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Badger and the balancing act

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badger knows bestSOME people, readers, who shall for the moment remain shameless, seem to think that newspapers and other media should not report news as it is but news as they would wish it to be. To them, every day is a good news day and every mishap, misstep or disaster is an ‘opportunity’. Well readers, over the last few years, readers, there have been plenty of chances for Badger’s chums at County Hall and Health Board HQ to avail themselves of some pretty catastrophic opportunities. Some believe that there should be more stories about diligent councillors doing their altruistic level best with nary a thought about preening their public image or grabbing an extra allowance or three. To those persons, readers, it’s all about ‘never mind the quality, feel the width’. Still, others believe that they and their organizations are misrepresented or represented unfairly by Badger and his ilk. They complain that negative news affects how the services they deliver are perceived and hamper their efforts at recruitment and improvement.

To those people, readers, there are no cuts there are only ‘efficiency savings’ and staffing problems cannot possibly be the result of crappy staff management and salami-slicing cuts. Apparently, readers, such is Badger’s power over the hearts and minds of the surface world that the merest flick of his claw sends shivers through bureaucrats and petty politicians with nothing better to do than take careful aim at the messenger, rather than act on their own faults and flaws. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. Badger is a solitary creature tip-tapping away in his sett, pausing only to look up at the outside world and do some reading. However, those who complain the loudest have public servants on hand to prepare their carefully chosen words for them. Those without wordsmiths on tap are handsomely paid from the public purse, presumably on the basis they are able to string two words together and express themselves in a clear and clearly thought out way. Or so you would think. Words are slippery things, readers, and they do not always mean what you and Badger might believe. Badger wants, therefore, to show you, dear readers, the sort of sign posts that one should look for when questioning the pronouncements made by those in public authority. Here readers, Badger will provide three phrases to watch out for when you are trying to ascertain the amount of horse feathers being peddled on each occasion you might hear them.

1. ‘Everyone agrees that no change is not an option’ This phrase is especially beloved of those seeking to ram through a radical programme for which they have no democratic mandate on the basis that we’ve all gone to hell in a handcart and only they can operate the brake. It impliedly asks you to ignore the fact that they got us into this infernal truck in the first place. It is indicative of prejudgement of a substantive issue that precludes the chance of proper debate around alternatives. The meaning of the term ‘everyone’ in this case can vary from ‘the members of the ‘independent’ panel I appointed who have surprisingly agreed with my objectives’, through to ‘a policy think tank populated by people with ideas and no common sense’, ‘my cabinet colleagues and I’, and – as Badger suspects in Leighton Andrews’ and Mark Drakeford’s cases – ‘the voices in my head’.

2. ‘The level of service has fallen far short of the level of service we usually provide and is below expectations we set for ourselves’ Badger’s bugbear, if badgers have bugbears, readers, is the use of the above phrase in the context of the non-admission admission that the service provided has been appalling. Let’s look at the phrase critically for a moment or two. What is actually being said is that the person or body at fault is one which sets itself high standards and that – in this instance ONLY – those standards have not been met. It is asking you, the engaged reader, viewer or listener, to agree that – for example only – Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board could not possibly have known about the level of elderly patient mistreatment and neglect at Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, despite the fact that the course of alleged misconduct covered many years, was the subject of a number of complaints and involved a significant number of health workers, several of whom have now been charged with criminal offences. If they said what they mean in the way that they really feel about it, something like this would be more appropriate: “Our management systems are chaotic and we systematically ignored complaints and warning signs. Sorry.” (Jazz hands).

3. ‘Lessons must be learned; and they will be learned’ Now, readers, this is a phrase that can be deployed in almost any circumstance in which the speaker or writer needs to verbalise contrition while signalling that they want to brush a scandal under the carpet. It is most often deployed by those seeking to demonstrate that, no matter what previous failings there may have been, they are committed to sorting them out and hope that you will not notice that they are the group or individual responsible for the cock up in the first place. A special ‘sad’ voice is used to deliver this phrase, possibly to distract attention from some pretty lumpy carpets about the place. Jamie Adams used to love this one when he rattled on about the failings in our county’s education system that his administration had put right. Did you know, readers, that the administration that piloted Pembrokeshire’s education system into the mire is the same one that seeks your approval for digging it back out of the mire with the help of the Welsh Government? Did you know that Jamie Adams was Deputy Leader of the council for four years and a deputy Cabinet and Cabinet member for three or four years before that? Because if you didn’t, readers, Jamie isn’t about to tell you. Otherwise there is a risk that, unlike some of his Cabinet colleagues and IPPG stooges, you will be able to work out how many beans make five and where the buck must ultimately stop. No wonder it was once said ‘I have seen the future and it smirks’. Looking at Jamie Adams one can see the future is now. Badger is not demonstrating bias here, readers. Badger thinks that statements coming from authority should be forensically examined. After all, readers, policies mean pounds – and pounds mean you and me are going to pay policies’ prices. It is right to approach a statement with an open mind in the hope of judging whether, on balance, one agrees with a policy or not. It is our duty to read and listen critically and to question authority. Sometimes authority will be right, but we must always test it first and judge it. Badger is a sceptic, but that does not mean he is a pessimist. Badger always travels hopefully, readers, when reading a pronouncement, listening to a speech, following a debate. It is hardly Badger’s fault that it is usually better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

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Crime Commissioner continues to secure funding for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual violence

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police is again making the offer for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual abuse to bid for additional funds.

Funding was made available last year, in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on organisations supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence.

It was part of a £76 million package of support made available by the UK Government.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “Thanks to this additional funding, we can ensure that victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Dyfed-Powys can access specialist services for support, at a time when they are needed the most.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in domestic violence during the pandemic and victims need help now more than ever and I am grateful for the work of all the service providers across the Force area that help these men, women and families who are most in need.

“I want to reassure anyone who is in an abusive situation or relationship that you do not need to suffer in silence, and I urge anyone to report abuse to the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“This funding is open both to providers whom I currently commission and those that I do not currently fund. However, unlike the extraordinary Covid-19 funding provided in 2020/21, organisations do not need to be a registered charity, a charitable incorporated organisation, or a social enterprise to be eligible for this funding. They must, however, provide support services which have the purpose of helping victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse cope with the impacts of crime and, as far as possible, recover from the harm they have experienced. We would also encourage applications from small specialist organisations that support groups with protected characteristics.

“If you wish to submit a request for this funding, further guidance is available on my website, and can be requested via the office e-mail address.”

Closing date for submissions is close of play on Friday, March 12, 2021.

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Covid alert level lowered for whole of UK

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THE COVID alert level for all four nations of the United Kingdom has been lowered to alert level 4.

The decision comes following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in light of the most recent data.

In recent weeks, the R-rate and the number of covid cases has been on the decline.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.

“The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

Under the Welsh Government’s Alert level 4 restrictions, schools and colleges, places of worship, community centres, playgrounds and public parks are among those that can be opened.

Theatres, entertainment venues, leisure facilities and outdoor visitors attractions are among the places that must remain close while the country is in Alert Level 4.

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Postmaster and politicians welcome Goodwick cash machine U-turn

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GOODWICK post office will now be keeping its ATM, after a U-turn by Post Office Ltd.

The machine was due to be removed within months with the post master, Jon Moverley saying that it would be a disaster for the village.

If the ATM had been removed, there would have been just two 24-hour ATMs serving the whole of Fishguard and Goodwick in the short term and three when the Co-op renovations are completed.

Both politicians and local residents then got behind the campaign to keep the ATM

Pembrokeshire politicians Paul Davies and Stephen Crabb have welcomed the news that Goodwick post office is now set to keep its ATM facility. Following representations made by both politicians to the Post Office, it’s now been confirmed that Goodwick Post Office will be included in the rollout of ATM machines across the post office network.

Mr Davies said “This is really welcome news. I’m pleased that the Post Office has listened to the representations made by the local community and decided to retain the ATM at Goodwick post office. The facility is so important for local people and businesses and it’s great that that’s been recognised and the Post Office has committed to keeping it.”

Following the Post Office’s decision to invest in Goodwick’s ATM rather than remove it, Stephen Crabb MP, who campaigned for the ATM to stay, commented: “It’s great news that the Post Office has overturned its own decision and will be keeping an ATM machine in Goodwick.

“Access to cash continues to be incredibly important for a number of people and businesses and I’m pleased to have played my part in working with John from the Post Office in Goodwick, Paul Davies MS and the wider community to highlight the ATMs importance to the area. It shows what can be achieved when we work together.”

The postmaster described the news as ‘brilliant’. Mr Moverley thanked supporters.

He said “Many thanks to all of you who have used the machine and complained to POL about the removal. We were also supported by our MP, MS and mayor, the National Federation of Sub-postmasters and our Chamber of Trade.

“Everyone did their bit, and it says an enormous amount about the strength of the community.

“We are delighted that locals and so many other people have come together to save this essential facility in the village.”

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