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Community take-over of local shop inspires Senedd member

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THE STORY of how a small Pembrokeshire town clubbed together to save a community shop has inspired one Senedd Member to visit to hear more about how the enterprise works.

Eluned Morgan called by to meet with directors and volunteers to hear about the scale of the task and their ambitious plans for the future.

Last year, a fundraising scheme supported by Cris Tomos of PLANED, finally raised enough cash to purchase Harvard’s hardware store which has traded on Newport’s East Street since 1840.

The project has received international attention, with a German TV crew the latest in a series of media outlets keen to hear how Newport has taken a stand to preserving a local asset against the backdrop of second home ownership, an aging population and online sales and next day delivery.

Eluned said: “Especially in our villages and towns, small shops have and continue to play an important role in the fabric of local life and contribute positively to the wellbeing of our communities.

“Harvard’s community hardware store is a great example of how community action and the share scheme is inspiring other communities to purchase other local assets, like pubs which can also be a focal point where little other social space exists.”

“We know that by shopping locally, the pound in our pocket works harder by supporting local jobs and strengthening the local economy. I wish Harvard’s every success for the future, with continued support, this community owned business will go from strength to strength and act as a beacon to others in these difficult economic times.”

Cris Tomos the Community Assets Coordinator at PLANED who is also a committee member with Siop Harvard’s noted: “ t has been a great team effort to raise the money to ensure that Harvard’s hardware store remains open, there was a real threat that the doors would shut and all the stock and fixtures sold, with another empty retail space disappearing.”

“The community shares model has worked really well and the business plan outlines that community investors will receive an annual 3% dividend with a planned tax relief of 30% being claimed by qualifying investors in year one.”

Chris Morgan the company secretary confirmed “We have raised over £450,000 from investors near and far. Keeping the shop open was the major driver to ensure that future generations can enjoy the experience of a local community run ironmongers shop.

“We are told that this is the first community owned hardware shop in the whole of the UK and it is a tribute to the local people of Newport for ensuring this important asset has been saved from closure.”

Photo: (indoors) Pictured are (L-R) Jane Thomas, Chris Morgan, Ros McGarry, John Harries, Cris Tomos and Eluned Morgan MS.

Community

Communities at the forefront: West Wales showcases innovative solutions

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PLANED has announced a forthcoming workshop titled “Are the Solutions Already Here?” set to take place in West Wales. This unique gathering aims to bring together community leaders from across the region to share and discuss innovative, people-led solutions to the myriad challenges they face.

Scheduled for March 8th, the event is poised to highlight the positive transformations already underway in West Wales, showcasing them as a beacon of hope and inspiration for other communities grappling with similar issues. PLANED, a community-focused organisation with over three decades of experience, is at the helm of this initiative, demonstrating its unwavering commitment to fostering social and economic opportunities within the region.

The workshop will be facilitated by Dr Edward Jones, a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Bangor University Business School, renowned for his extensive research on economic growth across Wales. Dr Jones expressed enthusiasm about the event, noting its potential to spotlight how local communities are harnessing their assets for greater control and sustainability. He cited the Dryslwyn community’s efforts as a prime example of local initiatives that have catalysed energy and dynamism within the region.

In recent years, PLANED has supported numerous community-led initiatives, including share schemes and asset transfer projects like the community purchase of Tafarn Sinc and Crymych Arms. The upcoming event will feature discussions on these projects, with insights from notable speakers such as Dr Rosie Plummer, Owain Gryffudd, and Cris Tomos. Their experiences are expected to underline the social benefits of community engagement and the support available from PLANED and other organisations for the longevity of these projects.

Iwan Thomas, Chief Executive of PLANED, highlighted the significance of the event in showcasing how communities can be empowered through the right mix of people and skills to find local solutions. The event promises to showcase examples from Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire, illustrating the region’s leadership in community-led regeneration.

The workshop has also garnered support from local Senedd Member, Samuel Kurtz MS, who praised the initiatives for bringing vitality and a sense of belonging to local communities. He underscored the importance of such projects in fostering connections among people who might otherwise remain disconnected, championing them as a model for future community-driven efforts.

The event, to be held at PLANED in the Old School Site, is currently open for registration via Eventbrite. Although spaces are limited, the overwhelming support and interest suggest that this workshop may herald a series of events aimed at promoting community solutions across Wales.

For those interested in attending, registration is available through the PLANED website and its social media channels. This workshop represents a pivotal moment for communities across Wales, offering a platform for sharing, learning, and driving positive change from the ground up.

For more information on PLANED and its initiatives, visit www.planed.org.uk.

Event Registration: Interested parties can register for the event at Eventbrite.

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Community

Oyster restoration project set to enrich the Haven Waterway

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AN EXCITING new project is underway to restore the once-abundant population of native oysters within the Milford Haven Waterway and, in doing so, improve the condition of the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

This work is being carried out in partnership with Bangor University, the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC Officer and Tethys Oysters in Angle Bay, and forms part of the Blue Carbon Strand of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Wild Coast! Sustainable Landscapes, Sustainable Places Programme, funded by the Welsh Government and co-ordinated by Tirweddau Cymru Landscapes Wales.

Director of Nature and Tourism at the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, James Parkin, said: “Designated landscapes, such as the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, account for 25% of the Welsh landscape, which means they have a vital role in helping nature to recover.

“The Sustainable Landscapes, Sustainable Places Landscapes Fund is having a significant impact on our ability to create a sustainable and resilient environment for future generations.”

Since the project commenced in November 2023, Ostrea edulis broodstock have been collected from Angle Bay and Burton Ferry and transported to Bangor University, with the aim of rearing them and returning them to the Milford Haven Waterway to boost existing populations.

It is expected that up to 200,000 native oyster spat may be produced, but numbers could be significantly more.

National Park Authority Biodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor, explained: “Native British oyster populations have declined dramatically over the decades, as a result of habitat loss, pollution, over-harvesting and disease. This has significant implications for the health of our marine environment. As well as being filter feeders that actively purify the surrounding water, oysters also store carbon, and their reefs also play an important role in fostering biodiversity by providing food, shelter, and protection for a wide variety of marine life.”

Currently, there are very few nursery facilities that can provide native oysters for restoration. To date, native oysters introduced to the Waterway have been reared in Morecambe Bay. The status of the Milford Haven Waterway as a Bonamia (parasitic disease) area also places additional restrictions on the movement of oysters.

There is a view that existing old native oysters may have some resistance to Bonamia. This, and the desire to protect the genetic make-up of local populations, which may also provide additional resilience, is why restoration using indigenous stock is so attractive.

Following biosecurity protocols and a brief period of quarantine, the first batch of approximately 40 oysters have commenced conditioning to spawn in their temporary nursery. The remaining oysters will be conditioned to spawn in the spring and early summer of 2024.

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Community

Pop up museum opens in Haverfordwest whilst Castle works continue

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WITH Haverfordwest Castle closed for the next couple years due to building works for the Heart of Pembrokeshire project the Haverfordwest Town Museum has had to relocate to the town centre.

Last September, plans to move temporarily Haverfordwest’s museum to the town’s Riverside Quay while levelling-up works in the town are ongoing were given the thumbs-up.

An application for a change of use of the former GAME electronic games store at 24-25 Riverside Quay to the temporary home for the ‘pop-up’ museum was submitted to county planners by historian and council presiding member Dr Simon Hancock.

The museum itself is moving from its current site at the Governor’s Office next to Haverfordwest Castle due to ongoing works connected with the £24m Heart of Pembrokeshire levelling-up redevelopment of that part of the county town, which is expected to last until Spring 2026.

Work is ongoing to set up displays and create a museum shop and the new Riverside home is hoped to open to the public on March 25.

Museum Curator Dr Hancock said: “We want to make the pop-up museum an informative and entertaining space. We will have models of the castle and Tudor Merchant’s house, displays on the Llewellin churnworks, the Port of Haverfordwest, items made in the town during the Victorian period, David Lindley paintings and the People of Haverfordwest panels.

“We will be open all year round in our new premises and so we will ensure there will be regular changes of content. We would like to hear from anyone who would be interested in volunteering for us.

“The pop-up museum would only be possible thanks to the stalwart support of the county council with funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund for which we are extremely grateful.”

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