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UPDATED: New deadline in Murco negotiations

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Uncertainty over deal: Murco, Milford Haven (IMAGE: MIKE HILLEN/HERALD)

Uncertainty over deal: Murco, Milford Haven (IMAGE: MIKE HILLEN/HERALD)

UPDATED – NOVEMBER 3.

THE DEAL to save Murco oil refinery in Milford Haven from closure was not finalised by an agreed deadline of midnight on Friday (Oct 31), and a new time limit has been set for the sale of the plant to the Klesch Group.

The Pembrokeshire Herald understands, from sources close to the negotiations, that buyer Gary Klesch is still interested in proceeding, but the challenges of getting all the funding in place by the original deadline proved insurmountable.

A presentation which was due to take place on Monday (Nov 3) at the refinery, where workers would have met Mr Klesch as proud new owner of the plant has been put on hold, sparking worry amongst workers and their families.

However, the best information that this newspaper has this evening (Nov 3) is that the deal – which involves a £100m loan guarantee from the Treasury and a £10m grant from the Welsh Government – has been delayed rather than cancelled. The new deadline for the plant to be sold is now Thursday (Nov 6).

Negotiations were going on at the highest levels of government over the weekend, and into Monday, the Herald has been told

Stephen Crabb MP who is central in the negotiations was in contact with The Herald on Saturday, and although was unable to comment did say that he felt that the lack of a break-though in the negotiations was “deeply frustrating”.

“This must be an awful time for the workers and their families”, said Mr Crabb.

He added: “Everyone is trying to keep the deal alive and talks continue.”

The refinery, which can process 135,000 barrels of oil per day opened in 1973 and its owner, Murphy Oil Corporation, had struggled to find a buyer since it was put on the market nearly four years ago.

KLESCH ALSO INTERESTED IN TATA STEEL

Sources: Negotiations at the 'highest levels of government' this weekend (IMAGE: MIKE HILLEN/HERALD)

Sources: Negotiations at the ‘highest levels of government’ this weekend (IMAGE: MIKE HILLEN/HERALD)

Tycoon Klesch, whose £4bn Klesch Group spans chemicals, metals, oils and trading, has also agreed last week to buy half Tata’s European steel business. The loss-making Long Products Division makes about 3m tons a year for buildings and railways

The deal sparked fears of heavy job cuts among its 6,500 workers, with almost 4,000 based at the 150-year-old Scunthorpe steelworks. Tata picked up the site when it bought Anglo-Dutch steel-maker Corus in 2007 for $13bn but has racked up heavy losses as sales slumped and cheaper Asian products flooded Europe.

Klesch insisted the sale does not include a dowry from Tata to cover redundancies, pensions, investment or future losses, but refused to give details of the terms.

Sources said the sale hinges on a deal with Tata — owner of Jaguar Land Rover — not to close Scunthorpe for up to four years. Klesch Group said: “The assertion that Tata Steel is transferring any monies in relation to this transaction is complete rubbish.”

The billionaire, who reportedly has yet to visit Scunthorpe, said he has given no guarantees on keeping sites open and has not spoken to the government.

Speaking to a reporter from The Times he said: “It’s not on the table. I’ve not been asked about it, but it’s not been something we’ve discussed. Until we go on site and determine what the right size of this workforce is, there’s not much we can do.”

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Pembrokeshire residents will not be able to vote for the Brexit Party at General Election

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THE BREXIT PARTY will not field any candidates in the two Pembrokeshire constituencies in December’s General Election it has just been confirmed, meaning locals will not be given an opportunity to vote for the party.

Nigel Farage said that he will not field candidates in any seats where conservatives won in the last general election, and instead the Brexit Party will field candidates against Labour held seats or other parties who are pro-Brexit.

He made the decision last night he said.

Speaking at a press conference flanked with supporters, Nigel Farage said: “We will expose labours betrayal. It is also fair to say that the London dominated labour party is now thousands of miles away from his traditional safe seats, some held since 1918. It’s now time for a seismic shift.

He added: “Trying to stop a second referendum is the single most important thing in our country.

He ended his speech today by saying: “In a sense we now have a leave alliance. We have done this unilaterally.

“We decided ourselves that we have to put country before party and take the fight to Labour.”

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Delays for Pembrokeshire rail users due to downed trees and shortage of drivers

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TRAINS in Pembrokeshire have been hit by a series of cancellations this morning.

The 09:09AM Milford Haven to Manchester Piccadilly service was started in Carmarthen due a shortage of drivers.

E J Evans Coaches were running a bus replacement service on behalf of Transport for Wales picking up passengers at all stations to Carmarthen.

There was also trouble today on the Fishguard Harbour Branch Line. Unsafe trees were spotted on the line after Clarbeston Road and the line is now closed until November 18.

This follows delays earlier this month and in October due to the same problem.

There are also more delays across the network in Wales.

South Wales Central AM, Andrew RT Davies, has blasted the network operator, after another day of chaos for commuters on the country’s rail network.

Services in South Wales and North Wales have been hit by a series of cancellations and passengers are complaining across several areas about a lack of coaches and trains not running on
time.

Commenting on the ongoing crisis, Andrew RT Davies said: “Sadly, it’s Groundhog Day on the Welsh rail network with commuters in my region on the receiving end of yet more unsatisfactory service from Transport for Wales.

“The rail crisis in Wales is creating chaos on a near daily basis and commuters deserve a much better service than they are currently receiving from TfW.

“Labour’s economy and transport minister promised there would be numerous ‘quick wins’ on the launch of the service but things have only got worse.
“We’re seeing an appalling level of customer service – a real crisis on the rail network – which is having a detrimental impact on the lives of hardworking people.
“Transport for Wales and the Welsh Labour Government have run out of excuses and desperately need to get a grip on the situation before people give up on public transport.”

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Haverfordwest: Car tyres slashed and windscreen smashed at Castle Lake

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POLICE in Haverfordwest are appealing for information about damage caused to a car at Castle Lake car park..

Four tyres were slashed and the windscreen was smashed on a silver Mazda MX-5 sometime between 6pm on Friday, November 8 and 11am on Saturday, November 9.

If anyone has information about the damage please contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

Police said: “Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DPP/0017/09/11/2019/01/C.”

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