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Applications open for restrictions business fund grants

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APPLICATIONS are now open to the Restrictions Business Fund introduced to support business sectors impacted by the additional Covid-19 restrictions put in place by the Welsh Government on 4th December.

The fund is primarily directed at the hospitality, tourism and leisure related sectors.

The purpose is to aid businesses into the New Year with cash flow support to help them survive the economic consequences of the restrictions put in place.

Hospitality businesses – including cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and accommodation providers such as hotels – which received the NNDR firebreak grant from Pembrokeshire County Council should receive payments via the Restrictions Business Fund into their bank account before Christmas.

If no payment has been received by Christmas then an application will be required. A form for this will be live from Monday, 4th January.

There are two elements to the fund being administered by Pembrokeshire County Council:

  • The ERF Restrictions NDR Business Fund
  • ERF Restrictions Discretionary Grant

Potential applicants are asked to read the details and eligibility criteria https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support and ensure they apply to the correct fund and only if they are eligible.

Under the ERF Restrictions NDR Business Fund there are three grants available.

Grant A: Businesses in the hospitality sectors that are in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) and have a rateable value of £12,000 or less will be eligible for a £3,000 payment. Tourism, leisure and supply chain businesses qualifying for SBRR will also be eligible for support if they have greater than 40% reduction in turnover during the restriction period.

Grant B: Hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000 being eligible for a £5,000 payment if they are forced to close. Tourism, leisure and supply chain businesses in the same rateable value bracket will also be eligible for this support if they have greater than 40% reduction in turnover during the restriction period.

Grant C: Hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £51,001 and £150,000 being eligible for a £5,000 payment if impacted by the restrictions. Tourism, leisure and supply chain businesses in the same rateable value bracket will also be eligible for this support if they have greater than 40% reduction in turnover during the restriction period.

For more information and to apply to the ERF NDR Restrictions Fund, see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support/restrictions-business-fund

ERF Restrictions Discretionary Grant

The Council will continue delivering the Lockdown Discretionary Grant to businesses and sole traders that have been directly impacted by the additional restrictions stated on 4th December.

As with the firebreak, this grant will continue to be targeted at businesses that are not on the NDR system and therefore not eligible for the NDR linked grants.

A discretionary grant of £2,000 is available to assist businesses that have been forced or required to close as a result of the restrictions.

The grant is also available to businesses which are able to demonstrate that the restrictions will result in at least a 40% reduction in their estimated turnover for December 2020 as compared to December 2019 (or September 2020 if not trading in December 2019).

Applications for the ERF Restrictions Discretionary Grant will be dealt with on a first come first served basis. This may lead to applications not being appraised after they have been submitted if the fund is fully committed.

For more information and to apply to the ERF Restrictions Discretionary Grant, see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support/restrictions-business-fund-discretionary-grant

It is reiterated that the Restrictions Business Fund outlined above relates to the restrictions put in place on 4th December and not those announced earlier this week and due to come into force later in December.

For more details on the Restrictions Business Fund see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

Given the Christmas and New Year break and volume of applications expected, applicants are kindly asked to be patient as the details are processed.

All payments for successful applications will be received within 30 days.

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Simon Hart MP says that First Minister is ‘reckless’ to say that the UK is ‘as it is, over’

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THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WALES, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart, said that the First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford is wrong to suggest that the United Kingdom has had its day in its current form.

The First Minister’s exact words were “the UK as it is; is over”.

Mr Drakeford’s has said a new union should be created to reflect a “voluntary association of four nations”.

In his conference speech, the Welsh Labour leader called for “home rule for Wales in a successful United Kingdom”.

In a strong rebuke of Mark Drakeford’s comments Simon Hart MP said on the BBC’s politics Wales programme on Sunday (Mar 7) that his suggestion was “reckless” and “an overt act of flirtation with Plaid Cymru.”

Mr Hart added: “I think he realises if he wants to remain first minister he has to do a deal with Plaid, it’s the only option on the table. He hasn’t denied that, I’ve heard.

“In order to do that he has to start making noises about the union that has to appeal to his Plaid Cymru colleagues. I think it’s quite a reckless thing.”

Mr Hart explained that the UK “benefits” Wales and that the UK-wide procurement of Covid-19 vaccines proves this. He added: “It demonstrates just one example that the UK is a positive influence but it doesn’t mean that some of the other arguments are not valid”.

Plaid Cymru wants to hold a referendum on Welsh independence if it wins May’s Senedd election, but the power to do so lies at Westminster.

There has been a growing interest in more independence for Wales in the last few years, with a huge surge in membership of the non-political Yes Cymru group since the start of the pandemic.

Plaid leader Adam Price, speaking on the same programme, said: “We sincerely believe that independence is ultimately the only sustainable way whereby Wales can achieve its incredible potential as a nation that isn’t being delivered at the moment and whereby we can achieve social and economic justice for everyone that lives in Wales.”

Giving evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee on Thursday, which The Herald was invited attended via a Zoom, Mr Drakeford explained said his idea of home-rule meant “the powers we have, and the devolution settlement we develop, would be guaranteed and would not be interfered with in the way we have seen so vividly in recent months”.

Mr Drakeford said: “I do think the effect of the pandemic and last 12 months has been to polarise opinion in Wales about how Wales should be governed.

“There are some people who take a lesson that we would be better off handing Wales back to Whitehall, there are some Conservative candidates standing in the Senedd elections who apparently take that view.

“It has undoubtedly strengthened interest in those people who believe Wales should be taken out of the United Kingdom altogether.”

The company which runs The Pembrokeshire Herald, Herald News UK, has recently launched a national news website for Wales which is sympathetic to Welsh independence.

This is something which could not have happened without a shift in feeling by many in Wales that as a nation it should have more autonomy.

Speaking on ITN’s News at Ten on Thursday (Mar 4), Herald.Wales South and West Wales Editor, Tom Sinclair said: “From our test marketing we can see that there certainly is a huge appetite for news that is about Wales, made in Wales, and owned by a company which is actually Welsh.”

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Education

Delight as foundation phase learners return to class

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PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”

 

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