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Port welcomes first vessel to new workboat pontoons

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PEMBROKE PORT, which is owned and operated by the Port of Milford Haven, has welcomed the first customer to its new workboat pontoons. Installed as part of the Pembroke Dock Marine project to modernise the Port’s infrastructure, the pontoons are available for use by a range of vessels including workboats, barges and other small vessels.

CRC Sentinel, a dive support vessel owned by Commercial Rib Charter which is undertaking work on the Milford Haven Waterway, was the first to use the new pontoons.

Sharon Adams, Commercial Manager for Pembroke Port commented: “It’s great to see these new assets being utilised. Pembroke Port is perfectly positioned within the Port of Milford Haven to act as a hub for operations associated with marine activity taking place within the Port and the Celtic Sea. The pontoons are available for short and long term berthing and have secure access, as well as electricity and water hook ups.

The workboat pontoons compliment the other infrastructure upgrades we made as part of the Pembroke Dock Marine project including new laydown space and an expanded slipway.

We look forward to working with our existing customers, and welcoming new ones, to use the new facilities at Pembroke Port.”

The new infrastructure at Pembroke Port forms part of the Pembroke Dock Marine project to create a world-class energy and engineering centre of excellence and act as a focal point for capturing the economic value from wind, wave, and tidal renewable energy projects.

Alongside the Port’s own investment, Pembroke Dock Marine – a Swansea Bay City Deal project – is part funded by the UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government as well as other private sector partners.

During construction, the project supported over 50 jobs including 6 apprenticeships. Contractors BAM, Walters Group and R&M Williams undertook community activity during the project, with the local community benefiting from over £11m local spend.

For further details on the facilities at Pembroke Port, and how the Pembroke Dock Marine investments have readied Pembroke Port for future energy, please visit www.pembrokeport.com.

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Business

Plan submitted for £2m holiday pods near Tenby

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£2M PLANS for wheelchair accessible holiday lodges at the site of a Pembrokeshire deer park attraction, which has animals from the Queen’s estate, would make the county a more disability-friendly location, its applicants say.

In an application submitted to Pembrokeshire County Council, Mr and Mrs Evans seek permission for 15 lodges at Great Wedlock, Gumfreston, near Tenby, the site of a 176-acre deer farm attraction, opened last year, and a recently-granted market traders’ barn.

In a supporting statement, the applicants say: “Over the last 48 years, my wife and I have developed Holiday Parks firstly in Pembrokeshire and then throughout the UK. We decided to return to Pembrokeshire where it all started for us in 1976, to develop the deer park and are now looking to develop the wheelchair accessible lodge development, to support our business and for the benefit of Pembrokeshire and its economy.

“In 2020 we bought Great Wedlock Farm and set about applying for planning permission to open the farm to the public to provide a new tourism destination and allow visitors to re-connect with the countryside and natural beauty Pembrokeshire has to offer. The deer were purchased from Woburn Abbey and some from the late Queen’s estate (to ensure the highest quality of deer breeding stock). We opened the deer park in May 2023 with a great emphasis on catering for disabled persons and the elderly.”

They say the deer park has disability-friendly facilities, along with a specially adapted MPV allowing disabled visitors to the deer park to go on ‘Safari,’ viewing the deer, as well as electric buggies and trailers for wheelchair users.

“There is an ever-increasing demand for the type of development that we are now looking to undertake. We are now applying for 15 wheelchair accessible lodges that will be made available for those with accessible needs, specially designed and manufactured by Quality Pods Wales (located in Pembroke Dock). Using local suppliers underpins our business model to support the wider Pembrokeshire economy. Current build costs to complete the development are circa £2m which will add considerable income to local suppliers, contractors and the lodge manufacturer. This will bring our total investment across the site to some £10m, funded wholly by our own funds.”

The applicants add: “The development of these units will provide an inclusive and accessible environment for guests, in addition to the work we have undertaken at the main park already,” adding it would “also take pressure off the local housing stock especially as second homes are noted as an issue surrounding local affordability and availability of accommodation for permanent residents residing in Pembrokeshire”.

“Our initial research has noted that disability organisations often have issues seeking accessible accommodation in Pembrokeshire. Demand is considered to be high, with access organisations already wishing to book accommodation all-year round for their members. This development could support year-round holidays, which would be of great benefit to the local economy.”

They hope the scheme, if granted, would create five full-time jobs.

They finish: “I realise it is against the current LDP policy however this is a very special development for those of us with accessibility problems and I really do feel that an exception could be made in this case, without setting a precedent for future planning applications.”

The application will be considered by planners at a later date.

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Business

Food wholesaler Harlech acquires rival as part of expansion plan

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A FAST-GROWING food wholesaler has taken over a rival company as part of its expansion in South West Wales.

Harlech Foodservice has acquired Celtic Foodservices and says the firm which is based in Pembroke Dock in Pembrokeshire is a “perfect fit”.

The move is part of an overall £6 million plan to create 150 new jobs and comes a few months after Harlech opened a new depot in Carmarthen where 15 sales staff and drivers have already been recruited.

It was spurred by the company’s growth over the past three years which has seen sales increase from £32 million to a record turnover of around £50 million, with profit at an all-time high of more than £2 million.

According to Harlech, which has other bases in Merthyr Tydfil, Criccieth in Gwynedd and Chester, the expansion is being driven by the growing demand from customers in South West Wales, particularly in the hospitality sector.

All 12 members of staff at Celtic Foodservices are transferring to Harlech, including director Jason Davies, and the premises in Pembroke Dock will also be part of the new set-up.

Harlech Managing Director David Cattrall said: “I am delighted we have successfully acquired Celtic Foodservice and this strategic acquisition is a significant step forward in our mission to expand our footprint into South Wales.

“Celtic Foodservice has built a strong reputation for delivering high-quality products and exceptional service to its customers.

“By integrating Celtic Foodservice into our operations, we are poised to deliver even greater value to our customers through an expanded range of products, improved logistics, and enhanced customer service capabilities.

“I am excited about the opportunities this acquisition brings and am committed to ensuring a smooth transition for all Celtic Foodservice customers and employees. “Our combined resources and expertise will enable us to better serve the foodservice industry, driving growth and innovation.

“I am looking forward to welcoming Jason Davies and the Celtic Foodservice team to the Harlech family and working together to achieve new heights in the industry.”

Mr Cattrall added Harlech was responding to the challenges faces by hotels, pubs and restaurants with “aggressively competitive” prices.

He said: “There is clearly a big appetite for our approach in disrupting the way foodservice companies have traditionally operated.

“We have rejected the common practice of having inflated prices and increasing ‘negotiated’ prices without notice.

“Instead we have launched our new Trust Our Prices strategy with transparent and competitive pricing, backed up by excellent customer service.

“And to make life easier our customers can order up to 10pm, with next day deliveries six days a week.

“The acquisition of Celtic Foodservices is another new and important milestone our drive to provide a first class service to new and existing customers in every single corner of Wales.”

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Business

Staff locked in rooms and told to sign forms over industrial action

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UNITE THE UNION has put a called out and quashed abhorrent “bully-boy” tactics by Tata management at Port Talbot yesterday (Thurs 6 June) over planned industrial action.

Around 250 workers were brought together in a room at Tata in Port Talbot. The invite to the meeting said it was to discuss the consultation period of workers and it was described as a ‘business update’.

In the room, staff very quickly realised that wouldn’t be the case – instead they were forced to fill in a form about whether they were going to be taking part in industrial action or not. Staff are not legally required to tell their employer at any point if they are taking part in industrial action.

Following these revelations and intervention by Unite reps, Tata has agreed to stop any such meetings taking place in the future.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is appalling behaviour from Tata management but we should expect nothing less from a company which is hell-bent on closing the steel works and destroying Welsh communities.

Unite will not stand for these bully-boy practices by Tata. Our reps have put a quick end to this despicable tactic and it will not be tolerated in future.

During the meeting, senior management physically blocked the doorways to the room, to stop Unite members leaving, as well as blocking the corridors to leave the plant. Management staff then made sure everybody had filled in the form.
These actions also took place publicly and workers didn’t have anywhere private to write down their intention (or not) of taking industrial action and had managers surveilling them at all times.

This is the latest in a series of disgraceful behaviours by Tata that have recently included threats to cut redundancy pay for members taking part in industrial action.

Unite Welsh regional secretary Peter Hughes added: “I’m disgusted by how our members have been treated by Tata but it comes as little surprise. They have a history of heavy-handed actions and ignoring basic decencies. Unite has put an end to such behaviour but are demanding an explanation and full apology for this misuse of power. These actions by Tata will simply fuel our members in their fight to see these vital steel works remain open.”

Around 1,500 Tata steelworkers based in Port Talbot and Newport Llanwern will stage industrial action over the company’s plans to close its blast furnaces and cut 2,800 jobs. The workers will begin working to rule as well as taking part in a continuous overtime ban from 18 June.

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