A REPORT has claimed that a police helicopter takes almost an hour to respond to incidents in the Dyfed-Powys area.
Dyfed-Powys Police pay £891,000 for air support from bases in north and south east Wales, as well as bases in England. A base in Carmarthenshire was shut down due to cuts by the National Police Air Service in January 2016.
The response time – over 50 minutes on average – is the second worst in both Wales and England.
However, a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson has said that the helicopter service was a ‘valuable asset’. With 349 hours of air support, the force has paid £2,553 for every hour of flights over the last year.
Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “The HMICFRS report on the provision of police air support clearly demonstrates that Dyfed-Powys Police has benefited financially from the efficiencies of being a partner in this national service.
“There is a reduction in the cost of police air support available across the Dyfed-Powys Police area alongside the ability to access a 24/7 service, a capability not available to us prior to the new arrangements. It is important to note that the deployment of resources is now consistently based on an agreed threat, risk and harm assessment.
“As a result of this new assessment criteria the use of the helicopter has reduced within the Dyfed-Powys area.
“As an NPAS strategic board member I ensure that rural police forces such as Dyfed-Powys are not forgotten and during my time on the board we have seen significant financial savings being realised for Dyfed-Powys Police.
“The board has also been assured that the new fixed wing capability will be distributed more widely than initially proposed and a fixed wing asset will be available in Wales in due course to compliment the helicopter.”
A spokesperson for the police force added: “Dyfed-Powys Police is provided with an air support service from NPAS as part of the national collaboration, before which we had our own helicopter which was undoubtedly a more limited capability.
“The effectiveness of the service now provided by NPAS is regularly reviewed by senior leaders from Dyfed-Powys Police in conjunction with representatives from NPAS and the outcomes from these reviews are used to influence the service provided by NPAS.
“This is a valuable operational resource for us as a rural area, and we will continue to work with NPAS colleagues to get the best service for our communities using this valuable asset when circumstances are appropriate, and this will include seeking greater coverage from future developments.”
Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament
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.
Lifeboat Operations Manager in New Year’s Honours list
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.’
Temporary closure of Minor Injuries Unit in Cardigan confirmed
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