The New Year started with the Spectacular New Year’s Day Swim that has become synonymous with the village over the last 38 years.  This was the busiest swim to date with over 2500 swimmers registering for the first time.  This ensures financial compliance and good business sense for the event to continue. Unfortunately, the weather after the Swim, deteriorated, but this didn’t dampen the atmosphere around the pubs/restaurants and cafés. The committee now has to collect all the money raised by the swimmers through sponsorship. It is hoped that there will be many charities benefiting from the Swim and I would like to thank all the volunteers, marshals and sponsors who make this event happen.  The committee has called a post mortem with all the volunteers, safety team and marshals on Thursday February 1stt to analyse all aspects of the 2024 Swim. I would like to remind all swimmers to hand their sponsor forms in as soon as possible to Salt on the Strand, for those who have sent money directly to charities, please let us know. Thanks

During the start of January there was another rock fall between the small tunnel and the long tunnel.  This recent rock fall partly blocked the tunnel entrance.  This fall is of great concern, not only to the local residents but also to those in the surrounding areas who enjoy the coastal walk on the flat between Saundersfoot and Wisemans Bridge. I did receive a concerned email from PCC on the 8th of January that holes had been cut into the fencing to gain access to this footpath.  PCC wrote that this a deliberate attempt to cut through the security panels and is putting not only their safety but the safety of other members of the public at risk as further material is likely to fall. On the 11th of January I received an email from Hean Castle Estate regarding the most recent rock fall. The locations of the current rock falls are very dangerous. It is not as simple as clearing up the fallen material and reopening the path. There is a lot of instability in the material/slopes above the path. This is why the path is closed as it is incredibly dangerous for anyone to walk below this area.  With so many concerns I arranged a meeting with all the relevant parties to evaluate the recent fall and look at ways of fully securing the site so that access couldn’t be gained until it is deemed safe.  I spoke at length with National Park Authority as they manage the upper path over the top of the cliff and I was concerned whether this had been adversely affected. This path was inspected the same day and PCNPA are happy with its condition, at present. Alec and I attended a meeting with the Highways Infrastructure Manager, Maintenance Manager and a Mr. Morgan, who was involved with organising a technical report from the first fall and would also be dealing with the latest fall. Mr. Morgan has also met consultants recently to extend the work to include the new rock fall. The much larger rock fall over the Coppet Hall side entrance of the long tunnel is a much more significant rock fall and there seems potential for more to come down. It is also significant in that it is above the tunnel entrance location and is a major concern. The project tasks include getting the further technical appraisal work for the new fall.  Regarding the first rock fall the conclusions have stated, that rock fall protection measures are required for this slope to reduce the risks to pedestrians using the costal path. Due to the presence of large, unstable blocks with a high failure potential, the footpath should remain closed to pedestrians until remedial works are completed. Design of the remedial work has also been commissioned. The cost of the work is substantial and capital funding will have to be found for the works and this is being pursued currently. This includes looking at potential external sources of funding. At the moment, no external funding has been identified, albeit it is obviously being carefully examined. Subject to this, we can then proceed with the construction work and get the path reopened.  It was also noted that during the site inspection numerous members of the public were ignoring the ‘Closed path’ signs and moving the fencing to enter the area.  The meeting went very well and all were optimistic that the path will reopen when it’s safe to do so. I’m sure you’re all aware that the community, businesses and visitors all want this open as soon as possible. Alec and I will continue to keep you updated and we want to reassure you that we want this open when it’s totally safe to do so. Pembrokeshire County Council has made an order along the public shared use footpath SP42/P1/3 Coppet Hall to Wisemans Bridge to temporarily prohibit traffic. It is intended that the restrictions will be signed off accordingly and will came into effect on 18th January and will remain in force for approximately 6 months.

Saundersfoot Community Council arranged a meeting at the Regency Hall with staff from Pembrokeshire County Council in January to discuss the sustainable Coastal Communities. This meeting was attended by Senior Pembrokeshire County Council Officers – the Highways engineer as well as the Coastal and Rivers engineer. A significant amount of work has been undertaken looking at the Pembrokeshire Coast, not least through the department of the Shoreline Management plans. Maintaining Coastal defences and sustaining communities remains a priority but in some areas this will become an increasing challenge. In key areas, important decisions will need to be made over a relativity short period that could be up to 20 years. Whereas, in some areas, such as Saundersfoot, these issues will emerge over a far longer period of time. It was stated that the way Pembrokeshire deals with these issues goes well beyond the more traditional approach to flood and coastal erosion risk management. Indeed, how we manage and adapt to increasing risk will ultimately impact on the confidence in an area, influencing local and individual decisions, made with respect to future investment and may, in a broader sense, impact on the character, values and use of an area. This is where it becomes increasingly important to involve communities in looking beyond the here and now. Nationally there is a much greater awareness for this need for community engagement and Pembrokeshire are keen to demonstrate leadership in this. As an initial step in the process, there is the need to clearly explain the challenges (raising awareness) but, critically Pembrokeshire want to move beyond this to involve communities in the local decision making process, accepting that there remain uncertainties as to how this will evolve. After the meeting seminar, it was felt by everyone in the room that we should hold a public meeting for the local residents of Saundersfoot. This would be a great opportunity to engage the community with this process. There are concerns regarding timescales and we would be better off taking a broader and more comprehensive perspective that could be of real benefit to local coastal communities and individuals in Saundersfoot. This matter is now with Saundersfoot Community Council and Councillor Cormack I will be liaising with them regarding an open meeting for all concerned residents who would like an update.

During January I got myself involved with two litter picks in our community.  The first litter pick was from New Hedges roundabout to the junction at Crane Cross, it was incredible the amount of rubbish the 5 volunteers collected in this relatively short distance.  What was concerning was the number of blue surgical gloves dotted all over this space.  This litter pick produced 12 full bags of rubbish ranging from commercial waste to food packaging and drinks products. The second litter pick was focused from the top of the Ridgeway towards the junction at Pentlepoir and back down through Fan Road. This was another successful litter pick with 2 very full bags of rubbish. During January there are many other residents who continue to go out weekly and pick up discarded rubbish. A couple on Westfield Road cleaned up from the rear end of the doctor’s surgery, walked up the Incline and back along Westfield Road. This produced 2 bags of rubbish –  a mixture of clothes, vapes, food packaging, discarded dog poo bags and many plastic bottles.  On Sunday, February 11th, there will be a community litter pick and beach clean. The village litter pick will be meeting at the main slipway at 8am and heading out in different directions throughout the village.  There will also be a beach clean starting at 11am for those who enjoy a lie in on Sundays. Regarding the beach clean, please meet at Saundersfoot Sailing club at 11am where they will head to the back beach and clean up to Monkstone point. I have invited the Enviro team that work for Pembrokeshire County Council to join us and they’re keen to work with our community regarding waste. Saundersfoot in 2024 will be entering Wales in Bloom and also representing Wales in Britain in Bloom. The details we collate up until then, such as litter picks and recycling, will help in the community engagement aspect of the award.  

During January many jobs came to my attention around the village.  There were concerns with moss on the pavements at Bevelin Hall hill. During the first week in January the team from Pembrokeshire County Council came out and pressure washed the paths and cleaned away all the muck and dirt. This was a vast improvement, meaning the pedestrians were able to walk safely to and from the village.  At the back end of last summer I highlighted my concerns due to the lack of Disability access points in Pennant Avenue estate for safely entering and exiting the pavements.  This month, a team from PCC has been in installing 4 access points in the estate.  This has been greatly welcomed by the residents especially those using mobility scooters as well as the younger families with young children in prams and buggies. I have now asked that extra access curbs are put in at the other end of the estate. I’m going through the process with PCC and extremely confident that this will also be completed in the near future. Still in Pennant Avenue, there have been concerns regarding the surface of the road in certain parts of the estate and it is hoped that some of the pot holes will be seen to.  I have reported this matter and will update the residents soon. I have also enquired about a salt bin to be positioned in Pennant Avenue, in the area around the steps heading down onto the bottom flats in the estate. I also spoke with the contractor who was working privately on the cliff face on the Strand for two property owners above the cliff on Frances Road. There has been a bit of debris coming down onto the pavement over the previous years and I give credit to owners that they are trying to stabilise and ensure safety works for this area. The contractor has been recently working at Saundersfoot harbour and he was very keen to point out that there are only a few minor issues that he will deal with on the cliff over the next few weeks and was happy to report to PCC and PCNPA. 

On Church Terrace there has been two plastic safety barriers half way up on the left for almost a year. I received a call from a concerned resident stating that he felt this continues to be a hazard, especially when taking the children to school. I have sent a request to the relevant departments that this is looked at, with a view to clear the fallen debris off the road and look at who’s responsible for the hedge. I have had two incidents reported to me of fly tipping in the village. The first incident is of a white van pulling outside a local bin and placing a black bag from the rear of his vehicle by the side of his bin. Unfortunately by 8am the bag was ripped open and all the rubbish was scattered down Cambrian Terrace and the Strand.  This is unacceptable behaviour as it meant extra time and effort from PCC staff to deal with this clean up. I have passed on the photo that I received to the PCC team to investigate and hopefully prosecute. The second incident was at a private apartment that has 3 large bins for three letting properties. Unfortunately 2 of the bins have lockable lids and the third bin didn’t. This was pushed up and a full black bin was placed on top without the lid closing. Unfortunately the rubbish then spilt over neighbouring properties and local businesses. I reported this to the enforcement team immediately who dealt with both the owners and the trade waste people.  This was cleaned up early in the morning and a new bin has been ordered with a lockable lid.

Councillor Cormack and I will be hoping to give you an update on Saundersfoot Surgery when we meet up with the practice manager and Doctor Allen in February. Also want to remind residents that want to sign the online petition “ Fair and Adequate Resourcing of General Practice in Wales”. There is still time to register and thanks to those 21,282 who have already signed up.

Update on the Fan Road. Currently there are completion works underway along the section between the Saundersfoot Railway Station and Valley Road junction, works focusing to create the connectivity between the footway towards Pentlepoir and link to the Rail Station access lane. Once complete, works are programmed to the northern end connectivity and eventually the Fan Road / B431 junction improvements.

Works to Valley road/ Incline Way junction are substantially completed including improvement to the junction of Fan Road/The Ridgeway, with construction works including the carriageway surface being renewed. The priority arrangement on the first section of Fan Road are programmed to be installed during February, with final surfacing to the SUP undertaken in this area as far as the Bonville’s Court access.

Further works are programmed to the central section for Fan Road. These works including the restoring of the located historic culvert, and commencement of the central section of SUP facility between Bonville’s Court and the completed section of SUP within the Fan Road Verge. Pembrokeshire County Council’s Design and Construction team have applied for a temporary road closure on the Fan Road, Saundersfoot from its junction with the B4316 Pentepoir to Saundersfoot Road, south to its junction with Valley Road. Date will be Monday 19th February 2024 for 8 weeks. The closures, however, will only be implemented for short intervals during this period, as and when required. Temporary traffic lights will be used where possible to minimise disruption. This is to implement the construction of shared use path and associated junction works. Please find an alternative route B4316 Pentlepoir to Saundersfoot road, Frances Lane, Wogan Terrace, Cambrian Terrace, Milford Street and the Ridgeway.

During January I was contacted on two different occasions to discuss two separate planning applications.  The first application was NP/21/0752FUL. This is a new proposed development on Sandyhill Road called Mountain Ash.  This came up last year and at that time I declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this application. This came to the DM planning committee on the 31st of January.  I sit on the committee, representing the National Park Authority, and I declared my interest at the start of the planning meeting and left the room while they debated the case NP/21/0752FUL. The other meeting was with two managers of Persimmon homes, external affairs manager Wales and South West and the planning manager. This was a very good meeting to discuss some of the concerns made previously by the residents of Saundersfoot to me in 2023.  It was very pleasing to see that some of the main points I had raised on behalf of residents had been catered for. Outline Planning was given under the LDP initiative back in 2017, subject to detailed plans that will be coming before the planning authority in early 2024. I have also declared an interest in this development and won’t be debating this application when it comes to committee.  The outstanding issue is that there is still work to finalise regarding the road linking up with the pavement at Sandyhill Park. I have had numerous conversations with the Highway engineers regarding this stretch of road. Saundersfoot is having lots of work done to improve the active travel link in our community and this stretch is no different in my opinion.

On Friday the 12th of January we held the first WALKTALKWALK session from the doctor’s surgery in Saundersfoot. This was an excellent turnout for the first get together with 21 people having a leisurely walk through the village. We were joined by staff at the surgery as well as members of the community who are registered with the Saundersfoot practice.  It was a great mix of ages and abilities and everyone had an opportunity to engage in conversations with people they hadn’t met before. This was a relaxed walk and finished off at the Regency Hall for a warm cup of tea or coffee. I would like to thank Councillor Rhys Jordan who accompanied us on our walk and it was refreshing to listen to his impact as a wellbeing champion of Pembrokeshire County Council. Thanks also to the Regency hall for their hospitality and their continued support to this initiative for the community.   For those who still don’t know what this WALKTALKWALK initiative is about.  This will be a weekly walking group where you will be able to talk and walk in a safe and confidential space.  This will be a gentle, approx. 1 hour walk that is accessible to all levels of ability.  We will walk as slow as the slowest walker and no one gets left behind. This group is not just promoting physical health but also nurturing mental and emotional wellbeing in the community. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please meet at Saundersfoot surgery every Friday at 12.55pm ready to leave at 1pm.

Last November I was very concerned that Saundersfoot wouldn’t be as active during Christmas 2023.  There were lots of comments and suggestions on facebook, with plenty of ideas on what can be done in a short space of time regarding the Christmas lights and fireworks. I called a meeting inviting charity groups, organisations, land owners, and community groups to attend a meeting at the St Brides Spa Hotel on 25th of January. This was very well attended with over thirty individuals in the room to discuss the year ahead.   

Saundersfoot has been the envy of most towns and villages for many years especially at Christmas time.  Unfortunately, this winter, the village was quieter than normal and this could be as a result of the impact felt from the cancellation of the winter events and Christmas lights display. This was an opportunity for everyone in the room to voice their opinions/concerns and how we move forward as a community. The room talked about the loss of major events such as the Cawl Trail, Fireworks display, Halloween Trail, Christmas Market and much more. There was a very positive reaction from everyone and different organisations were keen to pick up events that fell by the wayside last year. The newly appointed CEO of Saundersfoot Harbour, Nicola Gandy, spoke and stated that she’s only been in post a short time but is already looking at ways as to how the harbour can now better utilise its assets for the purpose of events. (NG) acknowledged that the last few years have been taken up with construction and developing the harbour site, but 2024 would now see more events and attractions taking place. (NG) and her team is looking at family based activities in the village during the school holidays. They are looking into the potential of a Christmas market in December with a marquee that could remain in place for several weeks. 

(NG) highlighted the fantastic atmosphere on New Year’s Day, but stated that the weather made it difficult for families and individuals to visit the cafés or pubs as they were so busy.  The harbour could potentially work with Saundersfoot Festivities hosting events on New Year’s Day. There is definitely a need to accommodate the young families and their children and we will work at potentially hosting a children’s theme event after the Swim and opening it up mid-afternoon for the community.  Nicola stated the harbour was open to any events suggestions and she would be happy to speak with any groups about hosting events for the community.  There is a conscious effort from everyone involved that we should be all working together to share our thoughts for the benefit of the village.  We did reflect on the Chamber for Tourism finishing and it is hoped that a new group can be formed amongst the business community and residents. It’s important that this will be inclusive for all those who want to be involved. Suzannah from the Hean was praised for her excellent work in getting a fireworks display organized in such a short space of time. I’m planning another meeting in February to futher discuss how we move this on as a community.

I thought I would take this opportunity to try and try and arrange a big Spring clean-up in Saundersfoot over the next couple of months.  This year Saundersfoot will be welcoming Wales in Bloom during the first week of July and judges for Britain in Bloom will be descending on our village at the end of July 2024.  Saundersfoot prides itself with our community spirit and there are many incredible volunteers who works tirelessly every week throughout the year in our village.  I would like to see Saundersfoot have dedicated litter pickers, individuals who can wash all the signs, touch up the bollards and railings around our village. This could be extended out, with all businesses engaging with Saundersfoot in bloom on how they can make a BIG difference this year.  This isn’t about cost/funds, it’s all about making sure all the properties are welcoming and show off our beautiful village.  We already have many volunteer groups and I’m sure that we could all come together to look at ways of making sure our community is clean and tidy for its residents and the judges.  If we have enough interest then I’m sure we can organise it. This is also an opportunity for many residents to get out and about and meet other individuals for a simple chat and meet new friends.  Saundersfoot is such a welcoming place and this could certainly help those who would like to chat and help the village along the way.

We’ve received positive news regarding the speed awareness cameras. A meeting is arranged for the 21st of February by the senior traffic technician from Pembrokeshire County Council with councilor Cormack and I.  He has looked at the existing traffic data and has proposed up to six locations to potentially site a driver feedback signs around the community of Saundersfoot. The meeting will be onsite and walk through the 6 proposed sites that are as follows. Broadfield Hill northbound, Broadfield Hill southbound, Ridgeway Eastbound, Stammers Road Northeast bound, Stammers Road Southwest bound, Sandyhill Road Northeast bound. I will endeavor to keep you updated after the meeting. I would also like to make it clear that while we have potentially 6 proposed sites, there is only funding in place for two speed awareness devices to be fitted at this time. There is still work to do and I’m sure working with Saundersfoot Community Council on this, would benefit the community.

Update on the lonely tree. As per the requirement of Mike Higgins (Tree Officer PCNPA), the beach Cypress tree that dominates our main beach, is being maintained by Saundersfoot’s Lonely Tree Preservation Society. It was recently inspected by a tree surgeon and his advice to remove two small dead branches has been accepted. The branches will soon be removed. The tree has overlooked our fabulous beach for 90 years and I fully commend the work of the Lonely Tree group. The tree has stood imperious to all the recent storms and long may it continue.

Cllr Chris Williams
Saundersfoot South