HAVERFORDWEST Town Council has issued a formal apology after its Sheriff questioned whether corruption of incompetence was behind what he saw as a lack of investment in the town.
Late last month, Haverfordwest sheriff Cllr Arthur Brooker, who represents Portfield Ward on Haverfordwest Town Council, had raised his concerns while questioning the ongoing saga of the £18m Haverfordwest Transport Interchange.
In late January, county councillors heard a doubling of the costs of the interchange – which will replace the now-demolished multi-storey car park and bus station – to nearly £18m was not fully communicated with the public.
Cllr Brooker had criticised the interchange project as “knocking it [the car park] down and rebuilding the same thing again,” adding: “Surely a transport interchange should go next to the train station?”
He also called on Pembrokeshire County Council to invest more in the town centre in a bid to revive business and enhance the main shopping area.
“We have a High Street that’s in a really sorry state,” he said.
“Surely it would be better to spend money on reducing business rates and give rate relief to local businesses so that our high street will be filled up with shops. Because without them, who’s going to park in the new car park? Who’s going to come to the town?
“Is this corruption? Is it incompetence? Will someone please explain this to me because people are asking me what’s going on and I don’t know what to say to them.”
Haverfordwest Town Council has now said it wishes to put on public record that it does not support or condone the recent remarks made by Cllr Brooker.
“The remarks are purely the personal views of Arthur Brooker and they do not represent the views of Haverfordwest Town Council.
“We as a town council are focused on building a strong relationship with Pembrokeshire County Council in order to communicate the views of our townspeople in a positive and productive manner. We support and appreciate the commitment from Pembrokeshire County Council to deliver on the regeneration plans for our town.
“We wish to apologise profusely as a council for any upset or offence [an online video of Cllr Brooker’s comments] may have caused to Pembrokeshire County Council and members of the public.”
A July 3’s meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, members heard there was good and bad news in the ongoing plans for the near-£18m scheme, with the full value of grant funding secured, but a problem with contract tenders leading to at least a six-month delay.
Cabinet members agreed to create a temporary car park at the site.
An unrepentant Cllr Brooker responded: “I just want to make it clear that I am not apologising for what I said, and I stand by every word.
“The whole point of being an elected official is that you represent the views of your local community, which is exactly what I am doing.
“It would be fantastic if other members of Haverfordwest Town Council could do the same, rather than just being on there for the ego boost and a feeling of importance, ultimately wasting taxpayers’ money.”
He added that, since his initial comments, the temporary car park had been created, saying it was “what the majority of residents that I have spoken to about the issue want,” adding: “So I must be doing something right.”