk assessments and mitigated them with a combination of controls such as hand and surface hygiene, one-way systems and so forth.
  • If early warning information shows a local incident or outbreak then nearby schools should implement appropriate restriction measures.
  • Each school will be provided with a supply of home testing kits.

The Minister confirmed that the autumn term will start on 1 st  September and schools that can accommodate all pupils from the start of the term should do so.

The Minister outlined plans just hours after confirming the Welsh Government would make £29m available to ‘recruit, recover and raise standards’ in Welsh schools in response to the impact still felt from the pandemic.

Commenting on the additional funding announced, the Minister added: “We will recruit, recover and continue to raise standards.”

It is thought that there will be around 800 newly qualified teachers in September and around 800 supply staff currently working within Wales.

“With this funding, we will recruit the equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants throughout the next school year.

“We will target extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages.

“The support package, provided at a school level, could include extra coaching support, personalised learning programmes and additional time and resources for exam year pupils.

“We must never lower our expectations for any of our young people, no matter their background.

“Together, we will continue to raise standards for all, reduce the attainment gap and ensure we have a system that is a source of pride and public confidence.”

Councillor Ian Roberts, WLGA Spokesperson for Education, said: “Since schools closed at the start of the crisis, many children and young people have felt anxious about loss of learning and not being able to see their friends.

The Minister’s plan today will enable schools to safely reopen classrooms from September. Local authorities will work closely with their schools to make sure that necessary arrangements are in place to abide by Welsh Government guidance.

“Our schools have been hit by severe disruption during this pandemic, and we welcome the £29m pledged by the Minister for targeted support to minimise the effects of the past few months on pupils.

We will continue to work together in partnership the safest and best possible learning experiences for our children and young people, especially in such challenging circumstances.”

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Latest ‘Life in Lockdown’ winner



'Life in Lockdown' winner Jo Campbell

AN atmospheric black and white print of a padlocked gate and an inviting grassy area beyond is the latest winner in round five of the ‘Life in Lockdown’ photography competition.

The photograph was taken by Jo Campbell of Milford Haven who entitled it ‘Locked Out Lockdown’.

Submitting her portfolio, Jo observed: “These represent my lockdown and I hope people see theirs in these too.”

Jo was a runner-up in the last round.

Runner-up Albany Milton

The competition invites young people between the ages of 16 and 25 to submit pictures of life under the Covid-19 restrictions and is run by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Youth Outreach team.

The two runners-up were Albany Milton from Ludchurch – which showed her having a socially distanced catch-up with her gran – and Ethan Sky from Wiston who captured a peaceful countryside scene.

Ethan Sky also runner-up

Guest judge was youth worker, Fiona John.

For an application form contact either Chris Barrie at or phone 07717 345935 or Mel Lear at or 07818 012254.

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Self-employed urged to apply for grant if they’ve lost income due to Covid-19



APPROXIMATELY 2,400 self-employed people in Pembrokeshire whose business has lost income due to coronavirus have not yet claimed a government grant worth 80% of their trading profits – and they have less than two weeks to submit their application.

The grant is available via the HMRC Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on 26 March.

Although the scheme has recently been extended, the claim for the first grant must be made on or before July 13.

All those who are eligible in Pembrokeshire are urged to apply for the grant before the deadline if they haven’t done so already.

Under the scheme, the self-employed can claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for three months. To be eligible, self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000 and more than half of the person’s income must come from self-employment.

HMRC figures estimate there are 8,100 potentially eligible people in Pembrokeshire and some 5,700 claims have been made giving a take-up rate of 70%. This is below the Welsh average of 73% but in line with the UK average. The total value of claims made is £14.3m.

The Preseli Pembrokeshire parliamentary constituency has an estimated 5,300 people who are potentially eligible. Of these, 3,600 have made claims, a take-up rate of 68%.

The take-up rate in the part of the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituency that lies in Pembrokeshire is 75% (2,100 claims from 2,800 eligible people).

Self-employed people should also be aware that the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is now being extended.

Eligible people are able to claim a second and final grant in August 2020. Their eligibility will be worked out in the same way as the first grant.

If they make a claim for the second grant they will have to confirm their business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020.

For more information on the HMRC Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) please visit

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