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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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Salvage Hunters: New series is filming in Pembrokeshire, and they need help

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SALVAGE HUNTERS, the well-loved and most watched Quest TV and Discovery Network show, is on the hunt for locations to film at in the Pembrokeshire and the wider South West Wales area to feature in the upcoming series.

We follow decorative antiques expert Drew Pritchard as he travels around various locations in the UK and abroad on his quest to find and buy unusual objects with an interesting history.

Drew really visits everywhere – beautiful estates, old family businesses, barns and attic’s stuffed full of unwanted things, museums, factories, collectors and iconic religious sites buying all sorts along the way – from gorgeous country house furniture and railwayana to 6ft 1980s disco balls and anything in-between.

Now in its sixteenth series and airing to over half a million people in the UK and millions more worldwide, this is a great opportunity for you to promote your business or home to a broad audience, sell a few items that perhaps you no longer need, make some money and celebrate the history and heritage of the UK.

If you think you fit the bill or know somebody that might then please do not hesitate to reach out and speak with a member of our team.

Call us on 0203 179 0092 or alternatively send us an email to – salvagehunters@curvemedia.com

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Community

Fishguard and Goodwick Mural project turns to Crowdfunder to raise money

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PLANS to put up a few bright and decorative murals around the twin towns of Fishguard & Goodwick have turned to Crowdfunder to raise the money needed for their vision.

Andrew Harries, found of the Fishguard Future Projects, wants to place 12 murals around Fishguard and Goodwick “to help brighten up the town and showcase its culture and history”.

Andrew said: “Having been born and raised in Fishguard, I have seen the town’s highs and lows.

“Fishguard and Goodwick has a lot of potential with the tourism trade growing every year and the popular events such as the Music Festivals, The New Years Eve Street Party, The Carnival, The Soapbox Derby and many more helping attract even more visitors.”

The murals, which were initially turned down for funding when a grant application was refused, will focus on the two towns “interesting but lesser known history” that Andrew feels needs to be highlighted.

Andrew told The Herald: “Each design will be 8 x 6ft and mounted professionally on buildings around the area. Having spoken to a few business owners around the town, this project has received a lot of positive feedback.”

“The murals will unfortunately need to be fully funded via Crowdfunder, after a grant application was turned down.

“I have explored the option of having them traditionally painted on, but this would be more cost effective and would need to be maintained every 5 – 8 years. With this in mind, the designs will be created digitally and then professionally mounted on aluminium composite.”

If you want to help, you can find the link to Andrew’s Crowdfunder here.

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Community

Drive for new recruits as Army Cadets re-open

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DYFED AND GLAMORGAN ARMY CADET FORCE are now able to accept new joiners aged 12 (and in Year 8 at School) to 17 years old.

Joining the Army Cadets will give access to a wide range of exciting activities, from adventurous training (AT) such as kayaking, mountain biking and abseiling and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to military-themed activities including shooting, fieldcraft and skill at arms, as well as training in first aid, young adults get the chance to discover lots of new experiences and make new friends.  

There is no obligation to join the Forces at all, but they can give some guidance if you are interested.  

There are no subscription charges, uniform is issued free on a loan basis; the only thing you need to supply yourselves is Boots.  

The Cadet Force are also looking for adult volunteers, both uniformed and non-uniformed to assist as well.

They have Detachments located in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Narberth, Tenby, Milford Haven, Neyland, Pembroke Dock, Tenby, St Clears, Llanelli, Trimsarren and Burry Port.

Most Detachments parade twice a week in the evenings 1900 – 2100hrs on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday (Depending on Location) and try to get away for a weekend every month as well as organising summer camps. 

Further Information is available at :- www.armycadets.com or call them on 01656 657593 (Option 1) to find out where your local detachment is and what nights they Parade.

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