AT A MEETING of the Environmental and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee on June 8, it was announced that CWM Environmental, the council-owned company that is responsible for waste collection and recycling in Carmarthenshire along with AWS, who run a recycling facility in Llangadog, had been continuing to operate on an ‘informal’ basis since their fifteen-year contracts expired in March.
According to the minutes, ‘it was asked why the committee was being requested to endorse a recommendation that interim arrangements for treatment, recycling, and the disposal of waste be put in place, as this appeared to have been implemented already, contrary to what the Committee had been told in a previous meeting’.
The expiration of the council’s waste and recycling contract appears to have been the subject of remarkably little attention during scrutiny committee meetings over the preceding year. In fact, dog orders and stray horses both appeared on the agenda more frequently. In a meeting held in February 2014, it was noted that the contract would come to an end in 2015. The committee was told that ‘we are currently considering our waste options post 2015.’
At this point the waste strategy document was ‘in draft form, pending financial decisions relating to the budget pressure and final budget settlement.’ One year later, no attempt appears to have been made to open the process to tender. In the June 8 meeting, the following recommendations were made:
• Implementation of interim treatment, recycling and disposal contractual arrangements as detailed in this report, ensuring that they are put in place by whichever route deemed most suitable, which in practice will mean negotiation for aspects of the service with the existing providers, as appropriate, up to March 2018.
• Exemption from the Authority’s internal Contract Procedure Rules in order to allow the interim arrangements as outlined in the preceding paragraph to be implemented
The WLGA’s Draft Model for Contract Procedures in Wales (section 6.1.4)) states that “for tenders of a value above £75,000, ‘requirements must be tendered and advertised on the national procurement website (as a minimum). Where a restricted procedure is adopted a minimum of three tenders must be invited.”
We asked Carmarthenshire Council whether their ‘interim arrangements’ complied with this. In response, Waste Services Manager Ainsley Williams said: “The council’s current waste treatment arrangements need to be extended for an interim period until a new waste treatment contract is procured. It is accepted that the proposed interim arrangements are the only practical way forward to secure the continuation of the waste service at this time until a new contract is in place, which is likely to be around spring 2018. We are therefore seeking exemption from the council’s Contract Procedure Rules to extend the existing CWM and AWS waste treatment/disposal contracts for three years, pending long term arrangements being secured. There is no intention to avoid a transparent, competitive process and the proposed interim option would seek only to postpone such a competition until a clear specification can be produced (following analysis work with Welsh Government, likely to take 12 months) to allow meaningful bids to be submitted.”
While this is to some extent understandable, given the degree of uncertainty surrounding future Welsh government policy implementation, it is hard to see how in three years, these uncertainties will have been resolved. Regardless of which party or coalition holds the majority in the Senedd next year, a sweeping programme of changes to regional government in Wales is on the cards. It also appears that the Scrutiny Committee was not informed of these developments until after the fact.
We contacted the council again to ask why the awarding of an ‘interim’ contract, which would be worth £7.3m per annum, and would allow for renegotiations with the council-owned company, was given so little consideration during meetings of the scrutiny committee. At the time of going to press we had received no reply.
Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June
ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.
A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.
An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.
The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.
Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”
If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.
All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.
It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.
Please check for local arrangements.
Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.
Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.
Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.
“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”
Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.
They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS
Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”
“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”
Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.
The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.
Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre
LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.
In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.
This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.
RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”
“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”
“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”
“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”
“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”
“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”
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