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Shadow Minister speaks

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Owen Smith MP: We must try and maintain high quality jobs

Owen Smith MP: We must try and maintain high quality jobs

AFTER the shock news of the collapse of the Murco takeover deal, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales joined local councillor Paul Miller to meet with Herald Deputy Editor Jon Coles and discuss the buyout’s traumatic failure. With rumour and counter-rumour swirling about the cause for the Klesch Group’s abortive acquisition of the refinery, we asked Owen Smith about what had gone wrong. He told us: “My understanding is that this is a problem that has occurred on behalf of the buyer in this group, Klesch Group. The buyer couldn’t come through with a deal now.

That’s what the unions at the plant told us; that’s what the management at the plant we met today told us at the plant. I will take their word that is the case.” Rejecting ideas that either the UK or Welsh Governments were at fault, Owen Smith pointed out the generous funding arrangements that both governments had made and told us: “Governments at both ends of the M4 have been doing all they could to make sure that the funding that they were going to provide was in place We will want to get to the bottom of what went wrong and I am going to be writing to David Cameron and to Stephen Crabb as to why Klesch didn’t come through.”

Acknowledging the shattering effect on the economy, Owen Smith said: “The deal’s failure is a devastating blow for this community. These are high quality jobs, well-paying jobs and they will not be replaced easily. There are wider implications for the entire Pembrokeshire economy and the West Wales economy.” Owen Smith was hopeful that all parties would strive to put steps in place to soften the impact of the blow: “The Welsh Government – Carwyn Jones, Edwina Hart and others – will absolutely put their shoulder into the wheel.

They will be under no illusions as to how important this closure would be. They know precisely the nature of the economy in Pembrokeshire and I they can be relied on to do or within their power to make sure whatever happens. “We must try and maintain high quality jobs in this area. Westminster has to play its part. The Westminster parliament is a government for Pembrokeshire as well in London, and we need to make sure that they understand their role. A very large amount of money was supposed to come from the government in Westminster to support the takeover bid. We now to make sure that the UK Government plays a full part not only in supporting those workers who may lose their jobs, but also trying to replace those jobs.

Warming to his theme, he continued: “We need to make sure that we pull out all the stops on this because, I say again: these jobs are so important for this community; established jobs; high skilled jobs; high paid jobs. Whether the government is Labour or Tory, we’ve got to do all we can to try and make sure that the bits of Britain at the fringes, a long way from London and the south-east, don’t have to see our children, our sons and daughters leave to find good work when it could be right here, on our doorsteps.” On the broader elements of how to sustain jobs in primary industries, Owen Smith was clear as to where he saw Labour’s priorities lying: “There are key things that governments need to do in order to support industry especially in more peripheral parts of Britain.

“The next Labour government, in my view, will have to have a really solid infrastructure plan, but more importantly a very strong industrial strategy. I think you could argue that successive governments have not had a powerful enough industrial strategy, especially for key industries like refining, steel and chemicals. We need to get back to that. We need to get back to supporting manufacturing jobs – jobs in high skilled, perhaps old, but still vital industries. Those are the jobs that we have got in communities like Milford Haven.

They’re some of the jobs we’ve got in steel producing areas of Britain and they are still going to be hugely important part of our industrial mix for the next twenty years, more hopefully. “We need to be looking into the jobs for the future but we also need to remember what we have got now and what governments can do right now to make sure that we maintain and sustain those industries and those jobs.” Paul Miller put a personal perspective on the collapse of the refinery deal: “My family’s been supported by that particular site for the last few decades. My brother still works there; so I know just how important that site is and just how difficult a period it is for the families working there.

“I want to make absolutely sure that everyone on the Labour front bench being in Cardiff or Westminster are under no illusions of how important this site is, how important those jobs are and how difficult a period this is going to be for the Pembrokeshire economy. No stone must be left unturned in finding the solution for this particular problem. “I’m delighted that Owen accepted the invitation to come to see what was happening on the ground. We needed to hear from management and from staff about what’s going on and if there’s anything at all we can do to help them.”

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Pembroke Dock: Two in hospital following Fort Road car accident

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EMERGENCY SERVICES dealt with what has been described by a witness as a “horrific car accident” in the Pembroke Dock area on Wednesday night (Jun 12).

A 23-year-old woman, driving a black BMW, travelled down Fort Road at speed, hit a low wall, catapulting the vehicle some considerable distance across a picnic area. The vehicle ended up irreparably damaged on the beach – which was luckily not in use at the time – landing next to the old Cambridge Gun Tower.

No other vehicles seem to have been involved, police said.

The driver has been arrested but remains in hospital, one passenger is in a critical but stable condition, in Cardiff, and a second passenger sustained only minor injuries.

A spokesperson for Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at 10.45pm on Wednesday night (Jun 23), to reports of a road traffic accident near the Fort Road car park in Pembroke Dock.

“We attended the scene with one rapid response vehicle, two emergency ambulances and our Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

“Two people were taken to University Hospital Wales, Cardiff for further treatment.”

The police are appealing in the media for information following the crash.

An official statement from the police reads as follows: “We were called to Fort Road, Pembroke Dock, at around 10.45pm on Wednesday night to reports of a single-vehicle collision. Ambulance and fire service also attended.

“A 19-year-old man was taken to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff and remains in a critical but stable condition.

“A second passenger attended hospital for minor injuries but has since been discharged. A 23-year-old woman was arrested, and currently remains in hospital.

“Anyone who witnessed the collision but who has not yet spoken to us should get in touch by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, visiting our website, or calling 101.

UPDATE: 24.06.2021, 15:47HRS

On Thursday (Jun 24) said that the female who was arrested was de-arrested because of the need for medical treatment, and is “no longer under arrest at this time.”

The police also added that their investigation was “still active”.

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Pembrokeshire call handler helps deliver Llanelli couple’s new baby

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A 999 CALL HANDLER from Pembrokeshire has helped deliver a Llanelli couple’s baby.

Father-of-two Chris Bassett, from Hook, answered the call from the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, and whose instructions on loudspeaker enabled the pair to deliver their 8lb 1oz new arrival safely.

Thanks to Chris, Troy Smith, 34, and partner Abigail Jones, 33, delivered baby Arabella Dilys Smith in the bedroom of their Llanelli home.

Troy said: “I’ve never felt adrenaline like it but I knew I had to focus on the situation for Abigail and the baby’s sake.

“It all happened so quickly, but Chris’ voice on the other end of the phone kept us calm.”

Abigail, a teacher at Ysgol Carreg Hir in Briton Ferry, went into labour at around 10.00pm on Thursday, June 3, and made a trip to hospital, where nurses confirmed she was in the early stages.

The couple returned to their Pwll home, but their soon-to-be daughter had other ideas.

Troy said: “At around 4.30am, Abigail developed a lot of pain and said she had an urge to push.

“I thought, ‘Right, this is happening’ and phoned an ambulance because I knew I’d be delivering the baby right there and then.”

It was Chris, a former RAF Aerospace Systems Operator, who picked up the call in the early hours of Friday, June 4.

The 29-year-old, who has been with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 18 months, said: “As soon as I answered the call, it was obvious that Troy and Abigail were in distress, as anyone would be in that situation.

“The priority was to get Abigail in a comfortable position to deliver the baby safely.

“For me, it was about giving them clear instructions while trying to keep them both calm.”

Troy added: “I just did what came naturally. When you’re in that situation, you just do it.

“As soon as Arabella came, I felt this wave of relief and I just couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was.

“Chris was so professional and handled the situation really well.

“He gave us all the information and kept us calm.”

Ambulance crews arrived soon after, and took Abigail to Carmarthen’s Glangwili General Hospital, where she was treated for shock before being discharged the following day.

Abigail said: “The whole thing was petrifying because I just never expected to be having the baby at home, but we’re so grateful to Chris for helping us to deliver Arabella safely.”

Chris added: “In your role as a 999 call handler, you’re helping people in their darkest hour, but I’m just glad this call had a happy ending.

“This is the third baby I’ve helped to deliver during my time at the ambulance service, but the first one I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”

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Covid causes partial school closure at Haverfordwest High VC

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A PARTIAL school closure is in force today at Haverfordwest High VC school after a pupil in year 9 has tested positive for coronavirus.

All students in year 9 must stay at home , isolate and await further instruction while the school completes all of the necessary Track and Trace processes.

In a statement released by the school, they said: “We have been informed that a Year 9 pupil has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We wish them a speedy recovery.

“As a precautionary measure and to enable us to complete all of the necessary Track and Trace processes, the school will be closed to Year 9 Pupils today.

“The school remains open to all other year groups.

“Until further notice, Year 9 students should stay at home and isolate until further instructions are given. Lessons for all other year groups will continue as usual. Unless your child is in Year 9 they should attend school.”

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