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1200 march in Withybush protest

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WELL over one thousand people turned out this morning (Sunday January 26) to protest about cuts to services at Withybush. The protesters marched from Thomas Picton School to the hospital to vent their anger at cuts to services. Outside the hospital the crowd, estimated to be approaching nearly 1200 people, held placards and banners, chanted, and sang the Welsh national anthem. Many Pembrokeshire residents say they fear that the lives of women and babies would be at risk if a level-two neonatal unit was developed at Carmarthen as a replacement for the current unit at Withybush Hospital.

An motorbike accident which closed the A40 for most of the day yesterday (Saturday January 25) has raised concerns that it would not be safe to rely on the single-carriageway road to transfer urgent cases from Haverfordwest to Carmarthen, over thirty miles away.
Chris Overton, the chairman of the Save Withybush Action Team, who organised the protest, said that the turnout showed the “strength of feeling of people in Pembrokeshire”

Mr Overton , who is a consultant obstetrician at Withybush Hospital, later told the press: “I’ve coined a new phrase, the Sutton Test, after a woman called Kate Sutton from Johnston who lost her baby and nearly died. I ask you whether someone in a similar position will be safe when the new system is in place. I don’t think that they would be. I think that everyone is concerned more and more across the county that these services are going to be cut.”
Speaking at the demonstration, Stephen Crabb MP said to the Herald: “There is an enormous sense of anger amongst the crowd, people from all walks of life, all across the county, voicing their frustration and their fears of what the future will look like without the essential service of SCBU on our doorstep.”

The hospital changes announced are part a new system, where doctors in Carmarthen will provide specialist care, with other hospitals eventually providing a midwife-led service. Bronglais hospital in Aberystwyth will become a midwife-led maternity unit, although during the transition period it will also retain some consultants.

The plans were initially revealed a year ago by the health board but were vetoed by the local patients watchdog over concerns that closing the special care baby unit in Haverfordwest could put lives at risk. That meant Health Minister Mark Drakeford had to step in to review the decision himself, and he has taken advice from a panel of experts.

The panel advising Mr. Drakeford indicated providing special baby care units across the health board was “neither safe nor sustainable”, but the protestors say its unsafe to cut services due to the time it takes to get mums and babies from Pembrokeshire to the new propsed unit in Carmarthenshire.

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Ceredigion dog breeder fined for failing to comply with dog breeding licence

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A CROWN COURT has upheld a conviction that the dogs under the care of Mr. Jones were kept in overcrowded conditions in contravention of the minimum space standards required by the license conditions.

Other convictions were overturned.

On 27 November 2020, and 22December 2020, the Crown Court heard an appeal by Mr. Dorian Wyn Jones, of Dorwan Kennels, Penrheol, Talsarn, relating to convictions for failing to comply with dog breeding licence conditions. 

Mr. Dorian Wyn Jones had previously been convicted at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court of running a licenced dog breeding establishment far in access of the number allowed on his licence and that the dogs in his care were kept in overcrowded conditions.

The Court heard evidence that Mr Dorian Wyn Jones had been granted a licence for 33 dogs. However, during a visit undertaken by Ceredigion County Council’s Public Protection Officers on the 07 August 2019, they found 91 dogs at the premises excluding puppies, in breach of his license. The dogs were kept in pens of a size that were inadequate for the number of dogs kept within them.

On 9 February 2021, Dorian Jones was fined £1000 for the overcrowding offence, and ordered to pay legal costs amounting to £2500. 

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Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, dies aged 99

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The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’ for 73 years, has died aged 99.

Prince Philip’s health had been slowly deteriorating for some time. He announced he was stepping down from royal engagements in May 2017, joking that he could no longer stand up. He made a final official public appearance later that year during a Royal Marines parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

Since then, he was rarely seen in public, spending most of his time on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, though moving to be with her at Windsor Castle during the lockdown periods throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and where the couple quietly celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020. He also celebrated his 99th birthday in lockdown at Windsor Castle.

The duke spent four nights at King Edward VII hospital in London before Christmas 2019 for observation and treatment in relation to a “pre-existing condition”.

Despite having hip surgery in April 2018, he attended the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a month later and was seen sitting beside the Queen at a polo match at Windsor Great Park in June. He and the Queen missed Prince Louis of Cambridge’s christening in July 2018, but he was seen attending Crathie Kirk near Balmoral in August, and driving his Land Rover in the surrounding Scottish countryside in September.

It is expected that flags on landmark buildings in Britain will be lowered to half-mast as a period of mourning is announced.

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford has expressed his sadness on the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and offered condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal family on behalf of the Welsh Government.

He said: “It is with sadness that we mourn the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit.

We offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, his children and their families on this sad occasion.

He will be missed by the many organisations that he supported as Patron or President over many decades of service”.Andrew RT Davies, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, has led tributes to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose death was announced today.

In light of the sad news from Buckingham Palace, campaigning has been paused with immediate effect.

Mr Davies said: “This is a very sad day for the United Kingdom.
“The Duke of Edinburgh led a remarkable life, excelled himself with his career in the Royal Navy, was the strength and stay to Her Majesty The Queen, and has left a legacy to the nation through the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“Dutiful, devoted, and diligent, his like will never be seen again, and Welsh Conservatives offer their deepest condolences to The Queen, and the rest of the Royal Family.”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru said: “On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I send my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. Many young people in Wales will have benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, a reflection of many decades of his public service. Thoughts are with the Royal Family at this time.”

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Elin Jones calls for a plan to revive Aberystwyth town centre

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AS NON-ESSENTIAL retail re-opens on April 12, many of larger shops in Aberystwyth town centre will not be re-opening, with head offices scaling back on their presence on high streets across the UK.

In Aberystwyth, their absence will be particularly obvious with many of these retailers being located along Great Darkgate Street. Multiple retailers such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Clinton Cards, Edinburgh Woolen Mill, M&Co and Lloyds Pharmacy will not be reopening leaving a large proportion of empty properties.

These closures are in stark contrast to many independent retailers on Aberystwyth’s other streets looking to expand or start.

Commenting on this issue, Elin Jones said: “It’s time for a major rethink for Aberystwyth’s Great Darkgate Street.

“The multiple larger retailers are turning their back on our town centre and now we need to re-focus these large premises in order to make them more attractive and accessible to independent, local businesses. There have been smaller independent shops opening along other streets in Aberystwyth and throughout Ceredigion, so there is definitely businesses who could be persuaded to have a presence on the high street.

‘It would be great to see a partnership effort in the town to persuade the absentee landlords to give rent-free start up opportunities, to re-purpose the larger premises to suit smaller businesses and to ensure the buildings look attractive on the street.

‘Welsh Government has confirmed that no rates will need to be paid for this whole financial year and therefore now is a great opportunity to support small local businesses to reclaim their place on Great Darkgate Street.

‘It is the town’s largest street and needs to be a star attraction in Ceredigion.’

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