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Momentum builds for Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign

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(Sitting) Ben Lake: (Standing L-R) Nick Sawyer, Huw Williams, Roger Bryan, Adrian Turner, Richard Taylor, Ashley Williams, Bernie Davies, Tim Richards

10,000 people have signed the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign petition, which is challenging the RNLI’s decision to remove the all-weather lifeboat in New Quay, Ceredigion, with cross-party political support increasing day by day across Wales and the UK.

Seafarers and visitors to the coast are worried that if the RNLI go ahead with their decision, there will be a 70-mile gap in all-weather lifeboat provision, and that there will be no all-weather lifeboat in the whole of Ceredigion.

Support has been gaining momentum since the RNLI’s announcement in June, and an online petition now has more than 5,000 signatures, with a further 5,000 signatures on paper.

Not only is the general public voicing their concerns, but the campaign has gained cross-party political support, including Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, AMs Elin Jones, Simon Thomas and Joyce Watson, town and county councillors, Dyfed Powys Police & Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, and Sheryl Murray, MP for South East Cornwall, who has a special interest in maritime safety.

The campaign is a community-led initiative, comprising elected members of the lifeboat crew, New Quay and Aberaeron yacht clubs, the Welsh Fishermen’s Association, passenger boat operators, commercial fishermen, town and county councillors, and professional subject matter experts from the local community.

Chair of the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign Richard Taylor explained the objective of the campaign: “Following the RNLI’s decision to remove all-weather lifeboat provision at New Quay lifeboat station, the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign was founded to make a well-researched and reasoned response. Our group includes a number of New Quay Lifeboat crew members and supporters who respect and remain loyal to the RNLI, and we are all committed to its values and ideals. We wholeheartedly believe, however, that on this occasion, the RNLI has made a poorly considered decision that cannot go unchallenged.”

The campaign has recently written to the RNLI to request full disclosure of all the data, supporting documents, and minutes of trustee meetings in relation to the decision.

Mr Taylor added: “In accordance with the Charity Commission guidance, our letter makes it clear that, as stakeholders of the RNLI, we are expected to hold our trustees to account for the decisions they make. We have asked for full disclosure within 14 days and look forward to hearing from them.”
Huw Williams, a New Quay town councillor and lifeboat crew member described the implications of the proposed change: “The RNLI’s decision to replace the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat at New Quay with an Atlantic 85 will leave a dangerous gap in all-weather cover. The Atlantic 85 is an inshore lifeboat, designed to operate closer to shore, and in up to force 7 conditions in daylight and force 6 at night. Over the last 10 years, New Quay Lifeboat has carried out many services that were beyond the capability of an Atlantic 85, saving many lives.

“The nearest all-weather boats based at Barmouth and Fishguard would take up to an hour and a half to respond to an emergency in the New Quay and Aberaeron areas. This is clearly at odds with the RNLI’s central Mission Statement: ‘We aim to reach at least 90% of all casualties within 10 nautical miles of the coast within 30 minutes of a lifeboat launch – in any weather.’”

The campaign has been actively raising awareness at events throughout the county over the last few months, appearing at the Cardigan Bay Regatta, Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Aberaeron Carnival, the Round Table Tug of War, and Lampeter Food Festival, with many more public consultation events planned for the coming months.

Ben Lake MP is in full support of the campaign and is actively involved. He is building support amongst MPs in Westminster, and is meeting with the operations director of the RNLI at the end of September.
Discussing the campaign, Ben Lake said: “To me, and everyone I talk to, it is glaringly obvious that there will be a gap in all-weather rescue capability for Ceredigion’s coastline after 2020. This is not satisfactory and I intend to do everything I can to overturn this decision. The RNLI Lifeboat Station at New Quay has delivered an excellent service for the past 153 years, and its crew needs to be given the correct equipment to continue their lifesaving work. This decision will not only affect New Quay but the whole of Cardigan Bay.”

To sign the online petition, please go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-shannon-class-lifeboat-at-new-quay or visit local businesses for paper petitions.

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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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