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Critical cocktail hits UK lamb exports

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Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 10.30.37A CRITICAL cocktail of low consumer purchasing power, punitive exchange rates, cheap imports and supply surfeits forced UK lamb exports to dip by nearly a quarter in the last twelve months, reports Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) latest edition of Market Bulletin.

Sheepmeat exports during 2015 were significantly impeded by the strength of Sterling against the Euro, as well as cheaper imports from other countries and subdued consumer demand for lamb.

This sent UK sheepmeat exports falling to 79,400 tonnes, a decline of 22 per cent, some 22,500 tonnes less in twelve months.

The Eurozone accounts for nineteen in every twenty sheepmeat export sales and, with shoppers in general feeling the pinch, most European countries recorded reduced shipments. France, which accounts for 54 per cent of the market, witnessed a 16 per cent decline and exports to Germany, Ireland and Belgium fell two per cent, ten per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

Imports of sheepmeat to the UK during 2015 rose by 0.3 per cent to 92,800 tonnes, attributed to an increase in shipments received from New Zealand of six per cent to 68,800 tonnes, amounting to nearly threequarters of all imports. Although New Zealand sheepmeat production fell during 2015, imports to the UK increased as other key markets, in particular China, took smaller quantities due to reduced demand. Other imports to the UK declined, with Australia, Ireland, Spain and France witnessing volume declines of three per cent, 19 per cent, 14 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.

The timing of these imports took its toll on the UK market and was a major contributory factor to the increase during the year.

In 2015, the UK imported more beef than it exported – 268,400 tonnes of beef, five per cent up on 2014, as UK exports fell by ten per cent to 100,500 tonnes. The dominance of Ireland as the main importer of beef to the UK has grown in recent years accounting for 182,400 tonnes, 68 per cent of the total volume of beef imported.

The second largest beef importer to the UK is the Netherlands, some way behind Ireland with eight per cent of all volume at 20,400 tonnes, a rise of 21 per cent on 2014 and underlining how the strength of Sterling against the Euro underpinned all European imports.

UK beef export shipments to other member states during 2015 varied with exports to the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Germany declining whilst those to France increased three per cent to 10,100 tonnes.

Looking forward, HCC expects exports of red meat market from the UK for the coming year to continue to be influenced strongly by the Sterling’s exchange rate with the Euro. If the estimated reductions in volumes of lamb from New Zealand transpire, it could be beneficial to the domestic market, but any optimism is guarded with the global marketplace demonstrating considerable volatility, making the future import and export performance of both species notoriously difficult to predict.

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Have you seen this rainbow coloured AA van around the coast?

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DRIVERS who break down along the Ceredigion coast may well find the gold (or yellow) at the end of the rainbow as a distinctly colourful AA van has been spotted driving around the area.

Cardigan-based Russ Williams, who has been an AA patrol for eight years, has won an AA-wide competition to emblazon his van with an eye-catching rainbow livery in support of Pride in London.

He is one of eight AA patrols across the UK who will be rescuing members in these special vans throughout the summer. In addition, two AA Signs vans will also be sporting the vibrant design. The vans will also feature in the Pride in London event on Saturday, July 7.

Russ, 39, said: “I’m really excited to have been chosen to support Pride with the colourful rainbow livery.

“It looks great on the van and I’m looking forward to chatting about it to members as they get out and about this summer.”

To celebrate Pride, the AA is also launching a competition* for both members and non-members from June 18.

Anybody who spots one of the 10 rainbow vans can enter by safely snapping a picture and sharing it on the AA’s Facebook page with hashtag #SpotThePrideVan, as well as the location and time they saw it. There are 10 prizes up for grabs, ranging from a VIP shopping experience to theme park tickets and restaurant vouchers.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Visibility of our vans is always important as they need to stand out and be seen. These limited edition rainbow vans are a welcome addition to our fleet and certainly make a positive statement.

“We’re honoured to be adding a big splash of colour and all things rainbow to our summer this year by supporting Pride. It is an uplifting celebration of diversity and our support underlines our fundamental commitment to ensuring equality is embedded within the AA.”

The vans have already begun to cause a stir on social media, with TheGayUK Magazine tweeting: ‘The motoring section of @TheGayUK is loving the @TheAA_UK new livery to commemorate London #Pride 2018’.

The annual Pride in London event will take place on Saturday, July 7, this year. In addition to supporting, the AA will also be taking part in the parade with an army of AA volunteers walking alongside an inspirational float.

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65 ‘never events’ in Welsh hospitals over three years

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A TOTAL of 65 ‘never events’ have occurred in Welsh hospitals over the last three years, including: surgery on the wrong eye, foreign objects left in patients after surgery, and a hip replacement on the incorrect hip.

So-called ‘never events’ are incidents which should never happen in a clinical environment, and a worrying 21 were recorded in 2017/18.

It follows 21 in 2016/17 and 23 in 2015/16.

Almost a third of all ‘never events’ over the last three years (20 of 65) were recorded as a result of foreign objects being left in patients after surgical procedures, and there have been a shocking 16 incidences of surgery having been carried out on the wrong site – including an incorrect hip replacement, and surgery in the wrong part of a patient’s spine. There was also an incident in 2015/16 where a patient fell out of a ‘poorly constructed’ window.

The annual reports show that over the last three years Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Cardiff and Vale health boards recorded the most never events – 18 and 16, respectively.

They were followed by Betsi Cadwaladr (11), Cwm Taf (8), Aneurin Bevan (7), and Hywel Dda (4) health boards. Last year, Public Health Wales also had once never event. Powys have had none.

Shadow Health Secretary, Angela Burns, said: “There’s always the potential for human error, but when NHS staff are under immense pressure – dealing with more patients than ever whilst being under-resourced – that margin for error widens.

“Fortunately, the vast majority of patients receive extremely high levels of compassionate care when encountering the NHS. But these figures remain stubbornly high, and patient safety has been seriously jeopardised on occasions.

“These are ‘never events’ – incidents that should never have occurred. But they are continuing to happen, leaving lasting, potentially life changing consequences on individuals. This is unacceptable and we need to greater instil a culture of learning, responsibility and accountability in to our NHS as we transform our services for the future.”

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Drone crash lands near West Wales Airport

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THE FIRE and rescue service was called to West Wales Airport after an unmanned aircraft crashed this week.

A spokesman for the MoD said: “We are aware of an incident involving a Watchkeeper aircraft which did not result in any injuries,” said a spokesperson.

“The aircraft has been secured and there is no risk to the public. An investigation is underway.”

Police and firefighters were called to the scene near Cyttir Mawr farmhouse after the drone came down in some trees close to the airstrip, near Aberporth, Ceredigion, at about 5pm on Wednesday (Jun 13).

A fire service spokesperson told The Herald that one crew used foam to clean up the resulting fuel spill from a pilot-less plane, which also known as a UAV

Opened in 2002, West Wales Airport is used by the military and civil aviators. The airport’s unmanned aircraft centre is the only type of facility of its kind in Europe according to Wikipedia. The Ministry of Defence used the Airport to test the Watchkeeper drone.

Jill Gough, of CND Cymru, said: “By my reckoning, this is the fourth drone they’ve lost – and these UAVs cost £6m apiece – it’s an absolute scandal, really.”
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