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117mph winds batter county

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Torn off: Roof which blew off a house in Robert Street, Milford Haven, Wednesday.

Torn off: Roof which blew off a house in Robert Street, Milford Haven, Wednesday.

WIND SPEEDS of almost 94mph were recorded on the Cleddau Bridge, as Pembrokeshire County Council advised people to stay indoors and avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.As the storm bore down on the Pembrokeshire coast, there was chaos across the County as schools were forced to shut, roads blocked and buildings damaged by the force of the weather.

So severe were the winds that Council workmen were unable to remove some of the fallen trees, due to the hazardous conditions.

The Council were forced to close Narberth Castle following damage caused by the weather, while part of a flat roof at Sir Thomas Picton School was ripped off by the Force Twelve winds.

One motorist, crossing the bridge at Carew over an hour and a half before high tide, was shocked by a wave that burst over the top of the structure and struck his vehicle as he crossed.

Martin Jones of Haverfordwest said: “I got through the traffic control and started over the bridge when the water hit the stonework and flew over. I’m glad I was driving a larger car. A smaller one would have been damaged and I might have floated away!”

In Milford Haven, both Robert Street and Charles Street were closed to vehicles following storm damage to properties’ roofs that left debris on the roads.

All rail services travelling west of Llanelli were halted at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon and suspended until 10pm. Services to Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven and Fishguard Harbour were all affected by the closure.

The A487 road at Newgale was closed as seas became mountainous and threatened the fragile sea defences, which have been breached twice in the past month alone.

The County Council’s website was updated throughout the day with news of hazards to traffic, pedestrians and buildings.

Wrecked: BMW ruined by falling slates in Pembroke. (Drew Buckley Photography)

Wrecked: BMW ruined by falling slates in Pembroke. (Drew Buckley Photography)

Council Employees Thanked

Pembrokeshire County Council staff worked hard overnight clearing away fallen trees, debris and roof tiles, in a bid to get traffic moving around the county again today. Highways and area maintenance teams worked until 23:00, starting again at 05:30 this morning, dealing with more than 150 reports of trees, large branches and debris.

The County Council’s contact centre usually receives around 1,100 phone calls on a normal Wednesday. Yesterday it received 3,184 calls – more than 2,000 extra.

There were 150 reports of damage to property, council infrastructure schools, utilities infrastructure and street lights.

At 15:00 there were 26 road closures in place. Council crews also helped deal with eight flooding incidents and two oil spills. A total of 25 schools closed early due to the severe weather. A further nine schools are closed today.

On Tuesday and Wednesday alone, the Council’s Facebook page had more than a thousand new likes, and the Twitter account gained another thousand followers. Comments on Twitter included: ‘Thank you for the constant updates, a job well done’ and ‘fab updates all day, really appreciated’. “Staff across the Council rose to the challenge of the extreme weather yesterday and worked exceptionally hard to try and keep people safe and get the county moving again. I’m sure the people in the county would join me in thanking them for their valued efforts,” said the Leader of the County Council, Councillor Jamie Adams.

“All in all, it was a very busy day for the employees of Pembrokeshire County Council.”

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Community

Pembrokeshire embraces future with new e-bike scheme

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL, under the chairmanship of Thomas Baden Tudor, has announced an exciting new initiative aimed at boosting sustainable transportation across the region. The council has introduced a “pay as you go” electric bike (E-Bike) service, now available in Haverfordwest, Fishguard, Goodwick, and Tenby as part of a 12-month trial that commenced on 8th April 2024.

The scheme, managed by Zeus Mobility, features the Zip bikes—electrically powered bicycles designed to make cycling less strenuous and more accessible to a broader demographic. Each location will start with 10 E-Bikes, with plans to increase the fleet to 50 by summer. The service will include three main charging stations and numerous satellite bays for convenient access and returns.

Priced competitively, the E-Bikes can be hired for £3.00 for the first hour, with subsequent time billed at 5p per minute. Daily and weekly rates are also available, offering users more flexibility for longer trips. The bikes are aimed at reducing reliance on motor vehicles, promoting healthier living, and contributing to national decarbonisation targets.

Councillor Tudor tested the new bikes himself, describing the experience as “brilliant fun for the whole family” and encouraging all residents and visitors to give them a try. The initiative is part of a broader effort by the council to offer eco-friendly travel options that align with environmental objectives.

To use the E-Bikes, riders need to download the Zipp Mobility app, which allows for bike unlocking, ride tracking, and payment. The app also provides information on bike locations, parking bays, and cycling routes within the county.

Funded by a £150,000 grant from the Swansea Bay and South West Wales Metro, the project focuses solely on this E-Bike trial, aiming to make Pembrokeshire a leader in sustainable travel. For further details on hiring and operating the E-Bikes, residents can visit the Cycle Pembrokeshire webpage or contact the team directly via email at [email protected].

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20mph U-turn: Some roads will return to 30mph following public outcry

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IN a recent shift in policy, Transport Secretary Ken Skates announced that some roads in Wales will revert to a 30mph speed limit following significant public opposition to the Welsh Government’s £34 million initiative to impose a default 20mph limit. This move addresses the concerns consistently raised by many citizens.

The controversial policy, initially rolled out across Wales under former First Minister Mark Drakeford and his transport minister, Lee Waters, aimed at enhancing road safety. However, it has since faced backlash, illustrated by nearly half a million signatures on a Senedd petition opposing the change.

“We’ve put our hands up to say the guidance has to be corrected,” Skates stated, acknowledging the widespread dissatisfaction with the policy’s implementation. He emphasised the need for targeted 20mph zones, particularly in sensitive areas such as near schools, hospitals, and densely populated housing estates. Yet, he admitted that certain routes should not have been included under the stricter speed limit.

Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart welcomed the revised approach but highlighted the financial burden of changing road signage, urging the Welsh Government to assist with the expenses. Stewart praised Skates’ “pragmatic approach” and stressed that the government should not impose the financial strain on local councils, which are already facing tough budgetary decisions.

The policy has had its proponents, particularly among cycling groups and safety advocates who argue that the lower speed limits contribute to safer community spaces. Despite this, many have called for a more nuanced application of the speed limits rather than a blanket reduction.

In response to the backlash, Skates is set to present the planned adjustments in a forthcoming statement to the Senedd. The changes will allow local councils the autonomy to restore the 30mph limit where deemed appropriate, potentially affecting up to 10 roads in Swansea alone.

Leaders from other councils, including Huw Thomas of Cardiff, expressed relief over the change. Cardiff, where the majority of roads were already under a 20mph limit, saw a favourable reception of the policy. Nonetheless, the decision to empower local governments has been largely welcomed.

The Welsh Conservatives, through their transport spokesperson Natasha Asghar, have voiced strong opposition to the original policy, criticising its expansive application. Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth called for a more carefully considered implementation, supporting the principle of 20mph zones but criticising their inconsistent enforcement.

Responding to comments made by Ken Skates, Labour’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport on potential changes to the 20mph guidance, Natasha Asghar MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister said: “The people of Wales have rightfully taken significant issue with Labour’s 20mph policy and ‘correcting guidance’ will not be enough to ease concerns.

“The Welsh Conservatives are the only the party to have consistently voted against the ridiculous 20mph policy involving 97% of previously 30mph roads and a £9 billion hit to the Welsh economy.

“The Welsh Conservatives want to see this policy scrapped and have given the Labour Government a number of opportunities to vote to do so. A more targeted approach is needed with the support of the Welsh people.”

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Miracle pup finds her forever home after heart-wrenching journey

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AERIAL, a remarkable six-legged spaniel, has captured hearts worldwide, culminating in her adoption this week. Found abandoned in a Pembrokeshire car park and famously nicknamed after Disney’s Little Mermaid due to her unique condition, Ariel’s journey from despair to joy is nothing short of miraculous.

In September 2023, the then 11-week-old puppy was discovered outside a B&M store in a neglected state. Suffering from severe physical anomalies including two extra hind limbs and an additional vulva, Ariel faced daunting challenges. A subsequent medical examination revealed a more complicated internal scenario: a missing kidney and a malformed pelvis that jeopardised her mobility.

Despite the grim prognosis, Ariel’s plight touched many, leading to a worldwide fundraising campaign that raised approximately £15,000. These funds enabled her to undergo critical surgeries at Langford Vets Small Animal Referral Hospital, Somerset, where surgeons successfully removed the surplus limbs and preserved her four functional ones.

“Both procedures went well, and remarkably, Ariel was walking and eating by the next day,” explained Mikey Lawlor, founder of Greenacres Rescue, where Ariel was rehabilitated. “It was crucial that we avoided any post-operative infections, but she’s been in the best hands,” he added, reflecting on the complexities of her care.

Ariel’s recovery was supported by numerous vet visits, specialised surgeries, and extensive physiotherapy. Her resilience and endearing character garnered media attention globally, from radio and television appearances to newspaper features, highlighting her inspirational battle for a normal life.

“We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Ariel has been officially adopted,” announced a recent post by Greenacres Rescue. “Her journey of transformation from a discarded pup to a beloved family pet has been extraordinary.”

The post also extended a heartfelt thank you to June, Ariel’s dedicated foster mother, whose relentless support was pivotal during the rehabilitation process. “June’s care and energy have been instrumental in Ariel’s recovery,” the rescue centre noted.

Surgeon Aaron Lutchman, who led Ariel’s medical team, remarked on her progress, “She’s bounced back and is a happy little dog. We hope she goes on to lead a fabulous life.”

As Ariel embarks on this new chapter with her adoptive family, her story remains a profound testament to the power of community support and the unwavering spirit of animals overcoming adversity. Greenacres Rescue encapsulates this sentiment in their message, “Ariel is symbolic of everything we stand for—love, hope, and the chance for a new beginning.”

For further updates on Ariel and other rescue stories, follow Greenacres Rescue on their social media platforms.

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