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Tuk Tuk touring business with franchise hopes gets licence plate call turned down

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A SOUTH Pembrokeshire three-wheeler ‘tuk tuk’ tour business, which has hopes of creating a country-wide franchise has had a call for discreet signage on a support vehicle turned down.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s licensing sub-committee, meeting on March 27, considered an application to amend standard terms and conditions of a private hire vehicle.

The application, by Lorraine Niederlag of Begelly-based Tuk Tuk Time, asked for standard external private hire plates to instead be displayed internally for its “usually affluent” clients.

The application for this change of plates asked: “We wish to request the removal of the large private hire licensing plates, in exchange for more discreet internal plates. The intention is to focus on tours that would compliment our tuk tuk tours.”

The applicants said the charming three-wheeler Tuk Tuks were usually kept to south Pembrokeshire tours, and were not really suitable for county-wide day trips; the support car being used for that.

“As our clients are usually affluent, it would be detrimental to arrive in a pre-booked vehicle with such a ‘taxi’ image. In view of all bookings being pre-booked, we cannot see any safety issues for clients by more discreet signage,” the application added.

At the committee meeting, TUK Tuk Time said it hoped to use the support vehicle, bearing the signage “Wales’ premier travel” for some short trips from its campsite to restaurants until the business grew.

Lorraine Niederlag told members it was hoped that Tuk Tuk Tours could eventually become a franchise, with similar three-wheeler Tuk Tuk and support car schemes running in other parts of the country.

She told members that if the small plates call was turned down the support vehicle would be sold.


Cover image: Giving a shout out to the Rainbow Delivery Squad are Lorraine Niederlag, family and staff of Tuk Tuk Time. Picture: Gareth Davies Photography

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Bluestone invests £30m into its Pembrokeshire resort to expand facilities

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BLUESTONE NATIONAL PARK RESORT is investing £30million to expand its facilities and further support its efforts in meeting high environmental and sustainable standards that protects and enhances the local area and community.

The multi-million-pound investment projects at the luxury holiday destination include the launch of 80 new platinum lodges, transformation of a disused 19th century mill into a heritage restaurant, and development of an 11-hectare solar farm.

As well as enhancing guest experience, the exciting developments are set to boost the Pembrokeshire economy, with the new lodges alone estimated to increase visitor spend in the area by £1million a year.

This is in addition to the local employment opportunities and £1.5million injection that Bluestone brings to the local economy each year.

Around 250 jobs have been sustained during the construction phase of the platinum lodges and a further 100 operational jobs will be created once they open to guests. These figures add to the 800 people that Bluestone currently employs.
Bluestone’s Director of Sustainability, Marten Lewis, said: “Our ‘Free Range Future’ movement is at the heart of everything we do to ensure all our investments and initiatives benefit the local community and environment.

“It was key for us to channel this ethos through our latest investments, which have demonstrated our commitment to furthering our green credentials and making sure our environmental footsteps are as light as possible.

“Sustainable building practices have formed a huge part of construction of these projects, such as the platinum lodges which have been built upon the principles of biophilic design to bring elements of the natural world into the modern designs. Once complete, they will be heated by air source heat pumps.

“Guests are set to benefit from these major milestones coming to life as we open the doors to our highly anticipated Black Pool Mill restaurant and platinum lodges this month.”

Black Pool Mill is set to launch this week (Friday 19th May), after a £3million investment transformed the disused 19th century mill into a rustic heritage restaurant.

Designed to incorporate the mill’s original features and centuries-old architecture, chefs will create seasonal menus that are inspired by Pembrokeshire’s warm microclimate, rich soil and clear seas. They will strive to use locally sourced or foraged ingredients, to provide a unique and authentic local dining experience.

The family-run company has also invested £3million into the creation of an 11-hectare solar farm, which is part of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions and become net zero by 2040. The farm is set to generate 3.2 megawatts of electricity a year and has a lifespan of up to 40 years.

Bluestone’s chief executive, William McNamara, said: “The addition of the solar farm allows us to put money into a more sustainable future for Pembrokeshire, something we are incredibly passionate about at Bluestone.”

A large proportion of the investment has gone towards the development of 80 new Platinum Lodges on the resort which have been built in line with the company’s environmental values.

The lodges will offer new levels of comfort and luxury living with sunrooms, designated outdoor areas, picturesque surroundings, and ‘cwtch’ rooms to accommodate groups up to eight people.

Mr McNamara added: “All three projects are set to bring a boost to the local community, and being able to create so many jobs from these has been at the heart of driving forward these projects. At Bluestone, we’re always aiming to give something back to the community, and we’re delighted to be able to do that while building on the future of rural Pembrokeshire.”

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A glimpse of the new ferry soon to serve Pembrokeshire as it arrives in Ireland

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DUBLIN Port proudly greeted the arrival of its newest vessel, named ‘Oscar Wilde,’ in a time-honored maritime ceremony earlier today. This magnificent addition to the Irish Ferries fleet is set to commence operations on the highly anticipated Rosslare-Pembroke route soon, the Herald understands.

Originally named the STAR and built in Finland in 2007 at the same renowned dockyard as the ULYSSES for Tallink Grupp, this magnificent ship has now been renamed the ‘Oscar Wilde.’

Setting new standards in passenger cruise ferries on the Irish Sea, the ‘Oscar Wilde’ boasts impressive features and specifications. With a capacity to accommodate over 2,080 passengers and offering 134 cabins, it ensures a comfortable and luxurious journey for all on board. Moreover, its substantial space of over 2,380 lane meters can effortlessly accommodate cars, coaches, and freight vehicles.

Duty-free shopping enthusiasts will be thrilled to discover that the ‘Oscar Wilde’ offers the largest shopping area on any cruise ferry sailing the Irish Sea. Covering an impressive 17,000 square feet, this shopping destination will delight travelers on the Ireland-UK route.

Step inside the ship’s interiors and you’ll be greeted by a classic yet modern ambiance. The ‘Oscar Wilde’ is equipped with a range of amenities to cater to various passenger needs, including Freight Drivers facilities, a Club Class lounge, a self-service restaurant, an à la carte restaurant, a bar, gaming facilities, pet facilities, and a children’s play area, ensuring a family-friendly experience for all.

What truly sets the ‘Oscar Wilde’ apart is its impressive speed. Capable of reaching a top speed of 27.5 knots, it is not only the fastest cruise ferry on the Irish Sea but also offers the largest passenger capacity. This exceptional speed ensures that Irish Ferries can provide tourism passengers and freight with an efficient and reliable service, ensuring their smooth journey to their desired destinations.

Andrew Sheen, the Managing Director of Irish Ferries, expressed his delight about the new addition, stating, “We are thrilled to welcome the ‘Oscar Wilde’ to our fleet. This magnificent ship will offer our passengers and freight drivers unparalleled comfort, speed, and amenities. Coupled with the advantages of ferry travel, such as no luggage restrictions or security queues, we are confident that the ‘Oscar Wilde’ will quickly become a customer favorite. We eagerly look forward to welcoming our passengers on board.”

Starting in early June, the ‘Oscar Wilde’ will begin operating on the Rosslare-Pembroke route, taking over from the chartered BLUE STAR 1 for the busy summer season. Bookings for the new ship are now open on www.irishferries.com, with fares starting from just €246 or £206 for a return journey with a car and one adult. With its remarkable size, speed, and array of facilities, the ‘Oscar Wilde’ is poised to be the ultimate choice for travelers venturing between Ireland and the UK on the southern corridor between Wales and Ireland this summer.

Irish Ferries continues to elevate the travel experience by introducing the magnificent ‘Oscar Wilde’ to its fleet, ensuring that passengers enjoy unparalleled comfort, convenience, and a journey filled with unforgettable moments.

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MP Crabb welcomes changes to ensure free access to cash at ATMs in Pembrokeshire

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STEPHEN CRABB, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire has welcomed the UK Government’s decision to ensure a legal right of free cash for millions of people. The move will mean that all including the most vulnerable in society can continue to withdraw and deposit cash for free.

The amendment to the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which is making its way through Parliament, means that the financial services regulator will have the legal power to preserve access to cash – free to consumers at the point of withdrawal or deposit – for those who need it.

The Government Minister responsible for the Bill, Andrew Griffith MP, said that whilst speed, and convenience of digital payments opens a world of opportunity for people and businesses, the reality is that so many still depend upon access to cash, particularly the elderly or those who use cash to manage their finances. This is especially true in rural parts of the country, in places like Pembrokeshire.

Following the decision, MP Crabb commented: “Pembrokeshire operates under a strong cash economy, with many people relying on free withdrawals and deposits of cash on the high street. The ability to make deposits is particularly important to support small businesses own ability to take cash.”

“Back in 2020, I wrote to the Chancellor on the need to secure access to cash, and I am pleased to see that concrete action has now been taken. I know that this change will be important for the elderly and most vulnerable in Pembrokeshire who frequently use cash as their choice of payment.”

Mr Crabb’s comments to this newspaper come the UK government has agreed to legally mandate banks to provide customers with easily accessible free cash services on high streets. This decision comes amidst a surge in bank branch closures over the past year and a continual decline in the number of free-to-use cash machines.

The reduction in access to cash or banking facilities poses challenges for individuals who rely on physical currency, particularly the elderly, affecting their ability to conduct everyday tasks such as banking and shopping.

Baroness Ros Altmann, who was instrumental in driving this legislative change and received support from Life Peers across the political spectrum, lauded the development, saying, “It is great news and about time there was recognition of the role played by cash in many people’s lives.”

According to government data, over two million individuals aged 70 and above do not have internet access, preventing them from conducting online banking and rendering them reliant on physical bank services.

Over the past 15 months, major banks have closed nearly 900 branches, leaving around 5,000 remaining. Although the number of free-to-use ATMs only declined by four percent last year, over the past five years, more than 15,000 cash machines have vanished from high streets.

Consumer group Which? emphasised that without the amendment proposed by Baroness Altmann, the objective of safeguarding access to cash through the new legislation would have been undermined, as numerous free-to-use ATMs were being closed or replaced with fee-charging machines.

Rocio Concha, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Which?, emphasised the importance of free cash access for those on lower incomes, as some fee-charging ATMs impose fees of up to £2. She stated, “We have campaigned to ensure that laws protect free access to cash and are delighted the Government agrees that people should not have to pay fees to access their own money.”

John Howells, Chief Executive of cash machine network Link, welcomed the strengthened legislation, describing it as a significant step forward. Link has already intervened to protect 3,400 free-to-use cash machines from closure and, through a partnership with banks, recommended the establishment of over 100 banking hubs in communities where all branches have been shuttered. Cash Access UK, funded by the banks, is responsible for opening these hubs, and a few have already been established, including one in Troon, South Ayrshire.

Howells emphasised the need to protect access to cash, as approximately five million people still rely on physical currency despite its declining usage.

Tulip Siddiq, the Shadow City Minister, urged the government to go further and adopt Labour’s policy of safeguarding face-to-face banking services to ensure that no individual is left without essential services.

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