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Don’t make a business decision while hungry

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Fill up: All business decisions should be made on a full stomach

Fill up: All business decisions should be made on a full stomach

PEOPLE who make decisions on an empty stomach are nearly twice as likely to make the wrong one compared to people who have eaten, claims research published last week. In clinical trials, 62% of adults got more decisions wrong when they were hungry than when they were not. Less than a third (27%) of participants who had gone for at least four hours without food managed to find the correct solution to a problem. But after eating a well-balanced meal, nearly half (48%) were able to make the right decision, according to researchers.

The study, commissioned by malt loaf makers Soreen, backs up claims that low levels of blood sugar can cause the most rational people to lose their ability to think clearly, and make impulsive and sometimes risky decisions. The research also found that hunger pangs can significantly increase feelings of irritation and anger, which can also adversely affect concentration. The phenomenon has recently been dubbed ‘hangry’ – or hungry and angry at the same time. In the Soreen study hungry participants were found to have a much lower tolerance to everyday irritations, such as the sound of a mobile phone ringing, baby crying or someone repeatedly sniffing.

However, a well-balanced snack was enough to decrease participants’ irritation levels by as much as 40%, the research found. Food psychologist, Dr Christy Fergusson, who conducted the trials, explained:”We all know it takes brain power to make important decisions, so it makes sense that to think clearly we need to keep our brain fuelled. Glucose is virtually the only fuel source for your brain (except during prolonged starvation). But what many people don’t realise is their brain can’t store glucose. This means that regardless of how much you eat, four hours later your brain will need a fresh supply of fuel to keep it running smoothly.

As this research proves, if we haven’t eaten for four hours our poor brains can really struggle to make decisions. But that’s not all. This drop in our blood glucose levels not only affects our ability to think straight, it also sky-rockets our irritation levels.” For the study, male and female participants aged 17 to 70 were given five minutes to complete ten brainteasers, first while feeling hungry and then after eating a filling snack. An everyday noise was also played loudly during the exercise, and participants’ irritation levels and heart rates were recorded.

Women were found to get more irritated by the sound of a mobile phone ringing, while men were more bothered by repeated sniffing and a crying baby. Results showed that participants who had gone for at least four hours without eating were much less competent at answering the brain teasers. But when they were no longer hungry, their performance improved by 20 per cent on average, the study found. Only 129 out of 480 questions were answered correctly while participants were hungry – compared to 231 questions whilst not hungry.

Women were found to respond best on a fuller stomach, with a 30 per cent improvement in their ability to make decisions after satisfying their hunger with a well-balanced snack. The heart rates of participants were also slightly higher when they were hungry, which can be linked to stress and anxiety. Managing Director of Soreen, Paul Tripp, who funded the research said:“To avoid a hungry rage you should enjoy a snack of substance that will replenish your glucose stores and keep your brain fuelled. Something like a slice of malt loaf, which has as little as 95 calories and is low in saturated fat, is a great alternative to reaching for a bag of crisps or chocolate The health properties of products containing malt are often overlooked.

Malt is a great, healthy source of natural energy. It’s also high in vitamins, minerals and trace elements too. That’s why Soreen Malt Loaf is a great snack for all today’s hungry, health conscious consumers. By combining this with some good quality protein you can slow the release of the carbohydrate and feel fuller for longer.” This latest study follows research earlier this year which found that low blood sugar levels caused by missing meals may be linked to marital arguments. The research, published in the National Academy of Sciences journal, showed that skipping meals coincided with higher levels of anger. Academics advised couples on the verge of a row to pause and eat a sugary snack.

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Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said in Swansea Crown Court.

In total, 11 former pupils, who were all under 13, have come forward and accused James Oulton, 34, of sexually assaulting them.

Oulton denies all the charges – saying the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he had behaved appropriately all times.

One of the pupils, who was in year four at the time, opened day four of the trial by giving evidence via a video link.

The girl told the court: “He would put his arm around by back and backside.”

Under cross examination Chris Clee QC, for the defence, asked the witness: “Did you tell the police that you were touched in an inappropriate way?”

The witness answered: “Yes, teachers should not be touching in that way.”

James Oulton

Asked if what he was doing wrong, the witness replied:

“Yes, very wrong”

In cross examination letters and cards were produced, made the witness whilst in school, where she had said Mr. James Oulton was “the best teacher in the whole world.”

One of the cards said: “You’ve made my life complete”.

Another card said: “Thank you for being so nice, and thanks for everything that you’ve done for me.”

The witness added: “Despite what he did do, he was a good teacher.  

“He used to buy us treats.

“He was nice caring and a sweet and fun teacher – but not what he was doing.

Referring to the cards, she said: “I would definitely not be saying that stuff now.”

Explaining how she told her parents the witness said: “Once I realised that [x] was in his class, I asked her ‘did he do this stuff to you?’

“She said yes.

“I realised more and more it was wrong and it was time to grow up now, and to speak.

“As soon as I found out that this was happening to [x] I stood up and told my parents.

Asked if she had seen inappropriate behaviour happening to anybody else the witness answered: “He did it to most of the girls in the class, but he had his favourites.

Asked if she had spoken to other girls about the touching, the witness said: “Yes, I was just curious was it just me, or was it normal?”

“Teachers should most definitely not be doing that to students.

“Doing what?”, the witness was asked, “You said in your police interview that he would pull you off your chair and make you sit on his lap, is that true?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

“Did you try and stop him?” she was asked.

“Yes, I tried to push him off sometimes and said, ‘get off its weird’, but I didn’t want to make a scene.

“He would make me sit on his lap whilst he was marking my work.”

When asked by the defence barrister how she was sat on her teacher’s lap, and if it was under a desk, the witness answered: “No, not under the desk, as both of our legs wouldn’t fit under.”

The witness also said that when she was sat on the defendant’s knee he would make “a low grunting noise.”

Asked if she had spoken others about this case, the girl said: “Police told my mum and dad that there were very many people involved in the case.

“I thought it was just me and [x] that was going to be at court, I only recently discovered that others had come out.”

A second female pupil was also giving evidence via video link. She was 9-years-old at the time of the alleged offending.

Firstly, a pre-recorded interview was played in court in which the witness said: “My teacher, Mr. Oulton always put his hand up my leg like that and up my t-shirt.”

She added: “If he calls you over and he pulls you onto his lap, if you don’t, he pulls your chair over and makes you.”

“How would he make you?” the QC asked.

“He would grab your arm, push you, and then pull you in”, she replied.

When asked if this was a one off, the witness said that the defendant “did it every day.”

“How would you be sat on his lap?”, she was asked.

“He would have one arm on my stomach, then the other arm would be rubbing my leg.”

“He would swap arms and then put one arm up my t-shirt.”

When asked to clarify if it was under her t-shirt the girl explained: “Yes it was under my t-shirt rubbing his hands up and down.”

The witness added: “If I tried to get up for work, he would just grab my arm.”

“He would make a funny sound like a hissing airplane.”

“We had a helper in the class, and when he came in, he would stop, and then I could go and sit down.”

The trial continues.

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New trees planted to help town

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SEVERAL new trees have been planted on Riverside Avenue in Neyland.

They were planted by Grandiflora, courtesy of the Town Council which recently pledged to plant more trees in the town in an attempt to help the environment.

As well as helping the environment, the trees will prevent vehicles from being parked on the grass verges on Riverside Avenue, which had been severely churned up over the winter and looked unsightly.

The Town Council will be working with Pembrokeshire County Council regarding parking issues in Neyland.

The trees will be tended and watered over the summer period to ensure they reach their maximum potential and enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

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Golden goodbye report likely to be critical

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A REPORT by Audit Wales into the departure of former CEO Ian Westley is very likely to contain criticism of senior council officers.

In November 2020, Mr Westley left Pembrokeshire County Council with a £95,000 pay-out, something which has been criticised by a number of councillors.

In a document before the Audit and Governance Committee on Tuesday (April 13), it says that termination payments to Chief Officers are routinely examined by Audit Wales but in the case of Mr Westley, the audit team was unable to locate a recorded decision to enter into the settlement agreement which led to a termination payment being made to the Chief Executive.

An Audit Office spokesperson said: “This appeared unusual and therefore the audit team decided to undertake an early examination of the process that resulted in the payment being made.”

No complaints were raised, by councillors or any other body, with Audit Wales but the number of concerns and questions being raised at following council meetings prompted them to commence an audit.

Audit Wales state: “Our audit fieldwork is substantially complete. However due to the complex nature of some of the issues involved we considered it necessary to take some external legal
advice. We are currently considering that advice. 

“In the near future we will draft a document setting out our provisional findings and conclusions. 

“Once this document is ready we will commence a clearance process to confirm factual accuracy. 

“If the document contains criticism of identifiable individuals, in the first instance we will provide those individuals with any extracts of the document that pertain to them. Once
we have confirmed the factual accuracy with individuals, we will send the full draft document to the Council’s Chief Executive to identify any remaining factual inaccuracies. 

“We will only issue the finalised document once the clearance process has been completed. #

“We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process.”

Only a handful of senior officers were involved in the procedure surrounding Ian Westley’s departure.

The inference which can be safely drawn from Audit Wales’ report to the Audit Committee is that some of its content will be critical either of councillors, senior officers, or both.

The process of asking those named to respond is known as Maxwellisation, a legal practice that allows persons who are to be criticised in an official report to respond prior to publication.

The report highlights the exceptional nature of the case at Pembrokeshire County Council and demonstrates the sensitivity of the issues raised.

If senior officers are sharply criticised or found to have failed in their duty to their employer, they will almost certainly have to go.

The council’s interim Chief Executive will read the document after maxwellisation.

It is also likely that the council’s newly appointed Chief Executive, Will Bramble, will have a chance to see it.

The Audit Wales spokesperson added: “We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process. We are unable to respond to queries about our emerging findings whilst the audit is progressing, and until we have finalised our conclusions.”

In January, Cllr Jamie Adams had called for the council to commence an internal investigation into Mr Westley’s departure but that was deferred to allow for the Audit Wales review to be completed.

Cllr Adams said that the decision of payment should have been a ‘democratic decision’ and has asked why that wasn’t the case.

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