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Politics

Next stage of £19m Haverfordwest interchange backed

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THE SECOND stage of building Haverfordwest’s near-£19m transport interchange has been backed, with senior councillors hearing it could cost the council more to not support it.

The transport interchange, which includes an integrated bus station and construction of a new multi-storey car park, is part of a wider series of regeneration projects in the county town.

The total cost of the scheme in the approved budget is £18.881m, £1.987m from Pembrokeshire County Council; the remainder, £16.894m, from an already-awarded Welsh Government grant.

To date, £3.425m has been spent on advanced works, including the demolition of the old multi-storey car park and a temporary bus station.

Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on April 22, were recommended to approve the award of the Stage 2 construction contract for the Haverfordwest Transport Interchange.

The report for members listed two simple options for Cabinet, to authorise the award of a contract, recommended, or to not.

For the latter it warned: “It is envisaged Welsh Government will withdraw the funding awarded and the council would need to repay grants received to date; £10.322m has been received to date of which £3.376m has been offset against expenditure.”

It added: “Cost to cease this project could cost PCC more in terms of grant repayment and any capital work required to make good. PCC match contribution for the project is forecast as £1.987m of the £18.881m.”

Planning permission for the interchange was granted in 2022, with a temporary bus station constructed that year and the old multi-storey building demolished in 2023.

That year, members of the county council’s Cabinet agreed a temporary car park will be sited on the demolished remains of the old multi-storey car park until the Haverfordwest Public Transport Interchange – delayed as no compliant tender had been found at the time – is built.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said: “The interchange is an important part of the regeneration of Haverfordwest, it will not regenerate Haverfordwest on its own, it is part of a wider process. The alternative to us being engaged is we simply allow it to decline and fail.”

He said the interchange was about “making it easier to visit Haverfordwest,” making parking provision “really straightforward, making it easy and convenient as possible”.

Cllr Miller said not progressing with the scheme would risk the grants already obtained, meaning the council could potentially foot the bill for costs to date, at a greater level than progressing.

He said the cost options were a near-£2m subsidised council involvement for the whole scheme or the £3m-plus spent to date if the scheme was ended, which would leave the car park as it is now.

“It’s pretty reasonable that if they give us the money and we don’t build a transport interchange they’ll be looking for that money back,” Cllr Miller said.

He said previous figures from parking revenue – back in 2019 – amounted to £100,000 a year; and could be expected to at least double on a “like-for-like” basis following the increase in parking charges.

Members, after a private and confidential session over the actual contract details, agreed to proceed with the scheme, awarding the contract to Kier Construction Western and Wales.

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Politics

Council to discuss £3.5m housing acquisition in upcoming Cabinet meeting

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HOUSING worth more than £3.5m has been purchased in Pembrokeshire by the council, senior councillors will hear next week.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on May 20, will receive an update on acquisitions and disposals of land and buildings in the county.

In accordance with the council’s constitution, Cabinet is to receive a report biannually, on the acquisition or disposal of land and/premises by the authority since the last report, where the acquisition or disposal was for a sum in excess of £100,000.

The report lists 16 acquisitions by the council, in areas including Milford Haven, Haverfordwest, Neyland, Cilgerran, Pembroke Dock, Lamphey, and Broad Haven, for a total of £ 3,502,000, in line with the HRA (Housing Revenue Account) business plan.

The report before members also lists one disposal, the former Ship and Anchor, High Street, Fishguard, at £170,000.

The report ads: “It should also be of note that some temporary additional resource has been obtained to enable capital receipts from the disposal of any surplus property where appropriate so there should be an increase in sales over the next 12–18 months.”

The May 20 meeting wil be the first Cabinet headed by new council leader Cllr Jon Harvey.

Members are recommended to note the acquisitions and disposals, with six-monthly updates to continue.

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News

Gething crisis: Tory Leader signals no-confidence motion in First Minister

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IN a bold assertion that could intensify the political instability in Wales, the Conservative leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, has indicated that a motion of no confidence against First Minister Vaughan Gething is increasingly likely. This comes in the wake of recent revelations and internal disputes within Welsh Labour that have put Mr. Gething’s leadership under severe scrutiny.

The controversy escalated following the dismissal of Hannah Blythyn, the minister for social partnership, who was accused by Mr. Gething of leaking confidential text messages to the press—an allegation she firmly denies. The leaked texts were reportedly from a pandemic-era group chat, which Mr. Gething admitted to deleting, details of which were first reported by Nation.Cymru.

This incident is part of a broader series of challenges facing Mr. Gething, including scrutiny over the substantial donations made to his leadership campaign. It was disclosed that his campaign had received £250,000, with a notable £200,000 contribution from a company led by a businessman previously convicted of environmental crimes. Mr. Gething announced he would be returning £31,000 to Labour from the campaign funds amidst this controversy.

In crisis: First Minister, Vaughan Gething

Adding to the upheaval, Mr. Davies criticised the First Minister’s leadership on BBC Radio Wales, questioning Mr. Gething’s transparency and ability to govern effectively. He emphasised the urgent need for Mr. Gething to justify his actions, particularly the sacking of Ms. Blythyn, to restore public trust in the government.

On Thursday, in an interview with ITV Wales, Mr. Gething defended his decision, highlighting the importance of trust and confidentiality among ministers and maintaining that his team was aligned on government priorities. He underscored the challenges faced by his administration and the need to focus on issues crucial to the Welsh populace.

Despite the turmoil, any formal motion of no confidence is not expected to be tabled immediately, owing to procedural and logistical considerations. With Labour holding half of the seats in the Senedd, the success of such a motion would hinge on cross-party support or abstentions from within the Labour ranks.

As tensions mount, the political landscape in Cardiff Bay remains fraught with uncertainty, with the potential for significant shifts in governance depending on the developments in the coming weeks.

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Business

Johnston holiday lodges expected to be approved

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PLANS for 20 self-catering holiday lodges in the Pembrokeshire village of Johnston are expected to get the go-ahead next week.

An application before the May 21 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee by Peter Rawsthorne seeks permission for the short-stay lodges and associated works on land behind The Larder, Vine Road.

The application, sited near a collection of single storey buildings associated with Silverdale lodge which are currently in use as temporary emergency accommodation, is recommended for delegated conditional approval.

A report for planners says: “The application seeks full planning permission for the siting of 20 short-term stay holiday lodges.  The lodges would be positioned on concrete bases either side of a central access road running through the length of the site.

“Comprising of either two or three bedrooms, each unit would have the benefit of an associated car parking space and raised veranda to provide access into the unit and an external amenity area.  The lodges will be finished with timber or timber effect cladding to the walls under a shallow dual pitched roof of metal sheeting with a UPVC framed fenestration and rainwater goods.”

It adds: “The proposal will generate some noise, odours and artificial light nuisance in comparison to a currently vacant site.

“Given the close proximity, at the southern end of the application site, to existing residential in Silverdale Close and Acorn Drive the Head of Housing and Public Protection has advised that a Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) should be required prior to the determination of the application to allow for the assessment of all noise emissions from the proposed development and for this to set out proposed measures of how to attenuate any noise nuisance.

“Consideration has been given to whether requiring such an assessment would be reasonable or necessary to make the development acceptable.

“It is acknowledged that the nature of the use of the site as proposed could generate some noise and disturbance, and that there is likely to be a heightened awareness to this for existing occupiers when the site is first occupied, compared to the current vacant use of the site or its previous use as an informal garden space for occupiers of the Silverdale lodges.

“However, the residential occupation of the space, albeit by short-term visitors who may have less regard for existing permanent residents, is a use typical of and expected in this service centre sized settlement and could be satisfactorily absorbed.

“Excessive noise and anti-social behaviour are matters which can also be dealt with by other legislative controls.”

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