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Council ‘is doing its best’

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‘WE are still doing our very best with a very tight budget’.council

That was the message from Cllr Sue Perkins at Monday’s Cabinet meeting as councillors discussed cuts to the Learning Pembrokeshire service.

The service, which provides essential skills and support for adult learners, has seen a huge drop in funding over the last couple of years.

In January 2015, the Welsh Government notified authorities that the funding would be reduced by £85,600 from April 1 this year with the possibility of a further cut for 2016/17.

The council has therefore been forced to reduce its learning provision and a plan has been put in place to maintain the service.

Cllr Sue Perkins said: “As you can see, last year the Learning Pembrokeshire grant was cut by 25% by the Welsh Government and this year there have been further reductions.

“Our Adult Education has had a huge amount of money removed from it so what we are trying to do is to provide all the adult education that we do now without cutting courses in the best way possible.

“We are trying to manage with the cuts we have had to make. We’ll still provide the basic skills courses and the courses that help in areas of deprivation like Spirngboard. So we are still doing our very best with a very tight budget.

“To move this forward we have two phases. In phase one, we are talking about rationalising the central part in Haverfordwest, we’re moving the education facility in Pembroke Dock to another location that is only 200 yards away. In Fishguard we are talking about relocating the delivery into other community venues.

“In phase two, we’re talking about ceasing to maintain the centres in Haverfordwest and Tenby. In Tenby it will have a knock on effect with the library and the youth centre so it’s going to take a lot longer.

“We’re trying to provide these facilities in a very shrinking budget”.

Cllr Pat Davies had also emailed members of Cabinet about her concerns for the Fishguard area and the Head of Performance and Community, James White, was asked to comment.

He said: “The maintenance and custodial costs of the four buildings total just over £170,000. If the money was to be saved then the only other option within Learning Pembrokeshire would be to stop doing the courses. To stop doing £170,000 worth of courses would have a major impact on the opportunities that we offer.

“In terms of the Fishguard building itself, the cost there is just over £25,000 and so there is a significant amount tied up in maintenance of these buildings.

“Until this paper is agreed we haven’t done anything in terms of conversations with stakeholders or the head teacher at Bro Gwaun School or anything like that, we didn’t have clearance to do that. Clearly, Councillors will be aware that consultation is about to start following a decision of full council about the future of education provision and changes that are being consulted on in the Fishguard area and it may well be that the future of the building there would probably be considered as part of that”.

Council Leader Jamie Adams said: “We either maintain the service or if we carry on as we are, the service will fall apart. There may be other areas in the community that would benefit from an element of service provision”.

James White added: “Learning Pembrokeshire is the second largest deliverer of adult learning after Cardiff in terms of the council. The Council runs/provides just over 80% of the totality of adult learning in the county. We’re very close to the point where Learning Pembrokeshire costs the council nothing. If you think that putting Learning Pembrokeshire somewhere else will save money then it won’t”.

Cllr Huw George said: “Let’s make sure that the services are out there, what the people want, it doesn’t matter who does it but now is the time to have that look”.

Cllr Keith Lewis said: “The Public consultation meeting we held in Fishguard in November (2014), one of the points that came up was that the people of Fishguard felt that they would prefer to maintain the services but that if building had to be rationalised they would go along with that. People do appreciate the situation we are, if it means we can maintain the service by moving and perhaps getting rid of some, I think that’s a good way forward”.

James White concluded: “Although the location of the youth centre may well change, we will still have a youth club in Tenby”.

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Business

Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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