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Leader’s Update: Storm response shows best of ‘Team Pembrokeshire’

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THE leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, David Simpson, has given his latest update from county hall:

“Good afternoon everyone, I hope you are well.

I had hoped to issue my latest update on Friday but of course the response to Storm Eunice and then Storm Franklin over the weekend had to be the priority.

I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to all Pembrokeshire County Council staff and our contractors who went above and beyond to respond to one of the busiest periods we have seen in a very long time.
It was truly a team effort.

From the pre-event planning across the Authority, the contact centre starting early to take the public’s calls, the team in the Incident Management Centre overseeing the response, the teams out and about on the ground clearing trees and checking structures, closing roads, managing risks to the public, checking on elderly and vulnerable residents, to the communications colleagues who kept us all updated throughout the weekend.

It was lovely to see feedback from you, the public, thanking all our staff and contractors for their efforts. Even as I speak the crews are out attending to the latest calls and building maintenance issues.

I would also like to thank our partners from across Mid and West Wales for their response. Western Power Distribution described the incident as the worst storm they have ever experienced in the South West Region, that shows the level of challenge we have all faced. Thank you one and all for your efforts.

Since my last update we have again seen a series of announcements from the Welsh Government on the Covid-19 situation.

Thankfully the public health situation is improving to the point that the Welsh Government has announced that some of the last remaining protections can be removed.

From Friday the legal requirement to show a Covid Pass to enter venues such as nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls has been removed.

However, it is worth remembering that events and venues can continue to use the pass if they choose to.

From Monday 28th February, the requirement to wear face coverings will be removed from most indoor public places, apart from in retail, public transport and health and care settings.

However, if the public health conditions continue to improve, the legal requirement to wear face coverings in all remaining settings could be lifted by the end of March.

I know that for many, many people that this will be just the news that they wanted to hear.

It has been a long two years and these announcements are a major step towards the normality we all crave.

However there will also be some, particularly those most at risk from Covid-19, for whom these steps will be a worry.

I would ask everyone to remain cautious, continue to do what you can to minimise the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19 and, at the same time, reassure those people for whom this is a worrying time.

The next three-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations will be carried out by March 3rd, when the remaining measures at alert level zero will be reviewed.

This will be my last Leader’s Update for this Council term as next month we move into the pre-election period.
The Local Government Elections, including elections to Pembrokeshire County Council and local Town and Community Councils will be held on Thursday 5 th May.

If you have not already, you will shortly receive important information regarding the elections arriving on your doorsteps.

Most important of all, these letters will urge you to ensure you are registered to vote do so before the deadline of midnight on Thursday 14 th April. You can register to vote at: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

The County Council and Town and Community Councils deal directly with issues that impact on all our lives here in Pembrokeshire. Therefore it is so important that you are able to have your say who represents you.

The Council is particularly keen to ensure that 16 / 17 year olds and foreign nationals are registered to vote for these elections.

Following the introduction of new legislation in Wales, anyone aged 16 or over on 5 th  May and legally resident in Wales can cast their votes if they are registered to do so.

I would also urge anyone who is considering standing for election and doing their bit for their local communities to learn more about the roles.

Our webpage https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/elections-and-voting is a good place to start for all information on the elections.

The Council’s YouTube page also features a series of videos from current Councillors explaining more about what the role entails. You can find the videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/PembsCouncil/videos

I’d also like to remind everyone of the upcoming deadline for the Winter Fuel Payment scheme.

This is for eligible households to claim a one-off £200 payment to provide support towards paying their on-grid winter fuel bills. The deadline is Monday, February 28.
See all the information here: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/income-support/winter-fuel-payments

We are now into the half-term break. The Council has set up a host of exciting experiences to ensure
there’s no chance of boredom slipping in. Check out what Scolton Manor has to offer at:
https://www.facebook.com/scoltonmanor (please check in advance to make sure the site is open following the storms).

Pembrokeshire Leisure’s Winter of Wellbeing also has plenty to keep young people fit and happy.

There’s lots going on so check out the website for the latest: https://pembrokeshireleisure.co.uk/schemes/winter-of-wellbeing/

Stay safe everyone and thanks for all the feedback received on this Leader’s Update over the last couple of years.

I hope it has been a welcome source of information and I once again thank Team Pembrokeshire for how you have all worked together during some of the most testing times we have experienced.”

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Independence Day sees Fishguard welcome 80 American visitors

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80 AMERICANS have arrived in Fishguard on their national holiday, Independence Day, as part of a month-long cruise from New York City to London.

The eight-deck Seven Seas Navigator docked in Fishguard today (Monday, July 4), allowing tourists to spend the day exploring Cardigan town and its castle.

They are currently embarking on a 30-day trip that began on June 7 in New York. They have  stopped in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, as well as Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Scotland, and Ireland.

A spokesperson from Rivers Seven Seas Cruises said: “The tour will explore the wonderfully historical Cardigan, starting at the remains of its namesake castle overlooking the River Teifi, parts of which date to the 12th century.

“An audio-visual display in the castle’s medieval north tower recounts the history of the fortification, the centuries of invasions and how the castle became the birthplace of Wales’ biggest cultural festival, the Eisteddfod.

“Be sure to browse the lovely Georgian house and gardens on the grounds before heading into downtown Cardigan to explore further on your own.

“The architectural highlights include the 19th-century Cardigan Guildhall Market, a two-story shopping venue constructed with locally quarried stone.

“The field gun at the front recognizes the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who was a commander in the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade.

“Inside the market, you will find dozens of shops with merchandise ranging from locally made clothing to traditional Welsh delicacies. There are also plenty of art galleries throughout town.”

Cardigan Councillor, Clive Davies, has said: “Cardigan Castle and the town will receive a visit of around 80 cruise passengers who have booked the Discover Cardigan tour as part of their New York to London cruise.

“I’ve provided Richard Bros Buses with Cardigan town maps, so they will have an idea of the towns layout on route to visit us as well as access to the Cardigan Town App.

“So to all our unique Cardigan shops, be sure to look out for our US visitors.”

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Charity

More than £100,000 available to local projects via Sustainable Development Fund

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Community groups are encouraged to apply for funding before the September 7 deadline.

A NEW round of grant support has opened for projects based in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park that reduce local carbon emissions and respond to the climate emergency.

With a funding pot of more than £100,000, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is calling on local non-profit groups to submit their applications for the Sustainable Development Fund before the September deadline.

Do you run a community building that would benefit from having solar panels or an air source heat pump? Do you want to encourage your members or visitors to use bikes and need to install a bike rack or electric bike charging point? Are you a sports club that would like to install a water fountain to reduce the need for single use plastic? Or perhaps you have an idea to minimise waste such as a community fridge or recycling initiative.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority said: “If you are seeking funding for a project in Pembrokeshire that contributes towards a reduction in carbon and helps respond to the climate emergency, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund may be for you.

“Organisations are welcome to reapply if they have completed a previous Sustainable Development Fund project and can demonstrate that the work has been completed and post project evaluation submitted.

“Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications from individuals, sole traders or businesses. Any organisation that applies must be based within Pembrokeshire.”

Information about the Fund and an application form can be found at https://www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/about-the-national-park-authority/sustainable-development-fund/ – or call 01646 624800.

The deadline for applications is 12:00pm on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

The Sustainable Development Fund consists of money allocated from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Landscapes Sustainable Places Fund.

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Warning of serious disruption on M4 and M5 today due to fuel prices protest

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POLICE have warned of “serious disruption” to drivers using the M4 and M5 on Monday 4 July due to a planned protest.

Protesters intend to block the Prince of Wales Bridge from 7am until 7pm as part of a nationwide campaign against rising fuel prices.

The protest is due to start at the M4 Magor services at junction 23A eastbound and the Clevedon Interchange at junction 20 of the M5 westbound.

It is also expected to cause disruption to the M48 Severn Bridge and the M32.

Drivers are being urged to avoid the area or plan alternative routes.

Bristol Airport has issued a warning urging travellers to allow extra time if heading to or from the airport.

Police said additional officers will be brought in to ensure the protest is carried out legally.

Drivers have been advised by Gwent Police to work from home where possible and avoid the area between 7am and 7pm, with protestors planning to block parts of the road between M4 Magor services, junction 23A eastbound, and Junction 20 of the M4 between those hours.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said: “Gwent Police, and Avon and Somerset Police, are working jointly with neighbouring police forces and partner agencies to ensure emergency and critical services continue and to reduce disruption to both road users and local communities, however we are preparing for serious disruption throughout the day.

“I would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible.

“The right to protest under UK law must be balanced with the rights of the wider community who may be affected. We have additional officers and support in place on Monday to ensure the protest is carried out in accordance with the law.”

The planned protest is thought to have been organised by the Facebook group Fuel Price Stand Against Tax, and has attracted both criticism and support online.

The latest travel disruption comes following the closure of the Severn Bridge for a second consecutive weekend, as well as the Severn Tunnel rain line which will be out of use until July 10 due to essential work. Motorists will be unable to cross the M48 Severn Bridge until 6am on Monday as it is undergoing essential work for eight months.

The bridge was first shut last weekend as painstaking work to repair and replace corroded suspension cables began. Traffic on the bridge is likely to be very heavy on Monday due to the fuel protest.

Police have told protesters banners must be tightly secured to vehicles and nobody should be walking around on the bridge during the demonstration. Protesters will stay inside their vehicles or stand beside them.

An organiser said: “We will now only be doing it on the Prince of Wales Bridge. We have to keep in mind everyone’s safety and if we block the bridge totally and there is an emergency there would be hell. Yes it means only one bridge but [due to the amount of traffic caused] there will still be a massive impact.”

Two weeks ago one of the initial M4 bridge protest organisers Ashley Fowler said : “We’re all car enthusiasts and we have all been worried about fuel prices and when I saw the post about blocking the bridges we began talking about it. Then people started asking me to make an event so we could update each other.

“I made the event because I run a car club in Cardiff which I started on social media during the pandemic lockdowns to help people’s mental health. When we can we go out to car parks and just meet up and have a chat but during the pandemic we weren’t able to do it so I made the group.

“Now we can’t meet up so much again because of the cost of fuel. I know some of them can’t drive so much because they need to feed their kids. It’s serious. People are getting really depressed about it. One of the boys in the group has actually sold his car due to fuel price rises.”

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