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Local BT staff join national strike over over pay as the cost of living soars

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BT STAFF striking today and Monday (Jul 2 and Aug 1) in the first nationwide action at the telecoms company in 35 years, with consequences for customers across the country having broadband services installed or faults fixed.

Among them are local BT staff who set up a picket outside Haverfordwest telephone exchange. They were met there my local Labour MS Joyce Watson who met them on the picket line to offer her support.

The two 24-hour strikes by BT engineers and call centre staff belonging to the Communication Workers Union (CWU) represents the majority of its 58,000-strong frontline workforce.

The CWU has said customers can expect disruption to services including repairs, having new phone and internet lines fitted or getting hold of contact and support staff.

It is the first national strike action at BT since 1987, and the first national call centre workers’ strike. The UK’s largest telecoms company has been in dispute with the CWU, which represents about 40,000 of the firm’s 100,000 workforce, over pay as the cost of living soars.

“These are the same workers who kept the country connected during the pandemic,” said Dave Ward, the union’s general secretary. “Without CWU members in BT Group, there would have been no homeworking revolution, and vital technical infrastructure may have malfunctioned or been broken when our country most needed it.”

The union represents about 9,000 call centre workers and more than 28,000 engineers at the BT-owned Openreach, which maintains the UK’s broadband network.

The CWU members who work at EE, the BT-owned mobile operator, will not be part of the strike after the 2,000 who voted fell just eight short of the number legally required, even though 95.8% voted in favour of striking.

A spokesperson for Openreach, which employs more than 35,000 staff, mostly engineers, said the company has contingency plans if a strike goes ahead.

“We respect the choice of our colleagues who are members of the union to strike and we’ll do everything we can to minimise any disruption and keep our customers and the UK connected during any industrial action,” said a spokesperson.

“We have tried and tested processes to help us manage impacts of reductions in available workforce, as we proved during the pandemic and we’ll continue to focus on keeping our network running, safely and effectively, as we do every day.”

In April, BT gave 58,000 workers a £1,500 pay rise that it said was its biggest award in two decades. The CWU, which is pushing for a 10% rise at BT as inflation reached a 40-year high of 9.1% last month, described the offer as “insulting” and a “relative pay cut”.

The BT chief executive, Philip Jansen, who received a 32% pay rise last year, taking his package to £3.5m including bonuses and share awards, has said the company cannot afford to sweeten its staff deal.

BT made almost £2bn in profits for the year to the end of March, with shareholders receiving £700m in dividends.

A BT spokesperson said: “While we respect the choice of our colleagues who are CWU members to strike, we will work to minimise any disruption and keep our customers and the country connected.

“We have tried and tested processes for large scale colleague absences to minimise any disruption for our customers and these were proved during the pandemic.”

Business

Ice cream van breathes new life into Nolton Haven – and offers change for car park

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HAVING a well-stocked ice cream van in Nolton Haven has been a great boost to the area, locals have said.

Already with one ice cream van stationed at Broad Haven owner Martin McGeown has now been keeping local and holiday markers alike happy over recent months, at Nolton Haven as well.

Draw for tourists: Pembrokeshire ice cream (Image: File)

Mary White, who lives in the area, said that she felt the ice cream van was now necessary for the success of Nolton Haven as a destination beach.

“Its great to have a lifeguard here, but if people can’t even buy a bottle of water, it’s a problem.”

“We’re much more likely to get visitors to Nolton Haven If there are facilities here for them.”
John Lee, whose family come from Nolton, and is back visiting the area said: “One of the joys of spending childhood summers in Nolton was getting an ice cream or cold drink from the shop.

“Now that the nearest shops are in Newgale or Broad Haven, it’s a valuable service that can only boost tourism.

“If this is a decision by the council then this is fantastic,” he added.

Another resident said: “To be honest the car park is a nightmare, and without the ice cream van many would be stuck. There is no signal for the card payment machine, so everyone goes to the ice cream van to ask for change for the car park meter from the Pembrokeshire Super Whippy van.

Martin McGeown told The Herald that he has been doing well in the spot, but said he’s never had to give out so much change now that the car park is chargeable.

“I always bring extra on the van, he said, otherwise it would be chaos down here in the car park.”

So why not visit Nolton Haven, located within the sweep of St Brides Bay, Nolton Haven is a small, fairly sheltered cove, facing south-west, the beach is made up of sand and shingle with rock pools and cliffs on either side.

The beach is quiet and unspoilt although in the past, like Little Haven, this was an export point for coal and a hive of activity.

The flat grassy terrace above the beach was the coal storage yard and a walk along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in both directions reveals remnants of old coal workings.

Beach side facilities are limited although there is a pub and a slipway allowing launching.
The beach is popular for watersports as well as swimming and boating.

The coast here is designated as the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation in recognition of its valuable marine life.

And of course, after your visit, stop for an ice cream and support a fantastic local trader!

Tons of change for tourists: Ice cream van is keeping car park going, as there is no signal for online payments (Pic: Herald)
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Pembrokeshire camping sites named among the best in UK

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BRITISH camping has boomed in the last two years, with 4.5m Brits going camping or caravanning for the first time since the start of the pandemic, according to Mintel. And new research has now revealed 10 of the best secret camping destinations Britain has to offer, with Abereiddy and Havefordwest in Pembrokeshire amongst the top locations.

To uncover the country’s hidden gems, tyre and vehicle services provider, ATS Euromaster, researched the top camping destinations social media doesn’t know about, by revealing the number of positive reviews on online camping sites with fewer than five Instagram tags.

These stunning sites won’t break the bank either, with prices starting at only £8 a night for two adults.

The highest reviewed UK locations that have flown under the social media radar are: 

 1. Wareham, Dorset

1. Trigon Farm

Wareham is a pretty riverside town, close to the South coast in Dorset, 8 miles from Poole. The thriving market town is situated where the rivers Frome and Piddle meet and offers lots to do.

Hidden gem: Trigon Farm is set in a rural field near Wareham, with views of Trigon Manor house and arable fields to the left and beyond. This is a great site for families, with great facilities. It’s also dog friendly.

Prices from: £17 per night, for a tent or trailer pitch.

2. Dorchester, Dorset

2. Dewflock Farm

A historic market town on the banks of the River Frome to the south of the Dorset Downs, Dorchester is a vibrant place ideal for sightseeing. Some of the UK’s best-preserved Roman ruins are situated moments away from the thriving high street.

Hidden gem: Dewflock Farm is a working farm where people can camp and glamp, just 5 minutes from Dorchester. It’s a great base for people to explore Dorset, including the lovely beaches nearby.

Prices from: £100 per night in a Shepherd’s Hut.

3. Winnats Pass, Peak District, Derbyshire

3. Newfold Farm

An impressive limestone gorge in the White Peak area of the Peak District, Winnats Pass is a perfect spot for camping. The limestone is full of fossils of sea creatures which lived here over 350 million years ago.

Hidden gem: Newfold Farm is a family-run campsite at the start of the Pennine Way. It’s great for hikers and cyclists. It’s also half a mile from a pub and railway station.

Prices from: £20 per night, tent pitch.

4. Truro, Cornwall

4. Callestick Camping

The only city in Cornwall, Truro is a foodie destination surrounded by beautiful gardens and rivers. The cathedral city offers a perfect blend of historic charm and modern retailers, while tranquil camping among pristine nature is never far away.

Hidden gem: Callestick Camping is a dog-friendly wild camping field with spectacular views over the Cornish countryside, and only 10 minutes’ drive from the beach.

Prices from: £17.50 per night, tent or trailer pitch

5. Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire

5. Eco Caerhys Wales

Abereiddy, a small hamlet in Wales, is a perfect place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Pembrokeshire coast.

Hidden gem: Eco Caerhys Camping in St Davids offers wild meadow camping at an organic farm on the Pembrokshire coastline. It’s a great place for active people, with surfing nearby.

Prices from: £30 per night, tent pitch

6. Dodd, Cumbria

6. Dodd Newlands

A fantastic place to get stunning views of Cumbria’s lovely Lake District, Dodd is just a few miles north of Keswick.

Hidden gem: Newlands Valley Campsite is close to Keswick and Derwentwater. It’s a great place for outdoorsy people, with mountain biking, boating and quad biking offered nearby.

Prices from: £23 per night, tent pitch.

7. St Austell, Cornwall

7. East Crinnis Cornwall

A striking curve of spectacular coastal scenery and an area rich in cultural heritage, St Austell is one of Cornwall’s biggest towns, boasting many gorgeous beaches.

Hidden gem: East Crinnis Camping in Heronbank is a working farm and wildlife haven half a mile from the Cornish coast with easy access to destinations like Fowey, Mevagissey and the Eden Project.

Prices from: £16 per night, tent pitch

8. Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire

8. Harefordwest three fields

Haverfordwest is the attractive and ancient county town of Pembrokeshire, steeped in history with a castle and museum, which used to be the prison governor’s house.

Hidden gem: The Three Fields Campsite is a spacious site with a private toilet, shower and firepit at each pitch, situated just 10 minutes from Haverfordwest.

Prices from: £26 per night, touring pitch

9. Skegness, Lincolnshire

9. Skegness Birchwood

Skegness is a seaside town in the East Lindsey District of Lincolnshire, offering lots of family-friendly attractions.

Hidden gem: In a countryside setting but only two miles from Skegness, Birchwood Fishing and Camping offers fishing on a large lake in the lovely Lincolnshire countryside.

Prices from: £8 per night, tent pitch

10. Chester, Cheshire

10. Kings Acre Chester

Arguably the richest city in Britain for archaeological and architectural treasures, Chester boasts the most complete city walls, the oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in the UK.

Hidden gem: Kings Acre Glamping is deep in the Cheshire countryside, yet only 10 minutes’ drive from Chester. Barbecues are allowed, with firepits and professional pizza ovens available to hire.

Prices from: £25 per night, tent pitch

And for those looking to get away on a camping trip, experts at ATS Euromaster have compiled a list of five things to do to your car before setting off on a camping holiday:

  1. Check your tyre pressure and tread depth – make sure it is at the recommended depth. The legal limit is at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre.
  2. Make sure you have a spare tyre and that you know how to change it. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the English countryside with no phone signal and a flat tyre.
  3. Check your engine oil and vehicle coolant levels and fill up if needs be.
  4. Ensure that your battery is not going to run flat while you are on your trip. If your engine seems slow to turn over or your lights are flashing, it may be running low.
  5. Check your windscreen for cracks and ensure that wiper blades are functioning properly.
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Hotel and restaurant chain announce purchase of ‘Cornstore’ in Pembroke

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WELSH company, Seren, are pleased to announce the acquisition of the ‘Cornstore’ in Pembroke.

Cornstore is in an incredible location on the quayside, with an inspiring view of the historic Pembroke Castle.

The Cornstore will house “Routescape,” Seren’s bespoke luxury travel agency. Seren also intends to grow their café venture by opening a second café at the Cornstore.

Routescape was founded in 2019 and the devoted team of travel advisors provide outstanding experiences across Great Britain, Ireland and France for guests from all around the world.

They offer an unrivalled service, giving an authentic luxury experience with a genuine feeling of place.

Moving to the Cornstore is a significant step in the growth of this fascinating young firm, providing it with a setting as inspiring as the tours it offers.

The Seren team has also been looking for its next café venture for some time and is delighted that their search has led them to the beautiful Pembrokeshire.

The Routescape team will move into their new space in August, while the Cornstore Café will undergo a renovation later in the year.

Managing Director, Neil Kedward, said: “We have been looking for a second café location for some time and the Cornstore is in an outstanding location right on the quayside in the truly historic Welsh town of Pembroke, overlooking its iconic castle.

“We hope that adding a second venue will help enable improved quality levels we are achieving in our wider café business.

“The early success of our Routescape Travel Agency and the expanding team will also be located at the Cornstore.

“Our business is growing quickly, and this location could not be a better fit for our team of Wales specialists.”

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