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‘Welcome signs of positivity’ for the housing market – rates drop below 5pc



JEREMY Hunt’s Autumn Statement is delivering “welcome signs of positivity” for the housing market, a property association says. 

The National Association of Property Buyers say the Chancellor’s recent fiscal announcement is making mortgages a more attractive option for many prospective buyers.

Spokesman Jonathan Rolande said: “A steadier hand on the tiller means mortgage rates are dropping. It seems strange that this could be happening at the same time as The Bank of England is increasing base rates, but these are strange times. 

“The mortgage market spiked far higher than the BofE would have expected as the rates offered by lenders hit new highs following the botched Kwasi Kwarteng Budget. Now we are seeing more fiscal responsibility, and the markets are reacting to the fact that Britain looks like a safer home for money once again. 

Mr Rolande added: “Rates, especially those fixed for two or five years,  are dropping. The weekend saw rates drop below 5% for the first time since the beginning of October. The best 5 year fixed is now around 4.84% with Platform mortgages.

There is certainly an improvement in the market but we should be under no illusions that things will return to ‘normal’ any time soon. The BofE is likely to increase base rates again soon, putting more pressure on lending percentages. The market is showing a number of signs that it is slowing, with prices dropping. However, the doomsday scenario that looked possible, probable almost – where rates would hit double digits – seems to have been averted for now.

If rates hit 4% soon, in conjunction with some better value property that is hitting the market, this will be a golden time for buyers to snap up a dream home. However, fear of possible further drops in values will deter many from doing so. We shall see whether that is a wise decision or not.”

The comments come days after it was warned that homeowners face the biggest hike in mortgage interest payments ever. 

Thousands with a typical outstanding home loan could seeing their monthly charges doubling next year to almost £500.

The shock rise was predicted after analysis of figures published by Treasury watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and follows attempts by the Bank of England to tame soaring inflation by hiking interest rates – leading to rises in mortgage interest rates.

The Liberal Democrats, who carried out the analysis, calculate that for a typical household with an outstanding mortgage of £236,000, the hike next year would mean monthly interest payments doubling to £474 – an extra £2,851 a year.

The news will fuel fresh fears that the cost of living crisis will lead to properties being repossessed.

Last night Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Sarah Olney said: ‘Homeowners are paying the price for the Conservative Government crashing the economy.

‘The mortgage ticking time bomb has only seconds left.

‘This is simply unmanageable with the tax rises announced by the Chancellor.’

The party wants the Government to scrap a planned reduction on surcharge imposed on the banking sector, and use the money to set up an emergency mortgage protection fund to help families seeing their repayments soar. 

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Grants available for your community or business



UK SHARED Prosperity Fund (SPF) grants of up to £100,000 are available for communities and businesses in Pembrokeshire.
Capital and Revenue business grants ranging from £500 to £50,000 can be applied for under four categories – Business Growth, Business Start Up, Youth Enterprise and Carbon Reduction.

The aim of the grant intervention is to strengthen local entrepreneurial ecosystems and support businesses at all stages of their development to start, sustain, grow, and innovate, including through local networks.
Grants up to £100,000 are also available for pilot activity across Pembrokeshire communities via the Pembrokeshire Sustainable Communities Fund.

This supports the development and creation of activities related to tackling poverty, access to services, environment and green infrastructure, community engagement, volunteering and festivals, events, local arts, cultural and heritage activities.

Each grant will be a contribution to a proposed overall scheme with the applicant having to source a percentage of match funding from elsewhere.

The Pembrokeshire Business Growth Grant will support local businesses and inward investors to grow, prosper and be sustainable, resulting in the creation and safeguarding of jobs throughout the County and therefore improving the local economy.

The aim of the Business Start Up Fund is to support the creation of new businesses in the County, resulting directly in the creation of jobs and boosting the local economy.

Similarly the Youth Enterprise Fund is aimed at applicants aged 16 to 21 wanting to create new businesses in the County.

The Carbon Reduction Fund will provide capital support to businesses towards the purchase of renewable energy systems.

It aims to support local businesses to be sustainable and move towards net zero carbon while continuing to grow and prosper.

With around £1million available anyone interested is encouraged to get in touch with expressions of interest as soon as possible.

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change Cllr Paul Miller said: “These grants are a vital opportunity for new and established businesses to grow and contribute to the regeneration of our towns while supporting the carbon reduction agenda.”

Cabinet Member for Corporate Improvement and Communities, Cllr Neil Prior added: “Shared Prosperity Funding can make a difference to our communities and it is important Pembrokeshire makes the most of its opportunities.”
The Business Grant application process is administered by the Business Development team within the Local Authority Economic Development department.

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Black Pool Mill restaurant opens following £3million investment



BLUESTONE National Park Resort says it has invested £3 million to bring Pembrokeshire’s newest restaurant, Black Pool Mill, to life. The restaurant, housed in a disused 19th-century mill near Canaston Bridge, has undergone a remarkable transformation into a charming heritage eatery, eagerly awaited by many.

Taking to The Pembrokeshire Herald on Friday, (May 19), the Black Pool Mill team joyfully announced the restaurant’s grand opening: “We’re delighted to announce that Black Pool Mill is now OPEN! The Mill invites you to indulge in delectable cuisine amidst captivating surroundings. Whether it’s a special occasion or a treat for yourself, our seasonal menus promise to entice and delight.”

One of the first customers to dine at the establishment expressed their satisfaction with “a lovely lunch.”

Originally scheduled for May 12, the opening had been postponed by a week. In a Facebook post from the previous week, the Black Pool Mill team explained, “We had hoped to open the doors this weekend. But, as we want to offer the perfect venue and experience, we believe we need a little more time to get it to that point. But don’t worry… we will be opening on Friday 19th May to ensure our exceptionally talented team at the venue are ready and fully immersed in the new layout.”

Located in a Grade II Listed mill near Minwear Woods, the restaurant will generate 35 new job opportunities. The mill has been meticulously renovated and restored to its original architectural style, with numerous historic features brought back to their former glory.

Blackpool Mill: During renovations (Image: Bluestone)

A spokesperson for Black Pool Mill emphasised the design’s focus on preserving the mill’s original elements and centuries-old architecture. The chefs will craft seasonal menus inspired by Pembrokeshire’s warm microclimate, fertile soil, and pristine seas. Their aim is to incorporate locally sourced or foraged ingredients, providing a distinctive and authentic dining experience rooted in the local area.

Sarah Davies, with over 30 years of hospitality experience, including nine years as deputy head of food and beverage at Bluestone, leads the Black Pool Mill team. Head chef Paul Owens, formerly of Mansion House in Llansteffan, joins her.

Sarah shared her excitement about the extensive renovation efforts, both internally and externally, that have returned Black Pool Mill to its original architectural splendor. She stated, “We have paid attention to details throughout, and we’re sure our guests will enjoy the experience of dining and celebrating here.”

Spread across three floors, the venue features dining areas, a state-of-the-art kitchen, a banqueting space, a bar, and private dining rooms. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant will be open to the general public as well as Bluestone’s guests.

Sarah added, “Its location, with the lake, river, and woodland, will make it a perfect destination throughout the seasons.”

For further information and bookings, visit

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Bayview Stores scoop national Countryside Alliance award after impressing judges



A PEMBROKESHIRE based business has been announced as a national winner in the hotly anticipated Countryside Alliance awards, known to many as the ‘Rural Oscars’.

From over 45,000 public nominations and votes- the awards most successful year to date- Bayview Stores won The Daily Telegraph Award for best Village Shop/ Post Office, after impressing judges and seeing off six other businesses from across the country in the same category.

This award celebrates the important role village shops play in rural communities. It commends those who go above and beyond the call of duty and are the hub of the community.

The awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of British food and farming, enterprise and heritage through small hard-working businesses.

Bayview Stores received the award at a busy ceremony in the House of Lords on Wednesday 17 May 2023, attended by government ministers, peers and MPs, including local MP, Stephen Crabb. The competition saw businesses from across the country, come together in friendly competition in their respective categories.

Earlier this year, Bayview Stores won the award for Welsh Village Shop Champion, after a public vote. After a further round of judging, the team can now add the national gong to their growing collection of titles.

Now in their 16th year the Countryside Alliance awards have become the definitive rural business award to win and are driven by public nomination and votes, offering customers the chance to rally around their favourite businesses, bringing communities together.

The categories for the Awards include: best butcher, best pub, best village shop, local food champions, and rural enterprise champions.

Speaking from the awards at the House of Lords, an emotional Gwyn Price, the store’s owner, said: “ This award means absolutely everything. It’s been 20 years in the making. Our staff are amazing and we thank the local community. I get up in the morning and consider myself the luckiest man in the world. It’s been a lot of hard work, especially through covid. We were working 14 hours shifts, every day and our community stuck by us. It truly does mean the world”.

Another Pembrokeshire based business, the Dyfed Shire Horse Farm, received a Highly Commended award in the Rural Enterprise category. This award celebrates the imagination and ingenuity of individuals in the countryside supporting the rural economy. It commends those who have made a real contribution to the community through jobs and services and helped to enhance the local area.

Stephen Crabb MP said: “I was delighted to attend the Countryside Alliance Awards and help celebrate the success of two popular Pembrokeshire businesses from my constituency.

It’s vitally important that rural businesses are given the recognition they deserve, and I am thrilled that Gwyn Price and his family from Bayview Stores, and Mark Coles and the whole team at Dyfed Shire Horse Farm, were able to fly the flag for Pembrokeshire in these national awards.

They are two fantastic examples from our rural business community, and I am so pleased their hard work and dedication impressed the judges to secure this national status.”

Countryside Alliance awards Director, Sarah Lee said: “ As ever, our judges have had a particularly difficult time singling out winners from the array of fantastic businesses up for awards this year. The team at Bayview Stores have worked incredibly hard to earn this award and we wish them every success for the future. We also congratulate the fantastic team at the Dyfed Shire Horse Farm, who are clearly treasured within their local community. The Countryside Alliance awards capture the huge public support for local, rural businesses who now, more than ever, depend on the public’s support. ”

Pictured: DEFRA Secretary Thérèse Coffey MP, Stephen Crabb MP and The Bayview Store team at the House of Lords, for use with article.

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