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Free swimming reduced after WG cut

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CHANGES to the way free swimming is allocated across Carmarthenshire and Wales comes into force next month following a reduction in funding from the Welsh Government.

Cuts in the overall budget will affect the number of free sessions available at council-owned leisure centres across Wales including Llanelli, Ammanford, Carmarthen, Newcastle Emlyn and Llandovery Pool.

Carmarthenshire County Council is currently reviewing its timetables, along with Sport Wales which distribute the funding on behalf of the Welsh Government.

There still will be free sessions for young people every weekend with additional ones in the summer holidays. Pools will also be offering some free and possibly subsidised sessions for over 60s.

According to Sport Wales, young people and people over the age of 60 from areas of deprivation will be the priority under new national objectives.

Questioned about the cut in the Senedd by Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “When the scheme was first introduced in 2004-05, over 800,000 swims took place by young people under the scheme. Last year, it had fallen to 126,000. And yet the number of swims by young people has gone up in Wales over that period. So, the idea that, by removing the scheme as it currently stands, it automatically leads to the unintended, and, as I see it, not to be realised consequences, doesn’t stand up to examination. More people under the age of 16 are swimming in Wales than ever before, and yet fewer and fewer and fewer of them were taking advantage of the free-swimming initiative.

“The money that is not being devoted by the sports council of Wales to this scheme is being spent by them instead of a series of healthy and active fund projects.

The revised free swimming initiative aims to attract people who face the most barriers in accessing a pool the chance to learn a life skill and to swim more frequently.”

The changes follow an independent review, commissioned by the Welsh Government after findings showed the current scheme was no longer fit for purpose. The report concluded that the current approach was not cost-effective, nor did it make the biggest contribution to increasing levels of activity. It noted that the number of young people benefiting from the scheme had been in significant decline since 2013-14.

The report also mentioned that only 6% of the target population of over 60s age group currently access the programme.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s executive board member for leisure, tourism and culture, Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths said: “These nationwide changes are disappointing, however, we recognise the benefits that swimming can play as part of a healthy lifestyle and remain committed to providing free swim sessions. As a county, we are still delivering more swimming sessions than what is required nationally.”

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New ward extension opens at Werndale Hospital

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WERNDALE Hospital opens its £1millon ward extension, featuring a suite of new spacious patient en-suite rooms and additional light and airy ward space for new nurses’ stations, new technology and medical equipment, in pleasant and comfortable spaces. 

Werndale is part of Circle Health Group, the UK’s largest provider of private healthcare. The group is carrying out a £125 million redevelopment programme across its 50 hospitals in the UK.

Werndale has a strong history in the village of Bancyfelin, where is has been serving the local communities of Wales for over 32 years.

James Davies, Wales and Scarlets rugby player, from Bancyfelin, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening on Monday 1st August. His nickname “Cubby”, is reference to his brother’s nickname, “Fox”; this refers to the Fox & Hounds pub their parents ran in Bancyfelin, the village where they grew up. Staff and consultants were given the chance to view the new extension, with a small gathering to mark the occasion and celebrate all the hard work that has gone into this project over the last 12 months.

Jacky Jones, Executive Director of Werndale Hospital said: “The investment programme is an exciting opportunity to expand what we can offer to patients at Werndale. Our staff and consultants are delighted with this expansion which will allow us to meet the private healthcare needs of patients and families in Wales and will decrease waiting times which will positively impact the patient’s experience. Having the new patient rooms here increases our ward capacity by 20%, it is a great investment”.

Gaynor Llewellyn, Director of Clinical Services said: “At Werndale we are committed to continuous improvement of clinical facilities and services. We continually invest in the hospital so that we can offer our patients and consultants reassurance when they visit us for treatments”.

Werndale Hospital is seeing increased demand for its services across all specialities particularly orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, and general surgery. Nearly 4,000 patients had surgery at Werndale Hospital, Bancyfelin during 2021 and the new investment will enable ward capacity to be increased by 25 per cent.

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M4 closed westbound following lorry fire near Swansea

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A SECTION of the M4 near Swansea was shut on Monday (Aug 8) due to a vehicle fire.

The westbound section of the motorway, between junction 47 at Penllergaer and junction 48 at Hendy closed.

Emergency services were called to the scene, and there was queuing traffic in the area.

Traffic monitoring service Inrix reported: “M4 Westbound closed, queueing traffic due to vehicle fire between J47 A48 (Penllergaer / Swansea West Services) and J48 A4138 Pontardulais Road”

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Police appeal after Llanelli assault: victim required hospital treatment

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DYFED POWYS POLICE is investigating an assault which occurred on Regalia Terrace, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire at about 12.05am, Sunday 3rd July.

The victim required hospital treatment.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the person in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the person is, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DP-20220703-011

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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