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UKIP win ‘an extraordinary result’

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countPEMBROKESHIRE VOTERS sent a clear message to the main parties this week that they are not satisfied with business as usual, as UKIP came within 285 votes of the Conservatives, who again topped the poll in our County.

 Overall, Wales voted for Labour who gained 28.2% of the vote in the region, however, UKIP was closely behind in second place with 27.6% of the vote, only just over half a percentage point from Labour. The Conservatives were third with 17.4% of the vote and Plaid Cymru came fourth with 15.3%. As a result, Wales have elected Nathan Gill (UKIP), Dr Kay Swinburne (Conservative), Jill Evans (Plaid Cymru) and Derek Vaughan (Labour) to represent us as MEPs on the European Parliament. The picture, nationally in the UK, was even more alarming for the main parties as UKIP actually won the popular vote with 27.5% of all votes polled. Labour came second with 25.4% and the Conservatives were a short distance off in third with 23.9% of the votes. The Liberal Democrats had a catastrophic result, coming fifth behind the Green Party with a mere 6.9% of the vote. The Herald spoke with the four elected Welsh MEP’s who gave us their reaction to this week’s results. A very upbeat Nathan Gill of UKIP said: “I’m over the moon with the result. We really wanted to come first, we were 5,000 votes short of that, but we have more than doubled our vote from the last election. The people of Wales really have spoken. We want out of this European Union and we will raise the profile of what is going on in Brussels as people need to be aware of what’s happening with their money. “We came either first or second in every constituency in Wales. That is amazing. We now have to win seats in Westminster.” He went on to confirm for The Herald that he would be standing to become an MP in the next General Election. Conservative MEP Dr Kay Swinburne, whose party topped the European poll in Wales five years ago and finished third this time, said: “We are very pleased, overall, with the vote we have maintained. We are just 3% down on 2009. It’s looking good for 2015 for the Conservative vote and our Welsh MPs.” Jill Evans of Plaid Cymru told the Herald: “Based on the issues, and the real facts, people do understand how important it is for Wales to be represented in Europe. I wouldn’t change the way I work, but I do think we have to create much more of a real debate about our future in Europe.” Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, responding to the question as to whether he was disappointed to have only won one seat, said: “Welsh Labour is delighted to have topped the poll. We would have liked two seats but we knew this would be very difficult. This is the best campaign ever for European elections (by Labour). We will be making sure every constituency is acting and campaigning to get the message out. “We will build on this result and it is vital for Wales and the UK that we have a Labour Government next year. There was a protest vote against the main parties. We will campaign to explain the importance of EU membership. Hopefully those that have supported UKIP will come back to Labour.” The results show a significant shift towards UKIP from all the main parties, leaving pollsters in uncertain as to what might happen in next year’s General Election. There is mounting pressure on the Liberal Democrat’s leader and deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to stand down as leader after his party’s disastrous results. Speaking about the result he acknowledged that they were a huge ‘setback’ but has vowed to go on as leader stating he would, ‘finish the job’. The Liberal Democrats lost all but one of their seats in the election and were pushed into fifth place in the UK by The Green Party. UKIP’s controversial leader Nigel Farage said that his party intends to build on what he described as ‘the most extraordinary result’ in British politics in the past century, and he went on to say that his party now appealed to all social classes and had made significant inroads in Wales and Scotland as well as winning the most votes in England. Mr Farage said: “It is over 100 years since a national election has been won by a party other than the Conservatives and Labour. Our game is to get this right, to find the right candidates, and focus our resources on getting a good number of seats in Westminster next year. “If UKIP do hold the balance of power, then indeed there will be a (EU) referendum.” He also claimed that Labour would come under enormous pressure to offer the voters a referendum on Europe, and he said he did not believe Nick Clegg would still be Liberal Democrat leader at the General Election. He finished by saying: “The three party leaders are like goldfish that have been tipped out of their bowl onto the floor and are gasping for air.” Labour leader, Ed Milliband, claimed that Labour’s second place in these elections showed the party was making progress, though he acknowledged that they had further to go. He went on to say that there was deep discontent in the UK and that the Labour Party must show it could answer the call for change. However, Mr Milliband was unwavering on his party’s position on not offering a referendum on EU membership. On a relatively disappointing night for the Conservatives, who were pushed into third place, leader and Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “I think the results give a clear message that people are deeply disillusioned with the European Union and in the way it is working for Britain, and they want change. The challenge is now for my party to demonstrate that we have the plan to deliver that change; to renegotiate Britain’s place in Europe, to get a better deal to change Europe and then put the choice to the British people in an ‘in out referendum’ before the end of 2017. “That is what we will do and the real test for that plan will come at the next General Election. People use elections like this to send messages to Government. I see this as a demand for us to deliver. They want to see us complete our long term economic plan. Tackling immigration, reforming Welfare and getting Britain’s place right in Europe are all part of our economic plan. I believe we can win the next election outright. We are going to have to convince more people.” To put matters in perspective, however, the low turnout in the Euro-poll means that UKIP’s victory in the popular vote amounts to fewer than 10% of the overall electorate. With the two largest parties bound to concentrate their resources on mobilising their core vote and targeting undecided voters on issues such as the economy, welfare and health for next year’s general election, UKIP’s ability to maintain momentum when having to campaign on more than one issue has to be called into question.

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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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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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