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Government removes refinery reference from Yellowhammer document

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A DOCUMENT which the UK Government was forced to publish by the House of Commons was redacted to remove a reference to the potential closure of two UK oil refineries.

The document, referred to as ‘Operation Yellowhammer’, was leaked to the Sunday Times last month.

Described originally as a ‘Baseline Assessment’ of the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal, it sets out a range of scenarios that the documents authors believe are likely to occur in the short to medium term following a crash-out Brexit.

The copy published by the Government removes the reference to it being a baseline assessment.

The leaked ‘Yellowhammer’ document went into detail about the risk that leaving the EU without a deal presented to key UK sectors, including ports and refinery capacity.

Both are key issues for the Haven Waterway, which is dependent on export and import trade and is particularly sensitive to tariff changes.

However, the version of the Yellowhammer document published by the government has removed any reference to the risk to ports and refinery capacity.

The document states those on the lowest incomes will bear most of the burden of a crash-out Brexit.

The Westminster Government plans for a no-deal Brexit include a proposal for petrol imports to be tariff-free. However, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there would be a tariff on petrol exports. That would include petroleum and other refined oil products leaving the Valero refinery.

The leaked documents state that this could lead to ‘significant financial losses’ and suggests that the price of the policy would be the closure of two (unnamed) refineries.

The removal of that reference could mean several things: that the government has resolved the issue; that the government is in the process of resolving it; that the government is desperately attempting to avoid confirming an assessment that would clobber its chances of retaining seats in any of the areas affected. Preseli Pembrokeshire is, notionally, a highly marginal seat, currently held by Stephen Crabb. South Pembrokeshire is represented by junior Cabinet Office minister Simon Hart.

If Valero stopped production the impact on the local economy would be catastrophic; not only for workers on-site but also for companies concerned in the refinery’s supply chain.

The position is complicated by the recent disastrous forced shutdown at Valero following a major power cut. The loss of power damaged the refinery’s cracker plant, which will cost millions to repair.

Valero says it is committed to Pembrokeshire for the long term. However, at the time of the original leak, Valero General Manager Ed Tomp stated: “We are concerned that 0% import tariffs on petrol could create an unfair advantage for importers, resulting in a negative impact on all UK refineries.

“As such we have been working with UKPIA (the United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association) to ensure our concerns – and the potential impact of zero tariffs – are clearly communicated to the UK Government.”

Mr Crabb has since written to the Trade Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, to ask her to rethink the tariffs to ensure there was a ‘level playing field’ for all refineries.

The Government remains silent, however, about what progress it has made towards ensuring that thousands of jobs across Pembrokeshire are not lost if the Valero refinery is made unviable by the effects of a crash-out Brexit.

Education

Delight as foundation phase learners return to class

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PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”

 

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Sergeant Hillier ‘died doing the job he loved’, says his heartbroken father

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THE ARMY SERGEANT who died after being injured in a live firing exercise, has been named locally.

The incident occurred at Castlemartin Training Area, and led to the death of Sgt Gavin Hillier, who was in the Welsh Guards.

In a post on social media, his father wrote: “Absolutely devastated to be writing this post, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

“At 3.45am this morning I received a phone call that will forever change my life. My eldest son Gavin Mark Hillier was in a fatal accident yesterday in the army (the job he loved).

“Sleep tight & rest in peace son. I’m so proud of you. Goodnight and god bless, love your heartbroken dad.”

An Army spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on March 4.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

It is understood that Sergeant Hillier, who served as part of the Welsh Guards’ motor transport platoon, was due to be deployed to Iraq and had previously been awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal by Prince Charles, the regiment’s Colonel in Chief, in 2019.

The tragic incident is the latest in a number of accidents at Castlemartin.

In 2017, The Herald reported that two soldiers died in a tank explosion, which a coroner ruled was due to a design flaw.

The following year, an Army captain was jailed in July 2018 after a 21-year-old soldier was killed by a stray bullet during an exercise at the range in 2012.

An investigation has been launched into the death of a soldier at Castlemartin RAC Range following a military exercise.

Police were called to the site at just before 10.45pm on March 4.

Sadly, a man was pronounced dead shortly after. Our thoughts are with his family, who have been informed of the incident and are being supported by specialist officers.

An investigation is underway led by Dyfed-Powys Police. Officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and MoD.

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