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Doubts raised over feasibility of Milford docks master plan

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MilfordHavenThe Herald reported last month that Milford Haven Port Authority has unveiled a new £60 million Milford Dock Master plan is to radically change and regenerate “Wales’ largest fishing port”.

Details unveiled by the plan aim to create a high quality brand for its fish and other seafood. Part of the £60 million development aspires to transform the entire area around Milford Fish docks and the plan claims that this will bring further growth and job opportunities. The intention is to provide high standard storage, processing, retail and tourism facilities for the area, in order that ‘seafood caught in Pembrokeshire can be promoted as a brand to be sought after’.

Milford Haven was once one of the busiest ports in the UK and has even inspired writers such as Shakespeare who used Milford as a setting in the play Cymbeline referring to the location as ‘this same blessed Milford’. Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson said of Milford Haven, ‘It is one of the greatest harbours in the world’.

Having one of the deepest natural waters of any harbour in the world, Milford became home to a thriving and important fishing port during the 19th century and throughout the first half of the 20th century boasted a busy and bustling fishing port quayside. At one point, for every one job at sea there were four in the port. However, a decline in the 1950’s saw the fishing industry all but disappear and the port was transformed into what is now mainly a marina.

Alun Davies, Assembly Minister for Natural Resources and Food, is quoted in the web article as saying that, ‘The success of our proposed plan relies upon our ability to work in partnership with the Welsh fishing industry’. He also says that he hopes the plans announced will ‘help strengthen the local fishing industry and bring employment opportunities to the area’.

Kevin Hobbs added to this optimism by stating that he believes the Milford Fish docks have huge potential. He suggests that greater tonnages of fish could be handled there given the range of ‘quality and diverse species’ available in Pembrokeshire fishing waters. He goes on to applaud the plan’s aim to create wholesale and retail outlets, along with facilities for processing catch that is landed on the quay, which he sees as crucial in creating jobs and encouraging growth.

However, The Herald spoke exclusively to one local fisherman, who wished to remain unnamed, and who cast serious doubt over the viability of these ambitious plans.

“I believe this is just a way of getting grant money. Half of what they are saying might not happen. In my case, I have a shed on the quay for which I have been asking for a drainer for over eighteen months now. The public are even complaining about the smell and yet nothing has been done. We have a similar problem with getting ice which is really expensive.”

He went on to say that the fishermen who use the port find it very hard to obtain fuel which, he claims, is only available during ‘normal’ working hours and which, he says,‘would be available round the clock in any other port’, stating, “There is nothing here for fishermen”.

On the subject of Kevin Hobbs’ vision of greater fish quantities being handled at the port he pointed out that,

“Fish couldn’t be caught locally because of the fishing quotas. Under the new European rule (EU Fisheries) called ‘Kilowatt Days’ we are only allowed to fish a certain amount of days per year. So where is all this fish going to come from? If there are such good fishing stocks here, then why aren’t the fishermen here?”

He was also sceptical of the Port Authority’s ability to ‘get things done’ as he said that there wasn’t even anywhere for local fisherman to lift their boats in order to complete paint work, along with the lack of crane facilities available for them to use. He asked who would really benefit from the plans? He implied that only the port authority, rather than the local fishermen, would reap the rewards. He believes that of the £60 million the local fishermen would be lucky to receive two million pounds, the rest, he thinks, being spent on the port.

He pointed out that: “There are not enough fishing boats here, roughly twenty to thirty little boats. There are only two big trawlers here and one big shellfish boat. This is the port in Britain with the least amount of fishing boats. Do they want fishing or not? If they do they will have to change their attitude. There is only one fish shop in Milford, which is closed on Saturdays, and this is the biggest fishing port in wales!”

He explained that the problem was largely to do with who is actually fishing from Milford Haven.

“To bring fish here, in Pembrokeshire, process it here and then take it away from here is very expensive. What is happening is that Belgium vessels, for example, are offloading produce here at port and then it goes straight onto a foreign lorry and it’s off. They don’t use local crews and even their crew changes involve men being taxied from Belgium! They aren’t even using local transport services. The food they use for their vessels is 95% brought over in the back of a lorry from Belgium. Even the fishing gear comes from Belgium. The only thing they buy here is the fuel, and that comes from the Port Authority, so how is this helping local fishermen and traders?”

The Fisherman with whom The Herald spoke also complained that he has tried approaching the Port Authority for new property and was struggling, despite several meetings with the Port Authority Committee.

What seems to be clear is that, if the Port Authority’s plans are to succeed, it will be essential for them to work with local fishermen and traders if their redevelopment is truly to benefit the local community, creating jobs in the fishing industry. From speaking with a local and busy fisherman, it seems this is not the prevailing position and more co-operation would appear to be needed if the ambitious £60million ‘master plan’ is to reach its full potential, and succeed in making Milford Haven one of the UK’s best and more productive fishing ports. Local fishermen, businesses and retailers will be waiting to see how this develops.

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Over 25 million views for takeaway’s viral video

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A TAKEAWAY in Tregaron has struck viral gold – again.

Their latest video, featuring a ‘monster kebab’ has had at least 25 million views.

The company’s Facebook page now has over 50,000 likes.

The video was shared on popular video channel LADbible and has over 11.5 million views.

Another page, UniLad, shared the video and has over 9 million views.

The UniLad page said: “With the help of 6 friends, you have 8 minutes to demolish this MONSTER kebab! Who’s on your team?”

In September last year, a ‘hangover cure’ video went viral for the business, racking up millions of views.

At the time, Lisa McEwen, a staff member at the popular takeaway, told The Herald: “One of our customers tagged us in something similar online and our Manager Pasha Pasaoglu – being the business entrepreneur that he is – decided we can make this better! And that’s where the Giant Mix-meat Challenge was born​.

“With Tregaron having such a small population we could never have expected to get this much publicity but it’s gone viral and we are so proud and grateful to all of our customers, regular and new​.”

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Three arrested as man is hospitalised with ‘life threatening injuries’

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THREE men have been arrested after a man was hospitalised in the early hours of this morning (Jan 14) with what police are calling ‘life threatening injuries’.

The incident took place in High Street, Aberystwyth, at approximately 2:20am.

Three men, ages 20, 23 and 25 have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent.

They are in police custody.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to contact them as a matter of urgency.

A police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating a serious assault at High Street, Aberystwyth, which happened at around 2.20am today (Sunday, 14 Jan). As a result of the attack a man is in hospital with life threatening injuries.

“Three men, aged 25, 23 and 20, have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent and remain in police custody at this time.

“Police are appealing for witnesses who were at, or near, High Street between 12.45am and 2.30am. Anyone with information, or footage of the attack, is urged to report it to Aberystwyth police by calling 101, quoting incident 402. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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Morgan, 7, loses long battle with cancer

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THE FAMILY of a brave seven-year-old boy have said he has sadly lost his fight with cancer.

Morgan Hayes, from Whitland, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in February 2015 when he was just 4-years-old.

After being given the all-clear following numerous treatments, unfortunately the cancer returned.

He was then the focus of a campaign, Morgan’s Fight, to raise funds for him to get treatment in the United States of America.

However, despite the funds raised, Morgan was too unwell for the treatment in New York.

He instead underwent radiotherapy at home.

A statement posted on the Morgan’s Appeal Facebook page read: “It is with a very heavy heart I write this on behalf of Ben, Sophie and their families.

“Morgan passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning, in the arms of his Mum, Dad and family.

“We thank you all for your on going support and kind words.

“Please respect the family’s need to grieve together during this very difficult time.”

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