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Secondary schools could close in big education shake up

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School changes: Taskers site could become a new Welsh Medium School

School changes: Taskers site could become a new Welsh Medium School

  • – Five schools could close and be replaced with three new ones, says report

  • – Public meeting and protest planned

THE COUNTY COUNCIL’s plans for the future of education in north and mid-Pembrokeshire will come under the spotlight at an Extraordinary Meeting of the County Council scheduled for Thursday January 29.

If passed by members, the far-reaching plans would see English-medium secondary provision centred at Haverfordwest’s Sir Thomas Picton School’s campus, with significant redevelopment of the site over several years. The report being considered notes: “The merging of the two existing schools on the STP site may result in some disruption during construction phase. However, all reasonable steps will be taken to minimise such disruption.”

The council’s preferred options are set out in Appendix 5 of a 62-page paper prepared by the Council’s Director of Education.

Following on from the Cabinet’s adoption of a Welsh language strategy on January 5, the plan unveils and ambitious scheme to extend the council’s Welsh-medium education provision by the construction of a 3-16 school at the site of Taker Milward in Haverfordwest. The report says that: ‘Provision is feasible on the Tasker Milward site if an English medium school is established on the Sir Thomas Picton site’.

The report states that 3-16 education is becoming more common across Wales, although the authority anticipates resistance to the idea in Haverfordwest, not least from the parents at Ysgol Gymraeg Glan Cleddau.

The construction of a new Welsh medium school accessible to the wider county means that almost all parents who wish their children to be taught through the medium of Welsh will be within a 45 minute journey of such a facility.

As revealed in this paper in November 2013, the plans mean that Pembrokeshire College will take on additional responsibilities in relation to vocational and post-16 education.

The bitterest blow has fallen on Saint Davids, with the school there scheduled for closure while its functions amalgamate in part with Fishguard and in part – for Welsh medium pupils – with a new Welsh education school in Haverfordwest. The report acknowledges fears that the loss of Ysgol Dewi Sant might accelerate the process of turning the city into a place only attractive to older people and not to young families with children.

Ysgol Bro Gwaun, Fishguard, has come well out of the exercise with the Council noting that its site is:  ‘Appropriate for either a refurbishment of existing facilities or a new build’.

The key recommendations are:

Discontinue Sir Thomas Picton School and Tasker Milward VC School and establish a new 11-16 English medium secondary school with additional ALN provision for pupils with complex learning needs on the site of the current Sir Thomas Picton School. Post 16 provision to be provided in a new integrated sixth form centre as part of a formal collaboration between the County Council and Pembrokeshire College, subject to formal governance arrangements being agreed.

Discontinue Ysgol Bro Gwaun and Ysgol Dewi Sant Schools and establish a new 11-16 English medium (with significant use of Welsh ) secondary school with additional ALN provision for pupils with complex learning needs on the site of the current Ysgol Bro Gwaun School. Post 16 provision to be provided in a new integrated sixth form centre as part of a formal collaboration between the County Council and Pembrokeshire College, subject to formal governance arrangements being agreed.

Discontinue Ysgol Gymraeg Glan Cleddau and establish a new 3-16 Welsh medium / bilingual school on the site of the current Tasker Milward VC School. Post 16 provision to be provided at Ysgol y Preseli.

In response to education review proposals Bethan Williams, field officer for Cymdeithas yr Iaith in Dyfed told The Herald: “While it is encouraging that the council will increase Welsh provision by opening a 3-16 school in Haverfordwest we want to know what will be the capacity of the school – will it be big enough from the beginning? There is also the question why there is no provision for the sixth form as part of the recommendations. Why would pupils who have received their whole primary and secondary education in the Haverfordwest area then choose to go all the way to Ysgol y Preseli instead of Pembrokeshire College?”

Ms Williams said: “We also encourage members to reject the euphemism that a new school will be established through amalgamating Ysgol Dewi Sant and Ysgol Bro Gwaun. In all but legal terms it is simply the closure of Ysgol Dewi Sant which will be a severe blow for the local economy. Why not create instead a new two-site school, and use the opportunity to change the language category to create a 2A school which would ensure that all pupils received a significant proportion of teir education through the medium of Welsh? ”

She added: “We urge councillors not to miss out on the opportunity to improve provision in Tenby, where a Welsh primary school will be opened next year and Pembroke Dock where the Welsh unit is full. Welsh secondary provision in Haverfordwest will make very little difference in these areas.”

The decision made by councillors next week will affect education across the county for years to come and it is essential that Welsh education becomes easily available in all parts of the county.”

Public meeting and protest planned

Following the announcement on educational changes by Pembrokeshire County Council, a public meeting has been called for 5pm on Monday, January 26 at City Hall, St Davids, to be chaired by local County Councillor, David Lloyd.

David Haynes, the headteacher of Ysgol Dewi Sant,  has sent a letter home with pupils on Friday (Jan 23) in an attempt to reassure parents that whatever decisions are made about the school, the staff and leadership will focus on their core purpose of providing the best possible education.

A public demonstration is  planned ahead of Thursday extraordinary meeting of full council. Protesters will gather outside County Hall from 8am. The council meeting starts at 9am.

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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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Three arrests as suspected cocaine worth £12,000 seized in Milford Haven

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POLICE in Milford Haven have disrupted the supply of cocaine in the town in a major operation which saw people detained and a large quantity of drugs found.

Three people were arrested and suspected cocaine worth up to £12,200 was seized, police said.

Dyfed-Powys Police carried out a warrant at a house in Hubberston on the evening of Friday, June 11, “where 122g of what is believed to be cocaine was found.”

This is estimated to have a street value of between £9,760 and £12,200 depending on its purity.

The occupant of the address – a 59-year-old man – was not present at the time, however he was later arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

He has been released under investigation pending the result of forensic, digital and financial enquiries.

As enquiries progressed, officers made two further arrests over the weekend.

A 33-year-old man from Manchester, was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and possession of an offensive weapon after police stopped the car he was driving.

A quantity of white powder was seized by Greater Manchester Police during a warrant at the address he gave officers in custody.

A 27-year-old woman from the Stockport area was also arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.

Both have been released on bail with the condition not to enter Pembrokeshire.

Detective Constable Phillip Jones said: “This was a significant drugs seizure, and we will continue our enquiries with the view to securing a swift outcome.

“I would like to thank all officers involved over the weekend for their dedication and diligence.”

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Major blaze destroys well known Tenby chip shop

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EMERGENCY services have sealed off part of Tenby following a major fire at a chip shop.

Fire fighters rushed to Park Road Fish & Chip Shop after a blaze broke out late on Tuesday morning (Jun 15).

Emergency services are still at the scene. Police are asking people to avoid the area.

Diversions for traffic are in place.

Four fire appliances responded to the blaze at the Tenby chip shop (Image G Davies Photography)
Fire fighters take off BA kits after the blaze was put out (Image G Davies Photography)

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