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Welsh Assembly announce bill on alcohol minimum pricing

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BEERSTHE WELSH ASSEMBLY Deputy Minister for Health has announced a plan to introduce minimum pricing on the unit cost of alcohol. AM Vaughan Gething unveiled the draft, ‘Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill’, and stated that it would ‘help save lives by tackling the impact on health and society and drinking too much alcohol’.

The bill proposes introducing an offence for alcohol to be sold or supplied below the minimum price per unit, which would be set at 50p per unit, although this, it says, would be kept under review. The Welsh Government claim that Introducing a 50p minimum unit price is estimated to be worth £882m to the Welsh economy in terms of reductions in illness, crime and workplace absence over 20 years. They state that alcohol misuse in Wales is estimated to cost the Welsh NHS around £109m every year in hospital admissions alone.

They have also linked the problem with crime, and the cost of crime to the taxpayer, which they say would also be expected to fall following the introduction of a minimum unit price, with, they claim, an estimated 3,684 fewer offences a year. Workplace absence the Government says would also fall by up to 10,000 days per year.

The draft bill also proposes new powers for Welsh Ministers to make subordinate legislation to set the minimum unit price for all alcohol sold or supplied in Wales as well as powers for local authorities to enforce the minimum unit price, including powers of entry for authorised officers; an offence of obstructing an authorised officer and the power to issue fixed penalty notices.

Mr Gething said: “Tackling alcohol misuse is a priority for the Welsh Government. In 2013, there were 467 alcohol-related deaths in Wales. Each of these deaths was preventable. This new draft Bill signifies our firm commitment to use our legislative powers to improve and protect the health of the people of Wales. Evidence shows that introducing minimum unit price of 50p per unit would be effective in reducing alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harms and the costs associated with those harms. It will save lives, reduce rates of crime, help ensure valuable NHS resources are used wisely and help businesses by reducing absence from the workplace. Minimum unit pricing will affect those drinks sold at unacceptably low prices relative to their alcohol content. This is a particularly well-targeted measure as it will only have a small impact on moderate drinkers and have the biggest impact on high-risk drinkers.”

The Bill has been met with general approval with Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, saying: “A minimum unit price for alcoholic drinks will not in itself address the problems caused by alcohol in society but it would be a step in the right direction. Minimum pricing should be part of a broader package of measures which should include improved education about the dangers of alcohol to younger people and a greater investment in alcohol abuse services. While we will support the Welsh Government’s aims in principle, it will be important to resolve questions which remain over whether the proposals fall within the devolution settlement. The cost of alcohol abuse is incalculable and is often a contributory factor in homelessness, unwanted pregnancy, violence, road accidents, marital break-up and obesity. The need to tackle substance misuse is absolutely crucial.”

The Party of Wales Shadow Health Minister Elin Jones said: “Plaid Cymru has always supported action to minimise the misuse of alcohol and we support minimum pricing. We will scrutinise this Bill thoroughly as it makes its way through the Assembly. However, figures show that alcohol is most widely misused by the professional and managerial classes who are less sensitive to price increases. This Bill in its current form will not tackle this problem – the Labour Government must do more if we are to tackle this problem across the whole socio-economic spectrum.”

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Scrub removal at Pembrey to improve dunes for biodiversity

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If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

SCRUB provides a splash of greenery in our sandy spaces, but too much scrub smothers the sand dunes and has a devastating effect on the specialist plants and invertebrates which live there. 

This winter Natural Resources Wales will be removing non-native, invasive plant species from areas of dune at Pembrey to help wildlife thrive.

The coast around Pembrey is home to 20% of all the plants in Wales and features a large sand dune system. Sand dunes are listed as the habitat type most at risk of biodiversity loss in Europe.

The Dynamic Dunescapes project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in Wales by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), is working at Pembrey with Carmarthenshire County Council’s Outdoor Recreation Service to improve the condition of these dunes for wildlife.

Some non-native plant species, like the dense scrub plant sea buckthorn, are invasive and they are growing quickly in this dune system – spreading further across large areas of dune each year. 

Many of the dunes’ rare and specialist wildlife needs bare sand or low grassland habitat to survive and gets lost under or outcompeted by scrub. 

If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

Scrub removal in specifically chosen locations will help to restore the habitat types that these species need, and this work will play a part in ensuring the dunes at Pembrey have a healthy, biodiverse future. 

Improving the ecological condition here will increase this coastal landscape’s resilience to other threats, such as extreme weather events and changing conditions brought on by climate change in the future.

The first phase of this work is to take place in Pembrey Country Park around Car Park 8 and the second will take place on the foredunes in front of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate which is managed by NRW. 

It is scheduled to begin in the last week of November and will last for two weeks. There will be a temporary closure of Factory Road outside the Country Park for one week – reopening on 5th December.

Ruth Harding, Senior Environment Officer at Natural Resources Wales, said:

“Sea Buckthorn control is important to improve the dune grassland habitats at Pembrey. Carmarthenshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales have carried out this type of habitat management over a number of years which has resulted in restoring the area to a dune grassland rich with different species of plants. 

You can best enjoy this during the summer months within the Pembrey Burrows and Saltings Local Nature Reserve. As part of Dynamic Dunescapes, we are now continuing this work, which will result in an overall increase in dune grassland habitat.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for leisure, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said:

“Whilst scrub is a valuable habitat it does need management to maintain it in good condition for wildlife. Cutting back the scrub will ensure it does not spread into areas where it is not wanted and or where it can destroy other habitat.”

Dynamic Dunescapes is not the only project working to restore Pembrey’s important sand dunes. The EU LIFE-funded Sands of LIFE project, managed by (NRW), has also been undertaking sand dune management to improve conditions for wildlife in recent years. The two projects work closely to build on and support each other’s work.

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Demolition of 4 Tys begins in Tyisha, Llanelli

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Four Tys

WORK to demolish the Four Tys housing blocks in Tyisha, Llanelli has started, marking the next exciting step in Carmarthenshire County Council’s plans to Transform the area. 

The demolition work is set to be completed by civil engineering contractor Walters over the next 20 weeks and will enable the build of modern, mixed-use housing which meets the needs of the community.

Improvements to existing homes and the creation of community facilities and green spaces will also form part of changes on the horizon for Tyisha. 

Cllr Linda Davies Evans, chair of the Transforming Tyisha steering group and cabinet member for housing said: “The demolition of the Four Tys marks an important step in the Transforming Tyisha project. Although this process will evoke powerful memories for many of the people who have lived and worked in Tyisha since the Four Tys were built in the 1960s, their demolition will enable us to provide the housing and facilities that the community needs.

Local residents and businesses who may be impacted by the demolition process will be contacted throughout to ensure minimum disruption.”

This forms a part of the council’s ambitious plans to regenerate the Tyisha ward and the wider Llanelli town centre area which is undergoing massive investment.

The council is also seeking a partner to develop new housing and create a vibrant community. An early market engagement exercise is currently live which gives potential partners the opportunity to express their interest in working with the council to transform the area.

Fresh and innovative ideas for this exciting project can be submitted to the council until December 7.

For more information on the early market engagement process or the council’s Transforming Tyisha regeneration project please visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/tyisha

The demolition of the ‘Four Tys’ forms part of the council’s ambitious Transforming Tyisha project which looks to regenerate the area through increasing community safety, developing housing and community facilities and improving the environment.

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Serious assault in Ruby’s Bar Llanelli being investigated by police

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POLICE are investigating a serious assault which occurred in Ruby’s Bar, Llanelli, between 10:40pm and 11pm on Saturday, November 20.

A 35-year-old man received injuries which required hospital treatment.

A 31-year-old female and a 36-year-old male have  been arrested on suspicion of assault. Both have been released on bail pending further police enquiries.

Anyone who witnessed, or took footage of, the incident, or anyone who has any information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DP-20211120-336.

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

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