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Conservatives responsible for the lack of new local hospital, says Labour

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LAST week, during questions in the Welsh Parliament, Eluned Morgan claimed the Conservatives were to blame for a new West Wales hospital not being opened.

Answering a question from Sam Kurtz MS about the delays to the new hospital, Baroness Morgan of Ely first failed to provide any indication on timescales despite promising to do so and continued: “Let me remind you that it was the Conservatives who stopped the proposal to build a new hospital in West Wales several years ago. And if it had been followed through at that time and if you hadn’t led a campaign—you, the Tories, led a campaign against the West Wales hospital—it would’ve been up and running by now. The Conservatives have to take their share of responsibility for the fact that there is not already a West Wales hospital. There has never been an axe hanging over Withybush or Glangwili. And let me be absolutely clear that—[Interruption.] Let me be clear that part of the responsibility for the fact that there is no West Wales hospital already lies directly with the Conservative Party.”

DISTRUST, MISTRUST, AND THE LONG CAMPAIGN

That’s some assertion.

As Baroness Morgan will know, not only did thousands of locals demonstrate against the downgrading of services at West Wales’s current hospitals, but members of the Labour Party also participated in those campaigns.

A new hospital must also meet the Government’s statutory requirements for such a site, including Transport policy, Climate Change policy, and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, all of which have changed over the years.

Setting aside the large number of consultations the Health Board undertook as part of the Welsh Government’s consultation requirements, it ignores the vexed question of where the money for a new hospital will come from. It was never accounted for in previous years’ budgets and is still not accounted for as future planned expenditure.

Eluned Morgan’s answer makes the construction of a new West Wales Hospital a live political issue in local campaigns.

It sets up local health services to re-enter the spotlight as a political football.
The Health Board has never complained of political interference, and no evidence has ever been presented that Conservative politicians or others have lobbied to delay a new hospital’s construction.

The Health Board’s conduct in salami-slicing key services away from Withybush has not helped build trust between local voters and Labour politicians responsible for overseeing the Welsh NHS and the local health Board’s actions.

VETERAN CAMPAIGNER CALLS MORGAN’S REMARKS “RUBBISH”

It’s fair to say that the Conservatives exploited local feelings for their electoral benefit. However, people from other parties, including union members, healthcare staff, and people without party affiliation, participated in the protests.

Dr Chris Overton participated in the campaign to save services at Withybush and led a legal challenge to the Health Board’s downgrading paediatric, maternity and other services there.

He stood for election in the former Preseli Pembrokeshire seat in the 2015 and 2017 elections against Stephen Crabb. In 2016, he stood against Angela Burns in the South Pembrokeshire & West Carmarthenshire Senedd election.

CAMPAIGNER: CHRIS OVERTON (Pic: Herald)

Addressing Eluned Morgan’s remarks, Chris Overton told us, “Unfortunately, it’s typical. There is no reason to let the truth get in the way of electioneering!

“Eluned Morgan’s remarks are rubbish.

“Rubbish. Labour has been in power in Wales for 25 years.

“Pembrokeshire became “blue” again because Welsh Labour was keen to improve their chances of taking back seats from Plaid in Carmarthenshire by sacrificing Withybush.

“Had SWAT not existed, we would all have been travelling to Morriston for every emergency. Withybush, Prince Phillip and Glangwili would have become community hospitals.

“What would have happened during the pandemic with the much-reduced ventilator capacity? More people would have died!”

DAVIES STILL FIGHTS FOR A BETTER FUTURE FOR WITHYBUSH HOSPITAL

Thousands of people from Pembrokeshire participated in demonstrations against service cuts and to Save Withybush Hospital.

Those demonstrations took place when Mark Drakeford was Health Minister, Vaughan Gething was Health Minister, and she was a member of Drakeford’s cabinet.

Paul Davies, who has campaigned ceaselessly to retain services at Withybush, told us, “It’s a bit rich of the Cabinet Secretary to talk about health services in West Wales when her party has starved the NHS and constantly eroded health services in Pembrokeshire.

“I’ve always been very clear on this issue – I don’t support a new hospital elsewhere in West Wales.

“I want to see Withybush Hospital get the funding and resources it needs to continue to provide much-needed and much-valued services to the people of Pembrokeshire.

“People living in Pembrokeshire should not have to travel further for vital services, and the Cabinet Secretary should reflect on her comments and apologise to my constituents on behalf of the Welsh Government for the continued downgrading and removal of health services in Pembrokeshire in recent years.”

CANDIDATES REJECT MORGAN’S PRESCRIPTION

As a General Election campaign is ongoing, we invited responses from the principal candidates.

Cris Tomos, Plaid Cymru candidate for Mid & South Pembrokeshire, said: “Plaid Cymru is and long has been clear that communities should be meaningfully consulted on their healthcare services, and that services should be available as close as possible to those communities.

“We understand the current resourcing challenges facing our NHS due to 14 years of Tory-imposed austerity, and we have made a new and fair funding settlement for Wales a key demand of our general election campaign.

“However, we are also clear that for the past 25 years, responsibility for the design and delivery of health services in Wales is Labour’s.
“It is for them to account for current delays to the plans for the new West Wales Hospital.”
Alistair Cameron, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mid & South Pembrokeshire, told us: “We need clarity from the Welsh Government. We do not know whether they will provide the funds to build the new hospital, which will be either in St Clears or “Whitland.
“The hospital will take at least seven years to build, and the continual delay by the Welsh Government in determining whether they have the finances is damaging our health service and what it is providing for “patients.

“We must also see a plan for managing services during the seven years it will take to build the hospital.

In addition, we need a plan for managing travel to the hospital, as this is a big concern for many who are faced with travelling much longer distances.”

Stephen Crabb, Welsh Conservative candidate, said: “For the last 15 years, the Welsh Labour Government has dangled the prospect of a new hospital somewhere nearer Carmarthen as a carrot to try to persuade Pembrokeshire people to give up on Withybush. They have never said where this new hospital would be, how it would be funded, or when it is supposed “to happen.

“Meanwhile, they have repeatedly cut services and moved them to Carmarthen against the wishes of local people.  

I am pleased that the Welsh Health Minister is admitting that Pembrokeshire Conservatives played a key role in defending Withybush alongside the local campaign by SWAT and others.

“At every step, Welsh Labour politicians and candidates have failed to stand up for our local health “services.  

“All of the reasons why Pembrokeshire needed a hospital like Withybush in the first place still remain. As many of the medics at Withybush have made clear over the years, the answer is more investment at Withybush, not downgrading.

“I will continue to speak up for Pembrokeshire and the future of Withybush Hospital.”

Labour candidate for Mid & South Pembrokeshire, Henry Tufnell, was not living in Pembrokeshire during the SWAT campaign and the ongoing fight to retain services at Withybush and other West Wales hospitals. He did not provide a comment.

CABINET SECRETARY SPEAKS TO THE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD

Eluned Morgan expanded her original answer in a comment to The Pembrokeshire Herald.

“The biggest threat to the NHS in West Wales is “the Tories,” the Cabinet Secretary said.

“At every election, they scare us about Withybush’s future while blocking plans to modernise care for people in Pembrokeshire.

“Since the election in 2007, the Tories said Labour would close it, we didn’t.

“In every election since the Tories built their election campaigns around saving a hospital that we never had any intention of closing.

“We won’t, and the people of Pembrokeshire will not be duped by this ploy again!

“The Tories have once again used inflammatory language to describe our current hospital network. There is no axe hanging over Withybush or Glangwili.

“We need a health service fit for now and the next generation, providing the best treatment possible and giving people the bes” outcomes.

“This is something all politicians should be campaigning to deliver – not kicking our NHS from pillar to post.”

Entertainment

Blue Lagoon to open to the public for one day only as charity fundraiser

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A POPULAR leisure venue will be open to locals this summer with the aim of raising thousands of pounds for local charities.

The Blue Lagoon at Bluestone National Park Resort will throw its doors open to the public on August 27.

Six hundred tickets will be available for the local community to enjoy the tropical water park.

All ticket sales go to local charitable causes, with 75 per cent of funds going to a local charitable organisation and 25 per cent through the Bluestone Foundation.

On Tuesday, August 27, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home and Team Cruising Free will benefit from the fundraising created through ticket sales.

Paul Sartori provides end of life care and support at home for Pembrokeshire patients. Team Cruising Free will row the Atlantic in 2025, raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Paul Sartori.

The Bluestone Foundation, the charitable arm of Bluestone National Park Resort has generated funding totalling £17,500 for west Wales communities from its latest round of events and funding.

It has supported local groups with more than £250,000 since it was launched in 2010.

The Bluestone Foundation offers two avenues of support: the community events and the community fund. The community events at the Blue Lagoon raise funds and awareness for local charities.

This year, the foundation has already hosted events for Get the Boys a Lift and VC Gallery. As well as the August event, there will also be an event in October for Sammy Sized Gap, a local charity supporting young people with mental health issues.

“We are thrilled to see the positive impact our community events have on local organisations,” said Marten Lewis at the Bluestone Foundation. “The Blue Lagoon provides a unique and enjoyable setting for fundraising, and we are grateful for the community’s support.”

The community fund, which runs in three rounds this year, provides financial assistance to projects focused on economic, social, and environmental initiatives. The foundation recently allocated approximately £7,500 to three projects in its first round of funding and is currently reviewing applications for its second round which closes in July. A third round of funding will close on 17 October.

Among those to have benefited in the first round are the South Ridgeway Community Association in Manorbier to help develop a community garden and allotments; The Tenby Project, to support weekly sessions with a trained nutritionist on healthy eating for adults with learning difficulties; and Transition Bro Gwaun in Fishguard, to host community energy engagement events.

Tickets for the August event can be purchased at Eventbrite For more information about the Bluestone Foundation and its initiatives, visit www.pavs.org.uk/apply-for-funds.

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Entertainment

Broad Haven’s Music Festival set to rock village

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GET ready for an electrifying day of music and fun as the Havens Events Crew proudly presents the highly anticipated Broad Haven Music Festival. Scheduled for Saturday, July 20, from 3 PM to 11:30 PM, this event promises a vibrant mix of live bands, local talent, and a delightful BBQ, making it an unmissable occasion for music lovers and families alike.

The festival, at Broad Haven School Field, will feature an impressive lineup of performers. Attendees can look forward to the acoustic melodies of Cadence Acoustic, the energetic rhythms of Coastal Horizon, and the dynamic performances by Loose Change. These local bands are set to deliver a variety of genres, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

In addition to the musical performances, the festival will offer a range of delicious BBQ options, perfect for enjoying a summer evening outdoors. Whether you’re a long-time resident or a visitor, the Broad Haven Music Festival is an ideal opportunity to experience the local culture, connect with the community, and enjoy high-quality entertainment.

Tickets for the event are available for purchase at the Broad Haven Post Office and Lobster and Môr. Early acquisition is recommended to secure a spot at this popular event.

It promises to be a memorable day filled with music, food, and community spirit. The Broad Haven Music Festival is more than just a concert; it’s a celebration of local talent and a testament to the vibrant culture of our town. Don’t miss out on this fantastic event!

For more information, visit the Havens Events Crew’s official website or follow their social media pages for updates and announcements.


Event Details:

  • Date: Saturday, July 20
  • Time: 3 PM – 11:30 PM
  • Location: Broad Haven School Field
  • Performers: Cadence Acoustic, Coastal Horizon, Loose Change
  • Tickets Available At: Broad Haven Post Office, Lobster and Môr

Be sure to mark your calendars and get your tickets soon – we look forward to seeing you there!

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News

England’s Euro 2024 semi-final victory captivates millions

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ENGLAND’S Euro 2024 semi-final victory over the Netherlands garnered a peak audience of 20.3 million on ITV, cementing its status as the most-watched television programme of the year. Broadcasters are now hopeful that Sunday night’s final against Spain will attract over 30 million viewers, surpassing the numbers that tuned in for England’s Euro 2020 final defeat.

The overnight viewing figures, provided by ratings agency Digital-i, do not account for the millions who streamed the match on ITVX or watched in public venues. The coverage of Euro 2024 in the UK is split between the BBC and ITV, with the channels alternating first choices for matches in each round. ITV executives celebrated Jordan Pickford’s crucial penalty save against Switzerland, which secured another high-profile England match and delivered a substantial advertising boost to the channel.

Both the BBC and ITV will broadcast the final, with approximately a fifth of viewers typically opting for ITV over the BBC. Euro 2024 has demonstrated the enduring appeal of live sports broadcasting, which continues to draw massive audiences, particularly when the events are free to watch. Even matches not involving home nations have attracted significant viewership, with the Spain v France semi-final on BBC One peaking at 11 million viewers.

The Euros are part of the UK’s “crown jewel” sporting events, which include the football World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Olympics, all mandated by law to be shown on free-to-air channels. In contrast, other sports have opted for the higher revenue available from pay TV channels, resulting in substantially lower audiences for international matches. The England and Wales cricket board successfully lobbied in the 2000s to keep England test matches off the free-to-air list. Consequently, Jimmy Anderson’s farewell match against the West Indies at Lords, broadcast behind a paywall on Sky, attracted a peak audience of only about 700,000 viewers.

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