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Councillor’s call to put Health Board into special measures will be debated

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MEMBERS of Pembrokeshire County Council have decided that they will debate if they should recommend to the Welsh Government that Hywel Dda University Health Board should be put into special measures in a committee hearing.

One councillor, Michael Williams, said he wished that the Council could subpoena members of Hywel Dda health board to attend a debate to give them “a really good grilling” in regards to their hospital shake up plans.

The Health Board plan to close the A&E in Haverfordwest, downgrade Withybush Hospital and build a new centralised hospital between Narberth and Whitland has been highly controversial.

The matter has been the subject of protests, demonstrations and a petition signed by nearly half the residents of Pembrokeshire being delivered to the Welsh Government earlier this year.

The Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee will now debate the matter which was sparked by a Notice of Motion submitted by Pembroke Dock councillor, Paul Dowson.

During the debate at Full Council, Cllr Jon Havery seemed to be Cllr Dowson’s biggest supporter over the issue. He said: “We need to look at the spirit in which this has been made. We represent the people. We are elected, the health board is not. I do not think that for one minute that if we recommended that the Health Board be put into special measures that the Welsh Government would do it; but what it would send out would be a strong signal to the residents of Pembrokeshire, whom we represent, that we are not happy with the proposals with Withybush at the moment”

He added: “It’s clear that the downgrading and the loss of A&E are very high in the public’s hearts and mind-sets. What more can the people do? The people have petitioned, campaigned and protested and they are still being ignored. We should be supporting this motion!”

There was loud clapping from the public gallery when Cllr Harvey concluded by saying: “We should be showing to the people of Pembrokeshire that we are not happy with the health board!”

Cllr Jon Harvey said: “This is a very important notice of motion so far as I am concerned. We have members of the public in the gallery here who have come to listen to this. I would suggest that we should be debating this in some shape or form. It is important that Cllr Dowson is allowed to explain the rationale behind his Notice of Motion”

Cllr Dowson spoke next, saying: “Yes, as Cllr Harvey said this is a very important issue in Pembrokeshire – I do not think it can just be passed off to a committee without being debated. It’s an unusual Notice of Motion as we have no authority over the health board, it’s just asking for a recommendation. I feel that Full Council should debate it really.”

It was Cllr Aden Arthur Brinn who questioned if the Local Authority had the remit to carry out the Notice of Motion. Miss Claire Jones, the Monitoring Officer, agreed that the Council did have the authority to make a recommendation to the Health Minister and this possibly could be heard at a future committee meeting

Cllr Dowson replied saying that he thought that was problematic.

He said: “The public have been to Hywel Dda themselves and made their thoughts clear and the board haven’t listened. We are really the only recommending authority that they can go to… so they have to come to us

Cllr Samuel Kurtz said: “I fully appreciate the notice of motion and the concern that this chamber has with Health Provision in west Wales. I just want to make the chamber aware that there is currently one health board under special measures with the Welsh Government – that’s Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board – and it’s performance has decreased under the Welsh Assembly. The former Health Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford has just taken over as First Minister. He was the one himself who started moving services away from Withybush Hospital. I fully understand the need for scrutiny and a voice for Pembrokeshire people. 45,000 people did sign that petition supporting A&E in Withybush. But I am not sure that this is the best way to go ahead with the Welsh Assembly’s current outset on health provision in Wales.

Cllr Simon Hancock was concerned that the matter, which he admitted was important, was being discussed ‘at the end of a very long day’ and he was concerned about a lack of documents submitted by Cllr Dowson.
He criticised Cllr Dowson saying: “This is, I fear, an exercise in popular-ism.”

He went on to say that the person to escalate intervention should be the Cabinet Secretary, not any council.

However, following discussions the Notice of Motion was carried to committee.

Farcical scenes: The Council Chamber last Friday

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Pembrokeshire Leisure welcomes back school swimming

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PEMBROKESHIRE Leisure is welcoming back school swimming lessons around the county for the first time since March 2020.

Swimmers from over 20 schools will be attending in their class bubbles to enjoy learning vital water competency skills in Pembrokeshire Leisure’s six swimming pools.

In a county which is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coastline, being safe in and around water is a potentially life-saving skill.

The programme of school swimming lessons helps to achieve the Welsh national priority that every child is a swimmer by the time they leave primary school.

The National Curriculum requirement which has been designed in line with this is that every key stage 2 child should be able to:

  • Swim 25 metres with clothes on (shorts and t-shirt), then tread water for 30 seconds and demonstrate an action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P)
  • Demonstrate a shout and signal action to attract attention.

The first school to return was Ysgol Glannau Gwaun at Fishguard Leisure Centre and there are now 20 primary schools which will be attending swimming lessons around Pembrokeshire.

On Monday 14 th June, Coastlands County Primary School attended and their Head Teacher Sonja Groves said: “We are delighted to finally get back to swimming after such a long time away. The children were so happy to be back in the water learning and enjoying. Swimming is a vital life skill which helps to keep the children of Pembrokeshire safe in and around all types of water.”

Leisure Services Manager Gary Nicholas said: “It is fantastic to be able to safely welcome back school swimming to our facilities. Primary school aged children have missed over a years’ worth of swimming lessons and Pembrokeshire Leisure are committed to supporting the aim of every child a swimmer by age 11.

“We will continue to do this by delivering quality school swimming lessons following the Swim Wales Nofio Ysgol programme, using the Free Swimming Initiative to provide targeted sessions for the most deprived swimmers and by continuing to provide swimming lessons at all sites in our Learn to Swim programme.”

For more information about how you can book your child swimming lessons and support their journey to becoming a competent swimmer, contact your local leisure centre.

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Landmarc flies the flag at local training camp to celebrate Armed Forces Week

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TO CELEBRATE Armed Forces Week 2021 and the contribution made by local military personnel, Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) has raised the Armed Forces Day flag at Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire.

Following an unprecedented year for the UK’s troops as they responded to the challenges raised by the pandemic, Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), wanted to extend an extra special thank you, by flying the official Armed Forces Day flag at military training estates across the UK, including local camp, Castlemartin.

Landmarc employees were joined by Armed Forces personnel and staff from DIO to witness the raising of the flag, where it will fly proudly until Armed Forces Week comes to a close on the 28th of June.

This Armed Forces Week, Landmarc has pledged its support and sponsorship of Team Emotive in its mission to complete one of the world’s most difficult ocean rowing challenges – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – all in the name of raising money for mental health charity, Veterans at Ease.

Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, including one Landmarc employee, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally. 23 rd June 2021

In addition, Landmarc has also announced its official partnership with the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, working together to support veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc, comments: “Each year, every one of us at Landmarc gives thanks to our troops during this special week. As part of the 25 per cent of veterans and reservists that make up Landmarc’s workforce, I know first- hand how important this event is for morale within the Forces community.

“It’s always fantastic to see so many people and organisations come together each year for Armed Forces Week, but the events of the last fifteen months have heightened our gratitude. The efforts from our servicemen and women have been immense and impossible to ignore in the nation’s fight against COVID-19; with our own staff working alongside the military to support the demands of the training estate as it hosts troops from across the country.”

For more information on Landmarc Support Services, please visit www.landmarcsolutions.com.

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Endurance runner tackles Pembrokeshire Coast

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ENDURANCE runner Sean Conway has successfully completed his epic series of marathons in the UK’s National Parks.

On Thursday, June 17, Sean tackled the Pembrokeshire coast, running from Newport to Dinas Head and back, fuelled by sports nutrition brand ‘Grenade’.

Sean, who is from North Wales, has ran the length of Britain before but says this was the longest stretch of days where he has had to constantly do a marathon every day.

Speaking of his run in Newport, Sean said: “It was so hilly. Honestly, the weather was amazing. It wasn’t too hot and there were some nice views along the way. At Dinas Head, it was amazing looking down at the lagoons and there are some amazing rock formations.”

He took six hours to complete his marathon but there was little time for recovery as he moved on to his final run in Snowdonia the day after.

“This was my second-last marathon so my body was feeling pretty battered and I’ve had to do it fully self-supported so I was doing one run out then back to the car and then out again”, Sean added.

“With covid we’ve all been staying at home more so I wanted to show off how amazing the National Parks are.

“There will be more of us visiting as restrictions are eased but we don’t want to ruin it by being silly.”

Sean was provided with his nutrition for the runs by Grenade and he said he ‘would not have been able to survive without them’.

In the morning he would have an energy drink which contained vitamins and electrolites and he would also mix this in with his water for some of his runs.

Sean would also have protein bars to give him an extra boost as he tried to keep on top of his protein intake.

“Pembrokeshire was so scenic. When I announced the runs this was the run that stood out online and I was really looking forward to doing it. We’ll definitely be coming back soon” Sean concluded.

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