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10% Council tax rise supported

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IN A RECORDED vote, Pembrokeshire County Council has approved its draft budget for 2019/20, which will see a 10% rise in council tax.

The budget was approved at Thursday’s (Feb 21) Full Council meeting but was met with some opposition by some members who said other options were available.
Cabinet member for Finance, Cllr Bob Kilmister described his role as a ‘poisoned chalice’ but went on to say: “We are still cheaper in Pembrokeshire than any other local authority in Wales. I have heard that increasing the council tax may have a burden on many who fit into the category of working poor.
“However, if we cut more services it will affect these people the most.”

He went on to highlight a number of outcomes should council tax not be increased by 10% and added: “An additional £1.89 a week avoids these outcomes.”

There is also an extra £1m to cover Brexit but Cllr Kilmister said he had ‘no idea’ if that would be enough.

Cllr Brian Hall asked how many redundancies would be made if certain services were changed but Cllr Kilmister said they were looking at what they have got in the council and looking to train for those people who are leaving vital jobs.

Cllr Hall said that the majority of staff were really concerned, and Cllr Kilmister said they could not start that process until a decision was made on the budget.

Cllr Jamie Adams said they needed to come up with a budget that was more ‘wider-thinking’ and said it was about ‘delivering value for money for Council Tax payers.
He said he was unable to support the budget that demands 10% and challenged other members saying: “Don’t be afraid of doing that, there are different ways to square the circle.”

Cllr Josh Beynon said that while a 10% rise was not the most popular it was the right thing to do.

Cllr Phil Kidney said he was finding it tough to get his head round the customer service centre closing and said they would ‘disenfranchise’ a lot of people by doing so.
However, Cllr Kilmister later said that the service would still be provided but in a different way.
He also said that the current administration was doing more of getting rid of buildings that the previous administration ever did. He added: “This is not something I am doing out of choice, I am doing it out of necessity.”

Cllr Pat Davies said she was ‘dismayed’ to find the previous administration had no strategic plan and said that she had done a lot of catching up over the last 18 months.
Speaking on the transformation program, Cllr Michelle Bateman said progress was being made and that she didn’t want to be part of a council that cuts services and keeps council tax low.

Cllr John Davies explained that the council does have other options and Cllr Kilmister challenged him saying he was welcome to make a new proposal but told Cllr Davies he would have to tell him where the money would be coming from.

Cllr Kilmister went on to say they could only do the budget on the information they have.
Council Leader Cllr David Simpson praised Cllr Kilmister for what he had done over the past 12 months saying he had done an ‘exceptional job’.
He went on to say that he was ‘proud’ of his whole cabinet who had the ability to answer any questions that came their way.

Cllr Simpson then said: “The staff we have in this building are superb, do we want to slash their jobs? No we don’t. We are looking at departments and making cuts where we can.”
When it was put to the vote, 37 members voted in favour of the budget, with 21 voting against.

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Multi-agency response to house fire in Siskin Close, Haverfordwest

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FIRE crews are attending a domestic fire in a property on Siskin Close, Haverfordwest.

As of 11.45pm on Monday evening crews were still dampening down a fire which enfulfed two floors of a domestic property.

It is understood the alarm was raised after 10pm.

Our reporter on the scene said that there were four fire crews in attendance as well as three ambulances as well as police, who had set up a perimeter, controlling access to the scene.

A large number of local residents were watching on from a safe distance as the incident was being dealt with.

At the time of writing the street was blocked off to traffic with a large number of emergency vehicles parked up, all the way around the corner to the top of Harrier Road.

All of the emergency services have been contacted for a comment.

THIS STORY IS UPDATING

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Outdoor hospitality given go-ahead and rules on mixing outdoors relaxed in Wales

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SIX people will be able to meet outdoors in Wales from Saturday 24 April while outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26 April as cases of new COVID-19 infections continue to fall, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed today.

The current rule provides for up to six people (not including children under 11 years of age or carers) from a maximum of two households to meet outdoors.

The new rules from Saturday will allow six people (not including children under 11 years of age or carers) to meet outdoors.

People should observe social distancing from people from outside their household or support bubble when meeting others outside.

The rules for meeting indoors remain unchanged.

The First Minister has also confirmed outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26th April 2021.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “The public health context in Wales remains favourable, with cases falling and our vaccination programme continues to go from strength to strength. Because meeting outdoors continues to be lower risk than meeting indoors, we are able to bring forward changes to allow any six people to meet outdoors.

“This will provide more opportunities for people, especially young people, to meet outdoors with their friends. This will undoubtedly have a significant positive impact on people’s wellbeing.

“I’m also pleased to confirm outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26th April.

“These changes will help the hospitality sector recover after a difficult twelve months.

“It is thanks to the continuing efforts of people across Wales we are able to introduce this change. Together, we will continue to keep Wales safe.”

On Friday (23rd April 2021), the First Minister will confirm further relaxations to the covid rules that will come into force on Monday 26 April 2021.

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Police ‘enforcement and engagement’ to curb anti-social behaviour in Tenby

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POLICE in Tenby will be using enforcement and engagement in a bid to curb future incidents of anti-social behaviour, they said on Monday (Apr 17)

The announcement comes after Tenby was left with empty cans, broken bottles and fast food wrappers strewn everywhere, after over two hundred young people gathered to enjoy the weekend – perhaps expected whilst pubs remained closed.

Licensed establishment have not yet been able to open in Wales, but they are open in England for outdoor refreshments. They are opening on Monday.

There were reports of young people walking through the town with boxes full of alcohol, with other people buying takeaway drinks from licensed premises before making their way to the harbour.

The sheer number of people meant people were urinating in the streets, some residents told The Pembrokeshire Herald.

A Dyfed-Powys police spokesperson said: “With the continued easing of the regulations designed to keep us safe and the weather getting warmer we have seen an increase of people visiting and out and about in the Pembrokeshire area.
“While it’s great that people are now able to visit Pembrokeshire again, the behaviour of some placed additional pressure not only on the police but on the local authority as well.
“Tenby in particular attracted a large crowd on Saturday evening, April 18, resulting in anti-social behaviour, especially in the harbour area.

Chief Inspector Louise Harries said: “We recognise the concerns of residents and businesses after the anti-social behaviour seen in Tenby on Saturday evening. We are working with partners to avoid these issues re-occurring in the future.
“Police officers will be patrolling the area over the coming weeks and while the priority will be to engage with the public, enforcement action will be taken where necessary”
“We want to see people enjoying and the majority of people are doing so in accordance with the regulations, however the minority who don’t are spoiling it for others.
“We will continue to engage with our communities and visitors to the area to ensure that everyone enjoys in a safe manner.”

(Cover photo courtesy Pure West Radio)

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