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Councillors clueless on social care business plan

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“THE DIRECTOR of Social Services and Chief Executive are aware of it.”

That was the cryptic response of Pembrokeshire’s Cabinet Member for Finance Bob Kilmister when asked about the ‘business case’ the local health board has presented to the Welsh Government for the reorganisation of social care across the Health Board area.

The scheme, to merge some of the adult social care functions provided by local councils with the elderly medical care provided by the Board, is a cornerstone of the Board’s plans for the future of healthcare in west Wales and is supposed to be an example of partnership working.

Bob Kilmister wryly observed: “Whatever the plan is, the Welsh Government are reported to be in favour of it.”

There is considerable scepticism about the Board’s track record of financial mismanagement. Pembrokeshire County Council’s Director of Resources, Jon Haswell, expressed vigorous agreement with the proposition that trusting part of the Council’s already tight budget to the care of an organisation running in permanent deficit caused concern.

As the scheme is supposed to be an example of partnership working, it is equally peculiar that members of the political executive charged with implementing and carrying the can for it have been kept in the dark.

When the Board’s plans for social services were discussed at Carmarthenshire County Council in October, there was almost unanimous approval that the management of the social care scheme should be directly accountable and a significant number of councillors in favour of it being run as a discrete service with its own management structure.

At that point, Carmarthenshire’s Director of Social Services, Jake Morgan, was careful to describe the plans as the Health Board’s and suggested he was none the wiser about how social care would be structured other than through ‘partnership working’.

Only a few weeks later, a business case has gone to the Welsh Government.

There have been no briefings for elected members, no scrutiny before the business case’s submission, and what is supposed to be a partnership looks rather like the Board and the Welsh Government bouncing local authorities into a scheme into which their input has been, at best, limited.

On Monday, we asked Hywel Dda UHB about its social care plan.

We explained that we had noted the health board’s plans for greater cooperation with the social services departments of the 3 local authorities in the region. We also explained we knew that a business case to that end has been submitted to the Welsh Government for consideration.

We asked the Board to confirm that, in accordance with the principles of partnership working, all of the elected members of each local authority concerned had sight of the whole business case before its submission to the Welsh Government and that each local authority approved its content by reference to a meeting of all councillors.

We also asked what the plans’ impact would be on each local authority’s future social care budgets, what the proposed management structure was and what level of accountability it would have.

Our inquiries remained unanswered.

Not from any of the three local authorities to whom we posed that question and not from the Health Board.

The only answers we got were at the budget briefing for Pembrokeshire County Council when both the Director of Resources and Cabinet Member for Finance were refreshingly direct about their personal view of the prospects for partnership working with the Board.

Against the backdrop of the Board’s diverting interpretation of the word ‘partnership’, two of the three contenders to replace Carwyn Jones as Labour leader in Wales, Eluned Morgan and Vaughan Gething, have separately endorsed a wholesale reorganisation of social care into a National Care Service.

Such a service would be implemented and led by local government, in partnership with local health boards and third sector organisations they may wish to commission. The Welsh Government would oversee a national rollout of the provision and ensure that standards are met. The scheme would be funded by a social care levy and from savings to the NHS budget.

The fact that Councils would lead a National Care Service makes it doubly surprising that those covering West Wales have had such minimal input into the creation of a new care system there.

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Launch of Haverfordwest Castle Conservation Management Plan

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MEMBERS of the public are being asked to help shape the future of Haverfordwest Castle as a draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is launched.

One of Pembrokeshire’s most important historical assets, the Castle is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which has produced the CMP.

The plan:

▪ sets out the significance of the castle and describes how the building will be protected with any new use, alteration, repair or management; 

▪ will help with the planning of maintenance, conservation and repair work and adaptation of the site to meet new or changing uses; 

▪ will help promote understanding of the site and look at improving public access and activities for local people and visitors; 

▪ will support proposals to conserve the castle and adaptations of the site in response to climate change; 

▪ and underpin funding applications to support improvements

An engagement exercise has been launched alongside the Plan, giving members of the public with an interest in the historic and/or environmental significance of the castle an opportunity to comment on the document and share their views.

To take part in the engagement exercise, please click on the following link: 

https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/regeneration-communities

The deadline for responses is Sunday, March 28, 2021.

 

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Business

Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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