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Badger and the farewell to arms



guybadgerHELLO readers! Last week Badger chilled your spines and tickled your funny bones (he hopes) with the tale of the legendary lost testicles of Pembrokeshire County Council. Today is, however, a solemn day. Today, October 31, is the day that the County Council bids a fond ‘adieu” to the much-loved and respected foul-mouthed bully, Bryn Parry-Jones. Badger will miss Bryn, too, readers. As the punchline to the longest running joke in Pembrokeshire, Bryn (or as Badger likes to think of him, ‘The Brynster’) was a major contributor to Badger’s oeuvre over the last sixteen months.

And after this All Hallow’s Eve, Bryn will be no more the gag of last resort. Fear not, however, Badger is not overly concerned: He is sure the activities of the IPPG’s own Secret Squirrel, Rob Summons, will provide him with plenty of material as he scurries around attempting to plug the leaks in the IPPG ship of state. Poor PC Summons, readers! As he desperately prowls the ether, spying on the IPPG’s ‘enemies’, his adventures into Facebook and the blogosphere will reveal that the regard in which he and his fellow IPPG toadies are held is even lower than even he might have suspected. An online poll on Facebook discovered that not a single IPPG member attracted a single public vote to be leader of the Council. East Williamston’s fearless blogonaut, Jacob Williams, came second in the poll. While that evil so and so Mike Stoddart also featured strongly.

One can only hope that the Burton representative’s bearing of bad news to Jamie Adams is met with more understanding than his counterpart’s in V for Vendetta. But how, Badger wonders, how will we commemorate Bryn? In the past, readers, rulers erected massive monuments to themselves to celebrate their lives and triumphs. One only has to look at the city of Rome – choc-a-bloc with monuments to emperors famous, notorious and obscure – for evidence of even the least distinguished leader’s desperate quest for monumentality. Nero built his golden palace, Trajan his column and Augustus (probably the greatest butcher of them all) built a monument to peace.

Now, readers, it is certain that the former Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire County Council exercised more untrammelled power than even the mighty Constantine the Great, but one would hesitate to put the scale of his achievements as on a par with even Otho of the Roman emperors. The giant golden statue astride a marble horse opposite County Hall is surely a non-starter. Still less likely is the eternal flame to be situated atop the homage to the Brandenburg Gate planned for the entrance to Fishguard Harbour. Perhaps even a memorial hot dog stand might be pitching it a little high, readers. Of course, the relevance of even the most splendid work of art fades from the memory.

The Mona Lisa’s position as the wife of a long-forgotten Florentine cloth merchant is not what makes her portrait famous. In a recent visit to mid-Wales, Badger visited the Welsh Museum of Modern Art. There, he realised that content without context can denude even the most striking painting or sculpture of meaning and significance. Just sticking a label on a daub and expecting it to resonate with its viewer is not enough. And so readers, Badger rejects the idea of a monument celebrating the sparse achievements and many flaws and failures of Bryn Parry- Jones.

There is a sense, after all readers that our reluctance to vote in local elections; our reluctance to stand as candidates; our reluctance to hold to account the ‘good old boys’ and ‘good old girls’ who treat their wards as fiefdoms, led to a situation in which Bryn could hold sway over our biddable, obedient and wilfully ignorant representatives. And through them over us. That must not happen again, readers. Badger hopes that there will never again be a situation where almost a quarter of councillors are elected because nobody else wants to get ten signatures and put themselves forward. Badger has an idea, readers. Badger has mentioned the way in which art and monuments change their meanings as time passes. The same applies to festivals. When Badger was younger, it was ‘Guy Fawkes Night’.

Every year, thousands – if not tens of thousands – of effigies are burned on a pyre. Among the general population, who remembers that it is an anti-Catholic festival? We annually incinerate representations of Guy Fawkes – the would be slaughterer of a king, the Lords and Commons assembled and a large number of Londoners – to ensure we never forget the threat to Britain posed by those of a Roman Catholic persuasion. Nobody thinks of anti-Catholic sentiment as they eat their burger and watch several hundred pounds worth of pyrotechnics streak into the night sky, a –fizzing and a-banging. Or if they do, they are a member of one of those little tin tabernacle churches which are the last redoubt of religious bigots.

So, readers: Combining the horror of Halloween and the explosive bangs and whizzes of Bonfire Night, we could have Bryn Night! Across Pembrokeshire, communities would banish the ghastly shades of Parry- Jones and his sinister little h e l p e r s H a l l a n d Lewis, to remind each other never to let such as he happen again. To add a little extra spice to the occasion a model of a Porsche Panamera could be ceremonially burnt atop a pyre made up of the electoral literature of IPPG councillors. Have a happy Bryn Night and remember, r e m e m b e r , readers!

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Tenby Conservative club will become a five-bed home



TENBY’S former Conservative club, closed since the Covid pandemic, has been given the go-ahead to revert to a single dwelling, a position it has not occupied since the 1940s.

In an application submitted to national park planners, Andrew W Davies, through agent Aaron Mills, sought permission for a change of use of the Hazelwell Club, St Florence Parade – along with internal alterations – into a five-bedroom single dwelling.

Tenby Town Council raised no objection to the application, within the boundary of Tenby centre and the conservation area.

A report for planners stated: “The ‘club’ closed at the start of the Covid pandemic and has remained as such since. It has now surrendered it licence and its affiliation with the Conservative Club and the applicant has stated that the building is in a poor in a poor state of repair and not fit to reopen.”

A similar 2021 application was refused by park planners on the basis there was a “lack of evidence to justify that the community facility was no longer required, not commercially viable or that reasonable attempts had been made to secure suitable employment or affordable housing uses,” the report said.

A supporting statement by agent Aaron Mills detailed the history of the four-storey Hazelwell Club, built in 1881, and a private residence up to 1947 when it was converted into residential flats, before later becoming the Conservative Club on the lower floors, a flat remaining on the upper floors.

Due to financial difficulties of the Conservative Club, Mr and Mrs Davies purchased the building in December 2005 giving the Conservative Club a 15-year free rental period, later backed by an £80,000 loan.

By 2019 the club was only open on weekends after years of dwindling membership due to an elderly clientele, later ceasing trading due to Covid 19 long term restrictions.

In May 2021, the club vacated the building and paid the £80,000 loan back.

“On handover back to the landlords it was evident there had been little expenditure both externally and internally of the buildings upkeep. The condition of the building could only be described as poor throughout when seeking a new commercial tenant or put on the open market as a commercial and residential building for sale,” the statement said.

The property was, in 2021, placed on the open market in the region of £550,000, but there was little or no interest, the applicants now seeking to convert it back to a family residence as it was from 1881 through to 1947, with the addition of two first-floor rooms being offered as Air B and B accommodation when available.

The application was conditionally approved by park planners.

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Ten Afghan refugee families could soon be homed in Pembrokeshire



SENIOR Pembrokeshire councillors are expected to back an MoD scheme which will see up to 10 Afghan refugee families homed in the county.

The MOD will be leasing 10 properties in Pembrokeshire to Afghan families who have a military connection, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on October 2, will hear.

In November 2021 Cabinet backed a call for support from the Home Office following the launch of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), launched in addition to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).

This offers eligible current or former locally employed staff (who worked for or with the UK Government) and who are assessed to be under serious threat to life, priority relocation to the UK.

At that time Cabinet agreed to support the scheme by offering to accommodate two families in the private rented sector.

Due to pressures in the private housing market, no Afghan families have yet been placed in Pembrokeshire.

A report for Cabinet members says: “Due to the strong military linkages that many resettled Afghans have due to the historic conflicts in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has put forward 10 houses (mix of three and some four-bed houses) based in Pembrokeshire for use by people arriving from Pakistan and their families.

“This is part of their nation-wide support for the ARAP scheme.

“Only families with a military connection will be able to access these properties, in line with the ARAP policy. These houses are currently being renovated by contractors commissioned by the MoD, to ensure they meet housing standards and should be available by November 30.”

It is proposed the properties are leased directly to the families; The MoD responsible for furnishing and maintaining the properties, and setting and collecting rent.

The report for members says concerns have been raised around community cohesion, mainly due to the 10 properties being located in one – unnamed – town, based on experiences in other counties.

“We would mitigate against this through robust communications and community events,” the report says, adding: “The police have not raised any concerns relating to this matter.”

In order to support the families, the council is able to access Home Office grant funding, available for three years at a total of £20,520 per person. If all 10 households were occupied the Authority would receive an estimated £620,000 to £820,000.

It is recommended that Cabinet support the MoD using the houses, with the Pembrokeshire Migration Partnership Board and delivery team managing the Afghan resettlement scheme using the infrastructure currently in place.

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Refusal expected for farmers’ market on site of deer farm near Tenby



A RESUBMITTED application to create an indoor farmers’ market/traders barn on the site of a deer farm attraction near Tenby is expected to again be refused by county planners.

Mr and Mrs Evans of Great Wedlock, Gumfreston, are seeking a change of use of a former agricultural barn to the trading barn for up to 35 traders selling local produce and crafts, operating up to 61 days a year.

The plans – which will be considered at the October 3 meeting of the county council’s planning committee – also include an additional 30 parking bays on the site of a former silage clamp.

The site, opposite the Great Wedlock Leisure Park dinosaur park, already has planning permission for the change of use of a range of former agricultural barns to create a recently opened deer park attraction with educational and events use.

A previous application for the trading barn was refused by county planners on the basis it would represent an “unjustified use in a countryside location and contains insufficient information in respect of sustainable travel options”.

Another point of concern at that meeting was the lack of a detailed Retail Impact Assessment (RIA), Agent Atriarc Planning has said, which has been incorporated in the resubmitted application.

The resubmitted application says: “The RIA has identified that the proposed development would have no negative impact on the local retail provision and that the proposal would satisfy the RIA tests set out in various National and Local Planning policies.

“The proposed change of use seeks to create a new destination for independent traders, to sell local produce and crafts within the proposed farmers market/ market traders’ barn. The proposal is particularly focussed to local start-up companies (and those in their early infancy) who may not yet be at a scale to occupy a permanent retail premises within Pembrokeshire.

“The stall spaces will provide a range of unit sizes that could be occupied as individual or multiple units. The key driver of the project is to provide a market barn for the sale of high-quality local produce and bespoke goods made in west Wales.”

It is hoped the trading stalls in one part of the barn – if approved – would be open to the public February to December – one day per week Saturday or Sunday outside of school holidays and up to two days per week during the school holidays, from 10am-4pm.

A report for members ahead of the October 3 meeting again recommends refusal, on the basis the application, in a countryside location, would have the potential to have negative impacts upon the existing provision of local shops in nearby rural settlements.

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