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Broad Haven surfers to join national protest against sewage



BROAD HAVEN Beach will be one of over 30 locations across the UK hosting protesters today, as thousands take to coasts and rivers to demand an end to sewage pollution. The nationwide protests are organised by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), who are calling for immediate action to stop the sewage discharges that are contaminating the UK’s waterways and harming both ecological and human health.

From Cornwall to Edinburgh, local beaches and rivers will see demonstrations, with flagship protests at West Pier in Brighton and Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth. Notably, double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes will join protesters on the south coast, highlighting the widespread support for the cause.

Giles Bristow, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, commented: “Once again, the public face a grim choice this summer – risk swallowing sewage or forgo a dip in the water. This year offers an opportunity to turn our collective anger into action and end the sewage scandal. Politicians must now listen, with a general election imminent and public sentiment clear. All parties need to show genuine and quantifiable commitments to eliminate sewage pollution, or they will face the consequences.”

The issue of water quality is expected to be a significant factor influencing voters in the next general election, which must occur before January 2025. In June, regulator Ofwat will deliver recommendations on water companies’ investment plans for the next five years. Water companies have proposed £11 billion in investment to reduce sewage discharges, with corresponding increases in customer bills, a move that has sparked public outrage, especially considering the profits paid out to water company executives and shareholders.

According to the Financial Times, water companies in England and Wales paid out £2.5 billion in dividends over the past two financial years, and over £78 billion since privatisation 33 years ago.

Bristow added: “Thousands are protesting this weekend to demand clean seas and rivers. We need ambitious plans to end sewage pollution in high-priority nature sites and the waters we swim, surf, and paddle in by 2030. The public will not tolerate this broken system any longer.”

Dame Kelly Holmes, set to paddle out with protesters in Brighton, emphasised the importance of clean waterways: “I love nothing more than getting out into the open water on my paddle-board – it does wonders for my mental health, and there’s a strong sense of community among those who use our wild waterways. But this special pastime is tainted by the persistent risk of pollution. It’s shocking and infuriating that whole generations are deprived of safely enjoying our blue spaces. Our waterways are crucial for our health and wellbeing, and it’s scandalous how they are treated.”

In 2023, there were 584,001 recorded sewage discharges across England, Scotland, and Wales—a 51% increase from the previous year—totaling 12,966,322 hours of sewage released into waterways. United Utilities was the worst offender, with 97,537 discharges, followed by Yorkshire Water and Severn Trent Water. Welsh Water reported 108,860 discharges, although these figures are not directly comparable due to different reporting methods.

This weekend, paddle-outs will occur in most water company catchments, including Scottish Water, which recorded 15,289 spills last year, and Northern Ireland Water, which lacks discharge data due to insufficient monitoring.

The Environment Agency claims that 100% of storm overflows in England are now fitted with monitoring devices. However, SAS analysis reveals that monitors at 1,930 storm overflows, representing 13.3% of the total, are operating below 90% capacity, suggesting that the reported figures for England in 2023 are underestimated.

Local protest organiser and SAS supporter Sally McGee highlighted the impact on Tynemouth’s beaches: “Every surfer across the UK knows the risk of getting sick if they surf. Many beaches around Tynemouth are subjected to raw sewage discharge during storms. It’s upsetting and feels like we are going backwards in time. We demand an end to sewage discharges in our bathing waters by 2030.”

Surfers Against Sewage is calling for the end of sewage discharges into all bathing waters and high-priority nature sites by 2030, urging water companies, regulators, and politicians to prioritise people and nature over profit.


Latest on Skills Partnership’s employment plan at Royal Welsh Show



THIS WEEK (Jul 22) at the Royal Welsh Show, the Mid Wales Regional Skills Partnership (RSP) unveiled its update to the Employment and Skills Plan 2022-2025. It addresses the region’s evolving employment and skills needs, reflecting sector growth and economic demands.

The updated plan incorporates new labour market intelligence and qualitative data, providing accurate growth forecasts for Powys and Ceredigion. The RSP collaborated with business-led cluster groups to gather industry-specific insights, ensuring the plan meets the Mid Wales economy’s current and future demands.

The updated plan highlights key growth areas up to 2028, including a 6% increase in the construction and advanced manufacturing sectors, a 9% rise in food and drink production, and a 4% growth in the digital sector. It also emphasizes the importance of skills linked to Net Zero and energy, highlighting emerging workforce requirements.

Councillor James Gibson-Watt, Leader of Powys County Council, and Councillor Bryan Davies, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, Co-Chairs of the RSP Board said, “We are pleased with the positive steps the region has made in growth. By collaborating with schools, colleges, universities, and training providers, the RSP is helping to ensure that the right skills are available at the right time to meet the demands of our Mid Wales employers.”

Emma Thomas, Chair of the Mid Wales Regional Skills Partnership, said, “The Employment and Skills Plan Update 2024 is a testament to our ongoing efforts to support the region’s economic development.

The Mid Wales RSP encourages stakeholders, businesses, and the community to explore the comprehensive Employment and Skills Plan on the Growing Mid Wales site:

The RSP is part of the Growing Mid Wales team, and works across the counties of Ceredigion and Powys, ensuring the development and delivery of the vision for Growing Mid Wales. This includes working to drive investment in skills by developing responses based upon local and regional need.

Stay updated on the latest developments with the work of Growing Mid Wales, by signing up for a monthly newsletter. Email [email protected].

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New guide for older people on accessing GP practices in Wales



THE OLDER People’s Commissioner for Wales has launched a new guide to help older people and their families better understand their rights when accessing their GP practice, and the kinds of services and support that should be available.

The Commissioner has published the guide after research she undertook earlier this year found that changes to the way services are delivered, and the changing roles of health professionals working with GP practices, have left many older people struggling to find suitable appointments.

The guide includes information on a range of topics, from communicating with your practice, to finding the right service and professional, to the support that should be offered to help meet your needs, to what you can do if you’re not happy with the service you are receiving. The guide also includes contact details for organisations that can provide help and support to older people and their families, including the Commissioner’s own Advice and Assistance Service.

The guide was developed with support from older people, as well as health professionals and other key stakeholders, and is being distributed to every GP practice in Wales, as well as to older people via community-based organisations.

Versions of the guide are available in BSL, Audio and Easy Read formats, alongside summaries in other languages.

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said: “As we get older, accessing GP practices often becomes a more prominent part of our lives and can play an important role in helping us to stay healthy and independent.

“One of the key findings from my recent ‘Access to GP Practices’ report was that many older people are unsure about what services are available from their GP practice and what they are entitled to.

“That’s why I have produced this guide, to empower older people and their families, and help them better understand their rights when accessing GP practices.

“This will help people feel more confident when making appointments and engaging with their GP practice, better understand the services and support they are entitled to, and feel more empowered to raise issues or concerns.”

Alongside launching her information guide, the Commissioner has also published a progress report3, which provides an update on the action taken in response to her ‘Access to GP Practices’ report since its publication in March.

The progress report highlights the ways that the Welsh Government and health boards are using the Commissioner’s findings to shape policy and practice, as well as the commitments made by other key organisations to deliver action to improve older people’s experiences.

The Commissioner added: “I was pleased to see the positive response to my ‘Access to GP Practices’ report and welcome the action that’s already underway.

“It is now essential that policy- and decision-makers build on this and deliver further action against my recommendations, something my team will be pressing for and closely monitoring as we move forward.”

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Barafundle Bay named cleanest beach in the UK



PEMBROKEHIRE’S Barafundle Bay has been honoured as the cleanest beach in the United Kingdom, according to a comprehensive study by The study, which analysed TripAdvisor reviews, Google ratings, cleanliness scores, and bacteria levels, places Barafundle Bay at the top of the list, making it the perfect destination for families this summer.

The research, conducted just in time for the school holidays, evaluated 50 popular beaches across the UK. Barafundle Bay achieved an impressive 86% excellent reviews on TripAdvisor, a 4.9 out of 5 Google star rating, and a cleanliness score of 78 out of 100. The beach also boasts low average bacteria levels of just 10 cfu/100ml, indicating pristine water quality.

Barafundle Bay, often referred to as one of the UK’s hidden gems, is renowned for its golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Accessible only by a half-mile walk from the nearest car park, the beach is free from commercialisation, contributing to its immaculate condition. Visitors can enjoy a tranquil and scenic environment, making it an ideal spot for relaxation and family outings.

Local authorities and residents are delighted with the recognition. Councillor Gwen Jones of Pembrokeshire County Council commented, “We are incredibly proud of Barafundle Bay being named the cleanest beach in the UK. This accolade is a testament to the hard work of our community in maintaining and preserving our beautiful coastline.”

Pembrokeshire is no stranger to pristine beaches, with several others in the region also receiving high rankings for cleanliness. Rhossili Bay and Mwnt Beach, for instance, both feature in the top ten cleanest beaches in the UK, highlighting Wales’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty.

The study also sheds light on other top-ranking beaches across the UK. Woolacombe Sands in Devon and St Cyrus Beach in Aberdeenshire were ranked second and third, respectively. However, the recognition of Barafundle Bay stands out due to its combination of natural beauty and exceptional cleanliness standards.

The designation of Barafundle Bay as the UK’s cleanest beach is expected to boost local tourism, drawing visitors eager to experience its unspoiled charm. Local businesses are preparing for an influx of tourists, hoping to showcase the hospitality and beauty of Pembrokeshire.

As the summer holidays begin, families are encouraged to visit Barafundle Bay to enjoy its stunning scenery and safe, clean environment. The accolade not only puts Pembrokeshire on the map but also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our natural landscapes for future generations.

For more information on Barafundle Bay and other top clean beaches in the UK, visit the website.

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