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Welsh Water bill increase remains at or below inflation for twelfth year

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THE average water and sewerage bill is set to fall by 2% in 2021-22 the only not-for-profit water company in England and Wales has announced.

Welsh Water, which serves most of Wales, Herefordshire and parts of Deeside, has confirmed that the average household bill will be lower in real terms than in the previous year despite the additional financial pressures placed on it during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The company has invested an extra £20million responding to the pandemic.

The average bill for 2021 – 2022 will be £446.82 and represents the twelfth consecutive year the company has kept the increase at or below the rate of inflation – the only water company in England and Wales to have achieved this.  The new bill will be £96 lower in real terms compared to the 2009 – 2010 bill.

The company, providing water and wastewater services to over three million customers, has played a key role in protecting public health during the pandemic with operational colleagues maintaining its vast water and wastewater networks.  It also further ramped up support for customers by arranging flexible payment plans for household customers struggling to pay their water bills.  As a result, the company is now supporting 139,000 customers through its range of affordability tariffs – which is more than any other water company. 

Furthermore, it temporarily added an additional 330,00 customers to its Priority Services Register.  The company also recognised the impact of the pandemic on its business customers and temporarily suspended charges to around 45,000 businesses affected by the first UK lockdown.

Welsh Water has also provided £300,000 to community projects through its Community Fund, including  £106,000 to 106 food banks (through the Trussell Trust), 105 community projects and other partnerships with BITC Cymru, Community Foundation Wales and Prince’s Trust Cymru.  

In response to the pandemic, Welsh Water rapidly expanded its remote working technology to allow its entire contact centre to move to home working in March, and also started “virtual inspections” to support customers to resolve issues without needing to go to their property. These new ways of working have enabled the company to retain its position as the only water company to appear in the top 50 companies of the Institute of Customer service’s UK Customer Satisfaction Index.

The company has also continued with its commitment to invest in new talent.  This has included recruiting over 30 new apprentices over the year with this set to continue over the coming years.

Welsh Water’s Chief Executive Peter Perry said: “Despite what can probably best be described as the most challenging years we have faced, I’m proud that we’ve been able to continue with our record of keeping price increases for the average household bill below the rate of inflation.  It also reflects the strength and benefit of our operating model which means we are able to meet these kinds of challenges while at the same time keeping bills affordable for customers.  We’ve also been able to continue with our planned investment programme and over the course of the year we will have invested £346 million improving services to customers and protecting our valuable environment.  We are also expecting to invest £367 million in the coming year.

“We do appreciate however that the great economic uncertainty the pandemic has brought with it and that there undoubtedly will be tough times ahead.  That is why we already offer a range of assistance tariffs for anyone genuinely struggling to pay and I would urge anyone worried about paying their bill to get in touch so we can see what assistance can be provided”.

Rhodri Williams, Chair of CCW Wales, said: “It will come as a relief to struggling households that the average bill will fall but we must not lose sight of the fact that many customers are still missing out on financial assistance that could help see them through Covid-19.”

“Water is often overlooked when it comes to saving money but trialling a water meter for up to two years or seeing if you’re eligible for Welsh Water’s HelpU tariff if you’re on a low income could potentially shave hundreds of pounds off your annual bill.”

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Four children hospitalised after being hit by school bus, three flown by helicopter

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THE POLICE investigation into the road traffic collision in Llanfair Caereinion yesterday (May 23), is continuing today police have said.

A school bus and a number of young pedestrians were involved in the collision which occurred at about 3.25pm on School Lane, just off Neuadd Lane, Llanfair Caereinion, Powys.

Four children and a bus driver remain in hospital after a school bus crashed into a group of young pedestrians yesterday, May 23, in Powys.

They are described as being in a stable condition at this time.

One child was discharged from medical care yesterday.

The children are primary school aged.

There were no passengers in the bus.

Three children were air lifted to hospital, while the male driver and a fourth child were driven to hospital by ambulance.

Pictures from the scene yesterday showed the bus mounting the kerb and crashing into a metal fence.

The bus has been removed for forensic examination and the road has now reopened.

Police Community Support Officers and School Community Police Officers will be attending the school this morning to provide support.

A spokesman for Powys County Council told Herald.Wales on Monday: “The council can confirm that a school bus has been involved in an incident this afternoon in Llanfair Caereinion. Emergency services have been in attendance. Officers from the council’s school service are currently in the town providing support to both the high school and primary school.”

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called to the incident shortly before 3.30pm.
“Three of the five children were flown to hospital for treatment while another child and an adult were taken to hospital by land ambulance. The remaining child was discharged at the scene.”

(Photo of bus by Phil Blagg)

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Health

Welsh residents unaware of the early signs of dehydration according to new resarch

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PEOPLE living in Wales are unaware of the five most common signs of dehydration, according to research from Aqua Pura.

Even though more than half (55%) of residents believe they know the symptoms of dehydration, the new research reveals many don’t know the early warning signs.

More than two thirds (65%) don’t think having bad breath/a dry mouth is a symptom of dehydration, while half (50%) don’t think dark coloured urine is a tell tail sign. In reality, both are early warning signs which shouldn’t be ignored.

Early signs which residents in Wales don’t think are signs of dehydration (but actually are) include (% of survey sample):

·       Bad breath/dry mouth (65%)

·       Feeling dizzy (53%)

·       Dark coloured urine (50%)

·       Fatigue (48%)

·       Headache (42%)

“Dehydration can lead to a number of health problems such as constipation, muscle tiredness, urinary tract infections and headaches, so it’s concerning to see that so many people are unaware of the early signs. It’s known that having a good level of hydration can help to maintain higher energy levels, better weight control and faster thinking.

“As we approach the summer months and temperatures across the country rise, it’s important that people take the time to drink more to keep their fluid levels topped up and avoid any unwanted health issues. This fluid can in fact come from a variety of drinks and foods, but plain water is a great calorie and sugar free option to ensure you stay hydrated,” comments hydration expert, Dr Stuart Galloway of the University of Stirling.

From fizzy drinks and fresh orange juice, to tea and coffee the research reveals residents of Wales are unaware that drinks other than plain water can contribute to hydration levels.

In fact, almost two fifths (17%) of those surveyed don’t think that sparkling water contributes, let alone fizzy drinks.

Top 10 drinks residents of the Wales don’t think help with hydration

1.     Wine (68%)

2.     Beer/larger (66%)

3.     Cider (64%)

4.     Coffee (53%)  

5.     Hot chocolate (47%)

6.     Fizzy drinks (44%)

7.     Fresh juice (21%)

8.     Tea (25%)

9.     Sparkling water (17%)

10.  Dilutable juice (13%)

“Many will be surprised to see drinks like wine and coffee on the list, as they’re often thought to dehydrate you. Alcoholic drinks will lead to dehydration, but only if you drink more than one or two servings. A similar situation occurs with caffeinated drinks, for example, a black coffee is mostly boiling water so this makes up part of your daily water intake. The dehydration effect of caffeine starts to kick in after around a litre of regular coffee, up until then it can be classed as part of your daily intake of water. However, often the best and healthiest way to ensure you’re getting your daily intake of water is by drinking plain still or sparkling water,” adds Dr Stuart.

Even though drinking water is the easiest, and healthiest, way to get to the recommended daily amount of water, the nationwide survey reveals almost one in 10 (7%) admit they don’t drink any water at all. Those in the baby boomer generation, aged between 55 – 73, are the most likely to not drink any water at all, with one in seven (14%) saying this is the case.

Dr Stuart’s top tips of staying hydrated this summer:

·       Be aware of the signs of dehydration such as dry mouth and dark coloured urine

·       Alongside the fluids you drink, choose foods such as fruits and vegetables which have a high-water content as this all helps to keep you hydrated throughout the day without you even thinking about it

·       The hotter you get, the quicker you’ll get dehydrated so make sure you’re dressing for the weather and don’t spend too much time out in the sun

·       If you’re going out for the day, or even just spending an afternoon at the shops, make sure you take some water with you to stay hydrated on the go

“It’s our mission here at Aqua Pura to keep the nation hydrated – especially over the summer when more people are out and about, exploring their local area. The good news is that it’s easy to keep hydrated simply by drinking water – something that is plentiful here in the UK thanks to our climate. It means we’re all able to enjoy fresh water from the hills – in our case from the Lake District – to help keep us healthy.

“In a bid to help people stay hydrated, we’ve created a hydration calculator so Brits can work out how much water they should be drinking this summer. We hope this will help people to truly understand how much water they should be drinking,” adds Kelly Hall, Aqua Pura.

To calculate how much you should be drinking, visit www.aqua-pura.com.

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Community

Llanelli’s good causes urged to apply for Co-op Local Community Fund

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THERE is one week left for local causes in Llanelli to apply for the Co-op’s Local Community Fund.

Over the past six years Co-op has supported 94 local causes in Llanelli and local groups have until May 29 to apply for funding via coop.co.uk/causes.

The fund is continuing to support local organisations that are involved in providing access to food, helping to improve mental wellbeing or provide opportunities for young people and, for the first time, causes that are working to protect local biodiversity or tackle climate change.

Groups looking to deliver projects in any of these areas are being encouraged to apply online for the fund, which, through the help of Co-op members, has raised over £85m for nearly 30,000 projects since it began in 2016.

When Co-op Members buy selected Co-op products and services from Co-op, 2p for every £1 spent goes into their Co-op Membership account. The same amount is then given to support national community organisations through the Community Partnership Fund and local causes via the Local Community Fund.

Members can choose the causes they wish to support and, with the help of Co-op’s Community Wellbeing Index, go online to compare their community with 28,000 others across the UK. By entering a postcode the Index will reveal a community’s overall wellbeing score and indicate its performance across nine specific areas, including education, health and open spaces, helping members prioritise where to send their support.

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Membership at the Co-op said: “Since the Local Community Fund began, we have raised an amazing £85m for grassroots causes, as a direct result from the support of our members.

“Also, by applying for the Local Community Fund, groups will join our online community centre, Co-operate, which can help them find additional resources, as well as further donations, making this not just a fund, but a partnership.

“Even if a funding application is not successful, the group will still be a part of a network of over 12,000 groups on Co-operate.

“And for the first time I’m so pleased to announce that we have extended the criteria to include causes that are particularly dedicated to helping tackle biodiversity and carbon reduction, from local community gardens to small scale renewable energy schemes.”

Causes wanting more information about applying for the next round of the Co-op’s Local Community Fund should visit coop.co.uk/causes. Applications close on 29th May 2022.

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