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Welsh Government urged to not ‘fall behind’ as England looks to ban primates as pets

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RSPCA Cymru has urged the Welsh Government to ensure animal welfare doesn’t “fall behind” in Wales – as proposals come forward in England to ban the keeping of primates as pets.

The UK Government on Saturday (12 December) launched an eight-week consultation into banning the keeping of primates as pets in England.

RSPCA Cymru has long opposed the practice – believing that meeting the needs of monkeys is essentially impossible to do in a household, domestic environment.

Estimates suggest approximately 120 primates are kept as pets in Wales – but the RSPCA has long had concerns about a lack of accurate data; fearing many more monkeys could be at risk behind closed doors.

Polling for the RSPCA found 72 per cent in Wales support a ban of the keeping of all primates as pets.

The animal welfare charity is now urging the Welsh Government to act and implement a ban in Wales as soon as possible – either by bringing forward their own ban in Wales, or putting forward a consent memorandum to the Welsh Parliament should a new law in England materialise, which would allow UK Government action to apply to Wales too.

Work has been ongoing on a code of practice for the keeping of primates as pets in Wales by the Animal Welfare Network for Wales – but an “outright ban” on the practice has always been the preference of the RSPCA.

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David Bowles, RSPCA head of public affairs, said: “It’s great news that the UK Government is consulting on a ban on the keeping of primates as pets in England – but it’s so important that Wales doesn’t fall behind.

“RSPCA Cymru has long campaigned for a ban on the keeping of primates as pets in Wales – but sadly estimates suggest some 120 are currently kept, and we fear the problem could be even more widespread.

“We call on the Welsh Government to further the nation’s animal welfare agenda by implementing a ban on the keeping and trade of monkeys and other primates kept as pets – either by bringing forward their own proposals; or putting a consent motion forward to the Welsh Parliament so any new law or regulation in England can apply to Wales too.”

In 2017, a marmoset monkey was rescued by the RSPCA from a house in Blaenymaes, Swansea. The primate was being kept in hugely inappropriate conditions; loose in the living room, with a 3ft x 3ft x 3ft cage positioned in the corner with a UV light above it.

Meanwhile, the previous year, a very thin and emaciated marmoset monkey was found roaming the streets of Newport with a fractured pelvis. On independent veterinary advice, the monkey had to be put to sleep on welfare grounds.

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In 2018, 14 incidents were reported to the RSPCA in Wales involving a primate, while a further 15 were reported to the charity the following year.

Dr Ros Clubb, RSPCA wildlife expert, added: “Sadly, RSPCA officers often deal with monkeys found in wholly inappropriate domestic conditions – highlighting how the current situation where they are easily bought just isn’t tenable.

“It’s essentially impossible to properly meet the needs of primates in the domestic, home environment – so we have long called for a ban.

“While the RSPCA has been pleased to undertake ongoing work with the Animal Welfare Network for Wales on a code of practice for the keeping or pet primates, an outright ban on this practice has always been the RSPCA’s aim.

“At least 15 countries across Europe have already acted on this issue, and with England consulting on a ban too, it’s clearly time for the Welsh Government to take action and ensure monkeys can no longer be acquired or kept as pets in Wales – with their welfare sadly at risk at the moment.”

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More information on the RSPCA’s campaign to end the keeping of primates as pets in Wales can be found online.


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Education

Council to review Swansea Valley ‘Super School’ decision made by previous administration

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A reprieve could be on the cards for Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools as Neath Port Talbot’s new coalition administration say they want to review the decision made to create a new ‘super school’ in Pontardawe.

The new administration says it wants to establish if an alternative way to bring 21st Century School standards to the Swansea Valley can be achieved, which would be more acceptable to the community.

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The decision to establish a new £22.7m English-medium 3-11 school and specialist Learning Support Centre for pupils with a statement of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Pontardawe to replace Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools was taken by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet on October 20th, 2021.

The controversial decision triggered a process of communicating with local schools around the next steps and general planning for the construction of the new school and swimming pool.

A successful tender exercise took place to secure a contractor to begin stage one of a two stage process.

Neath Port Talbot Council say that under its own procurement rules, it says it has been necessary to approve the appointment of the contractor to undertake Stage 1 contract works only, with no obligation on the council to proceed to the second stage. Stage 1 includes developing the design information; carrying out assessments of traffic and site conditions; ground investigations; and obtaining planning approval.

The council say that this first stage contract does not commit them to the construction of the school and pool, with a further contract being entered into at Stage 2, which is the actual construction phase. 

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It adds that allowing stage 1 works to progress will ensure that the opportunities to meet the timescales of the October 2021 decision could still be realised if a review does not highlight any changes are needed to the project.

This will avoid further anxiety for the school staff and families due to unnecessary delays, particularly important for those pupils in Godre’rgraig Primary School who are currently educated in temporary accommodation awaiting the new school.

Neath Port Talbot Council say they will now start discussions with Welsh Government Ministers to establish what information they might require from the council. This will inform the consultation process which the council will undertake with stakeholders.

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Books & Literature

Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves

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Ferryside author John Nicholl is celebrating the re-release of his Carmarthenshire-based detective books as the Carmarthen Crime Series.

His new publisher, Boldwood Books – winner of Publisher of the Year in the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards – has repackaged the four books with a strong emphasis on the Carmarthenshire setting and covers depicting local locations including Carmarthen, Dryslwyn Castle and the Tywi Estuary.

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The first two books, The Carmarthen Murders and The Tywi Estuary Killings, are on sale now, with the other two – The Castle Beach Murders and The Dryslwyn Castle Killings to follow soon.

The books focus on DI Gareth Gravel, an accomplished, old-school policeman affectionately known as Grav, who feels out of step with the modern world as he approaches retirement.

“Grav is something of a legend within the West Wales Police Force, liked and respected by the rank and file but not so much by the top brass due to his sharp tongue and a willingness to bend the rules to get results,” says Nicholl, who lives in Ferryside.

“Grav is overweight, loves rugby, drinks too much, particularly since the loss of his wife, and is struggling with chronic health issues. The job matters to him, victims matter to him, and he often goes the extra mile to protect the vulnerable victims of crime, particularly women and children, who he has a strong inclination to protect.”

The books draw on Nicholl’s own experience as a police officer and then as a child protection officer in Carmarthenshire. He started writing fiction after his psychologist recommended it as a way to process traumas he had witnessed during his career, which left him with PTSD.

He self-published his first book and it became an online bestseller; he went on to get signed by a publisher and now has 11 bestsellers behind him. His focus is on crime and the darker side of human nature, with a strong empathy for victims of abuse.

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“The four-book Carmarthen Crime Series, while fictional, draws on my real-life experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker,” he says. “I hope this gives the stories a gritty realism readers will enjoy.”

He adds that he is delighted to see the books republished as the Carmarthen Crime series.

“I grew up, live and write in west Wales, and so I’m delighted my publisher has given the books a strong Welsh identity, with stunning covers featuring some of the beautiful locations I know so very well,” he says.

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Port Talbot

Port Talbot RNLI shop open again for business

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Following refurbishment, visitors to Port Talbot will once again be able to visit the shop located at the lifeboat station at Aberavon seafront.

The shop refit marks the start of a new era. The shop was opened in loving memory of the previous shop manager, Phil Jones, who sadly passed away in early 2021.

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Phil had kept the shop open single-handedly for over twelve years with much success. Phil’s wife and daughter kindly agreed to officially open the new shop on Sunday 12 June when many memories were shared and there were plenty of best wishes for the future.

RNLI shops started out as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local station. Around 1920 commemorative RNLI products were added and shops were selling souvenirs and Christmas cards, all profits helping to save lives at sea.

The RNLI now has over 170 shops around the coast and inland all of which are run by dedicated volunteers: Port Talbot is no exception.

The shop volunteer team has grown since April 2021 from a team of one to thirteen and is also involved with fundraising.

New Shop Manager Kirstee David says: “It has been amazing watching the shop team develop over the last twelve months and to see how passionate the team is about developing what we offer – and about the RNLI!”

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(Lead image: Port Talbot RNLI)

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