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Council has only recovered £25,000

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Cllr Stoddart: Still hasn’t received an answer

Cllr Stoddart: Still hasn’t received an answer

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has only recovered £25,000 of the £189,224.26 which was paid to Mr Cathal McCosker in relation to the Pembroke and Pembroke Dock Commercial Property Grant Sche me.

That was the revelation at Thursday’s (Oct 20) Full Council meeting, where it was also revealed that, in a letter sent in April 2014, Mr McCosker had offered to pay back the full amount.

Mr McCosker stated in his letter that he was prepared to pay off one of the projects before paying the rest back within 12 months.

The police were also handed a series of documents in 2014 but nothing has happened and Cllr Mike Stoddart suspects that another cover-up is going on.

WEFO has also removed £309, 603.73 of funding, but that came out of the council’s resources and was unbudgeted.

When asked why only £25,000 had been recovered, Council Leader Jamie Adams said he did not know and said he would write to Cllr Mike Stoddart with the answer. At the time of going to press, Cllr Stoddart had still not received an answer.

At Thursday’s council meeting, Cllr Stoddart asked: “How much of the £189,224.26 that the council is seeking to recover from Mr Cathal McCosker and companies under his control in respect of irregular payments under the Pembroke and Pembroke Dock Commercial Property Grant Scheme (CPGS) has the council received to date?

“What was the total amount removed by WEFO from the Authority’s CPGS allocation as a result of irregular payments to Mr McCosker and companies under his control?”

Council Leader Jamie Adams answered: “£25,000 of the £189.224.26 has been repaid to date. It should be noted that as charges were based on all properties, the council will not be financially disadvantaged.”

Cllr Stoddart responded: “I’m aware that Mr McCosker wrote this council a letter in April 2014, in which he offered to pay back £180,000 that he had in grants and he offered to pay one project back immediately – that was 10 Meyrick Street, Pembroke Dock – and the rest within 12 months.

“Now we’re two-and-a-half years down the road and he’s paid back £25,000. Why wasn’t that offer taken up when he made it?”

Cllr Adams said he did not know the reason why the offer was not taken up.

In response to Cllr Stoddart’s second question, Cllr Adams answered: “The WEFO approval for the Pembroke and Pembroke Dock regeneration scheme included an amount of expenditure for a commercial property grant scheme. Under EU funding rules, expenditure claimed against that approval but later found by WEFO to be ineligible is excluded from the claim but also acts to reduce the approved amount of eligible expenditure during the operation as a whole.

“The whole of the expenditure declared in relation to the properties owned by Mr McCosker or properties under his control was £309,603.73; therefore, the reduction in the approved expenditure was the same amount. This equates to a reduction in the ERDF grant approval of £220,262.29.”

Cllr Stoddart responded: “As this money was taken out of the council’s allocation and has never been claimed back from Mr McCosker, save £25,000, I think it follows that this money has come out of this council’s own resources. The money that’s been paid out on these projects in Pembroke Dock – it should have come out of WEFO’s resources and it’s come out of this council’s resources, so how was that budgeted for?”

Chief Finance Officer John Haswell said: “It wasn’t budgeted for but when the money was reclaimed, we had no choice but to pay it back.”

Cllr Stoddart replied: “As we’d already paid it out to Mr McCosker, it came out of this council’s resources.”

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Blue Gem Wind begins digital aerial surveys for 300MW Valorous floating wind project

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BLUE GEM WIND, the joint venture between TotalEnergies, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and Simply Blue Energy, has begun offshore digital aerial surveys for a proposed 300MW floating wind project.

APEM Ltd have been chosen by Blue Gem Wind to deliver 24 consecutive monthly bird and marine mammal surveys of the early-commercial scale Valorous site. The high resolution data obtained will support baseline environmental characterisation of the site and environmental impact assessments for key ecological receptors.

The survey programme commenced in March 2021 and four of the 24 monthly surveys have been completed
to date.

Sean Evans, Environmental Specialist at Blue Gem Wind said, “It is important for us to begin long-lead in items
such as bird and marine mammal surveys as early as possible. These surveys will provide crucial species specific
data on the number, spatial distribution and activity of individuals across the Valorous site. This enables us to
undertake robust environmental impact assessments ahead of our planned consent application submission in
2023.”

Matt Rohner, Senior Consultant at APEM, “APEM Ltd are delighted to be able to support Blue Gem Wind’s
proposed Valorous offshore wind farm with our best-in-class survey design approach. Imagery captured using
state-of-the-art cameras is of ultra-high (1.6cm) resolution, providing industry leading image quality that is
essential for species level identification.”

The Celtic Sea is poised to play a key role in Net Zero, the Committee on Climate Change’s 100GW offshore
wind target, and crucially, the UK Government’s target of 1 GW of floating wind by 2030. The ORE Catapult also
estimated that the first GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea could potentially deliver over 3,000 jobs and
£682m in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030.

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Three arrests as suspected cocaine worth £12,000 seized in Milford Haven

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POLICE in Milford Haven have disrupted the supply of cocaine in the town in a major operation which saw people detained and a large quantity of drugs found.

Three people were arrested and suspected cocaine worth up to £12,200 was seized, police said.

Dyfed-Powys Police carried out a warrant at a house in Hubberston on the evening of Friday, June 11, “where 122g of what is believed to be cocaine was found.”

This is estimated to have a street value of between £9,760 and £12,200 depending on its purity.

The occupant of the address – a 59-year-old man – was not present at the time, however he was later arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

He has been released under investigation pending the result of forensic, digital and financial enquiries.

As enquiries progressed, officers made two further arrests over the weekend.

A 33-year-old man from Manchester, was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and possession of an offensive weapon after police stopped the car he was driving.

A quantity of white powder was seized by Greater Manchester Police during a warrant at the address he gave officers in custody.

A 27-year-old woman from the Stockport area was also arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.

Both have been released on bail with the condition not to enter Pembrokeshire.

Detective Constable Phillip Jones said: “This was a significant drugs seizure, and we will continue our enquiries with the view to securing a swift outcome.

“I would like to thank all officers involved over the weekend for their dedication and diligence.”

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Major blaze destroys well known Tenby chip shop

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EMERGENCY services have sealed off part of Tenby following a major fire at a chip shop.

Fire fighters rushed to Park Road Fish & Chip Shop after a blaze broke out late on Tuesday morning (Jun 15).

Emergency services are still at the scene. Police are asking people to avoid the area.

Diversions for traffic are in place.

Four fire appliances responded to the blaze at the Tenby chip shop (Image G Davies Photography)
Fire fighters take off BA kits after the blaze was put out (Image G Davies Photography)

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