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Huge response to PATCH appeal

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“WE’RE going to need a bigger van…..”

That was the first reaction of Tracy Olin – manager of the County-based charity PATCH (Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship) – when she saw the mountain of food products and household items assembled in the reception area of County Hall, Haverfordwest.

For the past few weeks, the headquarters of Pembrokeshire County Council has been utilised as a collection point for goods donated by employees of the local authority to be distributed to needy adults and children this Christmas.

“There was so much I quickly realised that the van we had brought was not going to be big enough,” explained Tracey who quickly made arrangements for a second van to turn-up.

“All I can say is ‘wow’ – and thank you to all the Council people who donated. Their generosity will make Christmas a little more enjoyable for many needy families.”

Council Leader David Simpson – pictured among the donations with Tracy – said that he was proud of the kind-heartedness of Council staff.

“Their response has been amazing,” he added.

All the goods have now been taken to PATCH in Milford Haven for distribution around Pembrokeshire.

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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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