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Labour back Tory Brexit amendment



Dark day for Wales: Adam Price

Dark day for Wales: Adam Price

THE WELSH Labour Government has been accused of adopting a ‘hard Brexit’ position after their AMs voted in favour of an amendment tabled by the Welsh Conservatives.

The original motion from Plaid Cymru called for membership of the Single Market.

However, the amendment, tabled by Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies, instead noted the importance of access to the Single Market.

Carwyn Jones admitted during First Minister’s Questions that the ‘red line’ for Wales in the Brexit debates was the free movement of goods rather than people.

Plaid Cymru, predictably, fiercely criticised Welsh Labour, with Adam Price calling the vote ‘the most shocking event since devolution’ and accusing Labour of ‘voting against the Welsh national interest’.

“Due to the way Labour voted, David Davis’ hard Brexit policy has now been adopted by the Welsh Government,” the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM added.

“This is a dark day for Wales as the National Assembly becomes the first parliament in these islands to vote in favour of a hard Brexit, and to yield any possible leverage in securing the best deal for Wales, thanks to Labour joining forces with the Tories.

“Ever since the Brexit vote, the Labour government’s position on membership of the Single Market has been confused at best, with successive statements expressing contradictory positions. One minute Labour was in favour of full membership then just access the next; one minute they wanted free movement of people, the next minute they were calling for a moratorium on free movement.”

However, a spokesperson for Ken Skates AM hit back, describing the Plaid Cymru motion as ‘sloppy’ and ‘designed to generate a press release and not a meaningful debate’.

“It does no-one any favours to have these wild claims every time the Welsh Government declines to play this semantic parlour game on how best to respond to Brexit,” they added.

“Our view is clear – we support continued, unfettered access to the Single Market. We have not supported hard Brexit today, nor will we ever – the Cabinet Secretary was very clear about our aims and priorities.”

It is worth pointing out that, given that Brexit negotiations have not yet properly begun, no time scale exists yet for the triggering of Article 50, and that the UK government appears unable to agree on the best possible Brexit outcomes, that any motion passed in the Assembly at this stage could quickly become irrelevant. The free movement of people within the EU was also considered to be a major factor in Wales voting as a country to leave the EU.

In a turn of events so rare as to be almost without precedent, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, praised the Welsh Labour Government. Mr Davies said: “This was a bright day for Welsh democracy, and I’m pleased that the Welsh political establishment has at last heeded my calls to accept the result and to move on to securing the best possible deal for Wales.

“My party tabled a sensible, constructive motion which sought cross-party consensus in order to heal the tensions which have remained in Welsh political discourse since June 23.

“We now have a collective voice for Wales and, though there will be bumps along the road, a set of basic starting principles have been established. “Not only does it send a strong message to voters that the Welsh Assembly accepts that the public want a degree of control over immigration, it also sends a signal that we now want to work collectively as a country to support the Prime Minister in moving this process forward.”

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Tenby Conservative club will become a five-bed home



TENBY’S former Conservative club, closed since the Covid pandemic, has been given the go-ahead to revert to a single dwelling, a position it has not occupied since the 1940s.

In an application submitted to national park planners, Andrew W Davies, through agent Aaron Mills, sought permission for a change of use of the Hazelwell Club, St Florence Parade – along with internal alterations – into a five-bedroom single dwelling.

Tenby Town Council raised no objection to the application, within the boundary of Tenby centre and the conservation area.

A report for planners stated: “The ‘club’ closed at the start of the Covid pandemic and has remained as such since. It has now surrendered it licence and its affiliation with the Conservative Club and the applicant has stated that the building is in a poor in a poor state of repair and not fit to reopen.”

A similar 2021 application was refused by park planners on the basis there was a “lack of evidence to justify that the community facility was no longer required, not commercially viable or that reasonable attempts had been made to secure suitable employment or affordable housing uses,” the report said.

A supporting statement by agent Aaron Mills detailed the history of the four-storey Hazelwell Club, built in 1881, and a private residence up to 1947 when it was converted into residential flats, before later becoming the Conservative Club on the lower floors, a flat remaining on the upper floors.

Due to financial difficulties of the Conservative Club, Mr and Mrs Davies purchased the building in December 2005 giving the Conservative Club a 15-year free rental period, later backed by an £80,000 loan.

By 2019 the club was only open on weekends after years of dwindling membership due to an elderly clientele, later ceasing trading due to Covid 19 long term restrictions.

In May 2021, the club vacated the building and paid the £80,000 loan back.

“On handover back to the landlords it was evident there had been little expenditure both externally and internally of the buildings upkeep. The condition of the building could only be described as poor throughout when seeking a new commercial tenant or put on the open market as a commercial and residential building for sale,” the statement said.

The property was, in 2021, placed on the open market in the region of £550,000, but there was little or no interest, the applicants now seeking to convert it back to a family residence as it was from 1881 through to 1947, with the addition of two first-floor rooms being offered as Air B and B accommodation when available.

The application was conditionally approved by park planners.

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Sageston gypsy traveller site extension refusal expected



AN APPLICATION to extend a gypsy traveller site next to a residential complex is being recommended for refusal for a second time.

The application, to be considered by Pembrokeshire planners at their October 3 meeting, had previously been recommended for refusal in September; members instead agreeing to a site visit.

Nelson Jones and Sylvie Jones had applied for two additional gypsy traveller pitches, a shared day room, a new hay shed/store and an update of a previously- approved layout on land adjacent to Pincheston Farm residential complex, Sageston.

A report for planners said the proposed two pitches would be sited along the eastern boundary of the application site and opposite the existing pitches at the site, which borders Pincheston Farm, a former agricultural complex has been converted into a number of residential units.

The application had been brought to the September committee rather than being decided under delegated powers following a request by local councillor Vanessa Thomas, who said there was no viable access to the site, and it would have a “detrimental effect on this peaceful rural community”.

Reasons for refusal included visual intrusion when viewed from the nearby A477 trunk road, a harmful effect on the character and appearance of the countryside, and the proposed development would lead to an increased use of the single lane access track resulting in inconvenience to users from being unable to pass.

“The subsequent adverse impact on residential amenity would hinder the peaceful and integrated co-existence between the site and the local community,” the report added.

Local community council Carew has objected to the application due to an impact on community relations, the design of the development would impact on neighbouring occupiers, the site is too close to neighbouring properties, and the development would have a detrimental impact on amenity.

Ten letters of objection were also received, raising similar issues.

At the September meeting, agent Andrew Vaughan-Harries expressed his disappointment at the recommendation for refusal, adding: “The family has grown, currently they live in Castle Quarry [Pembroke] and have two pitches for five adults and two children; Castle Quarry has issues, a lot of investment is needed there.”

He said the applicants had owned the site for 18 years, and that a concern about potential hostility “really isn’t there”.

He told planners as many as 46 pitches were needed for travellers in south Pembrokeshire in the next decade.

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Newchapel pet exercise field expected to be refused again



AMENDED plans for a dog exercise field, previously refused following a lengthy debate on the noise from barking dogs, are again expected to be turned down.

In May, Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee narrowly refused a retrospective application by Mr and Mrs George for a change of use of a field to a dog exercising field, and associated works, at Ffynnone Dog Field, near the village of Newchapel.

That application had been recommended for refusal on the grounds the change of use harms the amenity of neighbouring properties from the noise of barking dogs, and is located outside of any settlement boundaries as identified within the Local Development Plan for Pembrokeshire.

The business operates seven days a week on a booking-only system, and the field is not designed, or advertised, to be used for commercial dog training or dog classes of any kind, planners heard.

Local community council Manordeifi had objected to the application, with a string of reasons, including road safety concerns connected with access to the site, noise of barking dogs, a lack of consultation over the plans, emotional distress to residents, and even “Verbal altercations between users of the park and residents”.

A report for members ahead of the new application – to be considered by the October meeting of the planning committee – said the previous scheme has since been amended “to address discrepancies and concerns raised during the course of the application”.

Amendments include tree planting for screening and 2.4-metre-high fencing, and that a porta-loo would be installed in the field, along with a new access, parking and turning areas, to address road safety concerns.

The new application has been accompanied by a noise assessment report and noise management plan, in an attempt to address a previous bone of contention.

However, the council’s Head of Housing and Public Protection considers that noise assessment methodology to be flawed, the report said, recommending that the application be refused due to the adverse impact it has on local amenity during its operation, “which would only intensify if consent were to be granted”.

The report for members ends: “Due to the nature of the proposed use of the field within close proximity to residential properties, it is considered that the use is not compatible with the area and that it would have a detrimental impact on the residential amenity of the neighbouring properties through noise associated with its use.”

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