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Appeal to stop Preseli bluestone ‘burglars’

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Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 09.19.19THE PRESELI HILLS have been a special and spiritual place for thousands of years and are a crucial part of the Stonehenge story.

But as news of their significance continues to spread, more and more pieces of Preseli bluestone are being illegally removed from sites which are part of the Mynydd Preseli Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Preseli Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Academics from the world of archaeology and geology have joined the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority in appealing to members of the public to stop taking fragments of spotted dolerite or ‘bluestone’ from protected sites such as Carn Menyn.

National Park Ranger Richard Vaughan said: “I walk the Preseli Hills with school groups, guided walks and on conservation work throughout the year and have noticed over the years that an increasing amount of stone chips and large chunks of rock are disappearing.

“It is very sad to think that to many the stones are very important, yet to others they are a possible source of income and taken away from where they belong.”

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority Culture and Heritage Manager, Phil Bennett added: “If somebody took a hammer and started bashing chunks off a bluestone at Stonehenge there would be an outcry. To me, what is happening at Carn Menyn is just the same.”

“The vast majority of walkers go to the Preseli Hills to enjoy the wonderful scenery of the National Park landscape and we would ask that people please leave it as they found it for others to enjoy.”

Although the debate over how the bluestones made their way from the Preseli Hills to Stonehenge rages on, all sides agree that protected sites such as Carn Menyn should be left alone.

Archaeologist Professor Geoff Wainwright said: “As an archaeologist, Preseli is of far greater interest to me than any single monument. Carn Menyn is a special place with dramatic outcrops of bluestone, a concentration of archaeological sites, healing springs and a scatter of abandoned pillar stones which are petrologically indistinguishable from those at Stonehenge.

“The Preseli bluestones hold the key to the meaning of Stonehenge and Carn Menyn was a special place from whence they came. To take fragments from Carn Menyn is to violate a part of our heritage which has been valued for over 4,000 years.

“When a piece of bluestone is removed from the crags at Carn Menyn, unique information about the past is lost and cannot be recovered. We have all been robbed.”

Geographer Dr Brian John added: “The spotted dolerite at Carn Menyn is no more beautiful and exotic than the spotted dolerite seen in scores of other sites throughout eastern Preseli. As far as I am concerned, we have at Carn Menyn a group of very beautiful dolerite crags, affected by ice and frost action, which tell us a good deal about the landscape history of the area and which contribute hugely to the beauty and special character of the mountain landscape.

“There is no reason at all why anybody would wish to chip off lumps of rock from these crags and take them away, doing severe damage to the landscape, since identical spotted dolerites are found abundantly in all of the hedgerows and gardens of the countryside to the south of the hills. There are a good many to the north as well.

“Please leave these rocks alone and leave the landscape as you found it. If you are really desperate for a piece of spotted dolerite, get it (with permission) from a farmed landscape well away from the hills, from a location where boulders and stones are being cleared from fields.”

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Return of Walk and Talk group for Dementia Action Week

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE Walk and Talk Group will make its return next week, coinciding with Dementia Action Week which runs from May 17-24.

Several events are being held across Pembrokeshire and the UK and PAVS has announced two Walk and Talk sessions.

One will be held in the South of the County in Begelly on Wednesday, May 19, and one in the North of the County in Newport on Thursday, May 20.

Walk and Talk is a dementia supportive group. The group provides the opportunity to socialise, improve your physical and mental wellbeing and at the same time enjoy the wonderful Pembrokeshire scenery. There will be walk and talk groups every week starting from next week.

Places are limited and will be on a first come first served basis,  to book a place on these walks please contact Cherry Evans on 07849 086009 or email cherry.evans@pavs.org.uk

Dementia Action Week aims to promote and make people aware that with the right support, people living with dementia can live a good quality of life doing what matters most to them for as long as possible.

One in fourteen people over the age of 65 are living with Dementia and approximately 42,000 people in Wales have Dementia. 65% of people living with dementia are women and 35% men

The covid-19 pandemic meant that many groups and clubs had to shut down and that has made things difficult for those people living with dementia.

People were left isolated and feeling lonely but thanks to modern technology they have been able to keep many in contact with those groups and their loved ones.

Throughout Dementia Action Week there will be daily interviews on the radio station Pure West Radio with lots of information about the activities and points of reference for support across Pembrokeshire.

These daily interviews will cover everything from diagnosing dementia, support, carers perspectives and even the power of music. You can listen to these each day at 11.15am Monday to Friday and at 2.15pm on Saturday and Sunday

If you fancy trying out a ‘tea and natter’ session on Zoom on Tuesday, May 18, at 2.30pm please contact Cherry Evans on 07849 086009 or email cherry.evans@pavs.org.uk

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Cllr Mike James is new Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has a new Chairman.

Cllr Mike James became Chairman at the virtual Annual Meeting of Council today (Friday, May 14) following an extended period as Vice Chairman due to the Covid-19 situation.

Cllr James, who represents St Dogmaels, moves into the Chairman’s seat vacated by Cllr Simon Hancock.

Cllr Pat Davies was appointed Vice-Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council.

At the same meeting Cllr Hancock was appointed Presiding Member for the coming year.

Cllr James joined Pembrokeshire County Council in 2010 and has previously served as Chairman of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Chairman of National Park Wales.

Cllr James said: “I feel very privileged to be appointed Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council.

“I always try to achieve the best in my life and this is right up there at the top.

“I hope I can achieve the high standard set by Councillors who have been Chairman before me. Councillor Simon Hancock most certainly accomplished that standard.”

Cllr James is married to Sian and they have two daughters, Fern James and Rhiannon Lloyd.

Born and bred in St Dogmaels, Cllr James attended Ysgol Llandudoch and Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi.

He worked for 32 years at Slimma/Dewhirst Cardigan and for four years as an LSA in Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn.

Cllr James has also served as Clerk to St Dogmaels Community Council, as the Carers Champion for Pembrokeshire County Council and as a representative on numerous other committees and sub-committees.

A member of Cardigan Rugby Club Male Voice Choir, Cllr James also sits on the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel.

Cllr James added: “The last 14 months have not been easy for many people. I hope there is a light at the end of a long tunnel where we can meet and speak to loved ones again.

“I am a people’s person and I hope, if I am allowed, to have the opportunity to meet and talk to as many residents in Pembrokeshire as possible.”

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New international travel rules for Wales confirmed by First Minister

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International travel will restart for people in Wales from Monday 17 May, the Welsh Government has confirmed today.

As part of changes to Wales’ coronavirus regulations, people living in Wales will be able to travel to some overseas destinations without the need to quarantine on their return.

But additional safeguards will be put in place to help prevent new cases of coronavirus being imported into Wales.

A traffic lights system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced. Countries will be classified as green, amber and red, depending on their rates of coronavirus.

Mandatory quarantine is in place for all people returning to the UK from countries on the amber and red lists. All people returning from overseas travel must have a PCR test.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

 “Wales, like other parts of the UK, will be restarting international travel. But protecting people’s health continues to be our top priority and we want to do everything we can to prevent coronavirus from being re-imported into Wales.

 “This will not be like travel in the past. Everyone travelling abroad will have to have a test when they come home and for many people, they will need to quarantine when they get home. There are significant fines in place for those who do not follow the legal requirements.

“Some countries are not yet opening up travel to people from the UK. It’s my strong advice that this is the year to stay at home and enjoy all that Wales has to offer.”

Under the international travel rules:

• People arriving from green-list countries are not required to quarantine on their return to Wales, but they must book and pay for a mandatory PCR test on or before day two of their return. All travellers and members of their household will also be reminded about the availability of additional lateral flow tests to continue to monitor their health.

• People arriving from amber-list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home on their return. This is a legal requirement. They are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and on day eight. Unlike in England, Wales does not operate a test-to-release scheme where an additional test can be taken on day five to reduce the period of quarantine. This is because some 30% of people who develop Covid-19 do so after day five.

• People arriving from countries on the red list are required to quarantine for a full 10 days on arrival in the UK at a designated UK port in a government-managed facility – a ‘covid hotel’ – at their own cost, starting from £1,750 per person. All UK entry points for arrivals from red-list countries are in England and Scotland, which means Welsh residents returning from those countries will need to quarantine outside Wales. Travellers are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and day eight.

All those who do not follow the rules for red-list countries face fixed notice penalties of £10,000.

Welsh residents must also consult the requirements for visitors for any country they plan to travel to. Restrictions may be in place, including proof of vaccination, tests, quarantine and reasons for entry.

Vaccination status certificates will be available for people in Wales who have had two doses of their vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires covid vaccination proof from Monday 24 May.

The First Minister added:

“We call on people to think about whether they need to travel overseas at this time. We should be cautious about going abroad in light of the ongoing risk of coronavirus and the presence of variants of concern in many countries.

“My clear message to everyone is make Wales your destination of choice this year.”

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