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Business Pembrokeshire takes software lead

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Pictured left to right: Bryan Snowden, Tascomi Ltd, Mark Elliott, Head of Public Protection, Pembrokeshire County Council, Minister for Public Services, Leighton Andrews AM and Dr. Richard Martin, Managing Director, Tascomi Ltd

Pictured left to right: Bryan Snowden, Tascomi Ltd, Mark Elliott, Head of Public Protection, Pembrokeshire
County Council, Minister for Public Services, Leighton Andrews AM and Dr. Richard Martin, Managing Director,
Tascomi Ltd

THE MINISTER for Public Services, Leighton Andrews AM, has witnessed a signing ceremony between Pembrokeshire County Council and Tascomi Ltd, for the provision of a Public Protection and Building Control Software System for local authorities in Wales.

Mr Andrews was attending the annual Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Conference Wales earlier this month when he oversaw the official signing of the agreement between Mark Elliott, Head of Public Protection, Pembrokeshire County Council – acting on behalf of the Welsh Purchasing Consortium (WPC) – and Dr. Richard Martin, Managing Director, of Tascomi Ltd.

Tascomi is a Northern Ireland-based software development company who have been selected as the successful tenderer for the Framework Agreement. Mr Andrews said the signing of the Framework was highly significant as an important signal of Welsh local authorities working collaboratively.

He went on: “Adopting the new Public Protection cloud-based software system will help enable a number of very important deliverables for the local authorities involved. It will provide cashable savings, achieve efficiencies and consistency in service delivery, as well as supporting resilience and mobile working options. It will also have a number of spin-off benefits – such as the potential for the development of an all-Wales register for public Protection, and the provision of national data production for Welsh Government and other agencies to access. This initiative is highly significant as an important signal of local authorities working together, mobilising around a common problem with a shared agenda and a clear objective, to achieve better outcomes. It very much fits with my vision for public service and exemplifies the kind of pioneering and change-leadership behaviours which we need in our modern public services. Again, it is about leadership – about being open, curious, networked, collaborative and digitally engaged.”

The WPC tendered for the Framework arrangement in late 2014, with Pembrokeshire County Council acting as the lead authority on their behalf. The Framework Agreement enabled the participating Welsh Authorities to appoint one supplier of specialist Public Protection and Building Control Software. After a rigorous tender process with an in depth assessment of both technology and functionality, Tascomi Ltd were successful in their tender bid for the Framework Agreement and appointed as the preferred supplier.

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“There aren’t enough hours in the day” for entrepreneurial young Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Scott Robinson

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“I WOULD not be where I am today if it were not for Farming Connect,” says Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Scott Robinson.

Scott, 25, is ambitious, focused and also very busy! He works alongside his parents at the family farm near Clynderwen and runs his own successful milk-vending machine enterprise.

He says he hasn’t yet found the route to achieving the perfect work/life balance – ‘there aren’t enough hours in the day’ – but, like everything else he tackles, he’s working on it! 

After attending Hartpury College to study an extended diploma in agriculture, Scott travelled around New Zealand to get experience of working on large-scale dairy units.

“It was an eye-opener – if their workers hadn’t finished their day by 5pm, they felt they were getting something wrong, we could learn from that here in Wales too!”

Scott grew up on the council-owned Pembrokeshire farm which has been tenanted by his parents for almost 30 years. They currently milk 140 Holstein Friesian cows twice daily and graze them on 200 acres of pasture and silage.  

The family first accessed Farming Connect’s Advisory Service in 2019.  Soil sampling and nutrient management planning advice led to more targeted use of nitrogen fertilisers on fields with high indices with slurry elsewhere.

“This has saved us time and money so we’ll now reassess this every three to four years,” says Scott.

Through the Advisory Service, they also applied for an infrastructure report and will shortly start work on a new slurry lagoon which will ensure the farm meets the new agri-pollution requirements. This will allow for more efficient use of farm nutrients and enable the family to transition to a flying herd, buying in all replacement heifers. The farm infrastructure report was submitted as part of the planning application providing the information required for Natural Resources Wales to approve the proposal.

Two years ago, urged on by his Farming Connect mentor Lilwen Joynson, Scott started researching the costs and viability of setting up a new milk vending machine business at the farm. He successfully applied for a substantial loan which enabled him to convert one of the farm outbuildings and invest in the necessary equipment.  He also set up a formal agreement with his parents to purchase some of their milk, the remainder of which is sold on contract to a major dairy wholesale company.

Scott says that tapping into a range of Farming Connect support services has not only given him new skills, but also increased his network of similarly pro-active farmers all keen to share their experiences of innovative or more efficient ways of working.

Scott and his parents have at various times been members of a local Farming Connect dairy discussion group- which meets quarterly to discuss issues such as benchmarking, nutrient management planning and grazing strategies as well as animal health and performance.

A former participant of the Agri Academy, which he says was a massive boost to his self-confidence, Scott has also been part of Farming Connect’s Prosper to Pasture basic programme to have a better understanding of pasture management. The family have also accessed sector-specific guidance on topics including planning, nutrient management, slurry storage, grassland and crop management. Scott also joined a local Agrisgôp set up especially for dairy farmers involved with milk-vending enterprises, which included those just thinking of starting up as well as fully-fledged operators.

“It was hugely helpful to share guidance on good suppliers, compare costs and swap contacts – I found sharing our experiences a big support.”

The group was led by Lilwen Joynson, who had met Scott at the beginning of his entrepreneurial ‘journey’ in her role as his mentor.  

Scott says Lilwen’s support was the catalyst which encouraged the whole family to talk openly ‘around the kitchen table’ about their hopes for the future.

“By facilitating our discussions, we soon had a clear sense of direction and her insistence that we each drew up a detailed action plan and deadlines after every meeting had a huge impact on both short and long-term ambitions for the future direction of the farm.  

“Farming Connect has helped me learn more about innovation, current best practice and more efficient ways of working, all critical for farmers at a time we need to be more aware of climate change and protecting the environment.

“Lilwen encouraged us all to think of the wider implications and convinced me and my parents that we should investigate and capitalise on every opportunity to future proof both the farm and the milk vending business. 

“I’ve got an expanding customer-base and I’m optimistic that within three years, when I hope to have paid off my loan, all profits from the milk vending side will be going straight into my pocket – that’s a nice thought to keep me working hard!”

Scott has also undertaken Farming Connect training courses including social media training and a marketing course which help him promote the milk vending enterprise.

“It makes good commercial sense to take advantage of all the support and guidance available, and with Farming Connect services either fully funded or subsidised by up to 80%, I’d advise anyone else to pick up the phone to their local development officer today.”

Farming Connect is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra Wales and financed by Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

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The Lord Nelson Hotel faces an uncertain future as popular venue closes its doors

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THE LORD NELSON HOTEL in Milford Haven will be closing on Tuesday night, with nothing set in stone as to when it could re-open again.

The iconic Grade II listed building, on Hamilton Terrace, is currently up for sale by current owners SA Brain & Co., and no buyer has yet been found.

The management of the 24-en-suite rooms hotel posted on Monday night (Sept 26) saying: “I write this with a very heavy heart, tomorrow night (Tuesday) will be our last night open for the bar.

“We haven’t got a lot of draught beers left but I would love to see all your faces for one last time.

“Thank you for all of the support you’ve shown us during the time we’ve been here and I hope we get to open again in the future. All our love, Chey, Cauley and the Lord Nelson team.”

Built 1795-1800 during the first phase of the construction of the new town of Milford Haven, the hotel was originally named the New Inn, but was later renamed for Lord Nelson’s visit in August 1802.

It has been Grade II listed since 1993.

In 2016 there were extensive renovations.

In advertising literature around that time Brains explained: “Overlooking the harbour we offer a range of high-quality pub classics and an indulgent selection of grills, sure to please the whole family.

“Our bar is home to regular live music events and is often the social hub of the town.

“Our award-winning Welsh cask ales take pride of place on the pumps, surrounded by a wide range of draught beers and ciders, ideal to enjoy in our beautiful beer garden overlooking the port or in our recently refurbished restaurant.”

DID YOU KNOW?

In 1879 members of Milford Haven’s “elite” became some of the first in Wales to dance under electric light.

A grand ball was organised in The Lord Nelson Hotel by engineers from the dock company.

The British Electric Light Company, which was illuminating construction works in the harbour, lit the hotel’s ballroom for the event. Many of the “young ladies” were nervous about the lights’ intensity but soon everyone agreed that the beautiful, steady lighting enhanced the evening’s pleasures.

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Business

Transport for Wales services to be impacted by industrial action

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THE MAJORITY of Transport for Wales (TfW) services across the Wales and Borders network will be suspended on two days in October due to the on-going national industrial action.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) has announced two days of strike action will take place on Saturday 1 and Saturday 8 October, across Network Rail and 15 train operators.

ASLEF has also announced strike action on Saturday 1 and Wednesday 5 October across 12 train operators, while TSSA have announced strike action on 1 October at Network Rail and 11 train operators.

TfW is not involved in this industrial action, but as a result of the dispute between unions and Network Rail, TfW will be unable to operate a number of rail services on Network Rail infrastructure on 1 and 8 October, while some services will be much busier than usual on 5 October.

More information about the industrial action can be found on the TfW website.

Saturday 1 and Saturday 8 October – very limited rail service, do not travel by train

The only services operating will be on the Core Valley Lines in South Wales and a Cardiff to Newport shuttle, with one train operating hourly in each direction, between 07:30 and 18:30.

No other TfW services across Wales and the Borders network will be able to operate.

Train services will operate between Cardiff Central and Rhymney, Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil in an hourly service in each direction between 07:30 and 18:30.

Customers are reminded there will be very limited road transport capacity between Radyr and Cardiff before 07:30 and after 18:30, when TfW is unable to operate trains via Llandaf and Cathays.

Amended timetables for Saturday 1 October will be in online journey planners from Tuesday 27 September.

Friday 30 September and Friday 7 October (the days before the strikes)

There is also expected to be disruption on the days prior to the industrial action, and services will be much busier than usual.

Customers are advised to only travel if necessary on Friday 30 September and 7 October, and to check online journey planners for any short-notice late night service alterations as a result of the following day’s strike action.

Core Valley Lines­ – Saturday 1 and Saturday 8 October

The first services of the day that depart Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil will all be timed so they will be arriving into Radyr after 07:00. No trains will run before 07:00 on any lines except between Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil – Radyr.

No pre-planned road transport services will be in operation before 18:30 on Core Valley lines.

Services are likely to be much busier than usual – particularly the first services of the day.

All other TfW services – Sunday 2 and 9 October

No trains will run before 07:00 on these days, and those trains that do run are likely to be much busier than usual – particularly the first services of the day. There is also expected to be disruption to services due to trains being displaced from the previous day’s strike action.

In particular, services to Cardiff are expected to be busier than usual on the morning on 2 October due to the Cardiff Half-Marathon.

Customers are urged to check the TfW website, app or social media before they travel, particularly for the first services of the day from their station of origin.

Services on these days are to be extremely busy and customers are encouraged to travel via the alternative dates of Monday 3 or 10 October.

Wednesday 5 October

Some of our services are likely to be extremely busy as a result of the severely-reduced timetable put in place by other operators. This includes:

  • Services between Carmarthen and Newport
  • Services between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton
  • Services between Cardiff and Cheltenham
  • Services between Chester and Holyhead
  • Services between Chester and Manchester Airport
  • Services between Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly
    Due to the closure of Birmingham New Street station, services between North Wales and Birmingham International will terminate at Wolverhampton.

Customers are advised to only travel if necessary and customers are encouraged to travel via the alternative dates of Tuesday 4 or Thursday 6 October.

Amended timetables for Wednesday 5 October will be in online journey planners from Thursday 29 September.

Existing tickets

Advance ticket holders are entitled to change their journey using the ‘Book with Confidence’ and the change of journey fees should be waived if applied before 18:00 the day before travel. You’re still able to change your tickets after this time, and up until the departure, but a change of journey fee of £10 will apply to each ticket changed.

Customers with Anytime, Off-Peak or Advance tickets, also Ranger/Rover tickets, for a TOC on strike – dated for 1, 5 or 8 October are permitted to travel either on the day before the date on the ticket or up to 11 October 2022.

If you have a return ticket and cannot make your outward journey because of a strike, you’re permitted a refund on your ticket even if the latter is not affected by a strike. The same applies if the return journey is affected by a strike but the outward was not.

Alternatively, customers can claim a full refund, with no admin fee charged. Season ticket holders can apply for compensation via Delay Repay.

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