Local Elections May 2022

Jack at Croesgoch Polling Station – #DogsAtPollingStations

On 5th May 2022, local elections take place across Wales meaning that you will have the opportunity to vote for County Councillors and Town & Community Councillors to represent you for the next 5 years. It’s been a privilege to have been elected as County Councillor to represent the Llanrhian ward in 2017, and I hope that I’ve been a proactive, hard-working, approachable and effective Councillor in that time. There’s still much to do, and so I’m standing as an Independent candidate to be re-elected to represent the expanded area which now includes the Pencaer community, stretching up to Strumble Head and taking in St Nicholas and Llanwnda.

Map showing the expanded Llanrhian Ward for the 2022 local elections

Over the coming weeks I’ll be looking to get out and about to connect with more people and places, and I’ve also prepared my election leaflet in both English and Welsh which you can download below. I hope that you’ll be able to support me.

Expanding the Community Link Officer role

Funded through Pembrokeshire County Council’s ‘Enhancing Pembrokeshire’ Grant, and supported by Llanrhian Community Council, the Llanrhian Connected Community project has been awarded £14,520 of funding to build on the progress made in 2021.

The project started in Jan 2021, with some modifications to the school hall at Ysgol Croesgoch to enable it to be used more frequently as a community venue, and also had an allocation of 240 hours for the year to employ a Community Link Officer. Following a recruitment process the role was awarded to Nia Jenkins in January 2021, and she has put in place the building blocks and been a key part of the team, which has also included a handful of volunteers who have been active in the community, organised events, and helped set the direction of travel for 2022.

It’s therefore good news that I’ve been successful in securing further funding for 2022 from the Enhancing Pembrokeshire grant, supported by Llanrhian Community Council, which means that the community link officer hours can be increased from the 240 hours allocated in 2021 to 540 hours in 2022. As Nia has indicated that she’d like to continue, I will be proposing to Llanrhian Community Council that we retain her services. However, I’d like to see if we can find someone in the community who might have the time and expertise to work alongside Nia as a second Community Link Officer, so if that’s you then read on.

Funded for one from January 2022 year, the Community Link Officer role is essential to the cohesion of the project with responsibility for a number of activities. The role is remunerated and will report to  Llanrhian Community Council.

The Community Link Officer(s) will:

  • Be responsible for the development and coordination of programs and events;
  • Develop and implement marketing plans to create awareness of and engagement with the project within the community;
  • Ensure the successful sharing of information and coordination of events;
  • Take bookings for the community hub at Ysgol Croesgoch;
  • Develop and maintain close relationships with community groups, key members of the community and local government agencies;
  • Remain aware of potential volunteer and financial opportunities that may help maintain the project in the future;
  • Report progress to Llanrhian Community Council,
  • Have the opportunity to shape the role to ensure that the project meets its objectives.

The Community Link Officer(s) role will be ideally suited to someone who:

  • Lives in the Llanrhian Community Council area;
  • Is an active and engaged member of the community;
  • Is a Welsh speaker;
  • Has experience of and can evidence community engagement;
  • Has marketing experience, including online marketing;
  • Is able to work with community groups and local government agencies;
  • Can work flexible hours when required (including evenings and weekends);
  • Is digitally competent and comfortable using video-conferencing technology;
  • Is reliable, diligent and passionate about the area we live in.

The funding allocation is for a total of 540 hours, and will be allocated between the link officers depending on expertise and available time to commit to the project. At a rate of £18 per hour, it will be paid by Llanrhian Community Council as gross, not PAYE, so the individuals appointed will need to take responsibility for their own tax and National Insurance contributions.

If you’d like a refresher on what the project is all about, you can visit the connected community website here or read a brief explainer here.

If you’d like to consider yourself for the role, please get in touch for an informal conversation or send an email to neilprior@outlook.com explaining why you’d be suitable for the role by Jan 5th 2022.

The Connected Community – an explainer

Our Connected Community project will be hosting the first ‘This is Your Community’ Day at Ysgol Gymunedol Croesgoch on 30th Oct 2021. If you’re not sure what it is, here’s an explainer of what the project is all about.

This is Your Community

What is it?

The Connected Community project is a ‘pathfinder’ project that is working to create a stronger and more resilient local community across the Llanrhian ward. It’s funded by the Enhancing Pembrokeshire grant and Llanrhian Community Council.

What is it doing?

A small team of local residents, including myself and Nia Jenkins, Community Link Officer, are working to help support and promote existing local community groups, understand the current and future needs of the community, and create a long-term vision for the betterment of our area.

The project has also enabled the school hall at Ysgol Croesgoch to be modified for wider community use, set up a website here, and is building a directory of voluntary, sporting and community groups, as well as a directory of local businesses to connect people and enterprise across our area.

We’ve also been working with Nesta who have chosen us as one of three pilots across Wales to generate insights, impact and learning which can help policy makers understand how national strategy can support communities to thrive. (We’re very excited about this!)

What does it mean for people in our area?

We’d like to be able to help ‘connect’ people to their community. That might be through small acts of everyday kindness, by introducing them to a community group that enables them to feel that they can make a contribution, by helping to combat loneliness and isolation, by networking between individuals and groups to generate ideas and projects, to promote our local businesses, and by running events that help raise aspirations and achievements. What we plan for the future will be based upon understanding the needs of people in our area, and may include tackling big topics such as housing, climate and tourism.

How will we know if we’re successful?

Working with communities can be complex, and to achieve big changes can take time. But, by taking it step by step, by building relationships across our area, and from the small acts of everyday kindness through to creating a long-term plan, we can strengthen people’s sense of belonging, and create a more resilient and connected community for all of us.

Who can get involved?

Anyone from across our area can get involved, whether you’re a full time resident or second-home owner. You might have a specific idea or skill, you might be able to volunteer, and even if you only have a little time to offer, we’d love to hear from you. This is about trying to strengthen what we already have and create change for the better, one step at a time, so get in touch with me or niajenkins@hotmail.com if you’d like to be a part of it.

Porthgain Survey 2021

A number of residents have contacted me sporadically to highlight concerns around Porthgain’s infrastructure and the impact of tourism. In an attempt to address any issues fairly, and based on resident feedback, I ran a survey during April/May 2021, to enable me to collate the common themes for further consideration and action. This was run on Microsoft Forms and advertised on my Councillor Facebook page and through my community newsletter. You can read the results below.

Beautiful Porthgain

Introductory text for survey

What’s it all about?

I’m seeking people’s views on what we can do to improve Porthgain for residents, businesses and visitors.

How am I doing it?

Via a short online survey, but people can also contact me directly if they prefer. They can contact me at cllr.neil.prior@pembrokeshire.gov.uk or on 07834 093181.

What will I do with the results?

Identify the common themes and suggestions, and present these back in a report to those who have taken part, Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority to see what, if any action can be taken. All survey responses and contributions will be kept anonymous.

Survey results

The survey ran from late April to Early May 2021 and there were a total of 52 responses, completed by:

  • 25 Porthgain residents (of which 5 were also business owners/employees)
  • 21 resident within local area (of which 1 was a business owner/employee)
  • 5 second home owners
  • 1 visitor / tourist
  • 39 respondents wished to be kept informed of progress.

The survey questions were designed to discover:

  • What do you love about Porthgain?
  • What would make Porthgain better? Up to 3 answers
  • Do you have any practical suggestions that can be considered?

How I have analysed the responses

This was not a yes/no or ‘on a scale of 1-10’ type survey, but rather prompted by simple questions that allowed respondents to reply with free text. In analysing the responses, I have tried to group them into themes and where possible, show the number of times something was referenced.

As there was a natural progression from the question ‘what would make Porthgain better’ to ‘do you have any practical suggestions’, I’ve grouped these two together under the heading of ‘What would make Porthgain better’.

This survey is not an exact science, but I’ve been thorough and extracted what I can to prompt a productive further conversation with the local community and the relevant Authorities. Any mistakes or omissions are my own.

What do you love about Porthgain?

As a starting question, it revealed what we already know, but also produced some great insights that have been captured in some of the comments below:

“Having been brought up in Porthgain, the village is a special place for me on a personal and sentimental level. Although in recent times, many homes have been bought as second homes and holiday lets, the village has retained its local community spirit.”

“I enjoy the walks, the harbour and feel very fortunate to live in such a special place”

 “Porthgain is home and always will be”

“Everything, except the parking!”

“Its community which includes many regular holiday home owners”

“As the owner of a commercial fishing boat fishing from Porthgain I love the ease of access to the water for my boat and proximity to the fishing grounds.”

“It’s unique! Not quaint or manicured, as it still retains much of its old character. Out of season, it is an idyllic place in every respect. The harbour and the views, the people, the pub and the Shed – but the summer crowds plus cars and camper vans, although inevitable, are obviously a big negative.”

“The fact that it’s still a community… just.”

“Access to coast, vibrant with lots of visitors, good atmosphere, history, wildlife.”

What this question revealed is that this is about a close-knit village community that supports and loves its local businesses, that swings from a quiet and tranquil place over the winter to a buzzing hotspot over the summer, with the constant being the local people and characters, and a spectacular coastline set against an industrial past. As one respondent said “It’s a magical place”.

What would make Porthgain better?

This is the most telling part of the survey, and there were a number of wide ranging issues identified affecting Porthgain, which can be categorised into three themes:

Theme 1: Parking & traffic management

This was by far the most common theme, with 41 respondents listing it as an issue. Broken down further, more specific concerns / suggestions were as follows (with the number of references)

  • Parking outside the village / overflow car park (17)
  • Paying for parking (8)
  • Park and ride / improved public transport (6)
  • Less parking provision / limit parking availability when busy (3)
  • Enforcement (2)
  • Resident only parking permits / designated spaces (12)
  • Disabled parking (6)
  • Designated parking / signage for access to slipway (6)
  • One way system through the village (7)
  • Lower the speed limit / speed bumps (7)
  • Improved signage (12) – note: there’s a cross over here with better signage in general, not just parking, and especially for the slipway
  • Safety, specifically for emergency services access and parking on the quay
  • Overnight camping / campervans – 2 respondents in favour of overnight camping / campervans, 8 against
  • Double yellow lines – 8 for, 1 against.

Possible ideas to explore and other comments included:

  • potential locations for out of village parking;
  • a suggestion that if parking was charged for that the funds could go back into the community;
  • an idea for traffic management so that if the village was full, visitors could be informed at Llanrhian crossroads;
  • a car free lower village;
  • a few negative comments about the impact of charging at Abereiddi and the management of the car park there;
  • A very helpful suggestion to include the RNLI in discussions, especially around best practice for noticeboards for the slipway and safe enjoyment of the sea.

Theme 2: Porthgain as a place to live & sustainable tourism

The theme of Porthgain as a permanent place to live and as a place to visit seemed to fit together, and came up 17 times under ‘respect for residents’, ‘sustainable tourism’ and a desire for Porthgain to ‘not become a retirement village or a place dominated by second homes’, but a place with ‘more permanent residents’ and one that considers housing needs.

Some of the comments that illustrate this theme are:

“Respect and consideration towards residents”

“The village does seem unable to cope at times with the number of visitors; there is the need to balance accessibility for all, whether local or visiting, with the wider principle of not ruining it completely.”

“There needs to be policies by the authorities which address the needs of the local community as opposed to promoting Porthgain to visitors and holidaymakers.”

“More consideration from visitors that they are visiting our home, particularly around parking in unsuitable places & litter.”

The overall sentiment here was of a community that accepts and welcomes visitors and second home owners (mostly) but that it is at a point where there is a fear that the balance will tip. There is undoubtedly some community tension. As one resident said:

“We live in hope that the village will have permanent residents living there in the future, and won’t develop into a village full of holiday homes.”

One resident has summed up many of the issues neatly in the statement below:

“The volume of tourists has been steadily increasing over the years gradually ratcheting up the pressure on the village and those who live there or run their businesses there. Last year the pandemic resulted in a step-change in the number of tourists and vehicles, exacerbating the problems that were already brewing. I understand that the National Park want to maintain the unspoilt, undeveloped nature of the village, but I believe there are issues that need to addressed as a matter of urgency.

There were also a few comments made encouraging Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Pembrokeshire County Council to work more closely together to support Porthgain’s residents and businesses.

Theme 3: Porthgain’s assets and services:

Under this broad theme, the following were raised:

  • Bins – more of them, including recycling bins (11)
  • Better seating and use of seating areas (5)
  • Better facilities for children (including a play park) (2)
  • Better use of the tunnels / sorting the lighting for more dark skies (3)
  • Better use of Ty Mawr (3)
  • Better signage to explain Porthgain’s history / visitor info (4)
  • Cut the grass more often (6)
  • Sorting out the sewerage (4)
  • Sorting out dog fouling! (2)
  • Improved mobile phone coverage (1)
  • More community involvement in the upkeep of Porthgain (1)

In addition, there is much love for the Shed, Sloop and Harbour Lights gallery from Porthgain and other local residents. These are seen as real assets to the village.

Whilst nearly all respondents had suggestions for improving the village, there were a couple of respondents who said: “Don’t change anything!”

Conclusions

This is intended to be the start of a conversation that will see some positive change for Porthgain, and I’m grateful to all who took the time to complete the survey. What this gives us is well informed community opinion that can help shape future engagement between the relevant authorities and Porthgain residents.

I will now share this with senior officers at Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, and Visit Pembrokeshire as a starting point, and ask for an initial response.

I would also like to explore setting up some kind of ‘resident’s forum’ where a few people can join me in progressing ideas where possible. I appreciate that this has been considered in the past, but I do think there is some merit in revisiting this to see if we can establish a cross-section of representation for the village. If you’re interested in this please let me know. I’d like to see this (small) group working alongside me and the authorities to create an action plan. (Update 27th June – this working group has been established)

I will continue to communicate progress, and welcome any further views or opinions.

A copy of the report is available for download below: