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What next for West Wales?

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Simon Hart: Striking a balance is important Adam Price: Wales ‘faces biggest economic challenge since the 30s’ Nia Griffith: Labour must promote stability

Simon Hart: Striking a balance is important Adam Price: Wales ‘faces biggest economic challenge since the 30s’  Nia Griffith: Labour must promote stability

AFTER WALES joined England in voting to leave the European Union on Thursday (Jun 23) , subsequent talk has focused on what the future has to offer for the country.

While Ceredigion voted to remain in the EU, both Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire voted Leave by a higher proportion than the national average.

In Carmarthenshire, it has been suggested that a Leave majority in Llanelli, as well as a 55-45% majority vote for Brexit in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire , were the main reasons why the county as a whole voted out. It is thought that Carmarthen East and Dinefwr voted Remain, although post -polling sampling results had not been confirmed at the time of going to press.

Of the five MPs and nine AMs representing Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire, only one – UKIP’s Neil Hamilton – was in favour of leaving the EU.

The result swiftly led to David Cameron’s resignation, and calls for Jeremy Corbyn to resign – following a referendum he didn’t particularly want – swiftly grew within the party, leading to mass shadow cabinet resignations after Hilary Benn was sacked for reportedly trying to engineer a coup.

Among those to resign was Llanelli MP and former Shadow Secretary of State for Wales , Nia Griffith, who said in her resignation letter that, while she recognised Mr Corbyn’s huge mandate from voters and the ‘fresh thinking’ he had brought to the Labour Party, she lacked confidence that he was capable of uniting the party in readiness for a possible snap election.

Speaking after the referendum results were announced, Ms Griffith said : “Labour must do everything we can as the official opposition in Westminster to promote stability in the markets, and to push for Britain to have the best possible terms for an exit from the EU.

“Our immediate priority for Wales is to ensure that the way Wales receives funding from the UK Government is reformed and that funding is increased to make up for the money that we currently receive from the EU .

“We must seek workable agreements with the EU that give our manufacturing companies the confidence to remain in the UK, and that is of particular importance to us here in Llanelli, so that we can safeguard jobs.”

Plaid Cymru leader , Leanne Wood , has talked about the prospect of a referendum for Welsh independence following the result. However, this is far less likely to be realised than it would be in Scotland.

Not only has support for Welsh independence always been significantly lower than it is on the far side of Hadrian’s Wall – less than 10% – but more crucially, Wales also voted in favour of leaving the EU. Holding, never mind winning, a referendum in these circumstances would be close to impossible.

Local Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards spoke of a ‘radical reconfiguration of powers ‘ .

“We cannot allow the UK to continue to be dominated by Westminster,” he added, criticising the Leave campaign for having ‘absolutely no plan for the future of the UK or our economy ‘ .

“Plaid Cymru’s role will always be stand up for the best interests of Wales and her people.

“We will do all we can to protect our communities and defend the Welsh national interest.”

Simon Hart MP, who had also supported remaining in the EU, said that an important issue would be striking a balance between the large numbers of people who voted for each side. “75% of people in the younger age bracket voted Remain and it’s important that what we do represents their fears and aspirations as much as it does the Leave group,” he added. He also emphasised that it would be in the interests of local businesses for the uncertainties regarding the country’s future to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Adam Price made no bones about the scale of the task ahead for Wales and the UK . The Plaid Cymru AM said: “Without doubt , Wales now faces perhaps the biggest economic challenge it has seen since the 1930s.

“There is an almighty challenge ahead. It would be wrong of anyone to try to undermine the seriousness of the problems our economy now faces.

“I stand ready to play my part in helping protect the people of Wales.

“I am delighted that Carmarthen East and Dinefwr communities did record a Remain vote. Had the Labour party not lost the support of its core voters across the county , then we would have certainly seen Carmarthenshire as a whole vote to Remain a member of the EU.”

Eluned Morgan AM, who had been actively campaigning for Remain across Mid and West Wales, said she was ‘hugely disappointed’ with the result.

“But we live in a democracy and that is what the people have decided,” she remarked. “During our campaigning , we heard loud and clear that people are very worried about the difficulties struggling communities face.

“Our message that this was not about Europe but about working even harder to ensure we continue to invest in our communities to drive up investment, to create jobs, simply did not get across.

“This was made particularly hard for us having just come out of a gruelling Assembly election campaign. It will now be harder to make the economic investment we need , but what that means in practice is that we’ll need to work even harder, including taking into account the clear geographic as well as class division rifts that this referendum has shown us.

“We need to connect. We need to listen – t hat’s what I’ll be continuing to do in Mid and West Wales. This result will have devastating economic political and constitutional effects on our communities for generations to come .”

Curiously, her concerns were not shared by Neil Hamilton AM or the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives , Andrew RT Davies. Mr Hamilton described June 23 as ‘a historic day for Wales and democracy.’

“A decisive majority of Welsh people rejected the outrageous campaign of scaremongering and brow-beating by the political and big business elites,” the UKIP Senedd leader added. “David Cameron presided over this and, having failed, he had to resign. George Osborne should now follow him without delay.”

Andrew RT Davies, while not campaigning particularly actively for Vote Leave, had publicly stated his support before the Assembly elections.

Speaking after the referendum result was announced , he said: “I am immensely proud to be part of a party which delivered this referendum to the people of the UK, giving them an enormous opportunity to determine the course of their future.

“The will of the people has today been declared, and the result marks an historic moment of positive change for our country.

“Wales has sent a clear message that it wants to be part of that change, and politicians of all stripes must now come together to deliver on this momentous constitutional decision.

“The campaign was not without its strong disagreements, and it is important that we reflect on those who voted and campaigned to Remain.

“What unites both sides of the campaign is our belief in in the democratic process and our love for our country.”

The question many people are asking is quite a simple one: What happens next? At some point, it is looking likely that Britain’s Prime Minister will sign the Article 50 agreement , which will trigger a two year exit timescale. What is looking even more likely is that the hand on the pen will not be that of David Cameron.

Mr Cameron, who only pledged the referendum in a (disastrously unsuccessful) attempt to unify Tory Eurosceptics and as a sop to potential UKIP voters ahead of the 2015 election, has no intention of going down in history as the PM who signed his country out of Europe.

The Conservative Party at every level is sharply divided on the issue, and while a majority of Conservative MPs backed Remain, the results of this referendum appear to mean that a Vote Leave supporter is likely to take the reins, especially as a majority of Conservative voters backed Brexit.

It remains to be seen whether there is any lasting impact on the financial security of the UK, though the plummet in the value of sterling on Friday morning has only partially recovered. Foreign holidays will be more expensive, and it is thought that grocery costs could rise as well.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of reported incidents of racially motivated attacks following the referendum, something the Leave campaign’s focus on immigration has been blamed for. However, there is no way of verifying this. Given that immigration was only ever partially the result of Britain’s EU membership, certain aspects of the campaign, including Nigel Farage’s infamous ‘Breaking Point’ billboards, were vilified for being misleading and for aggravating existing tensions.

If anything has been made clear by this referendum, it is an increasing unwillingness on the part of the British public to trust the word of politicians, combined with a feeling of dissociation from the political process.

Social media was full of comments from those who suspected the use of pencils in a ballot box was part of a Remain conspiracy – which possibly shows a certain lack of familiarity with voting procedure. However, the size of the turnout suggests that a number of people who do not regularly exercise their say in choosing their Member of Parliament, never mind AM, made the effort to vote on a subject that became increasingly emotive.

It will be interesting to see whether the Leave campaign will be capable of honouring their loosely worded pledges regarding immigration, NHS funding, and increased democracy should their leader Boris Johnson’s sidekick Michael Gove, become Prime Minister.

One thing is certain: While only 52% of voters voted Leave, closer to 100% will be looking to make sure that these promises are kept.

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Health

Werndale Hospital recognised for outstanding patient care in national award

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STAFF at Werndale Hospital near Carmarthen have been recognised for the quality of their patient care. 

The prestigious ‘Private Hospital Group of the Year’ award is presented to an organisation that has shown excellence in its delivery of care, commitment to the community and innovation within healthcare.

Werndale Hospital was also recognised for their initiatives to support staff in their career progression and wellbeing.   

The latest statistics show, 98% of patients at Werndale Hospital were satisfied with their overall level of care, 98% of patients would recommend their care to family and friends, and 98% of patients rated the nursing staff as excellent or very good. 

In addition, independent analysis of Circle hospitals’ hip and knee procedure outcomes of health improvement shows that Circle scored 8.4 versus an independent sector average of 7.8 in the hip category, and a score of 15.4 versus an independent sector average of 13.9 in the knee category.   

The award presented to Circle Health Group, owners of Werndale Hospital, in London in June, also noted the extraordinary contribution the teams at the hospital had made to the community. 

In 2021 alone, Werndale Hospital partnered with Air Ambulance Wales and raised £1,205 to support the charity’s work in the community.  

In addition to the charitable work, Werndale Hospital was recognised for it’s commitment to support staff through a series of wellbeing initiatives and career development opportunities. The judges were particularly impressed with the launch of the ‘Be Heard’ survey at the hospital.   

The survey looks to empower staff to feedback on everything from the working environment at the hospital through to their own career ambitions. Building directly on the feedback from this survey, the ‘Grow Your Own’ campaign was launched which supported staff to work towards specific qualifications from nursing degrees with partnered universities through to bespoke management programmes and MBA qualifications.   

As a direct result of this support for staff at what is a challenging time for healthcare workers, Werndale Hospital and Circle Heath Group were recognised as being a Top 20 Best Large Company to work for.   

At the heart of Werndale Hospital’s approach to treating patients is a commitment to the community they serve.  

 Paolo Pieri, CEO of Circle Health Group, said:  “The award is a testament to what an amazing year 2021 was for Werndale Hospital with considerable investment into the facilities and services on offer to patients in west Wales. I couldn’t be prouder of what our staff and doctors have achieved.”  

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News

Aberglasney Gardens delighted to win 2022 Trip advisor Travellers’ Choice Award

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ABERGLASNEY Gardens is thrilled to have been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2022 Travellers’ Choice Award winner for being in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

The Award recognises businesses that consistently deliver great service with the Gardens being rated ‘Excellent’ by 342 visitors.

The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year has been, Aberglasney stood out by consistently delivering positive experiences to visitors.

Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said: “We are delighted to have once again won an award from Tripadvisor. It is fantastic recognition for the team’s hard work and dedication. To rank among the top ten percent of those listed on Trip Advisor as one of the best places to visit is outstanding.

“We are grateful to all those who take the time to leave us a review after visiting. It is no cliché when I say all the team, be it in the gift shop, the gardeners, the tearooms and the administrative team, all take the reviews on board to help make a visit to Aberglasney the best possible experience for everyone.”

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning, to booking, to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly eight million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodation, book experiences, reserve tables at restaurants and discover great places nearby.

As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.

“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests.

“Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”

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Education

Council’s plan to expand bilingual education will be a gradual journey over 10 years

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Carmarthenshire County Council

CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s vision to increase bilingual education in Carmarthenshire will be a gradual journey over 10 years.

The Cabinet met yesterday (Monday, July 4) to discuss the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), and emphasised that it was important to give all children and young people the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills.

However, members stressed that families will still have a choice on the language in which their children will be taught over the next decade and after 2032.

The plan sets out how the council will develop Welsh language provision in schools based on the outcomes and targets set by the Welsh Government.

All councils across Wales have to submit 10-year Welsh language education plans to the Welsh Government in order to meet its target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The outcomes include more nursery and reception children being taught through the medium of Welsh; more young people studying for qualifications in Welsh as a subject, and subjects through the medium of Welsh; increasing provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs; and increasing the number of teachers able to teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh – with continuing support to develop staff through a comprehensive and flexible training programme.

The Cabinet said it was important for the council to provide more opportunities to be bilingual and referred to the various benefits it brings – from educational attainment to employability and health.

Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, Cllr Glynog Davies said the aim was to meet and exceed the target set by Welsh Government on the percentage of Carmarthenshire pupils receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 3032 (10-14%).

It included changing the language provision at 10 schools over the next 10 years creating an opportunity for a further 300 learners to be educated in Welsh.

He said: “We want to build on the progress made in early years education provision, and my ambition is clear – equal opportunities across the county.

“It is worth noting that we have the largest percentage 57.5 percent of nursery age children taught through the medium of Welsh. Immersion education is key to the strategy, and it is important that we continue to see an increase in the percentage of children transferring from the Meithrin groups to Welsh-medium education in the Foundation Phase.

“These early years are so important, the children are like sponges, absorbing information and absorbing a new language.

“We must then continue to see an increase in numbers in our reception classes, we say this even though we are the authority with the largest percentage (62.5 percent) of children receiving their education through the medium of Welsh.

“Children must continue to improve their Welsh when going from one school phase to another, and we need to make sure all children have the opportunity to pursue their secondary education through the medium of Welsh.

“At the same time, we need to give children and young people the confidence to use Welsh, in school and in the community. That’s what we want to see isn’t it, more and more using Welsh, hearing Welsh on the street. We need to develop and build on skills and confidence.”

Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs and Planning Policy, Cllr Ann Davies said: “I am extremely pleased to see this document and have a pleasure in supporting it. Working with young children, that is children under three-years-old, I can say that children pick up language very quickly, they absorb it, and the process is very different to learning a language. As they get older the process in the brain is completely different. I am pleased to see that there is an emphasis on early years, that is when we need to start.”

Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Alun Lenny said: “It is very important to state that there are many advantages to learning a language, obviously for careers, especially in health and social care where patients and clients must have a choice of language, it’s important particularly for older people, and young children, and people with dementia.

“The Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has stated he is keen for all his staff to speak a certain level of Welsh, so we have a duty here to support that.

“The advantages of being bilingual are multiple, socially and in the world of work, and this strategy is very much welcomed.”

The WESP has come back to the cabinet for discussion following feedback from the Welsh Government, mainly to include some additional data and detail. It will now be submitted to the Welsh Government for final approval. A public consultation was held last year.

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