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Badger and the pilot of the future



Badger0MANY years ago, the older among you will remember there was a comic called The Eagle, the main star of which was chiseljawed English spaceman Dan Dare. Along with his faithful companion Digby, Dan Dare fl ew the good ship Anastasia around our solar system and beyond righting interplanetary wrongs with the aid of his trusty left hook.

Of course, readers, Frank Hampson’s optimistic take on the future of space exploration, and in particular the United Kingdom’s leading role in providing crack pilots to Space Fleet, has become hackneyed and kitsch in a way The Eagle’s young readers would not have believed. Badger is not inclined to nostalgia, readers: the here and now is just fi ne by him. Whenever people bang on about how much better the past was, he always reaches for a large pinch of salt. Whenever politicians bang on about the past or appeal to some sort of inchoate and misty common memory, Badger reaches for a shotgun.

Badger has written before about UKIP: The provisional wing of the Monster Raving Looney Party. Last week UKIP gained its first elected MP. A curious looking cove called Douglas Carswell, who for the previous nine years of his political life had brayed along with the best of them behind David Cameron, last month jumped ship to Nigel Farage’s Barmy Army and immediately sought a fresh mandate from his electors. The wonderfully-named Mark Reckless, the MP for Rochester and Strooooood (BBC pronunciation) who rather sounds like the type of character from Dan Dare who ends up trapped by the Mekon in the third story panel, decided subsequently that he would also joint a party whose appeal is not so much retro as a re-tread of all those fi lms in which upper lips were stiff and good old Blighty showed the way to world, or at least the fi endish foreigners who threatened Blighty’s right to rule it. Now, readers, apart from a passing resemblance to the Mekon, which is what started Badger off down this particular route, Douglas Carswell has not much to do with Dan Dare.

Well, not unless we look upon him as someone who demonstrates what someone should do if they change sides and join another party. Not so much a ‘pilot’ in the usual sense we understand then, but as someone who shows the way a politician should act if they ‘cross the fl oor’. Or in the case of members of Pembrokeshire County Council, surrender to the dark side. Of course, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless say they have not acted out of anything other than principle in leaving one party and joining another. Badger can be – and is – cynical about many things, not least politicians who leave one party to join another, but having done so they both stepped down as MP’s and sought a fresh mandate. It is a tragic waste of their fine example that it was wasted on a group of saloon bar bores and dingbats like UKIP.

Imagine if Messrs Carswell’s and Reckless’ example applied to Pembrokeshire, readers. Sue Perkins defected, but did not put herself to a fresh electoral test. Perhaps 2012 was a close enough call for her and she did not trust her electorate’s good judgement to return her when she betrayed them after the election. The Pope of Neyland, Simon Hancock, did not have to put himself through an election in 2012. He simply played a word game after it. You have to wonder, however, how many of his constituents would vote for him in a contested election after he has presided over cuts in social care and local services and introduced charges for day centre use for the elderly on practically no empirical evidence. Stephen Joseph would have been back and forward to the polls a couple of times. Or perhaps just once.

Bob Kilmister, Jonathan Nutting and Peter Stock would have sought reelection, as would David Bryan. And now Alison Lee would be facing the voters seeking their endorsement for joining a group under the leadership of a person in whom she had no confi dence as recently as a few weeks ago. It is not a question of wrong and right. It is a question of the electorate not being swindled if a councillor changes their mind once through the doors of the gravy train. Badger does not criticise all the decisions councillors make. No. Badger wants to make it clear, readers, that the root of many of Pembrokeshire’s longer term problems stem from further afi eld in Cardiff Bay and Westminster. But the way in which the majority of county councillors have demonstrated the judgement of stunned cuttlefishes, the combined intelligence of a tin of tomato soup, and the spinelessness of a small rubber chickens on springs has caused him to despair. Readers: What confidence can we have in the majority of our elected members if they keep on behaving in such self-evidently self-serving ways?

And the worst thing is that, apart from Jamie’s spymaster, Rob Summons, none of the governing group stood as anything other than a pretended independent. Too gutless to stand on principle – or bereft of them – they collectively perpetrated the type of dishonesty one should only expect from merchant bankers. Which is how Badger thinks of many (not all) of them: A great big set of merchant bankers. Pembrokeshire now faces grave challenges, readers. Some want to do away with our political autonomy and destroy our local democracy. Leighton Andrews, who has refused to be interviewed by this newspaper about his moronic plan to gut Welsh local government like a fi sh, represents one challenge. The looming budget problems, represent another. So Badger would like to propose a radical solution to our county councillors.

Not just to the IPPG, but to all our councillors, even the ones Badger likes. Stand down. All of you. Then, present yourselves at the ballot box clearly setting out your programme to address Pembrokeshire’s problems and your constituent’s concerns. No generic partisan bollocks. Make your pledges personal and direct. Be prepared to be judged by how you perform against them. None of this hiding behind the label ‘independent’, no crappy, clever-clever word games: Tell people what you believe in, what you want to do, and how you intend to go about achieving it. Badger’s friend Old Grumpy is often fond of saying that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Well, Pembrokeshire’s electorate did not vote for the type of crass posturing we have seen from County Hall in the last couple of years. County Hall’s politics needs a proper realignment. So come on, councillors. Set a direction. Get a mandate. Follow it through. Or, instead of being turkeys voting for Christmas, are you just chicken?

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Ambulance terror response fears in Wales over hospital delays



Liam Randall, Local Democracy Reporter

AMBULANCE chiefs in Wales say they may not be able to respond properly to terror attacks because of hospital handover delays.

It follows a report highlighting the risk of “catastrophic harm” to the public if crews are busy at A&E departments during major incidents – this includes concerns about the availability of ambulances following a fire on a ferry heading to Fishguard last year.

The Welsh Ambulance Service service raised concerns after a mass-casualty simulation found it would have failed to provide an adequate response three out of four times.

The Welsh government said it expected health boards to prioritise cutting handover delays.

The tests were conducted after the Manchester Arena bombing public inquiry.

That found a host of failings by emergency services in the attack’s aftermath.

The warning follows the service’s claims some medics could not to respond to an explosion at Treforest Industrial Estate, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, in December 2023 because they were stuck outside Morriston Hospital, Swansea.

A major incident was declared after the blast in which a woman died.

Next week a report will be given to the ambulance service board alleging hospital officials failed to release crews from the hospital site.

Swansea Bay University Health Board denied this, saying ambulances were freed.

The ambulance service has questioned the effectiveness of release procedures.

Chief executive Jason Killens has written to Welsh health boards for assurances.

It fears it may not be able to respond to them properly because of hospital handover delays
The ambulance service fears: It may not be able to respond properly because of hospital handover delays

The ambulance report said if a major incident was declared there was a risk an “effective, timely, or safe response” may not happen.

“(This would result in) catastrophic harm (death) and a breach of the trust’s legal obligation,” it said.

The main reason for this was “lost capacity due to hospital handover delays”, over which, it said, it had no control.

It added it was not assured hospitals had plans to release ambulances effectively.

Welsh Ambulance Service operations chief Lee Brooks said it had plans to deliver an effective response to major incidents.

He recognised handover delays were a problem.

“Our ability to send a large-scale response to an incident may be hindered if our people and vehicles are not immediately released by emergency departments,” Mr Brooks said.

The report also highlighted two other occasions where the service had been concerned about ambulances not being released.

These included the fire on the Fishguard in 2023 ferry as well as a gas explosion in Swansea the month after.

Swansea Bay health board said it took its responsibilities seriously and had major incident plans.

Jason Killens
Welsh Ambulance Service boss Jason Killens says as many as 30,000 hours are lost each month due to waits to transfer patients to hospital

“These include agreed protocols to enable the rapid release of ambulances from the emergency department in the event that a major incident is declared,” it said.

“We can confirm that on the evening of the Treforest Industrial Estate fire our major incident plan was invoked and that we did release ambulances.”

Handover delays were raised in the Senedd last week after the health committee was told ambulance crews often see only one patient a shift.

Mr Killens said as much as 30,000 hours were lost monthly in Wales due to waiting to transfer patients to hospital.

Patient safety was at risk, he said, with handover times averaging more than two hours. The target is 15 minutes.

Sam Rowlands MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister said: “It’s not good enough for the Labour Welsh Government to just ‘expect’ Health Boards to solve handover delays.

“We need substantial reform of the entire health system to clear the backlogs of getting patients out of hospital as well as in.

“Our Welsh Conservative plan of NHS reservists, along with care hospitals will deliver that immediate support needed to enable the Ambulance Service to save lives.”

The Welsh government said it expected health boards to cut patient handover delays as a priority over the next six months.

It said this year it was investing an extra £180m to help health boards and regional partnership boards manage more people in the community and avoid ambulances and hospital admission.

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Joy as St Davids Cathedral Music Festival gets into full swing



THE ST DAVIDS Cathedral Festival is in full swing, offering a captivating array of performances that have enthralled audiences and celebrated the rich tradition of music in the historic setting of St Davids Cathedral. The event bring world-class musicians in Britain’s smallest city, running from 24th-29th May.

The programme of events kicked off on Friday, May 24, with The Children’s Chorus and Band, and Vox Angelica, Vicars Choral and Choral Scholars by Candlelight.

On Saturday night, May 25, festival-goers were treated to a truly stunning performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) under the baton of renowned conductor Martyn Brabbins. The evening’s programme featured masterful renditions of works by Brahms, Sibelius, and Mathias, with the extraordinary violinist Inmo Yang delivering a particularly unforgettable performance.

Audience members and performers alike expressed their appreciation for the concert, with many calling it an evening to remember.

Photographer Chris Limbert captured the essence of the night, showcasing the cathedral’s breathtaking atmosphere and the musicians’ passion.

Earlier that same day, one of the festival’s most anticipated events took place: the ‘Choristers Unplugged’ concert.

This event, a favourite among the choristers, saw the young singers performing to a packed audience.

The concert featured a delightful and whimsical pink theme, with choristers donning costumes inspired by ‘Wonka’, ‘Barbie’, ‘Six’, and other popular themes.

The performance was a resounding success, demonstrating the choristers’ versatility and love for music of all genres. Special recognition was given to the Head Chorister, who was praised for expertly curating the programme.

Festival attendees Laurence and his companion expressed their joy at being part of the event, noting how the concert’s atmosphere allowed them to share in the choristers’ enthusiasm and appreciation for a wide variety of music.

The St Davids Cathedral Festival continues to be a highlight in the regional cultural calendar, bringing together talented musicians and appreciative audiences in one of the country’s most iconic and spiritually significant venues.

As the festival progresses, it promises more remarkable performances and memorable experiences for all who attend.

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Injured climber rescued from cliffs near St Govan’s Head



AN INJURED climber was rescued from the cliffs near St Govan’s Head on Friday afternoon, May 24, in a dramatic operation involving multiple agencies. The climber found themselves stranded on the perilous rocks, prompting a swift response from coastguard rescue teams and an RNLI lifeboat.

At approximately 3.50pm, HM Coastguard Dale, St Govans, and Tenby teams, along with the Angle RNLI lifeboat, were paged to assist in the rescue. The lifeboat was the first to reach the climber, providing immediate casualty care. However, due to the climber’s precarious position, evacuation by boat was deemed impossible.

In a statement on their Facebook page, HM Coastguard Dale praised the collaboration, stating, “This was another great example of multiple agencies working together for a positive outcome.”

The coastguard teams then initiated a rope rescue operation. Using a rope rescue stretcher, they successfully extracted the injured climber to the top of the cliff. The climber’s partner, who was also on the cliffs, was safely recovered during the operation.

Once the casualty was safely at the top, paramedics took over, providing necessary medical care. The coastguard teams were subsequently stood down, concluding a successful multi-agency rescue effort.

The quick and efficient response highlights the vital role of coordinated efforts in emergency situations, ensuring the safety and well-being of those in perilous conditions.

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