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Education Service removed from special measures

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cllr jamieTHE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD can reveal that the County Council’s Education Service has been removed from special measures imposed in October 2012 and that issues raised then no longer require further follow-up. 

The Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council has welcomed the announcement that the Authority is no longer in special measures. Councillor Jamie Adams said the news was a significant milestone for the Authority. The Council was placed in special measures following an inspection in October 2012 by the education watchdog Estyn into education services for children and young people. A monitoring plan was subsequently agreed with Estyn and since then inspectors have visited the Council on two occasions to monitor progress. After the latest visit earlier this month, the inspection team judged that the Authority had made “sufficient progress” to be taken out of special measures. In June 2014, Mererid Stone HMI led a team of four inspectors to review the progress made by the authority against the remaining four of the seven recommendations arising from the October 2012 inspection. The team also considered the overall performance of the authority against its post-inspection action plan. The team held discussions with the leader of the council, elected members, the chief executive, senior officers and head teachers. Inspectors scrutinised documentation, including evidence on the progress made on each of Estyn’s recommendations. Pembrokeshire County Council is judged to have made sufficient progress in relation to the recommendations following the inspection of October 2012. As a result, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales considers that the local authority is no longer in need of special measures and is removing it from further follow-up activity. The Inspectorate has determined that the Council has largely addressed the failings which led to it being placed in special measures, including publishing findings that: • Elected members and the director of children and schools have worked well together to resolve difficulties in recruitment and retention of staff in social services. • The safeguarding overview and scrutiny committee provides good support and challenge to the cabinet member for safeguarding and to officers. • The authority has implemented comprehensive strategies for improvement in both key stages 2 and 4. In 2013 performance in these key stages declined in Pembrokeshire. Provisional figures for 2014 indicate that performance has improved in the Foundation Phase by over two percentage points and in key stage 2 by more than three percentage points. • The authority has substantially strengthened the team of system leaders. These officers now understand their role well and have clear guidelines to support their work. • Schools identified as causing concern have detailed action plans outlining clearly the actions to be taken • Through the revision of its Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), the authority’s strategy to secure sufficient provision for Welshmedium education in the long term is more robust • The safeguarding scrutiny committee has made a strong contribution to the improvement in safeguarding practice in the children and schools service. It is now beginning to hold other services and partners to account for their safeguarding policies and procedures. • Partnership work concentrates appropriately on four areas where organisations can have the greatest impact by working together, for example reducing the proportion of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). • The authority has significantly improved its approach to selfevaluation, developing a culture of openness and honesty about performance. The director for children and schools, along with his senior leadership team, leads by example in being robustly selfcritical about performance within the directorate and by inviting constructive challenge about performance. The Estyn report continues: ‘The Chief Executive, Leader and senior officers took difficult and sensitive decisions to remove barriers to progress in order to bring about the necessary improvement. ‘These decisions were implemented carefully and have resulted in a complete restructure within the Pembrokeshire Children and Schools Service. A new management team is working closely together as a cohesive group to embed change. ‘The Authority now engages well with the regional consortium. Joint working arrangements with regional partners have strengthened the Authority’s capacity to challenge and support its schools. ‘There is a significant change in culture within the Authority demonstrated through greater openness and transparency. The Authority’s vision and expectation for its education services are communicated clearly to schools and other partners. ‘Officers and elected members have shown a willingness to work constructively with inspection, audit and regulatory bodies to identify and address shortcomings. They demonstrate a firm commitment to implement change and have an appetite for further improvement.’ Councillor Adams said he was delighted with the outcome of the latest visit. “This is a very important day in the life of Pembrokeshire County Council and a significant moment in a long and sometimes painful journey, but one which we had to undertake. “Along the way weaknesses have been identified and addressed and substantial changes made to working practices. “The result is a more dynamic, transparent and outward-looking local Authority. This is just not my opinion but is also the view shared by the inspectors. “We remain committed to doing everything that can reasonably be expected to keep children in our County safe. Today’s decision by the inspectors formally acknowledges that they have confidence in our services. “I want to pay tribute to the senior officers and employees who have worked together with the Elected Members in bringing about this change which provides firm foundations for our education services.” Councillor Sue Perkins, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Safeguarding said the Council would continue to be firmly focused on improving outcomes for children. “We recognise that there is always need for further improvement and we will focus on what still needs to be done” she added. “However, this is a significant result for the children of Pembrokeshire, all of whom should have the opportunity of receiving the best education we can offer.”

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Business

Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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