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Cabinet supports a trust despite concerns

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Pembrokeshire County Council: New education ‘Vision’ revealed
PEMBROKESHIRE County Council’s Cabinet has agreed, in principle, to support the formation of a charitable trust to run its cultural and leisure services despite members expressing concerns over the proposed new model.

The option to go with a charitable trust was the preferred option of consultancy firm Winckworth Sherwood which drew up five options for the future delivery of the services.

Among those options was to retain the status quo and that appeared as one of the favourites from the public consultation.

However, Cabinet were concerned that if they went with the status quo, there would be more cuts to services in the future.

UNISON also submitted a petition to the Council which was entitled ‘Stop the Outsourcing of Council Services’ in order to try and sway the Cabinet’s decision.

Cabinet ignored the views of UNISON and the public and voted unanimously to support, in principle, the preferred option of a trust.

Further work will now be undertaken to establish governance of the trust, financial and staff arrangements.

Speaking at the Cabinet meeting on Monday (Oct 31) Council Leader Jamie Adams said that the Council were at the end of the road in terms of protecting service users from the effects of savings and added they would need to look at different methods of providing the services.

Cllr Elwyn Morse, Cabinet member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, spoke of the savings that had been achieved since 2012/13 stating that Cultural services had saved over £747,000 due to a number of measures.

Leisure services had also increased its income by £432,000 since the same year and added that further rises in charges would risk losing membership and future visits.

Cllr Morse added: “The consideration of an alternative model of service delivery has to be a better alternative than the almost inevitable loss of services.”

Cllr Keith Lewis spoke of the consultation period and how keeping services in house was the preferred option but said: “It is up to Cabinet to decide whether we can do nothing and maintain it as it is.”

Cllr Adams asked about the performance of trusts elsewhere and he was told that many other authorities had gone down this route and that they were generally successful.

He went on to say that he was keen to ensure a county wide leisure service moving forward.

Mr Phillip Hodgson, Interim Director of Social Services and Leisure, said that every effort would be made to mitigate the threat of future cuts.

Cllr Simon Hancock said: “In an ideal world, it would be nice to have things kept in house but the paper makes it abundantly clear that doing nothing is not an option. People who use the archives, leisure services, libraries, when they use that service they are not going to ask themselves, what’s the governance model? They want to make sure the service is kept.

“This journey has been taken by lots of different authorities so it is a national solution to what is a national problem.

“If we close services it will have a very detrimental impact on the wellbeing of Pembrokeshire residents. Access to culture, leisure is central to people’s sense of wellbeing if we do nothing. Keeping the service open is the most important objective of this whole exercise.”

Cllr David Lloyd said: “I speak on behalf of a community that knows what it is like to lose one of these particular assets which is the St David’s Swimming Pool. In June 2009 that pool was closed for financial reasons and it is still bitterly regretted, we have an elderly population that underpin their quality of life by swimming which they can no longer do so any possible way that can be found to protect services in the rest of Pembrokeshire I would absolutely support.

“We’ve been working to replace that pool for seven years and optimistically we are trying to replace and hopefully this model will help us and make that a viable proposition.”

Cllr Rob Lewis spoke of the need to secure services for the future and that it would hang on the strength of the contract that will be drawn up.

He also added that the contract would need to be fit for purpose and that the trust would not happen until everyone was satisfied with it.

Cllr Huw George said he was not convinced about the new model and asked where the voice of the people and staff would be should they not be happy with how things are going.

A task and finish group will also be set up to deliver the recommendation in a timely manner and Cllr Adams asked that this be delegated to himself and the Chief Executive to do so.

Summing up, Cllr Keith Lewis urged that the matter should not turn into a never-ending debate and said there was a need for the council to be pro-active.

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Health

Pembrokeshire residents urged to take a virtual GP consultation when offered

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PEMBROKESHIRE residents are being urged to take up the offer of a virtual consultation, over the phone or video call with their GP, to help Keep Wales Safe during the current lockdown ‘stay at home’ restrictions.

The way we access local NHS services is changing, with more ways in which you can consult your doctor or nurse. Most surgeries now offer telephone as well as electronic advice consultations in the first instance. Following your advice call, a face to face appointment may be organised, but video consultations are also available. You can now speak to a doctor or healthcare professional using the video camera in your smartphone, tablet or computer and a connection to the internet. This is often more convenient and can save you time, as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. The system used is confidential and secure.

In a recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign only 27% of residents in Mid and West Wales had made use of the GP virtual service over the past 12 months with just 57% having heard of the service. However, 88% believed it was important to have access to a remote GP consultation once they had learnt of its existence.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “If you are offered a video consultation appointment this is because your Health Care Professional has indicated that is it safe and appropriate to do so. Your video appointment will be confidential and will not be recorded. If you require support please contact your GP surgery using the number provided in the appointment confirmation.”

She continued: “By putting off small problems or regular appointments you could potentially be putting more strain on NHS emergency services so please, help us to help you, do not put anything off. Local GP surgeries are open and are there to offer medical advice and consult patients.”

After being offered a video consultation you will be sent a letter, email or text with details of your appointment. This communication will contain details of the service that has requested to see you by video and have provided a web address link. You can type or copy the web address link into a web browser via an internet enabled device and this will take you to the video clinic waiting area.

  • In order to access your virtual appointment, you will need:
  • Access to a device that will allow you to access the internet. You should use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser on a desktop or laptop, or on an Android tablet or smartphone or Safari web browser on an Apple iMac, MacBook, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Your device will need a webcam (camera), speakers and microphone.
  • A good internet connection (if you can watch a YouTube video, this is good indication that you have a good connection).
  • An internet usage plan that is sufficient to cover the data consumption of a video call – ideally use a Wi-Fi connection if you have this available.

Sixty two percent of those surveyed by YouGov in Mid and West Wales said they will continue to access NHS services using the new ways that have been introduced as a result of the pandemic. The new methods include making more use of pharmacists; virtual GP consultations and using the NHS 111 online and telephone services.

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‘Cautious optimism’ for county’s tourism sector – but clarity still needed

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‘GIVE us clarity’ is the overriding message from the County’s tourism and hospitality businesses as the sector looks forward with cautious optimism to another busy season.

In a meeting hosted by Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, thirty key local businesses were able to share their views with Paul Davies MS, Pembrokeshire County Council, the National Park and Visit Pembrokeshire.

The meeting focussed on the need for business support measures so long as uncertainty remains over the timetable for re-opening the economy in Wales.

Stephen Crabb said: “There is a lot of belief around that this summer will see another ‘staycation’ boom so long as the vaccination programme continues to make good progress and infection rates fall. Pembrokeshire has had a lot of national media coverage in recent months and could experience a bumper season but it’s crucial we get the re-opening right. There is a clear need for some kind of timetable to help businesses prepare appropriately and for clear rules to avoid confusion and contradictory messages.”

Paul Davies said: “It was a pleasure to hear from tourism businesses across Pembrokeshire about some of the challenges that they’re currently facing. The message was pretty clear – they want clarity from the Welsh Government and some timescales by which they can start to plan for reopening. I’ll certainly be taking back the concerns highlighted during the meeting and raising them with Welsh Government Ministers at the Senedd.”

Emma Thornton from Visit Pembrokeshire added: “Great to attend the Hospitality and Tourism Round table event today and to have the opportunity to discuss the ongoing challenges our industry faces over the coming months but also to share a collective optimism for what we believe will be a really strong year for tourism in Pembrokeshire when we are able to reopen and welcome our visitors back.

“Visit Pembrokeshire as the new Destination Management (DMO) for Pembrokeshire will be working closely with local stakeholders and businesses to help realise this opportunity in a sustainable and responsible way mindful of protecting what makes our beautiful county so special”

Stephen Crabb: Wants clarity for tourism businesses

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Funding secured for volunteering support at Paul Sartori Hospice at Home

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PAUL SARTORI Hospice at Home, a Pembrokeshire-based charity, is delighted to announce that they were recently awarded £29,814.00 by the Pembrokeshire County Council Enhancing Pembrokeshire Scheme. The charity has been awarded a grant to develop the “We Care: Volunteering Support” project, which will improve the volunteer infrastructure and support the volunteer community.

The project will combat issues around Second Home ownership by increasing community engagement and opportunities to connect people through training, open days, new social events and wider community outreach and communication. The first phase of the project has been completed with the successful recruitment of Eleanor Evans, the We Care: Project Officer. Eleanor joins this part of the charity, on a secondment basis, and brings a wealth of
experience, not only within the charity but also working with volunteers throughout the county.

The charity has experienced challenges over the last 12 months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new project will enhance the existing volunteer structure within the charity, develop incentives to increase volunteer engagement; support volunteers by providing increased training opportunities and develop a new social culture to decrease loneliness and isolation. Recognising that the pandemic has been a difficult time for many, improving and increasing community communication will also be a key aim.

Furthermore, the Sartori Stores throughout Pembrokeshire, have been through a difficult year, closing, opening and closing again. Most volunteers have gracefully assisted the charity, often at the drop of a hat, to open the stores.

Unfortunately, the charity has witnessed a decrease in the number of available volunteers to help, due to the pandemic. So therefore, another key objective will be to recruit and train more volunteers to assist in generating vital income and supporting areas within the clinical services.

“I am very excited to join this area of the charity and am looking forward to this new role. Having worked within the retail sector previously, I know how a lack of volunteers within a store can have a detrimental effect on the opening days and times. This will be where I will be concentrating my recruitment efforts on initially,” stated Eleanor Evans, We: Care Project Officer.

“Here at Paul Sartori we work hard to deliver a rewarding volunteer experience – we
ensure that adequate training is given to all volunteers. Our managers provide training and invest time with our volunteers to ensure they have the skills to work in many areas across the charity. Our stores can be a very busy, fast-paced environment, which offers a great opportunity for the environmentally conscious individual who wishes to help out a local charity selling pre-loved goods,” added Eleanor.

Cllr Bob Kilmister, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said the Council were pleased to support Paul Sartori deliver their We Care: Volunteering Support project.

“This project will add to the wide range of essential services Paul Sartori already provide to people in Pembrokeshire, improve their volunteer infrastructure and support the volunteer community,” he said.

“This is such a difficult time for charities and local organisations to maintain their services and volunteer activities and it is important to support them to strengthen their volunteer base, especially at this time when Covid is increasing the incidence of isolation and loneliness.”

The Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant, using funds raised via the Second Homes Tax is available to provide funding for new projects that help address the negative impact of second homes and in doing so adds value to our communities.

“This grant has come at a good time for the charity. Assisting our valued volunteers; recruiting more active volunteers and investing more in our existing training programme will ensure that the charity is financially sustained for many years to come,” said Judith Williams, Grants Coordinator at Paul Sartori Hospice at Home.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home provides a range of services to Pembrokeshire people living in the final stages of a life-limiting illness, including home nursing care, equipment loan, complementary therapy, bereavement and counselling support, under 18’s anticipatory grief and bereavement support, physiotherapy, advance care planning and training.

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish. All of the services are free of charge and are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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