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Transport developments for north county

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The NORTH Pembrokeshire Transport Forum (NPTF) have highlighted a series of important upcoming developments in the Welsh Assembly that are relevant to the north of the county.

The NPTF are an independent voluntary group who work for the provision of an effective integrated transport system in the North Pembrokeshire area, promoting the benefits of public transport and campaigning for better transport systems.
Throughout the last Assembly period, Assembly Members and the Welsh Government carried out an impressive amount of solid and in-depth work on transport throughout Wales.
The Welsh Government have been working with ports, local authorities and the tourism sector to ensure that they share a coordinated approach to improving the tourist experience.
There has also been investment in more extensive berthing facilities to attract cruise liners, which has been deemed successful due to the 19 different cruise ships that are set to dock in Fishguard between May and September.
A Spokesperson for the Fishguard Cruise Committee said: “The excellent docking facilities at the port of Fishguard, together with the stunning coastline, enables North Pembrokeshire to attract large numbers of vessels.
“For those ships too large to dock, special arrangements are being put in place to ensure safe anchorage and transportation of passengers.”
The Welsh Government stated that they will continue to work with bus and rail operators throughout Wales to ensure that timetable integration and service connections will be consistently improved.
As a part of these improvements, the government are fully supporting the need to enhance and expand Cardiff Central Station, with discussions having already been started with Network Rail about the feasibility of the project.
On top of this, the government are hoping to investigate the eligibility of concessionary fares in order to ensure that the transport funding is used effectively and continue to offer value for money in advancement of policies to make Wales a more equal nation.
Local authorities are continuing to press the UK Government for the devolution of powers in relation to the direction of infrastructure management in Wales in order to deliver Welsh aspirations for rail services across the length and breadth of the network.
The Welsh Government are calling for transparency and accountability for rail infrastructure in Wales, as is the case in Scotland’s successful rail network.
Based on the outcome of their April transport consultation, as well as wider public engagement and discussions with the railway industry, the Welsh Government are hoping to develop a set of detail proposals which will, later on this year, be the subject of further consultation and public discussion.
This transport consultation was organised following news in March that Fishguard was branded the region’s worst rail performer.
Fishguard only reported a measly 20% increase in passengers despite the millions of pounds in renovations and additions which have been invested in the station.
Official statistics from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) were analysed by Transport Consultant John Davies, who stated that the 21% increase in rail passengers at Fishguard and Goodwick station is a “major disappointment” due to the Welsh Government’s fight to fund the station’s additional train services.
Despite several Welsh stations seeing passenger growth of more than 200%, Mr Davies also suggested that there should be more improvements along the South Wales main lines due to the relatively small passenger growth in those areas.
Fishguard and Goodwick station was closed by British Railways when local services between Fishguard and Clarbeston Road were withdrawn on April 6, 1964.
Following the closure of normal passenger trains, the station remained in use for a few more months for workmen’s trains to the Royal Navy Armaments Depot in Trecwn.
Between June 18 1965 and September 18 1980, the station became the terminus of a seasonal motorail service from London.
The station was also used temporarily in the June of 1982, whilst the railway lines at the Fishguard Harbour station were being moved and re-laid. High speed train services ran through the station until the early 1990s, but services were ceased in 1994.
The reopening of Fishguard and Goodwick station as a rail-bus interchange was considered by Pembrokeshire County Council for a number of years.
In March 2011, it was announced by Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones of the Welsh Assembly Government that they would provide a subsidy which would allow for an increase in train frequency at the Fishguard and Goodwick station in September 2011 from two trains per day to seven, a service which they wanted to be trialed for three years.
This announcement from the Welsh Assembly prompted a wider governmental search for the railway’s funding which was eventually successfully found, leading to an announcement that the station would then re-open in March 2012.
The re-opening work cost £325,000, which including the lowering and realigning of the old tracks by Network Rail, as well as the clearing of the old derelict timber station building. The Welsh Government spent approximately £1.4m funding five extra trains which run Monday to Saturday.
Previous to this, the NPTF campaigned for a number for years for a better stations and improved services. They brought up the fact that the parking at the old station was expensive and would possible deter people from using the rail service.
Hatti Woakes, Secretary of the NPTF, highlighted the importance of the rail service to the town’s businesses, tourists and residents: “Fishguard has the potential to be a hub for so many things – walkers, cyclists, buses – the only thing missing was a decent train service. This is the last piece of the jigsaw, it is wonderful.”
“We’re now getting people communing to Carmarthen, which we have never had before. One B&B owners says her business has doubled and the people who stay with her think that the new services are wonderful.”
“We feel we’re now linked up with the rest of the world.”
The Welsh Government said that the overall positive figures around Wales indicate that its aim of modernising the Welsh rail infrastructure seems to be working well.
A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “Our significant investment in this area over a number of years has resulted in growing demand for rail services.”
“We intend to further build on this success when we take over full responsibility for the Wales and Borders rail franchise in 2018. This will give us greater ability to specify services to meet passenger needs across the full franchise area.”
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Judith Rhead murder investigation – Detectives given more time to question suspect

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POLICE have been given more time to question a 43-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder.

The man has been in police custody since Saturday night, after being arrested over the death 68-year-old Judith Rhead.

She was found in a residential property in Market Street.

The police now have until Thursday afternoon (Feb 25) to question the suspect.

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All people eligible for vaccination will get theirs by end of July

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PEOPLE eligible for the coronavirus vaccine will get theirs by the end of July, the Health Minister has said.

Wales achieved its target of getting everyone in the first four priority groups vaccinated by the middle of February and is now working on offering the vaccine to those in groups 5 to 9.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with severe or profound learning disabilities or with a mental illness will be among priority group 6.

Mr Gething said that they were would make sure that no one is left behind.

The latest figures from Public Health Wales show that 878,506 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.

59,279 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We have achieved our first milestone of offering everyone in the first four priority groups vaccination by mid-February.

“We are now making progress in achieving our next milestone, which is to offer the vaccine to all individuals in priority groups 5 to 9.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with a severe/profound learning disability and individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment, should be invited for vaccination as part of priority group 6.

“There are challenges with identifying individuals within these groups, particularly given the JCVI language is not generally in use in Wales, and we are working hard to make sure that no one is left behind. Today we have published guidance on identifying eligible individuals in these groups and on how to support them to take up their vaccine offers.

“The JCVI has also said that some of our invaluable unpaid carers should be included in priority group 6.

“Today we have also published guidance on identifying those unpaid carers eligible for vaccine prioritisation and the process around this. I am grateful to the national carers’ organisations for their support with this work.”

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Council want your help to keep Pembrokeshire active

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is asking residents to give their views on local walking and cycling routes.

The Council aims to make journeys on foot and by bicycle easier, safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

In order to design a network that works for all, the Council would like to get the views of as many people as possible, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle. This will help ensure the routes built for walking and cycling work for the whole community.

The consultation focuses on the main towns and villages in Pembrokeshire which have been selected by Welsh Government as the designated localities in the County. These are:

  • Fishguard & Goodwick
  • Haverfordwest
  • Johnston
  • Milford Haven
  • Neyland
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pembroke
  • Tenby
  • Saundersfoot
  • Narberth

Pembrokeshire Council is currently undertaking an Active Travel Network Map consultation (ATNM) which will run in 3 stages

Consultation 1: Residents can take part in the consultation exercise online, hosted by Commonplace at https://Pembrokeshire.commonplace.is/

The interactive map allows participants to flag issues, problems and successes on a plan of the active travel settlement and add comments. Such points could be for example, a pavement that is too narrow or a newly built cycle route that is regarded as a success.

The first stage of the consultation will close on 31 st March 2021.

Consultation 2: Following this, the second step of the consultation will see the Council share the initial findings and ask people what they think of the plans
proposed as a result of the feedback received.

Consultation 3: The third stage of the consultation will give members of the public a final say on the Active Travel Network Maps before they are sent to Welsh Government for approval. These maps will have been produced taking into account public feedback and ideas from consultations 1 and 2.

By upgrading facilities and creating new walking and cycling routes, the Council plans to make Active Travel the popular choice for local journeys, to increase the attractiveness of local communities as places to live and work, improve health and well-being, and help tackle air pollution.

Cllr Phil Baker, Pembrokeshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “This consultation exercise will produce an Active Travel Network Map which will be a plan of routes the Council will use to inform where improvements to walking and cycling should be made in Pembrokeshire.

“It will help to make journeys on foot or by bicycle easier and safer for everyone, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle often and people who use mobility aids and will build on the increased level of walking and cycling that we have seen over the last 12 months during the pandemic.”

See more information on Active Travel at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/fitness-and-well-being/active-travel

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