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Assembly debate on battling bovine TB

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Over 8,100 a year: BTB cattle slaughtered in Wales

Over 8,100 a year: BTB cattle slaughtered in Wales

“THE TOTAL number of Welsh cattle slaughtered in 2015 due to bTB (bovine TB) has gone up by 27% from 2014 and now counts for 8,103 cattle slaughtered a year.

That’s 675 cattle per month, 169 per week and 24 cattle slaughtered every day.”

These figures were given by Glyn Roberts, President of the Farmers Union of Wales, in a briefing in advance of a debate on the issue in the Assembly on September 28.

Glyn Roberts went on to say that the official advice to the Welsh Government in 2011 estimated that vaccination was likely to lead to a net cost of £3.5m. On the other hand, culling badgers in the Intensive Action Area could be expected to save farmers and government £31,000. In the Assembly debate, a cross-party motion called on the Welsh Government ‘to take decisive action to tackle bovine TB by committing to use the most effective measures to control and eradicate bovine TB and ensuring that testing and movement restrictions are proportionate to the disease status of an area’. The debate was proposed by Plaid Cymru AMs Simon Thomas and Llyr Huws Gruffydd, Paul Davies of the Welsh Conservatives and Neil Hamilton of UKIP.

THE DEBATE

The fact that bovine TB remains a significant problem for farmers in Wales is not contested. Arguments do rage, however, about how badgers are implicated in the transfer of the disease and how best it can be controlled. Three elements of any strategy that are always hotly contested are the culling of badgers and the vaccination of cattle and/or badgers. Opening the Assembly debate, Simon Thomas, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs for Plaid Cymru, explained that the motion was worded to reflect advice given to the Government by its own consultative group on animal health. The advice recommended a TB eradication programme that would be a combination of different measures aimed at all sources of TB, both those within the herd and those within the wildlife reserve. A different assessment was advised in areas where incidents were low, with rules made to proportionately reflect the status of the disease. Simon Thomas went on to quantify the impact of the disease in various areas of Wales, highlighting the cost of compensation to the taxpayer, around £100 million across the whole of Britain. He then raised the question of Brexit and what that would mean for EU continuing to accept beef and dairy produce from Wales, which does have an elevated level of TB in its cattle herd. Like most of the speakers who followed him, Simon Thomas highlighted the emotional distress that bovine TB and culling cattle meant for the farming community across Wales.

TO CULL OR NOT TO CULL

On the thorny issue of a badger cull, Labour’s Joyce Watson quoted Lord Krebs, one of the UK government’s most respected scientific advisers who has reported on the issue: “Badger culling is a sideshow. The only effective way to stop TB is stopping the spread from cattle to cattle by more testing and a much better test.” Responding to Joyce Watson, UKIP’s Neil Hamilton said: “The Krebs report has been criticised for many reasons on account of the weaknesses and anomalies in its strategies.” Based on a report produced by the British Veterinary Association, Hamilton proposed ‘that a targeted, effective and humane [badger] cull is going to have to be part of a long-term policy of eradication’. Conservative Mark Isherwood also cited the British Veterinary Association’s report: “They believe that slaughtering cattle that test positive for bovine TB is essential to control the disease in cattle, but has not been enough to get on top of the disease. Therefore, they also believe that badger culling in a targeted, effective and humane manner is necessary in carefully selected areas.

“They state that vaccination of both cattle and badgers should play a central role in any bovine TB eradication policy, but its current role should not be overstated or exaggerated.” Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Huws Gruffydd also backed a cull unequivocally: “The time has come for the Government here to be brave and to face the reality once and for all. We need a badger cull scheme as part of the solution to TB in Wales, and we need it now.”

UKIP’s Mark Reckless expressed his reservations about a badger cull, fearing that ‘for some, the idea of culling badgers will be a solution, if not a silver bullet. I think a great deal of belief is invested in it. Whereas, even if we were to go down the route of really significant and continual badger culling, it is not clear to me, at least, how much effect that would have on the problem, even if it were to have some, and I continue to study the evidence on either side of this’. UKIP’s Caroline Jones also spoke up against the idea of a badger cull as a panacea. She told the Assembly: “The most effective measures to control and eradicate the disease are increased biosecurity and vaccination, and not wiping out the entire badger population in the UK.”

Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, responded to the debate for the government: “As Members will have seen from the latest business statement, I will be making an oral statement on a refreshed approach to TB eradication on October 18. Therefore, I don’t intend to go into too much detail today… I have made very clear my intention to refresh the TB programme in Wales, to ensure it’s robust and fit for purpose, and I will certainly not turn my back on the extremely important Welsh agriculture sector. I support the motion proposed today, and believe the only way to tackle this issue is to use a combination of the most appropriate and effective measures, proportionate to the different risk areas in Wales. All measures applied must be supported by firm evidence and veterinary risk assessment, focusing on all routes of transmission, not just transmission from wildlife reservoirs, which seems to receive all the attention.” Presiding Officer Elin Jones, Ceredigion’s AM, concluded the debate when the motion was agreed without objection.

A HOLISTIC APPROACH

Following the debate, Simon Thomas told The Herald: “Bovine TB continues to have a devastating effect on farming in Wales and remains one of the biggest threats to our cattle herd. It is the responsibility of the Welsh Government to respond to the situation and Plaid Cymru as the official opposition in Wales will scrutinise their actions. The debate was an opportunity to bring attention to this important issue. It is essential that we deal with this issue after the decision to leave the European Union.

“Farming unions have expressed their concern it could be used as a bargaining chip and used to hit Welsh dairy exports. The fact that the Welsh Government and Labour Assembly Members did not oppose the cross-party motion shows they realise we must have a credible strategy to control disease in the wildlife population. The Party of Wales believe that there needs to be a holistic approach to eradicating this disease and that any increased burdens on the movement and testing regime must be matched by policy measures which deal with the disease. Plaid Cymru recognises that tackling the disease within the wildlife population has to go hand in hand with animal testing and movement restrictions. The suspension of the badger vaccination trials within the intensive action area has highlighted how vulnerable a single approach to disease control within the wildlife population can be.”

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Reminder from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to pre-book for attractions

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MEMBERS of the public are being reminded to pre-book their entry tickets before visiting two popular National Park Authority-run attractions.

To allow for social distancing on site, both Carew Castle and Tidal Mill and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village have been operating a pre-booking system since last summer.

Those wishing to visit should book their tickets online before arriving at the site. This applies to Annual Pass holders and others who qualify for free entry, such as wheelchair users and accompanying carers.

Carew Castle is open to pre-booked visitors between 10am and 4pm (Tidal Mill 11.30am – 5pm), while those wishing to visit Castell Henllys will be asked to book either a morning slot (10am-1pm) or an afternoon slot (2pm-5pm) before visiting the site.

Daisy Hughes, Visitor Services Manager at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have made some changes to the site and how we operate to ensure that we keep you, our staff and our local community safe.

“All areas of the Castle and Tidal Mill are open, including the Walled Garden and play area. Nest Tearoom, which has plenty of outdoor undercover seating, will be serving light lunches and homemade cakes along with hot and cold drinks throughout the day, and the Castle and Mill Shops remain open – although face coverings must be worn and only card/contactless payments are currently being accepted.

“With the exception of Nest Tearoom, pre-booking is essential, though, and we’re asking all visitors to make sure they book their entry tickets in advance, in order to avoid any delays or disappointment when they arrive on site.”

Entry tickets for both Carew Castle and Castell Henllys can be purchased by visiting www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events

A dynamic programme of events suitable for all the family will be running at both sites throughout the summer months. Visit the above website for more information and to book tickets.

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Salvage Hunters: New series is filming in Pembrokeshire, and they need help

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SALVAGE HUNTERS, the well-loved and most watched Quest TV and Discovery Network show, is on the hunt for locations to film at in the Pembrokeshire and the wider South West Wales area to feature in the upcoming series.

We follow decorative antiques expert Drew Pritchard as he travels around various locations in the UK and abroad on his quest to find and buy unusual objects with an interesting history.

Drew really visits everywhere – beautiful estates, old family businesses, barns and attic’s stuffed full of unwanted things, museums, factories, collectors and iconic religious sites buying all sorts along the way – from gorgeous country house furniture and railwayana to 6ft 1980s disco balls and anything in-between.

Now in its sixteenth series and airing to over half a million people in the UK and millions more worldwide, this is a great opportunity for you to promote your business or home to a broad audience, sell a few items that perhaps you no longer need, make some money and celebrate the history and heritage of the UK.

If you think you fit the bill or know somebody that might then please do not hesitate to reach out and speak with a member of our team.

Call us on 0203 179 0092 or alternatively send us an email to – salvagehunters@curvemedia.com

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Haverfordwest and Cardigan high streets listed as among the ten worst in Britain

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TWO west Wales high streets have been listed in a UK wide report detailing Britain’s worst high streets.

In the highly respected report Cardigan High Street has been listed as the 4th worst in Britain, whilst Haverfordwest has come 8th.

The Harper Dennis Hobbs rankings, which come out every two years, in sadly listed six Welsh High Streets in the worst 10 category.

Some retail centres have performed well since 2019 but most Welsh towns have fallen down the list.

Overall the performance in Wales was poor with a major drop in the average position of Welsh high streets on the UK list.

More shops in Haverfordwest’s town centre have closed since the coronavirus hit (Pic: File image)

The average rank was 797 – the worst of any nation and region in the UK, showing the huge challenge Welsh Government has to revive town centres. Six of the bottom ten UK high streets were in Wales.

Normally Harper Dennis Hobbs releases the full ranking but when the firm published its 2021 report in February, it only made the top 50 best-performing locations publicly available. Now, a copy of the full list shared with i lays bare the shopping centres and high streets that have fared worst over the past year.

Top of the worst list is Girvan in South Ayrshire.

Girvan is home to around 6,500 people and has suffered the same difficulties as many cities and towns across the UK when it comes to its high street’s declining appeal – but it is the area’s “very weak retail offer” and the large number of empty shops that helped seal its place at the bottom of the league table.

Haverfordwest in 2014. can you spot any differences to now?

“Girvan along with Haverfordwest and Cardigan all scored poorly due to a very weak retail offer [and] the towns have a relatively high vacancy rate,” said Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs.

Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at HDH, explained: “Our analysis is unique as we use variables that both consumers and retailers consider when assessing shopping locations to rank the top 1,000 retail centres in Great Britain. This Vitality Ranking looks very different from previous years as the ‘retail health’ of high streets across the country has seen contrasting fortunes since the start of the pandemic.

“The most vital retail centres currently provide services that are essential to people’s lives, such as grocers and pharmacies. These essential retailers have been able to trade throughout the strictest lockdowns, and consumers have not been willing or able to travel far to visit these stores. Shopping patterns have therefore changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, and consumers’ local high streets are benefitting at the expense of major destinations.”

Turning empty retail spaces in the town into homes or offices could help rejuvenate the area and bring “demand to the doors” of shops that survive, Mr Metherell said.

Cardigan High Street before Covid-19 (Pic Stay In Wales)

Top 10 best high streets 2021

  1. Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
  2. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
  3. Tenterden, Kent
  4. Wimbledon Village, south-west London
  5. Marlborough, Wiltshire
  6. Sevenoaks, Kent
  7. Kingston upon Thames, Greater London
  8. Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
  9. Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  10. Ilkley, Bradford

Top 10 worst high streets 2021

  1. Girvan, South Ayrshire
  2. Bristol – Baldwin Street
  3. Chepstow, Monmouthshire
  4. Cardigan, Ceredigion
  5. Southsea, Portsmouth
  6. Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  7. Ammanford, Carmarthenshire
  8. Haverfordwest, Permbrokeshire
  9. Canning Town, east London
  10. Newtown, Powys

(Source: Harper Dennis Hobbs)

Cardigan High Street pictured in the early 2000’s before Currys left town (Pic Geograph)
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