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St Davids: New RNLI station opened

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The St Davids RNLI lifeboat crew outside the old lifeboat station,which has seen lifeboats launch since 1912 (pic. Lyndon Lomax)

The St Davids RNLI lifeboat crew outside the old lifeboat station,which has seen lifeboats launch since 1912 (pic. Lyndon Lomax)

ST DAVIDS RNLI have ushered in a new chapter in their proud 147-year lifesaving history today (October 21) on an emotional day for crew members past and present.

The current lifeboat crew are delighted to move into their new £10m station at St Justinian’s, which has just been declared fully operational after intensive launch testing. The state-of-the-art building in one of the most remote corners of the Welsh coast took more than two years to construct and will now be the launch base for the station’s £2.7M Tamar class lifeboat and the smaller inshore lifeboat.

But today is also a day of reflection as volunteer lifeboat crew past and present say goodbye to the beloved Tyne class lifeboat Garside as it launches down the old station slipway for the final time. Garside first arrived on station in 1988 and in its 28 years of service has launched 343 times to emergencies at sea. Its crews have saved 79 lives and rescued 35 people.

Today crew from across the lifespan of the lifeboat – some of whom have been crew members for the entirety of its service – will take to the water to watch the final launch and say farewell to the stalwart lifesaving vessel.

st-davids-rnli

St Davids RNLI’s Tyne class lifeboat Garside’s crew waving goodbye after the boat’s final launch this morning. (pic. Lyndon Lomax)

It will also be the final time a lifeboat launches from the historic former lifeboat station in St Justinian’s, which has stood since 1912 and seen generations of crews pass down the slipway to save lives at sea.

St Davids RNLI Coxswain Dai John, who recently won a long-service award for his 30 years on the crew, said: “Crew members have come and gone, but Garside has been a consistent and reliable presence here for almost three decades.

“Every member of the crew will have their memories of her, whether it’s their first shout, the endless scrubbing to keep her pristine or a memorable rescue. Naturally we are all sad to see her go.

“But from today we will be looking forward and the new lifeboat and the new station and facilities mean we will be able to save lives at sea for many more years to come.”

The remote location of the new station posed many challenges for main building contractor BAM Nuttall, both in terms of access for plant and equipment and the unpredictable sea and weather conditions. The seaward part of the works were constructed using a large jack-up barge, whilst the landward foundation works and construction of the boathouse were serviced from the land using a 70m reach tower-crane. Wherever practical, materials were brought in by sea to minimise the effects on the narrow access roads.

As well as the slipway for the Tamar class lifeboat, the new boathouse has additional space to accommodate the smaller D-class inshore lifeboat.  Its facilities include a drying room for kit and better provision for crew training and equipment maintenance. There is better access to the station, which is important for the delivery of equipment and, more importantly, for the evacuation of casualties brought in by the lifeboat

Paul Eastment, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager, said: “This is a proud day for St Davids RNLI. Everyone involved in the project has put in a tremendous amount of hard work to get to where we are today.

“The former lifeboat station has stood for more than a century and the exposure to the rigors of the sea and the need to house the new 25-knot Tamar class lifeboat meant a new boathouse and slipway was needed.

“The new facilities will support the operation of the St Davids lifeboats well into the 21st century, contributing to the saving of many more lives and building upon the long and proud record of the brave lifeboat crews who have served this challenging part of the coastline for almost 150 years.’

Local people chipped in to support the new station project and the community arm of the fundraising appeal exceeded all expectations, raising over £214,000 towards the costs of the project. Welsh sporting stars Ian Walsh and Gerald Davies fronted the community appeal and the biggest bequest – a surprise £80,000 donation – was received in memory of the late Captain Bleddyn James by his sister Miss Ella.

Dai John said: “We would like to thank the local community, both for their overwhelming support via the fundraising appeal, and their patience and understanding during the period of construction.”

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Pembrokeshire County Council bills Home Office for Penally camp costs

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THE COUNCIL has sent an invoice for more than £80,000 to the Home Office.

It is to cover some of the costs that the local authority has incurred in connection with the Penally Asylum Seeker Centre, near Tenby.

Following a question on the issue from Cllr Jonathan Preston at Full Council the Council have confirmed that a bill has been sent.

The Member for Penally ward asked: “Please can the relevant Cabinet Member provide a breakdown of all costs to this authority which have been incurred in providing staff, services and other associated resources to Penally camp since its re-purpose by the Home Office last September?”

Council leader Cllr. David Simpson confirmed that on February 22 Pembrokeshire County Council submitted an invoice for £83, 858 which includes £65,564 in staff costs, £12,799 of specialist support and £5,495 for works such as barriers.

Pembrokeshire County Council is currently awaiting payment, the Authority confirmed.

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Hospitality sector welcomes Budget boost

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IT HAS been so long it seems since we could stand at a bar and enjoy a well-earned pint, but now we are on the road back to normality, the Herald has spoken to some of those in the hospitality sector who have been asked to close. We wanted to know what the owners in businesses in these sectors locally thought of the budget and if Rishi Sunak had done enough to help them.

We first spoke to a Milford Haven restaurant business. Owner of Martha’s Vineyard in Milford Haven, Dan Mills said that the budget was not a silver bullet to fix all problems but said that the budget had gone a fair way to delivering what many in the Pembrokeshire hospitality sector have been calling for in recent weeks.

Dan Mills said: “The biggest risk many of us were facing was the cliff edge of a VAT increase, the end of the Furlough Scheme and a return to full business rates, I’m pleased that the Chancellor has recognised this and taken action on all fronts.

“With talk of the Welsh Government restricting us to outside trading for an initial period, the flexibility that the Furlough Scheme brings will be a huge help to ensure staff retain their jobs.

“I was also delighted to see that the Chancellor has provided funding to Wales to ensure that we benefit from a further 12 months of Business Rate Relief here in Pembrokeshire, that’s money that many of us can instead invest into restarting our businesses.

“I hope that the conversation that unfortunately began due to Covid between politicians and the Pembrokeshire hospitality and tourism sector can continue long beyond this crisis, it seems that through some open and honest feedback we are making real progress.

Award winning gastro-pub The Griffin Inn is well known throughout Wales and has received many national reviews. Their reputation puts them in a strong position once they are allowed to re-open. We spoke to Sian and Simon Vickers about the budget.

Simon Vickers, co-owner is also a director of Visit Pembrokeshire. He told The Herald: “I think the budget was very positive for the hospitality industry with the reduction in VAT being the biggest help.

“Overall I feel the government have supported the industry amazingly

In regard to tax on alcohol, Simon said: “Duty has been frozen It would have been nice to have seen a cut in it. Whether there’s a cut or not the breweries always increase their prices so in all honesty it never affects us.”

The ongoing financial support has been welcomed by industry group CAMRA, The Campaign or Real Ale, but the organisation said that the Chancellor had missed the opportunity to lower beer duty to save our pubs.

Their national chairman Nik Antona issued a statement to The Pembrokeshire Herald saying: “Freezing alcohol duty is obviously better than a rise. However, CAMRA had hoped to see the Chancellor announce a cut in duty on beer served on tap in pubs and social clubs to benefit consumers and help the great British pub recover and thrive in the difficult months and years ahead by being able to compete with supermarket alcohol.

“The Government’s commitment to review alcohol duties in the coming months is welcome. CAMRA will continue to call for a lower rate of duty for beer served in pubs – an option available to the Government now we have left the European Union.

“Reducing tax on beer served in pubs and social clubs would encourage responsible drinking in a supervised, community setting – as well as boosting jobs and local economies, helping consumers and benefiting pubs and licensees.”

On financial support announced, Nik commented: “Cutting VAT as pubs begin to reopen, and reducing it until April next year, means they can now start benefiting from that cut – but CAMRA believes this VAT cut should be extended to alcohol so that traditional locals that don’t serve food can benefit too.

“The extension of furlough until September and new grants of up to £18,000 are very welcome. However, pubs are unlikely to be able to fully reopen at pre-COVID trading levels due to outside space and then table service only indoors. The beer and pubs sector will need further support over the coming months, over and above new loans, to help them get back on their feet until there is a full and proper re-opening and they can trade at full capacity.

“Extending the business rates holiday until the end of June will help keep the wolves from the door for many English pubs, with the two-thirds reduction for the rest of the financial year a welcome step. However, given how tough it will be for many pubs we believe the 100% cut in business rates needs to be extended for a full 12 months as has already happened in Scotland.”

Picture: Simon Vickers, Griffin Inn, Dale

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Milford Haven-bound ‘flying oil tanker’ hits the national news

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A MILFORD HAVEN bound oil tanker has made the national news, after a photograph taken off the Cornish coast made it look like the ship was flying.

An optical illusion caused the ship to appear as though it was floating above the horizon

The ship is believed to be the Hafnia Malacca Oil/Chemical Tanker which is heading to Pembrokeshire from Primorsk, Russia via the English Channel.

David Morris, from the hamlet of Gillan, near Falmouth took a photo of the ship near Falmouth, Cornwall, the BBC have reported.

On the BBC news website, meteorologist David Braine said the “superior mirage” occurred because of “special atmospheric conditions that bend light”.

He said the illusion is common in the Arctic, but can appear “very rarely” in the UK during winter.

Mr Morris said he was “stunned” after capturing the picture while looking out to sea from the hamlet of Gillan

Mr Braine said: “Superior mirages occur because of the weather condition known as a temperature inversion, where cold air lies close to the sea with warmer air above it.

“Since cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of someone standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears.

“Superior mirages can produce a few different types of images – here a distant ship appears to float high above its actual position, but sometimes an object below the horizon can become visible.”

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