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Councillors concerned as cost of new Welsh Medium school rises to £14m



THE NEW Welsh Medium School in Pembroke is set to cost almost £14m.

Described as a project of ‘significant importance’, Pembrokeshire County Council obtained funding of £5.6m from the Welsh Government, for its delivery.

However, the cost of the project has since risen to £13,985,818.

Cabinet met on Monday, October 17, and were asked to support the increased cost.

One Cabinet member said she was ‘extremely concerned’ about the rise but councillors were told that if they chose to delay the project, other projects, such as one in Portfield, could also be hindered.

Other members added that they had a ‘heavy heart’ when making the decision to support the increased costs of the new school, named as Ysgol Bro Penfro.

Council Leader David Simpson said that it felt as if they were ‘being held to ransom’ but added that the consequences of stalling it could lead to far greater costs.

He went on to say that the site selected for the new school, on land south of Ysgol Harri Tudur, was ‘really bad’ but that the decision had been made.

There had been an uplift in the grant from Welsh Government to £9m but this still leaves the Council with a shortfall of £4.5m.

There was an underspend of £1.25m on Ysgol Caer Elen and it was suggested that Council could use this money to make up some of the shortfall.

That, however, would need to be approved by the Welsh Government.

The Minister for Education has also said that no additional funding will be available.Cllr Tessa Hodgson said: “I am extremely concerned in how this cost has escalated, this is not the end of the story. There is a huge likelihood costs will be increased further. What if it gets to £20m? Are we still happy to approve that?”

Cllr Hodgson also added that there were 17 schools in need of major repairs and that they were being asked to ‘magic up £3m’ when those others were in ‘such a poor state’.

She said the council should suspend the project.

The new school project is separated from the Council’s Band B funding but the Welsh Government has said they will not look at any Band B projects, which includes Portfield and two schools in Milford, until they give a commitment to the one in Pembroke.

Cllr Alec Cormack said he would second the motion ‘with a heavy heart’ adding: “I feel we have been pressured unreasonably into making this decision by linking them with other projects.”

He also said he was concerned that they were being asked to make a decision in advance of hearing back from the contractors on the final price.”

Chief Officer Darren Thomas said the revised price would be coming on October 28 and added that once the contract was signed on Haverfordwest High there was no increase and that school was delivered on budget.

Cllr Hodgson said they were effectively paying £5m for their ‘poor site selection’ adding it wouldn’t have taken much for them to see it was steep and that access was difficult.

She went on to say that the contractor had them ‘over a barrel’ and that they could come back with any price.

Darren Thomas responded saying they would see all the pricing.

When it was put to a vote, there were five votes in favour while Cllr Hodgson voted against and Cllr Jon Harvey abstained.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Jacob Williams told the Herald: “I watched the webcast of this week’s extraordinary cabinet debate on this and my first thought was how it should have been a matter for full council to decide. When full council gave the green light to Ysgol Bro Penfro in October 2020 we were told categorically that the project was 100% grant-funded, and we supported it accordingly.

“I was therefore struck by how readily the cabinet on Monday overruled that, by going along with the idea that PCC has no option but to stump up £3 million from council funds to amke up the claimed shortfall.

“Even if it is true that the cost of the new school has doubled as the contractor claims, the council’s finances are already stretched.

“I was encouraged to see Cllr Tessa Hodgson putting up some resistance before voting against it at cabinet – so I hope the education scrutiny committee will now probe all the circumstances and consider all of the options that are available.”


Sensational music event thrills the crowds at Scolton Manor



AN UNFORGETTABLE evening of live jazz, classical, rock, and film score music captivated hundreds of attendees at the enchanting ‘Music at the Manor’ event. Presented by the esteemed Pembrokeshire Music Service, this musical extravaganza took place amidst the picturesque grounds of Scolton Manor, offering young talents from across the county a chance to showcase their skills in a relaxed setting. For many of these budding musicians, it marked their debut performance in front of a live audience.

The event witnessed outstanding displays of talent from a myriad of ensembles, including the County Brass Band, Training Orchestra (featuring the Second Steps group), Concert Band, Rock and Pop bands, Rock Strings, Symphonic Wind Band, Pembrokeshire’s Community Choir, and the esteemed Cleddau Chamber Orchestra.

Among the delighted attendees was Patricia Mawuli Porter OBE, who attended the event alongside her family. She described the evening as “a wonderful demonstration of community, music, family, caring, and just what an amazing part of the world we live in.” Mawuli Porter OBE was particularly impressed with the diversity of performances, ranging from youth bands belting out energetic renditions of songs like ‘Teenage dirtbag’ to the majestic classical and movie-themed scores, which added depth and variety to the musical tapestry.

“We can only applaud the team at Pembrokeshire Music Service for putting on the most incredible community event and look forward to next year’s event with great anticipation!” Mawuli Porter OBE exclaimed with enthusiasm.

Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, expressed his gratitude to the Pembrokeshire Music Service team for organizing such an excellent evening of entertainment. “It was a lovely concert, and so good to see it full of local people enjoying themselves,” he commended. “Credit must go to the brilliant participants, be they playing an instrument or singing songs, they were excellent.”

Vivienne Ward from the Newport Music Society also offered her congratulations to all the performers, acknowledging the impressive talent pool in Pembrokeshire. “What impressive young musicians there are in Pembrokeshire, and what a wonderful variety of different bands/orchestras are available for the young to choose from; they are indeed lucky,” she praised.

The event drew overwhelming praise from parents in attendance, with one parent raving, “The standard was exceptional, and a wonderful evening was had by one and all. Well done, everyone! A massive thanks to everyone involved, and much appreciation to Pembrokeshire Music Service – we are so lucky to have you!”

Philippa Roberts, the head of the Music Service, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to all those involved in making ‘Music at the Manor’ a resounding success. “A huge thank you from the team at Pembrokeshire Music Service to everyone who contributed to making Music at the Manor a wonderful community event,” Roberts said. “Working in partnership with Valero, the Friends of Pembrokeshire Young Musicians, and Scolton Manor, I am grateful to everyone who helped and supported the performers to provide a special evening of live music.”

With its remarkable performances and celebration of musical diversity, ‘Music at the Manor’ proved to be an extraordinary showcase of Pembrokeshire’s vibrant musical talent. As the echoes of this magnificent event fade away, anticipation for next year’s edition continues to build, promising an even more spectacular musical spectacle for all to enjoy.

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Police confirm body found in search for Huw



POLICE said than a frantic search for Haverfordwest man Huw Phillips, 56, has been called off after the body of a man was discovered in the local area.

Police said that Huw’s family have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers, after the body was found on Saturday afternoon (Jun 3). 

Huw’s son Kenes Phillips took to Facebook to share the sad news. He bravely said: “Thank you everyone for sharing, showing your love, helping with the search and just doing whatever you could to offer the slightest bit of help.

“But unfortunately, my father was found dead.”

Huw’s good friend Mark Llewhellin paid tribute. He said: “Huw was born of the 4th July. He was kind, sensitive, a good laugh and one of my very best friends.
“I was lucky to have had him as a close friend.
“See you on the other side my friend, but not yet, not yet.”

The police posted on Facebook at 4pm on Saturday saying: “Thank you for sharing our appeal earlier to find Huw, missing from Haverfordwest.

“Sadly, a body has been found during the search, and therefore we are no longer appealing for information.
“Officers are supporting Huw’s family and our thoughts are with them all.”

Earlier on Saturday, the police found Huw’s abandoned car in Clay Lane, Haverfordwest.

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Ironman Wales in Tenby becomes second UK event of 2023 to sell out



THE HIGHLY anticipated Ironman Wales event in Tenby has captured the attention of athletes, becoming the second race in the UK this year to sell out well before the season kicks off.

Scheduled for Sunday, September 3, Ironman Wales has now joined the Ironman 70.3 Swansea event as another sold-out competition in the country.

The popularity of the Tenby event should come as no surprise, as it was the only race to feature in the top 10 globally in eight out of nine categories in the Ironman Athletes’ Choice Awards. This prestigious recognition is based on votes cast by triathletes from around the world.

The captivating swim start at Tenby’s North Beach, the picturesque bike ride passing by stunning beaches and castles, and the exhilarating finish line on streets filled with cheering spectators have made Ironman Wales internationally renowned.

Sam Brawn, the regional director for UK & Ireland at The Ironman Group, expressed his delight, saying, “Ironman Wales continues to attract a tremendous following from our athletes year after year. Whether they are returning participants or newcomers eager to conquer this iconic course, the event remains immensely popular.”

“We take great pride in the fact that the race has been acknowledged as one of the finest events in the global Ironman Series. It secured a spot in the top 10 across multiple categories in the Global Ironman Athletes’ Choice Awards, including a second-place ranking in both the ‘Will Recommend To A Friend’ and ‘Overall Host City’ categories.”

For those who were unable to secure a spot in Tenby, Mr. Brawn highlighted Ironman Cork as an exciting alternative. The inaugural event in Cork, Ireland, took place last year and will return on Sunday, July 2.

“It’s also thrilling to witness the growing popularity of new races, such as the festival weekend in Cork, Ireland, which has gained traction after just one year,” he added.

The official UK and Ireland race season will commence in just over a week with Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire on June 11. The organizers eagerly anticipate an exhilarating few months of racing, regardless of the weather conditions that the British summer may bring.

Athletes looking to complete their race calendar for 2023 can find the full schedule of events at

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