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Fort Hubberstone Sold

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A PEMBROKE DOCK town councillor exchanged contracts with Milford Haven Port Authority on Friday, September 25, to complete the purchase of Fort Hubberstone, which overlooks Gelliswick Bay and the Haven Waterway.
Guy Anderson, a project manager who designs electrical installations for major global construction projects, including football and Olympic stadia, spoke to The Herald about his plans for the iconic building.
The Fort is a Grade II* Listed Building and one of a number built along the Haven during the 1850s and 1860s. Together with Popton Fort on the opposite shore, it provided an interlocking field of fire and represented the last layer of defence before reaching the Royal Naval dockyard at Pembroke Dock.
“I grew up in Pembroke, I went to Pembroke School and Carmarthenshire College. When I was growing up, I used to walk around the area looking at the second world sites and the forts along the Haven.
“My work has taken me around the world, but this has always been my home. Every time I’ve come back to Pembrokeshire, I’ve always been frustrated to see so much of our local heritage locked up and inaccessible to people.”
We asked about the size of the challenge he faced and Guy Anderson told us: “I’m used to working on massive projects for stadia around the world. This is, if you think about it, just a small derelict stadium in need of TLC.
“I’m not rebuilding anything. The idea is to make the fort safe to work in first and then carry out work to make it safe for the public to come to as a ‘managed ruin’.
“I reckon rebuilding something like the fort would take a minimum of seven million pounds. You’d never get any sort of return on that. I plan to open the fort up to the public to allow them free access to its grounds, as far as can safely be done.
“Buildings like these are white elephants, the cost of redeveloping them is prohibitive. I’m not going to redevelop or rebuild. I am going to clear the site to provide the public with access to their heritage.
Mr Anderson told us that he plans to have the first part of the project open to the public in around two years.
“Covid’s thrown the timing a little off but I believe the nine gun casemates, the gun towers overlooking the Bay, can be cleared and made safe for people to get into in two years. We’ll put some explainers in and tables for people to sit and have a picnic and overlook the river. Ideally, we’d like schools to be able to visit and see the buildings and we’re going to preserve as much of the wildlife in the fort as we can.”
As for funding, Guy Anderson told us the project was being funded from his own resources and that any approach for public or heritage funding would depend on the future progress of the project and what sort of experience people wanted when they visited.
He said: “The casemates will take two years. It will take two years’ planning to put together how to deal with the upper fort, the large D-shaped structure that dominates the site. We won’t know until that is cleared what we have to work with and what will be possible. I’m optimistic that the condition is not as bad as people believe. I’m told its one of the five most endangered buildings in the country; I’d say I can find five buildings in worse condition in Pembrokeshire.”
Responding to the news the fort had been sold, local Town and County Councillor Viv Stoddart said: “I am delighted that the Fort now has a future and the plans will benefit the local community by allowing them to experience our heritage first hand.”

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Welsh Guards sergeant shot dead during Castlemartin live-fire training exercise

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A BRITISH ARMY sergeant was killed on Thursday night (Mar 4) in a shooting accident at Castlemartin Training Area, The Herald can confirm.

The solider was training with live ammunition, ahead of a planned deployment to Iraq this summer.

Five police cars and an ambulance were seen screaming through Pembroke towards the incident at approximately 10pm towards the incident.

A coastguard helicopter, CG187, was scrambled to the scene, and hovered near Bosherston for a while, but was stood down and returned to base.

The Herald has contacted the MOD for a comment, who said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on the 4th of March.

“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 further at this time.”

THIS STORY IS UPDATING

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Pembrokeshire County Council bills Home Office for Penally camp costs

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THE COUNCIL has sent an invoice for more than £80,000 to the Home Office.

It is to cover some of the costs that the local authority has incurred in connection with the Penally Asylum Seeker Centre, near Tenby.

Following a question on the issue from Cllr Jonathan Preston at Full Council the Council have confirmed that a bill has been sent.

The Member for Penally ward asked: “Please can the relevant Cabinet Member provide a breakdown of all costs to this authority which have been incurred in providing staff, services and other associated resources to Penally camp since its re-purpose by the Home Office last September?”

Council leader Cllr. David Simpson confirmed that on February 22 Pembrokeshire County Council submitted an invoice for £83, 858 which includes £65,564 in staff costs, £12,799 of specialist support and £5,495 for works such as barriers.

Pembrokeshire County Council is currently awaiting payment, the Authority confirmed.

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Hospitality sector welcomes Budget boost

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IT HAS been so long it seems since we could stand at a bar and enjoy a well-earned pint, but now we are on the road back to normality, the Herald has spoken to some of those in the hospitality sector who have been asked to close. We wanted to know what the owners in businesses in these sectors locally thought of the budget and if Rishi Sunak had done enough to help them.

We first spoke to a Milford Haven restaurant business. Owner of Martha’s Vineyard in Milford Haven, Dan Mills said that the budget was not a silver bullet to fix all problems but said that the budget had gone a fair way to delivering what many in the Pembrokeshire hospitality sector have been calling for in recent weeks.

Dan Mills said: “The biggest risk many of us were facing was the cliff edge of a VAT increase, the end of the Furlough Scheme and a return to full business rates, I’m pleased that the Chancellor has recognised this and taken action on all fronts.

“With talk of the Welsh Government restricting us to outside trading for an initial period, the flexibility that the Furlough Scheme brings will be a huge help to ensure staff retain their jobs.

“I was also delighted to see that the Chancellor has provided funding to Wales to ensure that we benefit from a further 12 months of Business Rate Relief here in Pembrokeshire, that’s money that many of us can instead invest into restarting our businesses.

“I hope that the conversation that unfortunately began due to Covid between politicians and the Pembrokeshire hospitality and tourism sector can continue long beyond this crisis, it seems that through some open and honest feedback we are making real progress.

Award winning gastro-pub The Griffin Inn is well known throughout Wales and has received many national reviews. Their reputation puts them in a strong position once they are allowed to re-open. We spoke to Sian and Simon Vickers about the budget.

Simon Vickers, co-owner is also a director of Visit Pembrokeshire. He told The Herald: “I think the budget was very positive for the hospitality industry with the reduction in VAT being the biggest help.

“Overall I feel the government have supported the industry amazingly

In regard to tax on alcohol, Simon said: “Duty has been frozen It would have been nice to have seen a cut in it. Whether there’s a cut or not the breweries always increase their prices so in all honesty it never affects us.”

The ongoing financial support has been welcomed by industry group CAMRA, The Campaign or Real Ale, but the organisation said that the Chancellor had missed the opportunity to lower beer duty to save our pubs.

Their national chairman Nik Antona issued a statement to The Pembrokeshire Herald saying: “Freezing alcohol duty is obviously better than a rise. However, CAMRA had hoped to see the Chancellor announce a cut in duty on beer served on tap in pubs and social clubs to benefit consumers and help the great British pub recover and thrive in the difficult months and years ahead by being able to compete with supermarket alcohol.

“The Government’s commitment to review alcohol duties in the coming months is welcome. CAMRA will continue to call for a lower rate of duty for beer served in pubs – an option available to the Government now we have left the European Union.

“Reducing tax on beer served in pubs and social clubs would encourage responsible drinking in a supervised, community setting – as well as boosting jobs and local economies, helping consumers and benefiting pubs and licensees.”

On financial support announced, Nik commented: “Cutting VAT as pubs begin to reopen, and reducing it until April next year, means they can now start benefiting from that cut – but CAMRA believes this VAT cut should be extended to alcohol so that traditional locals that don’t serve food can benefit too.

“The extension of furlough until September and new grants of up to £18,000 are very welcome. However, pubs are unlikely to be able to fully reopen at pre-COVID trading levels due to outside space and then table service only indoors. The beer and pubs sector will need further support over the coming months, over and above new loans, to help them get back on their feet until there is a full and proper re-opening and they can trade at full capacity.

“Extending the business rates holiday until the end of June will help keep the wolves from the door for many English pubs, with the two-thirds reduction for the rest of the financial year a welcome step. However, given how tough it will be for many pubs we believe the 100% cut in business rates needs to be extended for a full 12 months as has already happened in Scotland.”

Picture: Simon Vickers, Griffin Inn, Dale

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