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Llanelli ‘must fight’ for parks and playgrounds

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St Clears County Councillor P M Hughes: Opening a children's play area in 2009

St Clears County Councillor P M Hughes: Opening a children’s play
area in 2009

MANY OF Carmarthenshire’s sports clubs find themselves in a dire situation in as a result of the increases in pitch fees, says Secretary of the Carmarthenshire Unified Sports Committee (CUSC), Michael Barrett.

Launching a campaign to save parks and playgrounds in Carmarthenshire, Mr Bassett told us that he was also concerned that further rises in fees are imminent and that many of the parks may find their way into private ownership if community councils decide they cannot take them over.

Mike told The Herald, “We want these parks under ownership of the county council because they have the expertise to manage them. We are very concerned that these parks and playgrounds could come into private ownership. We have consulted with the council over the last 18 months and save them over £240,000 by paying for the full maintenance of the parks and pitches and increasing the size of the leagues.

“Apart from the bowls clubs, all the fees have gone up. £49 to £60 for Senior football fees have gone up from £49 per game to £60 per game. Junior football has risen from £23.50 per game to £30 per game. If the council had had their way they would have made us pay £235 for a senior game of football and £72.50 for a game of junior football. If we hadn’t fought agains this the clubs would have gone out of business.”

Criticising a press claim that only 4% of the county’s council tax comes from the Llanelli area, Mike expressed considerable scorn: “A report in one Llanelli paper this week suggested that 4% of council taxes come from the Llanelli area. It is in fact 43% of the County’s Council Tax which comes from the Llanelli area

“We have been told that East Carmarthenshire is subsidising Llanelli it is the other way around.”

In relation to parks and recreation facilities, Mike told us: “CUSC’s understanding is that most community councils cannot take them over because they cannot afford them and they would have to raise the precept. Why are they on the asset transfer programme when they are not costing them money?

“Parc Howard would have been a prime example. What happens to these people, the clubs if the parks are taken over by third parties? They will hike up fees. If we became a stand alone authority they wouldn’t be having as much as they do at the moment. We deserve these parks and playgrounds.”

Mr Bassett also raised concerns about the future disposal of assets and his worry that the parks may end up as sites for new housing developments and be lost to the community forever.

He said, “The main multi use area in Llanelli is Penygaer. That is a prime site for building houses. Our concern is that a private company takes over it, prices us out and then gets planning for new homes on those spaces. We need reassurances that this will not happen.”

If you take these green areas away where are the kids going to play?

“They say there is investment for a wellness centre. I would have thought the parks and playgrounds were the essence for well being. If we lose these clubs the income from leisure centres will take a hit. We have asked head of leisure for a response asking what he meant by his comment that he can’t afford to keep these places. We were told by Ian Jones that we could play on ‘4 G’ pitches and that houses built on the spaces would pay for those new pitches in schools.”

Mike continued: “We have been to see Ken Skates Head of Sport at the Welsh Assembly Government. He said they give councils grants and it is up to the councils where they make cuts. Why are they making the cuts when we have such a problem with obesity?”

We asked Mr Bassett if he was aware of any places in Carmarthenshire, which were receiving help and which might not be making any money in the long term.

He told us: “There is the boathouse in Laugharne costing upwards of £80,000 per year, the craft centre in St Clears is losing upwards of £50,00 per year. They have just given over £250,000 for the velodrome in Carmarthen. They are not consulting the public,. They are misinformed when they are spending this money.

“We don’t even get much from the Section 106 agreements.”

When asked about the County Council’s Executive Board and their role in the process Mr. Bassett said, “Seven out of ten of the councillors on the executive board live in rural areas. Their lifestyles have nothing in common with the people in an industrial town like Llanelli. We have been short changed.”

“The people of Llanelli need to stand up and fight. The whole town needs to come together and tell these people that we are not happy with stone walls and that we want to keep these areas. We paid and we still pay enough money for them.”

The Herald is backing a campaign organised by Mr. Bassett and the chairman of CUSC called ‘Save Our Parks and Playgrounds’ (SOPAP). Details of the campaign can be found on their Facebook page www.facebook. com/SOPAP

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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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