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Outcry as castle sale nears

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hwest castlePEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has confirmed the sale of the old Records Office at Haverfordwest Castle, causing an outcry from many residents, organisations and Haverfordwest Town Council.

Confirming the County Council’s position on the future of the historical site, a spokesperson said: “The former Records Office at Haverfordwest Castle was put up for sale two years ago. All offers were considered and a sale was agreed. However, the Town Council then applied to have the area surrounding the former Records Office formally registered as a town or village green.

PUBLIC INQUIRY 

“This led to a public inquiry which ruled that the Castle was not capable of registration as town or village green. While the application was being determined the proposed developer stood back. Now that the application has been determined he has reopened his interest and the sale is proceeding.” Though the County Council would not directly confirm the name of the buyer, The Herald was told last October by Councillor Mark Edwards that the purchaser was the developer Griffith-Roach Foundation. When asked how much the buyer was offering for the property, and how this compared to the £50,000 offer put forward by the Town Council, the spokesperson declined to comment, saying it was confidential, but did confirm the developer’s offer was ‘considerably higher’ than that of the Town Council. They were also asked if the market value for the property was being demanded, to which they said it had been offered on the open market and a decision was taken to ‘sell for best consideration’. However, in 2006, a Notice of Motion was considered by the Council relating to the General Disposal Consent (Wales) which came into force on December 31, 2003. The Motion specifically sought to recognise that in circumstances which benefited the promotion of social economic and environmental well-being, property or land can be released to community organisations at less than the best consideration. Lesley Turner of Haverfordwest Civic Society said: “The proposed sale, without public consultation, would deprive Haverfordwest of its heritage. We believe that this location should remain for the Town’s community use and for the benefit of tourism”. Barbara Shone, Deputy Chair of Trustees Board of Haverfordwest Museum, said: “In 1996 the County Council leased the Governor’s House to the Town Council on a 40-year lease, which doesn’t end till 2036. The Trustees of the Museum were formed in 1996 and they have a license to operate the Museum until then.”

CABINET MEETING

 However, during a Cabinet meeting of January 9, 2012, the issue of the museum was discussed. In the Cabinet minutes it was said: “The County Council acquire the Haverfordwest Town Council’s lease of the Governors House on terms acceptable to the Directors of Development and that County Council officers be authorised to use compulsory purchase powers to achieve the acquisition should this prove necessary.” Haverfordwest mayor Roy Thomas also spoke with The Herald about the manner in which the County Council are pursuing the sale: “Frankly it comes as no surprise. The County Council, despite promises for greater transparency, remain secretive; they also appear to have disregarded the Town Council’s offer. “All I can say is the County Council have shown no improvement in their ability to look after the cultural well-being of our town. One has to hope that the Assembly Government and the National Audit Office is keeping a watch on this affair.” Haverfordwest Town Councillor, Sarah Llewellyn, summed up the feelings of many who are angry about the sale ‘behind closed doors’, and said: “We were obviously very disappointed by the Inspector’s decision. However, what became clear during the hearing was the strength of local feeling, and resentment at the high-handed manner in which the County Council chose to deal with an application that merely sought to secure free and unlimited public access to the Castle grounds for future generations. “I will be very interested to hear more regarding any further proposals to dispose of the old prison building, and anything else inside the Castle walls. It seems the County Council is keen to off-load a number of old, and currently empty buildings within our town, including the old prison building and Foley House, seeing them only in terms of their financial burden. “Both the County Council and the prospective developer need to be more up front this time round. People deserve to know about any proposals beforehand, and how plans are likely to affect them. It is not acceptable for the County Council to present matters such as these as ‘done deals’, and to be anything less than wholly transparent about how much money will be changing hands, and on what terms.”

The Council says in response to these concerns, and specifically the question of public access to the Castle grounds, the County Council said that this consideration was part of the on-going negotiations with the developer. Town Councillor, Thomas Tudor, said: “I would not support selling the Old Records Offices under market value, especially if the asking price had already been offered. And I would support the T o w n Council’s offer for the property bearing in mind that it has been the only offer for some time and when no one else was interested. “Taking advantage of the Town Council’s offer would have been a far more positive move rather than allowing the property to rot and decay and become more of a burden to the tax payers. If I cannot find out what the architect and developer is offering, I would then have to try to obtain the information by using the Freedom of Information Act.” One area of concern for taxpayers was how much the County Council had spent in opposing the Town Council’s application for village green status. When asked for a figure, the County Council said: “Our engagement with the Town Council on the vast majority of issues is very positive. However, different tiers of Government will occasionally have different views on matters. This is a matter which is now resolved”. The Herald understands, however, that a deal for the sale of the Castle has been discussed secretly in Cabinet and a decision reached.

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Crime Commissioner continues to secure funding for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual violence

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police is again making the offer for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual abuse to bid for additional funds.

Funding was made available last year, in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on organisations supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence.

It was part of a £76 million package of support made available by the UK Government.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “Thanks to this additional funding, we can ensure that victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Dyfed-Powys can access specialist services for support, at a time when they are needed the most.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in domestic violence during the pandemic and victims need help now more than ever and I am grateful for the work of all the service providers across the Force area that help these men, women and families who are most in need.

“I want to reassure anyone who is in an abusive situation or relationship that you do not need to suffer in silence, and I urge anyone to report abuse to the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“This funding is open both to providers whom I currently commission and those that I do not currently fund. However, unlike the extraordinary Covid-19 funding provided in 2020/21, organisations do not need to be a registered charity, a charitable incorporated organisation, or a social enterprise to be eligible for this funding. They must, however, provide support services which have the purpose of helping victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse cope with the impacts of crime and, as far as possible, recover from the harm they have experienced. We would also encourage applications from small specialist organisations that support groups with protected characteristics.

“If you wish to submit a request for this funding, further guidance is available on my website, and can be requested via the office e-mail address.”

Closing date for submissions is close of play on Friday, March 12, 2021.

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Covid alert level lowered for whole of UK

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THE COVID alert level for all four nations of the United Kingdom has been lowered to alert level 4.

The decision comes following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in light of the most recent data.

In recent weeks, the R-rate and the number of covid cases has been on the decline.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.

“The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

Under the Welsh Government’s Alert level 4 restrictions, schools and colleges, places of worship, community centres, playgrounds and public parks are among those that can be opened.

Theatres, entertainment venues, leisure facilities and outdoor visitors attractions are among the places that must remain close while the country is in Alert Level 4.

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Postmaster and politicians welcome Goodwick cash machine U-turn

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GOODWICK post office will now be keeping its ATM, after a U-turn by Post Office Ltd.

The machine was due to be removed within months with the post master, Jon Moverley saying that it would be a disaster for the village.

If the ATM had been removed, there would have been just two 24-hour ATMs serving the whole of Fishguard and Goodwick in the short term and three when the Co-op renovations are completed.

Both politicians and local residents then got behind the campaign to keep the ATM

Pembrokeshire politicians Paul Davies and Stephen Crabb have welcomed the news that Goodwick post office is now set to keep its ATM facility. Following representations made by both politicians to the Post Office, it’s now been confirmed that Goodwick Post Office will be included in the rollout of ATM machines across the post office network.

Mr Davies said “This is really welcome news. I’m pleased that the Post Office has listened to the representations made by the local community and decided to retain the ATM at Goodwick post office. The facility is so important for local people and businesses and it’s great that that’s been recognised and the Post Office has committed to keeping it.”

Following the Post Office’s decision to invest in Goodwick’s ATM rather than remove it, Stephen Crabb MP, who campaigned for the ATM to stay, commented: “It’s great news that the Post Office has overturned its own decision and will be keeping an ATM machine in Goodwick.

“Access to cash continues to be incredibly important for a number of people and businesses and I’m pleased to have played my part in working with John from the Post Office in Goodwick, Paul Davies MS and the wider community to highlight the ATMs importance to the area. It shows what can be achieved when we work together.”

The postmaster described the news as ‘brilliant’. Mr Moverley thanked supporters.

He said “Many thanks to all of you who have used the machine and complained to POL about the removal. We were also supported by our MP, MS and mayor, the National Federation of Sub-postmasters and our Chamber of Trade.

“Everyone did their bit, and it says an enormous amount about the strength of the community.

“We are delighted that locals and so many other people have come together to save this essential facility in the village.”

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