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Health Board encourages lower alcohol consumption

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pint-beerLOCAL health professionals are encouraging people to think about how much alcohol they drink a week, and advising on the best ways to cut down or give up the booze this January.

Whether you’re giving up alcohol for the month by taking part in Dry January or Dryathalon, or simply looking at the number of units you consume, there is plenty of support and help available.

The challenge to stop drinking for one month can help people to feel healthier, lose weight, sleep better and save money but cutting down on alcohol longer term can provide lasting health and wealth benefits.

On average, 38% (Carmarthenshire 38%, Ceredigion 39%, Pembrokeshire 37%) of adults living in Hywel Dda have reported drinking above guidelines on at least one day in the past week, and 21% (Carmarthenshire 22%, Ceredigion 22%, Pembrokeshire 20%) have reported binge-drinking on at least one day in the past week.

Alcohol is a major preventable cause of death and illness with around 1,500 deaths in Wales related to alcohol each year. Alcohol can also have a major negative impact on our communities; alcohol fuelled crime, domestic violence, vandalism and anti social behaviour can lead to unemployment, loss of driving licence and higher car insurance costs.

Rhys Sinnett, Principal Public Health Practitioner for Hywel Dda Public Health Team said: “Whilst most people enjoy a tipple from time to time, many are not aware of the health impacts of consistently drinking over the weekly recommended limits.

“It’s a lot easier than people think to develop a habit of using alcohol as a means of reducing stress or as a reward. One glass can sometimes turn into two or three and if that happens regularly you could be putting your health at risk.

“The good news is that there are lots of ways you can cut back on alcohol, without cutting it out. Look at the number of units in what you are drinking, stick to the weekly sensible guidelines and have at least two alcohol free days a week.

“And if you are taking part in an alcohol free January, enjoy the benefits you’ll find to your health and wellbeing.”

If you are concerned about your level of alcohol consumption or someone else’s, help and advice is available from the Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline on 0808 808 2232.

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Trade deal won’t benefit Wales

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EVERY week, the Herald carries political opinion pieces from across Wales’ principal political parties.

This week, Jonathan Edwards MP casts an eye over the trade deal between the UK and Japan announced this week and wonders ‘What’s in it for Wales?’

Jonathan Edwards writes: THE BUNTING was on full display in Westminster this week as the British Government announced that it had reached the holy grail of signing its first post-Brexit international trade deal.  

The agreement with Japan was described by Secretary of State Liz Truss as a ‘major moment in our national history’.  As major moments go, a casual look at the detail leaves a lot to be desired.  Effectively all the British Government has achieved is to replicate a deal UK business already benefited from as part of the EU-Japan trade deal signed in 2019.

The British Government admit that over a 15-year period the deal will only increase UK economic wealth by 0.07%.  However, under the rules of Brexit political discourse never let the facts get in the way for an excuse to sing Rule Britannia and wave the Union Jack.

During the debate in the Commons, I highlighted that the British Government’s own figures indicate in a best-case scenario it would take 71 deals of this nature to make up for the British Governments strategy for the second phase of Brexit of leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union.  If we no deal at the end of the year the situation would be considerably worse.

For Wales, the economic benefits are projected to be less than even the negligible UK figures with the deal only expected to benefit the Welsh economy by a measly 0.05%.  The same goes for other trade deals currently being negotiated by the British Government.

Capitulating on chlorinated chicken in the US Trade deal could only benefit the Welsh economy by 0.05% over 15 years according to an excellent Senedd Research paper.  

The New Zealand and Australia deals, according to the same paper, could have a 0% impact on the Welsh economy.  

Never again can the Tories claim to be the party of business: what we are witnessing is economic madness.

The agricultural provisions in the Japan deal further fuels my fears that our farmers will be the proverbial sacrificial lambs in these trade negotiations.  True there was progress on Geographical Indicators, but the British Government failed to secure any tariff rate quotas for food products.  Instead, our farmers will only be able to utilise unused quotas by the European Union.  

Let that sink in.  

In the real world, effectively. EU export policy will determine what can be exported from the UK.

The Secretary of State emphasised that the Japan deal paved the way for entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  A free trade area consisting of 11 countries (down from 12 after the US pulled out).  

What the British Government are reluctant to reveal is that the TPP contains strict rules on State Aid and also includes an investor-state dispute resolution mechanism which would supersede UK domestic law.  These are the same two areas, of course, that have led to the breakdown in the second phase Brexit negotiations currently ongoing.

At the end of the day, the two great Brexit era slogans of ‘take back control’ and ‘global Britain’ are completely incompatible and inherently contradictory.

As UK international trade policy develops these inconsistencies will become apparent to all.

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Plans for Llanelli’s first ever virtual Christmas carnival

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LLANELLI Christmas Carnival will not be held this year, for the first time in its 42-year history.

Partners have confirmed that the decision has been made in line with current Welsh Government guidance and increasing concerns about the spread of coronavirus linked to large gatherings.

However, plans are afoot to celebrate Christmases past and present in the town’s first ever virtual carnival.

On what would have been ‘carnival night’ the town’s illuminations will be switched on and an online celebration will be hosted on Carmarthenshire County Council’s social media channels featuring music, opportunity to reminisce over past carnivals and a challenge to businesses and organisations to create a carnival scene for the town’s first ever virtual parade.

The town’s Christmas tree is also being relocated to a more visible location for passers-by, at the busy Gelli-Onn junction near West End.

The largest Christmas carnival in Wales, Llanelli’s festive celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table.

Partners have expressed their disappointment at the decision but have vowed to keep Christmas spirit alive.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We have made this decision with a very heavy heart as we know how much the carnival means to the people of Llanelli. This is the first time since it started over 40 years ago that we have had to take a decision like this and we are as disappointed as I’m sure everyone else will be.

“We are determined to do something special to keep the tradition alive and planning is now underway to hold a virtual carnival on what would have been the night of the traditional festivities.”

Cllr Shahana Najmi, Leader of Llanelli Town Council said: “The Llanelli Christmas Carnival is the highlight in the calendar for thousands of people and whilst we’re sorry we can’t hold the traditional carnival this year, we are pleased to be working with partners on an online celebration which we hope people will get involved with and enjoy.”

Cllr Tegwen Devichand, Leader of Llanelli Rural Council, said: “Generations of families have enjoyed Llanelli’s Christmas carnival over the years and we’re disappointed that for this first time in its history we are unable to put on the parade. We hope people will understand the decision and support the plans we’re developing for the town’s first virtual carnival.”

Roger Bowen, of Llanelli Round Table, added: “Llanelli’s carnival night is an important night as it raises a great amount of money for local charities and brings many communities together with such tremendous work on the floats, which really makes the evening such a special event.  We hope that people will find other ways to give generously and support good causes in our communities.”

Further information will be released in the coming weeks about the virtual carnival and how people can get involved.

Keep an eye on Carmarthenshire County Council’s Facebook and Twitter feeds and visit newsroom.carmarthenshire.gov.wales

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Neath Retreat And Llanelli Group Receive Cash

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A NEATH retreat for people with cancer and a group looking to install a life-saving defibrillator machine in Llanelli have been handed cash donations from a leading housebuilder.

Ravens Retreat and Ffos Las Residents have both received financial backing from Persimmon Homes West Wales as part of the company’s long-running Community Champions scheme.

Ravens Retreat, which has a cottage on the banks of the Tennant Canal, provides completely free cottage breaks, soul midwife services and counselling for anyone with cancer diagnosis. The group has received £1,000 from Persimmon.

Ffos Las Residents, meanwhile, will use its £799 windfall to buy a defibrillator machine for Persimmon’s Ffos Las development, which could be used if someone suffers a cardiac problem.

Joolz Raven Stewart, of Ravens Retreat, said: “Our cottage and healing room have been wiped out twice in two years by storms.

“We lost everything on the ground floor of our retreat.

“We have had cancer patients raise £1,200 to replace some furniture but there is so much more to do around flood defences and this money will help.”

Shane Morrison, of Ffos Las Residents, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Persimmon for this generous donation.

“It means that we will be able to install the defib machine at the development. Who knows, it could prove life-saving one day.

“The site management team are very considerate and supportive of our community and our sincere thanks goes to Persimmon for the continued support from residents both old and new.”

Persimmon Homes gives away up to £744,000 a year through Community Champions.

Sharon Bouhali, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “We’re delighted to support these two groups with this funding.

“Ravens Retreat offers invaluable support to people with cancer, while the Ffos Las Residents group is striving to make their area better and safer.

“Well done to both groups.”

Persimmon is currently selling stunning new-build homes at sites across South Wales, including at The Bridles in Ffos Las and at Allt Y Celyn in Rhos.

The on-site sales offices in Wales have now reopened and househunters can make consultation appointments by visit www.persimmonhomes.com or calling 01554 708248.

Visit www.persimmonhomes.com/charity to apply for Community Champions funding.

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