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Town Teams ‘important to the future’

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Town Teams: Is this the future?

Town Teams: Is this the future?

A RECENT campaign was launched to breathe new life and vitality into Britain’s local shopping high streets. ‘Support Your High Street’ took place at the end of September with the aim of encouraging businesses and organisations, including local government, to support the idea of shopping ‘locally’ in town, village and city high streets, rather than just using out-of-town retail parks.

On September 18, Pembrokeshire’s County Council released a Town Centre Regeneration annual report, via its Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The report focussed heavily on ‘Town Teams’ as part of this regeneration programme. As the report states, Town Teams are partnerships comprising the local business community, town councils and local interest groups along with the County Council, and have been established in six of our county towns: Haverfordwest, Fishguard and Goodwick, Milford Haven, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and Tenby. Each Town Team is to produce their own action plan. On the subject of Town Team funding the report states, ‘Match funding has been generated via Town Councils and Chambers of Trade with a number of the Town Councils setting funding aside within their own precepts.

Match funding in 2013/14 was generated in three of the six towns (Fishguard, Haverfordwest and Pembroke). Match funding in kind/cash contributions is requested on a project by project basis.’ It further states where the responsibility for Town Team management lies, defining the County Council’s role as one which is to facilitate and enable the Town Teams to work under their own direction and progress with implementing their action plans, with appropriate support from the County Council. Local Pembrokeshire politicians were keen to have their say on this continued initiative to regenerate our County’s struggling towns.

Simon Hart, MP for South Pembrokeshire said: “These schemes are good news for the towns in question, and I am glad that progress is being made. I hope the council will look carefully at areas that are under occupied, such as Pembroke Dock, and provide additional assistance wherever possible. As ever with these schemes, it is action, rather than words, that really matter.” Speaking to The Herald Delyth Evans, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for South Pembrokeshire, stated: “The idea of Town Teams is a very good one. I particularly welcome the involvement of local businesses because they are so important to the future of our towns and they usually know what kind of improvements are necessary to help to attract visitors and customers.

I hope the trend towards out of town shopping has stopped. We should be encouraging people to shop in their local high street and spend their money on local produce and goods. My main concern is that there must be proper financial control and scrutiny of all money spent on improvement schemes, so that the recent misuse of a regeneration grant in Pembroke Dock doesn’t happen again. Complete transparency and rigorous auditing is therefore essential to ensure taxpayers’ money is well spent. Overall the Town Teams have made a good start and I would like to thank those involved for giving up their time and energy to improve their local community.”

Local Councillor for Wiston, and leader of the Conservative group on PCC, David Howlett commented: “Talking to business owners, business rates are a huge expense and although the Welsh Government have introduced some initiatives, I believe they should be going much further in taking far more businesses out of business rates altogether. We should be encouraging entrepreneurs that in turn would help our High Streets. Reduced amounts paid in Business Rates would greatly help this. Another policy I would like to see adopted is that some of the proceeds of council tax are retained by the Local Authority to spend in a way that they think will help regenerate town centres, rather than at present all the proceeds going to the Welsh Government. This would allow local initiatives that would hopefully help local high streets. This policy is already taking place in England, and I would like to see the Welsh Government follow suit.”

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Masks now advised in all secondary schools

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PUPILS across Wales are now being advised to wear facemasks in all communal areas of secondary schools (including playgrounds), colleges and on transport to and from places of learning by the Welsh Government.

Although not compulsory, the new recommendations have been made by ministers to ensure a consistent approach in tackling COVID-19 across Wales.

People picking up and dropping off children are also advised to wear face coverings too to minimise the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.

The new guidance, aimed mainly at secondary schools, which the Education Minister has described as ‘easy to follow’ was announced today and now means that the only spaces where staff and pupils can safely remove their facemasks is in the classroom.

The majority of councils already require secondary pupils and staff to wear masks in corridors and on most school transport with those rules extended to primary pupils too in some areas.

Education minister Kirsty Williams said: “It is vital that young people, parents, adults and the workforce feel confident that all measures are being taken to ensure the educational environments are as safe as possible.

“We have been clear that we will keep every policy under review and will continue to follow scientific advice. The policy we are announcing today does just that”.

The new advice has been recommended by the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group (Tag), which has been looking at the “possibility of wearing face coverings for older age groups in more circumstances, including on public and dedicated transport” and could “even include in the classroom on a risk assessed basis…. balancing benefits with harms to overall wellbeing of students.”

Tag is also looking at how feasible a mass asymptomatic testing programme in schools and colleges could be, the Welsh Government has said it is considering that approach.

Debbie Thomas, Head of Policy at the National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru, said: “Face masks and coverings in communal areas could have serious consequences for Wales’ 2,500 deaf children, almost all of whom rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate.
“Socialising in corridors, break time chats and playground games are all rites of passage, but deaf young people now risk missing out because they can’t understand what others are saying. They’re also more likely to experience loneliness, isolation and bullying.
“Public health is the priority, but schools and colleges must move quickly to introduce reasonable adjustments to help deaf young people during this difficult time.”

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Two day centres to close temporarily as a precaution

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TWO north Pembrokeshire Day facilities for older people and people with learning disabilities are to close temporarily as a precaution following the rise in coronavirus cases in Ceredigion.

Bro Preseli Day Centre in Crymych and Wintern Day Centre, Goodwick, are to close temporarily from tomorrow (Tuesday, November 24).

The decision to close each site will be reviewed regularly.

It is emphasised that there have been no positive cases of Covid-19 detected at either site and the temporary closures have been put in place as a precaution.

 

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North Pembrokeshire schools remain closed

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THE SIX North Pembrokeshire schools which were closed today (Monday, November 23) as a precaution following the increased spread of coronavirus in South Ceredigion, will remain closed tomorrow (Tuesday, November 23).

The Pembrokeshire schools are:

• Ysgol Preseli
• Ysgol y Frenni
• Ysgol Llandudoch
• Ysgol Eglwyswrw
• Ysgol Cilgerran
• Ysgol Clydau.

The Pembrokeshire schools are closed as a precaution as they share services – such as transport – with the Ceredigion schools.

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