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Are there ‘gender neutral’ toilets in local schools?

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is denying that it has ‘gender neutral’ toilet facilities in five of its schools, explaining that they are unisex wash facilities with the toilet cubicles themselves being designated male or female.

Gelliswick Church In Wales School in Milford Haven, Penrhyn Church In Wales School in Hundleton, Ysgol Bro Gwaun Comprehensive School in Fishguard, Henry Tudor School in Pembroke, and Milford Haven Comprehensive School all have unisex wash facilities on site.

The change in policy has sparked heated discussion on social media as local children go back to school, many of whom are attending new build schools which are part of the 21st Century Schools programme.

Many Pembrokeshire pupils are seeing this new kind of facility for the first time this week. It is a trend across the whole of the UK, recently hitting the national headlines.

According to a recent BBC report, there were many critics of the plan to introduce these kids of washrooms, not least the Department for Education which ruled that ‘the time is not right for the introduction of unisex toilets in our schools’, saying they were technically illegal.

Parents also expressed concerns about young people being too embarrassed to use unisex toilets – or, somewhat on the other end of scale, that the cubicles could be used for sexual liaisons between pupils.

But there is another motivation – aside from school cleaners desperately seeking the end of soggy toilet paper stuck to ceilings – and that’s cost.

Unisex toilets with this design are often cheaper to build and maintain.

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council told The Herald: “We do not have ‘gender neutral’ toilets in Pembrokeshire schools.

“There are several schools in Pembrokeshire with what are termed ‘unisex wash facilities’ whereby cubicles within the toilet blocks are designated male / female and are not shared.

“The rows of cubicles, which are separated by shared wash facilities, are equipped with floor to ceiling doors for privacy.

“This toilet layout is common in most new build schools and is also believed to be an effective tool in preventing bullying and bad behaviour.

New idea: Unisex washroom at a school in Cardiff

VOICE OF THE PUBLIC

The Pembrokeshire Herald asked for comments online.

Sarah Jane Howlin said: “I honestly don’t see an issue with it, I’ve been and seen these facilities in Milford haven comp, there is plenty of space between the boys section of toilets and the girls, you cannot look over or under the doors, I honestly don’t know why people are kicking up a fuss again about it, they were there last year and everyone kicked up a fuss then. Nothing was done then nothing will be done now! Jesus there’s more important things going on in that school, there are also another set of toilets if people don’t feel comfortable using the unisex ones!

Tanya Rosemeyer said: “Well, it’s very PC as everyone seems very concerned about gender neutral everything just now. I wonder how the girls will feel when it’s their period though as when you’re a teenager that is like the most embarrassing time EVER and it’s bad enough without sharing facilities. It’s probably an invitation to “school time shenanigans” in the high school if the cubical are ultra private and no one would blink at both sexes coming out of the loos at the same time. As a parent if the kids think it’s fine and are comfortable with it I wouldn’t shout about it.”
Jessica Fox said: “Communication is free, why didn’t the school think to inform the parents, mentally prepare our 11yr old daughters for sharing toilets with 16-year-old boys.”

Tamsin Mathias added: “The only thing that I could see potentially being an issue in comprehensive schools in when girls need to use to bathroom to change a sanitary towel for instance. I remember in my teens it was a very private thing for us, and wasn’t talked about very much in front of boys for fear of being shamed.

“Now, maybe the problem should be solved by being more open in classes about women’s bodies (even some male teachers would shudder when you told them you HAD to go the toilet for “lady reasons”), and then there wouldn’t be so much of a stigma.

“But I remember wanting the toilets to be empty before I got out a fresh sanitary towel because they’re not packed in quiet packaging, and it can sometimes take a while.

“I think you have to judge it on how the students feel, I suppose.

“Preventing bullying can only work by speaking to the children and helping them understand the impact it can have, in my opinion. Shared toilets won’t prevent bullying, but speaking about bullying in classrooms and making students aware of the consequences might.”

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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