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Conservatives attack Mark Drakeford for saying delivering vaccine ‘a marathon, not a sprint’

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THE CONSERVATIVES’ Shadow Health Minister, Andrew RT Davies, fiercely criticised Mark Drakeford after the First Minister’s appearance on Radio Four’s Today programme.

The Conservatives have spent the last week ramping up the rhetoric over the Welsh Government’s alleged failings in Wales’ coronavirus vaccination programme.

On Friday (Jan 15), Mr Drakeford defended the Welsh Government’s track record.

The First Minister said that Wales had been provided with six weeks’ supply of the Pfizer vaccine.

It made more sense, he claimed, to administer the vaccine over six weeks to ensure vaccinations were delivered consistently.

It made no sense, Mr Drakeford continued, for all Pfizer vaccines to be used in a shorter period, leaving Wales without stocks.

Mark Drakeford said delivering the vaccine was ‘a marathon, not a sprint’.

On Monday morning (Jan 18), Mr Drakeford appeared on Radio Four’s flagship Today programme. He was asked about the Welsh Government’s vaccination programme.

The First Minister said: “The most important issue is that we are on track to deliver vaccination to all the top four priority groups by the middle of February.”

Mr Drakeford said Wales would meet that target.

“The thing that limits us at the moment is supply. We are using every bit of vaccine that we are getting. We know that the supply will be ramping up over the coming weeks. We are ready to use all the supply of vaccine that we will get in Wales, and on track to deliver to the top four priority groups.”

He said Wales was using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as supplies were received.

However, he explained that the Welsh Government kept back thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine because its supply had to last until the beginning of February.

“We won’t get another delivery of that until the end of January, probably the beginning of February,” he said.

“We have to use that over those six weeks. It would be very damaging to try and use all of that in the first week, and then to have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do for another month.”

He was asked why Wales’ vaccination programme didn’t deliver the Pfizer vaccine to more people.

He replied: “The system we would have would not be in a position to then go on doing the job we need it to do over the weeks ahead.

“The sensible thing to do is to use the vaccine you have got, over the period you have got it for, so that your system can absorb it, and can go on working. We will use all the vaccine we have, in the time that we have it. As more comes on track, we will use that as well.”

Andrew RT Davies claimed the Welsh vaccination programme was ‘not fit for purpose’ and condemned Mr Drakeford for his ‘outburst of honesty’.

He could scarcely have been surprised by what Mr Drakeford said about the Welsh Government’s strategy. It was published last week and confirmed by the First Minister on Friday.

Had Mr Davies attended regular health briefings, as his predecessor Angela Burns did, his shock and outrage might have been diminished.

Andrew RT Davies continued in his familiar and similarly restrained style by claiming: “His shocking doubling-down on his decision to delay deployment of Pfizer vaccine supplies is dangerous, and makes no clinical sense whatsoever.

“We need to get these vaccinations into people’s arms ASAP.”

The Pfizer vaccine cannot be distributed through GP surgeries because it needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees centigrade.

Once a batch is opened, it must be quickly given. If it is not administered quickly, the vaccine is unusable.

The Welsh Government receives its stocks of vaccine from the UK Government. The UK Government distributes the vaccine based on population and not on need.

A quarter of the stocks of the much-easier to store and transport Oxford vaccine due to come to Wales have been delayed. 26,000 doses of the Oxford vaccine due to be sent to Wales
failed a quality test.

The Oxford vaccine can be stored safely in standard drug fridges and administered by GP surgeries.

Last week, Robert Street GP Surgery in Milford Haven said the delay in the Oxford vaccine’s delivery lay behind delays in its patients getting inoculated.

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Reminder from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to pre-book for attractions

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MEMBERS of the public are being reminded to pre-book their entry tickets before visiting two popular National Park Authority-run attractions.

To allow for social distancing on site, both Carew Castle and Tidal Mill and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village have been operating a pre-booking system since last summer.

Those wishing to visit should book their tickets online before arriving at the site. This applies to Annual Pass holders and others who qualify for free entry, such as wheelchair users and accompanying carers.

Carew Castle is open to pre-booked visitors between 10am and 4pm (Tidal Mill 11.30am – 5pm), while those wishing to visit Castell Henllys will be asked to book either a morning slot (10am-1pm) or an afternoon slot (2pm-5pm) before visiting the site.

Daisy Hughes, Visitor Services Manager at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have made some changes to the site and how we operate to ensure that we keep you, our staff and our local community safe.

“All areas of the Castle and Tidal Mill are open, including the Walled Garden and play area. Nest Tearoom, which has plenty of outdoor undercover seating, will be serving light lunches and homemade cakes along with hot and cold drinks throughout the day, and the Castle and Mill Shops remain open – although face coverings must be worn and only card/contactless payments are currently being accepted.

“With the exception of Nest Tearoom, pre-booking is essential, though, and we’re asking all visitors to make sure they book their entry tickets in advance, in order to avoid any delays or disappointment when they arrive on site.”

Entry tickets for both Carew Castle and Castell Henllys can be purchased by visiting www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events

A dynamic programme of events suitable for all the family will be running at both sites throughout the summer months. Visit the above website for more information and to book tickets.

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Salvage Hunters: New series is filming in Pembrokeshire, and they need help

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SALVAGE HUNTERS, the well-loved and most watched Quest TV and Discovery Network show, is on the hunt for locations to film at in the Pembrokeshire and the wider South West Wales area to feature in the upcoming series.

We follow decorative antiques expert Drew Pritchard as he travels around various locations in the UK and abroad on his quest to find and buy unusual objects with an interesting history.

Drew really visits everywhere – beautiful estates, old family businesses, barns and attic’s stuffed full of unwanted things, museums, factories, collectors and iconic religious sites buying all sorts along the way – from gorgeous country house furniture and railwayana to 6ft 1980s disco balls and anything in-between.

Now in its sixteenth series and airing to over half a million people in the UK and millions more worldwide, this is a great opportunity for you to promote your business or home to a broad audience, sell a few items that perhaps you no longer need, make some money and celebrate the history and heritage of the UK.

If you think you fit the bill or know somebody that might then please do not hesitate to reach out and speak with a member of our team.

Call us on 0203 179 0092 or alternatively send us an email to – salvagehunters@curvemedia.com

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Haverfordwest and Cardigan high streets listed as among the ten worst in Britain

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TWO west Wales high streets have been listed in a UK wide report detailing Britain’s worst high streets.

In the highly respected report Cardigan High Street has been listed as the 4th worst in Britain, whilst Haverfordwest has come 8th.

The Harper Dennis Hobbs rankings, which come out every two years, in sadly listed six Welsh High Streets in the worst 10 category.

Some retail centres have performed well since 2019 but most Welsh towns have fallen down the list.

Overall the performance in Wales was poor with a major drop in the average position of Welsh high streets on the UK list.

More shops in Haverfordwest’s town centre have closed since the coronavirus hit (Pic: File image)

The average rank was 797 – the worst of any nation and region in the UK, showing the huge challenge Welsh Government has to revive town centres. Six of the bottom ten UK high streets were in Wales.

Normally Harper Dennis Hobbs releases the full ranking but when the firm published its 2021 report in February, it only made the top 50 best-performing locations publicly available. Now, a copy of the full list shared with i lays bare the shopping centres and high streets that have fared worst over the past year.

Top of the worst list is Girvan in South Ayrshire.

Girvan is home to around 6,500 people and has suffered the same difficulties as many cities and towns across the UK when it comes to its high street’s declining appeal – but it is the area’s “very weak retail offer” and the large number of empty shops that helped seal its place at the bottom of the league table.

Haverfordwest in 2014. can you spot any differences to now?

“Girvan along with Haverfordwest and Cardigan all scored poorly due to a very weak retail offer [and] the towns have a relatively high vacancy rate,” said Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs.

Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at HDH, explained: “Our analysis is unique as we use variables that both consumers and retailers consider when assessing shopping locations to rank the top 1,000 retail centres in Great Britain. This Vitality Ranking looks very different from previous years as the ‘retail health’ of high streets across the country has seen contrasting fortunes since the start of the pandemic.

“The most vital retail centres currently provide services that are essential to people’s lives, such as grocers and pharmacies. These essential retailers have been able to trade throughout the strictest lockdowns, and consumers have not been willing or able to travel far to visit these stores. Shopping patterns have therefore changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, and consumers’ local high streets are benefitting at the expense of major destinations.”

Turning empty retail spaces in the town into homes or offices could help rejuvenate the area and bring “demand to the doors” of shops that survive, Mr Metherell said.

Cardigan High Street before Covid-19 (Pic Stay In Wales)

Top 10 best high streets 2021

  1. Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
  2. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
  3. Tenterden, Kent
  4. Wimbledon Village, south-west London
  5. Marlborough, Wiltshire
  6. Sevenoaks, Kent
  7. Kingston upon Thames, Greater London
  8. Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
  9. Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  10. Ilkley, Bradford

Top 10 worst high streets 2021

  1. Girvan, South Ayrshire
  2. Bristol – Baldwin Street
  3. Chepstow, Monmouthshire
  4. Cardigan, Ceredigion
  5. Southsea, Portsmouth
  6. Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  7. Ammanford, Carmarthenshire
  8. Haverfordwest, Permbrokeshire
  9. Canning Town, east London
  10. Newtown, Powys

(Source: Harper Dennis Hobbs)

Cardigan High Street pictured in the early 2000’s before Currys left town (Pic Geograph)
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