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Joining together to launch new vision for freight

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A VISION for how freight transport across Mid Wales and the Marches could be improved to support economic development and operational efficiency was launched on Wednesday (Feb 21).

The Growing Mid Wales Partnership and The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, together with the Welsh Government and councils on both sides of the border, jointly commissioned the new strategy. It includes recommendations on how to improve the experience of businesses moving freight within and through the region, whilst enhancing the quality of life for residents near to key freight corridors and reducing environmental impacts. Both rail and road options are included.

The launch of the strategy in Welshpool marks a high point in an on-going collaboration between the two regions which started in 2016. As a collaborative process, the commissioning and development of the strategy has been managed by a steering group of officers from both sides of the border. Growing Mid Wales is a regional partnership comprising of representative bodies from across the private, public and voluntary sector in mid Wales namely Ceredigion, Powys and South Gwynedd.

Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Chair of the Growing Mid Wales Partnership and Ceredigion County Council Leader, said: “Whether we’re considering a largely single carriageway road network and its impact on journey times and reliability; the effect of agricultural vehicles on the network; or the high levels of congestion experienced in many of our towns and villages, the picture is very similar on both sides of the border. Simply, good road and rail links are necessary for our businesses now and to support future growth both here in Mid Wales and in the Marches.”

If fully implemented, it is anticipated the strategy could provide benefits to operators of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) worth at least £149m.
This would be achieved through a series of highway enhancements focused on increased opportunities for safe overtaking; improvements to alleviate bottlenecks; and changes at certain key locations to allow 44 tonne HGVs to operate across the whole of the freight network.

Councillor ap Gwynn, added: “It, therefore, made perfect sense to take a co-operative approach, consulting our businesses including freight operators, and our local communities, to better understand the shared barriers to economic growth and how we can work together to overcome them.”

The consultation process involved input from a wide range of businesses and local councils via online surveys; business workshops in Ludlow and Newtown; and telephone interviews with key shippers, road hauliers, infrastructure managers and policy-makers.

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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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