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MP raises concerns in Parliament regarding lack of clarity from UK Government

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Earlier this week, Ben Lake MP took part in the Parliamentary General Debate on COVID-19 by video link as the House of Commons observes social distancing rules.

During his speech Mr Lake raised concerns about the lack of clarity from the UK Government with regards to the lockdown restrictions in Wales.

Last week, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all announced they would be sticking to the ‘Stay At Home’ messaging for another three weeks with three minor adjustments on the easing of restrictions. However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement on Sunday outlined different guidance and messaging for England which included easing of travel and leisure restrictions and permitting people to travel any distance to exercise.

Ben Lake MP said there was widespread concern that due to a media deficit and confused messaging a lack of clarity on where those rules apply could threaten public health in Wales.

During his speech, Ben Lake MP stated:

“During the UK-wide lockdown, we sadly witnessed a significant number of individuals attempting to travel to Ceredigion and other parts of west Wales, contrary to official advice. As such, the UK Government have a responsibility to emphasise, in all their public announcements and interviews to the press over the coming days, that travel restrictions remain in place in Wales for at least the next few weeks.”

Plaid Cymru has called for an immediate increase in fines to deter people driving to Welsh tourist hotspots after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a relaxation of restrictions to allow people to travel to exercise.

Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys supports Plaid Cymru’s calls. Mr Llywelyn said:

“The current fine is not high enough as people are still flaunting the guidelines and travelling hundreds of miles on non-essential journeys.

“As Police and Crime Commissioner, I was one of the first to call for travel restriction measures to be put in place to safeguard our communities. I’m now calling again on Welsh Government to increase the fine as a greater deterrent to those looking to make unnecessary journeys within Wales. We’re calling for fines to start from £1,000 rising to £3,200 for repeat offenders.”

Ben Lake MP said:

“The lack of clarity from the Prime Minister that his changes apply only to England has only served to confuse the matter further.

“The message from Wales is clear: Stay at home. The safety of the people of Wales must come first and anyone thinking of driving to Wales to visit a tourist hotspot needs to understand they would be endangering themselves and everyone around them.

“To this end and to protect people from the virus, we must support our police forces by giving them greater powers to make people think again about breaking lockdown restrictions.”

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Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament

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A WESTMINSTER Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed over 200,000 times, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

During his contribution to the debate, Ben Lake MP emphasised the importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy. Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county. This equates to over 16% of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale, and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that approximately 41% of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Ben Lake MP said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close. I also urged the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.”

While there will be no direct action as a consequence of this Westminster Hall debate, it is hoped the result will put increased pressure on the UK Government to consider the proposal more seriously.

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Lifeboat Operations Manager in New Year’s Honours list

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Richard Llewelyn Griffiths the Lifeboat Operations Manager of Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station has been recognised for services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Wales.

He has been awarded a BEM.

Having served as a RNLI volunteer for an impressive 47 years, it is his role in the last 21 years as Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) which has earned him the most respect.

His local knowledge has provided reassurance to casualties and crews alike when launching in difficult conditions.

His operational decision-making and station management skills are outstanding, and he is greatly valued by crew, management, volunteers and coastal personnel both past and present.

He has contributed greatly towards Aberystwyth being recognised as a ‘benchmark’ Inshore Lifeboat Station, serving as an example to the whole institution of how a station could and should be run.

Richard said: ‘I’m very surprised but honoured to be receiving a BEM – the news still doesn’t feel real. My father was awarded a BEM in 1988 and I still have his medal at home, so to be awarded one myself for my work with the lifeboats is a great privilege. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of characters during my time with the RNLI – both at Borth and Aberystwyth – and continue to volunteer alongside a good crew today.’

Nationally, a total of six Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers have been recognised for their vital role in helping the charity save lives at sea through the New Year’s Honours.

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said: ‘Following a challenging 2020, it is particularly pleasing to see these RNLI volunteers recognised in the New Year’s Honours list. Together, they personify the RNLI’s ‘One Crew’ ethos, representing the variety and diversity of roles from a former full-time mechanic to shore crew and fundraisers to station managers, who collectively deliver a shared vision to save every one. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, congratulations to you all for being recognised for your longstanding service, hard work and selfless commitment. And thank you for everything you do to help the RNLI save lives at sea.’

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Temporary closure of Minor Injuries Unit in Cardigan confirmed

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AS PART of its response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hywel Dda University Health Board says it has temporarily closed the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) in Cardigan in order to redeploy clinical staff to support the COVID 19 response within Ceredigion.

The MIU, which is based in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre and normally operates from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, will temporarily close with immediate effect. The situation will be under constant review and normal service will be resumed when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

In the meantime, minor injuries help and advice is available as follows:

– visit the 111 symptom checker (https://111.wales.nhs.uk/)
– visit your local pharmacy
– call 111
– please do NOT self-present to the GP reception in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre as they do not deal with minor injuries.
– for emergency care the A+E departments are as follows:
· Glangwili Hospital A+E Carmarthen SA32 2AF
· Bronglais Hospital A+E Aberystwyth SY23 1ER
· Withybush Hospital A+E Haverfordwest SA61 2PZ

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