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Swansea

Council announces new powers to tackle city centre drug-taking and drunkenness

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New anti-social behaviour rules aimed at making Swansea city centre become a more welcoming place, kick in from 1 December.

A city centre Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) will apply to behaviour such as drug-taking and drunkenness – and everybody will be asked to comply.

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People who are vulnerable due to circumstances such as homelessness will be treated sensitively the council say, with housing and outreach services also involved.

The PSPO – part of a broader and coordinated Swansea approach to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) and street vulnerability – is designed to boost the city centre, an area that is seeing huge investment by the council and private sector businesses.

A £1bn regeneration programme is delivering eye-catching developments such as Swansea Arena, improvements to Wind Street and a greener, more attractive Kingsway.

The PSPO – which had widespread public support in a recent consultation – means that alcohol and drugs being consumed on the streets can be confiscated before the situation becomes a problem. Fixed penalty notices can be issued for ASB such as swearing and aggression. Other action could also be taken to deal with persistent troublemakers.

December 1 will be the start of a three-month PSPO trial in areas currently patrolled by the city centre rangers plus the Marina and Copr Bay coastal park when it opens next year. If successful, PSPOs could be introduced in areas such as SA1, Swansea Beach and the centre of Morriston.

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Separate PSPOs are being developed for two other locations with a history of ASB – a lane off St Helen’s Road and a tunnel linking The Strand with the High Street.

Map of the PSPO area (Image:Swansea Council / Ordnance Survey)

Robert Francis-Davies, the council cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “People are fed up with anti-social behaviour and want something done about it – the PSPO scheme will help address the issue. People should not feel intimidated or threatened by ASB.

“Our new powers – working with those the police already have – will help residents, businesses, shoppers, workers and visitors enjoy our fast-improving city centre.

“PSPOs are already in place in other towns and cities.”

Rangers will enforce the new PSPO rules (Image: Swansea Council)

Every year, hundreds of complaints about ASB are made to Swansea city centre rangers. Police records show it to be a key issue affecting the city centre.

Now, for the three months from December 1, city centre rangers will explain to people how the PSPO will work and how – by not being involved in anti-social behaviour – they can comply.

Rangers will continue to work closely with the police and outreach services so that actions are tailored to the individual. This could mean additional support for the individual.

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The issuing of fines will only begin after the trial – and only after discussions with the individuals involved. Enforcement is the last resort.

Alyson Pugh, the council’s cabinet member for supporting communities, said: “We have to do all we can to reduce the blight of anti-social behaviour in the city centre.

“There’s strong support for PSPOs from the police and business. Although a lot of work has already been done to address these problems, more needs to be done

“The council community safety team’s endeavours to address ASB issues continue to benefit from excellent work with partners – and I’m pleased that our PSPO will be operated in such a way that the most vulnerable people will continue to be treated with respect and support from our staff who are being trained so well.”

Andrea Lewis, joint deputy council leader and cabinet member for climate change and service transformation, said: “ASB exists in most UK towns and cities. We hope our PSPOs will help reduce it in Swansea whilst we continue to treat vulnerable people with sensitivity.

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“Our PSPOs aren’t aimed at the homeless or rough sleepers; people who often have complex problems and deserve our support to help them manage their lives.

“We have established mechanisms in place with the excellent outreach services that work hard to support vulnerable people.

“The council supports the homeless with medical and social care as well as finding them a place to live.”

Swansea BID chief executive Russell Greenslade said: “These new measures will be welcomed by our BID area businesses who are all working so hard to help the city centre thrive and prosper after a very testing period.

“Anti-social behaviour is an issue that is raised by businesses, consumers and visitors quite frequently and it is important that everyone with a vested interest in the future of the city centre does what is necessary to improve things.

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“Of course, there are complex issues at the heart of ASB that need to be dealt with carefully and sensitively and I know all the agencies involved will carry out their duties in a sensitive and professional way.”

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Museums

Dream role for Egypt Centre’s new head

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A childhood visit to a museum not only triggered Ken Griffin’s lifelong passion for Egyptology, it has also led to him landing his perfect job.

He has just been appointed curator of the Swansea University’s award-winning Egypt Centre and is now in charge of its unique collection of antiquities.

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Belfast-born Dr Griffin says he was captivated by Egyptology after a trip to Ulster Museum when he was six.

“They have a mummy on display called Takabuti, and I used to get my dad to take me there every Sunday. I wanted to know more about the country, and I finally went there on my 16th birthday. That really cemented the idea of doing Egyptology, I was totally obsessed,” he said.

Dr Griffin started volunteering at the museum while he was a first year Egyptology student back in October 2000. After finishing his degree, he went on to become a Saturday workshop assistant while studying for his MA and PhD in Egyptology.

After a spell as a lecturer, he hit the headlines when he discovered a depiction associated with the pharaoh Hatshepsut – one of just five women to have ruled ancient Egypt – on object he had taken out of the storeroom for a handling session.

He said: “This job is fantastic and often there are discoveries every day. We have about 6,000 objects in total, but we only have room for about a third of our collection to be on display. I have seen every object but often you see something you haven’t spotted before; particularly as new technology becomes available.”

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Dr Ken Griffin in the Ulster Museum alongside the mummy Takabuti, the exhibit that triggered his interest in Egyptology. (Image: Swansea University)

Back in 2020, three of the museum’s mummified animals were examined using X-ray micro CT scanning, which generates high-resolution 3D images. The process provided unprecedented detail about the animals’ lives – and deaths – more than 2,000 years ago.

During his time at the museum Dr Griffin has been actively involved in teaching Egyptology through the University’s adult education programme and he is passionate about ensuring the museum’s collection is as accessible as possible.

Next month he will oversee the installation of a new display case which will also create a temporary exhibition space to be used by Swansea University students.

Already a favourite destination for schools, the museum hosts regular workshops and events but when the pandemic forced it to close its doors, Dr Griffin set up virtual courses via zoom.

“We weren’t open to the public at all for 18 months and the gift shop and schools are usually our main source of income. But the online teaching really took off and over the two years we were able to bring in £50,000 of essential funds through that.

“They will definitely continue. Some of the online courses have been attended by 180 people whereas if I held them here it would be a maximum of 15. It has been an unbelievable success.

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“Attendees have come from more than 50 countries in six continents – we haven’t had anyone join us from Antarctica yet!”

Dr Griffin also emphasised the continuation of the museum’s traditional activities, assisted by its band of more than 100 dedicated volunteers, and his desire to get more students, in particular, through its doors.

Another of his long-term aim is for the Centre to twin with a museum in Egypt to exchange ideas and knowledge.

He added: “I first came here as student and I have really been part of the Egypt Centre ever since, it is a very special place. I wake up and look forward to coming to work every single day. It is always exciting.

“It is very rare for a curator of Egyptology post to come up so to get this job really does show that dreams can come true.”

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Lead image: Dr Ken Griffin among exhibits in the storeroom of Swansea University’s Egypt Centre. (Image: Swansea University)

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Morriston

New regional centre at Morriston Hospital to treat lung conditions given go-ahead

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photo of doctor holding x ray result

Plans for a new multi-million pound Adult Thoracic Surgical Centre for South Wales can go ahead at pace following a major boost from Welsh Government.

The new centre, to be based at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, will treat lung cancer patients and others who need surgery for a range of chest conditions.

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It will be able to operate on an increased number of patients, potentially upwards of 20% more, and will be the third largest centre in the UK.

Following extensive public consultation in 2018, it was agreed that the new centre will provide a single service for South Wales for residents living in the Swansea Bay; Hywel Dda, Cwm Taf Morgannwg; Aneurin Bevan, Powys and Cardiff and Vale Health Board areas. The centre is expected to be open within the next three to five years.

Patients will be treated as much as possible within their local health board area, only having to travel to the Morriston centre for pre-admission assessment and the surgery itself.

The endorsement of the proposal by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan will enable the next key stage – the development of detailed plans – to now get underway.

Siân Harrop-Griffiths, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Strategy and project lead, said: “Developing this scheme and getting the agreement of all the clinicians and organisations across South Wales has been time consuming and complex.

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“But we are delighted that this endorsement by the Minister means we can now take this work forward at pace to provide better thoracic surgical services for everyone across South Wales.”

Malgorzata Kornaszewska, Consultant Thoracic Surgeon at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Clinical Lead for the South Wales Adult Thoracic Surgical Services Programme said: “The new centre will be a centre of excellence with access to modern technology, and will be able to offer a comprehensive, modern, timely and high standard service to our patients.

“It will also create an excellent opportunity for teaching, training and research. This is an exciting time for the thoracic teams and Welsh thoracic patients.”

The South Wales Adult Thoracic Surgery Centre will standardise the delivery of these services across South Wales, improving the long-term sustainability of the service.

Having the specialist service in one dedicated centre will improve equity of access and patients’ experiences, and most importantly provide better health outcomes.

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The single site thoracic surgery centre will be designed in line with best practice and the recommendations of various reviews and consultation processes.

As a centre of excellence, it will provide dedicated thoracic surgery to meet national standards, enabling sub-specialisation of surgeons, which in turn will enable a higher standard of complex surgical procedures to be performed.

All health boards in South Wales, led by Swansea Bay UHB, have worked together alongside the Welsh Ambulances Services Trust and community health councils to develop and agree a plan to develop this new unit at Morriston Hospital.

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Morriston

Carpenter still at work after nearly slicing off his fingers says thanks to Morriston Hospital

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A retired carpenter who almost sliced off his fingers is still crafting away in his workshop thanks to the skill of Morriston Hospital staff.

Colin Taylor was working on turning a piece of wood into a teapot-shaped plant potholder when his wood cutter slipped and went into his hand.

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But despite slicing two fingers through to the bone, he is not just busy in his garden workshop but has also rediscovered his artistic skills as a way of thanking hospital staff.

The 73-year-old said: “I had put the wood in a vice and started shaping it with an electric cutter. I had a new blade which was able to cut everything including metal.

“It had gone well, when I had an itch on my nose and went to scratch it. I took my hand off the cutter and it cut across the timber and across my hand.

“There was blood spurting up in the air. I knocked the cutter off immediately, and my wife called my daughter who is a good first aider. She came up and my fingers were hanging off. I’d damaged them all, but particularly my middle and index finger, and had severed two tendons.

“My daughter took me to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr but they contacted Morriston Hospital who told me to come down straight away.

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“From the moment I went in it must have been the best treatment in my life. The people were so nice and courteous. I was seen to first by a young lady who cleaned me up, and then the doctor came and took a look at it and said I’d have to have an operation.

“They injected my finger and the operation didn’t take too long, and I went home and my left hand was in a plaster for in six weeks. The surgeon fixed the tendons.

“It is not 100%, but it is what it is. I have got to get on with it. It’s a bit stiff in the morning and I can’t bend my middle or index finger like I used to.”

The grandfather of three has since produced a couple of paintings which he has presented to staff at Morriston Hospital by way of thanks.

He added: “I did some painting a long time ago. I always enjoyed painting and carpentry, although I know I’m no Picasso.

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“But the people in hospital were so good to me I just wanted to do something to thank them.

“I’m not surprised the NHS has such a good reputation with people like that working there.”

Specialist hand physiotherapist Iona Davies added: “Following surgery and initial assessment at Morriston Hospital, Mr Taylor was able to access our specialist hand therapy services virtually, at a time when local therapy services were constrained due to Covid.

“This eliminated the need for him to travel from Tredegar, where he lives and cares for his disabled wife.

“He has been dedicated to his rehabilitation and exercises, and as a consequence has been able to achieve his treatment goals, returning to woodwork and painting. The outcome following such an injury is dependent as much on patient’s motivation and commitment as it is on surgical skill and therapy input.

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“We were delighted to receive his gift.”

Lead image: Colin and daughter Heather with the painting of Morriston Hospital (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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