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Letter to Drakeford: The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality sector

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IN AN OPEN letter from the Pembrokeshire hospitality industry, business leaders have written to the First Minister to express their concern regarding uncertainty over the lockdown being lifted.

The letter has been singed by seven of the county’s top hospitality businesses owners. The letter reads as follows:

Dear First Minister,

Re: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Pembrokeshire Hospitality Sector – An open letter from the industry

We operate numerous hospitality businesses within Pembrokeshire and write to outline our collective concerns about the significant challenges that we face from the impact of COVID-19. Our industry is one that has been most affected by the Government measures that have been put in place to control the spread of the virus in Wales. It is now at a critical point as we face increasing financial pressures and great uncertainty for the future. We ask that you listen to the views of our sector and urge you to take them into consideration.

We were very pleased to see the leisure, tourism and non-essential retailers given the green light to open during your recent announcement on Friday 19th June. This announcement has provided a sense of optimism and an important lifeline for businesses operating within these sectors. Sadly, the lack of reference to our own sector, has highlighted Welsh Government’s lack of recognition of the important contribution that the hospitality industry makes to the Welsh economy, the visitor experience and to the quality of life for residents in Wales.

The hospitality industry is a fundamental part of tourism in west Wales and we are concerned that this has not been acknowledged at a Ministerial level. The west Wales tourism experience is intertwined with accommodation, leisure and hospitality business working together to deliver the unique brand that has been successfully developed over the years. This symbiotic relationship is key. They rely on one another to attract, entertain and accommodate tourists and will not work successfully without the other.

We understand from your statement, and the subsequent detail released, it appears that pubs and restaurants will be closed for a further 5-6 weeks. This means that the industry will have been dormant for nearly four months with still no clear picture of a road to recovery provided for our businesses. This will have a far-reaching and devasting effect on the sector with thousands of jobs across west Wales, and the whole of Wales, now at risk.

For the industry in Pembrokeshire, we rely heavily on a good spring/ summer tourism season which helps sustain us through the winter months. Being closed for one third of the year will pile unimaginable pressure upon us as we fight with every breath to keep staff and suppliers paid and our businesses afloat.
We have been left in an uncertain and worrying position at a time when we need strong leadership to help support us through this extremely vulnerable period. We now urgently call upon you to review and reconsider your position on the hospitality industry. We ask that you give due attention to the critical areas of support (listed below) that we need to give us a lifeline and prevent the collapse of business for so many in our sector.

Our industry asks you to…
1. Offer a detailed pathway out of lockdown. We need to be provided with set dates subject to continued control of the “R” number;
2. Review financial support via grants to the sector. This needs to address the prolonged closure faced by this industry compared to others who have already begun to trade normally yet have received the same level of grant funding. Co-financing of Job Retention Scheme from July will be impossible with zero income. Welsh Government must intervene, or risk thousands of jobs being lost.
3. Provide strong and enforceable commercial lease guidance. This will allow operators to seek rent-free periods from their landlords. Welsh Government must either make funding available to remove barriers currently created by landlords or create a financial incentive.
4. Revisit the 2m social distancing rule. We acknowledge the 2m rule has been critical in controlling the virus in Wales. However, we ask that this is reviewed in line with other nations and reduce the 2m social distancing rule. We do not believe that it is sustainable and will make the difference between businesses achieving profitability or collapsing.
5. Provide positive communication about the sector. Positive communication and engagement with the sector are vital at this time. It would help to re-build confidence and forge a closer working relationship between Welsh Government and the sector as we move forward in these uncertain times.
We are professional business people who have the ability to work with Welsh Government and with all the necessary guidelines issued. We must be given the responsibility to work collaboratively across our industry to ensure that we can safely get back to business in the coming weeks.

We ask that you give consideration to the voices of the industry echoed in this letter.

Kind Regards,

Dan Mills – DM Catering (Pembs) Ltd
Martha’s Vineyard, Milford Haven

Oli Blakiston – B.G. Betterspoons Ltd & West Coast Inn’s Ltd
The Sloop Inn, Porthgain; The Farmers Arms, Fishguard; The Bishops, St David’s; The Royal Oak, Newport & St Davids Cross Hotel, St David’s.

Simon Vickers
The Griffin, Dale

Ross Barnes
The Buccaneer Inn, Tenby; Harbwr Bar and Kitchen, Saundersfoot & Harbwr Brewery, Pembrokeshire

Chris Vane – Coco’s Pembs Ltd
Coco’s Restaurant, Milford Haven & Coco’s Brasserie, Dale

Shayne Busby
The Lounge, Milford Haven & Foam, Milford Haven

Matt & Helen John
The Swan Inn, Little Haven

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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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