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All schools in Wales to close this Friday due to coronavirus outbreak

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ALL SCHOOLS in Wales will close by Friday this week.

Schools in Ceredigion have been preparing for the closure by placing as many teaching resources as possible online.

UWTSD has already moved to online delivery of lectures and seminars for its students.

In a written statement, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “We are in an unprecedented period, one that is changing hour-by-hour, and governments around the world are having to make quick decisions.

Firstly, I would like to extend my gratitude to all those working in our education and childcare settings for the critical work you have been undertaking, under incredible pressure to support our children and young people. You have been at the front-line in supporting wider efforts to prepare for the challenges we are all now facing and I am incredibly grateful and proud.

Today, I can announce we are bringing forward the Easter break for schools in Wales. Schools across Wales will close for statutory provision of education at the latest on 20 March 2020.

I have been clear up to now that the continuity of education and the wellbeing of our learners has been at the heart of my decision making. This will always be the case.

From next week, schools will have a new purpose. They will help support those most in need, including people involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak. I am working with my colleagues in the Cabinet, with government officials and our partners in local government to develop and finalise these plans.

The key areas we are looking at are supporting and safeguarding the vulnerable and ensuring continuity of learning. We are looking in detail at how we can support and safeguard all those who benefit from free school meals and children with additional learning needs. I will make sure you are kept up-to-date.

While this will apply to schools, childcare settings are expected to remain open until we have definitive advice from the Chief Medical Officer and from Public Health Wales that any closures are required. Parents can, and should, speak with their usual childcare providers if they need care over the Easter holidays

I have discussed my intentions with the Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, Andrew Morgan, who reflects the views of local authorities. Some school staff will likely have an important role to play in this. We are working closely with our key stakeholders to look at what this will look like for both education and childcare settings, including Flying Start. This position will of course evolve over the coming days and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

One of the critical decisions that we will seek to clarify with urgency is that of the forthcoming examinations. I am also working with Qualifications Wales and the WJEC about this year’s exam series. In line with all education ministers across the UK, I will be making a further announcement shortly.

From the outset, the decisions being taken have been focused on public health advice, and it is right that these science-based recommendations are front and centre of the decisions being made.

The announcement I am making today will help ensure an orderly closure for schools so that they have the time to prepare. However, I am conscious that the SAGE Committee and COBR meet this afternoon, and I will of course be listening closely to see if advice changes and any further urgent decisions about school closures are needed.

Today’s decision will help ensure an orderly closure, so schools have time to prepare ahead of the early break.

My main message for everyone is to stay safe and stay well. We will work together and we will face this outbreak together.

I will of course continue to keep you updated.”

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Force decision to challenge inappropriate behaviour of officer the right one

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A DYFED-POWYS POLICE officer has been dismissed from his post with immediate effect, after the force challenged the previous finding of a conduct panel which would have enabled him to return to front line duties.

PC Simon England first appeared before an independent panel in April 2019, following reports of inappropriate sexual behaviour and comments towards colleagues and (indirectly) members of the public.

Following a judicial review into the 2019 hearing, this week PC England was brought before another panel, overseen by Legally Qualified Chair, Mrs Sally Olsen.

PC England fully admitted the alleged conduct in its entirety and accepted that it amounted to gross misconduct. However,  he did not believe that his conduct justified his dismissal from the force.

The Panel found that the behaviour in question amounted to serious breaches of the standards of professional behaviour relating to authority, respect and courtesy, equality and diversity and discreditable conduct, and was therefore dismissed with immediate effect. 

Following this second panel, Temporary Chief Constable Claire Parmenter said:

“Dyfed-Powys Police quite rightly expects the highest standards of professional behaviour from its officers and staff, as do the communities we serve and protect.

“The force cannot and will not tolerate behaviour of this kind. We will always take action to protect our officers, staff, and without question, the public.

“It is vital that we maintain public confidence in the force, and public confidence cannot be upheld by allowing individuals who behave in such a way to remain in the organisation.

“I am pleased to see that the seriousness of this matter has now been recognised and that the panel have judged this behaviour to amount to gross misconduct. This confirms that the decision to challenge the original conclusion via judicial review was absolutely the right one”.

Examples of the conduct in question include inappropriate touching of colleagues with sexual intent, inappropriate comments to colleagues about masturbation, and talk of specific sexual acts that he would wish to engage in with members of the public he had seen.

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New Quay RNLI search for unoccupied grey dinghy

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On Sunday night (25 July) New Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was tasked by Milford Haven Coastguard to search for an unoccupied grey dinghy last seen near Cwmtydu, south of New Quay. 

The Audrey LJ lifeboat launched at 8.40pm with three volunteer crew members on board and made good speed down the coast.  

Dylan Price, New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “On arrival the crew commenced searching and soon found a large blue and black inflatable. We were then tasked to carry out further searches for a grey boat between Cwmtydu and New Quay but on finding nothing else we were stood down and returned to station by 10pm. 

“Remember if you see anyone in trouble or find yourself in difficulty on the coast do not hesitate to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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Stand up for slowing down speed campaign launched

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INAPPROPRIATE speed contributes to around 11% of all injury collisions reported to the police, with 15% of collisions resulting in a serious injury and 24% of collisions resulting in fatalities.

Starting on the 26th July, the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) Speed Campaign will kick off across the UK, with GoSafe and the four Welsh Police Forces participating in both engaging with the public about the risks of speeding and enforcing the speed limits on the roads of Wales.

In 2019, 60,073 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issued in Wales to drivers/riders for speeding.

Speeding is a major contributing factor to collisions on the roads of Wales. This includes both ‘excessive speed’, where the speed limit is exceeded, as well as driving or riding within the speed limit when this is too fast for the conditions at the time; for example, in poor weather, poor visibility or high pedestrian activity.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, we saw less traffic but higher speeds.  Now our restrictions are lifting, traffic volumes are up and as we are holidaying in the UK more, we are seeing more people speeding on the roads in Wales.  We want to change this, but can only do that with your help.

 Over the next few weeks you will see an increased presence on the road network of Wales as we aim to keep all road users safe and reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

 We know that the majority of road users comply with the speed limit; but the minority of those who do not increases the risk to the safety of all road users and need to be educated on the risks to their own safety as well as to the safety of those around them. Throughout this campaign, GoSafe and our partners in the Police and Local Authorities will encourage and educate more people to reduce their speed to save lives.

Teresa Ciano, GoSafe Partnership Manager said: “GoSafe enforce at sites across Wales in order to encourage motorists to comply with the speed limits and in turn make our roads and communities safer for everyone. If we all play our part and stand up for slowing down we can make a difference, and we can save lives on the roads of Wales.”

Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change said: “I am very pleased to support this campaign. Driving at high speeds costs lives and a greater police presence on our roads will mean motorists will be more likely to drive within the speed limits, protecting lives and avoiding a speeding fine.”

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