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Councillors excluded from clinic ceremony

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MHAssura Group officially opened its £4.8 million state of the art health centre in Milford Haven today, amongst murmurings from local Councillors that some dignitaries had been snubbed from the launch. Chris Martin, The Chairman and Trevor Purt, Chief Executive of the Local Health Board were there with the Health Minister, Prof. Mark Drakeford and local AM’s Joyce Watson and Paul Davies.

There were also representatives from the Community Health Council and a couple of reporters but the lack of an appearance from the Mayor or County Councillors who represent the 20,000 patients at the new 22,000 sq ft centre was an obvious to anyone who has ever attended a grand opening ceremony.

Town Councillors Stan Hudson and Jon Cole had not been invited either but turned up outside the clinic to voice their concerns to Assembly Members and the LHB about the car parking problem at the new centre.

Speaking from the pavement, Cllr Stand Hudson said “Why weren’t the mayor and Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council invited, or any local Councillors. How many other big health centres have opened like this in the last ten years? None.”

“I’m not willing to make any comment to why I think we were not invited” he added.

Cllr John Cole said “Landowners Assura has promised Milford Haven Town Council, and their Managing Director of Property, Andrew Darke has indicated, that they have no intention to build homes on the fenced of area of the car park and they are willing to lease the spaces to the Local Health Authority. I have passed this information onto our local Assembly Members and to Chris Martin, Chairman of the Local Health Authority.

“The District Valuer has said that only 38 spaces are needed. Experience has shown us that this, plus only four disabled spaces, is wholly inadequate. Patients are having to park on double yellow lines” he added.

Ian Tuddenham from LSP Developments, who developed the centre in conjunction with Assura, said: “The fenced off area of the car park is private land and is therefore not insured for use by clinic patients. We want to avoid insurance claims and claims of ‘posessionary’ title against our land.”

Assembly Member Joyce Watson told The Herald yesterday: “I have had an email from Milford Haven Town Council about the possibility of acquiring additional spaces, but this would obviously come at a cost to the Local Health Board.”

When asked about the fence Joyce Watson said “The fence is dangerous. When you put children into the mix I think we need to start thinking about safety.”

Ian Tuddenham then told The Herald: “It’s difficult when the fence keeps getting vandalised. We had to pay for the fence to be re-erected this morning after it had been knocked down, and driven over by vehicles”

“We know what our land is worth, I’m not going to mention figures now, but if the Council or Health Board wants to approach us then we are open to offers. As a developer we don’t want to be in the situation where we have to keep maintaining fences, it would be easier if we sold the land” he added.

When pressed as to why local Councillors or the Mayor had not been invited to yesterdays official opening of the 22,000 sq ft facility, Beverley Gardener from the Local Health Board said: “As you can see this is a busy working practice. We have to think about patients at the end of the day.”

“Its not about upsetting anybody, but how man people we can fit, especially when showing everyone around” she added.

 

Milford Haven Central representative Cllr Stephen Joseph was asked by text message by The Herald if he had heard of or been invited to the opening, he quickly replied “Not a word about it.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Health Minister, Prof. Mark Drakeford said: “Firstly a whole series of different players in primary care are here together in this building, all under one roof. I know that physical proximity really matters to people. Everything is here, no more need for phone calls or travelling across the county. Secondly, we know the future of the health service is in primary care. As much as possible this needs to be close to where people live, and what people have in this building is a different world what they had before.”

 

“Here in Milford Haven people can access a wide range of services and see the future of the NHS. Thirdly and finally, we use our primary care facilities to tackle health inequalities. We at the Welsh Assembly want there to be local services for people who really need them. Tackling health inequality through primary care is one of our key priorities” he concluded.

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Carers Rights day goes online

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CARERS RIGHTS DAY is taking place across the UK on Thursday, November 26 and in Pembrokeshire the event will be celebrated with a programme of activities and information sessions for unpaid carers of all ages.

Across Pembrokeshire, there are about 15,000 people who provide unpaid care and support to family and friends.

Many people don’t recognise themselves as carers, but the role they play in society is invaluable and it is estimated that across Wales carers provide care worth around £8.1 billion to the Welsh economy every year.

Under normal circumstances events for Carers Rights Day are planned around the county for carers to attend.

However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, this cannot happen this year.

So, a group of organisations supporting unpaid carers in Pembrokeshire, including the Pembrokeshire Carers Information and Support Service (PCISS) run by Hafal Crossroads, Action for Children, PAVS, Alzheimer’s Society and Pembrokeshire County Council, with support from Hywel Dda University Health Board, have put together a timetable of events for unpaid carers to access on and around Carers Rights Day.

These activities are free and will provide an opportunity for carers to access advice, support and a chat with other carers too.

Events include wellbeing workshops, quizzes and information sessions and more information can be found on the Connect Pembrokeshire website: https://connectpembrokeshire.org.uk/campaign/carers-rights-day

If you aren’t online or would like some support to build your confidence about using a laptop or tablet, so that you can join carers groups and activities over the winter, then the Community Hub can help.

Call the Community Hub on 01437 776301 for assistance to get connected.

Cllr Mike James, the Elected Member Carers’ Champion said: “Carers Rights Day may look and feel a bit different this year but it remains an important event to celebrate the hard work of carers in Pembrokeshire and provide information and support where required.

“The theme of this year’s event is ‘know your rights’. Whether you are a new carer or have been caring for someone for a while, it’s important that you understand your rights. It is critical that you are able to access the support that is available to you, as soon as you need it.

“Please get involved and have a look at the different events and support information being offered.”

If you look after a family member or friend, there is lots of information and support available in Pembrokeshire to help you look after yourself as well as the person you care for:

Pembrokeshire Carers Information and Support Service is available on 01437 611002 or by emailing: pciss@hafal.org 

Pembrokeshire Young Carers Service can be contacted on 01437 761330.

 

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Bluestone National Park Resort achieves international environmental award

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S Bluestone National Park Resort has achieved the international Green Key award in recognition of its excellent environmental standards.

With awarded establishments in 65 countries, Green Key is the fastest-growing eco-label for the tourism industry. In Wales, Green Key is operated by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, who also manage the iconic Blue Flag programme.

Bluestone has joined an exclusive group of prominent hospitality industry leaders in Wales who have been awarded Green Key accreditation, where the award clearly demonstrates their ongoing commitment to the high environmental standards being implemented.

Marten Lewis, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Bluestone National Park Resort said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the prestigious Green Key eco award. Our team have worked so hard to achieve this and we are so proud to be accredited.

“At Bluestone, we take sustainability – and protecting and supporting our environment – very seriously. Free Range Future is our sustainability movement. We thank Green Key, our guests and our teams for all their fantastic efforts and great support as we all work towards a more sustainable, and Free Range Future.”

Bluestone has committed to sustainability since the resort first opened in 2008, but dedicated improvements have been made across the site over the past year to meet Green Key standards.

These have included a staff engagement programme, halving the amount of general waste produced and using a local anaerobic digestion facility to turn all food waste into biofuel and fertiliser. Bluestone is also investing in new infrastructure to help reduce shower and tap water usage by more than half.

Lesley Jones, Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy said: “It’s fantastic to see one of Wales’s leading holiday resorts taking action to help protect and enhance our environment. We’d like to congratulate the Bluestone team on their success and welcome them to the Green Key family.

“After a difficult period for the tourism industry, Green Key provides an opportunity to put Wales on the map as a 21 st century, sustainable destination. By opting to visit a Green Key establishment, you can be sure that you are visiting somewhere with the highest possible environmental standards.”

For more information or to apply for Green Key visit the Green Key website www.greenkey.cymru

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Camp security boss threatened unpaid staff

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  • Guards walked out last week over wage dispute, police on stand-by

SECURITY staff guarding the Asylum Seekers Accommodation Centre in Penally have told The Pembrokeshire Herald they have not been paid regularly or on-time.

They claim their managers have been putting profit before safety.

One shocking revelation is that those tasked with ensuring the safety of asylum seekers have been told to ‘toss any weapons found, such as knives over the fence’.

The company in charge, AK security, does not want any complications which could jeopardise its contract with the Home Office, it seems.

One security guard provided The Herald with a recording of what he says is a telephone conversation between the managing director of AK Security and himself.

In the phone call, the security guard is apparently threatened after asking for £1,000 in unpaid wages.

AK Security managing director Ali Mohammed Khan is heard in the recording of a mobile telephone conversation.

Mr Khan says: “If you show up again, I promise you I am going to do something.

“And trust me you don’t want me to do it. I do not like threatening people, but I am not a kid my friend. You’re a boy, listen to me innit – you don’t want me to do it.”

In the phone call with AK Security’s MD, the security worker is heard politely asking for his pay to which Khan replies: “Do you understand English? Are you thick in your head? Do you have a brain? Do you know how the bank system works? I am a company.

“When companies do transfers it isn’t done within minutes. It’s coming from the company account…. It takes three working days for your payment to come through. I told you yesterday that within three working days the money will be in your account.”
A previous payment had been made instantly. The worker consequently questioned the 3-day transfer – normally reserved for substantial companies who pay using the now-outdated BACS system.

The guard questions Khan again saying: “How is it you paid me alright on Sunday, but it is taking forever now?”

Kahn answers: “The last payment was done differently – why are you asking so many questions. The payment has been done. I am not a guy who is going to run away with someone else’s money – I am bigger than that!”

Other security guards told this newspaper they were instructed to throw any weapons they found at the camp ‘over the wall’ and not to report the weapons’ presence at the Camp.

The reason given for this was to prevent AK Security from losing their contract with the Home Office to guard the asylum seekers in Penally.

Police were put on standby on Tuesday night (Nov 17), after reports security staff had walked out in protest over non-payment of wages.

The Tenby Observer reported: “[Because] they had not received any wages from their employers at the firm ‘AK Security’, the staff ‘downed tools’ and refused to work, standing outside the gates for a period of time on Tuesday night, with one eye-witness stating that police officers were also on hand to monitor the situation.’

Since the Home Office repurposed Penally Camp almost two months ago, the facility has been dogged by controversy and unrest. The facility currently houses around 170 asylum seekers, with scope for that to increase to 234.

This week’s incident is the latest in a string of controversial events surrounding AK Security.

The firm, whose base is in London, has been contacted by The Pembrokeshire Herald to respond to this article’s content.

The Herald also contacted the Home Office regarding the serious allegations.

As we went to press, neither the Home Office nor AK Security had responded to our invitation.

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