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Three field hospitals to be decommissioned as health board reviews capacity

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THE LOCAL health board has confirmed that three coronavirus field hospitals will close

In a statement released on Wednesday (Mar 24) Hywel Dda University Health Board said that Ysbyty Enfys Scarlets, based at Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli; Ysbyty Enfys Carreg Las, based near Narberth, Pembrokeshire, and Ysbyty Enfys Plascrug, Aberystwyth, will all be returned to their former use from 31 March 2021.

Ysbyty Enfys Selwyn Samuel, in Llanelli, will be retained until 2022 as a surge facility in the event of a possible third wave of Coronavirus, while Cardigan Leisure Centre will be retained as a Test Trace and Protect and Mass Vaccination facility.

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are extremely grateful to all of our partners, including local authorities, Llanelli Town Council and private businesses such as Parc Y Scarlets and Bluestone, for coming together early in the pandemic and making it possible for us to have these facilities at our disposal.

“From the outset it was clear that we could not predict the way the virus would spread and affect our local population, and we have known that being flexible in our use of these facilities would be key to the way we cared for patients.

“We are proud to have been able to bring some of our field hospitals into use to help manage the demand during the second wave in particular, and are currently looking at what level of support we may need going forwards.

“As such we can confirm that we will be returning some of our field hospitals to their former use, while taking a pragmatic and cautious approach by retaining some beds in the Carmarthenshire locality in the event of a possible third wave of the virus. I would like in particular to extend our thanks to Llanelli Town Council for their ongoing support in our use of the Selwyn Samuel building which will allow us to retain this bed base in the immediate future.

“This pandemic has taken a tragic toll on human life, and despite the success of the vaccine rollout both locally and nationally, it is far from over. It’s essential that our local communities continue to follow national guidance on all aspects of lockdown restrictions, distancing, hygiene and use of masks, and that people do not view the operational decisions that we take as a health board in isolation – we all still need to continue with the collective effort in the fight against Covid-19.”

The Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson, added: “Pembrokeshire County Council is pleased to have worked collaboratively with Hywel Dda on the development of the Covid-19 Field Hospital at Ysbyty Enfys Carreg Las. The scheme was developed with breath-taking speed – from inception to practical completion in less than a month. We are pleased to have been a partner to the Health Board in providing this important facility for local residents during this difficult period.”

Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council, added: “Ceredigion County Council were honoured to have been able to support Hywel Dda Local Health Board during the past twelve months by ensuring that facilities were available to be transformed into field hospitals, in order to respond to this pandemic. Cardigan Leisure Centre will remain as a vaccination centre for as long as required in order to support the work of the Health Board during these challenging times.”

The health board said it would like to urge caution and remind members of the public that the pandemic remains active.

The board said: “People should not assume that our planning decisions signal an immediate return to normality.

“In particular, we are strongly urging local residents and communities to continue following national guidance on social distancing, hand hygiene and use of face masks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

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County lines intensification week sees drug supply disrupted into west Wales

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Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police carried out 11 raids during a week of action tackling county lines drug gangs.

COUNTY LINES intensification week (Monday, 11 October to Sunday, 17 October) saw officers carry out warrants, intercepting vehicles potentially involved in the supply of drugs, and working with partners to raise awareness of drug-related crime.

Seventeen people were arrested during the week, with crack cocaine (0.8grams), heroin (77g) and cocaine (6g) seized.

The value of those drugs is estimated to be around £4,500, while officers seized £6,500 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Also seized were an extendable baton and an ammunition magazine.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Cotterell said: “The county lines intensification week was successful for Dyfed-Powys Police, and we had a number of excellent results thanks to the proactive work of officers and police staff across the four divisions.”

As well as the front-line warrants and police work, a lot went on behind the scenes, leading to:

  • More than 2,000 people educated about County Lines and exploitation during the intensification week in the community and partner agencies.
  • Some 50 letting agencies/estate agents educated about the dangers of criminality, such as County lines activity in rented properties.
  • More than 150 businesses educated about county lines, with an emphasis on those who provide mobile top-up services and the use of ‘burner phones’.
  • 50 ‘at-risk’ or vulnerable children, young people and adults received targeted safeguarding support on a 1-2-1 basis and in group settings.

DCI Cotterell added: “Few people are aware of the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to support victims, or the measures we put in place to stop people from becoming repeat victims of drug-related crime.”

“It is very important to us as a force that while we act on all new intelligence to disrupt county lines, we also take a victim-oriented approach to working with those affected by these gangs to protect them from becoming repeat victims.”

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Pembroke Dock: Pensioner sentenced to 20 years for child sex offences

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A PENSIONER from Pembroke Dock has been given an extended sentence of 20 years in prison with a further year on licence after being found guilty of historical rape of a child in the 1980s.

Barry Lake, aged 70, was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court today (22 October) having been found guilty of 10 counts of rape of a child and two charges of gross indecency with a child last month.

Lake, now of Newton-le-Willows in St Helens, had denied all 12 charges relating to offences between January 1986 and January 1989.

Lake was first questioned by Dyfed-Powys Police in April 2020 in what would become an intensive and complex investigation.

Investigating officer DC Claire Lewis said: “Lake denied all charges, putting his victim through the ordeal of a trial.

“As they have done throughout the investigation, they showed great courage and dignity in the face of adversity to help us convict their abuser.

“This was a long and intensive investigation with a lot of work to achieve this outcome today.

“This sentence shows that it doesn’t matter how long ago a victim has suffered sexual abuse, we as police are here to listen and take seriously any person who has suffered any form of sexual abuse albeit a day or 35 years after.

“Please do not be scared to come forward, we are here to listen to you.

“Once again, I would like to commend the victim for their bravery for coming forward and achieving this outcome today.”

After serving 20 years in prison Lake will serve another year on licence.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register indefinitely and made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

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Civil Aviation Authority launches #ShotOnMyDrone competition

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THE UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a new photography campaign and competition – #ShotOnMyDrone – to both highlight the amazing images that drones can produce and educate people around using drones safely and responsibly while exploring the UK’s beautiful towns, cities, and countryside.

The competition will run until 31 January 2022 and provides a platform for UK drone users to display their skills. From a safety perspective it is designed to raise awareness of the rules and permissions required to fly a drone and that these vary from the countryside to built-up areas.

Wherever in the UK the participants choose to take their potentially winning competition shot, all entrants to #ShotOnMyDrone must comply with the CAA’s Drone and Model Aircraft Code. This law and advice covers everything users need to know on how to make their flight safe and legal, including how to register as a drone operator and get a UK drone Flyer ID. The competition categories include; urban night, urban day and countryside, for which drone users must have varying levels of approval to enter, with tighter restrictions around flying in built up areas.

First prize in the competition is a DJI Mavic Air drone. Other prizes included special backpacks designed to carry drones from Thinktank and Torvol. The winners in each category will have their images placed on display at the prestigious London headquarters of the UK Royal Aeronautical Society. A selection of the images will also be featured in the Society’s Aerospace magazine.  

Drone use continues to grow, with over 300,000 registered drone and model aircraft users in the UK. New research by the CAA of UK adults revealed that 20% of drone users and half of the general public are unaware that CAA approval is needed to fly a drone in a town or city in most cases.

The survey also showed that two-thirds of drone users would be looking take their ideal drone photo in the countryside, followed in popularity by city centres and then towns and cities. Of those who would prefer to take their photo in the countryside, almost a third (31%) would choose to take the shot over hills or mountains. Over a quarter (28%) would prefer the coast, while one-fifth (19%) would do so at a lake or river. As many as 12% would use the drone to take a photo of a historic building/monument, with 10% opting to photograph a forest or woods.

Drone users can enter the competition at caa-dronecomp.uk. The site will also host entries as they come in to enable anyone to see the images submitted. The highly anticipated competition will be judged by a panel of experts including CAA Chair and keen photographer Sir Stephen Hillier; Anna Henly an award-winning professional photographer; drone pilot and photography tutor; CAA drone inspector and BAFTA award winner John Livesey; and Tim Robinson, from the Royal Aeronautical Society.

A separate award will be given by UK air traffic control provider NATS which will be polling all its colleagues to decide their favourite image. 

Jonathan Nicholson, Assistant Director of Communications at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The launch of #ShotOnMyDrone aims to showcase some of the stunning images that UK drone users take while also reminding everyone that whether they’re flying in a town, city, or the countryside, they must comply with our Dronecode and stay safe when flying a drone.”

#ShotOnMyDrone follows the success of CAA’s 400ft Britain drone photography competition in 2017 which received over 1,200 individual submissions from across the UK including James Farley’s winning image of the lighthouse at Point of Ayr in North Wales, captured below 400ft (120m) – the Dronecode limit at which drones can be flown in the UK.

The competitions form part of a wider initiative looking at establishing a safe and responsible attitude toward drone flying to protect the safety of the wider aviation industry and the future success of drones.

To enter the competition, simply visit the competition website caa-dronecomp.uk. Entries close on January 31 2022. The competition terms and conditions can be read here.

For more information on drone safety and the laws covering drone flying please go to www.caa.co.uk/drones

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