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Save Withybush: More protests planned against ‘repurposing’ of our local hospital

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RESIDENTS of Pembrokeshire who are worried about plans to ‘downgrade’ Withybush to a ‘community hospital’ are planning further protests against this decision.

Withybush’s future has been uncertain for many years with several protests against the perennially unpopular decision already being staged by concerned local people eager to have their voices heard outside the under-threat hospital and even outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

A Hywel Dda Health Board report dated Thursday, January 27, states that “consolidating services” like trauma, emergency surgeries and Accident & Emergency services into fewer sites “will improve standards, service resilience and a shift towards 24-hour, 7-day models of care”.

Previous protests seem to have fallen on deaf ears

Under plans unveiled by Hywel Dda, Withybush would be ‘repurposed’ into a community hospital with a 24/7 urgent care centre led by GPs which would only be capable of dealing with minor injuries like upper body injuries, infections, head injuries, illnesses, animal or insect bites, some broken bones, minor burns and eye injuries.

A yet-to-be-built urgent and planned care hospital, expected to be built somewhere between Narberth and St. Clears, would deal with more serious injuries.

Hywel Dda Health Board has said that “further work with our clinical partners and the public to engage on what our service pathways look like” will be undertaken.

The ‘Save Withybush’ Facebook group, which is planning a new wave of protests, has seen a drastic increase in its members since Hywel Dda’s plans were unveiled.

‘Save Withybush’ member Jaqueline Doig said: “How can an entire county be left without A&E (emergency care) provision at a general hospital?”

“It is a rural area with a wide-spread and isolated population, bad road links and poor public transport provision. The population of 125,000 can easily be boosted by four million tourists” Jaqueline said.

“Pembrokeshire people have been campaigning to save services and their hospital for years,” Jaqueline continued “but they are not listened to – why? Why should Pembrokeshire be treated so shabbily?”

The first of the new wave of protests is scheduled to take place from 11am on Wednesday, February 23, the middle of half term.

If you want to be a part of efforts to save Withybush, you can find the group on Facebook here.

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Pembrokeshire stands against Israeli apartheid and Genocide

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PALESTINE solidarity groups in Pembrokeshire and West Wales are mobilising for a powerful protest in Haverfordwest, Castle Square, this Saturday 20th April at 2pm. They aim to vehemently condemn the relentless Israeli onslaught on Gaza and send a clear message to the UK government and local MPs Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb: End the complicity now! We demand an immediate ceasefire and an end to arms sales that fuel this brutal oppression.

The Nakba, or ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic, refers to the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israeli forces, following the forcible displacement of 750,000 Palestinians (almost half the population) in 1947-49 in order to establish the state of Israel. Israel’s current assault on Gaza is an escalation of the ongoing Nakba and threatens to be the largest mass expulsion of Palestinians since 1948. The international community has an immediate responsibility to intervene to stop Israel’s ethnic cleansing today. Any delay in implementing practical measures constitutes complicity and/or participation in the ongoing Nakba.

This rally is a collective outcry against the crimes perpetrated by Israel and a rallying cry for the boycott of Israeli products.

“It’s sickeningly hypocritical that Israel strikes nations and communities first, claims victimhood when faced with resistance, and then receives unwavering support from the U.S., the UK, and Germany!” lamented one protester.

“For too long, the international community has turned a blind eye to Israel’s flagrant violations of human rights, granting it impunity while innocent lives are lost.”

“Six months of relentless violence. Six months of Israel slaughtering innocent Palestinians. Six months of Israel killing over 14,000 children! That’s an average of around 76 children a day and what has our government done? Profited from arms sales, turning a blind eye to the bloodshed,” remarked another protester.

This protest is a clarion call to all who stand for justice: It’s time to disrupt the status quo and challenge our complicit government. “We will never give up,” declared a participant. “To dismantle apartheid, we must disrupt the everyday and refuse to be complicit in Israel’s crimes against humanity!”

Join us at Castle Square at 2pm this Saturday to lend your voice to the 2 million people who suffer from a forced famine and brutal occupation in Gaza. Together, we will demand justice, accountability, and an immediate end to the bloodshed, the genocide and ethnic cleansing.

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Dragon LNG ‘monitoring’ scrap car blaze in Waterston

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A BLAZE has broken out at the Waterston Car Dismantler’s business in Waterston, Milford Haven.

Dragon LNG which is situated near the site said that the fire was not related to their operation and confirmed that the that emergency services were at the scene.

Residents living nearby have been advised to keep windows and doors closed whilst the incident is being dealt with.

“We are aware of a fire in Waterston with the emergency services present,” said a spokesperson for Dragon LNG.

“The incident is not related to Dragon LNG and Dragon Energy. We are monitoring the situation and are co-ordinating with the emergency services.”

(Images: M Cavaney/Herald)

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Oxfam to close Haverfordwest shop amid asbestos concerns

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OXFAMGreat Britain is set to shutter its profitable store in Haverfordwest, which currently brings in £25,000 annually, due to unforeseen costs related to asbestos removal. The closure date remains undecided, leaving managers Derrick and Mark uncertain about the future. A major sale is planned to clear out stock, starting with a 50% discount on donated items before escalating to a fire sale.

The charity has faced longstanding issues with asbestos in the building’s upper floors, which now require £60,000+ in removal costs. This expense will be charged to the shop’s account within a year, rendering the operation financially unviable. Although aware of the asbestos for years, Oxfam GB’s management has continually deferred addressing the problem. Alternatives such as relocating have been dismissed by the charity, citing that finding new premises would take two years and the renovation costs would still need coverage in the interim.

The Haverfordwest shop is a vital community hub, known for its extensive range of quality second-hand books, music, clothes, and homewares. It is also the largest second-hand bookshop in Pembrokeshire. The store is celebrated for its inviting atmosphere and the significant social value it provides, offering volunteering opportunities and work experience placements that often lead to employment.

Despite the shop’s profitability and community role, Oxfam GB’s decision comes as a blow to local efforts to combat poverty. Sarah Rees, Head of Oxfam Cymru, has previously highlighted the region’s “shameful and stubbornly high poverty rate.” The shop not only supports Oxfam’s global initiatives but also directly contributes to alleviating local poverty.

The decision has sparked controversy among volunteers and the community, with many questioning Oxfam’s commitment to its stated mission. Rosamund Aubrey, a volunteer, expressed her disappointment and stated she would reconsider her support for the organization due to this decision.

The forthcoming closure marks a significant loss for Haverfordwest, leaving both staff and the community awaiting further updates from Oxfam GB.

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