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Withybush petition surpasses 10,000 signatures

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THE PETITION opposing the ‘drastic changes’ to Withybush hospital has already received over 10,500 signatures.

It was revealed in last week’s proposals by the Hywel Dda University Health Board, that all of the options involve the downgrading of Withybush from a general hospital to a community facility.

The proposed changes would see Withybush left with non-medical beds, minor injuries and midwife-led maternity units and could carry out tests and scans.

Tenby would also have a summer minor injuries unit, whilst greater emphasis would be placed on caring in communities to mitigate the transport issues faced by the frailer, older population.

The Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) which currently provides care from 10am until 6pm at Withybush will be removed and put into the new build between Narberth and St Clears.

It is not known yet whether services such as audiology, child development or backroom testing in the microbiology and biochemistry labs will stay or also be transferred to the new General hospital.

Having started the petition late Sunday evening (Apr 22) it has quickly gathered momentum amongst the displeased populace of Pembrokeshire, voicing their disappointment in the proposals put forth by the Health Board.

Although Hywel Dda has stressed no decisions have been made yet, and have reiterated that the consultation is open until July 12, many feel that it merely gives the illusion of discussion, and that plans to downgrade Withybush have been in place for some time.

In a Facebook comment after the petition was released, Mr Bamford-Lewis said: “They know what they’ve picked before they’ve picked it. The consultation is just lip service.”

The Save Withybush Action Team have also spoken out, offering a similar view, saying: “So the so-called ‘consultation’ has started. Options A, B & C aren’t really options at all.”

The Hywel Dda Health Board explained that the current situation regarding healthcare in west Wales is ‘unsustainable’ and Chief Executive Steve Moore said that the option of ‘doing nothing’ had been considered but that this was no longer possible.

The Health Board has the largest budget deficit in NHS Wales, of roughly £69m, up to 500 staff vacancies each month which must be counteracted by paying a premium and the local NHS currently sees 150,000 patients a week, with population growth combined with an increasingly ageing demographic stretching the system.

The petition can be found: https://www.change.org/p/steve-moore-and-vaughan-gething-pembrokeshire-says-no-to-the-closure-of-withybush-a-e

News

Milford Haven: Concerns over council refuse collection staff using drugs on duty

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL have confirmed that they are conducting an ongoing internal investigation.

The probe is relating to “illegal drug use by on-duty refuge collection crews” operating from the Thornton Refuge Depot in Milford Haven.

The Herald understands that following suspicions being raised, drug testing was carried out on refuse crews on Monday (May 10) – all before they left their depot.

This newspaper has been told that a number staff, which includes bin lorry drivers, tested positive for drug use, and that the council called in the police.

That information was passed to The Herald by someone who we have confirmed to be a member of staff working at Pembrokeshire County Council, who did not want to be named.

After a request for a statement, a spokesperson for the council has stressed that none of their vehicles were involved, suggesting that, on the day in question, positive tests were arrived at before any bin lorries had left the depot.

As part of the multi-agency operation the police were called and attended Thornton Refuse Depot, but did not make any arrests, and said they had little involvement in the operation.

Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that there is an ongoing internal workplace investigation and can clarify that there was no police involvement on the day in question – no Pembrokeshire County Council vehicles were involved.

“We are not in a position to comment any further at this time.”

Dyfed Powys Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “At the request of Pembrokeshire County Council, officers attended Thornton Refuse Depot to provide [them with] support on the morning of Monday, May 10.

“Officers attended; however they were not utilised.”

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News

Council’s Planning Committee approves ambitious dockyard plans

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’s Planning Committee this morning (Tuesday, May 18) approved an application for the construction of a new marine engineering project at Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard.
The plans, vociferously opposed by local heritage groups, passed unanimously.

The matter will now go to the Welsh Government, which has reserved its position on the scheme’s approval.
Committee members expressed the view that the balance between heritage and economic development were balanced, with strong views expressed on either side. They decided the balance of the application favoured economic development subject to conditions regarding aspects of the site’s preservation and its ability to be restored in the future.

The Committee members who attended a site visit on Wednesday, May 12, said it was the most informative and best site visit they had this council term. Visiting the site gave them a clearer idea about what was planned and the scale of the project, which would not have been gained from a paper exercise.

While the approval of the scheme was unanimous, one element of the reserved matters caused some members concern: the height and size of the proposed massive new sheds which would be built at a later phase of the project.
Cllr David Pugh, seconded by Cllr Steve Alderman, moved an amendment which would approve the project and delegate reserved matters to officers apart from the sheds’ construction, which would return to the Committee for detailed approval.

Cllr Tony Wilcox and Cllr Mark Carter emphasised the need for certainty regarding the project’s development, a position supported by Cllr David Howlett, Cllrs Pugh, Alderman and Cllr Stephen Joseph said that little delay would be caused to the scheme by bringing the sheds’ development back to the Committee. They noted the significant intrusion of the sheds into the landscape for miles around.

Planning Officer Mike Simmons advised that the project would proceed in five phases and that the applicant, Milford Haven Port Authority, was keen to proceed with the first phase as soon as possible. The first phase would be the infilling of the docks and pool, removing a caisson gate and preserving it, before the building of new slipways.
The Port Authority already accepted the sheds would only be built if there was commercial demand for them.
The amendment proposed by Cllr Pugh passed by six votes to five with two abstentions.

It means before the sheds are built, the Committee will decide the detailed application relating to them.

All other aspects of the development will be decided by officers.

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Business

Further Covid-19 business support packages to become available soon

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PEMBROKESHIRE businesses that remain affected by Covid-19 restrictions can check their eligibility for a new package of support from the Welsh Government.

This latest support package will help those businesses eligible to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.

Businesses that stand to benefit include:

  • nightclubs and late entertainment venues
  • events and conference venues not covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF)
  • hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions

An eligibility checker has opened on the Business Wales website so businesses can find out how much support they are likely to be entitled to and how to apply.

See more information and check your business’ eligibility at: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under.

Businesses will be able submit applications to the Welsh Government from 24th May 2021 for grants of up to £25,000 and by the end of the month to Pembrokeshire County Council for smaller fixed Discretionary Grants.

To keep up to date and see the future application process for the Discretionary Grants please see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

The above link will be be updated with the latest information.  

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