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County NFU elect new chairman

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mike plumbA MEMBER and past chairman of the Narberth local branch, Mike Plumb, was earlier this week elected into office for the coming year as Chairman of the Pembroke County branch of the National Farmers Union.

He succeeds Mansel Raymond, North West local branch, and will have as his vice–chairman, Simon Richards of Central area.Born in Oxfordshire, Mike came to the area as a teenager in 1966 when his parents, Peter and Mary Plumb, bought Plascerdin Farm at Llangynin.

He has a strong NFU pedigree for his father was elected Chairman of the Union’s Carmarthen branch for 1988. Like his father, he was a member of the St Clears local branch in Carmarthenshire. Mike served the county as livestock committee chairman and has continued to be actively involved in Union affairs since moving to farm at the 92-acre Blaenffynnonau, Narberth and has chaired the Union’s Rural Affairs Committee in Pembrokeshire.

Mike is married to June, who works for a well-established firm of accountants, and the couple have two sons, Steven, who works for the NHS, and Tim, who is a graphic designer – and three young grandchildren. As a means of generating extra income 16 years ago, Mike trained in pest control and started a service for farmers and others in disposing of rodent pests and he was also in demand in mole control. This side of the business had to end when the use of strychnine became prohibited.

More recently, in partnership with his wife June, with specialised equipment and well trained staff, he now works on private contracts and for the County Council and National Parks Authority on tree surgery (lopping and topping), tree removal (including an emergency 24-hour service), mobile wood chipping and log splitting, orchard and large garden maintenance and bracken control.

Mike manages all the practical aspects of the partnership, personally overseeing all of the work and insisting that his staff provide a reliable service and receive ongoing training and updating, to keep within latest safety guidelines.

Mike says: “We take immense pride in the fact that most of the work we undertake in the private sector, comes from the recommendations of
satisfied clients”.

Panel: Union activities
THE annual dinner of the NFU’s Pembroke County branch, attended by 160 members, friends and guests, was held last Friday evening at the new Crug Glas Function Centre, near Croesgoch, operated by union members, Perkin and Janet Evans. The guest speaker for the occasion was Andy Robertson, who was just over 12 months ago, appointed as the Union’s Director General for England and Wales.

This week’s annual general meeting was held at the Wolfscastle Country Hotel and the Union’s annual County Conference is to be held at the Nantyffin, Llandissilio on Thursday, January 9 when the guest speaker will be Prof Wayne Powell.

For the past five years Wayne has been the highly regarded Director of IBERS (The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University) and recently appointed as Chief Science Officer of the CGIAR Consortium –a global partnership of research organizations.

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Community

County Hall to offer space for community banking

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A CALL for Pembrokeshire County Council to potentially change its banking arrangement with Barclays, after it closed its Haverfordwest branch has been turned down, but County Hall is to offer space for community banking.

Barclays Bank, on the town’s High Street, is to close on May 10.

The council has had a banking services contract with Barclays since 2013.

Councillor Huw Murphy, in a notice of motion heard by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet meeting of April 22, asked the council to review its banking arrangements with Barclays following the announced closure.

e said the loss of a branch “not only impacts upon town centres and businesses but also disproportionately impacts the elderly who are less likely to embrace on-line banking options”.

A report for Cabinet members said, in terms of the impact on Pembrokeshire residents, Barclays has said that it is “not leaving Haverfordwest and [will] continue to provide face-to-face support for those who need it” via community locations.

Two options were presented to Cabinet: to retender the banking services contract, and, the favoured, to work with Barclays to ensure a community location is set up in Haverfordwest.

Members heard the costs associated with moving to a new banking service provider could be in excess of £50,000.

For the second, favoured option, members heard Barclays was in discussions with the council about a location for potential community banking.

Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack, after outlining the risks in the report for members, and moving the notice be not adopted, said he had “considerable sympathy” with Cllr Murphy’s notice.

He told councillors there was a glimmer of light for banking arrangements in the county, with an agreement now signed for two ground floor rooms at County Hall, Haverfordwest, to be used for community banking.

From April 25, the rooms will be available on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, members heard.

Cabinet Member for Planning & Housing Delivery Cllr Jon Harvey also said he had “a lot of sympathy” for the motion, adding: “It’s excellent news a deal has been struck to occupy the ground floor rooms three days a week; hopefully this will mitigate, to a certain amount, the closure.

“If we can work with the respective banks to get a community-type approach let’s move forward.”

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Haverfordwest interchange: Next stage of £19m project backed

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The second stage of building Haverfordwest’s near-£19m transport interchange has been backed, with senior councillors hearing it could cost the council more to not support it.

The transport interchange, which includes an integrated bus station and construction of a new multi-storey car park, is part of a wider series of regeneration projects in the county town.

The total cost of the scheme in the approved budget is £18.881m, £1.987m from Pembrokeshire County Council; the remainder, £16.894m, from an already-awarded Welsh Government grant.

To date, £3.425m has been spent on advanced works, including the demolition of the old multi-storey car park and a temporary bus station.

Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on April 22, were recommended to approve the award of the Stage 2 construction contract for the Haverfordwest Transport Interchange.

The report for members listed two simple options for Cabinet, to authorise the award of a contract, recommended, or to not.

For the latter it warned: “It is envisaged Welsh Government will withdraw the funding awarded and the council would need to repay grants received to date; £10.322m has been received to date of which £3.376m has been offset against expenditure.”

It added: “Cost to cease this project could cost PCC more in terms of grant repayment and any capital work required to make good. PCC match contribution for the project is forecast as £1.987m of the £18.881m.”

Planning permission for the interchange was granted in 2022, with a temporary bus station constructed that year and the old multi-storey building demolished in 2023.

That year, members of the county council’s Cabinet agreed a temporary car park will be sited on the demolished remains of the old multi-storey car park until the Haverfordwest Public Transport Interchange – delayed as no compliant tender had been found at the time – is built.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said: “The interchange is an important part of the regeneration of Haverfordwest, it will not regenerate Haverfordwest on its own, it is part of a wider process. The alternative to us being engaged is we simply allow it to decline and fail.”

He said the interchange was about “making it easier to visit Haverfordwest,” making parking provision “really straightforward, making it easy and convenient as possible”.

Cllr Miller said not progressing with the scheme would risk the grants already obtained, meaning the council could potentially foot the bill for costs to date, at a greater level than progressing.

He said the cost options were a near-£2m subsidised council involvement for the whole scheme or the £3m-plus spent to date if the scheme was ended, which would leave the car park as it is now.

“It’s pretty reasonable that if they give us the money and we don’t build a transport interchange they’ll be looking for that money back,” Cllr Miller said.

He said previous figures from parking revenue – back in 2019 – amounted to £100,000 a year; and could be expected to at least double on a “like-for-like” basis following the increase in parking charges.

Members, after a private and confidential session over the actual contract details, agreed to proceed with the scheme, awarding the contract to Kier Construction Western and Wales.

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RNLI prepare for summer with medical training exercise in Pembrokeshire

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RNLI lifeguards from the north Pembrokeshire team, volunteers from St Davids RNLI and St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team came together at Whitesands beach on Thursday (18 April), for a multi-agency medical training exercise. Pembrokeshire RNLI lifeguards and St Davids volunteer lifeboat crew took part in a multi-agency medical training exercise alongside St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team in preparation for the upcoming summer season.

The Coastal Medicine programme was set up six years ago at the suggestion of clinicians from Hywel Dda University Health Board. The aim of the programme is train lifeguards, lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard teams in working collaboratively when responding to medical incidents on the coast.

Clinicians from Hywel Dda work with RNLI staff to design exercises simulating mass-casualty incidents on land and afloat. The exercises allow lifeguards, lifeboat crews and Coastguard teams to practise and test their rescue response and casualty care.

The simulated incident at Whitesands involved a medical incident at sea leading to a boat going out of control and ploughing through a group of swimmers causing multiple injuries. RNLI lifeguards responded to casualties on the beach while St Davids inshore and all-weather lifeboat crews dealt with the situation at sea. St Davids Coastguard Rescue supported RNLI colleagues as they would in a real-life scenario.

In total there were six casualties to treat, all of whom were given the immediate medical care by the teams on scene. As in a real-life scenario, they were then prepared to be handed over to the care of the Ambulance Service.

Roger Smith, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager said: ‘The scenario was based on a real-life incident, it’s so important that we train in dealing with challenging situations.

‘The RNLI lifeguards, lifeboat crew, and the Coastguard rescue team worked really well together collaborating together to achieve the best possible result.

‘The feedback from all the participants was really positive, and our medical colleagues were very complimentary about the competence shown and the inter-agency co-operation.

‘This scenario training gives confidence to our lifeguards and lifeboat crews, and ensures the teamwork and communication is already in place ready for real-life incidents.’

Martin Charlton, an RNLI lifeguard in north Pembrokeshire said:

‘Last night’s exercise was a great opportunity for me and my colleagues on the lifeguard team to upskill ahead of the summer season.

‘We regularly attend incidents in the season that require a multi-agency response. These scenarios are a brilliant opportunity to prepare for the the most challenging situations.

‘The team and I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise and feel better prepared for the season as a result.

‘It’s always a pleasure working alongside the Coastguard rescue team and the lifeboat as one crew.’

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