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Calls for NatWest to reconsider closures

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NATWEST has announced today (Dec 1) that it has taken the decision to close Cardigan branch on May 30, 2018, with the Lampeter branch to follow on June 12.

In response to this announcement, Elin Jones and Ben Lake, Assembly Member and Member of Parliament for Ceredigion, have expressed their dissappointment at the decision and have called on the bank to reconsider.

Plaid Cymru has also called on the Welsh Government to make swift progress in establishing a public bank in Wales so that a system of community banks can be established.

Ben Lake has asked the Chief Executive of NatWest for a meeting to discuss the way in which the banks are abandoning rural communities in Ceredigion, while Elin Jones will be meeting with representatives in the constituency next week.

Ben Lake MP, said: “I am deeply disappointed at NatWest’s decision to close its branches in Cardigan and Lampeter. It’s a significant blow not only to both rural towns, but to members of staff, their families, and the bank’s customers.

“In this time of austerity communities across the county are losing banking services at a frightful pace: this most recent announcement follows the closure of other banks in Aberaeron, and towns such as Llandysul and Tregaron no longer have any bank branches at all.

“These commercial banks are abandoning rural communities across Ceredigion; less than a decade after taxpayers bailed them out at the height of the financial crisis, they are now threatening to undermine the financial underpinning of the local economy.”

Elin Jones AM, said: “This is terrible news for both Lampeter and Cardigan that Natwest is closing its branches in June 2018.

“Banks are imposing buildings on our high streets – built originally as banks. Their withdrawal hits the high street visibly, as well as losing their vital service for the community. The banks caused this last decade’s recession and to add injury to insult, they are now abandoning our communities.

“I will be meeting with Natwest representatives this week, and I will be emphasising the point that even though technology is moving forward, and more people are banking online, we still need our highstreet banks, which are vital assets for our local businesses.”

Ben Lake MP, added: “As the big banks continue to remove themselves from our rural areas, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we desperately need to introduce an alternative model of banking more firmly committed to supporting local communities, such as the system of community banks we find in Germany. We must ensure that the banking model of the future is rooted in our communities – we deserve better than this.

“I will be seeking a meeting with the Chief Executive of NatWest bank and will be speaking to representatives next week to discuss why they are abandoning rural communities, and to urge him to reconsider this decision.

“In the meantime, I offer my full support to the members of staff at the two branches, and am ready to provide whatever assistance that I can at this difficult time.”

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Public urged to enjoy dolphin sightings at a distance

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WITH summer on the way, bringing visitors enjoying Ceredigion’s wildlife rich coastline, the Council is urging members of the public to enjoy coastal activities without disturbing Cardigan Bay’s special wildlife and habitats. The call comes after individuals recently approached and swam with dolphins in Cardigan Bay.

The Ceredigion Marine Code of Conduct asks water users to stay 100 metres away from dolphins and porpoises encountered at sea, and to keep a distance of 50 metres from seals and nesting sea birds.

In no circumstances should the public attempt to feed, swim with or touch the dolphins. These are wild animals. Dolphins are large and powerful and can grow up to four metres long. As well as causing significant disturbance to the animals and pushing them off important feeding sites, close contact can also result in exposure to diseases to both humans and animals.

Repeated disturbance could cause the dolphins to leave important feeding sites to search for quieter areas.

Disruption to feeding, resting and nursing behaviour could have a long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of individual dolphins and populations.

The Cabinet member responsible for Economy and Regeneration, Councillor Rhodri Evans said: “Cardigan Bay’s wildlife is a great asset to the economy of our coastal communities and is also important in its own right. It is because of this that we ask residents and visitors to enjoy dolphin, and other wildlife sightings at a safe distance. Although the temptation to have a close-up view is understandable, we can’t risk disturbing Cardigan Bay’s wildlife and possibly driving them away. It’s the last thing anyone wants.”

The Ceredigion Marine Code of Conduct was established by Ceredigion County Council over twenty years ago, in response to local community concerns that the bottlenose dolphins that use these waters to feed, socialise and breed were experiencing greater pressures from disturbance by those enjoying recreational water-based activities.

The Ceredigion Marine Code of Conduct can be found online on http://www.cardiganbaysac.org.uk/?page_id=583

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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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