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M4 relief road cancelled after cost estimates rise to over £2 billion

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THE WELSH Government has ditched plans to build an M4 relief road.

After years of planning, a lengthy public inquiry, and extensive controversy both about the delays in making a decision and the potential environmental impact of the new road, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced his widely anticipated decision to cancel the project in a statement issued on Tuesday, June 4.

The M4 relief road was a marquee project for the Welsh Government; however, internal Labour politics slowed down progress towards a decision with the result that former First Minister Carwyn Jones passed the buck for the final decision to his successor. Mr Jones favoured the scheme, while Mr Drakeford was more equivocal about its prospects.

Originally proposed in 1991, the scheme was dropped by the Welsh Government in 2009 on grounds of cost (then an estimated £1bn) before being revived in 2011. The project secured UK Treasury support in 2013 and was approved by the then-Welsh Government Transport Minister Edwina Hart in 2014, with a completion date of 2022.

Since 2014, the road lingered in development hell through a raft of consultations and a public inquiry.

M4 decision: Drakeford slated for dither and delay

The First Minister’s decision to cancel the scheme raises questions about the huge amount of public money and government manpower expended on it. His principal objection is the same as that which led to the original scheme’s cancellation in 2009: money, or the Welsh Government lack of it/unwillingness to spend it.

Friends of the Earth Cymru director Haf Elgar said: “This is great news for Wales and the planet.

“As well as costing Welsh taxpayers over £2 billion pounds, this devastating road would have ploughed through the unique, wildlife-rich Gwent Levels, pumped more climate-wrecking emissions into our atmosphere, and ultimately caused even more congestion and air pollution.

“This decision is a testament to the untiring efforts of local residents who have opposed this plan over decades and is a clear signal that the Welsh Government is taking its climate emergency declaration and commitment to future generations seriously.”

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said: “This is a dark day for the Welsh economy. After decades of deliberation and over £40m spent, no problem has been solved today. Congestion and road pollution around Newport can only increase. Economic growth will be stifled, confidence in the region will weaken and the cost of an eventual relief road will rise

“Today’s announcement is a short-term measure that regrettably solves nothing and sends the message that Wales is not open for business.

“As the Welsh Government said at the public inquiry, the black route would emit less carbon emissions than the current road and the whole project would be carbon neutral by 2070. The wider south Wales region around Cardiff and Newport constitute only 4% of Welsh carbon emissions in total. That figure will now likely rise at a higher rate than if the black route had been built.”

On  his Facebook page, Stephen Crabb MP said: “They’ve bottled it. The Welsh First Minister’s decision not to give the M4 relief road the green light is short sighted and will be deeply frustrating for number of commuters, businesses and tourists.

“I’ve spoken to numerous Pembrokeshire businesses, from hauliers to tourism operators, who are all fully aware the damage the congestion around Newport does for our local economy. One Pembrokeshire haulage firm alone runs 40 lorries each way through the M4 bottle neck each day, with drivers calling it a ‘no go’ area between 7.30am and 10am in the morning and from 4pm to 6.30pm in the afternoon.

“This decision even contradicts the independent public enquiry led by a planning inspector which backed the project. This is a failure of devolution as the Welsh Assembly was supposed to help projects such as this get off the ground.

“I recently held a debate in Parliament about the importance of this project for the wider Welsh economy, so it is very disappointing that Mark Drakeford has dropped it especially as this issue has dragged on for nearly 30 years.”

Full in-depth coverage in The Herald this Friday

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Statement regarding decision to close Mariners Surgery

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HYWEL DDA University Health Board has confirmed that Meddyygfa Minafon is to close their branch surgery, Mariners Surgery, from 31 Dec 201 owing to the need to bring together services for the whole practice population in Meddygfa Minafon and Trimsaran Surgery.  

Over the past four years, the Health Board sought the views of patients, the Community Health Council and other stakeholders on the proposed closure, and held a well-attended drop-in event in Ferryside in which patients spoke about the impact of any closure, including concerns about travel and transport and access to GP appointments. The Health Board has written to all affected patients this to explain the decision and to keep them updated on further developments.
Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care for Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “As a Health Board we recognise that the decision to close Mariners Surgery will be very disappointing for many patients. Unfortunately this branch surgery has been without a GP service since 2016 with patients travelling to nearby Meddygfa Minafon in Kidwelly for GP appointments and nurse-led chronic disease clinics.
“Following a review of how services are used by patients at the surgery, services at Mariners Surgery are being relocated to Minafon and Trimsaran Surgeries to sit within the multi-disciplinary teams led by the GPs to ensure that patients see the most appropriate professional for their needs, such as a Pharmacist or Physiotherapist. We have listened to patients’ concerns about the services at Ferryside and are working with Ferryside Social Enterprise Group to continue the weekly phlebotomy clinics at Calon-y-Fferi and a Social Prescriber will be holding regular clinics, also in Calon-y-Fferi. 
“We would like to thank all those patients and local stakeholders who engaged with this exercise and shared their views, including by online petition. Several challenging issues emerged from this and the Health Board will continue to work positively and proactively with the community to identify and support opportunities to deliver services locally from Meddygfa Minafon and the local Community Pharmacy.”

Patients who wish to speak someone regarding any concerns they might have can do so by contacting 0300 0200 159.
Patients are reminded that services are also available through local community pharmacies who offer a range of expert services. 
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Our election prediction: No change for west Wales, same MPs will be elected

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COUNTING of ballots is underway at the Pavillion at the Pembrokeshire County Showground, Haverfordwest and in Llanelli at the Selwyn Samuel Centre.

Exit polls from the BBC and Sky News predict a Conservative majority of over eighty seats, with Labour predicted to slip as low as 191 MPs, come the end of tonight’s count

We’re live throughout the night from the County Showground, Haverfordwest, and the Selwyn Samuel Centre, Llanelli, to bring you rolling coverage and news as it unfolds for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Llanelli, Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

We are predicting the following results:

Preseli Pembrokeshire – Stephen Crabb, Conservative, Hold
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire – Simon Hart, Conservative, Hold
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr – Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru, Hold
Llanelli – Nia Griffith, Labour, Hold
Ceredigion – Ben Lake, Plaid Cymru, Hold

Effectively, we predict no change in members of parliament for any of the constituencies in west Wales.

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Outreach Van stationed as police commissioner responds to ‘community concenrs’

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn has instigated additional partnership working in Llanelli in response to local concerns relating to substance misuse.

Dyfed Powys Police is proudly teaming up with Dyfed Drug and Alcohol Service (DDAS), Carmarthenshire County Council and CrimeStoppers Fearless campaign in order to engage with members of our community on a new outreach van, in order to support and signpost those in need during the festive period.

Each agency will be travelling together to Station Road in Llanelli in a new outreach van on Thursday December 12 and Monday December 16, and will be parked opposite the Premier store between 5pm and 9pm on both days.

Funded by Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, DDAS will be offering:

•          BBV Testing for HIV, Hep B and C

•          Referral into DDAS for treatment

•          Naloxone kit dispensing

•          Harm reduction advice

•          Drug and alcohol education via drug box, beer googles, scratch and sniff cards

•          Information on safer alcohol consumption over Christmas

Officers from the council’s Homes and Safer Communities department will be in attendance to give information and advice on a range of issues including the regeneration plans for the Tyisha ward and how residents can have their say. They will also be able to advise on various housing options; and people will be able to discuss in confidence any housing matters they may have, for example, in relation to anti-social behaviour or noise nuisance.

The council’s Communities for Work team will be offering:

•          Support to develop your skills and gain experience

•          Acquire the training and qualifications you need

•          Find the right job

•          Basic IT support

•          Support with CVs and job applications

•          Volunteer and work placement opportunities

•          Health and wellbeing support

CrimeStoppers Fearless campaign workers, who are a dedicated young person’s charity which support young people in giving information about crime 100% anonymously, will also be on board the van and keen to engage with any young person in the area.  They will be educating youths about County Lines and the impact crime can have on their lives.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn stated: “I hope that this innovative delivery style of a dynamic outreach approach to substance misuse can become the norm in Llanelli in order to reduce the harm to individuals and the community. I continually listen to the communities I represent and respond.”

Dyfed Powys Police officers will also be on hand at different intervals to offer crime prevention advice and listen to and provide help and support for any issues you experience in your community.

Chief Inspector Chris Neve of Dyfed-Powys Police said: “I am grateful to the Police and Crime Commissioner and our partners for their support in this new initiative, which I hope will be seen as a valuable opportunity for the communities of Llanelli to engage with the services involved. I encourage anyone who requires support and advice from any of the agencies, or would just like to chat with any of them, to come along and visit the van on either date. This really is an important opportunity – and we all as a collective want to help as many people in need as possible.”

The council’s Head of Homes and Safer Communities Jonathan Morgan said: “This is an excellent opportunity for the community to speak to our officers first-hand about any issues they may have or any advice they may need on housing matters. We have exciting plans to transform the Tyisha ward and the community is a big part of that, we want to make Tyisha a better place to live and work for everyone.”

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