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Further coronavirus restriction relaxations brought forward

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FURTHER changes to the coronavirus restrictions have been announced by the First Minister Mark Drakeford today.

The Welsh Government has confirmed further relaxations will be brought forward from 17 May to 3 May – including the resumption of indoor supervised activities for children, indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults, such as exercise classes, and the re-opening of community centres.

This means Wales will have completed the move to Alert Level 3 by Monday 3 May.

From Saturday 24 April, the rule of 6 will allow for up to six people from six households to meet outdoors, not including children under 11 years of age or carers from those households.

The Welsh Government has also confirmed the relaxations that will take place on Monday 26 April. Outdoor attractions, including outdoor swimming pools, funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen, while outdoor hospitality can also resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people will be able to take place and weddings receptions can begin again outdoors for up to 30 people.

Wales has the lowest coronavirus rates of the UK nations.  The successful vaccine programme continues with a higher proportion of people vaccinated in Wales than other nations of the UK for both first and second doses.

Changes from Monday 3 May:

  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities being able to reopen;
  • People will also again be able to form extended households with one other household.

Relaxations planned for 17 May will be brought forward to the 3 May, including:

  • The resumption of indoor supervised activities for children;
  • Indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults (such as exercise classes and swimming lessons);
  • And the re-opening of community centres.

The First Minister said:

“The sacrifices we have made continue to show results. By us all working together and sticking to the rules, combined with our vaccination programme, mean we continue to make progress. Rates of the virus continue to fall and the public health situation is improving. 

“Due to these efforts we are able confirm more easing of the restrictions from 26 April and for early May we are again able to bring forward some of our plans. However, this progress is dependent on all of us continuing to work together to keep Wales safe.

“At the last three-week review, I set out a forward-look of how the restrictions could continue to be lifted in the weeks ahead, if the public health situation remains stable.

“It will be for the incoming Welsh Government to confirm these arrangements at the next three-week review, which will be held on May 13 – a week after the election. It is my assessment that the hospitality sector – bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes – will be able to open indoors from May 17, together with all other tourist accommodation, indoor entertainment and attractions.”

Further possible easements are subject to the public health situation remaining favourable.

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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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