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Being homeless in Pembrokeshire

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By Tess Delaney

I HAD reason recently to get in touch with the homeless unit at Pembrokeshire County Council.
I spoke to a nice lady, and they can help me.
As I’m responsible for my son, we can be accommodated at the hostel in Pembroke. The thing is, I used to work at the Prince’s Trust, with kids that lived at the hostel, and there is no way on earth I’m taking my kid there.
Not happening.
And Pembroke? A forty-five-minute drive from my land, which I have to visit twice each day to tend my livestock. Given that one of the reasons for a Council officer’s refusal of my OPD planning permission was it involved too much driving, that’s a solution to a problem created by the Council which seems absurd, to say the least.
So now what?
Luckily, having procured a gig here at your favourite local newspaper, I’ve got a few more resources available.
So, let’s have a look, shall we?
Looking around at the prices of properties available to rent can leave one feeling pretty bereft.
What I want to know, is how does anyone afford these rents?
The cheapest two-bedroom I can find close to my land is in Clunderwen.
It looks fabulous in the pictures, but I know it’s rough because someone I know used to live there.
It’s a pretty little place, with a good amount of space, but the garden is shared – which isn’t mentioned in the particulars of course – and there are usually snails in the front room.
The fridge has to live in a cupboard under the stairs because the kitchen isn’t big enough, and there’s a washing machine, but it doesn’t work.
My point is, anything close to affordable is slightly sketchy.
It’s weird when you’re renting, and you lie there in bed, looking up at someone else’s peeling paint on the ceiling, unable to do anything about it because they don’t want you to, and you’re not really inclined to, being that your contract is at most a year long.
And who in Pembs is in a position to buy? Really? Are there any first-time buyers left? And what do they buy? There’s not much on the market locally for under 100k. How do people raise mortgages?
Some people have to rely on parents or suchlike, but some don’t have that kind of help. And there are no council houses because they all got sold.
I remember my grandad refusing to buy his council house. “They’re social houses for people in need” he used to say. The next people to live there bought it. Now, it’s a private let, with rent as high as any other three bed in that particular town.
I’ve put my name down on the council house register because the council are basically not giving me a lot of choice.
It’s daft.
I own and work on land that I have to leave at night times. I’m there all day. What’s the big deal about where you actually sleep? Why does that constitute home? What is home?
I can’t be homeless when I’ve got more of a potential home than someone who is actually proper homeless, but they’re telling me I’m homeless.
Define homelessness.
When I bought my land I tried to rent a house nearby.
Even though there are loads of empty and dilapidated properties, none are available for use. I put a shout out on the local Facebook page and got not one reply.
A week or so later, someone put a post on the same page, asking for a holiday let for their family to use at Christmas. About thirty people replied, with photos of lovely little houses that looked small enough to be affordable to a local family to rent. But they’re all holiday homes.
Every single one.
It’s no secret that many villages in our county are made up almost entirely of holiday lets and second homes.
Our prices are inflating all the time, especially when bright sparks at the Daily Mail publish articles on how you can get a house in Pembs for half the price of Cornwall, so why not move to Pembs, and buy up all the housing stock?
It wouldn’t be so bad if the housing stock got replaced, but every time someone puts a planning application in for affordable homes, or even any homes, the vigilantes come out, insisting on keeping as big a radius as possible around them, even though they’re usually people that moved here to retire, and all they’re really worried about is their property prices and the feeling that any new builds will spoil their postcard.
It’s an endless circular mess, and to be honest, who of you, reading this, would rather take your kid to the hostel than move onto your land illegally and face court? If that’s the choice, I know what I’ll be doing.
I’m lucky in that my son’s dad is letting me, as well as the kid, crash at his place while I look for somewhere, or get planning at appeal, whichever comes first.
So, ultimately, if you don’t have an ex that’s a brilliant dad and not only takes responsibility for the kid, but for me too, and steps in to help in this way, what do you do?
If you don’t have friends offering you places to stay, like I’ve had, you have the hostel as an option, and that’s it.
How can there be, as reported recently, so many homeless people wandering around Tenby that the Tenby Chippy is giving out free meals? How did that happen? When did that happen?
There was no homelessness back in my school days in Tenby. If there was one homeless person they were almost a curio, like that guy who used to wander around Whitland and tragically, and almost unnoticeably, died in that fire.
Now we have so many homeless that they’re noticeably cold and alone in a place like “Fair and Fashionable” Tenby, relying on the kindness of the chip shop?
According to the council’s reasoning, I’m eligible for free chips. Perhaps I’ll gather up everyone down there and let them live on the field.
It’s always an option…

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Brand new features unveiled at Scolton Manor Park

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ONE of Pembrokeshire’s best-loved family destinations has announced it will be unveiling several new attractions in June, ready for the summer holidays.  

Among the new features at Scolton Manor are an eco-explorer village, a 1.2km woodland cycle track, an outdoor pirate ship play area and a dedicated railway attraction complete with steam train locomotive ‘Margaret’ and ‘Scolton Express’ play train.

Mark Thomas, manager of Scolton Manor Park, said the team were looking forward to showing visitors the new attractions.

“We’re delighted with our new facilities and believe they will perfectly complement the attractions we have here already at Scolton,” he said.

The woodland eco-explorer village aims to give children more opportunities for outside play and spark their enthusiasm to discover more about the natural world.  

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Culture and Leisure, said the village is perfect for all young explorers from toddlers right through to older children.

“Children love playing outside and we want to inspire them through their play to not only find out more about biodiversity and the environment but also how to care for it,” he said.

“As well as eco-explorer areas, games and activities there will be fun tips on how they can reuse, reduce and recycle more and protect the environment.”

The eco-explorer village is funded by a £50,000 grant from the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme and £25,000 grant from Community Facilities Programme (Welsh Government), in partnership with the Pembrokeshire Beekeepers’ Association.

Mark Thomas said the current attractions at Scolton have also proved very popular since the outdoor areas at the park re-opened to the public earlier this spring.

As well as an adventure play area for older children which includes a 30-metre zip wire, a spinning climbing web and ‘super swings’,  younger visitors can enjoy the wooden playground, sensory musical play area and woodland play features.

“The many and varied attractions at Scolton enhance its role as a community facility while providing a wide range of countryside experiences at a lower cost,” said Mark.

“The new features in particular will also help to continue the development of the site into a must-visit tourist attraction within mid and North Pembrokeshire.”

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Public engagement exercise over new hospital between St Clears and Narberth

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HYWEL DDA is asking the people of Pembrokeshire to help it further shape and deliver future services by taking part in a six-week engagement exercise.

Since the publication of its strategy, A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well in 2018, the health board has worked with partners to provide care and develop services. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on health and care services. As a result, the health board now wants to learn from the public about how the pandemic has affected their health and care, and access to it.

This week, Hywel Dda UHB has been distributing a discussion document for the public to consider, along with a questionnaire for completion.

Hywel Dda UHB is also asking for the public’s feedback in relation to its long-term strategy to develop and build a new hospital in the south of the Hywel Dda area, somewhere between and including St Clears, in Carmarthenshire, and Narberth, in Pembrokeshire.

This location is the most central for most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area, and it was determined through the public consultation held in 2018.

The public is also being asked to nominate sites for a new hospital based four criteria:

The nominated site must be within the zone between and including St Clears in Carmarthenshire and Narberth in Pembrokeshire. This location is the most central to most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

The nominated site should be a minimum of 35 acres of reasonably developable land.

The nominated site should have realistic prospects of obtaining planning permission for a new hospital.

There should be appropriate transport infrastructure for a major hospital site.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The global pandemic has had a major impact on all areas of our lives so it’s crucial that the health board considers, reflects and learns from this extraordinary period. This engagement exercise will allow the public to tell us in their own words how COVID-19 has affected their health and care, and access to it.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to participate because the feedback we receive will play a major role in helping shape future services. This in turn will allow us to deliver on our long-term commitment for a healthier mid and west Wales.

“I would also stress that this engagement exercise is part of an ongoing process. Over the coming months and years, we plan to engage with the public, stakeholders and partners on a wide variety of issues, such as service models. Everyone will have their chance to give their views and opinions because we are committed to continuous engagement with the public to ensure we provide the best possible care.”

The engagement exercise will run until Monday June 21.

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Paul Sartori taking action to support climate with National Lottery grant of nearly £14,000

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LOCAL hospice at home charity, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, is taking action to support the climate with the installation of solar panels at its main head office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

The charity which delivers end of life care services across Pembrokeshire, has been awarded a grant to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels at Paul Sartori House, Winch Lane. This investment is part of an ongoing commitment to address the climate emergency and the charity joins many others who are taking action. Paul Sartori was one of 35 community groups, who were selected to take part in the Climate Action Boost scheme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Working alongside Renew Wales, a partner in the initiative, the group explored methods to help tackle the causes and consequences of climate change, and to operate more sustainably. A number of options were discussed to reduce their impact on the environment and Renew Wales helped the charity to develop an environmental action plan, which is to be implemented over the coming months. The scheme available to cover a variety of environmental reduction activities, including renewable energy, reducing consumption, local food and reduced or less impactful travel.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home wouldn’t normally be associated with environmental activity. Through regular consultation over many months, the charity has been really encouraged by what they have learnt.

“We have invested a lot of time in developing the plan; discussed a number of alternatives along the way, but feel that the solar panel installation will have the biggest impact for the charity in the long term”, said Sandra Dade, Charity Manager. “The National Lottery Climate Action Boost has really inspired our charity to minimise our impacton the environment and we will continue this journey,” added Sandra.

Jemma Nurse, Funding Manager at The National Lottery Community Fund said, “The climate emergency is everyone’s business, which is why The National Lottery Community Fund is acting to support and inspire communities to minimise their own impact on the environment. We are proud to be a significant funder of environmental projects and Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, along with the other groups participating in Climate Action Boost, will play a valuable part in building our knowledge so we can share our learning with other funders across Wales and the UK.”

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish.

All of the services are free of charge, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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