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Councillors query budget

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county hallLAST THURSDAY’S full council meeting discussed the budget for 2014/15.

On top of everybody’s minds were the effects still being felt by the recent storms that have battered the county in the first few months of this year.

Many councillors took the time to thank workers for their efforts during the clean-up period. Querying the budget, councillors had questions about the roads, tourism, care services and fees and charges. At the start of the debate, discussions resolved around the budget for Highways and Transportation.

Concerns were expressed that the budget for this service had dropped by almost £1.8m from the previous year.

Former Council leader, Councillor John Davies said: “Our carriageways have taken a consistent battering because heavy rain leaves its toll and whether we like it or not, the way we maintain our carriageways is important to maintaining the living and breathing assets of our roads”.

Cllr Michael John added: “The roads are getting particularly poor in some areas”.

Cllr Jacob Williams then also gave his views on the matter: “The budget for the highways really concerns me; by and large the county’s roads are really good. Repairs that are made are done timely, so I think to cut the budget by such a large amount and we need to be careful about that. The roads are so important to such a rural county”.

Councillors then discussed how the Council could encourage economic growth with Pembrokeshire.

Cllr Peter Stock: “It’s important for us to be talking about the quality of services that this county is going to provide. We’re spending money, we’re looking at the future, and the one thing that I do feel we lack on is planning with a vision for the future of our town centres. I do believe we are lagging behind on that. A vision is important. The Welsh Government has said ‘The local authority will have a clear vision of the role and functions of the town centres within their control’.”

Cllr Mike Evans said: “We’re obviously in difficult times as a county. We must use the LDP to help and not hinder local businesses and also to allow growth where there is local need through building”.

Speaking about social care services, Councillor Rhys Sinnett said: “The people are important too. Whilst we are supportive of most of the cost savings proposed within this budget, it’s only right that we raise concerns about how those within the adult social care budget lines will be implemented. At the moment we are being asked to agree these changes without really having the details of how they are going to impact upon some of the most vulnerable in our community. If we do accept this it would have to be with the full assurance of the leader that the outcomes of these consultations will be referred to the relevant committees for their consideration”.

Members then gave their responses to some of the questions that had been raised.

Cllr David Simpson said: “In the past 12 months we have been awarded the Welsh Housing quality standard, we’re one of only three authorities in Wales that actually attained it on time and within the budget and I think that is a tremendous achievement”.

Cllr David Pugh added: “To maintain the level of commitment, we’re now working closely with communities first and we have a better working relationship with planning powers and Pembrokeshire College to deliver these some of these services so although there is a significant cost reduction to the council, the amount of grant that we hope to get is still the same”.

Cllr Pugh went on to say: “Tourism is being taken very seriously and it is a major part of the economy in Pembrokeshire”.

Cllr Sue Perkins said: “We have now got a full complement of social workers. We always need to be careful but in the future we need to carry on working to build on this and to retain our staff; we have to always be on our guard”.

Speaking about leisure facilities, Cllr Elwyn Morse said: “I would always take up the opportunity to improve leisure facilities. I am pleased to report that the cultural services of sport and leisure are committed to continuing the delivery of these valuable services despite having to make cost reduction within their operating budgets”.

Cllr Rob Lewis added: “We have had to take some of these decisions in a very short space of time. We have suffered from cuts in Welsh Government support for the bus service but we have carried out a substantial review with bus users as to how we will move forward in the future. The feedback is that residents would rather have some service than no service at all.”

Cllr Jamie Adams said: “This council, since its inception, has not increased the charges on the Cleddau Bridge.

“With regards to pay and display and car parking, I have been to Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire where I was shocked to be shelling out the sort of sums to park in the high streets of those two counties. I give the assurance that fees and charges in Pembrokeshire are considerably lower than others.

“I give the absolute assurance that any changes to adult social care provisions will be the subject of full equalities impact assessments”.

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Health

Council makes available wellbeing and mental health support for social care providers

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The programme will run until March 2022

IN RECOGNITION of the important work of the social care sector and impact of the Covid pandemic on social care providers and their staff, Ceredigion County Council has made available a programme of wellbeing and mental health support sessions.

The programme consists of Wellbeing and Mental health Awareness, Mental Health First Aid (Adults and Youth) and also offers facilitated support sessions.

The programme of events will run from December through to March 2022.

Any social care provider, carer or personal assistant can request more information or book a place on these sessions by emailing Dysgu@ceredigion.gov.uk

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Farming

Avian Influenza identified in poultry on Anglesey

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THE CHIEF Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop has confirmed the presence of avian influenza H5N1 in a small backyard flock of chickens and ducks at a premises on the Isle of Anglesey.

A 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zone Area have been imposed around the small infected premises, to limit the risk of disease spread.

The risk to public health from the virus is considered to be very low and these cases do not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

A case of avian influenza was confirmed in poultry and wild birds in Wrexham County borough last month. There have been similar findings of avian influenza in the UK and Europe.

On Wednesday this week the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland agreed to bring in new housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza. These measures come into force on Monday, 29 November.

All keepers are strongly advised to be vigilant for signs of the disease such as increased mortality or respiratory distress. If keepers have any concerns about the health of their birds, they are encouraged to seek prompt advice from their veterinary surgeon.

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, said:

“This confirmation of a case of avian influenza in poultry on the Isle of Anglesey is further evidence of the need for all keepers of birds to ensure they have the very highest levels of biosecurity in place.

“We have announced new housing measures will come into force from next Monday to protect poultry and kept birds, but I must stress that this is at its most effective when combined with implementation of the most stringent biosecurity measures.

“Public Health Wales has said the risk to the health of the public from Avian Influenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has made clear it does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

“Temporary control zones have been imposed to help prevent further spread of the disease.

“Suspicion of avian influenza or any other notifiable disease must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately.”

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Business

Commitment to collaborative approach for Celtic Sea floating wind project

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A SUCCESSFUL Celtic Sea APPG Reception, attended by over 100 key representatives of Industry and MPs, was hosted by Cherilyn Mackrory and the Celtic Sea Developers Alliance at the House of Commons on Monday.
The event, which included speakers from The Crown Estate, Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK and the Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart promoted floating wind (FLOW), which will become a key global technology in achieving a cost-effective Net Zero.
Cherilyn Mackrory MP for Truro and Falmouth and Celtic Sea APPG Member said:
“It was fantastic to be able to bring together developers, supply chain partners and Parliamentarians to hear more about the exciting opportunities for floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea and positive announcements have set the scene for our discussions.
Particularly, the Government’s commitment to floating offshore wind as part of the Net Zero Strategy, building on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan to deliver 1GW of energy through floating offshore wind by 2030.”
Simon Hart MP, Secretary of State for Wales said: “The development of floating off shore wind projects in our waters could create thousands of sustainable jobs in Wales, boosting our economy and accelerating the UK’s shift to clean growth. I’m delighted to support projects in the Celtic Sea which will help the UK Government reach our aim of net-zero emissions by 2050 and to see Wales at the forefront of this exciting opportunity. “
In the UK, the Committee on Climate Change stated that offshore wind will become the backbone of the future energy system requiring 100GW of installed capacity by 2050, with floating wind set to deliver 50% of that target. Delivering 100GW of offshore wind will provide a huge economic opportunity across the UK.
The Celtic Sea will play a key role in delivering UK and Irish low carbon targets with an estimated 50GW of realisable wind resource, in turn, driving regional development, creating new supply chain opportunities, a just energy transition and a significant portion of the 29,000 jobs forecast by 2050.
The Celtic Sea Developers Alliance brings together FLOW developer interests from Cornwall and the Great South West, Ireland and Wales to strengthen collaboration between the three regions with the aim of realising the economic and low carbon energy opportunity presented by FLOW

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