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Schools to remain open for now as Wales moves to ‘delay’ phase

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SCHOOLS will remain open as Wales moves into the “delay” phase in containing the coronavirus, the Welsh Government has announced.

The advice will change from Friday (Mar 13), with people who become unwell being asked to self-isolate for seven days.

Chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton said the trajectory of the virus was now “quite clear” and the challenge remained preparing for a significant number of cases in Wales.

Dr Atherton said: “Wales was now really in the delay phase of the virus and it would lead to some inconvenience for people not going to work or school.

“We need to reduce the demand on the health and social care system so it can prepare for peak which may be May or June.”

SCHOOLS OPEN FOR NOW

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said closing schools was not an appropriate option for now.

He told a press conference at 3.30pm Thursday (Mar 12): “Ministers have had clear advice that closing schools now is not an appropriate step to take. For now, the advice and guidance is very clear. Schools should stay open.

“To be effective measure schools would have to be closed for a significant amount of time.

“If we close schools, what impact does that have on parents? Parents could be nurses, doctors or the police. We need to keep key workers in work.

“Another point is, if parents can’t look after them then it’s likely that older members of the family or grandparents will be. Older people are the people we want to protect now and in the future.

“Furthermore, in the Easter break, lots of children will be with each other anyway. The value in closing schools is low.

“Ministers are making choices guided by the best possible evidence and scientific advice.

“Members of governments around the UK need to take a responsible approach and take steps where there is no medical advice to do so within the four nations of the UK.”

LATEST FIGURES

Six new cases of coronavirus have been identified in Wales, bringing the total to 25 at the time of going to press. (7pm, March 12)

785 people in Wales have been tested for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). 760 results were negative, and 25 results were positive.

CONCERT CANCELLED

Milford Haven School postponed the concert due to take place Thursday (Mar 12). The school stated on social media: “We have regrettably made the decision to cancel the scheduled Milford Haven Cluster Welsh Concert here at Milford Haven School tonight.

“The decision is owing to us taking a proactive approach to prioritising the health and safety of not only our own pupils, but also their families and the wider community. Please note, this is not due to any specific health concern within the school. We will announce rescheduling of this event in due course.”

ROBUST MEASURES IN PLACE

Dr Robin Howe, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales told The Herald that he was certain that “robust infection control measures in place.”

“The public can be assured that Wales and the whole of the UK is prepared for these types of incidents. Working with our partners in Wales and the UK, we have implemented our planned response, with robust infection control measures in place to protect the health of the public.

“We would encourage people to check the advice for returning travellers, which includes guidance for those returning from Italy, China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Iran.

“Members of the public can help protect themselves and others by always carrying tissues, and using them to catch coughs or sneezes. They should bin the tissue, and to kill the germs, wash their hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel. This is the best way to slow the spread of most germs, including Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Public Health Wales’ trained scientists are now conducting the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic test in Wales. Over 90 per cent of the individuals who have been tested in Wales have been offered testing in their own home, making it as convenient as possible for them, as well as protecting our ambulance and hospital resources for those who need it most. We are not able to comment on individual cases for reasons of patient confidentiality.”

Official updates on the virus in Wales will now be given at 11:00 daily.

There are now 596 confirmed cases in the UK, up from 456 on Wednesday, and two more deaths, of people with underlying health conditions in London and Essex, taking the total to 10.

Community

Remembering the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge fifty years on

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TODAY, marks the 50th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge, then called the Milford Haven Bridge, a day that would change bridge building forever.

The construction of the bridge was a staple of a then booming economy, with the original project estimated to be around £2m, but the flawed design caused devastation.

On June 2, 1970, disaster struck the small village of Pembroke Ferry, when a 150 tonne section of the part-built Cleddau Bridge collapsed, killing four men and injuring another 5 people.

At 2.16pm BST, as a section of the bridge was lowered onto the supporting structure below, villagers reported hearing a groaning sound followed by an engulfing cloud of red dust.

The first officer on the scene was dad of two, PC Phil Lloyd, having just clocked into his shift at Pembroke Dock Station when the fire siren sounded.

Recalling the day, Phil, 74 said “I presumed it was just another chimney fire.”

Then at 2.20pm Phil received a call from his mother in law, she lived 30 metres below the bridge.

“When I went into the switchboard the fella said ‘your mother-in-law is on the phone’.”

“She shouted, ‘the bridge has come down!’ and i said ‘don’t be so dull’.”

PC Lloyd’s mother-in-law, Ivy Lewis, lived directly under the bridge, in Pembroke Ferry, on the south side of the river.

With the oil refineries, Milford Haven Port, all being developed in the county, the bridge was a much needed asset, which would give better accessibility and cut down the 20-mile round trip for vehicles.

Arriving at the scene, Phil described it as “utter pandemonium”.

At the time of the collapse, the local gas man was attending Mrs Lewis’ property. She originally assumed that he “had blown the house up”.

It was only when stepping into her garden could she fathom the true cause of the commotion. The whole section of the bridge was resting at a 45-degree angle in her garden.

Astonishly the bridge narrowly missed the below properties. Although it had completely demolished Phil’s aunties coal shed and outdoor toilet.

“Luckily there was a gap between her house and her sister’s house which is where the bridge came down.” Phil said.

“One man had been killed at the scene and two others were taken to hospital but died later. Then when the bridge was lifted, we found another man underneath.”

Construction of the box-section bridge was put on halt immediately.

Within 18 month’s bridges in Germany and Australia, both of the same ill-fated design collapsed with fatal consequences.

The cause of the collapse was later revealed that the diaphragm above the pier of the bridge had not been thick enough and buckled as the 230-foot section was cantilevered out.

Following an inquiry, a number of safety recommendations were made, which included the addition of 500ft of extra steel to strengthen the bridge.

In 1995, on the 25th anniversary of the disaster a memorial plaque to the four men who died, William Baxendale, George Hamilton, James Thompson and local man Evan Phillips.was unveiled.

Unfortunately the plaque was later stolen and has not yet been replaced.

The completed Cleddau Bridge reopened in 1975, making it the largest unsupported span in Europe although costs had escalated to £12m upon completion.

The disaster which shook the small village, laid the foundations for which a new standard was developed in the box girder bridge design.

The Cleddau collapse was regarded as the last major bridge disaster in the UK.

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Community

Lottery win for local neighbours

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Ten people in Pembroke Dock are celebrating today after winning £1,000 each thanks to their lucky postcode.

The Milton Terrace neighbours netted the windfall when SA72 6BJ was announced as a Daily Prize winner with People’s Postcode Lottery on Saturday 18th April 2020.

People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador Judie McCourt sent her well-wishes to the winners. She said: “What lovely news to start off your weekend. Congratulations to our winners!”

A minimum of 32% of ticket sales goes directly to charities and players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised over £500 million to date for thousands of good causes in Britain and beyond.

This draw was promoted by the Wildlife Trusts which have received over £12.6 million in funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The Wildlife Trusts look after more than 2,300 nature reserves and operate more than 100 visitor and education centres across the country. The Trusts work to make life better for wildlife, people and future generations.

Many good causes close to the winners have also benefitted from players’ support, and local charities can next apply for funding in August.

For more information on People’s Postcode Lottery, please visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk or Facebook  and Twitter.

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Community

Call to stay safe and respect the countryside

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With more people using countryside paths and walks for exercise
during coronavirus restrictions, a call has gone out for walkers to stay
safe and respect landowners’ privacy and business.

The joint message comes from Pembrokeshire County Council and
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Pembrokeshire has some of the most beautiful countryside in Wales
and is fantastic to explore on foot.

And with exercise close to home part of the permitted reasons to
leave lockdown, paths and walks are increasingly busy.

Walkers are advised to only access footpaths from their doorstep and
be aware that when using Countryside Rights of Way that you are
crossing private land.

At this time of year the countryside is a busy place, lambing is in full
swing and field preparation for new crops is underway.
Those using the paths are asked to follow and observe any advisory
signs or temporary diversions you may come across.

Please note that routes are normally unrestricted, but under the
present situation there may be some routes that aren’t available, such
as closures to part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Please be particularly vigilant and respectful when using paths that
are in the curtilage of private residences or pass through Farm Yards
and adhere with “social distancing” at all times.

Please follow this advice:

Wherever possible restrict use to footpaths accessible within
your neighbourhood – if possible do not drive to the
countryside to walk.

Follow any diversion signs provided by landowner.

• Remember social distancing. Keep 2m distance from anyone
and use wide areas to pass each other safely.

• Plan your walk – try to avoid busy times of day when many
other people may be walking, and if possible, don`t use the
same route every day.

• Respect landowners as they may be self-isolating or have
vulnerable people living with them.

• Ensure dogs are kept on a short lead, but beware of livestock
as they may chase your dog.

• Do not let your dog come in contact with other people.

• Clean up after your dog – do not leave dog fouling bags
behind.

• Ensure gates are not left open allowing livestock to escape.

• Keep to the line of the path, do not allow your dog to run free.

• Respect the property and business you are passing through.

• Keep away from livestock

• As part of good personal hygiene always wash your hands
after visiting the countryside.

It is also worth remembering that when walking or running on roads
where there is no pavement, you should face on-coming traffic and
wear highly visible clothing.

Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive of the Park Authority said: “This
guidance will protect the public and any livestock they may encounter
while out walking. It will also prevent additional calls upon emergency
services, who are already working at capacity, from having to respond
to issues such as trespass, lost dogs, sheep worrying and livestock
escaping from fields.

“We are encouraged by the response of the vast majority of the public
in following Government advice to stay at home and only access the
outdoors from their doorsteps. It is important for those people who do
have walking opportunities on their doorsteps to take note of the
advice provided when out walking.”

Full details of the Coast Path closures can be found on the Authority’s
website at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales.

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