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80mph speed limit suggested

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Raising speed limit would ‘get economy moving’: Welsh Conservatives

Raising speed limit would ‘get economy moving’: Welsh Conservatives

PLANS to commit to a consultation on increasing the speed limit of the M4 and A55 from 70mph to 80mph would ‘get the Welsh economy moving’, according to the Welsh Conservatives.

The idea for such a consultation has in recent years been mooted by UK Government ministers – most recently by the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, who in 2015 said the government will consider the proposal for faster roads as it introduces more ‘smart motorways’ over the next two years.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) – who recommended proposals for an 80mph speed limit pilot in Scotland and Wales – describes motorways as “our safest roads because they are designed for high speeds” and the vehicles using them have “never been safer”.

Welsh Conservatives believe that increasing the speed limit on North and South Wales’ busiest roads would not only cut down on commuting times, thereby improving quality of life, but would serve to ease the journey of cars and vans carrying goods and services who rely on these crucial transport corridors to reach a number of different destinations throughout the day.

A Welsh Conservative government would ensure that if the consultation found that a pilot was successful in terms of safety, practicality and driver acceptance; strict enforcement measures would be imposed to ensure that drivers would not exceed the speed limit.

The consultation forms part of a broader commitment of to prioritise transport developments which better link people to economic and social opportunities, delivering infrastructure that saves people time and money.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, said: “The M4 and A55 are vital arteries in the Welsh economy with thousands of commuters relying on their use every day.

“Welsh Conservatives believe that raising the speed limit from 70mph to 80mph could play a vital role in getting our economy moving and offering invaluable support to hard-pressed motorists, commuters and businesses.

“Consultation would be key – ensuring the views of all stakeholders are considered, so any change on the M4 and A55 is delivered with safety paramount.”

Andrew Atkinson, prospective Assembly Member for Wrexham, said: “Improvements to roads and the design of cars means that the current 70mph speed limit on the A55 could now be obsolete – motorists should be allowed to drive faster, if a consultation finds it safe and feasible.

“Such a decision would bring us in line with the continent, where most major roads have an 81mph speed limit.

“We must consider all possibilities to improve our roads and infrastructure for the benefit of our economy and our hardworking road users who fuel it.

“The consultation is just one of a raft of measures we’d take to ensure that drivers get the best experience from our roads to reach their desired destinations and go about their daily business as safely as possible without unnecessary delay.”

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Council takes steps to focus social housing allocations for those in greatest need

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says that it is taking the first steps towards delivering on Welsh Government’s Rapid Rehousing approach by introducing an Emergency Social Housing Allocations Policy to focus the way the housing needs of residents are met in Carmarthenshire.

The Emergency Policy, developed by Communities Scrutiny Task and Finish, will be considered by the Committee on Thursday 26th January and has been created to help address housing pressures and reduce the time that those in greatest need wait for social housing.

The Policy will enable direct matching of homes to applicants most in need, such as those who are homeless, are at risk of homelessness or in urgent housing need. It will also enable homes to be allocated more quickly and to those residents they are most suitable for.

The proposed Emergency Social Housing Allocations Policy has three defined bands:

Band A: Additional preference – Those who are homeless, are at risk of homelessness or have an urgent housing need.

Band B: Housing need: Reasonable preference – Including residents who need to move due to medical/welfare needs, are looking to transfer to a smaller property (under-occupying), want to move from an adapted home they no longer need or are currently living in an overcrowded/insanitary property.

Band C: Applicants who have no housing need

Applicants who can financially meet their own housing need, do not have a local connection to Carmarthenshire or they/a member of their household have been found guilty of unacceptable behaviour will be given no preference under this Policy.

As a part of the Policy, applicants will be sent reminders to re-register their interest on the 6 and 12 month anniversary of their registration date. Failure to re-register, to use their account or to bid for properties that meet their needs may mean that applicants will be removed from the Housing Register to ensure that only those in need of the service are registered. Help to do this will be provided for people who need it.

Cllr Deryk Cundy, Chair of the Scrutiny Task and Finish Group responsible for developing the Policy said: “As Chair of the cross-party working group that developed this Emergency Policy, I am delighted to be able to present this Emergency Social Housing Allocations Policy to Scrutiny. I am confident that if approved this will have a major impact on the lives of residents in housing need in Carmarthenshire.”

Cllr Linda Evans, Cabinet Member for Homes said: “If approved, the Emergency revised Social Housing Allocations Policy will transform the way social housing is allocated in Carmarthenshire.

“By more clearly defining the needs of those on the housing register, the Council can provide suitable housing more quickly to those who need it by directly matching properties to applicants. Only if a property cannot be matched to someone in exceptional circumstances or Band A of the register will it be advertised on home finder website, Canfod Cartref.”

If approved at the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, the Policy will be considered by the Council’s Cabinet and then submitted for Full Council approval.

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Anger as Pembrokeshire misses out on latest round of ‘Levelling Up’ funding

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CEFIN CAMPBELL, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales, has criticised the UK Government’s methodology for allocating funding under its ‘Levelling Up Fund’ after a UK Government announcement today revealed that Pembrokeshire will not receive any funding.

A total of eleven projects in Wales have been allocated around £208 million from round two of the Levelling Up Fund. The UK Government has claimed that these projects will create jobs, drive economic growth, help restore people’s pride in the places where they live and spread opportunity more equally.

However, Pembrokeshire is among eleven Welsh local authorities that have not received any money under today’s announcement. This comes despite announcements that wealthier areas, including Rishi Sunak’s constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire, will receive funding.

Responding to the UK Government’s announcement, Cefin Campbell MS said:

“Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Powys and Carmarthenshire are amongst the eleven Welsh local authorities that will not receive a single penny from today’s ‘Levelling Up’ round.

“This is despite the real need for ‘levelling up’ in these communities across mid and west Wales – with rural poverty, a housing crisis and poor infrastructure continuing to hamper economic growth and opportunities.

“The Tories promised that Brexit would leave Wales no worse off, and that European funding would be replaced, pound-for-pound. This promise has rung disgracefully hollow, with Wales now looking at a funding shortfall of £1.1bn compared with previous EU schemes.

“The way in which the ‘Levelling Up’ Fund has been allocated appears to reflect cynical political decision-making rather than any real assessment of Wales’ material need – and appears to be little more than a Tory stich up.”

Ben Lake MP, Plaid Cymru Treasury spokesperson added:

“Between 2009-2020 local authority spending per head in Wales fell by 9.4%. The idea that we should now be grateful for the privilege of competing over a small pot of money is frankly insulting. The arbitrary and ad-hoc way in which Westminster is allocating this funding is not conducive to the kind of cohesive long-term economic planning needed to break the poverty cycle.

“From the outset, Plaid Cymru have called for funding to be allocated according to need. If the UK Government want to redeem any credibility on ‘levelling up’, they should revise their criteria so that Wales receives funding according to our relative need.”

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Council launches social care campaign to support the NHS and those most in need

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has launched Operation Nightingale 23, a campaign to support and reduce pressure in our hospitals.

The Council is acutely aware of the considerable challenges currently being experienced within the NHS in Wales including within our local hospital at Withybush.

Withybush has a significant numbers of patients who need to leave hospital but are waiting for an assessment of continuing care need or the right care package in the community.

Under Op NG 23, Pembrokeshire County Council will deliver a variety of measures to help increase the flow of patients out of hospital including:

  • the short-term redeployment of staff into community support roles
  • additional social work capacity
  • the redeployment of existing social care capacity into the hospital teams to prioritise patient care assessment and care package allocation

This will also include the engagement of community groups and volunteers to allow people to safely leave hospital and return home.

The Authority will be looking to its partners and communities for support across a variety of contributing activities that have the potential to have an immediate impact.

Last week the Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services

Eluned Morgan MS visited Pembrokeshire County Council and received a briefing on Operation Nightingale 23.

Cllr Tessa Hodgson, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Safeguarding, said:

“We understand that pressures around bed capacity, discharges from hospital and challenges around the provision of care packages in the community, all impact negatively on our most vulnerable citizens.

“Some of the challenges that the council is experiencing in social care are shared across the health sector, not least of all with regard to workforce, winter flu and the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 virus.

“We acknowledge the significant impact this has on those in hospitals and care, and for their families. As part of our work we want to get the best results for everyone.”

It is as a result of these acute pressures, particularly at this time of year, and the risk they create, that Pembrokeshire County Council has decided to launch Operation Nightingale 23.

Cllr Hodgson adds: “This will see the authority and in particular the social care directorate step up to a critical response mode, in order to develop immediate and short term innovative responses to the current pressures, to improve flow of patients out of hospital, and to reduce pressure on our colleagues in the NHS.”

The Authority will review how it can effectively embed this work in the medium to long term, to face the challenges of an aging population for the good of this generation and those to come.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive for Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “Our hospitals continue to be extremely busy with many sick patients and continuing high demand for emergency and urgent care. This means patients are waiting longer than we would want them to.

“This is always the most difficult period of the year, and we are managing the complexity of flu, Covid and increased urgent and emergency care demand.

“Currently, we have around 300 patients who are medically fit for discharge across the Hywel Dda region. This equates to over a third of the number of beds in our hospitals.

“Operation Nightingale 23 will help to free up some of those beds allowing us to treat patients more quickly and we are grateful to our colleagues in social care in Pembrokeshire for prioritising this work to free up capacity in the system.”

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