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Stephen Crabb MP appointed Secretary of State for Wales

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crabbno10PRESELI Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb has been appointed Secretary of State for Wales in the Cabinet reshuffle. 

The new Secretary of State was first elected as an MP in 2005 and was reelected in May 2010 with an increased majority of 4,605. He grew up in Haverfordwest, where he attended Tasker Milward School. He holds degrees from Bristol University (BSc.) and London Business School (MBA). Mr Crabb has said that his experiences growing up in a singleparent household on a council estate have informed his views on social mobility being important in modern society. Before being elected to Parliament he worked as a marketing consultant. He has also worked for the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services and London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He has been a volunteer youth worker in South London and was Chairman of Governors of a large inner city primary school between 1998 and 2002. Stephen has close links with a number of charities which help young people overcome challenges and is Patron of Pembrokeshire MENCAP. He is also Patron of the Friends of Haverfordwest Museum and Pembrokeshire Counselling Service. From 1995-1996, Mr Crabb worked as a Parliamentary intern for Christian Action Research and Education, an offshoot from the evangelical Nationwide Festival of Light. CARE has been criticised for their opposition to abortion and gay rights, and believes sexuality to be a choice, curable by prayer. Mr Crabb voted against the legalisation of gay marriage in July 2013. He was also the subject of criticism for “flipping” an expenses claim to enable it to be recovered against his constituency home and subsequently designating a room in a London apartment as his main home. In Parliament Mr Crabb has served on the Welsh Affairs, International Development and Treasury Select Committees. In January 2009 he was appointed to the front bench as Opposition Whip. Following the formation of the Coalition Government in May 2011, Mr Crabb was appointed as an Assistant Government Whip. In 2012 he was promoted to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Wales Office and was also given an enhanced role in the Whips Office. When the leader of Project Umubano, the Conservative Party’s social action project in Rwanda and Sierra Leone from 2010-2012, Stephen took Conservative volunteers to work in the fields of Education, Business, Health, Justice and Community alongside local partners in those two countries. In Pembrokeshire, Mr Crabb has been an advocate of the expanding renewable energy sector and has most recently been in the local news regarding the takeover of the Murco refinery. He is also a founding Officer of the All-Party Dairy Industry Group in Parliament. Outside of politics, Mr Crabb is a keen sportsman and enjoys rugby, mountain biking and tennis. He has run the London Marathon three times, money for local charities in the process. He also enjoys cooking, playing guitar and learning French. Stephen is married to Béatrice and has two young children. Commenting on the appointment, Preseli Pembrokeshire AM, Paul Davies said: “I’m delighted to congratulate Stephen on his new appointment. He is a dedicated and hard-working MP, and his promotion clearly demonstrates the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement of his talents and skills. I am privileged to work closely with him at a local level where he is fully committed to Preseli Pembrokeshire. I know that he will be an excellent Secretary of State who will be a strong voice for Wales across the Cabinet table, and of course, a huge asset to the people across the whole of our country.” Commenting on the appointment of Stephen Crabb as Secretary of State for Wales, shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP, said: “Congratulations to Stephen on his appointment. It is a great privilege for anyone to be asked to serve as the Secretary of State and Mr Crabb now has an equally great responsibility to break free from the ceaseless negativity that has characterised his predecessors’ attitude to Wales and the achievements of the Welsh Government. “I have written to the new Secretary of State to call on him to go into the new job with the aim of standing up for our nation, rather than indulging in politicised attacks on Wales, with the aim of winning votes in England. The Wales Office can play a vital role in being the voice of Wales at Westminster, but it has recently been reduced to a crude propaganda machine attacking the very country it is supposed to represent, as a proxy for attacking the wider Labour Party.” Stephen Crabb said: “It is a huge privilege to join the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales. As a government, we are ambitious for Wales and determined that Wales should be at the forefront of the UK economic recovery. “I will be working closely with my colleagues in the UK and Welsh governments to see new opportunities created for Wales. People and businesses across Wales want to see the two governments working together effectively and delivering the investment our nation needs. I believe that Wales deserves the best and I look forward to providing a strong voice for Wales around the Cabinet table. “I will build on the excellent work of my predecessor David Jones, who achieved so much during his time as Welsh Secretary. He leaves a strong legacy to Wales, not least in breaking new ground in the devolution settlement by devolving tax powers to Wales. He also worked hard to secure new investment for the new nuclear power station at Wylfa, the new prison in Wrexham and reopening the Halton Curve line between Liverpool and North Wales.” He added: “It is a massive honour to be the first Welsh Secretary of State from Pembrokeshire since Nick Edwards in the 1980s. I have an opportunity now to work hard for the whole of Wales in the same way I have always sought to do for Pembrokeshire. The first priority of any MP, regardless of their position in government, is to put the needs of their constituency first and I will always do this for Preseli Pembrokeshire.”

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Castell Howell Foods highlights sector concerns over Covid recovery

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THE HOSPITALITY sector may be opening up, but transport and supply issues are hampering the industry’s recovery – according to Castell Howell Foods.

One of the UK’s largest independent food wholesalers, Castell Howell, has taken the step of contacting customers to highlight the significant challenges faced by the sector as it recovers from the pandemic.

While there is relief at easing lockdown and optimism for a busy summer with bookings for UK ‘staycations’ and leisure activities, pressing issues remain.

Shortages of key staff and problems faced by some suppliers have resulted in the Welsh wholesaler being forced to make some “uncomfortable” decisions and changes to its operation, including having to pass on some supply chain price increases.

In particular, a shortage of qualified delivery drivers has meant the Cross Hands based business has had to be resourceful to maintain its delivery frequency to its customers. To help bridge the gap in the short term, other Castell Howell staff who hold an HGV licence have been temporarily redeployed to the transport department. Among them are area sales managers.

Castell Howell Sales Director, Kathryn Jones, said “Unfortunately, due to the drastic reduction in sales in 2020, our workforce decreased by over 100 colleagues. Whilst we now need most to return to the workplace, many have found alternative employment; this is a common theme across the supply chain.

“We have been actively advertising and recruiting for several months. However, as highlighted in the press, there are over 75,000 vacancies across the UK for HGV drivers alone.

“We too are currently short of drivers, especially Class 2 HGV. Driving a multi-drop vehicle for Castell Howell is a very different proposition to driving a limited drop schedule. Consequently, as you can imagine, it has been challenging to fill these vacancies.”
Stock availability is also an issue, as some suppliers struggle to manufacture under new social distancing rules. Delivery to Castell Howell from suppliers is also being affected by the UK-wide shortage of haulage drivers.

Kathryn Jones said, “To build up buffer stocks, we are increasing our volume of orders, especially for commodity lines. We aim to mitigate future stock shortages the best we can. We are constantly seeking substitute products from manufacturers who have the capacity to deliver. However, this is becoming increasingly more difficult.”

Castell Howell has made changes to its ordering process to improve its own deliveries, with earlier cut-off times.

“These changes go against the grain and were extremely difficult decisions to take. However, it is imperative to implement these in order to continue operating under these difficult circumstances whilst still maintaining a high level of service. We are very grateful to our customers for their support, patience and understanding.”

For Castell Howell, the difficulties arising from the pandemic were exacerbated by the loss of business with SA Brain & Co. This loss occurred following the Welsh company’s deal with brewery giant Marston’s to operate SA Brains pubs from January 2021.

Before that date, Castell Howell had been the sole supplier to SA Brain since 2008, including supplying 80 of the Welsh brewery’s managed public houses.

Kathryn Jones said, “However, despite the challenges in the supply chain and deliveries, we remain optimistic that the sector in the UK will work together to navigate through these unprecedented times and have a successful summer.”

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Port boss: Pembroke Dock development full permission an ‘important step’

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THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Port of Milford Haven has welcomed a decision of “non-intervention” by the Welsh Government over plans to re-vamp Pembroke Dock’s historic port facilities.

The redevelopment scheme, approved by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Planning Committee in May, will see some areas such as a dock covered with sand and “infilled”.

Plans also include the demolishing of some buildings, erection of buildings and ancillary works.
Despite planning being granted at council level, full authorisation to go ahead with the development was not to be issued until the Welsh Government made its decision regards the matter.

More about the planning application can be read here: https://www.herald.wales/west-wales/pembrokeshire/major-marine-project-causes-concern-about-visual-impact-and-heritage-loss/

Now that the Welsh Government has decided not to interfere with Pembrokeshire County Council’s grant of planning permission, the Port’s boss, Andy Jones, expressed his delight, saying: “This marks an important step forward in the development of Wales’ clean energy centre at Pembroke Dock.

“It will provide sustainable opportunities for the many people who rely on the activity along the Milford Haven Waterway for employment.

CEO: Port Authority’s Andy Jones (Pic MHPA)

“Pembroke Dock Marine will unlock new opportunities for young people to enter the maritime, renewable and engineering sectors, build resilience within Pembrokeshire’s business community, and make a positive contribution to our natural environment as we transition to a low carbon energy generation.”

Tim James, head of commercial and energy at the Port of Milford Haven called the project a “once in a generation opportunity to improve Pembrokeshire’s economy for years to come”.

Objectors had complained that the plans were too large and would damage the historic dockyard, as well as having a visual impact on the dock.

The was opposition from local heritage campaigners, with complaints over the size of two huge proposed hangars which the project’s critics said would impact adversely the landscape.

The economic benefits of the £60 million marine energy “far outweigh” any impact on the historic environment, a report earlier this year to council planners said.

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Medical evacuation from LPG tanker off St Ann’s Head

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ANGLE Lifeboat was launched on service at 12:59pm on Thursday afternoon (Jun 10) to assist in a medical evacuation from a LPG tanker 13 miles SSW off St Ann’s Head.

The coastguard helicopter from Newquay in Cornwall was also on route. With the poor visibility due to fog, Angle all-weather lifeboat was to stand by the vessel to provide an alternative route for evacuation if needed.

After a choppy route in the poor visibility the RNLI volunteers arrived on scene at 2:07pm.

At the time of their arrival, the paramedic from the coastguard helicopter was aboard the vessel preparing the casualty to be winched to the helicopter.

In less than ten minutes the casualty was winched up to the helicopter and flown to hospital, at which point the lifeboat and crews were stood down and headed back to the station.

After rehousing shortly after 3:30pm the lifeboat was washed fuelled and made ready for service shortly after.

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