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Toll bridge in Enterprise Zone is ‘ludicrous’

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Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 12.50.45PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has rejected a notice of motion from Cllr Bob Kilmister which called for the council to negotiate with the Welsh Government over the transfer of the Cleddau Bridge.

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet on Monday, February 22.

Cllr Kilmister stated that the Council lacked the will to negotiate with the Welsh Government and said it was ludicrous how there was a toll bridge in an Enterprise Zone.

However, Cllr Rob Lewis said that negotiations were currently taking place and added that he was perplexed as to why the notice of motion had come before them.

Cllr Bob Kilmister said: “The purpose of this is to quite clearly on whether we are prepared to stop using the bridge as a cash earner or not.

“The whole argument is about the Chief Financial Officers’ comments in the report. He says: ‘Should ownership of the Cleddau Bridge be transferred to the Welsh Government and the council receives no proceeds from the transfer it would lose net income of £1.9million per annum’.

“Who could disagree with that statement? My notice of motion seeks to negotiate a transfer. It does not specify the terms, they need to be negotiated and frankly I am very confident that this could be achieved with good will on both sides.

“Refusing this simply says that we don’t want to change our position at all. I’m extremely confident that this is a view not shared by the residents of this county. Currently, I think we lack that good will to negotiate. This council has used, over many years, all kinds of smoke and mirrors on this issue. It has, in my opinion, deliberately misled members and the general public because it raises so much income for the council.

“It has ignored the economic considerations or the effect it has had on businesses and residents who use it, often on a daily basis.

“It has been a stealth tax since this council was formed and before. The notional debt issue confused everyone, including the Wales Audit Office, but at last we now have a clear position on that issue.

“If anyone doubts that the tolls on this bridge do not have a detrimental effect on the county’s economy then they are, in my humble opinion, utterly deluded.

“We have a toll bridge in the middle of an Enterprise Zone, frankly it beggars belief.

“We need to negotiate a conclusion to this saga and this seeks to achieve that end.”

Council Leader Jamie Adams said it was not fair to suggest that the running of the Cleddau Bridge was dreamed up by the council.

Cllr Rob Lewis said: “This is something that has taken up quite a lot of council time over the last 18 months. To say that we as an authority have done nothing would be wrong. There has been substantial work carried out by the Economy Task and Finish Group.

“The important thing that we need to be aware of is the current work taking place with the Welsh Government looking at the future of the road network of the area. Cllr Kilmister seems to be asking to do something that we started doing a while ago. This is the process that we need to follow.”

Cllr Sue Perkins said: “I’m sure nobody likes to pay for the Bridge but I think everybody understands that before the bridge it took an hour get round so it is a huge important benefit to the area and once the work has been done Welsh Government could take it over and say we will not charge at all and trunk the road which is something that many people have argued about.

“My concern is that we would not only lose the bridge and the management of it but we could also end up costing a huge amount more for the people of the area. We don’t know but that is the work that needs to be undertaken and this is what we are doing.”

Council Leader Jamie Adams added that the council would, on some occasions, need to draw on the money coming in from the bridge like they had in the past to strengthen the bridge.

Cllr Bob Kilmister said: “The Act of Parliament was very specific saying how the use of funds should be made and there is great doubt that we have actually followed that act.

“My party, the Liberal Democrats, first raised the issue in 1984 with Patrick Jones so to say that this has come out of nowhere so this isn’t the case.

“We have made huge profit out of this bridge over the time of its existence. That is either in the region of either a minimum of £7million and a maximum of £19million. This argument is simply about money.

“We have to negotiate and we haven’t done that in a constructive manner with Welsh Government up to this time and we need to preserve our financial position as best we are able to do that.

“We have a duty to protect and build that economy and at the present moment our actions with the Bridge do not help that to happen and to have a toll bridge in an Enterprise Zone is ludicrous and I cannot understand how that came about.”

The notice of motion from Cllr Kilmister was not adopted.

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Health

Pembrokeshire residents urged to take a virtual GP consultation when offered

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PEMBROKESHIRE residents are being urged to take up the offer of a virtual consultation, over the phone or video call with their GP, to help Keep Wales Safe during the current lockdown ‘stay at home’ restrictions.

The way we access local NHS services is changing, with more ways in which you can consult your doctor or nurse. Most surgeries now offer telephone as well as electronic advice consultations in the first instance. Following your advice call, a face to face appointment may be organised, but video consultations are also available. You can now speak to a doctor or healthcare professional using the video camera in your smartphone, tablet or computer and a connection to the internet. This is often more convenient and can save you time, as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. The system used is confidential and secure.

In a recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign only 27% of residents in Mid and West Wales had made use of the GP virtual service over the past 12 months with just 57% having heard of the service. However, 88% believed it was important to have access to a remote GP consultation once they had learnt of its existence.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “If you are offered a video consultation appointment this is because your Health Care Professional has indicated that is it safe and appropriate to do so. Your video appointment will be confidential and will not be recorded. If you require support please contact your GP surgery using the number provided in the appointment confirmation.”

She continued: “By putting off small problems or regular appointments you could potentially be putting more strain on NHS emergency services so please, help us to help you, do not put anything off. Local GP surgeries are open and are there to offer medical advice and consult patients.”

After being offered a video consultation you will be sent a letter, email or text with details of your appointment. This communication will contain details of the service that has requested to see you by video and have provided a web address link. You can type or copy the web address link into a web browser via an internet enabled device and this will take you to the video clinic waiting area.

  • In order to access your virtual appointment, you will need:
  • Access to a device that will allow you to access the internet. You should use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser on a desktop or laptop, or on an Android tablet or smartphone or Safari web browser on an Apple iMac, MacBook, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Your device will need a webcam (camera), speakers and microphone.
  • A good internet connection (if you can watch a YouTube video, this is good indication that you have a good connection).
  • An internet usage plan that is sufficient to cover the data consumption of a video call – ideally use a Wi-Fi connection if you have this available.

Sixty two percent of those surveyed by YouGov in Mid and West Wales said they will continue to access NHS services using the new ways that have been introduced as a result of the pandemic. The new methods include making more use of pharmacists; virtual GP consultations and using the NHS 111 online and telephone services.

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‘Cautious optimism’ for county’s tourism sector – but clarity still needed

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‘GIVE us clarity’ is the overriding message from the County’s tourism and hospitality businesses as the sector looks forward with cautious optimism to another busy season.

In a meeting hosted by Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, thirty key local businesses were able to share their views with Paul Davies MS, Pembrokeshire County Council, the National Park and Visit Pembrokeshire.

The meeting focussed on the need for business support measures so long as uncertainty remains over the timetable for re-opening the economy in Wales.

Stephen Crabb said: “There is a lot of belief around that this summer will see another ‘staycation’ boom so long as the vaccination programme continues to make good progress and infection rates fall. Pembrokeshire has had a lot of national media coverage in recent months and could experience a bumper season but it’s crucial we get the re-opening right. There is a clear need for some kind of timetable to help businesses prepare appropriately and for clear rules to avoid confusion and contradictory messages.”

Paul Davies said: “It was a pleasure to hear from tourism businesses across Pembrokeshire about some of the challenges that they’re currently facing. The message was pretty clear – they want clarity from the Welsh Government and some timescales by which they can start to plan for reopening. I’ll certainly be taking back the concerns highlighted during the meeting and raising them with Welsh Government Ministers at the Senedd.”

Emma Thornton from Visit Pembrokeshire added: “Great to attend the Hospitality and Tourism Round table event today and to have the opportunity to discuss the ongoing challenges our industry faces over the coming months but also to share a collective optimism for what we believe will be a really strong year for tourism in Pembrokeshire when we are able to reopen and welcome our visitors back.

“Visit Pembrokeshire as the new Destination Management (DMO) for Pembrokeshire will be working closely with local stakeholders and businesses to help realise this opportunity in a sustainable and responsible way mindful of protecting what makes our beautiful county so special”

Stephen Crabb: Wants clarity for tourism businesses

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News

Funding secured for volunteering support at Paul Sartori Hospice at Home

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PAUL SARTORI Hospice at Home, a Pembrokeshire-based charity, is delighted to announce that they were recently awarded £29,814.00 by the Pembrokeshire County Council Enhancing Pembrokeshire Scheme. The charity has been awarded a grant to develop the “We Care: Volunteering Support” project, which will improve the volunteer infrastructure and support the volunteer community.

The project will combat issues around Second Home ownership by increasing community engagement and opportunities to connect people through training, open days, new social events and wider community outreach and communication. The first phase of the project has been completed with the successful recruitment of Eleanor Evans, the We Care: Project Officer. Eleanor joins this part of the charity, on a secondment basis, and brings a wealth of
experience, not only within the charity but also working with volunteers throughout the county.

The charity has experienced challenges over the last 12 months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new project will enhance the existing volunteer structure within the charity, develop incentives to increase volunteer engagement; support volunteers by providing increased training opportunities and develop a new social culture to decrease loneliness and isolation. Recognising that the pandemic has been a difficult time for many, improving and increasing community communication will also be a key aim.

Furthermore, the Sartori Stores throughout Pembrokeshire, have been through a difficult year, closing, opening and closing again. Most volunteers have gracefully assisted the charity, often at the drop of a hat, to open the stores.

Unfortunately, the charity has witnessed a decrease in the number of available volunteers to help, due to the pandemic. So therefore, another key objective will be to recruit and train more volunteers to assist in generating vital income and supporting areas within the clinical services.

“I am very excited to join this area of the charity and am looking forward to this new role. Having worked within the retail sector previously, I know how a lack of volunteers within a store can have a detrimental effect on the opening days and times. This will be where I will be concentrating my recruitment efforts on initially,” stated Eleanor Evans, We: Care Project Officer.

“Here at Paul Sartori we work hard to deliver a rewarding volunteer experience – we
ensure that adequate training is given to all volunteers. Our managers provide training and invest time with our volunteers to ensure they have the skills to work in many areas across the charity. Our stores can be a very busy, fast-paced environment, which offers a great opportunity for the environmentally conscious individual who wishes to help out a local charity selling pre-loved goods,” added Eleanor.

Cllr Bob Kilmister, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said the Council were pleased to support Paul Sartori deliver their We Care: Volunteering Support project.

“This project will add to the wide range of essential services Paul Sartori already provide to people in Pembrokeshire, improve their volunteer infrastructure and support the volunteer community,” he said.

“This is such a difficult time for charities and local organisations to maintain their services and volunteer activities and it is important to support them to strengthen their volunteer base, especially at this time when Covid is increasing the incidence of isolation and loneliness.”

The Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant, using funds raised via the Second Homes Tax is available to provide funding for new projects that help address the negative impact of second homes and in doing so adds value to our communities.

“This grant has come at a good time for the charity. Assisting our valued volunteers; recruiting more active volunteers and investing more in our existing training programme will ensure that the charity is financially sustained for many years to come,” said Judith Williams, Grants Coordinator at Paul Sartori Hospice at Home.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home provides a range of services to Pembrokeshire people living in the final stages of a life-limiting illness, including home nursing care, equipment loan, complementary therapy, bereavement and counselling support, under 18’s anticipatory grief and bereavement support, physiotherapy, advance care planning and training.

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish. All of the services are free of charge and are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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