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AM challenges council to step up a gear

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Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 09.52.43LLANELLI AM Lee Waters is calling on Carmarthenshire County Council to change its approach to encouraging people to travel under their own steam.

Lee led the campaign for Wales to pass the ground-breaking Active Travel Act in 2011. The new law is the first of its kind in the world and requires Welsh Councils to provide routes for people to walk and cycle.

“20% of the journeys we make by car are for distances of under a mile; trips that a generation ago were routinely made by foot or on bike,” the Llanelli AM explained. “But we’ve become stuck in the habit of using the car more and more, and we’re storing up huge problems for ourselves – it is no accident that Wales has some of the highest levels of childhood obesity in the world.”

The AM met with Llanellibased campaigners from the Carmarthenshire Cycling Campaign to discuss how the new law is being implemented locally.

After the meeting Lee Waters said: “This is not about sports cycling and wearing lycra; the purpose of the Active Travel Act is to make it easy for people to make everyday journeys by bike or on foot. What needs to change to get more people to consider swapping a short car trip for a bike ride, as we used to and many still do. The evidence suggests we need to alter the road layout to make people feel safer as well as encouraging more people to alter their habits.

“Our priority should be on linking the places we travel to for everyday journeys with well designed routes. I think Carmarthenshire Council are prioritising the wrong projects; we should be tackling the problem of car use for the school run, instead of spending hundreds of thousands on new paths alongside the main road from Llanegenech to Dafen, or an elite racing track in Pembrey.”

The AM is supporting the ‘Give us 5 miles’ campaign, being championed by the Carmarthenshire Cycling Forum.

Spokesman Phil Snaith said after the meeting with the Llanelli AM: “The built up area of Llanelli is predominantly flat and compact with around 40,000 people within two square miles. With some existing high-quality cycle routes around the town, there is already something of a cycling ‘culture’ and it is rare to visit the town and its centre without seeing a cyclist. The town centre needs more people, and improved walking and cycling links would provide these and the additional spend these groups bring. Studies have shown that improved walking and cycling can boost footfall and trading in town centres by as much as 40%.

“The County Council’s highest priority for investment within Carmarthenshire should be a cycling network for Llanelli. Llanelli already has over six miles of good quality cycleways but these are almost all peripheral to the town. We have set out a plan for seven new links to connect the whole built up area of Llanelli – and only one would need to be a completely new section of path, and the remaining six need footpath conversion or widening.”

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Business

Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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