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Council tenant rent rise error will cost Pembrokeshire £380,000



PEMBROKESHIRE has lost £380,000 in revenue as a council tenants’ rent rise was not correctly publicised in the appropriate time, councillors heard.

Tenants have a statutory two-month period of notice before any rent rises, which were due to take place from April 1, can come into effect.

However, statutory rent increase notices were only delivered to tenants in late March, delaying the time of rent increases to July 1.

Back in late March the council stated: “It has come to the council’s attention that the statutory rent increase notice has only been delivered to tenants over the last couple of days.

“Therefore, as tenants have not received the required statutory notice, rent will not increase from April 1, 2023.

“We are currently investigating this matter with our external contractors who print and post on our behalf.”

Questions on the rent rise not being publicised in time were received at the May meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s full council, from Councillor Aled Thomas, Councillor Mark Carter, and Councillor Delme Harries.

Councillor Mark Carter asked: “At the end of March this year an announcement was made that the required two month written notice of the April 1 rent rise to all council tenants had not been correctly made.

“Given that a new letter would have to be drafted, it has now been suggested that the rent increase cannot be implemented until July 1 this year.

“A rough calculation suggests that the rent increase would provide an extra £500,000 for that three-month period.

“Could the Cabinet member please confirm how much the exact loss of rental income over the mentioned three-month period is?

“Please provide exact details how and from whom, this sum of money will be recovered if PCC is not to suffer the loss caused by this error?

“Clarify why this mistake was not spotted or members were not made aware until a few days before the rent increase should have been implemented?”

Councillor Delme Harries asked broadly similar questions on the “embarrassing situation on the failure of delivering rental proposals”.

He also asked: “Does this failure to deliver notices impact the further notice period of rent increases?

“What lessons have been learnt and remedial action taken?”

Cllr Thomas had raised concerns those paying by direct debit would be unfairly penalised.

Responding, Cabinet Member for Housing Operations & Regulatory Services Cllr Michelle Bateman said the council had lost some £380,000 and an investigation was currently being undertaken with the council’s print and postage supplier.

Members heard the council only became aware of the issue after being contacted by council tenants, taking remedial action to reissue notices.

Members were told rent increases would now take place every July due to the error.

Cllr Carter said: “This problem is here to haunt us every year; is it correct every year forward we’re going to be three months late getting the rent?”

Cllr Bateman confirmed there was a statutory period of 365 days before any further rent changes could take place, adding the council was currently working to see if there was any way of recovering the money.

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Concerns in Camrose as person with drone spotted ‘spying on properties’



CAMROSE COMMUNITY CENTRE posted a warning to residents on Sunday afternoon (Jun 4), after a person with a drone was spotted acting suspiciously.

The post on the Community Centre’s Facebook page said that a man with a large black van was spotted in the area using the drone to look into houses and gardens.

The Herald has asked the police for a comment


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Charles Street closed off as cladding falls off commercial building



FIRE FIGHTERS and police responded late on Sunday morning (Jun 4) to an incident involving cladding falling off the the top of the second floor of a commercial building.

Traffic was diverted away from the affected area whilst emergency services made sure the structure was safe.

A ladder tender from Haverfordwest Fire Station was called upon to assist in the incident.

Initial reports stated that no person was injured by the falling debris.

One passer by said “It is lucky this happened on a Sunday when most of the shops were closed, the outcome could have been rather different if this happened on a week day.”

The police confirmed the incident happened at West Wales Properties building, 89A Charles Street, Milford Haven.

(Photos: Tracy Hobbs Stinton/Facebook and David Lee/Herald Photographer)

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Galactic Triumph! Heritage Centre transforms for epic Falcon Fun Day



THE TOWERING figure of Chewbacca made a grand first time entry to Pembrokeshire on Bank Holiday Monday, starring in the second Falcon Fun Day at Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre.

The famous Star Wars character joined other re-enactors, including Darth Vader, Stormtroopers and Luke Skywalker, posing for countless photographs with the many hundreds of visitors who flocked to the centre in bright sunshine.

Starring inside the centre was R2-D2, the legendary droid from the Star Wars films. Re-enactors, from the 501st UK Garrison costuming group, travelled from across Wales and as far away as Milton Keynes to join in an event which is already becoming a firm favourite for Star Wars fans of all ages from a very wide area.
The Heritage Centre features a permanent exhibition telling the story of how the ‘Millennium Falcon’ spaceship was built in secret in a former RAF hangar in the 1970s for the Star Wars film ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.

Mark Williams, leader of the Falcon project, said: “The lightsaber training proved very popular all day and the virtual reality experience was a huge success. We are grateful to all the visitors for their support and patience as there were, at times, long queues. We shall be back again next year.”

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