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Legal Highs – the fightback begins

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A NUMBER of businesses selling ‘legal highs’ in Carmarthenshire were targeted as part of a Trading Standards crackdown, after a spate of serious incidents involving unnamed drugs.
An illegal product has been seized from two Carmarthenshire businesses, and another business has voluntarily surrendered their stock of the product ‘Amsterdam Gold’, also labelled as ‘Liquid Gold’, after finding it contravened the General Products Safety Regulations 2005 and The Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2009. The businesses involved cannot be named pending further prosecution. A product sold online as Amsterdam Gold is described as an alkyl nitrate derivative, but it has not been confirmed that the product seized is the same.
In the last week alone, three people in Llanelli Town Centre have been hospitalised after taking the as-yet unidentified substances.
On March 26 two teenagers in Llanelli Town Centre required the assistance of an ambulance, which police said was connected to legal drug use.
On April 1 a 40 year-old man collapsed at Carousel Amusements in Llanelli Town Centre, and was conveyed to Prince Philip Hospital by ambulance. A police spokesperson said that the incident was ‘believed to be linked to legal highs’.
In Pembrokeshire it is thought that legal highs may have played a part in the sudden deaths of two men, Dean Boswell, 36, and 40 year-old Stephen John from Pembroke Dock.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s Trading Standards Manager Roger Edmunds said: “We are working proactively to seize illegal products from businesses, and to advise businesses about the sale of so-called legal highs. As the name suggests, many of these products can be legally sold, however that does not mean they are safe. We are concerned about several products currently on sale in Carmarthenshire and are running analysis on these products to determine whether they are fit for sale.”
While the sale of legal highs is not outlawed, the trading standards officers have certain powers to ensure public safety.
It is the view of some senior law enforcement officers that on their own the police force can have little effect when it comes to tackling the problem of legal drugs.
Many formerly legal drugs have been placed on the list of prohibited substances in the last few years, but there are an almost infinite number of variants, which differ in minute ways, and which have not yet been made illegal.
Shops selling legal highs can fall foul of trading standards regulations in two ways – through the Consumer Protection against Unfair Trading regulations of 2008, and the 2005 General Product Safety Regulations (GPSR).
In the first instance, it must be proved that customers are misled into a transaction they would not usually make, like paying £15 for a sachet of ‘bath salts’, or ‘plant food’. This is often difficult.
Under the GPSR, Trading Standards Officers have a range of powers, including entering premises with a warrant, making test purchases and undertaking testing, and placing suspension or withdrawal notices on products.
Carmarthenshire Trading Standards officers used this tactic, buying samples of other substances from a number of Carmarthenshire businesses in test purchases and subjecting them to chemical analysis to determine whether they can be legally sold.
Trading Standards have confirmed they are working with the Home Office to bring about changes in the law which will allow them to take more products off the shelf.
Cllr Jim Jones, Executive Board Member for public protection, said: “Our hands are tied behind our backs in some cases, where the law does not allow us to take the kind of action we’d like to get these products off the shelf. However, we want to assure people that we are doing all we can
The use of Trading Standards legislation to tackle the sale of legal highs has been implemented to great effect in other areas of the country. Last year, forces in Kent and Cornwall seized a range of drugs for testing, and issued shops with warning notices.

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Llanelli MP thanks local pharmacists for Covid-19 work

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Nia Griffith and staff from Llangennech Pharmacy

NIA GRIFFITH, Member of Parliament for Llanelli, recently visited the Community Pharmacy in Bridge Street, Llangennech, to thank the staff there for the heroic efforts they have made during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure everyone has been able to access the medicines that they need.

“Llangennech Pharmacy is just one of many pharmacies across the area where staff have

had to cope with unprecedented challenges, first the panic when people were rushing to get their prescriptions before lockdown, then additional workload to get medicines out to those who are shielding and then sometimes their own staff shortages.”

“I’d like to say a special thank you to Alan Bowen, who runs the local Karate Club, who recruited an energetic group of volunteers that have been a great help in Llangennech Pharmacy, and to Cllr Gary Jones who has helped deliver prescriptions.”

“Whilst the vast majority of customers have understood the pressures, there have unfortunately been some who have vented their anger and impatience on pharmacy staff.

To everyone who has worked or helped in this or other pharmacies – an enormous thank you.” 

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is keen to see that pharmacies all over the country are recognised for their hard work and dedication throughout this pandemic and have encouraged the public to show their support.

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Wales’ hospitality sector will prepare to re-open outdoors from 13 July

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The Minister signalled the first phase of a planned reopening for bars, restaurants and cafes with outdoor spaces following a rapid review of the sector. 

A final decision about outdoor re-opening will be made at the next review of the coronavirus regulations on 9 July and will depend on whether rates of coronavirus are continuing to fall.

Future decisions about indoor re-opening will be made later and will depend on the success of the first phase of outdoor opening.

The Minister will today also confirm the timetable for re-opening outdoor visitor attractions and the partial opening of the tourism industry in Wales for the remainder of the summer season.

If the requirement to stay local is lifted in Wales on 6 July, outdoor visitor attractions will be able to reopen from Monday.

And, subject to the forthcoming review of coronavirus regulations on 9 July, the tourism sector is preparing to re-open self-contained accommodation.

The Minister will today confirm the date that owners of self-contained accommodation can accept bookings is being brought forward to 11 July from 13 July, to help with the pattern of Saturday-to-Saturday bookings.

Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language Eluned Morgan said:

“Tourism is a vital part of the Welsh economy at a national, regional and local level. I’d like to thank all our industry partners for working with us to carefully reopen the visitor economy.

“A successful, safe and phased return will give businesses, communities and visitors confidence to continue with the recovery of the visitor economy.

“We ask everyone who travels to and around Wales to enjoy their time here, but always to respect local communities. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Wales – but we want everyone to Visit Wales Safely.”

Guidance to help businesses in Wales’ visitor economy has been published this week. Further guidance for cafes, bars and pubs will follow.

Visit Wales has also worked with the other national tourism organisations on a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to provide reassurance as the sector works towards reopening.

The Good To Go industry standard and supporting mark means businesses can demonstrate they are adhering to the respective government and public health guidance; have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked they have the required processes in place. The scheme is free to join and open to all businesses across the industry.

Folly Farm are ready to welcome back its loyal annual pass holders from 8 July and will open to all on 13 July.

Zoe Wright, head of marketing at Folly Farm, said:

“We’ve been preparing for our re-opening for several weeks and are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Folly Farm, safely.

“We’ve been hugely encouraged by the support we’ve received from our visitors and our local community. Lots of local accommodation providers have been sharing our staying safe re-opening guide ahead of their guests returning.

“We’ve got lots of measures in place to keep our visitors, staff, animals and our wider community safe, including the essential pre-booking of visits so we can limit visitor numbers and provide even more space across our 120-acre site. As an animal attraction, we’re naturally geared up to offer and encourage regular handwashing but we’ve added hand-sanitising stations across the park too.

“Our animals provide a fun way to encourage visitors, especially the younger ones, to follow our social distancing signage with paw prints marking out a safe distance in queuing areas and penguin and pig themed arrows for our one way systems.”

Sean Taylor, Founder & President of Zip World is making preparations to open on 6th of July and said: “As one of North Wales’s biggest outdoor tourist attractions, there is a huge responsibility in the way we restart our operations.  We have a strong sense of community and have an important role to play in rebuilding the region’s visitor economy all of which has to be managed responsibly and firmly in line with the current government guidelines.

“We have spent the last few months rethinking the logistics of our operations to keep staff, customers and the community safe.  To begin with, the reopening will be a staggered approach by only opening two of our three sites initially and 6 of our adventures. This means a reduction in capacity and we have also introduced robust hygiene regimes, clear wayfinding & signage, PPE and the use of tech where possible to reduce consumer touch points. There is now a simple 6 steps guide for all customers to follow before and during their visit – this includes signing the waiver online pre visit, contactless payments etc.”

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South West Wales Virtual Open Day 8 July

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Welsh local authorities, schools, colleges and work-based learning providers will be hosting a series of Virtual Open Days for Year 11 pupils for the first time this month.

An event specifically for pupils from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Llanelli, Swansea and Powys will be held on Wednesday 8 July and will cover a series of sessions on post-16 options including A Levels at sixth form or college as well as work-based qualifications.

Jonathan Davies OBE will host the sessions on apprenticeships and traineeships and will be on hand to field questions about how to apply and get the most from industry-led training opportunities.

Other sessions will be led by Pembrokeshire College, NPTC Group of Colleges, Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion as well as Careers Wales and local authorities.

The spread of COVID-19 has not only meant a break in students’ learning, but also the cancellation of many planned events like open days which were scheduled to take place throughout the summer.

Open days are vital ways of helping Year 11 pupils to understand all their options for continuing their education and deciding on the right path for them. It’s also the way pupils make connections with new people and different environments to support them in making their decision.

With no indication yet of when face-to-face events might be able to go ahead again, over 220 schools, colleges and work-based learning providers across Wales are partnering with the Welsh Government to hold virtual sessions for all Year 11 pupils in Wales to make sure nobody misses out.

Organised by Welsh Government and hosted by Working Wales, the Virtual Open Days will enable young people across Wales to discover the options for furthering their education in their area, including what school and college courses are available, as well as training opportunities like apprenticeships and traineeships, and access to careers advice from
Careers Wales.

Live sessions will be held for each region across Wales from 7 – 10 July, with lots of additional content available throughout the second week of July and beyond. There will also be the opportunity to put questions to local careers advisors and learning providers who know about the provision in your area.

Virtual Open Days will be hosted online, but those without internet access at home will have the option to phone and speak directly with schools, colleges and work-based learning providers.

Welsh Government will be providing information about the full range of Virtual Open Days, as well as links to partner websites and content, on Working Wales where there will also be advice for those students who are unsure of what they want to do next.

Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, said: “Now more than ever, it’s vital that young people are equipped with the skills, information and training they need to find fulfilling work.

“If you’re a young person, you may be unsure of what you want to do after school, or whether you want to continue in education at all. Open days can play a vital role in helping access the right education or training, providing a vital insight into the different courses and ways of learning that are available to young people considering their next options.

“Virtual Open Days are a really innovative way to explore options digitally and will help young people in deciding what to do next. Whether you are shielding at home, returning to school to say goodbye for the summer, or are not sure what to do next, our national virtual open days will ensure learners in every region of Wales have the opportunity to engage and
ask questions at this important time.”

Nikki Lawrence, chief executive of Careers Wales, said: “Deciding what the next step is with your education is an important time for young people across Wales and we want to make sure that they are still able to explore the different options that are available.

“During the four days we will be offering additional support from our expert careers advisers who will be available via our live web chat. This will enable young people who are not sure what the next step is to get the advice and guidance they need.”

To find out more about Wales’ Virtual Open Days, call Working Wales on 0800 028 4844 or go to www.workingwales.gov.wales/start-your-story

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