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Carmarthenshire a ‘high risk’ area for bovine TB

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badger cullTHERE will be no “large scale” culling of badgers to tackle TB in cattle in Wales, however Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are being called “high risk” areas for instances of TB, it has been revealed.

The map  of Wales’ TB regionalisation was presented in a Welsh Government meeting yesterday (Oct 18) and the aim is now to try and avoid the disease from spreading from the high risk areas to the surrounding locations.

Furthermore, there will be a large focus on reducing the cases already found within the high risk areas.

_91970630_bovinetbmap1It has been decided that individual plans will be drawn up for farms with long-term bovine TB issues, and ministers are considering allowing cage-trapping and injection as means of killing infected badgers.

Wales’ chief vet has said there will be no “large scale, indiscriminate cull of badgers” and insisted any infected animals would be dealt with humanely.

There will now be a 12-week consultation where the Welsh Government will seek views on the appropriate measures that should be taken in each area.

Action plans will be drawn up by farmers, vets and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Lesley Griffiths, the Rural Affairs Secretary, said: “Since we introduced the eradication programme in 2012 we have seen a decrease in the number of new cases of bovine TB in cattle herds in Wales, with the latest figures showing the number of new TB incidents is down by 19%.

“I am keen to build on this success and speed up progress, which is why I am looking to introduce enhanced, evidence-based measures.”

Farming unions have called for badger culls to be drawn up by the Welsh Government for some time, a request which has been opposed by wildlife groups and activists.

A spokesperson for the Farmers’ Union of Wales said: “Targeting infected badgers would be a welcome move, but it is disappointing that it has taken so many years to move back towards common sense after the original comprehensive plan to tackle the disease in wildlife was abandoned by the previous Welsh Government.”

Responding to a statement from the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, concerning the Welsh Government’s Bovine TB Eradication Programme, Claire Lawson, Assistant Director of External Relations – Wales, said: “Bovine TB is a devastating disease, and causes grief to so many, particularly within the farming community.

“RSPCA Cymru has always supported humane, scientifically-supported and effective methods to tackle this disease.

“We will engage closely with the Welsh Government in relation to this new consultation, which we understand will explore the potential of tailoring certain responses, per geographical area, as a means of preventing the spread of the disease.

“We will make clear our strong belief that the culling of badgers has proven to be inhumane, is ineffective as a means of tackling the disease in cattle and actually risks making the problem worse. The Cabinet Secretary’s ruling out of an England-style cull, as such, is positive.

“Methods applied to tackle bovine TB must always be based on available scientific evidence and expert opinion.

“Improving cattle management and welfare, continuing a high frequency of testing, improving biosecurity and vaccinating badgers and cattle are all pivotal in dealing with bTB, and should be at the forefront of any new strategy.”

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Llanelli bus depot to close after 100 years

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THE LLANELLI HERALD understands that the Llanelli Bus Depot at Inkermans Street will be closing its gates for good. 

The Bus Depot has served the local community for approximately 100 years, Drivers will now be sent to work from depots in Carmarthen, Swansea and Tycroes. 

All services will remain in the the town, this newspaper can confirm, and our reporter was told that there will not be any redundancies. 

One bus driver told us that he and he co-workers were “not completely happy”, but the unnamed source added “At least we still have jobs to go to.” 

Further updates are expected on this developing story.

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Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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Drakeford to make decision on ‘fire-break’ lockdown in Wales by Monday

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WALES is facing a national lockdown lasting at least two weeks in plans described as a “fire-break” by the first minister.

He said a decision was likely to be made on Monday, while talks continue with health officials, scientific advisors and councils over the weekend.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

Responding to the speculation First Minister, Mark Drakeford, is set to announce a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Wales, Welsh Conservative health spokesperson, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “I implore the First Minister to think again before heading down this path.

“The decision to lockdown Wales once again will have devastating consequences – from an economic and public health perspective – and should be the last resort.

“Only yesterday, the former director of communicable diseases at Public Health Wales, Dr Roland Salmon, said a circuit-breaker is likely to fail and the Welsh Labour Government should listen carefully to his warning.

“Earlier this week, Welsh Conservatives called for the urgent resumption of shielding in Wales with a substantial package of support to ensure the financial, physical and mental well-being of those most at risk is protected.

“This should be the immediate action taken by ministers along with prioritising PPE and testing in the problem areas in Wales such as hospitals, care home, universities and meat factories.

“It’s not too late for the Labour Government to reconsider and choose a different approach in Wales.”

Mr Drakeford warned that 2,500 people were now being infected with coronavirus every day in Wales, with critical care units in hospitals full.

“A successful fire-break would re-set the virus at a lower level,” he added.

Together with a new national set of rules for the whole of Wales after the fire-break period we would have slowed the virus down enough to get us through to Christmas.”
Plaid Cymru has been calling on Mr Drakeford to introduce the circuit-breaker without delay, while Labour at Westminster says a similar approach should be adopted in England.

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