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Welsh Ministers refuse to offer safeguards for Withybush A&E

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THE FIRST MINISTER and Health Minister of Wales are united in their decision not to offer any reassurances to the safeguarding of A&E services at Withybush Hospital.

With the recent u-turn of Cwm Taff health board not to remove services at Royal Glamorgan Hospital, the ministers have come under pressure to offer reassurances to the future of Withybush services.

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford has said the decision was down to local health boards, with Vaughan Gething, Health Minister taking a similar stance.

Speaking at a coronavirus briefing on Monday, July 6, when asked whether now as the time for the Welsh Government to encourage Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) to reverse it’s closure plans, Mr Drakeford said he would not encourage the health board to make a similar change.

Mr Drakeford said: “It is for the local health board to make those decisions, I feel like I have lived in this conversation over many years.”

“When I was health minister, I was repeatedly having to answer questions claiming that various parts of Withybush Hospital were about to be closed.

“They didn’t turn out to be true because the health board has an aim of sustaining as many services as can safely be provided at Withybush as in it’s other settings.”

In 2018, plans to withdraw A&E services from Withybush were announced as part of long term plans to downgrade Withybush to a community hospital.

Withybush has already seen the downgrade to its maternity services, with it now being a mostly day time service with expectant mums with pregnancy complications or those giving birth after 5pm mostly having to travel across the border into Carmarthenshire to give birth.

Mr Drakeford has said that HDUHB knew whether A&E services were necessary more than him.

Mr Drakeford added: “They are better placed than I am to know what the capability and the capacity of the services on the ground is, what demand that there is for it, and I know that they will talk very carefully with their local populations – as Cwm Taff health board did in the case of The Royal Glamorgan.”

Speaking at Plenary last Wednesday (Jul 8) Vaughan Gething, was asked by Pembrokeshire MS Paul Davies, the Welsh Government’s position on the delivery of A&E services at Pembrokeshire and if they would remain at Withybush.

Mr Davies said: “You’ll be aware, there is a strong campaign to retain A&E services at Withybush General Hospital.

“Given the recent news that Cwm Taff health board has decided to retain A&E services at The Royal Glamorgan Hospital, the people of Pembrokeshire are now looking at that decision and, quite rightly, asking for the same safeguards.”

The Health Minister said that the decision to overturn the removal of services at Royal Glamorgan Hospital, was due to a consultation by Cwm Taff health board after they were able to recruit more staff which would help them safely deliver that service.

Mr Gething said “The member will also know, over a long period of time, the challenges that have been faced in delivering healthcare across Wales and the plans for the future delivery of healthcare.”

He added “The health board is now planning for the continued provision of essential and key services alongside caring for patients affected by Covid-19.”

Mr Drakeford has also confirmed that a review has been carried out with regards to field hospitals, like Bluestone.

“The current thinking is that we will want to retain field hospital capacity here in Wales against the danger there is a second spike in the autumn or winter.

“But we may not need field hospital capacity on the scale that we produced it in this first wave.”

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Sageston: Police remove convicted sex offender as Welsh Warriors protest

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POLICE have removed a convicted sex offender from a sleepy Sageston street during a protest organised by the Welsh Warriors on Sunday (Aug 9)

Jonathan Harris, aged 25, was jailed last year after admitting sexual offences against five boys.

He was released on Friday (Aug 7) to his parents’ address in Bartletts Well Road after serving 13 and a half months of his 27-month sentence.

A small group of around 10 protesters, led by The Welsh Warriors, arrived in the street outside Harris’ home shouting “We’re here to get you out Jonathan”.

The shouting led neighbours from almost every house on the street to come out to their front lawns to see what the fuss was about.

Some of the residents were supportive of the protest but some others were critical of the protesters telling them to mind their own business and go home.

As this was happening a group of around fifteen additional people turned up and is was feared by residents that more would arrive.

A female protester said: “We are here to make sure this paedophile is removed from the street. There is a school 100 yards away and children playing here, and we are not going until that man has been removed.”

Another told a resident of the street who was telling the protesters to disburse: “We have done these before and we were waiting five days for the police to remove a paedophile and we can do the same again. We have our sleeping gear.”

The whole affair was streamed live on the Welsh Warriors Facebook page. Many comments were made online at what seemed to be a few vocal residents in the street supporting Mr Harris following his release from jail.

Protesters in Sageston on Sunday (Aug 9)

“They are my neighbours and friends, and they should be allowed to get on with their lives quietly” a woman from the house opposite said.

“Why don’t you just run off back to where you came from – you don’t even know the full facts, do you, we don’t want a protest here.”

Within minutes the police arrived in three vehicles and Harris was quickly whisked into a police van and driven away.

Police asked some of the protesters to contact them in the first instance with concerns about sex offenders in the neighbourhood rather than turning up to protest unannounced.

The protest was then over, and police waited for protesters to disperse and said it was their duty ‘to ensure everyone’s safety’.

No arrests were made during the hour-long demonstration.

At the first hearing at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court in March last year, Harris entered no pleas to three charges of causing a child aged 13 to 15 to look at an image of sexual activity, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification; and also a further charge of attempting to possess an indecent photo of a child. However, at Swansea Crown Court he pleaded guilty to the offences. At a hearing on April 18, 2019, he admitted inciting the under 16-year-olds to engage in sexual activity and to causing three of them to view indecent images. All the offending took place during 2017.
His barrister, Jim Davis, said Harris appreciated that the crimes passed the custody threshold and that a prison sentence could be the outcome.
At that hearing Judge Walters said that it was possible that the defendant could avoid jail. However, following reports from a psychologist and the probation service he was given a custodial sentence.

Dyfed-Powys Police has been approached for a comment

The moment Jonathan Harris (Wearing a hoodie, on the right) was removed from his house by police (Still from video)

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Monkton man with ‘no regard for the law’ jailed for two attempted robberies

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A MAN who threatened to stab a vulnerable victim just a day after trying to commit a robbery against a stranger has been jailed.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers arrested 29-year-old Jamie Rawlinson 20 minutes after receiving a report that he’d threatened to stab a stranger on June 26.

The victim reported that Rawlinson, of Colley Court, in Monkton, had approached him outside his home and held a sharp object to his chest.

The victim managed to get inside his house safely, and called the police.

Rawlinson was arrested 20 minutes later and taken to police custody, where he was interviewed the following day, and released on bail with conditions while officers carried out enquiries.

But just hours later, he was under arrest for a second time.

Detective Sergeant Tanya Rendell said: “The suspect was released on bail with stringent conditions to comply to while we carried out an investigation into the offence. There were a number of enquiries we needed to progress, which would take longer than we would have been able to keep him in custody. Despite the conditions imposed the suspect clearly had no regard for the law or the conditions imposed, and with less than three hours after being released, went on to commit another attempted robbery, this time against a vulnerable man who was known to him.

“The pair had met at a friend’s house and had gone for a walk, when they ended up in an alleyway.

“The victim was physically assaulted – punched and kicked – and was threatened that he would be stabbed if he didn’t give Rawlinson £40 and tobacco.”

PCSOs on patrol saw the victim and took him to a place of safety. Rawlinson, who was still in the area was arrested following this.

He was charged with two counts of attempt robbery and appeared at Swansea Crown Court, where he was sentenced to six years in prison.

DS Rendell said: “This was a swift an comprehensive investigation, involving officers from a number of teams. Evidence was captured by Neighbourhood Policing Teams at the scene, which was followed up with house-to-house and CCTV enquiries, as well as work from the dog unit, CID and firearms officers.

“This excellent teamwork secured the evidence needed to get a charge, conviction and a prison sentence for a man who is clearly a danger to the community.”

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Surge in reports of personal watercraft incidents on the South Pembrokeshire Coast

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THE NATIONAL PARK is appealing for riders of personal watercraft to consider the impact of their activities on other visitors and wildlife following a recent rise in reported incidents.

Launching the small jet-powered boats has already been banned in a number of locations around the Pembrokeshire Coast due to the actions of irresponsible riders and the noise nuisance generated by the crafts.

Recent reports include a personal watercraft weaving at high speed through the moorings close to the shore in Dale and a near miss with a kayaker in Freshwater East.

Park Authority Chief Executive, Tegryn Jones said: “Noisy, intrusive activities such as personal watercraft riding are not generally welcome on the Pembrokeshire Coast due to their impact on the special qualities of the National Park.

“Peace and tranquillity are some of key things that our residents and visitors value and perhaps more importantly our rare and protected wildlife depends on it. One inconsiderate jet-powered craft user has the potential to ruin the day of hundreds of other people.

“High visitor numbers mean many people are taking to the water in various vessels and kayaks and stand up paddleboards are particularly vulnerable to being overturned by the heavy wakes generated by personal watercraft.

“We are urging people to stick to the dedicated aquabatics zones on the Milford Haven Waterway and follow the ‘dead slow’ and minimum wake guidelines that are in place around beaches, harbours and other people.”

Anyone heading out into the water around the Pembrokeshire Coast is reminded to read and follow the Pembrokeshire Marine Code to minimise any disturbance to wildlife and to enable you to have the best experience possible.

Further information and maps highlighting the dedicated personal watercraft and aquabatics zones on the Milford Haven Waterway is available from the Port of Milford Haven website: https://www.mhpa.co.uk/powered-craft/.

To find out how you can minimise disturbance to wildlife while enjoying the waters around the Pembrokeshire Coast visit the Pembrokeshire Marine Code website: https://www.pembrokeshiremarinecode.org.uk/.

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