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Mustang Marine goes into administration

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mustang marine• 65 jobs lost • Local firms owed hundreds of thousands • Politicians want reassurances over remaining jobs

THE WELSH GOVERNMENT MINISTER for the Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart, has confirmed to The Herald that Pembroke Dock based Mustang Marine is now in the hands of administrators Grant Thornton, but is continuing to trade. Around 65 employees have been laid off and 50 staff will remain, according to the firm.

Interim managing director Stewart Graves said he was still hopeful a buyer could be found.

Mustang has had millions of pounds in funding from the Milford Haven Port Authority and a cash injection from the Welsh government. Last week, the interim managing director said the company had a significant cash shortage in December which left it facing closure.

He said with assistance from a new management team and external advisers a long-term funding package was secured in February from the Welsh government and Milford Haven Port Authority and an external third party.

However, after completing its review of the business, the external party withdrew its offer, and “without that party the long-term funding package could not proceed”.

Alec Don, Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven said in a statement: “Mustang Marine is 50% owned by the Port of Milford Haven and therefore is an associate company.”

“We are obviously concerned about the great anxiety amongst staff and other stakeholders that this administration announcement will be causing. We have always been supportive of Mustang’s efforts to grow their business and establish themselves as a manufacturer based in West Wales in competition with other ship builders in the UK and beyond.”

“As a Trust Port we remain committed, more than normal commercial considerations would allow, to working with the administrator and other stakeholders to see a viable business re-established. We will do all we can to attract investors who can make a success of the outstanding facilities and location we have here, and employ as many of the highly skilled staff as possible.”

Politicians express concern

Delyth Evans, Parliamentary Candidate for South Pembrokeshire said: “I am extremely disappointed to learn of the news that administrators have been appointed to Mustang Marine. This is very bad news for the employees and their families and other local businesses that are also affected. I know the Welsh Government has been working hard to help the company find a way out of its difficulties. It is vital that every opportunity is explored to secure a future for the business and to support the workforce.”

Cllr Paul Miller, said: “I share Delyth’s concern for those people who are affected by this difficult outcome. Mustang Marine has been a major employer over the years and has directly and indirectly contributed to the Pembrokeshire economy.”

“I’ll be raising this with officers of Pembrokeshire County Council and with the Milford Haven Enterprise Zone Board. It’s critical that both organisations re-double their efforts to support job creation around the waterway.”

Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has asked the First Minister what advice and support the Welsh Government will make available to members of the Mustang Marine workforce facing redundancy.

AM seeks assurances over jobs

Speaking at the weekly questions to the First Minister, Mrs Evans said: “The news that Mustang Marine in Pembroke Dock has gone into administration with the loss of 66 jobs is a bitter blow for the area.

“What support and assistance will the Welsh Government offer to those 66 workers facing redundancy, and how can you help to work towards safeguarding the remaining 48 jobs?”

In response, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones confirmed that “We are exploring a number of options at the moment, but I can say that those threatened with redundancy will be offered ReAct support and advice.”

ReAct is the Welsh Government’s Redundancy Action Scheme which has been put in place to help people affected by redundancy gain new skills and encourage recruiting employers to employ a redundant worker.

ReAct can offer help to individuals facing redundancy, or those who are newly out of work, by offering recruitment and training support, as well as discretionary awards toward vocational training. Help can include 100 per cent of training costs to acquire new skills (up to a maximum of £1,500), help with the cost of special equipment to remove barriers to training, help towards the cost of travelling to training courses, overnight accommodation costs – where appropriate, and a contribution towards childcare costs whilst training.

Mrs Evans said: “ReAct also offers packages for employers taking on someone who has been made redundant.

“The Welsh Government’s employer recruitment support initiative funds employers who recruit individuals who have been made redundant in the past six months. The award offers up to £3,000 paid in four instalments as a contribution towards wage costs.

“There is also an employer training support fund, which is a separate discretionary fund of up to £1,000 that an employer can put towards the cost of the new recruit’s job-related training.

“I urge local employers to consider whether this funding would be right for them.”

Uncertainty for suppliers

Last month The Herald reported that there were hundreds of thousands owed to local businesses by Mustang Marine. The administrators have now confirmed that the figure is around £350,000 and that there are over sixty firms owed cash. A local business man who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity said: “Our company is only a small firm, and we have been waiting for payment since before Christmas. If we do not get paid, which is now looking unlikely, we will be forced to lay off staff at our company too. The knock on effect of Mustang going into administration may very well be greater than the job losses at the firm itself.”

Alec Don said: “The interests of creditors and employees will be best served by all parties working together to ensure a strong business emerges from the administration process.”

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Charity

Puffin Party fundraising initiative returns for another year

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THE Pembrokeshire Coast Charitable Trust is inviting people to host a Puffin Party this July, to celebrate the Trust’s 6th birthday and raise vital funds.

The Trust has raised more than £380,000 from a range of sources since 2018, including projects such as People, Paths & PollinatorsMake More Meadows and Wild About Woodlands.

It has also provided Force for Nature Grants to help community groups and local organisations boost biodiversity, act on climate change or educate others on these important topics.

Puffin Parties were added to the list of fundraising activities last summer, and proved so popular that they are being brought back for another year.

Director of the Pembrokeshire Coast Charitable Trust, Katie Macro, said: “We are delighted to see the return of the Puffin Parties. These events not only help us raise essential funds but also bring the community together in celebration of our beautiful natural environment.

“Once again, there’s plenty of inspiration on hand to get you started, including some party food recipe cards (with healthier options available), invitation templates and some ideas for party activities.

“We encourage everyone to get involved and help us celebrate by arranging a tea party, coffee morning or cake sale with friends, family, colleagues, or the local community during the month of July. As well as having fun, you’ll be making a difference in protecting our stunning coastline and safeguarding it for future generations.”

The celebratory resources, including invitation templates, new recipe cards, and craft activity templates and instructions are available for download at https://pembrokeshirecoasttrust.wales/how-you-can-help/puffinparty.

To find out more, register your interest and access the special celebratory visit www.pembrokeshirecoasttrust.wales.

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Business

RWE launches pre-application consultation for RWE Pembroke Battery

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TO support their decarbonisation ambitions as part of Pembroke Net Zero Centre, RWE is progressing proposals to develop a battery energy storage system on its land adjacent to Pembroke Power Station. 

Battery energy storage plays a crucial role in the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, into the power grid, excess renewable energy can be stored and fed into the grid when needed. Electricity is consumed in real time and this technology will, where possible, enable homes and businesses to be powered by renewable energy.  

The consultation on RWE’s plans launches Monday 17 June 2024 and will end on Monday 15 July 2024. RWE is asking the community for their views on these plans and has launched a consultation where local people can provide feedback on the planning application. 

The proposed development would be located on a 5.1 hectare area to the south of the current power station and would comprise 212 Battery Containers, 106 Power Conversion Systems (PCS) enabling connectivity to the grid, and associated infrastructure. 

The battery would have a maximum charge / discharge power of 350 megawatts and would connect via underground cables to the grid at the adjacent National Grid 400 kV substation. Once fully operational, Pembroke Battery would be capable of storing enough electricity to meet the average daily domestic energy needs of more than 72,0001 typical UK homes. 

In line with RWE’s commitment to protect and enhance local environments, the company has pledged to deliver various biodiversity measures as part of the proposals. Field margins will be enhanced by species-rich meadow planting, native woodland and scrub planting, while a new large pond will be provided and managed to support local wildlife. The periphery of the development site will also be further enhanced with bat and bird boxes, insect hotels and reptile hibernation shelters around the field edges. A Habitat Management Plan will ensure the habitats created are managed sensitively in support of local wildlife for the lifetime of the project.

Commenting on the proposals, Richard Little, Pembroke Net Zero Centre Director, said: “RWE Pembroke Battery represents the next step in our plans to invest in new innovative energy technologies, as part of our vision for Pembroke Net Zero Centre. We would like to thank those who engaged with us in our Green Hydrogen consultation and encourage the community to get involved with the consultation process, learn more about our battery energy storage proposals, and have their say on the proposals.” 

Members of the community can contact the project team and leave feedback via the project website rwe.pembrokenetzerocentre.co.uk/battery, telephone 01646 370090, email [email protected] or by writing to ’Freepost PNZC Consultation’.  

Local people can also join RWE at an in-person event at South Pembrokeshire Golf Club on 24th June 2024 between 2pm and 7pm to speak with project team members, ask questions and provide feedback. 

Pembroke Net Zero Centre has a critical role to play in Wales’ and the UK’s pathway to Net Zero. By decarbonising its current operations at Pembroke Power Station, while investing in new innovative technologies, such as battery energy storage and hydrogen generation, RWE can establish Pembroke at the forefront of South Wales’ low carbon future.

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Charity

Megan’s Starr foundation launches Bottle Top Collection Appeal

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THE Megan’s Starr Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting young people’s mental health and combating bullying, has recently launched an innovative recycling initiative and is calling on the community for help. The Milford Haven-based foundation is asking for donations of old bottle tops, both metal and plastic, to be dropped off at the Megan’s Starr Community Coffee House in Milford Haven.

This appeal is part of the foundation’s ongoing efforts to support mental health and community engagement through creative and sustainable projects. Bottle tops collected will be used in various community art projects and workshops, aimed at fostering a sense of togetherness and promoting mental wellbeing.

The Megan’s Starr Foundation was established in memory of Megan Evans, a vibrant 14-year-old who tragically took her own life after enduring severe bullying. Her mother, Nicola Harteveld, founded the charity to prevent other families from experiencing similar heartbreak and to provide much-needed mental health support to young people in Pembrokeshire.

In addition to their recycling efforts, the foundation offers a wide range of services including counselling, educational workshops, and support groups. They also run the Speakeasy Coffee Van, a mobile unit that brings support directly to young people in rural areas, offering barista training and mental health resources.

To contribute to the bottle top collection, community members can drop off their donations at the coffee house or arrange for a volunteer to collect them. The foundation expressed their gratitude for the community’s continued support, emphasising that even small acts of kindness can have a significant impact.

For more information on how to get involved or to learn about the foundation’s other initiatives, visit their website at Megan’s Starr Foundation.

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