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Questions remain after helicopter briefing

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Concerns: Nia Griffith MP

Concerns: Nia Griffith MP

MP s whose constituencies are set to be affected by changes to police helicopter provision attended a briefing on Friday (Jul 10).

Those in attendance at Police Headquarters included Nia Griffith and Jonathan Edwards, who have both publicly voiced their opposition to the NPAS 15 base model which will come into use early next year. Conservatives Simon Hart and Chris Davies (Brecon and Radnorshire) were also in attendance, as were the leaders of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion Councils. Stephen Crabb MP had pre-arranged meetings in his constituency, but has apparently requested a one-to-one meeting with the Chief Constable to discuss the matter.

The briefing included statistics which repeated the NPAS claim that 85% of priority one cases should be reached within 20 minutes. However, the times given in the briefing show that Milford Haven and Aberywstwyth, two of the main population centres in west Wales, will take more than half an hour to reach from St Athan.

The benefits of fixed wing aircraft were also mentioned, though their inability to land and hover was brought up – which is significant bearing in mind that according to the force’s data, 11 casualties have been evacuated from the Dyfed Powys area by X99 this year alone.

Nia Griffith agreed that questions were raised by this briefing: “I am grateful to the Chief Constable and the Police Commissioner for arranging the helicopter briefing, but I am very concerned at what I heard. We, the police tax payers of Dyfed Powys, will be paying into a National Police Air Service, but without the Pembrey helicopter, it looks like we could get a very raw deal. With the few remaining helicopter bases (down from 34 to 22 then to 15) situated near the big centres of population, our nearest being St Athan, this inevitably means longer response times for us here in West Wales. The response time for our area is up from 4 minutes to 18 minutes, and for Milford Haven up from 12 minutes to 32 minutes and the time left actually to spend on the task in either area is halved from two hours to one hour. And what if there are competing demands for police helicopter time, who knows what response we would get? We have also been given to understand that use will also be made of ‘fixed wing aircraft’ (tiny aeroplanes to you and me… They look like something you would expect Amelia Earhart to jump out of ) although NPAS’ own study in 2012 concluded these would not be anything like as good as helicopters on mountainous terrain or coastal cliffs, of which we have a great deal in Dyfed Powys. It is not even clear how much Dyfed Powys Police is going to be charged for its use of the service. If we are paying into this ‘National’ service (and we have no choice), then we should be getting the same access and response times as other areas of the UK, and a 24 hour base at Pembrey would achieve that. We should not accept second best, and I shall continue to pursue ministers on this matter.”

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Ceredigion Museum to Display Rare Roman Cut Glass

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A PARTNERSHIP between Ceredigion Museum and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has attracted £1,000 funding from the Association for Roman Archaeology to display fragments of a unique Roman glass vessel, found at Abermagwr Romano-British villa.

The villa at Abermagwr was discovered during aerial photography in 2006 and excavated by Dr Jeffrey L. Davies and Dr Toby Driver between 2010 and 2015, in a volunteer-led community project. It remains the only known Roman villa in the county and the most remote Roman villa in Wales. The finds have been researched over time and the best have been put on public display at Ceredigion Museum. The finds include parts of Ceredigion’s earliest known slate roof, just one of the innovations discovered at the villa.

The most recent Roman finds handed to the museum are the cut glass fragments. The ARA grant will fund a bespoke mount, made by a museum specialist, to enable the delicate glass fragments to take pride of place in the Museum’s archaeology gallery. Roman cut glass is rare; only one cut glass beaker is on permanent display in the British Museum and the design on the Abermagwr vessel is unparalleled in Roman Britain. Professor Jennifer Price was struck by the rarity and quality of the glass vessel describing it as ‘of outstandingly high quality….[which] must have been an extraordinary item of luxury. Its quality is vastly superior to the rest of the glass vessels found at the villa’

Abermagwr Roman cut glass vessel

Prof. Barry Burnham of University Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, said “Its discovery so far west in Wales is all the more significant because it is vastly superior to the general range of glass material found anywhere in Wales. This raises interesting questions about how it came to be here, who owned it, and what it signifies in terms of social status and economic links.”

Carrie Canham, Curator, said “When I was at school we were taught that the Roman’s didn’t have a significant presence in West Wales, but local excavation results have overturned that assumption. This extraordinary object shows that the villa at Abermagwr was the home of comparatively wealthy Romans enjoying the good things in life. I’m extremely grateful to the ARA for the funding that will enable visitors to the museum to see it displayed to its best advantage.”

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Porth Ceredigion, Early Intervention, Well-being Hubs and Culture said: “It is a delight to hear the history of the rare Roman cut glass here in Ceredigion. Thanks to Carrie and the team at Ceredigion Museum and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales for their work, and the Roman Archaeology Society. We look forward to the day when we can see the pieces in all their glory.”

The Covid-19 pandemic is delaying the work to make the mount until later in 2021. The glass fragments are too delicate to courier to the craftsperson making the mount, so he will have to come to Aberystwyth and set up a temporary workshop at the museum. Then the fragments will go straight on display.

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Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach

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THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.

Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.

The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.

Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.

The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.

The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.

If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.

The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.

Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.

The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.

During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.

They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

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Warning to drug users in Ceredigion over ‘Street Valium’

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POLICE are once again warning drug users in Ceredigion to take extra care when taking illegal prescription drugs especially when taken in conjunction with other drugs and/or alcohol. Mixing drugs, knowingly or unknowingly, can be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that drug users are making use of “Street Valium” at the moment and this is very concerning as individuals just do not know what these tablets may have been combined with. Valium, also known as diazepam – is a benzodiazepine. Combining opioids and benzodiazepines is particularly dangerous because both types of drug sedate users and suppress breathing”.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”

To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/

Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.

In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.

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