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PowerPoint presentation promotes leisure plans

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sirgarppTHE HERALD has been forwarded a copy of a presentation given to Executive Board members which sets out the way in which the local authority intends to divest itself of its leisure holdings and associated staff on to a third party.

In a series of graphics which our mystery correspondent referred to as ‘ripping off the work of LS Lowry’, the Council sets out that it fully intends to shuffle all leisure staff on to a third party, while making sure that senior officers are cushioned from market pressures and retained in house.

The presentation purports to show an employee on a journey via a ‘manager/change agent’ starting with anxiety, progressing through happiness, fear, threat, guilt, depression, gradual acceptance, moving forward, disillusionment, hostility, denial, anger, complacency towards either resignation or success.

The bones of the proposals behind the presentation are clear:

Carmarthenshire County Council seeks to enter into a partnership with an existing or hybrid Not for Profit Distributing Organisation (NPDO or Trust) through a procurement process using competitive dialogue, which has the key parameters set out in the procurement strategy within the main report, and which will seek to deliver the relevant services’ 3 year PBB savings, in line with the affordability levels set out in the report.

The procurement process would not include a bid submission from a newly establish ‘internal’ NPDO.

The Herald has seen a further internal document which suggests that decision has been taken in order to avoid a lengthy tendering process.

The partnership’ initial scope of the partnership would be for the Sports and Leisure portfolio (including facilities from Llanelli, Carmarthen, Ammanford, Newcastle Emlyn, St. Clears and Llandovery), plus Theatres services (from Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford), with further consideration of other services by Council at a later date after the contract has been operational for a period of time.

If there is no interest in some or all of the services, Carmarthenshire County Council should then seek to develop a business case to consider establishing a new NPDO for the services to deliver the financial savings;

The tender specifies that the partner organisation has to apply for admitted body status to the Dyfed Pension Fund, closed to existing employees at the point of transfer;

Importantly the tender will include a requirement that the tendering parties cost for the replacement of Llanelli Leisure Centre through a Design, Build, Operate and Maintain Model (DBOM) and that officers pursue the opportunity to align any new Leisure Centre in Llanelli with a potential “Wellness” development as part of the major “ARCH” City Region project.

The County Council will place an advert and find potential partners (anyone can submit). The designated timescale for the advert is Nov 2015 – Jan 2016. In other words over the Christmas and New Year’s vacations.

A senior employee has told the Herald that they had already submitted during the first attempt at tendering out leisure services and that their attempt, although rated highly by the Welsh Assembly’s Tendering Monitors, was rejected and has not seen the light of day since.

An evaluation of the proposals will take place in the first six months of 2016, with a further winnowing process taking place through to November next year.

Having identified its preferred partner, the Council is looking to award the contract shortly thereafter.

While staff will be transferred on the same terms and conditions as they have presently, the presentation goes on to state ‘Organisations cannot simply harmonise T’s & C’s with existing employees. Must be an economical, technical or operational business reason to undertake an organisational change’.

That means changes to terms and conditions of employees transferred and to get around the law relating to the transfer of employees, recommends that these changes ‘would not happen within the first year of transfer’.

From April 2017, staff payslips will come from a different organisation

While pensions will continue as existing arrangement with Dyfed Pension Fund, it remains to be seen what the effect of changing other terms and conditions of employment (including pay and grading) will have on staff.

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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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.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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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.

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Business

Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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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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