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Commissioner says public misled on funding

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THE WESTMINSTER Government has been accused of cutting Policing budgets by stealth leading to greater demands on Council Tax Payers to pick up the shortfall.

Last week, the Home Office announced an extra £300m in the Police budget to help pay for pension expenses and other costs.

Since 2010, central government funding to police forces has been cut by almost a third, in real terms, leading the number of officers to fall by 21,000.

The funding breaks down as:
• An extra £161m next year for England and Wales’ 43 police forces, which the Home Office says will protect police budgets in “real terms”. This brings the total to £7.8bn next year
• A £153m grant to help plug a shortfall in funding because of changes to pensions contributions
• Police and Crime Commissioners will also be able to increase the policing element of council tax.

This means households could pay an extra £24 a year for a Band D property, although local residents must be consulted first.

In one of his final acts as Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, Alun Davies AM responded to the announcement with a scathing attack on continuing cuts to Police budgets.

Mr Davies said: Responsibility for policing is not currently devolved. Welsh Government continues to believe in, and to make the case for, devolution of this important public service. The UK Government’s policy of austerity has imposed significant cash and real-term cuts to police funding over the last 9 years.

“The overall funding provided for this Settlement does nothing to reverse years of under-provision to enable police forces to maintain current levels of service and will require the Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales to make difficult choices in setting the level of their council tax precept. This will have a disproportionate impact on those council tax payers who will find it increasingly difficult to pay their bills.

“While decisions on the distribution of funding between police force areas are for the Home Office, I believe that police forces in Wales will be disappointed that the proposed Settlement neither supports policing in rural areas nor takes account of the additional responsibilities which policing the capital city for Wales entails.”

Local elected members Jonathan Edwards MP and Adam Price AM have blasted the Home Office after ministers claimed they were providing extra money for policing when, in reality, Tory ministers in London are expecting local taxpayers to pay more in their council tax precept.

Noting a claimed cash increase for Dyfed Powys Police of £8.1million “cash increase”, the Plaid pair point out that increase is dependent upon the Police and Crime Commissioner raising a Band D council tax precept by £24 per year.

Dyfed Powys already receives amongst the lowest funding from the Home Office of all 43 police forces in England and Wales with the council tax police precept already accounting for more than 50% of the force’s total funding.
Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament, Jonathan Edwards, echoed the comments of the Police Commissioner, saying that Tory ministers were being “deliberately deceptive”.

Assembly Member and Leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price repeated calls for the devolution of policing, saying that Welsh police forces were missing out on £25million for every year that policing remained in the hands of politicians in London.

Jonathan Edwards MP said: “It’s quite galling to see the Westminster government claim it is providing extra cash to police forces when the sum it publishes is dependent upon local taxpayers plugging the gap through their police precept.

“Tory Ministers are being deliberately deceptive in telling us they’re providing extra money when in reality they are continuing to cut vital public services to the bone.

“Residents of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys already contribute more than half of the force’s funding but are being asked to put their hands in their pockets once again as London fails to deliver.

“The best way to protect our policing system is to remove it from the simplistic one-size-fits-all approach at Westminster and operate a system that is developed in Wales and works for Wales.”

Leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price added: “For every year that policing remains in the hands of London politicians, figures show that Welsh police forces are losing out to the tune of £25million – around £13.5million in the case of Dyfed Powys.

“With Westminster now misleading the public on the amount of money it is providing, and with the public once again expected to pay more and more for less and less, the case for the devolution of policing to the National Assembly grows by the day and has never been stronger.”

Launching a public consultation on the proposed Police budget, Dafydd Llywelyn, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Dyfed-Powys force said: “After a frustrating delay, the Government’s provisional grant funding settlement has been announced, which sets out the position for Dyfed-Powys Police for the 2019/20 financial year.

“The way in which the Home Office and Central Government are misleading the public is disgraceful and I am very disappointed in the way this settlement once again shifts the burden onto local taxpayers. I continue to try and do the right thing to protect our communities but I feel we are being let down by the Government in London as their actions are likely to impact on our local services.

“I am currently consulting with the residents of Dyfed-Powys; asking if they would be willing to pay additional police precept to continue to safeguard our communities. Within the survey, I have outlined the impact of for Dyfed-Powys Police and its communities. My decision will be made by listening to local communities and the professional advice of the Chief Constable.

“I am working closely with the Chief Constable to critically review all aspects of the budget requirement. Given the scale of financial challenges that are faced, a precept increase will be unavoidable, but how much this is increased by should not be dictated by Government.”

The survey can be completed here: http://bit.ly/policepreceptconsultation

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How Wales created 19 new field hospitals in less than 8 weeks…

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Across Wales the Welsh Government is supporting the NHS to create new field hospitals and rapidly increase bed capacity.
Health boards have repurposed existing buildings, including the Principality Stadium, a holiday park and even a television studio to provide an additional 6,000 beds.Field hospitals are designed to support the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic by providing extra bed capacity but they will also help normal hospital services be restarted and support social care services.Last month, the first patients were admitted to Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig at the Principality Stadium, in Cardiff.

Four to six weeks

Here is how Wales almost doubled its bed capacity in less than eight weeks…The time it has taken to nearly double hospital bed capacity in Wales, creating field hospitals across the nation.

19 field hospitals in Wales
This includes the repurposing of Bluestone Holiday Park and Parc y Scarlets in west Wales and Venue Cymru in north Wales.

1,500 beds at the Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig
Making it one of the largest field hospitals in the UK.

Five days
The length of time it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig, which overlapped with the build phase.

3,000
The number of planning hours, involving more than 20 different disciplines, it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig.

£166m
Welsh Government funding for the set up, construction and equipment for field hospitals in Wales.

138,000
The number of pieces of equipment have been provided to help support field hospitals, including beds, imaging equipment, syringe drivers and medicines.

Three North Wales field hospitals have the name Enfys
Meaning rainbow – the symbol of hope and thank you to the NHS during the pandemic.
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7-year-old Mattie from Pembrey takes on home Pen y Fan-tastic challenge for Action for Children

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Plucky Mattie Denman will climb the equivalent of Pen y Fan in the drive at her family home in Pembrey on Friday 22nd May to raise funds for Action for Children.

Mattie (7), has always wanted to climb the highest mountain in South Wales and is unable to currently because of the coronavirus pandemic.  As the family exercise at home every day, she decided she wanted to do the 6-mile equivalent journey there while she waits for the chance to do it for real.  Mattie chose Action for Children as her mother, Sian, works for the charity in Carmarthenshire.

Mattie said: ‘My Mammy works for Action for Children and I want to help as well because lots of families need help.  My older brother and sister help Action for Children, so I asked Mammy if I could do something. We exercise everyday walking up and down the drive and I have always wanted to climb Pen y Fan, but we have never done it.

‘Mammy said I could pretend I am walking it and people will give money to the charity. I said brilliant, that is what I am going to do and I am super excited to do it. I will use mammy’s step counter and I hope I can help children that need support especially because it is so hard for some families because of coronavirus.’

Proud mum and family support practitioner for Action for Children, Sian, added: ‘Mattie has a lovely heart and really wanted to do something and I’m very proud she chose Pen y Fan as her home challenge.  Action for Children has been going the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic continuing to support vulnerable families through phone and video sessions as well as food and help with the basics from our Emergency Appeal Fund. 

‘It is a tremendously challenging time for our families and every bit of money will directly help those in our communities who need it most.  I hope as many people as possible will donate to Mattie’s brilliant fundraising effort, it’ll make it even more special when we finally get to climb Pen y Fan for real.’

If you want to support Mattie’s Pen y Fan challenge please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mattiesclimb

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Housebuilder launches Coronavirus move in package

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A South Wales housebuilder has launched new incentives which mean homes are ‘ready to move into’ during the Covid-19 crisis – without the need for tradespeople or delivery people.

People in Wales are allowed to move into new build houses during the lockdown – and many people have successfully done so.

However, the limitations of social distancing can add extra stress when it comes to having things like dishwashers, washing machines and turf installed in the new property.

That’s why Persimmon Homes West Wales has launched a new incentive package which gives purchasers the chance to buy a house with white goods and flooring already in place.

Sharon Bouhali, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “Our sales advisors have done a terrific job in talking with customers and guiding them through the buying process remotely, without the need of face-to-face meetings.

“It’s been a huge challenge, but we’ve risen to it – and Persimmon has sold more than 120 properties in South Wales during the lockdown period. We have customers moving into their new homes every week.

“But, understandably, some people are cautious about having too many tradespeople and contractors enter their home, even if they are doing their utmost to abide by social distancing rules.

“That’s why we have launched these new packages which mean people can turn the key, unpack and get on with enjoying their new home.”

The package includes carpets and vinyl throughout, turf in the back garden, sliding wardrobes, integrated fridge freezer, integrated washer/dryer, integrated dishwasher and £500 discount towards removal fees.

The deal is on offer at Glas Y Felin in Bridgend, Parc Yr Onnen in Carmarthen, The Bridles in Llanelli, Peterson Park in Pontyclun, Parc Brynderi in Llanelli and Allt Y Celyn in Rhos.

Persimmon’s marketing suites in Wales remain closed for the time being. Visit www.persimmonhomes.com or call 01792 229800 for details of homes available.

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