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Storm clean-up priority for National Park Authority

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storm cleanPEMBROKESHIRE COAST NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY is continuing to prioritise storm clean-up work following the continued extreme weather as it attempts to keep access open wherever possible.

A total of 35 locations around the National Park experienced damage in the early January storms, ranging from the accumulation of debris to the loss of coastal land and dunes. Inland, flooding and high winds resulted in severe gully erosion to some bridleways and brought trees down across paths.

Although the majority of repairs or diversions had been completed at these locations, some suffered further damage during the early February storms and some work will have to be repeated.

National Park Authority Access and Rights of Way Manager Anthony Richards said: “Repairing the storm damage is a priority in order to make sites and paths as safe and accessible as possible. Some repairs will be temporary and more permanent work will take place after the late February high tides.

“The emphasis on repair work on car parks, beach access paths and the Coast Path in readiness for the main visitor season is in the interest of all users, local communities and not least, the local economy.

“Public safety is our primary concern and the Authority is advising people to stay away from dune areas as erosion from the high tides has resulted in many dunes becoming unstable and in danger of collapse.”

Following an update to the National Park Authority on February 5th, Chairman Cllr Mike James and Authority Members thanked officers for their prompt response to the damage and for their continued hard work.

Cllr James added: “I would also like to extend a thank you to members of the local community who have volunteered to help with the clean-up effort, including Coleg Ceredigion students who cleared debris at Newport Parrog and Newport Sands and pupils from Cardigan School who helped at Poppit Sands.”

While every effort is being made to keep access open, more complex issues at two popular locations at opposite ends of the county have resulted in a prolonged closure as further investigations and expert advice is taken in order to find the best possible long-term solution.

As a result, the access path down to Caerfai beach near St Davids remains closed as a landslide has undermined the beach access footpath midway down the slope.

On the Coast Path at the Penally end of Tenby South Beach, the viewing platform and beach access steps were severely damaged by the January storm and a further three metres of Coast Path were lost due to dune erosion. An alternative route is in place and, until the dune system has stabilised, it is not possible to fully assess the options or develop a long-term solution.

Sites and paths considered dangerous or out of repair for their intended use such as wheelchair suitable paths have been temporarily removed from the Park’s website until they can be repaired. In each case an explanation is provided for this interruption via on-site signage.

National Park Rangers are working with Keep Wales Tidy, the National Trust and Pembrokeshire County Council to coordinate a series of volunteer clean ups of beaches and public land on beach heads. Residents of local communities and voluntary wardens have also been turning out to help with this task.

A funding bid has been awarded by the Welsh Government to help cover the costs of the clean-up to the Wales Coast Path, while all other avenues of funding are being explored to limit the cost to the Authority.

For up to date information and advice following the storm damage please visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk.

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Planning approved for change of use in Tenby’s ‘drinking quarter’

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THE RESTROSPECTIVE planning applications made by Mike Evans were granted approval by national park planners.

A former national park member who changed of use of historic buildings without permission was unrepentant about making a retrospective application.

Since last July, former stables in Tenby’s Sergeant’s Lane have been rented out to be used as a seating area for the nearby Harbwr Brewery.

A planning application seeking retrospective change of use of the Grade II listed buildings and previously derelict and overgrown stable yard for the serving of food and drink, made by by Harbwr Brewery owner Mike Evans, was approved by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority planners on Wednesday, 1 February.

The application – recommended for conditional approval – was brought to the National Park’s Development Management Committee as Mr Evans was a recent member of the national park authority.

Also approved were works to the listed building roof.

At the meeting, members expressed concern about the retrospective native of the application, made by a former member of the planning committee.

Ted Lewis of nearby Rock Terrace raised concerns about potential waste and officers’ support for the retrospective application, claiming Mr Evans had shown “a complete failure” to abide by conditions imposed on a previous application.

He also referred to recent references to Sergeant Lane as being Tenby’s “drinking quarter,” adding: “I was horrified at that, if it becomes a ‘drinking quarter’ it will drive out local residents.”

Former county councillor Mr Evans, unrepentant at the retrospective nature of the application, said the area had been transformed from one of “pigeons, rats and dog [mess],” to one with five thriving businesses.

He said the development was providing “good, exciting and well-paid jobs,” adding: “At the core of everything we do is sustainability, we do nothing to harm the area and community we live in. At our own expense we clean and maintain the lane regularly.”

He described retrospective planning applications were “a legitimate route for planning,” adding it was the usage of the buildings that “has evolved,” rather than structural changes.

Tenby Civic Society has previously raised concerns about potential noise nuisance to nearby residential properties.

Until the late 1990s, many of the buildings on Sergeants Lane were used as warehousing and stores for Hermann Thomas and Co Plumbers.

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MP’s call for better County rail links to boost tourism

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has called on the Welsh Economy Minister Vaughan Gething to improve rail services into Pembrokeshire as a vital step in boosting the number of overseas visitors to the County.

Mr Crabb claimed that too many West Wales services do not carry on beyond Carmarthen, while other services are cancelled or delayed. The MP has previously written to the Train operators about the quality and reliability of rail services to and from Pembrokeshire.

During the meeting of the Welsh Affairs Committee, which he chairs, Mr Crabb said Pembrokeshire is “Wales’s outstanding tourist destination”.

During this final evidence session of the Committee’s inquiry into Wales as a global tourist destination, Welsh MPs quizzed Minister Gething MS, as well as UK Government Tourism Minister, Stuart Andrew MP, and Patricia Yates the Chief Executive of Visit Britain about what steps they are collectively taking to boost tourist numbers in Wales. Recent data findings show that Wales currently underperforms when it comes to attracting international visitors in comparison to the rest of the UK.

Questions regarding Welsh Government’s proposed Tourism Tax; the performance of Visit Britain and Visit Wales in marketing Wales successfully; and transport connections into Wales were put to the panellists.

Commenting after the Committee hearing, MP Crabb added:

“During the summer months, people flock from all over the world to visit Pembrokeshire’s beautiful coastline, it is a fantastic visitor destination for individuals and families alike. But, for many, car travel remains the only reliable option for travel to the County due to the poor rail services.”

“Far too many services stop short at Carmarthen or are cancelled. Welsh Government must urgently look to increase the number of services available, as well as the quality of train services if we are to compete on the global tourism market.”

The committee session can be watched in full here: Parliamentlive.tv – Welsh Affairs Committee

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Dyfed-Powys police precept to rise by 7.75 per cent

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn has announced a 7.75 per cent rise in the Dyfed-Powys Police precept for 2023-24, following a meeting of the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel.

The Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for setting the budget for the police, which includes setting the precept which is the element of council tax that goes to the police.

After a process of extensive scrutiny, Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel unanimously supported the Commissioner’s precept proposal for 2023/24, which will raise the average band D property precept by £1.87 per month or £22.49 per annum

In setting the precept, Mr Llywelyn considered an array of factors, including the Chief Constable’s future resourcing requirement, Police Officer recruitment targets, the level of reserves, future investment requirements for critical infrastructure, efficiency and productivity plans, in addition to feedback from residents of the Dyfed-Powys area.

Mr Llywelyn said: “I am painfully aware of the pressures that the cost-of-living crisis is putting on our communities.

“Sadly, these challenges have hit us hard and despite careful financial planning, there will be increasingly difficult decisions to make over the next few years.

“There is a fine balance between ensuring an efficient and effective Policing Service and ensuring the safety of the public, whilst also ensuring value for money for the taxpayers and sound financial management. These have been paramount in my considerations.”

To inform his considerations for 2023/24 and in order to fulfil his responsibilities as Commissioner, Mr Llywelyn consulted with the public to obtain their views on the level of Police Precept increase.

Of the 1,194 respondents, 67.2% noted that they would be happy to pay between 5% and 12.5% towards local policing, with 47.7% of those happy to pay between 7.5% and 12.5%.

The 7.75% increase announced today by the Police and Crime Commissioner, will set a precept of £312.65 per Band D property for 2023/24.

This increase will raise a total precept of £72.518m and will provide a total funding of £133.414m, representing a £5.970m (4.68%) increase for 2023/24.

Mr Llywelyn added: “The financial landscape continues to be both unpredictable and challenging, but I would like to thank the public for providing their views through the consultation, and to the Police and Crime Panel members for their continued support.”

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