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MPs should be ‘a bloody nuisance’

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simon hart

A nuisance: Simon Hart

SIMON HART arrives for his interview with the air of a man eager to get cracking with business. That does not, however, stop him from taking time to chat about his experiences as a surveyor in and around Tenby and the deep connection he feels to his home locality. With a message sent on his mobile phone to explain he would be late for his next stop on a journey that had seen him visit a trampoline factory in Pembroke Dock before heading to The Herald offices and then off to visit Llawhaden, he gives the impression of being a man constantly active and on the move.

The same habits permeate his speech: he is, by turn, measured and bubbling with infectious enthusiasm as he warms to a subject. We start off with a subject featured in last Friday’s edition of The Herald. A couple of weeks ago, our columnist Badger offered an assessment of how the local seats in the coming election would pan out. In that column he described Mr Hart, whose chances he did not fancy, “a humane and committed constituency MP of a type becoming increasingly rare at Westminster”.

Badger’s words were met with correspondence from those who wished to draw attention to their contention that Mr Hart’s past as Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance made the word “humane”, at best, moot. That correspondence was featured, as was Badger’s somewhat pithy response. Mr Hart said: “I am interested that those who are opposed to hunting are those who appear to be obsessed about it and are constantly raising it.

“My priorities in my constituency are, I hope, basically the same as everyone else: jobs, housing, health, the future of Withybush. Of course, I have never made any secret about what I did before I was an MP.I am proud to have been associated with a 200 year old Pembrokeshire institution – the South Pembs Hunt. So, I have no problems. People must make their own judgements and if they found what I did before I was an MP too much to stomach, then I have to live with that.”

He continued: “The usual thing you hear about MP’s is that we are all the same and nobody knows what anyone stands for. I personally think that voters these days would prefer to vote for somebody who has beliefs and opinions and is prepared to stand by them. “It was not my party who spent 700 hours of parliamentary time debating hunting. In this Parliament not a single hour of debate has been devoted to the issue. I am not going to be accused of devoting time to a subject which, as I say, I never raised and which I never would have raised.”

We asked Mr Hart whether he was optimistic about the prospects for economic regeneration in his parliamentary constituency. He said: “I’m always somebody with a positive demeanour. Entering 2015, and trying to be realistic about the obstacles some families face, I am immensely proud of the fact that we have great businesses around here. Some of them are long-standing and some of them relatively new. This morning, I was at Atlantic trampolines in Pembroke Dock, who have sold 50,000 trampolines over the last few years and are selling their goods across the UK and worldwide.

“There is a lot to be positive about with small and medium-sized business opening up: the manufacture of the ZANO drone based at the BIC, in Pembroke Dock, puts us at the forefront of new and developing technologies. The lists of these new businesses is endless.” Simon Hart paused to take a sip of tea and continued: “It is fantastic we are seeing unemployment fall in the area. I hate it when people talk about jobs in tourism as “not proper jobs”.

If you are working on that caravan site or in that hotel, earning your own money and spending it in your community: that’s a proper job. I did that once and I think it is condescending of people to suggest that they are not proper jobs.” Looking at the loss of manufacturing jobs, at Murco and Cambrian Windows, Mr Hart acknowledged the challenges but remained upbeat: “There are career prospects in the County: I don’t want it to seem that I am looking at things through rose-tinted spectacles. There are a signifi cant number of new jobs being created and maintained. People are fi nding Pembrokeshire is a very good place to do business.”

In terms of what he has done for his constituents he replied: “My ambition is to provide a voice for people that they otherwise would not have. I like sticking up for the small guy. I think the role of an MP is become a bloody nuisance on behalf of people in need of help. “If that means knocking on the doors of the Welsh Government, the County Council and the Health Board, so be it. I know that there are times when the phone rings at County Hall when people go ‘oh no not him again’. Good!”

Moving on to discuss Withybush Hospital and the actions of the Health Board in respect of health services within Pembrokeshire, Simon Hart was very clear: “My frustration with Hywel Dda, and that should indicate how I feel about it, is that its communication is poor. It does not think it communicates either its intentions or its decisions effectively, either its staff or the public. This creates an information void which can be alarming.”

Visibly warming to a subject upon which he has campaigned vociferously, Mr Hart continued: “We need to know what the longterm is and whether the Board sees a future for Withybush. Without that we cannot plan for our families or our businesses. “One thing the Board says is an issue is recruitment, and it has blamed a lot of things for that being a problem for it, but the real issue affecting recruitment is the lack of certainty about Withybush’s future.

How does the Board think it will attract professionals to Pembrokeshire if nobody knows whether the jobs on offer are permanent? “The Board has created a selffulfi lling position for itself in recruitment. Until we have certainty about the future of the hospital for the next ten or fifteen years, we are still going to encounter that problem.”

Discussing the Welsh Government’s role in the NHS, Simon Hart expressed concerns that the Welsh NHS had not had its funding protected in the same way as the NHS in England. Speaking of a meeting he had the previous day with Mark Drakeford he said: “Mark Drakeford made some sensible points about the treatment of patients, but it worries me that the budget has been cut and that the public is losing confidence in the NHS.

“In relation to comparisons between the performance of the NHS in England and Wales, Mark Drakeford said that comparisons were unfair, and then proceeded to make some to illustrate his argument. “Whether it is true or not, people believe that the Welsh NHS is not as good and it has a signifi cant economic impact on Wales. We are trying to encourage people to come to Wales with their businesses and families, and the negative perception of the Welsh NHS is discouraging them.” The Herald will reveal part two of this interview next week.

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Community

Library reservations service expanded

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S Library Service has extended its reservation service.

Customers can place up to two reservations for books and audiobooks, which are available and in stock at libraries in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Narberth, Newport, Neyland, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Saundersfoot and Tenby.

Items are also available to reserve from the service’s Stack (store).

Library members can place reservations free of charge, in person or via the online catalogue.

To access the online catalogue, log on to https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture and select ‘Find Library Books’.

Customers can also place a request for an item not currently in stock, to be purchased as one of their two reservations.

The Library Service is not offering an Interlibrary Loan service at the present time.

For details on the library services currently offered in Pembrokeshire, please view https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture

 

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Community

Extra police patrols at Tenby skate park after ‘men approached young girls’

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CONCERNED locals in Tenby have taken to social media to write about concerns of inappropriate behaviour – between males they think may have been asylum seekers currently housed at Penally Army Camp – and young girls in Tenby.

The police have said they are investigating the matter.

Witnesses have said that young girls have been approached by males while at the skate park in Tenby.

The Home Office has said that the camp will be used to house up to 250 male asylum seekers whilst their claims are processed due to a shortage of alternative accommodation, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports circulating on Facebook have claimed to have direct knowledge that male residents of the camp have been talking and exchanging contact information with local school girls, some suggesting that they were in school uniform when talking with the men.

However, the police have not confirmed that that is the case – it remains an unproved allegation.

One local claimed on Facebook: “So tonight a few of us concerned local parents decided to go to Tenby skate park.

“As we got there two young girls where sat on a bench waiting for someone.

“Some kids told us they were the ones talking to the men yesterday exchanging Snap Chat details and stuff.

“Then the men from the day before turned up… saw us and scurried off down the beach.

“The two girls then quickly wandered off.

“These girls were about 14.”

One resident had stated that they had reported the incidents he had seen and heard to the local police station, he claimed that an officer told him they were in talks with Greenhill School about the incidents.

Pembrokeshire County Council said that they are unable to comment on the alleged incidents, however a spokesman told The Herald in a statement: “All I would say is that our schools regularly advise pupils not to engage with strangers.”

Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed they are investigating two alleged incidents at the skate park, and have been in contact with the local schools.

A police spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We have received two reports of alleged inappropriate behaviour at the skate park in Tenby and are looking to speak to the people who contacted us.

“In the meantime the skate park is now part of our patrol plans and we have linked in with local schools to reinforce the School Beat Stay SMART online messaging.”

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Community

Off-duty lifesavers were lost but ready to react

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A PEMBROKESHIRE man whose life was saved by multiple twists of fate has praised those who stepped in during his hour of need.

Keen amateur triathlete Steven Landrey, 51, of Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, was out on a post-lockdown bike ride when he suffered a cardiac arrest that was to set off the incredible chain of events.

Steven said: “We were about 40km into an 80km ride when it happened.

“It was strange and lucky as only two weeks earlier I was running alone in Paris, and the night before I swam 2km alone in the sea, and during lockdown had done lots of exercise on my own.

“But that day, I had met my brother-in-law, Chris, and some friends.

“I dread to think what would have happened if I would have been alone.”

Meanwhile, just a mile or so away was off-duty Welsh Ambulance Service Community First Responder Angharad Hodgson, from Martletwy, and her firefighter partner Steve Bradfield, from Narbeth.

Steven Landrey, 51, of Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire

“We were heading to meet friends at Barfundle Beach. We hadn’t been there for a few years so were following the sat-nav in the car,” said Angharad.

“We were running late and had taken a wrong turn as the sat-nav must have frozen or lost signal.

“We decided to turn back on ourselves, and that’s when we saw Steven on the floor being worked on by Chris.”

Always travelling with their defibrillator and kit, Angharad and Steve, who is also a trained medical responder, were able to pull over swiftly and step in with their life-saving defibrillator.

Angharad, 23, said: “We put the pad on his chest and after about 30 manual chest compressions, Steven had stopped breathing and the defibrillator told us we could shock him twice.

“We did it and he came back to us, but his breathing was very sticky so we continued CPR until the air and land ambulances arrived to take over.”

Steven was taken by road to Swansea’s Morriston Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to fit a stent into a lower left artery of his heart, which had flooded with blood and caused the cardiac arrest.

Steven is making a good recovery at home and is taking the first steps back to work in his role as a European Managing Director for Babcock Aviation, an aerial emergency services business.

He said: “I’m working with the National Cardiac Referral Scheme and also a personal trainer and am feeling well and getting strength back every day.

“With my work, I have seen emergency care provision across Europe and Canada and the care I received at every step of the way here in Wales has been world-class.

“I can’t thank Chris, Angharad, Steve, the air ambulance crew and the paramedics enough, along with the doctors and surgeons at Morriston, they were all amazing.

“I realise everything went my way that day, and for those few hours I was the luckiest man alive, but having these trained people in our communities to support emergency medical services is absolutely vital.

“Community First Responders like Angharad, CPR training and Public Access Defibrillators really do save lives and are to be respected.”

Glyn Thomas, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Community First Responder Officer in Mid and West Wales, said: “The prompt actions of Angharad and Steve were no doubt a major factor in the patient’s survival.

“Even off-duty as they were, they demonstrated control and organisation – they are both a credit to their communities and organisations.

“We wish Steven a smooth recovery and all the best for the future.”

Today is Restart a Heart Day, a national initiative run by the Resuscitation Council UK, British Heart Foundation, St John Ambulance and the ambulance services across the UK to promote education around Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

In the absence of physical events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Welsh Ambulance Service is encouraging people to watch a video by Resuscitation Council UK and keep an eye on social media from partners like Save a Life Cymru who are promoting key messages such as early recognition of cardiac arrest, early CPR and early defibrillation.

Restart a Heart Day runs parallel to the Trust’s month-long Shoctober campaign which aims to educate primary school children on the benefits of getting confident with CPR – even making this brilliant animated video.

Angharad, who also works for the local authority’s social services team in Pembrokeshire, has been a Community First Responder since April 2019 and was inspired to make that brave step by another incident back in 2018.

She said: “I was driving home from shopping along the A40 in Carmarthen when I came across a terrible car accident on the opposite carriageway.

“I pulled my car over and crossed the road to try and assist without any thought process really.

“Seeing the work of the paramedics on scene really spurred me on to become a Community First Responder.

“I’d like to thank Tony Wall who is my CFR Co-ordinator for being so supportive and giving so much of his time to fundraise for life saving equipment such as defibrillators in local communities.”

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