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Eco space for the local community

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IN A QUIET country lane in Cosheston, a few miles from Pembroke Dock, something remarkable is underway. John Hargraves, owner of Green Apple Cross, is

John Hargraves, owner of Green Apple Cross

John Hargraves, owner of Green Apple Cross

in the process of transforming his land into an exemplar of sustainable living.

A carbon neutral, self-sufficient small holding which Includes woodland coppicing, orchard, fruit-tree nursery, vegetable garden and wildlife area. The development began, when John moved to Cosheston 7 years ago, with his daughter.

“I’ve always worked in the community and this project is about giving something back. I want to enable people, not just to come and learn about growing vegetables, but also to feel good about the land.”

All ages from school and community groups to senior citizens are invited to visit the site, to learn new skills such as apple tree grafting, fruit and veg growing and composting as well as the benefits of sustainable living. There is no charge but donations are welcome.

“The local school has visited in the past’ John continues, ‘we have received funding from educational charity services which is great but with cuts in funding for education it’s difficult for school groups to come. It’s a shame as there’s lots to offer.”

This includes 3 shave horses bought with help from the educational services charity. Shave horses are workbenches which people can sit on, and using a special tool, carve wood into various shapes. “The fact that we have three means it can be a group event, children or adults, can learn together.”

John lives temporarily in a Gypsy Caravan on the land that he has worked on for 7 years. He admits he still has much work to do, but values the support of the community.

“Planting trees in the woodland area was a real community effort. A neighbour puts his sheep to graze on my land and gives me firewood in return. So there’s a nice exchange.”

He hopes to eventually offer individual allotments for school groups and to teach children about house building through the construction of his eco house. It is perhaps the most impressive part of the project. Built with little outside help and using locally sourced timber and polystyrene in the walls and floor. He intends to make it fully insulated so heating will be largely unnecessary.

“It’s certainly the only eco house of this size and design in Pembrokeshire. When it’s complete I would like to use the space for yoga and dance classes.”

In September 2013, the low impact council held a conference at Green Apple. Over 50 people took part in various activities, enjoyed live music and camping in the beautiful surroundings.

Local reading and writing groups have also used the undercover nursery, which in spring is an abundance of blossoming fruit trees.

“Local writer Ruthie Alton led a review of Germaine Greer’s White Beech here last summer. We plan to a make this a regular thing.”

In the future John would like to see more school/community groups and general public visiting Green Apple. He understands it’s a time of cutbacks and hardships but believes people will always need the land.

“Green Apple was made for sharing. There are always things going on here. In February the Apricot trees will begin to flower, in March grafting on the young trees can begin. Whatever happens in the world we have to look after the land.”

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Community

Wales hurtling towards 10,000 care home bed deficit over next decade

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EXPERTS have warned there will be desperate shortage of 10,000 care home beds in Wales over the next decade.

The alert has been raised specialist business property adviser Christie & Co who say there is a growing need for new, “future proof” care homes to meet the need.

Their prediction comes at a time when demand is spiralling upwards, with the over 85 population set to double over the next 20 years.

According to sector champions Care Forum Wales (CFW) the “alarming figures” illustrated the need for social care to be funded properly for existing homes to survive and encourage the development of new ones.

CFW warned that Wales was “sleepwalking into disaster” because the growing shortage of care home beds would pile pressure on the beleaguered NHS when hospitals were already virtually at breaking point.

Building new care homes is a costly business as Gwynedd and Flintshire county councils have shown recently.

They have plans to build two new facilities with a total of around 100 beds between them at an estimated cost of more than £250,000 per bed.

If their figures are correct that would mean it would mean it would cost £400 million for the extra beds needed in North Wales and £2.5 billion for the whole of Wales over the next 10 years.

Worryingly, Christie & Co also revealed in the report  that 40 elderly care homes in Wales closed and only four opened between 2020 and 2023 – with no new ones in North Wales.

Among the closures in North Wales were Trewythen Hall in Gresford, Bay Court in Kinmel Bay, Gwastad Hall in Cefn y Bedd and Morfa Newydd in Greenfield with the loss of more than 160 beds.

CFW Chair Mario Kreft MBE said: “The report from Christie & Co paints a bleak picture an illustrates how the existing crisis is going to get even worse, creating a double whammy for our overstretched hospitals which have rows of ambulances queuing outside and patients on trolleys in corridors.

“Instead of being able to build more care homes to meet growing demand, we are seeing more and more care home closures.

“The cost of building new care homes and replacing the beds we are losing now is absolutely eye-watering.

“Our public finances in Wales are already under pressure so where is this money coming from?

“The way care homes are funded in Wales is a total postcode lottery with 29 variations on a theme, with most of social care being commissioned by the 22 local authorities and seven health boards.

“Within that there is a gaping North-South divide with five of the six county councils in North Wales paying the lowest fees, arrived at by a fee-fixing cartel known as the North Wales Regional Fees Group.

“The one shining exception is Conwy Council where earlier this year announced inflation-busting plans to increase fees by up to 20% after warnings that care homes were at risk of financial meltdown and closure.

“Following a long-running campaign by Care Forum Wales they have introduced fairer fees which reflect the actual cost of providing care for vulnerable people in privately run homes, including those with dementia.

“That came about because Conwy broke away from the North Wales Regional Fees Group and took our advice by  commissioning leading healthcare economists Laing & Buisson to analyse the true costs of care providers for the current year.

“It’s and internationally recognised tool to ensure that and those living and working in care homes can receive the best care, while at the same time, ensuring that the

“This is something we have been calling for over many years. All we want is fairness in line with the Welsh Government’s ‘Let’s agree to agree’ guidance.

“The fundamental issue threatening the viability of care homes is the unrealistically low fees that the vast majority of councils and health boards pay, fees that come nowhere near covering the true cost of providing care.

“Economically, it would make a lot more sense to ensure the financial security of our existing care homes instead of just relying on the forlorn hope that somebody is going to magically build enough new ones to  meet current needs and the increasing demands for social care.

“We’ve had a generation of injustice and it’s a generation where the institutional prejudice and discrimination against the private care sector in Wales has meant that those living and working in these fantastic community assets have not been valued.

“The problems we have in social care lead to the pressures in the NHS which lead of course then to extra costs being placed on the NHS which would largely be alleviated if local authorities had a more enlightened approach to social care.

“If Conwy can do it, the other five local authorities in North Wales can and should do it and of course, the money has always been there. It’s how you politically choose to spend it.

“Across the famous Foryd Bridge, which links Kinmel Bay and Rhyl, Denbighshire County Council is budgeting announced  much smaller increases of around 8% on rock bottom fees which have been immediately wiped out by inflation and the cost of living crisis.

“The vastly differing rates mean that Denbighshire will be paying £9,224 a year less per person than Conwy towards the cost of giving exactly the same level of nursing care to residents.

“It is simply an outrage. It’s an affront to the families that that bridge spanning the mouth of the River Clwyd can mean such a massive difference for vulnerable people, including those with dementia.

“The families of those people, who will often be expected to make up the difference,  need to ask why and quite frankly, it is a bridge too far.

“This is undoubtedly a stealth tax on families and quite frankly, the people making these decisions in those authorities should be utterly ashamed of themselves in the way they are betraying vulnerable people including those with profound dementia and their families.

“What this demonstrates is that there is an urgent need for us to look again at the way social care is funded.

“We need a national approach to eliminate this iniquitous postcode lottery so that the people for whom we provide care and our staff are treated fairly.

”This is too important to be left to local authorities and health boards alone – it has to be driven by the Welsh Government.”

Pictured: Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales

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Community

Tenby park and ride service returns for summer

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THE ANNUAL summer Tenby park and ride service returns from this Saturday, July 20th.

The handy service operated by Pembrokeshire County Council runs between 11am and 6pm every day until Friday September 13th.

Buses operate from The Salterns car park and call at The Green and South Parade.

The bus service is free with customers just needing to pay for parking as normal.

Buses run approximately every 15 minutes (with exception of one 45 minute driver break per day, taken when demand allows).

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Community

Petitions against Pembrokeshire day care centre closures to be discussed

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TWO PETITIONS calling on Pembrokeshire County Council to reverse its decision to close day care centres in Pembroke Dock, Crymych and Narberth are to be heard at County Hall later this week.

The two petitions, on the council’s own e-petitions webpage, drew nearly 3,400 signatures between them.

Earlier this year, senior councillors backed plans to close two of the county’s centres for older adults and those with learning disabilities, Portfield SAC, Haverfordwest, and Avenue SAC, Tenby; service users moving to other centres in the county.

The county council is currently changing care provision for older adults and those with learning disabilities, and fears have been raised recently that Pembroke Dock’s Anchorage day care centre is to close.

A series of engagement events have taken place at The Anchorage recently, outlining the reasons and the options in continued service.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “One young woman who attends ran out of the first meeting sobbing when she was told it was going to close.

“Another, at the second meeting, tried to address the meeting, but was so choked up at the thought of not seeing her friends any more she could hardly speak.”

It now is feared Narberth’s Lee Davies Day Care Centre and Crymych’s Bro Preseli Day Centre could also close, with concerns it is due solely to budgetary reasons.

An e-petition on the council’s own website, by John Llewellyn of Living Memory Group, entitled against the closure of the Lee Davies and Bro Preseli day care centres.

The two petitions, which have now both closed, attracted 1,701 and 1,675 signatures respectively.

As they have both met the threshold for debate at council, they will both be heard at the July 18 meeting of full council.

Peter Welsh, in his petition for Pembroke Dock’s The Anchorage, says: “We call on Pembrokeshire County Council to reverse its decision to close the Anchorage Social Activity Centre based in Pembroke Dock as part of the council’s reduction in services being imposed following the recent budget approval.”

Mr Llewellyn’s petition for the Lee Davies and Bro Preseli day care centres reads: “We call on Pembrokeshire County Council to Review the closure of the Lee Davies Day Care Centre at Bloomfield’s and the Bro Preseli Day Centre at Crymych.

“Staff at both Day Care Centres were informed in Mid-March that both facilities would be closing due to PCC budget cuts. Both centres are an essential outlet for the well-being of the attendees and their families.”

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