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‘Time to focus on employment’ says minister

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edwina hartEDWINA HART MBE made a statement on behalf of the Welsh Government regarding Murco Refinery: The minister said: “I am today, as agreed, updating Members on Murco Refi nery following my statement last week. This is a diffi cult time for the employees of the company, their families and the wider community in Pembrokeshire. We now need to focus on doing all we can maximise the opportunities for employment at the site, and ensure the employment and skills are retained for the future prosperity of the region.

Yesterday I chaired a meeting of the Murco task force. We discussed a range of issues, including support for the Murco employees and contractors, business support, the role of Enterprise Zones, and issues with connectivity and transport. In terms of support for the employees, we will of course provide support for those facing redundancy through our React programmes. I have been asked by the task force to consider the use of the ProAct scheme which has been used to great effect in the past, and I have instructed offi cials to consider the proposal and provide me with further advice.

We will also be working with the CBI and other business leaders to on opportunities across the sector to bring employers together with prospective employees. We will therefore be holding a series of events, starting with a “Jobs fayre” event on December 10 at the Bridge Innovation Centre. We have taken immediate measures to ensure that the Apprentices on site can continue their learning pathway.

I am very grateful to Valero for agreeing to offer placements to all of the Murco apprentices onto their excellent apprenticeship programme so they can maintain their studies. The task force will also be taking forward a work programme that maximises the skills and training activities on site to support both the employers and the wider contractor workforce with opportunities to up-skill so that that they are able to transfer their skills and enter new sectors. I will be working the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology to take this work forward. We will also continue to support business growth in the area. Business Wales will offer an enhanced service from their Pembroke Dock offi ces and will be providing an additional presence on the high-street to ensure that we provide advice and support to local businesses to explore new markets and for those wishing to set up in business.

I will be introducing a special round of the Welsh Economic Growth Fund that will be open to support businesses in creating and safeguarding employment in Pembrokeshire. That £3 million fund will sit alongside a £500,000 new round of the SME Growth Fund that I am committing to, aimed at supporting smaller and microsized companies to maximise the employment and growth opportunities in the region. We will of course be exploring the use of European monies to meet our goals and be working with the UK Government to consider the use of the EU’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund. The energy sector is integral to the economic fabric of the local area and is a specifi c priority of the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone.

Today I am announcing the appointment of Mr Stan McIlvenny OBE as the new Chair of Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone. Mr McIlvenny is the current Chief Executive and Company Secretary of Port of Waterford Company, and brings a wealth of experience and expertise in the port sector across shipping, logistics, warehousing, rail and fl eet transport. Mr McIlvenny will take up this position with immediate effect and will Chair tomorrow’s meeting of the Enterprise Zone Board.I know Mr McIIvenny will be keen to give early consideration to the boundaries of the Zone and the opportunities it can deliver in light of the Murco announcement.

I am also keen that we look at how we enhance connectivity within the area to promote business opportunities. I have specifi cally accelerated the Superfast Cymru project to bring early benefi ts to the Haven Enterprise Zone. Good progress is already being made with nearly 23,000 premises in the area already able to receive superfast broadband services. We are also fi nalising the details of how we can provide additional telecommunications support to businesses in Enterprise Zones, and the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology will be making an announcement on this later in the month. In terms of transport links, I have been asked by the task force to consider the issue of the duallling of the A40.

I have instructed my offi cials to accelerate, to the full extent possible, the programme for delivering improvements at Llandewi Velfrey. I have also asked my offi cials to conduct further, urgent work, to explore additional ways to improve the A40, including the potential for dualling. This work will be complete within 6 months. As a government we are determined to do everything in our power to support the workforce and the local economy of Pembrokeshire and will explore every avenue with the company and partners to maximise the economic opportunities for the region. As part of this, I have decided to enhance the Memberships of the task force to bring in additional expertise.

I have asked Roger Evans MBE to Chair the task force. Roger is Managing Director and Plant Director at Schaeffl er and is a member of the St Athan and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone Board. I am grateful to Roger for agreeing to take up this challenge. I know his years of experience in the sector and personal commitment will provide to drive this agenda forward at pace. I have also asked Emma Watkins, Director of CBI Wales to join the group. Emma’s background and expertise will help us link in with anchor companies across Wales. Roger and Emma will work alongside the existing membership of the task force, which includes representatives from Murphy Oil Corporation, Murco, Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire College, Unite the Union, and the Welsh and UK Governments.

I am grateful for their work to date. The task force will focus on delivery: delivery of a package of support and assistance for those affected and delivery of interventions to support the economic growth of the area. We will continue to provide advice and support for the workforce through our delivery partners and I have asked the task force to extend that support mechanism to the contractor network. We must ensure that all of those affected have the right information and skills to make the diffi cult choices ahead of them. The wider Murco workforce is highly skilled and has an excellent reputation and we will work with businesses partners in Wales and further to identify new employment opportunities for those affected by redundancy.”

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Pembrokeshire Leisure welcomes back school swimming

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PEMBROKESHIRE Leisure is welcoming back school swimming lessons around the county for the first time since March 2020.

Swimmers from over 20 schools will be attending in their class bubbles to enjoy learning vital water competency skills in Pembrokeshire Leisure’s six swimming pools.

In a county which is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coastline, being safe in and around water is a potentially life-saving skill.

The programme of school swimming lessons helps to achieve the Welsh national priority that every child is a swimmer by the time they leave primary school.

The National Curriculum requirement which has been designed in line with this is that every key stage 2 child should be able to:

  • Swim 25 metres with clothes on (shorts and t-shirt), then tread water for 30 seconds and demonstrate an action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P)
  • Demonstrate a shout and signal action to attract attention.

The first school to return was Ysgol Glannau Gwaun at Fishguard Leisure Centre and there are now 20 primary schools which will be attending swimming lessons around Pembrokeshire.

On Monday 14 th June, Coastlands County Primary School attended and their Head Teacher Sonja Groves said: “We are delighted to finally get back to swimming after such a long time away. The children were so happy to be back in the water learning and enjoying. Swimming is a vital life skill which helps to keep the children of Pembrokeshire safe in and around all types of water.”

Leisure Services Manager Gary Nicholas said: “It is fantastic to be able to safely welcome back school swimming to our facilities. Primary school aged children have missed over a years’ worth of swimming lessons and Pembrokeshire Leisure are committed to supporting the aim of every child a swimmer by age 11.

“We will continue to do this by delivering quality school swimming lessons following the Swim Wales Nofio Ysgol programme, using the Free Swimming Initiative to provide targeted sessions for the most deprived swimmers and by continuing to provide swimming lessons at all sites in our Learn to Swim programme.”

For more information about how you can book your child swimming lessons and support their journey to becoming a competent swimmer, contact your local leisure centre.

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Landmarc flies the flag at local training camp to celebrate Armed Forces Week

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TO CELEBRATE Armed Forces Week 2021 and the contribution made by local military personnel, Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) has raised the Armed Forces Day flag at Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire.

Following an unprecedented year for the UK’s troops as they responded to the challenges raised by the pandemic, Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), wanted to extend an extra special thank you, by flying the official Armed Forces Day flag at military training estates across the UK, including local camp, Castlemartin.

Landmarc employees were joined by Armed Forces personnel and staff from DIO to witness the raising of the flag, where it will fly proudly until Armed Forces Week comes to a close on the 28th of June.

This Armed Forces Week, Landmarc has pledged its support and sponsorship of Team Emotive in its mission to complete one of the world’s most difficult ocean rowing challenges – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – all in the name of raising money for mental health charity, Veterans at Ease.

Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, including one Landmarc employee, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally. 23 rd June 2021

In addition, Landmarc has also announced its official partnership with the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, working together to support veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc, comments: “Each year, every one of us at Landmarc gives thanks to our troops during this special week. As part of the 25 per cent of veterans and reservists that make up Landmarc’s workforce, I know first- hand how important this event is for morale within the Forces community.

“It’s always fantastic to see so many people and organisations come together each year for Armed Forces Week, but the events of the last fifteen months have heightened our gratitude. The efforts from our servicemen and women have been immense and impossible to ignore in the nation’s fight against COVID-19; with our own staff working alongside the military to support the demands of the training estate as it hosts troops from across the country.”

For more information on Landmarc Support Services, please visit www.landmarcsolutions.com.

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Endurance runner tackles Pembrokeshire Coast

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ENDURANCE runner Sean Conway has successfully completed his epic series of marathons in the UK’s National Parks.

On Thursday, June 17, Sean tackled the Pembrokeshire coast, running from Newport to Dinas Head and back, fuelled by sports nutrition brand ‘Grenade’.

Sean, who is from North Wales, has ran the length of Britain before but says this was the longest stretch of days where he has had to constantly do a marathon every day.

Speaking of his run in Newport, Sean said: “It was so hilly. Honestly, the weather was amazing. It wasn’t too hot and there were some nice views along the way. At Dinas Head, it was amazing looking down at the lagoons and there are some amazing rock formations.”

He took six hours to complete his marathon but there was little time for recovery as he moved on to his final run in Snowdonia the day after.

“This was my second-last marathon so my body was feeling pretty battered and I’ve had to do it fully self-supported so I was doing one run out then back to the car and then out again”, Sean added.

“With covid we’ve all been staying at home more so I wanted to show off how amazing the National Parks are.

“There will be more of us visiting as restrictions are eased but we don’t want to ruin it by being silly.”

Sean was provided with his nutrition for the runs by Grenade and he said he ‘would not have been able to survive without them’.

In the morning he would have an energy drink which contained vitamins and electrolites and he would also mix this in with his water for some of his runs.

Sean would also have protein bars to give him an extra boost as he tried to keep on top of his protein intake.

“Pembrokeshire was so scenic. When I announced the runs this was the run that stood out online and I was really looking forward to doing it. We’ll definitely be coming back soon” Sean concluded.

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