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Neath Port Talbot

Five charged with drugs offences after police raids in Port Talbot and Bridgend

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Five people have been charged with drugs offences as part of an operation by the South Wales Police’s Force Intelligence and Organised Crime Unit.

Throughout this week, officers executed a number of pre-planned warrants in the Bridgend, Port Talbot, Lancashire and Oxfordshire areas as part of Operation Wizard.

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Five people were arrested, in addition to two individuals who have previously charged with drugs offences as part of the ongoing operation.

Shane White aged 33, from the Port Talbot area and Daniel Baker, 29, from the Sandfields area were charged in August.

Steven Hughes, 46, from Abercynon, Steven Semmens, 38, from Taibach and Luke Thomas, 21, from North Connelly were charged in a second phase of arrests in September.

During a third phase of the operation a 41-year-old man from Oxford and a 42-year-old man from Lancashire were arrested and are currently in police custody.

The five have been charged with varying offences including conspiring to supply Class A drugs.

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Detective Inspector Russell Jenkins said: “Operation Wizard has seen great success so far, with officers having seized drugs, cash and property during the enforcement phase.

“During the enforcement phases, £49,000 in cash, several mobile devices which have been key to the investigation, a taser disguised as a torch and an amount of ketamine and cannabis was recovered as part of the operation.

 “Illegal drugs have no place in our society and we will continue to work together to target those whose criminal activities blight the lives of the communities of southern Wales.

“We are committed to disrupting and dismantling organised crime groups, bringing people before the courts and removing drugs from our streets.”

Anyone who has information about the supply of drugs in the community are asked to call the police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.  In an emergency call 999.

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Neath Port Talbot

Water babies make a splash at hospital hydro pools

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Opening up the hydrotherapy pool at Neath Port Talbot Hospital has led to lifesaving skills being taught in dedicated swimming classes to help safeguard babies and toddlers from drowning, Swansea Bay University Health Board have said.

The health board say changes in the way their hydrotherapy pools are managed mean that when they are not being used for clinical sessions with patients, they can now be offered for community use out of hours.

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Water Babies, a group who deliver swimming programmes to pre-school aged children, is now using the pool at Neath Port Talbot Hospital. 

The sessions in the hydrotherapy pool are fun but have an extremely serious benefit.

In the UK, drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death among babies and children. 

In most cases, the shock of sudden submersion causes children to panic, but introducing infants to water from very early on can make a real difference. 

By the age of two, toddlers can be taught to fall in, surface, swim to the side and hold on.

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An affordable hire fee from the health board and a grant from Neath Port Talbot council has already helped the group teach lifesaving skills to over 100 babies and parents. They hope to double that amount by the end of May.

“We’re delighted to be able to hold our classes at Neath Port Talbot Hospital’s hydrotherapy pool – it’s an excellent facility,” said Aletia Griffiths, director of Water Babies, who also hold classes at Singleton Hospital’s hydrotherapy pool. 

“In the last few years, at least 10 tiny Water Babies pupils in the UK have saved their own lives, five of whom were just two years old at the time.

“It’s fantastic what vital skills children can learn, and it’s so important that they do so as soon as possible.

“As well as water safety skills and enjoying the water, another key focus is to help strengthen the bond between carer and child.” 

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Water Babies runs a pre-school swimming programs at Neath Port Talbot Hospital’s pool (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

 Water Babies are among the groups who have hired the facility following changes made to the way hydrotherapy pools are run within the health board. 

The health board’s engagement programme Changing for the Future proposed a series of changes to the way urgent and planned care services are delivered following Covid. 

Following public consultation, Neath Port Talbot hospital will become a centre of excellence for rehabilitation. 

The hydrotherapy pool at the hospital, along with another at Singleton Hospital, are now the focus for hydrotherapy resources and sessions for Swansea Bay patients. The older pool at Morriston Hospital has since closed. 

The pools at Neath Port Talbot and Singleton have already seen an increase in numbers benefiting from them, with a wide range of people from babies to elderly patients using the pools to manage debilitating short and long-term conditions. 

Daniel Clarke, Musculoskeletal physio assistant; physiotherapists Holly Speare and Kristen Bucknall along with Jordanna Roberts, physio clinical lead (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

The health board hopes to encourage more community groups and voluntary sector organisations to hire the pool in Neath Port Talbot outside of NHS operational hours to aid their health and wellbeing. 

Jordanna Roberts, physio clinical lead across Neath Port Talbot and Singleton hospitals, highlighted further advantages from the group’s use of the pool, along with general benefits.

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She said: “There is a social element which has been missing for many during Covid, so the lessons are a chance for mums to network and build up supportive parenting relationships. 

“Physically any exercise and movement has a multitude of health benefits, including improving mood, sleep, physical strength and mobility, alongside preventing against chronic health conditions. 

“The warm and buoyant water within the pool reduces joint load and can make stretching and movement more effective and comfortable. 

“Following the success of the Water Babies class, we are keen to work with other partners to increase overall population access. 

“We’d be keen to hear from any groups interested in hiring out the pool pools at both Neath Port Talbot and Singleton.” 

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To hire the hydrotherapy pools at Neath Port Talbot Hospital and Singleton Hospital, contact 01792 285383 or email Jordanna.Roberts@wales.nhs.uk

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Neath Port Talbot

Independent and Plaid coalition takes control of Neath Port Talbot Council

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A new coalition is set to lead Neath Port Talbot Council after representatives from the Independent, Plaid Cymru and Dyffryn Independent groups made an agreement to share power.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats and Green Party members will support the coalition via a confidence and supply agreement.

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The nominated Leader of Council is Councillor Steve Hunt and the nominated Deputy Leader is Councillor Alun Llewelyn.

The coalition and supporting groups will hold 33 seats out of a total of 60.

The announcement comes after more than two weeks of talks between the parties and brings an end to 26 years of Labour administration in the county borough, the first time since the council was formed in the Local Government Re-organisation of 1996.

Stephen Hunt, Leader of the Independent group said: “People in Neath Port Talbot have clearly voted for change. We have been given a unique opportunity and this administration will do its very best, working hard and working together to bring fresh ideas, to keep talking to our communities so that we do not lose sight of what matters to them, and to deliver with and for people in our county borough.”

Alun Llewelyn, Leader of the Plaid Cymru group said: “This will be a new administration with new priorities for Neath Port Talbot. We have had productive discussions over the past two weeks and anticipate a lot of common ground on many issues. I look forward to working together to build trust and confidence in our council by engaging in a respectful collaboration, that puts our communities’ needs first.

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Cllr. Martyn Peters, Leader of the Dyffryn Independent group said: “Talks have been productive and we are committed to being part of an administration that will work for people in Neath Port Talbot and aim to tackle the issues that are important to them. I look forward to working in partnership to deliver the services that people deserve from their council.”

Cllr. Helen Ceri Clarke, Leader of the Coedffranc Liberal and Green Group group said: “Public opinion is fundamental to democracy and people in Neath Port Talbot have obviously voted for change. By entering into a confidence and supply agreement, we can help facilitate this change, whilst retaining our independent voice on the council and representing the best interests of residents.”

With a commitment to working with people to strengthen the county borough’s communities, economy and environment, the programme for coalition administration sets out a vision for the future with a strong focus on partnership and collaboration. Having contributed significantly to shaping ‘Recover, Reset, Renew’, the council’s corporate plan, the new administration intends to build on and enhance this.

The new council say their priorities will include improving the physical environment in the county borough; improving education outcomes for all, including working with officers and communities to consider the decision taken to create a super-school in the Swansea Valley area; and exploring options to generate revenue, boost investment and help ease cost of living crisis locally.

They will also look towards developing and delivering a strategy to enable the valleys and villages to reach their full potential, which looks at investment, infrastructure and connectivity; bringing new life to the town centres; and improving the economy of Neath Port Talbot.

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The programme also outlines the intention to learn from the pandemic to improve health and social care through effective working across all sectors to reduce isolation and make services and support more accessible for users and families. This is complimented by a focus on providing a range of housing across the county borough, including affordable housing, and an aim to ensure that local people benefit from housing construction and supply chains.

Environment, Leisure, Culture and Heritage issues will also be key, with plans to develop an environmental strategy with the involvement of communities and voluntary groups, a culture strategy to promote economic, leisure, social and wellbeing benefits, and a firm commitment to grow and build on the existing Celtic Leisure assets.

The council’s next administration will be formally appointed at a Council meeting in mid-June.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Music

Young Neath Port Talbot singers raise their voices to raise money for Ukraine

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Young singers from Neath Port Talbot schools are starring in a video of their inspirational cover of You’re the Voice, the song made famous by John Farnham.

The moving cover version by The Cerdd NPT Music Service and pupils from Neath Port Talbot schools was recorded at Cwmtawe Community School to raise money for humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

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Kirstie Roberts, a singer and singing teacher who works with the Cerdd NPT Music Service, along with colleagues, drove the project forward.

She said: “Just a few weeks after hearing Ukraine had been invaded by Russia, feeling frustrated and helpless that more needed to be done, I wanted to raise money to send to the families and children struggling to survive under constant threat but had no idea where to start!

“So, after not having sung together for two years due to the Covid pandemic, we gathered some of our talented and inspirational young singers in local schools together after deciding we could all help by raising voices, hearts and funds for the people of Ukraine.

“In just three and a half weeks 60 singers, six string players and a four-piece band had to learn their parts before coming together with a camera man and sound engineer to perform it for the first time at Cwmtawe Community School.

“The entire team had one chance to perform You’re the Voice and get it right and our Welsh children sang their hearts out for the children of Ukraine. Please watch this astonishing video and share as widely as you can. These children gave their time, passion and everything they had. If you can spare some time and money to help we would all be so grateful…as would the children in Ukraine.

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“I’m so delighted to finally share our GoFundMe link and YouTube video of our incredible and inspirational singers of Cerdd NPT Music, Neath Port Talbot, raising their voices, hearts and funds for the children of Ukraine.”

The choral arrangement for the song was by Mark De-Lisser and the performance by the Cerdd NPT Music Service Choir was conducted by Kirstie Roberts

The soloists were Tom Meo Ford, Moli Edwards, Emily Rees, Sophie Kneath, Holly Oakwell Jenkins, Alex Stockton and Bethan Nicholas-Thomas. Strings – Sharon Williams, Caroline Nicholas Thomas, Imogen Kent, Amy Marston, Laura Cotrell and Mia Verallo. The band was made up of Luke Evans, Andrew Coughlan, Ray Dizon and Luke Lockyer. String arrangement was by Luke Lockyer.

Soloist Bethan Nicholas-Thomas is this year’s Neath Port Talbot Youth Mayor. Bethan is a member of the British Youth Council and the Youth Climate Ambassadors Group which campaigns to make changes for a healthier planet.

The song was recorded and produced by Luke Evans with filming and editing by Christian Reason. Sunflowers for the recording were donated by Neath florist Stella Blooms. Many thanks go to Cerdd NPT Music Service staff and the pupils and staff from Cwmtawe Community School, Llangatwg School, Dwr-Y- Felin School, Cwm Brombil School, St Joseph’s Comprehensive School, Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur and Neath College.

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(Lead image & Video: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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