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Careful how you boast about readership figures, Herald Editor warned

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Thomas Sinclair, Editor: Told by the ASA that The Pembrokeshire Herald must be clearer about sources of readership data

THE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD must be clearer about its sources of data in advertisements comparing readership levels with other newspapers, the Advertising Standards Authority has said.

In a ruling released today (Feb 1), following a complaint by the Western Telegraph’s management, the ASA said that the public could have been mislead by The Pembrokeshire Herald’s claim in July last year that the paper had more combined readers in print and online than its nearest rival.

Whilst the claim was true, the ASA were unhappy that the paper’s Google Analytics data was not subject to external audit, unlike the data for the Western Telegraph, which is.

The ASA ruling reads: “We noted that the Pembrokeshire Herald had supplied information from a variety of different, third-party sources to compare respectively the figures for print readers and website visitors for their own publication and the Western Telegraph. However, while the figures provided for print readers of the Western Telegraph had been audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation, and the figures for visitors to the Western Telegraph website had been prepared to the industry agreed standards defined by the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK (JICWEBS), the data relating to their own publication and website had not been similarly audited or verified.”

The Pembrokeshire Herald is now running similar adverts, with an amendment making it clear to readers that their data is sourced by Google Analytics.

Editor of The Pembrokeshire Herald, Thomas Sinclair, said: “We are proud that we are the number one source for news in Pembrokeshire. We can understand why the Western Telegraph have been attempting to block us advertising this. In my view, this whole farrago has been an attempt by a large multinational to bully a small publisher. Everyone trusts Google Analytics as the standard benchmark for web visits worldwide.

“It is my view, regretfully, that the ASA has assisted Newsquest in its attempt to bully The Pembrokeshire Herald. ABC and JICWEBS, in my view, operate as a cartel.

“I have noted that many local news publishers across Wales do not subscribe to ABC for audit (source IWA Report on Media in Wales, 2015). I note that Tindle Group do not subscribe to its services in Wales according to the same IWA report. ABC is clearly not accepted as an ‘accepted industry standard’ in Wales, or rather it is only accepted as such by a small number of non-local media publishers, prepared to pay its fees. In essence ABC acts as a de facto cartel and the ASA is endorsing a cartel position.

“ASA previously accepted our readership figures for The Pembrokeshire Herald were accurate based on the same data we relied upon to provide the figures underlying this advert. Either the ASA is behaving inconsistently or the ASA is effectively acting as an agent to compel publications to subscribe to ABC – either subscribe to ABC or do not produce circulation or readership figures seems to be the essence of the ruling.

“Ignoring empirical evidence from Google Analytics places self-audited, tick box figures above factual accuracy. The effect of that is that publishers who subscribe to JICWEBS are able to make frankly nonsensical and inconsistent claims about their online reach. We have demonstrated this to the ASA previously and I cannot conceive of another field in which self-certification is preferred over real time data which cannot be altered to suit an agenda.

“The reliance on JICWEBS is, with respect, flawed and anti-competitive. It favours those prepared to pay for a service that can be sourced elsewhere, especially if it is used as a club by the ASA to beat publishers with which to beat non-subscribing publishers over the head.

“Relying on a limited set of metrics for data is plainly both anti-competitive and encouraging a cartel position to continue.”

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Chris Walters ‘honoured’ to be Narberth mayor once again

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CLLR CHRIS WALTERS has been reinstalled as the Mayor of Narberth for the forthcoming year. At the Town Council’s Annual General Meeting this month, outgoing Mayor Councillor Elizabeth Rogers nominated Councillor Walters for the position, with Councillor Rigby seconding the proposal, and all council members expressing unanimous support.

A native of Narberth, Councillor Walters, who joined the council in early 2017, expressed that he was ‘honoured’ to take on the mayoral role once more. However, he noted the bittersweet nature of his appointment, due to the passing of Deputy Mayor Councillor Sue Rees earlier this year.

Councillor Rees was a significant figure in the community and was poised to become Mayor for the 2024/25 term. She was widely recognised for her efforts in preserving numerous community facilities within the town.

In his address, Councillor Walters also paid tribute to all the councillors who have passed away since he joined the council in the last five years.

During his term, Mrs Bron Walters will serve as Mayoress. Councillor Walters signed two copies of the Acceptance of Office as Mayor in the presence of the Town Clerk to formalise his appointment.

For the forthcoming year, Councillor C Meredydd will serve as Deputy Mayor. The proposal was seconded by Councillor Rigby and received unanimous approval from all council members.

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Business

The Crown Estate in boost to UK offshore wind investment

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THE UK’s offshore wind industry is poised to receive a significant boost in early-stage investment through the launch of The Crown Estate’s innovative Supply Chain Accelerator, aimed at catalysing the growth of the UK’s domestic supply chain for offshore wind.

The Accelerator, a new £50 million fund, has been established to expedite and de-risk the initial stages of projects linked to offshore wind, fostering the development of the UK’s supply chain capabilities.

An initial £10 million funding round is now open for Expressions of Interest from businesses aiming to develop UK projects that support the nascent supply chain for floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea.

Earlier this year, The Crown Estate’s research, The Celtic Sea Blueprint, forecasted the creation of 5,300 jobs and a £1.4 billion economic boost from deploying the first floating offshore wind capacity off South Wales and South-West England, stemming from the ongoing Leasing Round 5 process.

This research identified several critical supply chain opportunities essential for these floating wind farms, including floating platform components, dynamic cables and connections, wet storage infrastructure, operations and management facilities, and skills transition facilities.

The first £10 million funding round will target projects addressing these opportunities, providing matched funding of up to £1 million for early-stage development. The Crown Estate will also consider participating in the capital investment phase.

Formal applications open in mid-June and close at the end of July, with successful projects announced from October 2024. Grant Thornton, a leading professional services firm, will support The Crown Estate in this endeavour.

The Crown Estate’s mission is to create long-term value for the country, focusing on using its managed land and seabed to catalyse net zero, restore nature, create thriving communities, and drive economic growth. Developing the offshore wind industry’s domestic supply chain through collaboration with industry and government partners is a key part of these ambitions.

Following the deployment of the first £10 million, an additional £40 million has been earmarked to support UK projects aligned with the Industrial Growth Plan. This plan, launched by RenewableUK and industry partners including The Crown Estate last month, outlines actions required to triple offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next decade.

The UK is already a global leader in offshore wind, with the sector producing 49TWh of electricity last year and a pipeline growing by 10GW in 2023 to 93GW, according to The Crown Estate’s UK Offshore Wind Report 2023.

Government estimates suggest that 125GW of offshore wind capacity may be needed by 2050 to achieve net zero, underscoring the importance of investment in the UK’s supply chain to maintain competitiveness amidst global decarbonisation efforts.

Will Apps, Offshore Wind Strategy Director at The Crown Estate, remarked, “We’re delighted to launch our Supply Chain Accelerator to catalyse early-stage project development and maximise opportunities identified in the Celtic Sea Blueprint. Investing in our domestic supply chain will enable the UK to remain a world leader in offshore wind while creating jobs and economic growth in local communities.”

Gus Jaspert, Managing Director, Marine at The Crown Estate, added, “Offshore wind is crucial to our energy transition and local and national regeneration with new jobs, skills, and industry. Our world-leading offshore wind industry plays a pivotal role in the UK’s energy transition, and demand will only increase as we move towards a net zero economy by 2050. We must invest in and develop the UK’s supply chain to accelerate growth and make our offshore wind sector the most attractive globally.”

“The Supply Chain Accelerator will enable investment in priority capabilities and skills to deliver the opportunities within the Celtic Sea Blueprint, driving regional economic growth and ensuring value onshore through offshore activities.”

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Education

Phoebe-Lily shines in Royal Opera House design challenge

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE says it is proud to announce that Phoebe-Lily, a Graphics & Illustration student, has been awarded a ‘Commended’ judgment for her outstanding set design entry to the Royal Opera House Design Challenge. Phoebe’s entry was based on the production of ‘Barber of Seville’ and showcased remarkable creativity and skill.

Phoebe-Lily Williams was among ten Further Education students commended by the judges for their exceptional contributions.

The Royal Opera House Design Challenge provides a platform for young talents across the UK to demonstrate their creative abilities in set design. Phoebe’s commendation reflects her commitment to excellence and innovation in her field.

Upon receiving the commendation, Phoebe expressed her gratitude for the support she received from her tutors at Pembrokeshire College. She remarked, “I was more illustrative, and my tutors were very supportive. I want to go on to study set design and production, so Lou showed me the design challenge and said it would be okay to do that instead of a packaging brief.”

Phoebe chose Pembrokeshire College for its tailored modules that aligned with her career aspirations. She found the course to be conducive to developing the skills necessary for her desired path. “I enjoyed the process as it felt very liberating and positive, knowing that my tutors were encouraging and supportive of my career and study goals,” she added.

The Royal Opera House has invited the twenty winning, highly commended, and commended students, including Phoebe, to attend an awards ceremony on June 4, 2024. This event will provide them with an opportunity to interact with professionals in the field and gain insights into the day-to-day workings of the Royal Opera House.

Additionally, the public will have the chance to view the winning, highly commended, and commended works at an exhibition in the Linbury Foyer at the Royal Opera House from May 27 to June 10, 2024.

Amy McGann, Head of National Schools Programmes at the Royal Opera House, commended the participants for their creativity and expressed excitement about providing professional feedback to students from various educational settings. She stated, “The level of creativity from the young people across the country in this year’s Design Challenge has been high. As well as celebrating the Winners, Highly Commended, and Commended, we are looking forward to delivering professional feedback to students from an ever-widening set of participating educational settings.”

Phoebe-Lily Williams and her fellow commandeers represent the future of set design and production, and their achievements are a testament to their talent and hard work.

To find out more about the creative courses available at the College please visit www.pembrokeshire.ac.uk

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