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Councillors join fight to save hospital

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councilCOUNCILLORS were unanimous in their criticism of the Local health board health board at Thursday’s full council meeting. Council leader Jamie Adams expressed his intentions to invite the Local health board to a meeting with members to explore their vision for the future. This was supported by everyone in the chamber. A number of councillors expressed their concerns at recent cuts to services with some saying that Pembrokeshire was becoming like a third-world country. Cllr Adams said: “This council expresses great concerns for health services in Pembrokeshire. “We are concerned at the amount of primary and emergency care, particularly as we approach the height of the summer season. “I express my disappointment at the lack of understanding we have had with the health board. “We have to have an understanding that services, on occasion, may have to change. “We need to be assured that these services will be truly accessible for the people of Pembrokeshire. I have failed to receive those assurances so far. “I invite the health board to tell us what they are going to do, to show us how it will work and to prove what they are going to do will work.” Cllr Mike Williams said: “Nobody seems to have any courage. In Tenby GP services have been reduced, the MIU which cost £4.2 million is now closed. “The RNLI and Red Cross have been called in to undertake work in Tenby during the summer. I have no faith in the health board. We are becoming a thirdworld country. It’s an absolute disgrace.” Cllr Bob Kilmister said: “The health board have not been listening to the people of Pembrokeshire, they have real concerns and I am still very concerned that the health board are not going to be honest with us.” Cllr Peter Stock added: “Everyone in Pembrokeshire is very disappointed. There have been seven changes – each one, we were told, was for the better. Is it? “There is a need to provide quality services here in Pembrokeshire.” Cllr Wynne Evans urged members to make sure they attend a meeting with the Board to express all their concerns. Cllr David Lloyd said: “We are joining the fight to save services a little late but better late than never. “We are proud of these people who went to the Senedd to protest, we need to keep on with this fight.” Cllr John Allen-Mirehouse said: “It is at least an hour from Angle to Glangwili. These are emergency services that are being cut. A cardiac unit is an emergency unit, a baby unit has emergencies. There is a feeling that Pembrokeshire people do not matter, but there are more people in the summer. We need to get together and talk very seriously.” Cllr Tony Brinsden said: “Change is inevitable but we need to see that he change is good for all the people in Pembrokeshire. “Cllr Anthony Brinsden told Full Council: “The health board has been so economical with the truth that I don’t think that I will be hauled over the coals for saying they have been telling us absolute lies. I sincerely hope that the new chairman will listen to us.” Cllr Stephen Joseph added: “It is absolutely ludicrous that we may not have a hospital, we need to fight this a lot harder.” Cllr Mike James said: “People in the north of Pembrokeshire have been waiting for a hospital in Cardigan for many years. We were told one would be by 2015. To take services further away could be a disaster. To loud applause, Cllr Reg Owens added: “We must remember that this is a criticism of the Health board and we should give credit to the front line staff.”

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Royals set to visit Ceredigion during summer visit

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AS PART of their annual summer visit to Wales, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Ceredigion next month.

From July 2-6, Charles and Camilla will tour the country, undertaking over 20 engagements across the country.

On July 3, The Prince of Wales will visit Dà Mhìle Distillery, Llandysul, the first organic distillery in the UK approved by the Soil Association, where he was previously gifted the thousandth bottle to be produced by Dà Mhìle.

The Prince of Wales will also visit St. Gwenog’s Church, Llanwenog, and view their unique carvings created by Joseph Reubens, a Belgian World War One refugee. His Royal Highness will also meet members of their local community.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s fourteenth annual Summer visit to Wales will feature celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary of The National Health Service and the marking the 150th anniversary of the Heart of Wales railway line amongst other events.

A Clarence House spokesperson said: “The Prince and The Duchess are really looking forward to their annual summer visit to Wales where they will be celebrating key anniversaries for the National Health Service, the Heart of Wales railway line and the 90th anniversary of Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisation. Their Royal Highnesses relish the opportunity to meet members of the community who are making a difference to Welsh life.”

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Social media used to groom children young as six

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CHILDREN as young as six in Wales have been targeted across an array of online platforms in the first year following the introduction of anti-grooming laws.

A law of Sexual Communication with a Child came into effect in England and Wales on April 3, 2017, after an NSPCC campaign, and in the first year a total of 3,171 crimes were recorded by police forces – amounting to nine grooming offences per day.

A total of 274 offences were recorded across the four Welsh police forces in the same period.

More than half of the offences in Wales were logged by South Wales Police (158) with 53 in North Wales and 44 in the Gwent force area.

Dyfed-Powys Police supplied data for the period between October 2017 and April 2018 when 19 offences were recorded.

In Wales, grooming offences were recorded on 23 different platforms, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat comprising the top three most-commonly used with more than 120 taking place using those platforms alone.

Ninety-one crimes were reported in Wales against boys and girls aged between 12 and 15, while 56 offences were recorded against children aged 11 and under. The youngest victim recorded was just six years old.

Following the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign, the UK Government’s digital secretary Matt Hancock announced that laws will be brought in to regulate social networks, to keep children safe and prevent harms such as grooming.

The charity is now campaigning to ensure those laws are sufficiently robust to prevent grooming and to truly keep children safe.

It is calling on Government Create mandatory safety rules that social networks are legally required to follow; Establish an independent regulator to enforce safety laws and fine non-compliant sites; Require social media sites to publish annual safety reports; Force platforms to develop technology to detect grooming using algorithms.

It comes ahead of the charity’s annual flagship conference How Safe Are Our Children? which begins on Wednesday June 20 in London and has the theme Growing Up Online.

Contact offences such as rape and sexual assault were among those recorded in connection with grooming offences.

Mared Parry, from North Wales, was sent sexual messages from men 10 years older than her on Facebook when she was aged just 14.

Mared, who has waived her right to anonymity, was groomed to send semi-naked pictures to them.

She said: “At the beginning it was messages like ‘Hey, how are you?’ But as the weeks went on, they started sending messages that were more and more sexual. It was so subtle; that’s why it is so easy for an online chat to slip into being so wrong.

“If I didn’t reply or speak the way they wanted me to, then they would say: ‘You’re just too immature for me’. They were so manipulative, but you don’t even notice it.

“Looking back at it now, it’s scary to think that I sent semi-naked pictures to older guys. It could have gone a lot further.”

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These numbers are far higher than we had predicted, and every single sexual message from an adult to a child can have a huge impact for years to come.

“Social networks have been self-regulated for a decade and it’s absolutely clear that children have been harmed as a result.

“I urge digital secretary Matt Hancock to follow through on his promise and introduce safety rules backed up in law and enforced by an independent regulator with fining powers.

“Social networks must be forced to design extra protections for children into their platforms, including algorithms to detect grooming to prevent abuse from escalating.”

In Wales, NSPCC Cymru has called for the Welsh Government to co-ordinate and progress efforts to keep children as safe in their online worlds as they are offline.

Last year, Welsh Government announced plans to produce a children and young persons’ online safety action plan.

The NSPCC hopes it will deliver practical help and support for schools, parents and others in Wales involved in child protection online when it is published.

How Safe Are Our Children? takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in Westminster, London on June 20-21.

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Grant money available to improve play areas in Ceredigion

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has been awarded £100,800 from the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development Fund to finance capital works in four play areas across Ceredigion.

On June 19, the Council’s Cabinet authorised the project’s commencement.

The four play areas are Ponterwyd Play Area, Llanon Tennis Courts, Llanddewi Brefi Play Area and Cardigan Skate Park. The money will improve playing and leisure opportunities in these areas.

The full cost of the work is estimated to be £126,000, with the grant contributing 80% of the cost and the town and community councils will provide the remaining 20%.

The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Catrin Miles, said, “Quality and safe playing opportunities are important to the county’s children as well as for their parents. I’m delighted that the Cabinet could authorise such a project and I’m sure the play areas will be well used after being improved.”

The project may start from July 18, 2018 and must end by April 30, 2019.

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