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Rowlands criticises ‘negativity’ about council

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Ambitions for Johnston: Ken Rowlands.

Ambitions for Johnston: Ken Rowlands.

AN OUTSPOKEN email from Johnston Councillor Ken Rowlands to other County Councillors, in which he engaged in wide ranging criticism of perceived bias on the part of this newspaper and the negative’ approach of several councillors, was recently sent to The Herald. In a noisy member’s room at County Hall, our Assistant Editor Jon Coles met with Ken Rowlands.

Their conversation was wide-ranging and, in its course, Cllr Rowlands made a number of observations and trenchant criticisms both of media coverage of the scandals that have engulfed County Hall and his fellow councillors: “In local politics, I would say that national parties are redundant. Constituency parties have to be ‘on message’, and that message might have little to do with local communities. In 2008, I had been assured by the Labour Welsh Government that a new road, which was desperately needed, would be built. When it became clear that promise was to be broken I could not remain. My critics say I joined the Independent Group that I once criticised. That is wrong. When I joined the council, I had little time for the then executive group.

But that group changed, there was a real sense of working together across parties. The executive became much more inclusive and there was more camaraderie here. I was able to speak to people and get things done. What has happened since then, especially since 2012, is that things have been more confrontational. Nobody could really disagree that the executive should be held to account, but to be negative, negative, negative and not also say what is right is just wrong. The people have been wound up to feel that the Council is not representing them properly.

I honestly think that the whole picture is not being put before the people of Pembrokeshire. Some councillors are following a national political agenda and not serving Pembrokeshire. I am afraid that local issues are being used to further national political ends.” We put it to Cllr Rowlands that he had to accept that criticisms were justified, both in the light of events that had been brought to light and other issues that arose in the course of the last eighteen months: “I think what is tending to happen is that there has been a concerted effort among certain people who are rather negative and that those who have only the interests of Pembrokeshire and its people at heart have not responded to those criticisms as they should have done.

You are not arguing not only with another a member, but with another member and his blog followers and other members with their relationship to other media. Add all those together and it becomes bias. I am not making excuses, there were problems that had to be addressed. But if you look across Wales and the UK, there are other places where matters have been really unacceptable but they have not been criticised in the same way.

I am not saying there was not any reason for these criticisms, there have been some positive results. But there has no regard been given to the efforts of staff across Pembrokeshire to address these issues.” His departure from the Education brief in April has been the cause of a great deal of comment on social media and around County Hall. One version of events has Cllr Rowlands fuming at being removed from the Cabinet. His take on events is somewhat different: “When I left the Cabinet, we had been under a great deal of pressure during a period of upheaval in the County’s education and a corner had been turned.

The whole of our authority – officers, staff, and members – had worked closely together to change the situation. It had been a heavy period of time and when I came to the time I stood down, both Jamie and I felt I was unwell and we agreed I should take a back seat for a while. That does not mean that I will take a back seat forever!” We concluded by speaking about his own ward: “The Community Council and I are hoping to have meetings with Johnston Sports Association and other Village Stakeholders in the near future. The Community Council, with other organisations within the village, work closely together in order to enhance village amenities and we would be pleased to show the press that we have worked well together during this period of austerity. We have bucked the trend during difficult times.”

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Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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