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Shadow Education Minister Responds to Western Mail ‘Nonsense’.

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AngelaBurnsSpeaking exclusively to the Pembrokeshire Herald, Shadow Education Minister and Pembrokeshire South Carmarthen West AM, Angela Burns, hit back at the Cardiff based Western Mail, which ran a critical article about her children’s school placement.

The Western Mail’s feature questioned, via a political source as they put it, Mrs Burns decision to send both of her children to a Cardiff based school rather than a ‘local’ Pembrokeshire School. However, Mrs Burns has responded by pouring scorn upon their ‘political source’, claiming that when she had pressed the newspaper reporter at the Western Mail further it was clear that their article had been based on just this one contributor alone, rather than from a number of sources. She went on to explain to the Herald,

“ I was initially contacted by the Mail who indicated it was regarding an issue of office hours. It transpired they wished to speak about my children. He (the Western Mail reporter) stated that ‘people’ had told him that my children were not being educated locally (in Pembrokeshire). He went on to say it was on my Facebook page.”

The Assembly member then pointed out that actually she did not have a current Facebook page and had not used the social network for nearly two years. Responding to the Western Mail’s criticism of her decision she said,

“ This isn’t really a new story anyway. My children moved up with me to Cardiff a year and a half ago and they now go to a local state primary school, not a private school, in the next village to where we reside when in Cardiff. The alternative would be for them to stay in Cosheston, our home in Pembrokeshire”.

The minister went on to explain the issues with her children remaining in Pembrokeshire whilst she worked away four days a week in Cardiff:

“In the first term of the Assembly I was in Cardiff for maybe two days a week, but now it is for four days a week. If they remained in Cosheston they would just see me at weekends. As my husband is also busy with several jobs it would mean employing a nanny for most probably three to four days a week. We talked to our children, aged seven and ten, and they made the decision that they wanted to be with Mum all week. They are two young girls who need their Mum, even more so as they get older, and this way (by moving them to Cardiff in the week), we don’t need a nanny and they spend more time with mum and dad. They want a normal ‘mum’ to do ‘normal’ mummy stuff, and now with more responsibility this term, I am working four days a week in Cardiff over forty-three to forty- four weeks a year over a five year term. I didn’t want to miss them growing up and, though I am really priviliged to represent my constituency, I don’t want to do it at the expense of my children.They are young for such a short time and it isn’t like my husband could take on the role, so a nanny would have been needed, which is not an ideal situation. It (working away from home) can take a toll on a family and I didn’t want it to happen to my family”.

Mrs Burns also pointed out to the Herald that, as she works and lives in Cardiff, as well as in Pembrokeshire, her children were attending schools for which she contributes. She questioned the motives of the Western Telegraph, by stating, “If I were male or in Westminster, where it is common practice for MPs’ families to move with the MP, I don’t think they would have been so critical.”

Angela Burns also explained the system whereby AMs are able to work away from home in Cardiff.

“ We have the right to a second home and we have an allowance provided by the Assembly. It is seven hundred pounds a month and from this we pay our rent, council tax, electricity, etc. I actually rent a house for nine hundred pounds a month and I personally pay the difference.”

She hinted that the Western Mail may have another agenda, as she believes they are an anti-Assembly paper, and suggested that other Assembly members, and the Assembly, have been unfairly criticised in the past.

“I have been touched by all the support I’ve had (since the Western Mail article) from Labour, Plaid, the Liberals and Cabinet ministers who have all said what a load of nonsense this is. This all stemmed from one person!”.

Earlier this year the Western Mail wrote articles criticising the Welsh Government’s refurbishment of its Ty Hywell building in Cardiff Bay, as well as highlighting their alleged shortcomings in how grants are awarded.

 

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Heatherton expansion approved

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• Committee overturns officers’ objections

• Economic benefits outweigh other impacts

Conditions must not delay development

THE COUNCIL’s Planning Committee voted to approve plans to extend holiday accommodation at Heatherton at its meeting on Tuesday (June 15).

Officers recommended refusal of the plans.

During their discussions, the Committee’s members noted the reasons for refusal detailed by the planning report. They concluded, however, with appropriate conditions in place, the economic benefits of the development outweighed the bases outlined for refusal.

Addressing the meeting, the applicant, Charlie Davies, told Committee members that the changing holiday market meant Heatherton and the area around it would miss out on opportunities to meet the demand for holidays in Pembrokeshire. He added that the planned expansion – to include a further twenty holiday lodges – would secure year-round jobs at Heatherton and have a positive impact on the local rural economy.

Mr Davies said the existing lodge development, approved by the authority seven years ago, improved the viability of Heatherton as an enterprise and would further strengthen the business’ finances.

Officers objected to the plans because they said the development would be outside settlement boundaries and run contrary to environmental policy. 

The report, presented by the Head of Planning David Popplewell, set out a series of concerns regarding the lodges’ visual impact, a lack of screening, and the lack of detail about landscaping plans and construction controls during development.

However, addressing the Committee as one of the local members whose Ward would be affected by the development, Cllr Phil Kidney said St Florence Community Council vigorously supported the application as being of direct benefit to businesses in the village. 

He pointed out that the economic benefits were not only Tenby centric but affected businesses elsewhere in the County.

Phil Kidney told the Committee his visit to a laundry in Pembroke Dock, by chance, revealed that laundry he delivered would be delayed because of laundry being done for the accommodation already on site. 

Cllr Kidney added that, bearing in mind the current furore over second homes, the provision of holiday accommodation on sites such as Heatherton could reduce the demands on local housing and open-up opportunities for local people to live locally.

He fully endorsed the proposal and said he could see no downside to permitting further expansion of a business that delivered jobs to local people, especially young people entering the jobs market for the first time.

Cllr Jonathan Preston agreed with Cllr. Kidney. 

He observed that the regulations regarding what constituted ‘a caravan’ were out of date and out of touch with reality. 

Although the proposed lodges were technically caravans; they were a world away from what most people would expect a caravan to look like and beyond the vision that informed the current rules regarding the term.

Cllr Mark Carter said the problems identified in the planning report could be addressed through the imposition of conditions on the development to offset them.

Mark Carter pointed out issues regarding the detail of landscaping works and lighting could be subject to conditions drafted by officers.

His opinion was warmly welcomed by both Cllrs David Pugh and Vice-Chair Tony Wilcox.

David Pugh said Heatherton was a successful business, employing local people and should be encouraged to continue to offer job opportunities for locals.

Tony Wilcox said Heatherton was one of the three main jewels in Pembrokeshire’s tourist crown. 

He noted the other two destinations – Folly Farm and Bluestone – both recently applied to extend their facilities, and he could see little or no difference between what Heatherton proposed and what officers were prepared to accept elsewhere.

Cllr Tim Evans developed Cllr Wilcox’s theme, observing that officers barely raised an eyebrow about a further eighty pieces of holiday accommodation at Bluestone, which he said had ‘whizzed through’. 

Subject to conditions being brought back to the Committee, he fully supported the application.

Cllr Jacob Williams, Chair of Planning, asked whether the proposed conditions would be back before the Committee for its next meeting in July. 

Having received an equivocal answer he moved that if the Committee approved the scheme, with the proposed planning conditions to offset officers’ objections must come before the Committee on July 27.

Cllr Pugh endorsed that approach by saying nobody wanted the proposal kicked into the long grass.

Councillors approved the plans unanimously by 14 votes to nil, and officers must prepare conditions to attach to the planning permission ahead of the Committee’s next meeting.

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Milford Haven: Christmas cosmetics thief caged

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A MIDLANDS shop lifter caught stealing £2200 worth of cosmetics and skin care products from Boots in Milford Haven just before Christmas, has been jailed.

Magistrates sitting at Haverfordwest Court on Tuesday (Jun 15) accepted a guilty plea from 53-year-old Ion-Gabriel Maimut of Perrott Street, Birmingham.

He was jailed for what the bench described as “offending so serious because the defendant has a flagrant disregard for people and their property.

“And because of the high degree of planning and the high value of the theft.

“And because the theft was aggravated by the defendant’s record of previous offending.”

Maiumut, bang-to-rights, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to a single theft of goods from Boots to the value of £2204.91 on December 4, 2020.

The court confirmed that the defendant’s guilty plea was considered when imposing sentence.

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Blue Gem Wind begins digital aerial surveys for 300MW Valorous floating wind project

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BLUE GEM WIND, the joint venture between TotalEnergies, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and Simply Blue Energy, has begun offshore digital aerial surveys for a proposed 300MW floating wind project.

APEM Ltd have been chosen by Blue Gem Wind to deliver 24 consecutive monthly bird and marine mammal surveys of the early-commercial scale Valorous site. The high resolution data obtained will support baseline environmental characterisation of the site and environmental impact assessments for key ecological receptors.

The survey programme commenced in March 2021 and four of the 24 monthly surveys have been completed
to date.

Sean Evans, Environmental Specialist at Blue Gem Wind said, “It is important for us to begin long-lead in items
such as bird and marine mammal surveys as early as possible. These surveys will provide crucial species specific
data on the number, spatial distribution and activity of individuals across the Valorous site. This enables us to
undertake robust environmental impact assessments ahead of our planned consent application submission in
2023.”

Matt Rohner, Senior Consultant at APEM, “APEM Ltd are delighted to be able to support Blue Gem Wind’s
proposed Valorous offshore wind farm with our best-in-class survey design approach. Imagery captured using
state-of-the-art cameras is of ultra-high (1.6cm) resolution, providing industry leading image quality that is
essential for species level identification.”

The Celtic Sea is poised to play a key role in Net Zero, the Committee on Climate Change’s 100GW offshore
wind target, and crucially, the UK Government’s target of 1 GW of floating wind by 2030. The ORE Catapult also
estimated that the first GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea could potentially deliver over 3,000 jobs and
£682m in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030.

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