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BT creates 190 broadband jobs

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BT is set to create an extra 190 engineering jobs in Wales as they look to roll out fibre optic broadband throughout the country. The telecommunications giant is looking to recruit in the Pembrokeshire area, especially Fishguard and Haverfordwest. They said they are also interested in recruiting in Cardigan and Carmarthen. BTs local network business Openreach has already made fibre broadband available to more than 19 million UK homes and businesses – some two thirds of the UK. Across the UK, Openreach expects to recruit 1,600 engineers. As more and more people rely on the internet, they have rising expectations of reliability. The new engineers will help Openreach to continue to improve customer service as it strives to install new lines and fix faults more quickly. Ann Beynon, BT director for Wales, said “Not only are we building a superfast broadband network, which is giving a major boost to Welsh households and businesses, we are creating highly skilled local jobs offering exciting careers, such as those announced today. “Working with our partners in the public sector we are determined to ensure that Wales is in the best position possible to take full advantage of the superfast broadband revolution.” Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Supporting business, creating jobs and providing a better future for hardworking people is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan. “So I am delighted that BT is launching this major recruitment drive for 1,600 engineers across the UK, providing financial security for families and delivering a world classinfrastructure for Britain.” BT has stated it expects a number of their engineering roles to be filled by ex-service men and women, and they are particularly interested in recruiting female engineers. Recruitment for the new roles is already underway in parts of the country, and people interested in applying for the posts should go to www.openreach.co.uk/careers Local MP, Stephen Crabb, has welcomed yesterday’s announcement that BT plan to recruit in Pembrokeshire as part of a UK-wide initiative to speed up the roll-out of superfast broadband. The recruitment drive will see 190 new jobs created in Wales, with both Haverfordwest and Fishguard identified as potential recruitment hot spots. Since the Superfast Cymru scheme began, more than 100,000 Welsh homes and businesses have been connected to superfast broadband. However, Stephen has raised concerns about the Welsh Government’s prioritisation of the roll-out, which seems to have left rural areas such as Pembrokeshire at the back of the queue. Although some parts of Pembrokeshire are due to be connected next month, many in the north of the County still have not received a roll-out date. It is hoped that taking on more engineers will speed up the process. Commenting on the announcement, Stephen said, “This announcement is good news for Pembrokeshire. I’ve consistently raised my concerns with both BT and the Welsh Government about the slow roll-out of the scheme in rural areas and I hope that taking on more local engineers will go some way to address this imbalance. In 2014 it is unacceptable for any area to be cut off from fast broadband and it is understandably a source of real frustration for many local businesses and families.” “I’m pleased that BT are addressing the issue as well as making a very welcome contribution to the skilled jobs market in Pembrokeshire.”

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Community

Leading hospitality company Loungers announced for Western Quayside development

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and Loungers, one of the UK’s leading hospitality companies, are pleased to announce they have agreed headline terms for Loungers to become the first tenant of the fantastic Western Quayside development in Haverfordwest.

Loungers intend to occupy the ground floor of the building which is an important element of the Council’s long-term regeneration plan for the County Town. 

Loungers was founded in 2002 and is famous for its family-friendly, welcoming atmosphere, eccentric and spectacular interiors and great food and drink offers.

The company runs Lounge café bars across the UK – including the Cofio Lounge at the Guildhall, Carmarthen – combining elements of coffee shop culture, the British pub and dining. 

Cllr Paul Miller, Pembrokeshire County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change, said: “I’m really pleased to be in a position to announce the first tenancy for Western Quayside. Loungers shares our ambition and potential for the Western Quayside development in the centre of Haverfordwest.

“Western Quayside will play a key role in improving footfall and vibrancy in Haverfordwest and Loungers fits perfectly into that vision.

“An important part of Loungers’ ethos is the community element of its neighbourhood café bars and commitment to work with local groups, charities, organisations and businesses and we look forward to that continuing in Haverfordwest.

“As a Council we have been clear that we will not just sit back and let our town centres decline and this is an important step forward. 

“We look forward to announcing further tenants in due course and of course to opening Western Quayside later in 2024.”

Gemma Irwin, Community Manager at Loungers, says: “We’re so looking forward to opening our Lounge in Haverfordwest later this year.  We hope our family friendly environment and top-notch food and drink offering will prove popular with local residents. 

“We’re passionate about integrating genuinely into the communities we serve so we’re looking forward to meeting everyone and to playing our part at the heart of Haverfordwest’s food and drink scene.  

“Anyone looking for a space to host events or groups should pop in once we’re open, we’d love to hear from them and see what we can do to help.”

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Oil worker’s dream to be a homeowner shattered by gazumping Council

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THOMAS SPIERS, a 55-year-old Operations Coordinator at Puma Oil Terminal and father of three, has been left without his dream home after Pembrokeshire County Council outbid him by £15,000. Mr. Spiers, a long-time resident of Milford Haven, had his heart set on a property at 63 Haven Drive, only to find his efforts thwarted by the council’s late intervention.

Mr. Spiers, who has been privately renting for a decade with aspirations of homeownership, stumbled upon what he believed was the perfect fixer-upper in January through RK. Lukas estate agents. Despite the property’s need for substantial work, he saw potential in the £100,000 ex-council house, which had been on the market for six months with two previous sales falling through. After viewing, Mr. Spiers promptly made an offer of £95,000, which was accepted by the seller.

The joy of this acceptance was short-lived. After proceeding with the necessary legal and financial preparations, including giving notice to his landlord and paying solicitor’s fees for property searches, Mr. Spiers was blindsided. Just days before the scheduled contract exchange, he was informed of a new £110,000 offer from Pembrokeshire County Council, effectively ending his purchase plans.

The council’s bid, coming after a property viewing in October 2023 and amidst a 16% hike in council tax rates, has raised questions about its timing and motives. Mr. Spiers, who found himself in a precarious position with his sons’ housing at stake, reached out to the council and local MP Stephen Crabb, he says only to be met with unfulfilled promises of callbacks and auto-replies.

The situation highlights the challenges faced by private individuals competing in an increasingly difficult housing market. Mr. Spiers voiced his frustrations over what he perceives as an injustice by the council, particularly in light of their late and significantly higher offer. Fortunately, his current landlord has allowed him to remain in his rental for now, stopping him from being made homeless, but leaving him out of pocket by approximately £1,000 in solicitor’s fees.

Stephen Crabb MP told The Herald: “Mr Spiers emailed me on Monday afternoon when I was speaking in the House of Commons chamber. He received the usual auto-reply message to show that his email had been received.

“The auto-reply makes clear that all emails from constituents who request my assistance with a casework problem will receive priority attention, which normally means within a few days. I receive around 200 emails each day and have to prioritise cases according to urgency.

“Whilst I am sorry to hear about the circumstances in which Mr Spiers’ house purchase fell through, there is actually nothing that a Member of Parliament could have done to prevent it.

“This is a private contractual matter and the questions that need to be asked are of Pembrokeshire County Council, and whether they have acted appropriately.

“It would be appropriate for Mr Spiers to contact his County Councillor who will be able to offer support with this.”

Pembrokeshire County Council have been asked to comment.

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Health

New X-ray equipment plan at Tenby Cottage Hospital revealed

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X-RAY services at Tenby Cottage Hospital are to receive a major boost thanks to an investment of £625,000 in brand new equipment which is being installed at the Hywel Dda Health Board-run site over the next few weeks.

The equipment, funded by Welsh Government, will allow the unit not only to provide the highest quality images but will also mean patients with reduced mobility or advanced clinical needs can be more easily accommodated.

However, in order to install the new equipment, x-ray services will be temporarily unavailable in Tenby Cottage Hospital until Friday, 19April 2024.

Over the next few weeks, imaging for GP patients will be provided on an appointment only basis at South Pembrokeshire Hospital in Pembroke Dock between 9-5pm.

Patients attending the Minor Injuries walk-in centre can still attend Tenby Cottage Hospital but may be sent to Withybush if an x-ray is required. Alternatively, patients can choose to attend Withybush Emergency Department directly.

John Evans, Pembrokeshire County Director for Hywel Dda said: “We are delighted that Tenby Cottage Hospital will be receiving brand new and up to date x-ray equipment thanks to this investment from Welsh Government.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused over the short period of time while the equipment is being installed but look forward to providing an improved level of care for Tenby community patients into the future.”

Patients needing further help or information should contact the radiology departments at Withybush Hospital on 01437 773385 or South Pembrokeshire Hospital on 01437 774018.

The health board is reminding people not to attend busy A&E departments unless they have a critical, life-threatening emergency and asking people to choose their healthcare services very carefully, so that only people with urgent or emergency care needs are being seen in A&E. 

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