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Views sought on mental health services

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views soughtREBECCA EVANS AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has asked the Health Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, to respond to the lack of in-patient mental health services in mid Wales following claims at the recent public meeting in Aberystwyth (January 10) that some young people were being offered beds as far away as Scotland.

Mrs Evans, who chairs the Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Mental Health, used Ministerial question time to highlight the lack of in-patient mental health facilities at Bronglais Hospital. Mrs Evans described reports of people in mental distress being offered beds as far away as Scotland as “clearly unacceptable” and went on to ask Mr Drakeford to explore with Hywel Dda University Health Board how this occurred, and asked “what can be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again?”

In response, Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “I thank the Member for that question”

“I have heard reports of some of the things that were said at the public meeting in Aberystwyth, and specifically on that point. So I have already asked the local crisis resolution team, the local health board itself and the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee for any evidence they have that that sort of thing has happened.

“So far, their reports to me are that none of them have been able to identify a single case of a patient from that area being placed in Scotland. Indeed, they were unable to identify any patient being placed in a facility outside the area other than when that care was specialist care necessary for that patient’s treatment.”

This is not the first time that Mrs Evans has raised mental health provision in mid Wales in the Assembly Chamber, having previously raised the issue with the First Minister. Following a meeting with Aberystwyth Students Union, Mrs Evans spoke in the Senedd about the rising number of crisis mental ill health cases amongst students in Aberystwyth, and the lack of after-care.

Mrs Evans has been scrutinising the Health Board on its mental health provision since its decision to close Afallon Ward in July 2012. The closure came in response to safety and sustainability concerns following a protracted period of recruitment difficulties for qualified clinicians.

Mrs Evans said: “At a recent meeting with the Health Board I requested a briefing on mental health provision.

“I was pleased to learn that a space has been identified in Enlli Ward, in Bronglais, to develop a designated S136 suite for Ceredigion to replace the facility previously provided at Afallon ward. S136 suites are places of safety where the police can hold people in mental distress for up to 72 hours. Holding people in police stations, as sometimes happens now, can be completely inappropriate. I understand that plans are awaiting final approval, and I would urge very speedy action on this.”

Other developments on which the Health Board has briefed Mrs Evans included the extension of the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment to provide a 24 hours per day service, following successful recruitment to the posts in December, and developments in the Therapeutic Day Service.

Mrs Evans said: “I would like to hear about people’s recent experiences of mental health services in mid Wales. I am particularly keen to hear the experiences of people who have been unable to access in-patient mental health care in Bronglais, and would like to know where they were treated instead and what impact that had on their mental health and their recovery.”

All information will be treated confidentially. Readers can contact Mrs Evans at [email protected]

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Community

Redstone Bridge opens as part of A40 improvements scheme

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TRAFFIC is now flowing across a key element of the A40 improvements scheme following the grand opening of Redstone Bridge, north of Narberth. This milestone was celebrated on Friday, May 17, with a ceremony that highlighted the involvement and spirit of the local community.

The honour of declaring the bridge open was bestowed upon pupils of Narberth CP School, symbolising the younger generation of the community. Accompanied by their headteacher, Mrs Moore, and assistant headteacher, Mr Noble, the pupils were joined by residents and staff of Blaenmarlais Care Home in Redstone Road.

The A40 project, extending from Llanddewi Velfrey to west of Redstone Cross, is being delivered by Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd for the Welsh Government. The opening ceremony featured a short speech from Project Manager David Noblett, who expressed gratitude to the pupils, residents, and the workforce from Griffiths and Trueform Civils Limited. The crowd applauded as the pupils cut the ribbon, officially opening the bridge and walking across it for the very first time.

A spokesperson for Griffiths commented, “Griffiths would like to thank residents, businesses, and the community for their co-operation during the closure, which allowed the final phase of bridge construction to be completed on time. A particular thank you to the residents of Northfield Road who experienced parking restrictions throughout this period. They were admirably supported in the parking of their vehicles by Janine Perkins from Bloomfield Community Centre, and Narberth Health Centre, which allowed a family with a baby to use their car park during the closure period.”

The Narberth children were specially chosen to do the honours, representing the future of the community and underscoring the project’s significance for upcoming generations.

The completion of Redstone Bridge marks a significant step in the A40 improvements scheme, promising enhanced connectivity and infrastructure for the region. The community’s involvement in the ceremony highlights the collaborative effort behind this essential project, reflecting a shared commitment to progress and development in Pembrokeshire.

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Tenby to mark D-Day 80 with Beacon Lighting Ceremony

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PLANS are well underway for Tenby to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a special beacon lighting ceremony on Castle Hill. This significant event will honour the bravery and sacrifice of those who took part in Operation Overlord, the largest naval, air, and land operation in history.

His Majesty, The King, has requested that instead of lighting beacons for his coronation last year, they be lit on June 6 to commemorate the anniversary of this pivotal World War Two operation. The Normandy landings in 1944 opened Europe’s Second Front, which ultimately led to the downfall of Hitler’s Nazi regime 11 months later.

The commemoration will begin with a procession led by the Mayor of Tenby, Cllr. Dai Morgan. Accompanied by fellow councillors, representatives of the Tenby Royal British Legion, and local cadet units, the procession will leave Castle Square at Tenby Harbour at approximately 8:50 pm on Thursday, June 6. The procession will then make its way up to Castle Hill.

Upon reaching Castle Hill, the International D-Day Tribute will be read, after which Cllr. Morgan will light Tenby’s beacon at 9:15 pm. This beacon will form part of a UK-wide chain of beacons and Lamp Lights of Peace, symbolising unity and remembrance across the nation. All members of the public are welcome to join in this solemn and significant commemoration.

Earlier in the day, at 11 am, the Mayor will lay a wreath at Tenby’s war memorial. This act of remembrance will honour all those who gave their lives during the D-Day landings, ensuring their sacrifices are not forgotten.

This special beacon lighting ceremony and the wreath-laying are poignant reminders of the courage and determination of the Allied forces. The events planned in Tenby offer an opportunity for the community to come together to reflect on the historic significance of D-Day and to pay tribute to the heroes of Operation Overlord.

Tenby’s commemoration is part of a larger national effort to mark this historic anniversary, ensuring that the legacy of those who fought and died continues to be honoured and remembered for generations to come.

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First electric mobile post office tested in Pembrokeshire

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THE FIRST full-electric Post Office vehicle has been successfully trialled in the UK, and it has all happened in Pembrokeshire.

The pioneering effort is being led by Pembroke Postmaster, Mark Wilson, who, along with his team, has been serving 11 rural communities in Pembrokeshire with a new electric Mobile Post Office.

Replacing the traditional diesel vehicle, this new electric model has demonstrated its capability over the past several weeks, navigating the hilly terrain of the region without issue. The environmentally friendly vehicle can travel over 100 miles on a single charge, comfortably exceeding the longest 60-mile route covered by the Pembroke Mobile Post Office. This ample range alleviates any concerns about “range anxiety” and eliminates the need for mid-route recharging, as the vehicle is conveniently charged overnight.

Mark Wilson highlighted the positive reception from the community, stating, “Our electric Mobile Post Office is turning heads with its distinctive signage. People are used to the typical Post Office red vehicles, but the design on this vehicle emphasises its environmental benefits. It’s exciting to have the first of these in the UK. Customers have praised our new vehicle for being less polluting and visually appealing.”

The new electric vehicle maintains the same height as its predecessor but offers a slightly wider build, which has proven manageable on country lanes. Its interior design provides better layout and increased space, allowing for more retail offerings and greater storage capacity for parcels, accommodating the rising trend of home shopping returns and online sales.

Wilson added, “Colleagues working on the Mobile are pleased with its road handling and the smoother driving experience thanks to the automatic transmission.”

The Mobile Post Office has long been a vital service for maintaining Post Office access in smaller, rural communities. It offers a full range of Post Office services, including mail, pre-ordered foreign currencies, banking for all major high street banks, bill payments, and vehicle tax.

The 11 communities currently served by the electric Mobile Post Office include:

  1. Cosheston
  2. Milton
  3. Carew
  4. St Florence
  5. Broadmoor
  6. Lawrenny
  7. Angle
  8. Herbrandston
  9. St Ishmaels
  10. Marloes
  11. Dale.

Nigel Parry, owner of the Post Office National Outreach Model, which includes Mobile Post Offices, underscored the environmental and economic benefits of these electric vehicles. “We know the green credentials of these vehicles; they are better for the environment as there are no emissions polluting communities. These vehicles are also cheaper to run and maintain.”

Parry emphasised the importance of real-world testing to ensure the vehicles’ fitness for purpose. “We want to see how they perform in real-life conditions. Hilly terrain, cold weather, traffic jams, and the age and condition of the battery all affect the vehicle’s range, so it’s crucial to ensure there is spare capacity to serve outlying communities throughout the year.”

An additional advantage of electric vehicles is their quicker maintenance turnaround, reducing downtime compared to the biannual servicing required for diesel vehicles.

Following this successful trial in Pembrokeshire, another electric Mobile Post Office will be introduced in East Anglia next month, with a third location yet to be determined. This rollout aims to further test the suitability and cost-effectiveness of electric vehicles for rural locations. Currently, there are 67 diesel Mobile Post Offices operating across Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

This move marks a significant milestone in the Post Office’s commitment to sustainability and innovation, ensuring that even the most remote communities can benefit from modern, eco-friendly services.

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