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Pembrokeshire

New Council CEO says he’s ready to get to work for Pembrokeshire

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Will Bramble, the new CEO of Pembrokeshire County Council, takes up his post at County Hall on Monday (13 September).

Mr Bramble was appointed in March this year following an extensive recruitment process. He takes over from Interim CEO Richard Brown.

Since his appointment, Mr Bramble has been meeting key Council colleagues and partners, including attending the Pembrokeshire County Show last month.

Mr Bramble said: “I’m delighted to be settling into County Hall next week and getting to work for the people and communities of Pembrokeshire.

“Pembrokeshire is a special place to live, learn and work and full of potential for the future.

“I’m looking forward to meeting as many colleagues, Elected Members and representatives of partner organisations as possible over the weeks and months ahead as we work together to deliver the Council’s vision for the County.

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“I would also once again like to thank Richard Brown for the way he has admirably led and steered the Council during his time as Interim CEO.”

Mr Bramble added that he was also looking forward to meeting members of the Pembrokeshire public and local communities as he settles into the role.

Mr Bramble joins the Council from the British Army where he achieved the rank of Major General.

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Business

Fourth-generation Haverfordwest jeweller invests in 155 year old family business

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Fourth generation jeweller Paul Howells has completed the refurbishment of his 155-year-old family business, bringing an adjoining retail outlet back to life and safeguarding four jobs in the market town of Haverfordwest.

Established in 1866 by Paul’s great-grandfather, Howells Jewellers occupies a prime position on Quay Street in Haverfordwest.

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A six-figure loan from the Development Bank of Wales and funding from Pembrokeshire County Council’s Houses into Homes Empty Property Scheme, designed to bring empty properties back in to use, has enabled the refurbishment of the double fronted shop and creation of four new apartments.

Offering views of the river, each of the two-bedroom apartments are to be rented to local people looking for quality accommodation in Haverfordwest.

Paul Howells said: “We’re really proud of our family business and enjoy the job that we do; helping our customers to choose the perfect jewellery. However, our building was in a bad state of repair and needed refurbishing in-order to secure the long-term success of the business and give the property a new lease of life. The funding from the Development Bank and Pembrokeshire Council has enabled us to restore the building with a smart new shop-front and four new apartments, safeguarding our future and helping the town to prosper.”

Paul Howells, Howells Jewellers

Richard Easton is a portfolio executive with the Development Bank of Wales. He said: “Buying jewellery is still one purchase that most people want to do in person rather than on-line so there remains strong demand for high-quality high street jewellers like Howells.

“With a very loyal following, Howells has been an integral part of Haverfordwest for over 155 years. Our investment has helped to protect this legacy, safeguard jobs, create new homes and support a sustainable and successful future for a long-standing and highly respected local business.”

The Wales Business Fund is part-funded by the ERDF through the Welsh Government. It was created specifically to support businesses with fewer than 250 employees based in Wales and those willing to move to Wales with loans and equity packages from £50,000 up to £2 million.

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(Lead image: L-R Paul Howells, Howells Jewellers, Richard Easton, Development Bank of Wales)

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Lifestyle

Bouldering wall and yoga studio open at Wild Lakes Wales in Pembrokeshire

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Wild Lakes Wales, which recently rebranded from Pembrokeshire Wake Park, has opened a new bouldering wall, boosting local employment and further expanding the range of activities available at the centre.

The addition of the wall and a new yoga studio in the same building is enabling the centre to stay open through the winter for the first time since it launched.

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A family business, Wild Lakes Wales is run by siblings Sarah Harris, Mark Harris and Stephanie Harris. The trio grew up in Pembrokeshire and decided to create their own Wake park after moving back to the area and always wanting to run a family business. The park now provides up to 30 local part time and full time jobs.

All three siblings are sports enthusiasts, and they have channelled this into Wild Lakes Wales. The new bouldering wall is a bespoke creation made by Mark Harris (one of the Harris siblings), with the help of Walltopia. It offers an array of different routes, holds and angled sections and a cave area. The plan is to have route sections reset every two weeks to keep the wall current and interesting for locals. To provide further interest, a guest route setter will also create a new route each month. 

The bouldering wall at Wild Lakes Wales

The bouldering wall is located in a new 12m x 20m building, which includes a reception area and an area to relax and catch up with friends, coffee and cakes. The bouldering wall is open for anyone aged seven and years and up. Membership and bulk buys are available, and the wall will also host social events and competitions. Children’s and adults’ lessons led by qualified coaches will be offered on a group basis and casual ‘open’ bouldering is on offer for competent climbers. 

The addition of the bouldering wall will benefit the local community in more ways than one: as well as providing a new attraction, it has created several full-time positions at the centre.

“We always enjoy challenges and want to expand our venture year on year, so with the recent lockdowns we were provided the time to crack on with building works at the park,” says Stephanie Harris.

“We wanted to extend our seasonal business and make it more viable with the offer of full-time jobs. A bouldering wall made the perfect winter alternative to wakeboarding and already we’ve seen lots of our wakeboarding members make the transition. Bouldering is a great sport and having an indoor centre provides opportunity during the winter for local climbers to continue working on their skills and keep fit.”

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The new yoga studio, located on a mezzanine floor in the same building as the bouldering wall, will further expand the centre’s offering.

“We decided to capitalise on the height of the new building and use the loft space,” explains Stephanie.

“As we have a yoga instructor already in the team, we thought the space would be perfect to create a studio. Yoga is a great crossover for those utilising the water sports and bouldering facility – it’s an opportunity to create more well-rounded athletes. Classes in the mezzanine will begin from February and have numerous instructors offering a flow for everyone. We plan to utilise the mezzanine for workshops too, whether that’s a yoga workshop, first aid training or crafty bits. It’s another space onsite that provides opportunity.”

The Harris siblings are delighted to be boosting job opportunities in Pembrokeshire.

“We always had plans to expand the business, but the main reason was to offer some of our great and loyal staff full time positions, to keep the talent in Pembrokeshire,” says Stephanie.

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“Often, Pembrokeshire is seen as such a seasonal destination but there are visitors and especially locals in the winter looking for places to go and new things to try. Adding an indoor bouldering facility and yoga studio allowed us to open through the winter as the water becomes too cold, it also goes hand in hand with our new chef and restaurant that will also run from February to December each year.”

Over the winter Wild Lakes will be offering bouldering for competent climbers as well as lessons, different flows of yoga and a restaurant with food cooked by an award-winning chef.

“This will be our first winter we stay open; we previously closed from November to the end of March,” says Stephanie.

“We had a soft opening of the bouldering wall in the last two weeks leading up to Christmas and now we’ve reopened with yoga coming soon. The restaurant will follow in February and our watersports reopen at end of March. We’re really enjoying our first winter still in operation. We also plan to have live music events as they went down so well over the autumn, and we hope to hold a spring fair.”

Wild Lakes is at Cott Ln, Martletwy, Narberth in Pembrokeshire.

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Pembrokeshire

Roofer sentenced over faulty work at elderly victim’s home

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A Pembrokeshire roofer who ‘could not care less’ about the faulty work he carried out at a disabled pensioner’s home has received a suspended prison sentence.

Scott Keane, aged 41 and trading as Pembrokeshire Roofing Services, charged the victim £8,000 for work on her roof, but within weeks serious leaks were discovered.

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Following a complaint to Pembrokeshire County Council’s Trading Standards team, an expert was commissioned to examine the work.

The subsequent report highlighted many serious faults with all aspects of the roof and recommended that it be replaced.

Following an investigation, Keane, who advertised his services on Facebook, was charged with four counts under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

Keane appeared before magistrates in Haverfordwest on November 29th 2021 and pleaded guilty to all four charges.

The charges covered the fitness for purpose of the work; a failure to provide required information; misleading actions and unfair commercial practices.

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Sentencing was referred to Swansea Crown Court on Thursday 13th January, 2022.

Judge Geraint Walters told Keane that the victim was elderly and disabled and he had a ‘slapdash attitude to the work.’

Judge Walters added that Keane ‘could not care less’ about the practices used at her home.

Keane was sentenced to a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years.  

He was placed under a 30 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and ordered to pay £6,000 in compensation to the victim at the rate of £400 per month.  

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He was also ordered to pay a £128 victim surcharge.

Judge Walters said that given Keane’s financial circumstances he had prioritised compensation over costs.

However, the Judge praised Pembrokeshire County Council for the way the Authority had prepared the case and said the Council had “done a very responsible job in bringing the case to court”.

Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Cllr Cris Tomos, said: “I add my congratulations to those of the Judge in commending our Trading Standards team for bringing this case to court and securing the prosecution.

“This has been a difficult time for the victim and I hope this result will provide some comfort and closure.

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“I hope this case will underline that the Council will not hesitate to act on complaints received and, where appropriate, investigate and prosecute.”

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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