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Withybush: Special care baby unit to close

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WithybushIT HAS BEEN announced today that the Special Care Baby Unit at Withybush hospital, Haverfordwest will close, but consultant led services will remain at the hospital until such time as midwife led service is ready to be deployed.

Health Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford: “Essential factor is that a mother should be able to make an informed decision on the place of birth. These changes will mean that the majority of services will be continued to be provided locally by their GP and hospital as they are now. Women can continue to safely have their deliveries at the midwife led units.” He continued: “I endorse the new service model”

Commenting on the statement from the welsh Labour Government on the future of level 2 neonatal services in the Hywel Dda Health Board area in West Wales, Paul Davies, Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said:

“This decision represents a bleak day for the people of Pembrokeshire who have campaigned and fought tirelessly to protect lifesaving baby services at Withybush Hospital.

“This decision is dangerous and in immediately life-threatening cases, could pose severe harm to mothers and babies and Welsh Labour Ministers carry a heavy responsibility in pursuing this centralising agenda.

“Expectant mothers must be confident in the knowledge that services are fit for purpose and that care for sick and vulnerable babies will be available if the worst happens.

“Travelling any distance lessens survival chances and in a rural area like Pembrokeshire, reaching medical attention within the golden hour can make the difference between life and death.

“We need to hear a cast iron guarantee from Labour Ministers that there will be no reduction in paediatrics or other services at Withybush Hospital as a result of this downgrade.

“Many patients will see this closure as a financial decision, perhaps resulting from Labour’s legacy of record-breaking NHS cuts.”

Angela Burns, Assembly Member for Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire, said, “Trust and safety are the two most important things for any new mother and baby when they are in a healthcare environment.

“We need a clear undertaking from the Welsh Government that Labour Ministers will keep a close watch on neonatal care in West Wales for the security of patients.

“Many patients fear that Hywel Dda Health Board is trigger happy when it comes to closing services, but not quick enough in getting alternative proposals in place or recruiting staff to properly resources those services.

“It is critical that safety nets are in place before any closures to give campaigners and families confidence that the best interests of mothers and babies are the overriding priority in devising neonatal care provision.

“Labour Ministers must now assure patients in Pembrokeshire that this is not a slippery slope towards the further loss of services at Withybush Hospital.”

Paul Davies AM said “Today is a bleak day for the people of Pembrokeshire. The minister has made it clear that he will close the SCBU at Withybush, and this will put lives at risk. This decision has been taken without geographical considerations being taken into account. The WAG needs to take into consideration transfer times and transport. Pembrokeshire has challenging transport links, and if critical services are not based in Pembrokeshire then it is unlikely that people will be able to access critical services within one hour. New centralised baby unit will cost over £12,000,000 to set up.”

Mark Drakeford replied: “Should it be the case after 12 months that the new service level is unsafe then any sensible person would want to revisit that model. I am confident that Withybush hospital will continue as a hospital in West Wales and I only last week announced more capital investment in that hospital.”
Mark Drakeford, claims that while essential SCBU services are transferred, there will be a “safety net” and that work would be done on commissioning emergency transport arrangements.

Local AM, Paul Davies, asked why these arrangements were thought necessary now and not thought essential as part of the original planned service transfer.

Stephen Crabb MP told the Herald: “I am shocked and appalled at the decision by the Welsh Health Minister in Cardiff today to axe the unit which has helped save the lives of so many vulnerable mums and babies in our County.”

“This news is a cold and bitter blow to all the people across Pembrokeshire who have fought hard to save the Special Care Baby Unit. They will rightfully feel angry and deeply disappointed that their grave concerns have been ignored by the Minister. There can be no doubt that this decision will cause huge anxiety in the community. I fear that the closure of SCBU is the start of the wholesale downgrading that Welsh Government and the Health Board has been planning all along.”

“The argument that it all comes down to budget cuts is nonsense. The Labour Welsh Government was actually given extra money for health after the Coalition in Westminster ring-fenced health spending against cuts. Welsh Ministers then chose to go ahead and cut its health budget. Instead they have spent money on things like Cardiff Airport which cost the taxpayer in Wales £52 million.”

“As many Pembrokeshire people know, the Welsh Government has been trying desperately to move health services from Withybush Hospital since before 2005. The Labour Ministers in Cardiff need to wake up to reality and realise that centralising these vital services will put lives at risk in our rural communities. The next step in the campaign to save SCBU is through the courts and I fully support any such action.  I will be providing any assistance I can to help overturn this decision.”

Commenting on the statement from the welsh Labour Government on the future of level 2 neonatal services in the Hywel Dda Health Board area in West Wales, Paul Davies, Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said:

“This decision represents a bleak day for the people of Pembrokeshire who have campaigned and fought tirelessly to protect lifesaving baby services at Withybush Hospital.

“This decision is dangerous and in immediately life-threatening cases, could pose severe harm to mothers and babies and Welsh Labour Ministers carry a heavy responsibility in pursuing this centralising agenda.

“Expectant mothers must be confident in the knowledge that services are fit for purpose and that care for sick and vulnerable babies will be available if the worst happens.

“Travelling any distance lessens survival chances and in a rural area like Pembrokeshire, reaching medical attention within the golden hour can make the difference between life and death.

“We need to hear a cast iron guarantee from Labour Ministers that there will be no reduction in paediatrics or other services at Withybush Hospital as a result of this downgrade.

“Many patients will see this closure as a financial decision, perhaps resulting from Labour’s legacy of record-breaking NHS cuts.”

Angela Burns, Assembly Member for Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire, said, “Trust and safety are the two most important things for any new mother and baby when they are in a healthcare environment.

“We need a clear undertaking from the Welsh Government that Labour Ministers will keep a close watch on neonatal care in West Wales for the security of patients.

“Many patients fear that Hywel Dda Health Board is trigger happy when it comes to closing services, but not quick enough in getting alternative proposals in place or recruiting staff to properly resources those services.

“It is critical that safety nets are in place before any closures to give campaigners and families confidence that the best interests of mothers and babies are the overriding priority in devising neonatal care provision.

“Labour Ministers must now assure patients in Pembrokeshire that this is not a slippery slope towards the further loss of services at Withybush Hospital.”

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Heatherton expansion approved

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• Committee overturns officers’ objections

• Economic benefits outweigh other impacts

Conditions must not delay development

THE COUNCIL’s Planning Committee voted to approve plans to extend holiday accommodation at Heatherton at its meeting on Tuesday (June 15).

Officers recommended refusal of the plans.

During their discussions, the Committee’s members noted the reasons for refusal detailed by the planning report. They concluded, however, with appropriate conditions in place, the economic benefits of the development outweighed the bases outlined for refusal.

Addressing the meeting, the applicant, Charlie Davies, told Committee members that the changing holiday market meant Heatherton and the area around it would miss out on opportunities to meet the demand for holidays in Pembrokeshire. He added that the planned expansion – to include a further twenty holiday lodges – would secure year-round jobs at Heatherton and have a positive impact on the local rural economy.

Mr Davies said the existing lodge development, approved by the authority seven years ago, improved the viability of Heatherton as an enterprise and would further strengthen the business’ finances.

Officers objected to the plans because they said the development would be outside settlement boundaries and run contrary to environmental policy. 

The report, presented by the Head of Planning David Popplewell, set out a series of concerns regarding the lodges’ visual impact, a lack of screening, and the lack of detail about landscaping plans and construction controls during development.

However, addressing the Committee as one of the local members whose Ward would be affected by the development, Cllr Phil Kidney said St Florence Community Council vigorously supported the application as being of direct benefit to businesses in the village. 

He pointed out that the economic benefits were not only Tenby centric but affected businesses elsewhere in the County.

Phil Kidney told the Committee his visit to a laundry in Pembroke Dock, by chance, revealed that laundry he delivered would be delayed because of laundry being done for the accommodation already on site. 

Cllr Kidney added that, bearing in mind the current furore over second homes, the provision of holiday accommodation on sites such as Heatherton could reduce the demands on local housing and open-up opportunities for local people to live locally.

He fully endorsed the proposal and said he could see no downside to permitting further expansion of a business that delivered jobs to local people, especially young people entering the jobs market for the first time.

Cllr Jonathan Preston agreed with Cllr. Kidney. 

He observed that the regulations regarding what constituted ‘a caravan’ were out of date and out of touch with reality. 

Although the proposed lodges were technically caravans; they were a world away from what most people would expect a caravan to look like and beyond the vision that informed the current rules regarding the term.

Cllr Mark Carter said the problems identified in the planning report could be addressed through the imposition of conditions on the development to offset them.

Mark Carter pointed out issues regarding the detail of landscaping works and lighting could be subject to conditions drafted by officers.

His opinion was warmly welcomed by both Cllrs David Pugh and Vice-Chair Tony Wilcox.

David Pugh said Heatherton was a successful business, employing local people and should be encouraged to continue to offer job opportunities for locals.

Tony Wilcox said Heatherton was one of the three main jewels in Pembrokeshire’s tourist crown. 

He noted the other two destinations – Folly Farm and Bluestone – both recently applied to extend their facilities, and he could see little or no difference between what Heatherton proposed and what officers were prepared to accept elsewhere.

Cllr Tim Evans developed Cllr Wilcox’s theme, observing that officers barely raised an eyebrow about a further eighty pieces of holiday accommodation at Bluestone, which he said had ‘whizzed through’. 

Subject to conditions being brought back to the Committee, he fully supported the application.

Cllr Jacob Williams, Chair of Planning, asked whether the proposed conditions would be back before the Committee for its next meeting in July. 

Having received an equivocal answer he moved that if the Committee approved the scheme, with the proposed planning conditions to offset officers’ objections must come before the Committee on July 27.

Cllr Pugh endorsed that approach by saying nobody wanted the proposal kicked into the long grass.

Councillors approved the plans unanimously by 14 votes to nil, and officers must prepare conditions to attach to the planning permission ahead of the Committee’s next meeting.

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Milford Haven: Christmas cosmetics thief caged

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A MIDLANDS shop lifter caught stealing £2200 worth of cosmetics and skin care products from Boots in Milford Haven just before Christmas, has been jailed.

Magistrates sitting at Haverfordwest Court on Tuesday (Jun 15) accepted a guilty plea from 53-year-old Ion-Gabriel Maimut of Perrott Street, Birmingham.

He was jailed for what the bench described as “offending so serious because the defendant has a flagrant disregard for people and their property.

“And because of the high degree of planning and the high value of the theft.

“And because the theft was aggravated by the defendant’s record of previous offending.”

Maiumut, bang-to-rights, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to a single theft of goods from Boots to the value of £2204.91 on December 4, 2020.

The court confirmed that the defendant’s guilty plea was considered when imposing sentence.

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Blue Gem Wind begins digital aerial surveys for 300MW Valorous floating wind project

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BLUE GEM WIND, the joint venture between TotalEnergies, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and Simply Blue Energy, has begun offshore digital aerial surveys for a proposed 300MW floating wind project.

APEM Ltd have been chosen by Blue Gem Wind to deliver 24 consecutive monthly bird and marine mammal surveys of the early-commercial scale Valorous site. The high resolution data obtained will support baseline environmental characterisation of the site and environmental impact assessments for key ecological receptors.

The survey programme commenced in March 2021 and four of the 24 monthly surveys have been completed
to date.

Sean Evans, Environmental Specialist at Blue Gem Wind said, “It is important for us to begin long-lead in items
such as bird and marine mammal surveys as early as possible. These surveys will provide crucial species specific
data on the number, spatial distribution and activity of individuals across the Valorous site. This enables us to
undertake robust environmental impact assessments ahead of our planned consent application submission in
2023.”

Matt Rohner, Senior Consultant at APEM, “APEM Ltd are delighted to be able to support Blue Gem Wind’s
proposed Valorous offshore wind farm with our best-in-class survey design approach. Imagery captured using
state-of-the-art cameras is of ultra-high (1.6cm) resolution, providing industry leading image quality that is
essential for species level identification.”

The Celtic Sea is poised to play a key role in Net Zero, the Committee on Climate Change’s 100GW offshore
wind target, and crucially, the UK Government’s target of 1 GW of floating wind by 2030. The ORE Catapult also
estimated that the first GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea could potentially deliver over 3,000 jobs and
£682m in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030.

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