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Surprising results down the line for train statistics

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surprising resultsMORE THAN 2,000 people a week pass through the station doors in Tenby with 108,878 “entrances and exits” recorded last year.

Simon Hart MP says that the figure proves just how vital the facility is to the town.

“These official figures by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) came as a bit of a surprise, despite a drop of nearly 4,000 users between 2011 to 2013, Tenby is still very well used.”

The figures also showed that Whitland Station is used by 1,000 travellers a week. The station building has stood empty for more than a decade and was slowly rotting away, creating an ugly gateway to the town. Now Network Rail is transforming it into a Regional Maintenance Hub which will see approximately 20 people working from offices in the building. Mr Hart is pictured being given a tour of the refurbishment works last week.

“I am delighted that the years of campaigning done by the traders, councillors and myself has at last paid off and this station is being brought back into use,” said Mr Hart.

“Although the new building won’t be open to the public, it will look smart and it will be great for the town to have extra workers there 24 hours every day using the shops and cafes.

“The next step is to ask Arriva Trains to install a ticket machine to make it easier for people to start their journeys from Whitland.”

The least used station in South Pembrokeshire was Lamphey with just 3,812 entrances and exits followed by Penally with 5,136.

However, Kilgetty also got a special mention by the ORR for being surprisingly well-used. It had 17,624 travellers arriving or departing from it last year and the ORR notes that “it continues its high growth from previous years.”

“Kilgetty station is conveniently located right in the middle of town, unlike say Saundersfoot which had ten thousand fewer visits than Kilgetty last year.

“Overall I think these figures provide a fascinating snapshot of how we use our stations and prove just how vital they are in rural areas.”

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Have your say on Council Tax premiums in Pembrokeshire

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MEMBERS of the public are being asked to provide feedback on Council Tax premiums in Pembrokeshire.
 
Pembrokeshire County Council is carrying out a consultation on the premiums that apply to second and long-term empty homes.
 
The consultation seeks views on current Council Tax premiums for second homes, current Council Tax premiums for long-term empty homes, and whether the Council should use its discretion following Welsh Government’s reform to self-catering holiday accommodation thresholds, to be in non-domestic rates.
 
The consultation provides context and background information on the current Council Tax premiums and housing locally.
 
It also provides the definitions of second homes, long-term empty homes, exceptions and holiday lettings.
 
Cllr Josh Beynon, Council Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance and Efficiencies, said: “It is very important that as many people as possible give us their opinions on this consultation
 
“We know that Council Tax premiums are an issue that provoke strong opinions so we want to hear those opinions. The responses will form an essential part of our review into Council Tax premiums.”
 
How to take part in the consultation:
 
The consultation can be completed at https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/have-your-say/council-tax-premium-consultation-2024
 
If you do not have access to the internet and would like to respond please call 01437 764551 and a hard copy response form can be sent to you.
 
The closing date for completed responses is 27 August 2024.

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Gareth Southgate resigns as England manager following Euro final

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In a significant turn of events, England manager Gareth Southgate has stepped down just two days after England’s 2-1 defeat to Spain in the 2024 European Championship final in Berlin. This marks England’s second consecutive Euros final loss, having been beaten on penalties by Italy at Wembley three years prior.

Southgate, 53, who led the national team in 102 matches over his eight-year tenure, was due to see his contract expire later this year. In a heartfelt statement, he expressed his deep pride in having served his country: “As a proud Englishman, it has been the honour of my life to play for England and to manage England. It has meant everything to me, and I have given it my all. But it’s time for change, and for a new chapter.”

Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham announced that the process to find Southgate’s successor is underway, aiming for a swift appointment. He assured that an interim solution is in place if required and that there would be no further comments until a new manager is named.

England’s next fixture is against the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League on 7 September. FA sources have indicated that the selection process is unlikely to be restricted to English managers alone. Potential candidates include Under-21 boss Lee Carsley for an interim role, Newcastle’s Eddie Howe, former Brighton and Chelsea manager Graham Potter, ex-Chelsea and Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, as well as speculations around ex-Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, who left Bayern Munich last season.

Southgate’s tenure was notable, as he became the only England manager besides 1966 World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey to lead the team to a major tournament final. He guided England through four major tournaments, including the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and the quarter-finals in 2022. Under his leadership, England won nine knockout matches, a significant improvement from the six won in the 50 years prior.

Despite his successes, Southgate faced mounting pressure this summer, with many fans critical of his utilisation of England’s talented attacking players. The tension peaked when supporters expressed their discontent following a goalless draw against Slovenia in the Euro 2024 group stage. However, he regained some support during England’s run to the final.

Reflecting on his time, Southgate praised the current squad: “The squad we took to Germany is full of exciting young talent and they can win the trophy we all dream of. We have the best fans in the world, and their support has meant the world to me. I’m an England fan and I always will be.”

Prince William, the FA president, commended Southgate for his leadership, saying: “Thank you for showing humility, compassion, and true leadership under the most intense pressure and scrutiny. And thank you for being an all-round class act. You should be incredibly proud of what you’ve achieved.”

Tributes also poured in from players, with Declan Rice and Jordan Pickford expressing their gratitude for Southgate’s guidance and support.

Southgate, who replaced Sam Allardyce in 2016, concluded with a message of thanks to his players and staff, singling out assistant Steve Holland as “one of the most talented coaches of his generation.” Reflecting on his journey, he stated, “I joined the FA in 2011, determined to improve English football. I hope we get behind the players and the team at St George’s Park and the FA who strive every day to improve English football, and understand the power football has to drive positive change.”

Bullingham lauded Southgate for making “the impossible job possible” and laying strong foundations for future success. He added, “Over the last eight years they have transformed the England men’s team, delivering unforgettable memories for everyone who loves the Three Lions. We look back at Gareth’s tenure with huge pride – his contribution to the English game, including a significant role in player development, and in culture transformation has been unique.”

As the search for a new manager begins, Southgate’s departure marks the end of a remarkable chapter in English football, one that brought hope, pride, and a renewed belief in the Three Lions.

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The Three Welsh athletes that featured at Wimbledon

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IN A HISTORIC moment for Welsh tennis, three Welsh athletes competed in various events over the two-week duration of Wimbledon 2024. Mimi Xu (16) and Viktor Frydrych (18) showcased their talents in Junior Wimbledon, while Niall Pickerd-Barua (13) made his debut in the 14-and-under invitational event.

Mimi Xu from Swansea reached the finals of the girls’ doubles alongside fellow Brit Mika Stojsavljevic (15). The pair impressively knocked out the number 1 seeds in the quarter-finals and won all but one match in straight sets. This was the first time Xu and Stojsavljevic teamed up for a Grand Slam event.

The duo narrowly missed the title, losing in the final to the Australian Open Girls’ Doubles Champions Tyra Caterina Grant and Iva Jovic, with scores of 5-7, 6-4, [8-10]. An emotional Xu thanked the Wimbledon crowds and her team for their support throughout the event.

Xu also competed in the girls’ singles event, advancing to the second round before being defeated by Hungary’s Rositsa Dencheva.

Viktor Frydrych from Bangor played his final Junior Wimbledon, reaching the quarter-finals in the boys’ doubles with his Norwegian teammate Nicolai Budkov Kjaer (17).

In the singles event, Frydrych started strong, winning the first set 6-1 in the first round. However, multiple rain delays disrupted the match, and his opponent came back to win the next two sets 2-6, 2-6.

Frydrych now looks forward to concluding his junior career and transitioning to a full-time professional career.

Mika Stojsavljevic of Great Britain and Mingge Xu of Great Britain pose with the Girl’s Doubles Runner-Up Trophies. (Photo: Daniel Kopatsch)

Niall Pickerd-Barua, the current U14 British champion, made his Wimbledon debut in the 14-and-under event. Pickerd-Barua played four matches, competing against players from Brazil, Japan, and America in a round-robin format. In the playoff stage, Pickerd-Barua was eliminated in a close match by Johann Nagel-Heyer (13), with scores of 6-2, 5-7, [8-10].

Following Wimbledon, the Junior World Rankings place Xu in 9th position, just two places behind British Junior number 1, Hannah Klugman (15). Frydrych now sits at 40th in the boys’ rankings, Still being comfortably in the top 50.

Both Xu and Frydrych are set to compete in the Junior US Open next month.

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