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Castle for Village Green Status?

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Haverfordwest Castle grounds are to be considered for Village Green Status, as an enquiry is scheduled to take place towards the end of October that could decide its fate in respect of ownership.

The potential sale of the old prison building is the subject of much controversy between the Town Council and the County Council who do not see eye-to-eye, in terms of where future ownership should lie.

Speaking to The Herald, Town Councillor, Peter Lewis, said that his Council had applied for Village Green Status to ensure that the grounds are open to the public at all times, as it was suggested previously that the grounds may only be open to the public at certain times, should the development of a boutique hotel go ahead.

He also wrote that he believed the developer, Griffith-Roach Foundation, had withdrawn its interest in the castle, and, to this end, he questioned the transparency of the County Council who had not accepted an offer, as yet, of £50,000 which the Town Council had put forward for ownership of the former prison building. He went on to say that he believed the County Council were ‘hiding its intentions behind a veil that they call commercial confidentiality’. He also asked if, in fact, the County Council were planning ‘to off-load yet another of our assets for a nominal fee, thus relieving it of cumbersome expenses?’ and put forward the question as to whether the people of Haverfordwest believed in the County Council’s claim that a boutique hotel would attract more visitors than a museum.

However, County Councillor Mark Edwards of Prendergast ward, speaking on behalf of the Independent Plus Political Group, disputed some of these claims saying that the developer had not withdrawn interest and was waiting to see what the outcome would be of the enquiry into Village Green Status. He went on to say that, as far as he was aware, should the developer place a boutique hotel on the castle grounds, then this would actually lead to an improvement of this space, encouraging visitors, apparently welcome to visit at any time. Mr Edwards also believed that such a development would not only improve the grounds, but would also make for a better stewarded castle, in terms of what has become a problem of youths drinking alcohol on the site during the hours of darkness. He stated that the County Council, when deciding upon who should take over the land, would work in the interests of the public and consider what is the best value for the town. When asked how much the developer was offering for the land, in light of the Town Council’s offer, he stated that he did not know the figure. He was also unaware of whether or not the County Council were considering the offer from the Town Council.

Thomas Tudor, County Councillor for Castle ward, also concurred with Mark Edwards that the developer was still interested in the property. He told The Herald that he shared the residents’ concerns over any potential development, promising to ‘champion and represent them by ensuring that answers to their concerns are addressed’. He then referred to an email of last year in which he had said to the Town Council that he had asked for a ‘notice of motion’ to County Council and Cabinet recommending they carry out a full and public consultation with the people of Haverfordwest on site proposals, but that Cabinet had rejected the motion. He went on to say that he had asked for the amount offered by the Griffith-Roach Foundation to be disclosed but was told by Pembrokeshire County Council that this information was unavailable due to ‘commercial sensitivity’.

Haverfordwest residents must wait until the end of October to find out if the site is given Village Green Status or not, an outcome which is likely to have a defining impact on whether or not the Griffith-Roach Foundation pursue its goal of building a boutique hotel on the grounds of this significant, nearly eight-hundred year old, Haverfordwest historical landmark.

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Business

Bug Farm explains rush to keep people and animals safe as raging wildfire approached

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A PEMBROKESHIRE business has taken to the internet to thank everyone who has supported them throughout the recent grass fires. The management of Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm said on Facebook: “Thank you everyone for your kind comments about the fire.

“Being told that you may lose your family home, cows and nature reserve is rather sobering.

The business describes itself as a visitor and research centre located on a farm wildlife reserve grazed by our Tyddewi Herd of Welsh Black cattle. IT has a focus on invertebrates (bugs) alongside sustainable food and farming, they are also home of Grub Kitchen & Bug Farm Foods. 

However all of that was hanging in the balance with people and animals threatened by the oncoming flames.

Ongoing battle: Tabitha and Andy extinguishing a reignition.

They explained: “With the fire just one field away from them, our first priority was getting our cows to a safer area. We had a team of ecologists working on the land who thankfully saw the fire and got away in time. Then we looked up and said: “oh my gosh, the house”.

“All my memories of my late mum and dad were in the house. We drove through the smoke and flames to reach it. I will never forget seeing the small mammals running for their lives across the road, in particular a rabbit with charred fur that stopped in the middle of the road and looked straight at me before carrying on. The firefighters said their priority was trying to save the first 5 houses of Nun Street if possible.

“Ours was number 1, the house nearest to the fire. I was allowed one dash in by the firefighters to grab what I could. Typically, the fire expanded behind me, with Andy the other side of it not being able to contact me. It was completely terrifying for everyone.

No entry: The fire jumped a road at one point during the incident

“A huge thank you to my cousin Rachel and Nick for hosing down the garden as the fire reached the garden hedge and closing all the windows of the house while I grabbed precious memories. Thanks to a monumental effort, our house, Tabitha’s home, the cows and most of our fledgling nature reserve at Penweathers are safe. The fire team were amazing.

“After putting the main blaze out on Saturday, they must have returned 4 or 5 times on Sunday, when we, Adam Vincent at Clwb and the TYF Adventure guides couldn’t control the blazes.

“Following advice from the fire officer, Andy did an amazing job on Saturday night and Sunday cutting fire breaks around our meadows as a preventative measure to stop the fire spreading to the houses in St Davids and the cathedral cemetery if it reignited (which it did…time and time again).

“Tabitha and Angela worked tirelessly with us and Adam putting out the fires and a big thanks to Lou for helping out too.

Devastation: Scorched earth remains after the blaze was extinguished

“On Sunday, two big fires started, one at Newgale and another at a South Pembs recycling centre, and all the fire teams in the county were called away. It was an odd feeling on Sunday evening, hearing the local fire officer saying that all engines in west Wales were deployed elsewhere so, if it re-started, we were pretty much on our own and so we should do everything we could to extinguish the new, small fires so they couldn’t escalate.

“We managed to keep on top of the small fires and smoking bales thanks to regular patrols and local residents calling us whenever they spotted smoke so we could rush to extinguish new fires before they got too big.

Destroyed by fire: Shed’s seen better days

“After almost 24 hours of fire-free time, we thought we had won and then, on Tuesday afternoon, got a call to say that smoke had been spotted again.

“By the time we arrived, Adam was extinguishing a smoking bale and then we found a smoking hawthorn tree in a largely unburnt hedge, at the edge of what had burnt: within seconds, the trunk was glowing bright red, with flames starting to spread.

Fire appliances responding to the blaze

“Thanks to the rain, we had our first fire-free day yesterday (the second busiest day of the year at The Bug Farm). Please bear with us over the next few days if we are a bit zombie-like, we are all exhausted and still a bit shaken, but so, so thankful that it has ended how it has.

Scale of burned area and proximity to residential property can be seen clearly in this shot

“The fire burnt through our neighbour’s arable land and improved grassland, destroying the crops, but seemed to skirt around our wildlife habitat, going through the hedge banks but not making it across our fields, despite them being long grass meadows. Having been told at least 5 times over the past few days that it is: “long grass and bl**dy rewilding like you are doing” that is causing these fires to spread, it is worth noting that the re-wetted marshy grassland stopped the fire in its tracks and stopped it getting to the cemetery and to St Davids houses on Nun Street – you can see it very clearly in the pictures below. Oh and it started by someone leaving glass bottles on the footpath.

“Please take your litter home and don’t smoke or have barbecues in the countryside in a drought.

“Lots of people have kindly offered to help. If you would like to help, please grab gloves and a bag and walk the Pilgrim’s Way footpath that is now partially burnt, picking up glass bottles, cans and other human detritus that is now visible to help stop this happening again.

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Entertainment

Outstanding tenor to give a recital in Rhosygilwen as first full week of music festival gets underway in Pembrokeshire

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AN OUTSTANDING tenor will start the first full week of concerts by the Fishguard and West Wales International Music Festival 2022. Stuart Jackson was a choral scholar at Christ Church, Oxford before completing his training at the Royal Academy of Music in 2013 where he studied with Ryland Davies. 

He has performed at Glyndebourne, Stuttgart Opera ,the BBC Proms and at numerous major festivals, He will be accompanied on the piano by Jocelyn Freeman at his recital next week in Rhosygilwen on Monday August 22.

St Mary’s Church Haverfordwest will be the venue for London Brass on Wednesday, August 23. Described as ‘the UK’s most famous and long-established brass ensemble’, they have appeared in concerts worldwide. 

The Welsh National Opera Orchestra will return to the Festival at the end of the week to give two concerts. Their concert at St David’s Cathedral on Thursday will feature music by Benjamin Britten, Mahler and Dvorak with acclaimed mezzo soprano Dame Sarah Connolly. 

The WNO Chamber Ensemble will end the first week of concerts with a recital at St Mary’s Church, Haverfordwest.

Further concerts will follow with artists including Llyr Williams, Peter Donohoe, Rebecca Evans, The Marian Consort, Sacconi Quartet and the European Union Chamber Orchestra.

Gillian Green MBE, Artistic Director of the Festival, said: “A feast of world class music covering six centuries awaits audiences over the next three weeks in one of the most beautiful parts of Wales. The Festival is very excited about the variety of events on offer from now until early September comprising orchestral, choral and chamber music, solo recitals together with folk and world music.”

Dates for this year’s Fishguard and West Wales International Music Festival are Saturday, August 20 to Saturday, September 10 2022.

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News

South West Wales enters a state of Drought as dry weather continues

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FOLLOWING the extended period of dry weather, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has confirmed that the trigger thresholds have been met to move South West Wales into drought status from Friday, August 19.

NRW’s decision to move from prolonged dry weather status to drought for the area was agreed and shared with a meeting of the Welsh Government’s Drought Liaison Group and after consideration of the exacerbated pressures the high temperatures and lack of significant rainfall have had on the environment in this area.

The rest of Wales remains in prolonged dry weather status but concerns still remain. While essential supplies of water remain safe, the public and businesses in drought affected areas should be very mindful of the pressures on water resources and should use water wisely.  NRW continues to closely monitor the situation across Wales, working with partners and will take action as required.  

Natalie Hall, Sustainable Water Manager for NRW, said: “Prolonged dry weather can lead to drought when rainfall remains low. This can impact some of our most precious habitats and species as well as systems we often take for granted, such as our water supplies.

“We have decided to declare a state of drought in South West Wales after it was clear the lack of rain and recent heat have put a huge strain on our rivers, reservoirs and groundwater levels.“

The areas affected are:

  • North Ceredigion (Rheidol, Aeron, Ystwyth)
  • Teifi
  • Pembrokeshire (Eastern and Western Cleddau)
  • Carmarthen (Tywi and Taf)
  • Swansea and Llanelli (Tawe and Loughor)
  • Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend (Neath, Afan, Ogmore)

South West Wales received just 65.5% of its average rainfall in July and all river levels in the area are lower than expected for this time of the year, with the Ewenny, Teifi and Taf exceptionally low.

Low groundwater levels coupled with record high temperatures, have also put a strain on the region’s ecosystems as well as public water supplies in Pembrokeshire and parts of Carmarthenshire.

The rest of the country continues to experience a period of prolonged dry weather, despite there being some recent rainfall.

Across the rest of Wales, the majority of rivers across Wales are lower than expected for the time of year, with many exceptionally low including the Alyn, Conwy, Clwyd, Taf, Teifi, Ewenny, Wye, Usk and Ebbw. 

Between March and July Wales received just 61% of its expected rainfall resulting in the driest five-month period in 40 years

NRW is advising the residents of Pembrokeshire to follow water conservation advice given by Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water, who have introduced a temporary use ban,  more commonly known as a hosepipe ban, which will also come into effect today (Friday 19 August).

NRW and Welsh Government (WG) also attend the national drought group for England to address any cross-border concerns.

Natalie added: “While certain parts of Wales may be experiencing rain, it can still take a long time to recover from drought, making water a precious resource.

“We’re urging the public to save water where possible; you can find the latest ad advice on water by visiting your water company’s website or Waterwise (www.waterwise.org.uk).

“Please report any incidents on the current dry weather on our 24-hour hotline on 0300 065 3000.”

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