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No sell off ‘on my watch’ says Dole

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‘Read my lips’: Emlyn Dole echoes fateful words

A TUMULTUOUS week of claim and counter claim about the Council’s plans on asset transfers reached its frenzied peak in the Chamber of County Hall on Wednesday, January 13.

First out of the blocks on Saturday, January 9 was Council Leader Emlyn Dole. Cllr Dole was plainly enraged and frustrated by press statements issued by Labour, whose members were in partnership with the Independents when – as The Herald revealed – secret negotiations were taking place to pass the balance of the lease to property speculators Loca Ventures. Claiming that plans to sell off Parc Howard were ‘an urban myth’, Cllr Dole continued: “Discussions about its future role should be held in a sensible climate and not be distorted by those seeking political gain by jumping on the nearest passing bandwagon. Labour’s Nia Griffiths MP and candidate Lee Waters really should know better. It shows how frustrated and desperate they’ve become. They’ve concocted an urban myth around an imagined threat to Parc Howard and even launched a petition on the basis of that myth. This is a very cheap shot even by their standards.”

The Council Leader did not address the tawdry saga involving his now fellow Executive Board Member, senior officers, ‘introducers’ and ‘investors’ that took place before he ascended to his current position. That was certainly not ‘an urban myth’ but cold, hard fact. The omission appears to suggest that Cllr Dole will not countenance any backdoor deals, as seemed to be made clear by his following words. Cllr Dole said that he was looking forward to meeting the Friends of Parc Howard, the Parc Howard Association and the Llanelli Community Heritage Group. “I won’t be asking them to run anything on our behalf, as this is a public park owned by the people – all the people. But as they are interested parties I’m keen to listen to, and share ideas about, how we can create an income that will allow us to sustain and safeguard Parc Howard for the benefit of ourselves and future generations.”

His press statement concluded: “Turning Parc Howard into a political football demeans an asset which is hugely precious to the people of Llanelli. Once again, I invite local Labour politicians to watch my lips: it will remain safely in the hands of the people to whom it was bequeathed.” After his combative statement, slating his political rivals for seeking to score political points, on Tuesday (Jan 12), Emlyn Dole met with members of the Llanelli Heritage Trust, the Parc Howard Association, and Llanelli Town Council. While Llanelli Town Council were happy for the press to attend the meeting, Councillor Dole’s office told us that his personal view was that it was a private meeting between organisations he had invited to attend. Accordingly, despite the Town Council’s welcome, press would not be allowed into the meeting. We waited outside the Town Hall for Councillor Dole. Upon his arrival we asked the leader if he had a few minutes to answer some questions. Mr Dole answered, “I Doubt it.” He did however return and requested that our camera was turned off before speaking to us. We began by asking the leader if Parc Howard would be taken off the asset transfer list. He replied “It’s a meeting for interested people around Parc Howard.

He continued by saying that communication with the public would, “be done through the due process. I have already made that clear in the press. I said in my second week of my leadership that Parc Howard stays in public ownership. We are asking local communities to invest in those assets. They can be run a lot better and more efficiently. Parc Howard is on that list for Llanelli Town Council to consider. Up until April they have an option on that. I am still waiting to hear if they want it or not. “If they are not then it comes back to me. I don’t quite understand what Lee Waters or the press doesn’t get about that sentence. I don’t quite get what anyone does not understand in that sentence. It stays on the asset transfer list until April. If it comes back I have to look at how we maintain it. It does not appear to be clear in mind of Lee Waters or Nia Griffith.” On the issue of local ownership of assets Councillor Dole said, “I agree that local ownership is always better. We put the precept up in Llannon in preparation for asset transfer.

As a community council we did our own lunch club, it is a lot better, it is better run by us as a community council than it was by the County Council. Whether they (Llanelli Town Council) take it on and I don’t think they will, it will remain in public ownership.” We asked if the people of Llanelli would be asked to pay twice for their parks, once through their council taxes and once through a rise in their precept. Councillor Dole replied, “No.” and continued, “It is up to Llanelli Town Council. I am told they are sitting on a pile of money. Use the money for the people of Llanelli. “Back in the reorganisation in the 90’s the West was paying their way on sports pitches Llanelli wasn’t. For some reason that hasn’t been addressed. People in Carmarthen West has been saying, hang on we are paying to support our own pitches and parks but we’re also paying to support Llanelli’s pitches and parks. It doesn’t matter how many there are it is the principle. If you are paying your way then we should all be paying our way or we should all be subsidised.” We asked if he was aware of the Loca Ventures episode and if he was worried that that episode may be repeated if the park was open for investors to take over. He replied: “Not on my watch.” Following the meeting the leader said it had been a positive meeting in the best interests of Parc Howard.

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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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