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Town council to help elderly with online banking as last bank in Tenby set to close

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LOCALS in Tenby have been left reeling at this week’s news that the town’s HSBC branch is set to close next year.

The closure, announced on Thursday (Nov 30) will leave Tenby without any of the UK banks.

In recent years, Lloyds, NatWest and Santander have all left the town. Barclays has also just shut its doors for the last time, with the nearest branches being in Haverfordwest or Carmarthen.

The move comes as part of the latest round of closure, which will see 114 branches of the bank closed across the UK.

It follows 69 HSBC branches closing earlier this year and 82 HSBC branches closing last year.

Other HSBC branches closing in Wales include Abergavenny, Chepstow, Port Talbot, Pontypool, Brecon and a branch in Cardiff – Rhyd y Penau.

HSBC says its customer numbers have fallen rapidly since the pandemic and that some of the branches that are being shut now serve less than 250 customers a week.

Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK’s managing director of UK distribution, said: “People are changing the way they bank and footfall in many branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning.

“Banking remotely is becoming the norm for the vast majority of us.

“Not only can we do it anywhere at any time of day or night, many more things can be done at the customers’ convenience and don’t rely on a branch visit.

Speaking to The Herald by telephone on Wednesday evening (Nov 30), Mayor of Tenby, Cllr. Sam Skyrme Blackhall said: “This is really bad for the town of Tenby, and it’s just very, very said. This is a case of where are banks going?

“We have always looked after our banks here in Tenby, and it feels like no one is looking after us. Its as if no one in the banks cares anymore.”

Pointing out the number of retired people living in the area, she said: “We have a lot of elderly people in town who do not use online banking, and depend on the branch being open.

“I am talking to the Post Office and other people with the aim of looking to the hub system, which is happening in other towns where they are also loosing their banks.

“Its very sad that we will losing another cash point. How is a busy town expected to function without a bank or cash points. Where do people go for money?

Asked if she thought it was possible that the branch would be saved, as Tenby HSBC was one of the few banks without a confirmed closure date, Cllr. Sam Skyrme Blackhall seemed to think that the decision had been firmly made. She said: “They have to give six months notice, so we could be looking at May or June 2023 for the closure.

“I don’t think the branch could be saved.

“Barclays officially finished the other week.

“Banks don’t care about residents and people don’t matter [to them] during these very worrying times.”

Town council is planning to offer struggling Tenby residents help with online banking from their offices, creating a kind of drop-in-service, The Herald has been told.

Like in any time of difficulty the people of Tenby will rally together as they always do, but no matter what is done in the face of the closure of the last bank in the historic town, nothing will fully replace traditional face-to-face banking services.

Tenby Mayor Cllr. Sam Skyrme Blackhall: These are sad times for Tenby
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Welsh Freeport competition heats up with Senedd vote

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ON WEDNESDAY, the Senedd will hold a debate regarding freeports as the competition for UK and Welsh Government funding nears its conclusion.

Currently, three bids are in from across Wales for a chance to benefit from £26 million of direct UK Government funding, as well as reduced taxes for businesses in the freeport area. A Welsh freeport could see up to 16,000 jobs created and further investment or the local area into the billions.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS said:

“Benefits of a freeport cannot be understated, bringing much needed jobs and investment into some of the most deprived areas of Wales.

“The UK Government put the challenge to Wales to submit exceptional bids, and Wales has delivered.

“All three bids would help to transform their local communities in different ways. It’s essential that the UK and Welsh Governments work together to deliver that second freeport for Wales, maximising the opportunities that these bids have to offer.”

The three Welsh Freeport bids are:

  • The Celtic Freeport (covering Pembrokeshire to Neath) which has estimated that it would create over 16,000 new jobs and up to £5.5 billion in new investment.
  • The Anglesey Freeport would support up to a £1 billion contribution to UK GDP by 2030, while also creating up to 13,000 new, high salary jobs in Ynys Môn.
  • The Newport Freeport (including Cardiff Airport) is aiming to increase non-passenger revenues to 50%, ending their reliance of passenger generated income.

The UK Government stated that “if a truly exceptional proposal were presented at the bidding stage” than a second freeport would be funded.

The Welsh Conservative debate reads:

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Recognises the opportunities for freeports to energise the Welsh economy, create high quality jobs, promote regeneration and investment.

2. Notes that three bids from Wales have been submitted for consideration by the UK and Welsh Governments.

3. Calls on the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government to deliver two freeports in Wales, recognising the truly exceptional proposals submitted and the transformational benefits they can deliver for the Welsh economy.

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Business

Site visit for National Park planners considering caravan park improvements

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NATIONAL PARK planners, expected to allow officers to approve an application to relocate caravans in a caravan park, will instead attend a site visit there.

Huw Pendleton, of Celtic Holiday Parks, had applied for a change of use of land for the siting of nine relocated static caravans and associated infrastructure improvements at Meadow House Holiday Park, Summerhill.

The application, before the February meeting of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s Development Management Committee, had been recommended for delegated approval by officers if a string of conditions were met.

Delegated approval for the application at the 200-pitch site bordering the national park was mooted despite Amroth Community Council objecting to the application; recommending refusal.

A report for planners said 47 static pitches were previously permitted under a change from 55 touring pitches; nine of these static pitches now being proposed for relocation to an area of land within the holiday park.

It stated the overall number of pitches within the site is not proposed to be increased.

Correspondence had been received which raises concerns on the privacy impact from the proposed static caravans on existing residential properties, as well as the potential for noise and disturbance from occupiers of the site.

It was recommended for delegated approval with a string of conditions including the completion of a Section 106 agreement.

At the February 2 meeting, concerns were raised by neighbour Dorian Evans on amenity grounds, and by local county councillor Alec Cormack, who asked for deferment pending a site visit, saying there would be a “significant impact” on neighbouring properties, which was disputed by agent Gerald Blain.

Following a proposal by Councillor Simon Hancock, members agreed to attend a site visit.

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Successful forum held in Pembrokeshire for local landlords

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A NEW scheme enabling local private sector landlords to lease their property to the County Council in return for a guaranteed monthly rental income (Leasing Scheme Wales) has been launched at a Pembrokeshire Landlords Forum.

Held at County Hall in Haverfordwest last week, the successful Forum was attended by more than a hundred landlords.

As well as the launch of Leasing Scheme Wales, the Forum included presentations on the new housing act Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, fire safety in the private rented sector and eight key points for landlords.

The speakers were Fiona Brown, Private Rented Sector Liaison Officer for Pembrokeshire County Council, Gillian Owens from the National Residential Landlords Association, Stuart Macdonald from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and Julian Ings from Rent Smart Wales.

Cabinet Member for Housing Operations and Regulatory Services, Cllr Michelle Bateman, said it has been a very worthwhile evening.

“We were so pleased to see the level of attendance from landlords in Pembrokeshire,” she said. “There was a lot of interest in the presentations, particularly in the new renting homes act, plenty of questions and good feedback.”

Organised by the County Council’s housing team, the Forum will be a regular fixture with another one planned for the summer – date to be confirmed.

Cllr Bateman said they were also very pleased with the interest shown in Leasing Scheme Wales (LSW). The scheme enables local private sector landlords to lease their property to Pembrokeshire County Council for between five and 20 years, in return for a guaranteed monthly rental income and full property management service. LSW is funded by Welsh Government and managed by Pembrokeshire County Council.

“This scheme will help more Pembrokeshire people to live independently in safe and affordable properties,” said Cllr Bateman.
“Landlords will not have to worry about the condition of their properties after a tenancy as we will be responsible for the maintenance of the property and will return it to the landlord in the same condition as it was before the tenancy started. We will also be responsible for all the void work – the work done on properties in between tenancies.”

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