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Demands for police to be reimbursed for Penally

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· A million pounds spent on policing to December
· Protests for and against cost police £685,000
· Crime panel: “Government must fully reimburse Dyfed-Powys Police for all costs”
· Home Office: “We have already agreed to provide £2.5million”

POLICING Penally camp has cost more than a million pounds and taken up more than 8,000 policing hours in the first six weeks after it was opened.

Housing asylum seekers in Pembrokeshire have placed a “significant financial burden” on Dyfed-Powys Police, the force’s Police and Crime Panel have said.
Between September 25 and November 11, more than 1,000 officers were called to attend the asylum camp in the village of Penally on the outskirts of Tenby.

ONE MILLION SPENT

At the panel, chairman Alun Lloyd-Jones said policing the Penally camp involved 13,919 hours of officer time, including 9,681 overtime at a cost of £297,000, up to the end of December.

The total costs of policing protests at the camp were £685,000, the panel said, totalling just short of a million pounds at £982,000.

Obviously, with costs this year well over a million pounds has been spent – mostly in overtime payments.

The panel is calling on the UK Government department to reimburse the force for the additional costs.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police Dafydd Llywelyn said he wanted additional funding from the Home Office to support local resources that have been put under pressure as a result of the decision to utilise the camp as an asylum centre.

Last month there were two protests by the asylum seekers themselves in Tenby over conditions. Mr Llywelyn said: “I’m aware that police were in attendance during protests that have taken place this week, and I was pleased to hear that the protests were peaceful with no disorder reported.

“These are extremely difficult times for all of us. I have seen first-hand the difficult circumstances encountered by individuals that are residing at the centre and I have met with the Chief Inspector of Asylum and Immigration who gave me assurances about an independent inspection that will take place in the near future.

“However, now is not the time to be gathering to hold protests, and I can understand the frustrations of the local communities when observing such activities.

“Officers will and have been acting accordingly when Covid-19 regulations are breached, and I’m reassured that the Force have been liaising with the site management team to educate them of the Force’s four E principles’ approach – engage, explain, encourage and enforce.

“In the meantime, we remain in regular contact with local partners and service providers, monitoring all situations around the facility,”

The Penally training camp began to house up to 250 asylum seekers in September, including men from Iraq, Iran and Syria.

As the Herald has extensively covered, it has attracted multiple protests – some by far-right groups and some by concerned locals.

There have also been other protests in support of the asylum seekers, and some from asylum seekers themselves protesting against the conditions in the camp.

SPECIAL FUNDING INSUFFICIENT

The panel states that under Home Office police funding rules special grants can be given to cover additional pressures, but only if the total cost of these pressures exceeds 1% of the force’s net revenue expenditure for the year.

According to the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel, this would mean it would not be able to claim any additional grants from the Home Office to cover costs unless extra costs exceeded £1.129 million.

The panel said it is calling on Home Secretary Priti Patel, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse and MPs in the area – including the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart – to encourage the UK Government to fully reimburse Dyfed-Powys Police for all costs incurred in policing Penally camp – even if the costs are below this Home Office threshold.

The UK’s Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has begun an inspection of the use of hotels and army barracks as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers and is calling for evidence.

The Home Office spokesman told The Herald that it had agreed extra funding and said: “We have already agreed to provide £2.5million of Special Grant funding to Dyfed-Powys Police in relation to these costs up to September 2021.”

Dyfed Powys Police said it had a number of officers dedicated specifically to the Penally Camp to undertake regular patrols both inside the camp, around the village and to respond to calls for the camp.

These duties took up 8,264 hours of police time in the six-week period, not counting officers who have responded to incidents on occasions where the officers undertaking the Penally camp duties have not been working.

Although these officers would have been working anyway and are therefore not an “additional” cost, it does not take into account any overtime to help replace the reallocated officers.

HIGH NUMBER OF ARRESTS

A number of arrests were made in that same period as protesters gathered outside the camp during September and October calling for the camp to be closed.

In total, 13 arrests were made for offences. These included: racially aggravated Section 4 public order offences; obstructing and/or resisting a constable in execution of duty; racially or religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/ distress; arson; use of threatening abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent or likely to stir up racial hatred, affray; and actual bodily harm.

The force would not divulge how many of those arrests involved protesters and how many were men living inside the camp.

The operational demands were originally thought to be in the region of £3 million but have since been projected to cost Dyfed-Powys Police in the region of £1.2m as lockdown has forced protesters away.

In a report at a recent finance meeting Dafydd Llywelyn, the police and crime commissioner, wrote that he had estimated operational costs for policing the camp to be around £1.2m for the year.

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Green hydrogen electrolyser and car refueler arrive at Milford Waterfront

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is leading the way in renewable energy with a collaborative £4.5 million project exploring the vital role hydrogen could play in a decarbonised energy future.

Milford Haven : Energy Kingdom (MH:EK) is a two-year ‘detailed design’ project, completing in 2022, exploring what a renewable energy based Smart Local Energy System could look like for the Milford Haven Waterway – including the concept of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (HFCEV).

The aim is to gather detailed insight into the whole energy system around the Waterway, looking at how to make, using and distributing hydrogen financially viable within the different energy sectors of buildings, industry, power and transport.

The MH:EK team will investigate the potential of local renewable energy, including solar, onshore wind, future offshore wind and biomass for decarbonised gas transition.

One element of the project involves a consumer trial of two Riversimple ‘Rasa’ HFCEV’s. The MH:EK team is building a green hydrogen electrolyser and refueler on Milford Waterfront – and this will be used to produce green hydrogen on site to fuel the two trial HFCEV’s.

The project will demonstrate the practical application of hydrogen technology. The aim is to test the feasibility of two hydrogen powered Rasa cars. They will be built by Welsh company Riversimple, and operate as fleet cars in and around the Haven.

Pembrokeshire County Councillor Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Welsh Language, said: ‘We welcome the progress made by the partnership, particularly in view of recent news that new petrol and diesel cars will not be sold in the UK after 2030. This innovative approach will help us to switch to a low carbon future and promoting sustainable transport as we respond to the climate change emergency.’

Work is underway and should be operational for the trial in July. A hydrogen-ready smart hybrid heating system is also being designed and will be installed and tested in an operational Port building.

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Council’s building maintenance teams to resume non-emergency responsive repairs

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THE HOUSING Building Maintenance teams within Pembrokeshire County Council are now able to re-commence non-emergency responsive repairs to customers’ homes around the County.

Lockdown has prevented tradesmen and women from entering homes to carry out anything other than emergency repairs for many months but the PCC Contact Centre is now able to take calls from customers to request a non-emergency service in their homes once more.

The Contact Centre receives around 38,000 building maintenance related service requests each year and even throughout lockdown Building Maintenance have proudly maintained a 99.2% success rate in responding to emergency repairs within 24hours since restrictions came into force.

Covid has caused a large disruption to the service and while the authority is now in a position to re-open phone lines to routine responsive repairs, a delay in providing that service is inevitable as the backlog is worked through but the authority is working hard to meet the demand.

Backlog is likely to take several months and is dependent on a number of factors including the numbers of repair requests received, availability of materials and contractors.

PCC currently employs 64 tradesmen and women directly and has a considerable number of contractors on its framework to undertake a wide range of maintenance works and Building Maintenance are in the process of tendering a New Minor Works Framework.

All maintenance employees and contractors will continue to work under strict guidelines in people’s homes to ensure that all safety and social distancing measures are adhered to.

The Housing Building Maintenance service is also in the final stages of implementing ‘Repair Finder’ which will enable Contact Centre staff to diagnose the faults in customer’s homes far quicker and more accurately than before, which will in turn ensure that Building Maintenance are better informed and resourced ahead of arriving at the property to carry out the repair.

This is expected to reduce the length of calls to the Contact Centre and subsequently reduce call-waiting times.

The ‘Repair Finder’ tool is expected to be available later in the year and will soon offer residents direct access to an online version which will enable them to report responsive repairs themselves.

Once trialled and released, service requests can be logged by the tenant via the Council’s ‘Housing Online’ portal.

When residents report a problem within their home via the Call Centre or ‘Repair Finder’, they will receive text message alerts informing them of the timescales within which they can expect the repair to be made.

Cabinet member for Housing, Cllr Michelle Bateman said: “We’re under no illusion that lockdown measures have caused a major disruption to the building maintenance service.

“We’re receiving new requests now on top of those that have been on standby during the Covid restrictions. Pembrokeshire residents have shown tremendous patience and understanding of services that have been stretched throughout the crisis so we’re counting on their ongoing support and we hope they appreciate that it will take a period of time to get back to where we were.

“People can be assured that we are working very hard to bring back the outstanding levels of service we provided before Covid and it’s things like ‘Repair Finder’ that will help make this possible going forward.

“With one in every six employed people in Pembrokeshire working for the local authority, it’s important to remember that we are very much in this together”.

If you wish to report a repair to your home you can call the Contact Centre on 01437 764551.

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Leader’s update: Keep doing your bit to prevent Covid-19 spreading

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THE LATEST from the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson.

Hello everyone, I hope you have had a good weekend and enjoyed some of the lovely weather we have had.

Pembrokeshire is beautiful in all weathers but there’s nowhere quite like it when the sky is totally blue and the sun shining. Fingers crossed for more lovely weather this summer.

Let me firstly apologise for the late message this week but our focus has been working hard on the situation with a cluster of Covid-19 cases in Tenby.

It is not a surprise that we are starting to see a rise in cases following the easing of restrictions but the cluster of 22 confirmed cases as of yesterday (Monday) shows just how important it is for us all to keep following the rules to prevent further spread.

Council Leader, Cllr David Simpson (Pic PCC)

Our Test, Trace and Protect teams have worked tirelessly to contact close contacts and break the chain of infection in a complex situation.

Working closely with Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board we have now got a mobile testing unit in place at the Salterns Car Park in Tenby.

The full address is Salterns Car Park, Marsh Road, Tenby, SA70 8DU.

If you have symptoms of Covid-19 – even if you have had the vaccine – please arrange to get a test.

Previously, only those with either a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss/change of taste and smell, were advised to seek a test.

But across Pembrokeshire, people with any of the following wider symptoms that are persistent and/or unusual for should also get a PCR test:

  • Mild summer cold type symptoms – including sore throat, runny nose, headache
  • Flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Generally feeling unwell and a history of being in contact with a known Covid-19 case
  • Any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test

If you have any of the above symptoms, please stay home and book a test by calling 119 or through the UK portal https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

There are also a series of walk-in clinics for both first and second doses of the vaccines continuing this week.

See Hywel Dda Health Board on Facebook for more information.

As you will know, the First Minister on Friday set out further information on the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

Mr Drakeford paused further plans to relax restrictions as cases rise across Wales.

This should underline just how important it is for us all to maintain social distancing, keep washing hands regularly, meet people outside whenever possible and wear face coverings where required.

All these things work to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

We’ve all worked so hard to get to this point, let’s not let it slip now.

Stay safe everyone.

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