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Three potential hospital sites for public consultation – campaigners not satisfied



HYWEL DDA health board says that it will consult with the public over three potential sites, two in the Whitland area and one in St Clears, for a new planned and urgent care hospital as part of its wider strategy to improve health and care in the region.

The health board submitted plans to the Welsh Government, earlier this year. It insists that if successful, the new hospital could result in the region of £1.3billion investment into health and care in west Wales.

Despite opposition from many people in Pembrokeshire, a petition signed by thousands and dozens of demonstrations it is continuing with its plan.

Facing constant downgrades: Withybush General Hospital in Haverfordwest

The health board’s argument is that the foundation of its plan is to bring as much care as possible closer to people’s homes, with plans for multiple integrated health and care centres, designed with local communities, across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Locals say that a hospital away from the centre of Pembrokeshire would mean longer travel times in an emergency – costing lives. They also point to poor rural roads, and the fact that the A40 has not been dueled past St. Clears as concerns – the road is often shut when there is an accident meaning long diversions.

A new urgent and planned care hospital is part of the health board’s strategy to be able to re-provide more care in community settings, by having a sustainable hospital model fit for future generations. This would, the board says, improve and increase the specialist care services that can be provided and tackle some long standing challenges, including old hospitals, problems in maintaining medical rotas over several hospitals, and staff recruitment.

Health Board say its hard to recruit staff for Withybush

In a meeting held on Thursday (Aug 4), the Board heard that the process to date in appraising potential new hospital sites, within the zone agreed following “public consultation” in 2018, had received best practice recognition from the independent body the Consultation Institute.

There was unanimous agreement that further public consultation was needed, especially in order to hear the voices of the seldom heard and staff, including those in the community and primary care services.

Based on the evidence and detail provided through the comprehensive land appraisal process to date, the Board decided to take three of five previously considered sites, through to public consultation.

Sites that will not be taken forward include one of two in St Clears (site J). This was because it had the highest risk score based on characteristics of the site and it was scored materially lower than other sites in the technical appraisal, which was made up of a majority representation from the public and used a weighted scoring process in line with what is most important to our communities.

The other site not taken forward for public consultation was the Narberth site. This was due to clinical appraisal concerns that a site further west would lead to a reduction in the number births, neonatal admissions and acute paediatric admissions reducing the critical mass for safe and sustainable services, and having a negative impact on maintaining trainee status for doctors, nurses and midwives. In relation to time critical transfers, for example neonatal intensive care and cardiac, these all go east and a hospital in Narberth would result in longer transfer times.

Vehicle collision: male was taken to Withybush Hospital. Would new site be too far? (Pic. Michael Brown)

In summing up the meeting, Hywel Dda University Health Board Chair Maria Battle said: “Our programme business case to the Welsh Government is seeking the greatest investment west Wales will have ever seen, and builds on the foundation of our promise to bring as much care as possible closer to people’s homes through integrated care centres in many towns across west Wales.

“We have listened to and continue to listen to the fears and voices of the public we serve and our staff who understand the frontline challenges of trying to deliver services across so many sites and spread so thinly. We promise as a Board to continue to listen and take those views into account at every stage. Recognising the fragility of our services and the risk this poses every day, we do not intend to make changes at Glangwili or Withybush Hospital before a new hospital is built. And afterwards, they will continue to provide valuable health services to our communities.”

Protests have gone on for years: Cardiff in 2014

The health board will now work closely with Hywel Dda Community Health Council to develop a consultation plan to hear people’s views on the three remaining sites, one in St Clears, and two in Whitland.

Campaigners say that moving care out of county puts adults and children at risk of poor outcomes or even death. It wastes crucial time, when time is not on our side.

A campaigner told The Herald: “We have 125,000 residents and millions of tourists.

“By implementing the downgrades, HDUHB, will be knowingly putting their lives at risk.

“We re-iterate, we are a rural, widespread county, with poor roads and public transport network.

“Refinery, gas plant, ferry ports, firing range, extreme sports, plus one of the most dangerous professions: farming.

“HDUHB may infer that the “Golden Hour” is no longer relevant, with better equipped ambulances and better trained staff, but that is dependent on an ambulance being available to help & give that immediate care.

“That is increasingly not the case, as ambulances fail to attend, as they are being sent out of county, unable to offload and unable to return to county, to give the help needed.

“It is an awful feeling to know that if our relatives or our children have a life threatening asthma attack, epileptic episode, or other time critical issue, within the new plans, they are unlikely to get to help and survive.

“HDUHB have said they will make no guarantee that Urgent Care would remain in Withybush General Hospital until (and if), a new build is up and running! That is unacceptable.

“HDUHB should commit to rigorous recruitment policies, to keep WGH Urgent Care fully staffed.

“We have lost faith and trust in HDUHB and do not believe that they are working in the best interests of Pembrokeshire.”


Huge boost for Pembrokeshire as Celtic Freeport set to create 16,000 jobs



THE CELTIC FREEPORT in Milford Haven and Port Talbot and Anglesey Freeport on Ynys Mon have been chosen as Wales’ first freeports, helping to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the green industries of the future, the Welsh and UK Governments announced today.

In May 2022, the Welsh Government reached an agreement with the UK Government to establish a freeport programme in Wales.

Following a bidding process, the Welsh and UK Governments have jointly agreed to create two freeports in Wales, which are expected to be operational later this year.

The winning bids are:

  • The Celtic Freeport in Milford Haven and Port Talbot. The freeport will be based around the port of Port Talbot in Neath Port Talbot, and the port of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire. The plans focus on low carbon technologies, such as floating offshore wind (FLOW), hydrogen, carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) and biofuels to support the accelerated reduction of carbon emissions. The freeport aims to attract significant inward investment, including £3.5bn in the hydrogen industry as well as the creation of 16,000 jobs, generating £900m in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2030, and £13bn by 2050.
  • The Anglesey Freeport, Ynys Mon. The freeport will be based around the port of Holyhead, Anglesey Prosperity Zone, Rhosgoch and M-Sparc. The freeport will develop the Energy Island Programme (EIP) by focusing on marine energy technology testing on the seabed (tidal and wind). The freeport aims to create between 3,500 and 13,000 jobs by 2030, with an increased GVA of approximately £500m. It also anticipates significant inward investment, including the possibility of £1.4bn in the green energy sector.

The freeports will form special zones with the benefits of simplified customs procedures, relief on customs duties, tax benefits, and development flexibility. Welsh freeports will promote fair work opportunities and prioritise environmental sustainability and the climate emergency.

They are designed to promote regeneration and high-quality job creation, become a national hub for global trade and investment across the economy, and foster an innovative environment. The successful bids are focused on boosting the distinct strengths the sites boast, exploiting opportunities from offshore wind and marine energy to advanced manufacturing and innovation.

The two freeports aim to collectively create around 20,000 jobs by 2030 and attract up to £4.9bn in public and private investments.

Announcing the winning bids, First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said: “I am pleased to confirm the Celtic Freeport in Milford Haven and Port Talbot and Anglesey Freeport have been selected as Wales’ new freeports.

“The Welsh Government has a clear economic mission to transform the Welsh economy, creating a stronger, fairer and greener future. The designation of these sites as Wales’ first freeports will reinforce that mission, building on the significant investments and partnerships we have made in these regions over many years.

“The joint working between governments on the freeport programme should serve as a blueprint for future intergovernmental work on a whole range of issues.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Wales is a thriving part of the UK, and today’s new Freeports will see businesses and opportunities for people in and around Anglesey, Port Talbot and Milford Haven go from strength to strength.

“Everyone deserves equality of opportunity and working closely with the Welsh Government has helped to deliver these fantastic new sites.

“Today’s Freeports show the hard work being done day in, day out to bring new, high-skilled jobs to communities across Wales nd deliver on my promise to grow the economy.”

Commenting on the selection of Celtic Freeport, Roger Maggs MBE, Chair of the Celtic Freeport bid consortium, said: “We hope that Wales’ two freeports will deliver for the country. The future is exciting. The Celtic Freeport has catalysed major business interest, local communities, trade unions and academia in using Wales’ largest industrial base as the launchpad for developing new technologies and the renewable energy manufacturing opportunities of tomorrow. This has the potential to unlock £5.5 billion of private and public investment for Wales and create new training and innovation facilities, factories and expanded green energy ports, as well as new alternative fuel production complexes. 
“Our green investment and innovation corridor will support the creation of 16,000 green jobs, which will not just be good news for Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and Neath Port Talbot, but also Bridgend, Carmarthen, Swansea, The Valleys and many other communities across Wales.” 

Port Talbot

The Celtic Freeport consortium comprises Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven.  The bid’s strategically located tax and customs sites span almost 250 hectares in Pembrokeshire and Neath Port Talbot. 
Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “Today’s announcement that the Celtic Freeport Bid has been successful is fantastic news for Pembrokeshire, Wales and Great Britain. 

“The Celtic Freeport will unleash the full green industrial potential of Wales, accelerating the decarbonisation of our most carbon intensive industries and bringing new opportunities to our communities, major international investment and thousands of high skilled jobs to the region.” 
Will Bramble CBE, Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire County Council, added: “The Celtic Freeport will produce significant investment in the region, particularly the focused areas of upskilling our workforce and ultimately creating job opportunities here in south west Wales.  Fundamentally this will now put us at the leading edge of the green industrial revolution.”  
Cllr Steve Hunt, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “Today’s announcement is an absolute game changer for Neath Port Talbot and for Wales.  It will transform the fortunes of people in all our communities. It puts us at the forefront of the world’s green energy revolution and our residents will soon be working in the industry of the future, learning the skills for securing green, well paid jobs. 
Karen Jones, Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “This great news is the first step towards a much brighter future here in our county borough.  I look forward to working with our partners to make sure local people and businesses have the best possible benefit from what’s now in front of us.” 
Tom Sawyer, Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven, said: “As the UK’s Energy Port, the Port of Milford Haven welcomes this fantastic news which allows us to build on the significant multi-million pound investment we’ve already made in the renewables sector at Pembroke Port.  But what really excites us about this announcement today is the positive impact it’s going to have on our coastal communities. Securing the jobs of today and creating fantastic opportunities for future generations.” 
Andrew Harston, Regional Director, Associated British Ports, said: “Associated British Ports is absolutely delighted that our Celtic Freeport bid has been successful. Floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Wales, and the scale needed is immense.  

“ABP stands ready to invest £500 million in our port at Port Talbot to ensure first mover advantage to capture this global market. We want our ports to act as a base for FLOW manufacturing, maintenance and operations. And it’s not just about FLOW, it’s about sustainable fuels and hydrogen too.” 

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Lola murder trial: “I didn’t beat her up to that extent”



IN police statements read to Swansea Crown Court today, Wednesday, March 22, murder accused Kyle Bevan stated “I didn’t beat her up to that extent”.

A number of interviews were read to the court today, in which Bevan had described his version of events which lead to two-year-old Lola’s fatal injuries.

In one of the interviews, a list of injuries Lola sustained were explained to murder accused Bevan, which included extensive severe head trauma, cerebral haemorrhage, ischemia and multiple areas of severe bruising to her body. 

Bevan was told that an Ophthalmologist said Lola has suffered haemorrhages to her eyes. 

The defendant replied: “that’s only one doctor’s opinion, another may say something else”.

Images were then shown to Bevan of Lola’s injuries.

Bevan replied: “I didn’t beat her up to that extent”.

At 4.26am on the morning of July 17, 2020, Bevan took a photograph of Lola on his mobile phone, which showed her standing up and conscious, but with red marks on her back area. 

It is not believed Lola had sustained the head injury at this point.

At 6.33am Bevan typed the following into an internet search bar: “My 2 year old child has just taken a bang to the head and gone all limp and snoring, what’s wrong?.”

This was followed up by a screenshot from a medical website which showed symptoms of a serious head injury and where it clearly states that emergency care must be sought immediately.

An ambulance was not called until 7.28am.

In a statement read to the court from January 18, 2021, some doubt was placed over what time the tot received the extensive injuries.

Detectives were asking the defendant why had he not attempted to get any help for almost an hour, probing why had he not gone to a neighbour or woke up Lola’s mother, co-accused Sinead James.

Bevan replied: “At 5 o’clock in the morning? Tracey would’ve punched my face in.”

The interview was paused for legal representation before Bevan clarified stating: “I didn’t mean it at like 5 o’clock, it was just early.”

The trial continues tomorrow at 10am.

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Pembrokeshire bakery wins award for “ambitious” carbon emissions reduction plan



TAN Y Castell, a family-run bakery business based in Narberth, has won an award for its “ambitious” plan to reduce its carbon emissions.

The company, which specialises in baking traditional Welsh recipes by hand, won the “Best medium size business carbon reduction plan” award as part of a Business Wales programme designed to help Welsh businesses achieve net zero.

The Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme Carbon Emission Reduction Programme has seen eight businesses participate in a three-month immersive programme, partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Tan Y Castell’s award-winning products – which include Welsh cakes, shortbread and bara brith – are available from most major supermarkets, with other customers including national wholesalers, county councils, rail companies, food service providers, airports, hotels, and high-end motor companies.

The company joined seven other businesses that received intensive support to help measure their baseline carbon emissions and develop emission reduction plans to achieve net zero by 2050. This support included specialist workshops, a dedicated Masters student intern placed in each business and specialist coaching from leading sustainability experts.

The Carbon Emission Reduction Pilot Programme Awards took place on Tuesday, March 14, to celebrate the achievements of the businesses participating in the programme. An independent panel of sustainability experts judged the awards, chaired by Jonny Tench, the private sector lead advisor for the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.

Presenters at the awards included Robert Lloyd-Griffiths OBE, Chair of Business Wales Task and Finish Group and Director for the ICAEW in Wales, and Dr Fern Davies, Senior Lecturer in strategy and corporate social responsibility, and the Sustainability Lead for Swansea University School of Management.

Commenting on their award win, Vanessa Mear, Head of Human Resources at Tan Y Castell, said: “As a small business, we wanted to reduce carbon emissions but needed support to develop a realistic and detailed plan. This programme was hugely helpful and designed to help businesses like ours meet the challenge ahead. The workshops were helpful and informative and having a mentor working with us kept us focused on our goals. Most importantly, having an intern working with us was brilliant, as it provided us with additional capacity and the specialist knowledge we needed to benchmark our emissions.”

Richard Morris, Programme Director for the Accelerated Growth Programme, said: “We have been blown away by the commitment our Carbon Emission Reduction Programme participants have shown over the last three months. We have packed an enormous amount into a short time and have been so impressed by the dedication and tenacity of the companies in developing their ambitious carbon reduction plans.”

The Carbon Emission Reduction Programme was launched to support the Welsh Government’s Net Zero Wales Plan, which outlines the commitment to achieving net zero and a greener, stronger, fairer Wales.

Chair of Judges, Jonny Tench, commented: “Inspired by the Well-Being of Future Generations of Wales Act, these businesses are joining many others across Wales in making the nation a better place to live and work. Welsh Government has ambitious plans for Wales to become net zero by 2050, and businesses have a crucial role to play if we are to meet that ambition.

“We were so impressed by the commitment and drive all businesses have shown in developing their ambitious carbon reduction plans. We wish to congratulate the deserving winners and recognise the achievements of all eight companies who completed the programme. We look forward to seeing how they progress against their plans and working with Business Wales to share the valuable lessons from this programme more widely.”

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