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‘All Wales budget needs attention’

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all wales budgetPLAID CYMRU leader Leanne Wood has today expressed disappointment that the Labour Welsh Government has failed three ‘key tests’ in its draft budget. Ms Wood said her party’s three tests include: • An all-Wales budget where communities are not pitted against each other or where a disproportionate concentration is given to one area over another. • Ensuring spending plans are consistent with long-term planning that could ease the pressures on public services in the future. • An approach that aids efforts at tackling youth unemployment and up-skilling for the immediate and longer terms. Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: “On all three tests, I regret to say that as far as Plaid Cymru is concerned the current budget fails.

The decision of the Government to commit all of its future borrowing powers to one project in one corner of the country is ill-judged and is symbolic of its approach to infrastructure investment in this country. The north, the west, the valleys – all parts of our country should feel the benefit of enhanced investment in infrastructure. Plaid Cymru maintains that an all-Wales approach to investment, treating all regions fairly is the best way to ensure we have a nationwide recovery and nationwide prosperity for the long-term.

Plaid Cymru has concerns that in this current period of protracted pressure on public spending, the Government should plan now for future pressures.” Leanne Wood added: “We know more cuts are on the way, regardless of which party ends up leading the UK government after May. In no area is this more pertinent than in that of health and social care. In a previous agreement with the Government, Plaid Cymru ensured investment in social care that not only provides a better quality of care for patients but also strengthened measures that could alleviate pressures on the NHS in the future. This is precisely the approach that should be furthered by the Welsh Government now and Plaid Cymru very much regrets that it has decided not to.

We had confirmation last week of the fact that the so-called economic recovery is not a universal recovery at all, and in Wales we face continuing challenges in terms of under-employment which is increasing and also the disturbing trend in growing youth unemployment. We are all aware of the social as well as economic costs of youth unemployment – now amounting to nearly 25 per cent, and we know the impact spells out of work can have on the skills base and the self-esteem of our young people.

To slash funding in higher education and apprenticeships against such a backdrop is short-sighted and damaging and Plaid Cymru opposes these cuts. Wales deserves at least parity of resources with other parts of the UK. Plaid Cymru has highlighted the £1.2 billion annual price tag of the inequality of funding between Wales and Scotland. Plaid Cymru reiterates the need for us to be treated equally – not special treatment – fair treatment. In the meantime, an all-Wales budget from the Welsh Government is needed but is sadly not forthcoming.”

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Business

St Clears’ McDonald’s opening delayed for a week

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McDonald's sign

THE OPENING of the new 100-seater McDonald’s in St Clears has been delayed by a week. 

The restaurant, which will be built along the main approach road to Pembrokeshire, aimed to open its doors on Wednesday, January 19. 

However, the company has confirmed that the opening has been postponed until Wednesday, January 26. 

The new McDonald’s will join Haverfordwest and Pembroke Dock McDonald’s as the only members of the company located west of Carmarthen. 

It hoped to provide over 80 full and part time jobs due to being open around the clock. They hosted a recruitment day in December 2021. 

The original applications had previously stated that the McDonald’s would be open 24 hours a day. A premises licence application is currently being made to the County Council for the “provision of late-night refreshments” which, if accepted, would allow the restaurant to be open 24 hours a day.

It will open on the opposite side of the road to Travelodge and Starbucks, which replaced the Little Chef restaurant in 2017.

The restaurant was initially going to include a separate building which would have accommodated a Costa Coffee. However, it will now host a Greggs. 

Alongside this, planning permission has been granted separately for a petrol station with six electric charging points.

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Business

Applications for latest Covid-19 business support funding opens

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APPLICATIONS for the latest round of Welsh Government Covid-19 business support funding is now open.

The money is part of a £120m package of support for nightclubs, events, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses and their supply chains, impacted by the move to Alert Level 2.

The Non Domestic Rates (NDR) linked grant is now open.

See https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support/non-domestic-rate-linked-business-grant

To receive the grant, eligible businesses must complete a registration form and the closing date is 5pm on the 14 February 2022.

An eligibility checker for businesses is available at:

https://fundchecker.businesswales.gov.wales/businesssupport?_ga=2.234856926.1944247233.1641292011-360841121.1641292011

The above link also features further information and a series of FAQs about the latest round of support.

Welsh Government has decided that in relation to self-catering accommodation, such properties will not be eligible for the grant unless one of the following criteria are met:

  • the self-catering property can accommodate for 30 people or more or
  • the self-catering accommodation is classed as an outdoor education centre.

A discretionary fund to support sole traders, freelancers and businesses who don’t pay rates, with funding of £500 – £2000, is due to go live on the Council’s business support pages next week.

For more information on business support, see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

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‘Rotten month’ for drivers as retailers refused to pass on petrol price savings

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DECEMBER 2021 was a “rotten” month for drivers as they were taken advantage of by petrol retailers the RAC has claimed.

The RAC told The Herald that despite wholesale prices meriting big cuts at the pumps the average price of petrol in the UK fell by just 2p a litre in December meaning drivers paid £156m more than they should have.

Unleaded dropped from 147.47p a litre to 145.48p when drivers should really have seen prices nearer to 135p “had retailers played fair instead of taking far bigger margins than normal.” The RAC said.

Diesel dropped by just under 2p a litre from 150.80p to 148.92p when drivers should have been paying around 142p. The motoring organisation has claimed.

“Instead of their long-term margin of 6p a litre, retailers took an average of 16p a litre on petrol and 12.5p on diesel in December making forecourt prices far more expensive than they would have been, had retailers not changed their fuel pricing strategy.” The RAC said.

The price of a litre of unleaded on the wholesale market, including delivery, averaged 106p across the month.

“Had a 6p margin been taken drivers would have seen an average petrol pump price of around 135p after applying VAT at 20%.”

“The average wholesale cost of delivered diesel was 112p a litre which, with the usual 6p retailer margin, would have given a pump price of around 142p.”

“This means it has cost petrol car drivers £6 more to fill up a typical 55-litre family car than it should have (£80 v £74) and for diesel nearly £4 more with a tank costing £82 at the end of the month instead of £78.” The motoring organisation said.

The RAC estimates retailers’ refusal to reflect lower wholesale prices at the pumps cost petrol car drivers a huge £156m in December, or the equivalent of £5m a day.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “December was a rotten month for drivers as they were taken advantage of by retailers who rewrote their pump price strategy, costing motorists millions of pounds as a result.”

“Their resistance to cutting prices and to only pass on a fraction of the savings they were making from lower wholesale costs is nothing short of scandalous.”

“The 10p extra retailers have added to their long-term margin of 6p a litre has led to petrol car drivers paying £5m more a day than they previously would have.”

“In the past when wholesale prices have dropped retailers have always done the right thing –eventually – and reduced their pump prices.”

“This time they’ve stood strong, taking advantage of all the media talk about ‘higher energy prices’ and banked on the oil price rising again and catching up with their artificially inflated prices, which it has now done.”

“The trouble is every extra penny they take as margin leads to drivers paying even more as VAT gets added on top at the end of the forecourt transaction.”

“This means the Treasury’s coffers have been substantially boosted on the back of the retailers’ action. We urge ministers to push retailers into doing the right thing for consumers.”

An analysis of RAC Fuel Watch data reveals Asda had the cheapest petrol at the end of the year with a litre costing an average of 141.81p at their stores, with Sainsbury’s not far behind at 142.57p.

Asda also sold the lowest priced diesel at 144.9p a litre ahead of Tesco on 145.8p. The average price of motorway unleaded at the close of December was 160.55p while diesel was higher still at 163.43p.

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