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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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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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