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Pembrokeshire off-grid households urged not to miss out on Alternative Fuel Payment

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PLAID CYMRU politicians have urged off-grid households in Pembrokeshire not to miss out on a payment of £200 they could be entitled to.

Earlier this year, following extensive pressure from Plaid Cymru politicians at Westminster and Cardiff Bay, the UK Government announced the launch of the Alternative Fuel Payment scheme, paying £200 to households not connected to the mains gas grid, and reliant on other forms of heating – including heating oil, LPG and wood.

It was expected that most homes that are eligible for the payment would get it automatically as a credit on their electricity bills from February 2023.

Households without a direct relationship with an electricity supplier, or households in an area whereby the majority of premises in the post code are connected to the mains gas grid are expected to apply for the Alternative Fuel Payment via an online portal.

However, it has also come to light since the online portal was launched that some households who do have a direct relationship with an electricity supplier will need to apply for the support, as some postcode details have not been supplied to the energy companies.

Previous UK Government statistics suggest that over 40% of households in Pembrokeshire are off grid, and reliant on alternative forms of heating – this compares to the Wales national average of 19%.

Urging local residents to check their their eligibility, Cefin Campbell MS, Plaid Cymru Senedd Member for Mid & West Wales said:

“The UK Government’s whole approach to supporting off-grid households has been a strenuous, long-drawn out process.

We already know that a disproportionate percentage of households across Pembrokeshire do not have access to the mains gas grid, and I was heartened to learn that many residents have now received their £200 Alternative Fuel Payment via their electricity supplier.

However, I remain aware some households who do have an electricity supplier, that have seemingly fallen between the cracks, and are still awaiting payment. I would urge all households to carefully check their statements, and ensure they receive what they are entitled to.”

Off-grid households who have an electricity supplier and have not received the £200 payment have been urged by the UK Government to contact their electricity supplier.

Ben Lake MP, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster spokesperson for the Treasury added:

“I fear that those who have a direct relationship with an electricity supplier will have taken it for granted that they will receive the payments automatically, as per UK Government advice.

It now appears that some will need to make an application after all, and I would encourage all off-grid households to contact their electricity supplier if they have not yet received their payments to clarify whether they need to apply for the payment through the online portal.

“It is vital that the Government takes urgent steps to make sure that everyone who needs to make an application knows that before the scheme concludes.”

The full criteria and information regarding the Alternative Fuel Payment scheme can be found on the UK Government’s website:

https://www.gov.uk/get-help-energy-bills/alternative-fuels
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Crime

Police appeal after girl, 15, assaulted at Lydstep Point to Point

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DYFED-POWYS-POLICE says it is investigating an assault which occurred at Lydstep Point to Point event near to the announcers stand, between 4.30-4.45pm on Monday, April 1, 2024.

The victim, a 15-year-old girl, was allegedly assaulted by two other females, one believed to be in her late teens and the other in her late thirties. The young victim sustained facial injuries.

Police are now appealing for anyone who attended the event that may have information that could help them with their investigation to contact PC 772 Boyt either through a direct message on social media, online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected] or by calling 101.

Quote reference: 24*310890

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Major search in the area of The Cleddau Bridge and Hobbs Point

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A MULTI-AGENCY rescue response was initiated first thing on Saturday following reports of a person in difficulty in the area surrounding The Cleddau Bridge, The Herald has been told.

Police were joined by two coastguard rescue teams, the RNLI and a coastguard rescue helicopter during the search.

A police launch was also used in the operation.

Details are still unclear, but we understand that the search has now been stood down.

MORE TO FOLLOW.

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News

BBC Wales finds baby was infected with HIV after top doc ignored own rules

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THE latest episode of BBC Wales Investigates – broadcasting on BBC One Wales on Monday, April 15 at 8pm – has found that a 10-month-old baby was infected with HIV after a top doctor ignored their own rules.

When Colin Smith contracted HIV through contaminated blood, his parents’ house was daubed with ‘Aids dead’ and his father was forced to leave his job, the programme – Blood Money – finds.

Now 34 years on from his death from Aids at the age of seven, his family are facing another injustice.

BBC Wales Investigates reporter Wyre Davies has uncovered new evidence that Professor Arthur Bloom, the world-renowned doctor who gave him the infected imported blood product, Factor VIII, broke his own rules to do so.

NHS internal guidelines, written by Prof Bloom’s department, clearly shows that children should not be treated with imported blood because of the serious risk of infection.

“This wasn’t an accident,” said Colin senior, speaking in the programme.

“It could have been avoided.”

“I’m telling you, it was all behind a curtain,” said Colin’s mum, Janet.

“Everything Bloom done was not face-to-face it was behind-the-scenes if you like. What Prof said, what Prof done – we knew nothing about.”

Colin was born with the bleeding condition haemophilia. He was one of around 3,000 haemophiliacs who died after being infected with HIV and other viruses, like hepatitis, in imported blood products in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

These viruses got into the supply chain when high-risk donors, such as drug addicts and prisoners, in countries like the USA were paid to give blood donations. Those products were then bought by the UK.

Another victim, speaking for the first time on condition of anonymity, has kept his HIV condition a secret for almost 40 years.

He’s convinced Prof Bloom kept his HIV diagnosis from him while his wife was pregnant, and even tried to convince the couple to abort the child.

“They explained to us the situation that I was HIV positive and not to tell anyone – that was the biggest thing that hit me. Don’t tell anyone, we don’t want to frighten people. Keep it to yourselves and there’s nothing to be done. There’s no treatment available for it,” they tell the programme.

“I just hope to God it never happens again.”

“I think it’s our duty to tell this story because of the number of us that are already dead.”

BBC Wales Investigates has trawled through hundreds of pages of evidence. These documents show that drugs companies making the blood product Factor VIII, which is used to treat haemophiliacs, were aware of the risks of serious infection from the hepatitis virus as early as the 1970s.

The programme reveals that documents from Immuno AG – a pharmaceutical company which made the Factor VIII product used in the UK – shows senior executives knew products made from USA donors had a higher risk of viral infections, but they said the UK market would accept that risk because it was cheaper.

The programme captures the moment Colin Smith’s parents are shown the document for the first time.

“They weren’t worried about people’s health as far as I’m concerned. You get to a stage when you read things like that, to us it was murder,” said Colin’s mother, Janet.

Another Professor, who was mentored by Bloom and treated patients with infected blood products, told the programme that doctors and companies knew imported blood products carried serious health risks.

Prof Edward Tuddenham said: “If you go on selling a product that you know is potentially deadly just because you made a good profit from it, you’ve obviously rated your profit above the health and actually the life of the people who have been given the product.”

“There was a period when we were exposing patients to clearly horrific risk but we didn’t appreciate them or make the correct calculation of risk- benefit.”

Professor Bloom died in 1992.

The programme also examines the role of the UK Government, as the scandal was emerging, and asks why ministers continued telling the public there was “no conclusive proof” that AIDS could be carried in blood products.

And while victims, and families of victims, wait for compensation, the programme speaks to one woman who has been denied a payout, despite being able to prove she was infected with Hepatitis C through a blood transfusion in 1992 – after a cut-off date previously imposed by the government.

“It’s the recognition,” said Caz Challis. “It’s the not being told you’re not worth it. You don’t count. It’s the justice for the people who have been ignored.”

The infected blood inquiry is due to publish its final report on May 20th.

BBC Wales Investigates: Blood Money will be on BBC One Wales on Monday, April 15 at 8pm. It will also be available to watch on BBC iPlayer from Sunday.

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