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FSB calls for domestic focus

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LOOKING ahead to the beginning of 2019, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry, said: “Small business owners tend to be an optimistic bunch. They are used to being nimble, adapting to circumstances and making the most of opportunities. They are creative and entrepreneurial.

“And yet as we head into 2019 small business confidence is on the floor, and desperately needs lifting.

“Of course the political turmoil of recent months and the ongoing lack of clarity about what kind of Brexit they should prepare for is playing a part – particularly around investment decisions.

“Yet there are plenty of headwinds in the coming months which are nothing to do with Brexit whatsoever, which is why politicians should resolve this New Year to re-focus on the domestic issues which affect small businesses day-in-day-out.

“The start of the new financial year in April will see a whole host of changes, leading to higher costs and greater bureaucracy for many small firms – from higher costs of employment to the rollout of quarterly, online tax reporting for VAT-registered firms.

“There are chill winds gusting down our High Streets. Thankfully most town centre and high street small businesses will benefit from relief on their business rates, which FSB fought hard to secure. But many small firms elsewhere will see previous reliefs taper off, and therefore higher bills from this out-dated tax.

“More optimistically, I believe 2019 could be the year in which we finally see poor payment practices by some big businesses to their smaller suppliers and contractors finally stamped out.

“The government recently listened to FSB calls to stop giving lucrative tax-payer-funded contracts to big firms which pay smaller suppliers late or subject them to supply chain bullying.

“I’m hopeful boardrooms will finally do their bit too, with larger firms having a non-executive director specifically responsible for overseeing the fair treatment of suppliers and contractors.

“As Brexit approaches on March 29, the Government must give proper help and support on how to comply with whatever will be required. Adapting to whatever the new trading circumstances with the EU are will mean changing business procedures, taking valuable time out from running a business, and for many, it will involve paying for external expertise.
“Clear advice and support will be needed with a voucher scheme operating as it does in both Ireland and the Netherlands to help small businesses or tax-free allowances.

“Longer term, whatever happens with Brexit, we already have one-in-five small businesses exporting and growing their business through overseas trade. This could be doubled with the right support available to encourage them to take that bold step.

“Back at home, I want to see in 2019 a greater recognition of the vital role small businesses play at the heart of local communities. These businesses don’t just provide goods and services, they bring much more to their local economies; support local charities or football teams; those on high streets bring character and individuality to an area; many provide opportunities for skills training, where an apprentice can benefit from the guidance and expertise of an experienced business owner.

“Smaller businesses are also disproportionately better at employing people from harder-to-reach parts of the workforce – those who have recently left military service; those who have taken time out of working because of caring responsibilities; people with disabilities; and ex-offenders seeking a new life on the straight and narrow.

“I strongly believe that it is in the interests of the country and the economy as a whole that we nurture skills and talent wherever they exist. Education and FE must work more closely with business around the skills needed, and the government could help smaller businesses to do even more in this area with an employer National Insurance holiday for those who employ people furthest from work.

“Even in these uncertain times, there are lots of ways in which the UK’s 5.6 million small businesses can be encouraged and supported to thrive and grow. This is absolutely vital for UK PLC. It’s time for politicians to remind themselves of this, and stop spending so much time on political infighting at the expense of the domestic agenda.”

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Town council to help elderly with online banking as last bank in Tenby set to close

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LOCALS in Tenby have been left reeling at this week’s news that the town’s HSBC branch is set to close next year.

The closure, announced on Thursday (Nov 30) will leave Tenby without any of the UK banks.

In recent years, Lloyds, NatWest and Santander have all left the town. Barclays has also just shut its doors for the last time, with the nearest branches being in Haverfordwest or Carmarthen.

The move comes as part of the latest round of closure, which will see 114 branches of the bank closed across the UK.

It follows 69 HSBC branches closing earlier this year and 82 HSBC branches closing last year.

Other HSBC branches closing in Wales include Abergavenny, Chepstow, Port Talbot, Pontypool, Brecon and a branch in Cardiff – Rhyd y Penau.

HSBC says its customer numbers have fallen rapidly since the pandemic and that some of the branches that are being shut now serve less than 250 customers a week.

Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK’s managing director of UK distribution, said: “People are changing the way they bank and footfall in many branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning.

“Banking remotely is becoming the norm for the vast majority of us.

“Not only can we do it anywhere at any time of day or night, many more things can be done at the customers’ convenience and don’t rely on a branch visit.

Speaking to The Herald by telephone on Wednesday evening (Nov 30), Mayor of Tenby, Cllr. Sam Skyrme Blackhall said: “This is really bad for the town of Tenby, and it’s just very, very said. This is a case of where are banks going?

“We have always looked after our banks here in Tenby, and it feels like no one is looking after us. Its as if no one in the banks cares anymore.”

Pointing out the number of retired people living in the area, she said: “We have a lot of elderly people in town who do not use online banking, and depend on the branch being open.

“I am talking to the Post Office and other people with the aim of looking to the hub system, which is happening in other towns where they are also loosing their banks.

“Its very sad that we will losing another cash point. How is a busy town expected to function without a bank or cash points. Where do people go for money?

Asked if she thought it was possible that the branch would be saved, as Tenby HSBC was one of the few banks without a confirmed closure date, Cllr. Sam Skyrme Blackhall seemed to think that the decision had been firmly made. She said: “They have to give six months notice, so we could be looking at May or June 2023 for the closure.

“I don’t think the branch could be saved.

“Barclays officially finished the other week.

“Banks don’t care about residents and people don’t matter [to them] during these very worrying times.”

Town council is planning to offer struggling Tenby residents help with online banking from their offices, creating a kind of drop-in-service, The Herald has been told.

Like in any time of difficulty the people of Tenby will rally together as they always do, but no matter what is done in the face of the closure of the last bank in the historic town, nothing will fully replace traditional face-to-face banking services.

Tenby Mayor Cllr. Sam Skyrme Blackhall: These are sad times for Tenby
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Pembs CBD UK’s first high street store partnered with medical cannabis clinic

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE CBD CENTRE has become the first high street CBD company in the country to be in partnership with Sapphire Clinic the leading medical cannabis clinic in the UK.

Cannabis can be legally prescribed in the UK to people who suffer from a range of painful and debilitating conditions – including anxiety, chronic pain, PTSD, and fibromyalgia. Having recently gone through the FSA’s novel food process, Pembrokeshire CBD Centre and Infinity CBD are among the few businesses on the UK market with fully compliant CBD products.

Thanks to its new partnership with http://sapphireclinics.com”Sapphire Clinics Medical Cannabis, Pembrokeshire CBD Centre is the first CBD dispensary in the UK where members of the public can walk in off the high street to talk about accessing medical cannabis in an official capacity, to arrange a an appointment with a medical cannabis clinic.

Rowan Bailey, Director and Product Developer at Pembrokeshire CBD/ Infinity CBD, said, “To have achieved this partnership from such a small start four years ago is incredibly humbling for us, and proves that our ethos of taking things slow and steady with a focus on compliance, quality and customer care has paid dividends in this ever evolving and competitive market.

“For a small shop in the heart of Pembrokeshire to be the first official high street partner with Sapphire is a massive achievement not only for us as a business, but ultimately for the community of customers who come to us for their needs. We can now work with them to access their first medical cannabis consultation, as well as provide ongoing support with clarifying the legislation, accessing over the counter CBD to complement their prescription, and supply the necessary equipment and materials they need to maintain their medical cannabis devices.”

“We owe our success to our customers who have supported us from day one, as well as our families who have stood by us taking these leaps and working through the difficult past couple of years with Covid. We look forward to seeing how this industry continues to unfold and this partnership develops.”

The award-winning Infinity CBD range includes skincare items, chocolates, and oil drops. All products are formulated using high-quality, traceable ingredients in labs powered by carbon neutral energy.

For more information, visit http://www.pembrokeshirecbd.co.uk or http://www.infinity-cbd.co.uk”www.infinity-cbd.co.uk.

About

Opened in 2018, Pembrokeshire CBD Centre is committed to enabling access and education around CBD products in the UK. It offers legally compliant and safe products through its brand, Infinity CBD, entirely made in Wales. The range of products include skincare, oil drops, massage therapy, balms, edibles, tablets, and more. Each product is developed by experts and daily users of CBD to ensure that only the best, most effective products are brought to market – whilst maintaining a cost effective CBD solution that doesn’t compromise on quality.

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Dakota Digital

Media contact: Rebecca Appleton

Email: Rebecca@dakotadigital.co.uk

Tel: 01623 428996

Tel US: 1 917-720-3025

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New facilities to support the growth of Celtic Sea FLOW take another step forward

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LAND management works have begun at Pembroke Port signalling the start of another important phase in the £60 million Pembroke Dock Marine project. Contractors, the Walters Group, have mobilised on site tasked with creating 17,000 sqm of laydown space by the end of 2024.

The new laydown space complements construction work being delivered by BAM Nuttall to create a new supersize slipway and new workboat pontoons, as well as onsite office facilities being constructed by R&M Williams. These new facilities and spaces are a key part in expanding Pembrokeshire’s proposition for the floating offshore wind and marine energy industries.

During the lifespan of the works, the Walters Group aims to create three full time jobs including an engineering apprenticeship, five work placements and one graduate placement, and they will be engaging with local schools to educate and inspire pupils about careers within the construction industry.

Jason Hester, Senior Project Manager at the Port of Milford Haven, said “It’s fantastic that Pembroke Dock Marine is making such significant leaps forward. Creating 17,000 sqm of laydown space means we’ll soon be able to handle much larger devices and vessels. We want to support the growing floating offshore wind industry and its supply chain so that companies can mature and benefit from our advantageous proximity to the Celtic Sea.” He added “Pembroke Dock Marine is a unique and significant opportunity for the region to play a key role in reaching Net Zero targets.”

Project Manager at the Walters Group, Gerrard Northey, commented “This is a brilliant opportunity for the Walters Group to engage with the Port of Milford Haven in providing a critical facility by means of the remediation works and laydown space for future innovative development of the Port. The Walters Group also brings with it a wealth of expertise and experience in the field of civil engineering which will assist the Port in achieving its end goals in making it a forerunner with environmental sustainability and marine works.”

Part of the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal, Pembroke Dock Marine will create a world-class centre for marine engineering and is set to generate around 1,800 highly skilled, year round jobs, as well as generating extensive opportunities for the local supply chain.

Councillor Paul Miller, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change, said “This announcement to develop capacity at Pembroke Port is further evidence of the building momentum behind the rapidly developing green energy industry in Pembrokeshire.” He added “It is vital to ensure we position Pembrokeshire and the South West Wales region at the heart of Wales’ renewable energy push and we will continue to invest to that end.”

Councillor Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Joint Committee, said “We welcome the Walters Group onboard to work on the exciting developments happening at Pembroke Port which will regenerate the port area, as well as further supporting the proposition for FLOW in the Celtic Sea. The City Deal is making significant progress in the Pembroke Dock Marine project by creating local employment opportunities, infrastructure to support the blue-green economy and its ambition of creating a centre of excellence for renewable energy technologies in Pembrokeshire which will not only benefit the county, but the entire City Deal region and whole of Wales.”

Pembroke Dock Marine is funded by the UK Government and Welsh Government through the Swansea Bay City Deal, and through the public and private sectors. It is also part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Pictured: (L-R) Jason Hester – Project Manager, Port of Milford Haven, Gavin Perry – Senior Quantity Surveyor, Walters Group and Wayne Scott – General Foreman, Walters Group

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