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Valero shutdown contractors ‘put at risk’

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THE HERALD has been contacted by employees at a local firm working at a local oil refinery have been told that they had to continue working whilst awaiting coronavirus test results. The local authority says it is investigating.

Several Hertel employees (A subsidiary of Altrad), who wish to remain anonymous, have contacted this newspaper to express their concerns, explaining their employer is putting “their lives and their families lives in danger.”

Sources have told us how two employees of Hertel, who are currently subcontracted to work on the shutdown at Valero, Pembroke, received a positive coronavirus test result, however they claim that Government guidelines are not being followed by the company.

One worker told us how a group of around eighteen employees were told last Tuesday (Mar 23) they would have to go for a coronavirus test as a precautionary measure as they had been in contact with two employees who had tested positive a few days previous.

It is reported that Hertel management told the employees that they must book a test through the NHS testing centre, then once they had the test return to work while they await their result, or they will be penalised financially.

One source said: “They were told by bosses to go get the test and come back to work or you will not get paid. If you come back, you won’t lose anything.”

“If you don’t come back you get nothing.”

Current government guidelines state that those who have taken a test must self-isolate until they receive their results.

Whilst at the coronavirus testing site in Prendergast, Haverfordwest, the employees were told that they must self-isolate until they receive their results.

A source told us that only four employees followed the NHS and Government guidance and stayed at home until they received their test results.

Which left approximately 14 employees returning to the Valero site to continue with their shifts.

Two of the employees who returned to work received positive test results the next day, we have been told.

A source told The Herald how they feel both the individuals who returned to site and the company are both responsible for breaking guidelines.

They added: “It’s all about bums on seats and getting paid.”

They said: “Everybody knows the guidelines, I don’t know what these guidelines that Hertel are following are or where they are getting them from, but they are not the Government guidelines”.

“This virus is killing people.

“It’s either health or wealth, they’ve chosen wealth.”

One source told us that the Council had contacted Valero who in turn spoke to Hertel and asked them to get the employees who had been in contact with the individuals to get tested.

A source alleges that Hertel have issued the same guidance, that employees go for their test, then return to work while awaiting their results.

Another source told us that the way the company is operating is putting people’s lives at risk, they said: “They are letting people back on site with a potentially life-threatening virus, well it is life-threatening.

The Herald contacted both Valero and Pembrokeshire County Council for a statement.

Stephen Thornton, spokesperson for Valero said that they were working with Pembrokeshire County Council.

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: “Pembrokeshire County Council is aware of this incident and has been working closely with Public Health Wales to ensure that it is managed appropriately.

“Any confirmed cases and all identified ‘close contacts’ are required to isolate for 10 days and asked to take a test.

“In certain situations, as part of the Health Protection response of ‘Case finding’,  it can be appropriate to offer COVID-19 tests to a wider group of individuals, even though they have not been identified as close contacts.
Individuals who have not been identified as close contact but who have been asked to take a Covid-19 test as part of case finding would not be expected to self-isolate.  However, if any of these individuals test positive or they develop symptoms, they would be required to self-isolate as a case and their close contacts would be traced and asked to self-isolate.

“The local authority and Public Health Wales have worked with the businesses concerned and anyone identified as needing to self-isolate would subsequently have been unable to gain access to the site until after the completion of any self-isolation.”

The Herald has also contacted Hertel for a statement, we await their response.

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Fishguard RNLI launch to attend injured fisherman 13 miles offshore

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FISHGUARD’s RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched early on Monday (Jan 17), with a full volunteer crew, to rendezvous with an Irish scalloper fishing boat which had an injured crew member aboard. The 14-metre fishing boat ‘ Golden Fleece’ had requested assistance by making radio contact with HM Coastguard. 

The lifeboat launched at 7.30am in calm conditions and headed to the fishing boat positioned approximately 13 miles north of Cemaes Head. Once on location the injured fisherman, who had suffered a significant finger injury, was transferred to the lifeboat. No further medical assistance was necessary from the lifeboat crew but he was kept under observation during the return journey to Fishguard where he was transferred to an awaiting ambulance upon arrival at 8.30am.   

 

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Brains’ £100 million sell-off plan includes local pubs in Pembrokeshire

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SA BRAINs is close to completing a £100m deal which will see the sale of 100 Wales pubs, including Pembrokeshire locals, it has been reported.

It is reported that Wales most prominent brewers will sell the freeholds to 100 of it’s pubs to a consortium.

Brains currently has a portfolio of 200 pubs across Wales and the South West.

Sources within the pub industry said that the transaction could be signed in the next few days.

The deal is to be made with Song Capital and Cerberus Capital Management, the former owner of Admiral Taverns.

The deal, which is thought to be around the £100m mark, is expected to be used by the Brains’ family shareholders to pay down debt.

The hospitality sector has been hit severely by the Coronavirus pandemic, being forced to close for long periods at a time and then reopening with strict restrictions.

In 2020, Brains struck a deal with Marston’s to operate 141 of its pubs, under the Welsh brewers brand, following financial pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Six Pembrokeshire pubs are earmarked to be included in the transaction; The Ferry Inn, St Dogmaels, Crown Inn, Tenby, Grove Hotel, Narberth, Waterman’s Arms, Pembroke, Harbour Inn, Solva and The Galleon, Broad Haven.

The sale will see the Brains pub estate as a family-owned brewer with a small residual pub portfolio.

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St Clears’ McDonald’s opening delayed for a week

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McDonald's sign

THE OPENING of the new 100-seater McDonald’s in St Clears has been delayed by a week. 

The restaurant, which will be built along the main approach road to Pembrokeshire, aimed to open its doors on Wednesday, January 19. 

However, the company has confirmed that the opening has been postponed until Wednesday, January 26. 

The new McDonald’s will join Haverfordwest and Pembroke Dock McDonald’s as the only members of the company located west of Carmarthen. 

It hoped to provide over 80 full and part time jobs due to being open around the clock. They hosted a recruitment day in December 2021. 

The original applications had previously stated that the McDonald’s would be open 24 hours a day. A premises licence application is currently being made to the County Council for the “provision of late-night refreshments” which, if accepted, would allow the restaurant to be open 24 hours a day.

It will open on the opposite side of the road to Travelodge and Starbucks, which replaced the Little Chef restaurant in 2017.

The restaurant was initially going to include a separate building which would have accommodated a Costa Coffee. However, it will now host a Greggs. 

Alongside this, planning permission has been granted separately for a petrol station with six electric charging points.

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