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Over £24,000 worth of fines handed out in first enforcement week

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IN the first week of new enforcement officers working across Pembrokeshire, 161 fines have been handed out, worth a possible £24,150.

160 of those fines are for littering, with 1 person fined for dog fouling, Pembrokeshire County Council have told The Herald.

Enforcement officers can give on-the-spot fines of up to £150 depending on the offence. This can be reduced to £75 if paid within 10 days.

If all 61 fines were paid within 10 days it would generate £12,075.

Fixed penalty notices can be given to people spotted dropping litter – including dropping cigarette ends – or allowing dog-fouling, as well as those responsible for fly-posting, graffiti, and anti-social behaviour.

The council has said that anyone who refuses to pay their fixed penalty will be prosecuted.

Cllr Paul Dowson told the Herald after the first 48 hours of the new policy: “This is a very big problem – we’ve been without enforcement for more than two years, so you’d expect people to get lacksey-daisy about it. Hopefully now with people being caught, it will cut it down.

“My overriding thought is you should know littering is bad, regardless where it is – so don’t do it.”

When questioned about the confusion over where the funds would go, Cllr Dowson told us that none of the profits would go to Pembrokeshire County Council: “As far as I’m aware, it’s a totally contracted out service where they self-fund and run like a regular business – if they don’t generate enough profit they will go bust. I’ve had info sent to me by the council that they are totally self-funded, there’s no money going back into the council.”

Cllr Dowson is pleased with the approach but is worried the focus is too much on littering: “My initial initiative was down to fly-tipping, not littering, I fought this one solo and nobody else is interested. It seems as though that’s not part of the remit, and I need to look into that because if it isn’t then my emphasis wasn’t listened to.”

Some members of the public have raised concerns that fly-tipping will only increase when black bag collections move to three-weekly.

Earlier this year, council plans were approved to move to three-weekly bin bags collections, on the basis that householders will need to place fewer items in black bags thanks to the increased recycling opportunities.

A maximum of three black bags will be collected per household every three weeks.

Any additional bags taken to the local civic amenity sites will not be charged for.

Additional containment will be provided for householders if required, upon request, for example for larger families.

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Tenby pedestrianisation starts Monday

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THE TENBY pedestrianisation scheme starts on Monday, July 1. The scheme – which operates within the town walls – will operate until Friday, September 13 between the hours of 11am and 5.30pm. The scheme will be suspended for the Long Course Weekend on July 6/7.

This permanent time-frame has been chosen following a questionnaire and consultation exercise Pembrokeshire County Council carried out after last year’s scheme which trialled the new dates.

The town pedestrianisation scheme is a popular one with visitors as it allows a vibrant ‘cafe culture’ feel to be embraced in the town with many of the pubs and restaurants within the exclusion zone opting an alfresco-style seating and dining experience, and on sunny summer days, it allows guests and visitors to sit outside and enjoy lunch or drinks in the sunshine.

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Substitution in psychoactive substances a growing concern for experts

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THERE is evidence of a growing market in the manufacture and distribution of new benzodiazepine susbstances, with 71% of samples of what users think is diazepam testing positive for other chemicals.

Street valium is bought and sold on the streets of Wales for as little as 50p per tablet.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse for Public Health Wales and Programme Lead for WEDINOS said: “Although there are always concerns and potential for adverse effects from the consumption of psychoactive substances, the risk is increased by the rising prevalence of substance substitution within the unregulated illicit benzodiazepine market.

“As substitute substances have varying therapeutic doses and duration of effects, there is a concern in relation to the increased potential for an individual to experience adverse and acute effects; including accidental overdose, hospitalisation and death.”

Public Health Wales’s WEDINOS service has seen an increase in the number of samples submitted for testing in the last year, with the substitution of substances within drug groups a key emerging trend.

The WEDINOS Annual Report for 2018-19 also identifies a substantial increase in non-prescribed ‘prescription’ medications being submitted to its drug testing facility.

As in 2017/18, benzodiazepines were the most commonly identified class of psychoactive substances.

Benzodiazepines such as Diazepam, Etizolam and Alprazolam (Xanax) are common sedative drugs often prescribed for anxiety and insomnia.

In addition to prescribed medical use, benzodiazepines are used recreationally and there is evidence of a growing market in the manufacture and distribution of new benzodiazepine substances.

This year, WEDINOS found a higher frequency of substitution amongst samples submitted as benzodiazepines, in particular, diazepam; with nearly three quarters of all samples submitted as diazepam in the first quarter of 2019 were found to contain other substances.

For the first time this year, WEDINOS tested samples of benzodiazepines submitted in blister pack form that contained a substance different to that named on the pack.

Josie Smith continues: “The evidence of substitution indicates that even if a person has purchased tablets looking like a medication, they may not contain the stated contents. This represents a public health challenge and a need for greater awareness and pragmatic harm reduction advice and education.”

The report shows a 58 per cent increase in the number of samples submitted to WEDINOS for testing in 2018-19 compared to the previous year. In total, 2,145 samples were tested between April 2018 and March 2019.

Public Health Wales produces reports and information to influence national and international policy to ensure it is based on the best evidence to protect and improve health.

Those seeking to receive support for drug or alcohol related concerns can contact the Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline on freephone 0808 808 2234, by texting DAN to: 81066 or by visiting dan247.org.uk

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£700,000 flood scheme that protects people in 41 Pembrokeshire homes completed

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has completed a £700,000 improvement to a flood scheme that protects people in 41 properties in west Wales.

The flood storage area at Pont y Cerbyd, Pembrokeshire holds back flood waters which threaten the nearby villages of Middle Mill and Solva.

The improvements include a new 50 metre-long spillway, a new overflow structure which controls the amount of water the reservoir can hold, reinforcement to the embankment to protect against erosion, and additional drainage.

Originally built in 1990 the work on the storage area was needed after several major floods eroded part of the old spillway, making it less effective.

Now the work is complete the structure can maintain the original level of flood protection to people in the downstream villages.

To further protect and warn the local communities, NRW has installed new equipment to monitor river levels as well as a small wind turbine to power a CCTV camera that can be used to view the reservoir’s water levels in real time.

As part of the scheme, NRW also organised exercises to practice using emergency pumping equipment to manage water levels in the reservoir should the need arise.

Andy Irving, team leader flood incident management for NRW, said:

“Protecting Wales’ communities is a vital part of our work which is why we monitor river levels all over the country 24/7 and invest millions of pounds into projects to reduce people’s flood risk.

“The Pont y Cerbyd flood storage area helps manage the flood risk to 41 properties downstream of the Solva river where levels can increase quickly in harsh weather.

“Investing in improvement projects adds another level of protection for at-risk homes and businesses.

“Combining this with our training exercises means we can continue to react to incidents quickly and efficiently.”

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