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Motoring

Electric car helps Swansea GP practices drive down carbon footprint

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A group of GP practices in Swansea is helping the environment as well as its patients thanks to a new electric vehicle.

The City Health Cluster, which covers eight GP practices in the central areas of Swansea, has received the electric car that will be used by its paramedic to visit patients at home.

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Keith Richards works as the cluster’s community paramedic and travels to patients’ homes to assess them as a way of helping GPs who are seeing patients in their surgeries.

“There are eight GP practices in the cluster but some of them have sister practices so I deal with 12 practices in total so I’m on the road a lot,” he said.

“If a surgery has a patient who needs assessing, they’ll give me a call and give me all of their details and I’ll go out and do all of their observations and get their medical history and background.

“If they need any medical intervention then I have a chat with the GP and decide how best to help them.

“I’m still a paramedic but I’m dealing with just one patient at a time for the GP so it’s more of a direct role.

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“I can do blood tests and ECGs and I’ve been able to help with administering flu and Covid vaccinations.”

Keith Richards in the GP cluster’s new electric car (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Until now, Keith had been using his own diesel car to travel between patients’ homes and surgeries.

Not only will the cluster’s electric car help cut down carbon emissions, its modern technology will even help Keith in responding to calls.

He added: “Everybody wants to help reduce carbon emissions and this seemed like an easy way to do it because I do a lot of driving around so I was probably adding a lot of pollution.

“It’s more modern than my previous car and I’ve got Bluetooth which makes answering calls a lot easier too.

“It’s also more reliable so the chance of it breaking down and not being able to get to a patient’s house is reduced.

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“We’ve all got to do our bit for the environment. There’s no point in telling other people to do something if you’re not doing anything yourself.

“We’ve all got to contribute and I think this is an excellent way of doing it.”

A charging station has been installed at Keith’s home, with plans to introduce more at several GP surgeries within the City Health Cluster, which covers Brunswick Health Centre, Greenhill Medical Centre, Abertawe Medical Partnership, Kingsway Surgery, Mountain View Health Centre, Nicholl Street Medical Centre, SA1 Medical Centre and The Harbourside Health Centre.

When fully charged the car can travel up to 270 miles, with Keith charging it twice a week. From 20 per cent to fully charged takes about six hours.

City Health Cluster lead, Dr Ceri Todd, added: “The City Health Cluster Plan has developed over the last few years to adapt and meet the changing needs of our diverse and growing population.

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“We have fostered new and innovative ways of working that support practice sustainability and help ensure we have the right people in place to deliver safe and effective health care.

“This multidisciplinary approach has ensured better access for patients that may require assessment at home.

“The cluster has considered throughout its approach to the delivery of services how it can work to develop and promote net-zero health care in the future.

“With this in mind we began our approach supporting the introduction of an electric vehicle for our valued paramedic Keith.”

Lead image: Keith Richards and City Health Cluster lead Dr Ceri Todd (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Motoring

New research shows smart electric vehicle charging can cut carbon footprint by 20% and save drivers £110 a year

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Drivers of electric vehicles could save an average of £110 a year – and cut their carbon footprint by 20% – by using “smart charging” to power up their cars at the best possible times, a report by a research team involving Swansea University experts has shown.

Smart charging helps spread out demand for electricity to avoid overloading the National Grid. This is a major issue given the huge growth in the number of electric vehicles, with up to 11 million forecast to be on Britain’s roads by 2030.

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Already people can get cheaper electricity by charging at certain times, usually in the early hours of the morning. But smart charging could go much further than this. For example, it could mean charging when windy weather means surplus wind power is being generated, or having your charging automatically coordinated with your neighbours.

The report is based on research by the FRED project (Flexibly Responsive Energy Delivery). Led by Evergreen Smart Power, it also involved Swansea University energy experts from the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, in collaboration with myenergi, GenGame, and Energy Systems Catapult.

The team recruited 250 members of the public who already had electric vehicles and were using myenergi’s zappi charging points and software to help them charge more efficiently.

Throughout the project Evergreen managed the FRED participants’ EV charging using its smart charging software platform. The platform used artificial intelligence to shift charging times to maximise efficiency and minimise cost. Participants supported the project by providing feedback as to how smart charging affected their driving experience.

The researchers found that smart charging cuts the cost of various charges that make up the overall price of energy for consumers.

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This means an overall saving of £110 a year for an average electric vehicle driver – with even bigger savings if you drive, and therefore recharge, more than average

These savings come from various factors – for example avoiding times when network charges or energy wholesale prices are high, and switching customers to payment per half-hour rather than per hour

In addition they found that further savings of up to 45% are possible with better incentive schemes. Smart charging reduces the carbon footprint of car charging by over 20%, providing a strong environmental incentive.

Peter Bullock from Evergreen said: “Our research showed that smart charging using the platform can make a big difference, even where people are already charging efficiently. It cuts the cost and the carbon for cheaper, cleaner driving.In our emerging green energy system, the energy we generate – for example through wind and solar – can be variable. Luckily, with electric cars, it is easy to be flexible with the times we consume energy. This is where smart charging is crucial, helping us create an energy system that is both low-carbon and efficient.”

Mark Spratt from the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre at Swansea University said: “SPECIFIC created the Active Buildings on the Bay Campus to demonstrate how buildings that generate and store electricity can have a positive impact on the grid by managing their energy intelligently.  These buildings, together with our fleet of electric vehicles, provided an ideal platform for testing the smart charging strategies of the FRED project.

“The financial and carbon savings demonstrated in the FRED project are a validation of the need for Active Buildings as we make the transition to net zero.”

The project was made possible by support from the Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund. SPECIFIC’s contribution was enabled by funding from Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

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Carmarthenshire

Union accuses Council of playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with residents safety on second day of gritter strike

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GMB union has accused Carmarthenshire Council of playing ‘Russian roulette’ with residents’ safety over a gritter strike.

The claims came as the council issued their own message reassuring residents that contingency arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of the travelling public while winter maintenance staff take industrial action.

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The strike on 5 and 6 January 2022 comes as the union accuses the council of failing to adhere to a collective agreement signed with gritting staff back in 2020. 

Trade unions asked their members not to carry out gritting on roads out-of-hours on January 5 and 6. Two further periods of industrial action are also planned between January 17 and 21, and January 24 to 28.

Unions agreed with the Council to undertake emergency cover, however this means the majority of Carmarthenshire’s Road network will remain ungritted during the dispute.

Council staff picketed at depots across Carmarthenshire, with further picket lines due to take place.

According to the council the county is heading for colder weather over the next few weeks, with a real risk of icy conditions, sleet and snow. The union claims this means there is a real risk to the safety of residents undertaking travel on all but major roads. 

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Peter Hill GMB organiser said: “Right now the council is playing Russian Roulette with the safety of Carmarthenshire residents. 

“Large chunks of the road network were not gritted last night, and it will remain the case for the next 48 hours.  

“Our members are also Carmarthenshire residents and we’re advising our families and friends to avoid the roads over the next 48 hours as many will not be gritted.  

“Rather than brandishing an agreement to deal with essential emergency work, they should be advising residents to avoid travelling unless utterly necessary”.

A picket at one of Carmarthenshire’s depots (Image: GMB union)

The council rejects the comments made by GMB in relation to the agreement, and has also put forward a revised offer.

They say the agreement, which was put in place in 2020, recognises the valuable contribution council employees make and provided them with a remuneration package which is one of the highest in Wales. 

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The package provides employees with a retainer payment for committing to the rota throughout the winter period to cover gritter driving.

Carmarthenshire Council say that in a typical winter they will schedule 310 shifts across 158 days. Employees are stood down on 201 shifts (65%) out of the 310, instructed to grit on 83 shifts (27%) and where there is uncertainty in a forecast drivers are retained on 26 shifts (8%). Employees are paid the retainer for all 310 shifts regardless of whether they need to work or not work.

The council say they have always adhered to the terms and conditions of the agreement, and in order to avoid industrial action and to secure the service, the council has put forward a revised offer, which unfortunately the union has chosen not to present to its members but have decided to ballot and implement industrial action.

Cllr Hazel Evans, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “The council recognises and values the contribution of our employees in helping to ensure the road network is treated during the winter months to provide a safe road network for the public, businesses and the emergency services.

“The council made a formal agreement with the trade unions in 2020 to cover winter maintenance duties. The agreement recognised the valuable contribution our employees make and provided them with a remuneration package which is one of the highest in Wales.

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“The council has adhered to the terms and conditions of the negotiated agreement and has always worked to support our employees to provide a safe road network for our communities, businesses and emergency services, as far as reasonably practicable.  

“An increased offer was put to the trade unions to help secure the winter maintenance service. The offer is considered very reasonable and at the level of what the council can afford. Unfortunately, trade union colleagues have chosen not to present this offer to their members but have decided to ballot and implement a period of industrial action at this difficult time.

“These are extremely challenging times as COVID continues impact on communities and employee resource.

“The offer remains available to our employees and on the negotiating table with our trade unions. We hope that in the wider interest of our communities, our employees will give the offer due consideration.

“In the interim the council will implement its contingency plan to undertake gritting on a reduced resilient network.”

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Carmarthenshire County Council say their winter maintenance service ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along the highway is not endangered by snow or ice. To fulfil this duty, the council normally treats a primary network of 17 gritting routes along our main highways ahead of freezing weather, including 13 gritting routes along county roads (23% of network) and four trunk road routes. The resilient network includes the four trunk road routes. 

Residents are being reminded to be prepared and to drive responsibly during the winter months, and in particular to be mindful of changing weather conditions.

(Lead image: GMB Union)

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Christmas

Driving home for Christmas? How about a Pigs in Blankets or Brussels Sprout car air freshener?

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With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to get you into the festive mood than the smell of Christmas day every time you enter your car?

If that sounds like something that jingles your bells, Zuto have got you covered with their festive air fresheners (available while stocks last), to make driving home for Christmas feel like riding in Santa’s sleigh.

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With the temperatures dropping and the de-icer making a return most mornings, there’s no better way to start your day than to be greeted by Christmas cheer before you make a journey.

Using some of the most loved ‘Christmassy’ flavours, Zuto are creating six scents to sleigh this wintertime:

Pigs in blankets

A Christmas dinner favourite for many! And with a lot of meat-free options out there, this made for the perfect in-car fragrance to get Brits excited for Christmas.

The combination of crispy bacon and sausage is enough to make anyone’s mouth water, and our pigs in blankets scented car freshener is sure to get you feeling excited for dinner as you’re driving home.

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Mince pie

A Christmas classic, the spicy mincemeat, mixed with juicy currants and wrapped in crumbly golden pastry makes for such a tantalising smell that we think it would make for a perfect car scent.

Rest assured, the cardboard box and tinfoil wrapper smell aren’t part of the scent profile.

Roast turkey

The main event at most Christmas dinners around the world and the star of the show, this freshener will have you dreaming of Christmas every time you get into your car.

Combined with a succulent meat gravy aroma, this scent shines bright in our collection.

Brussels sprouts

Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts are an icon of the traditional Christmas dinner and we Brits actually eat more brussels sprouts than any other European country!

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Despite their infamous reputation for causing some Christmas Day wind, we know that there are some serious Brussels sprout lovers out there who would love nothing more than to carry the scent with them everywhere they drive.

Roasted chestnuts

A staple at every Christmas fair and market, the smell of roasted chestnuts is reminiscent of ice skating and admiring plenty of shiny trinkets.

We wanted to bottle those memories up so you can carry them with you all year round in the car.

Father Christmas (cookies and whiskey)

Last but not least, with a bit of a curveball, we present to you the Father Christmas scent; a delicious blend of freshly baked cookies and a glass of the best malt whiskey.

Harking back to simpler times, this scent is sure to remind you of the warm nights by the fire, waiting with slowly closing eyes for Santa to arrive and eat the cookies you baked for him and his reindeers. Thankfully, the smell of whiskey can’t get you drunk, so you’re still good driving your car home for Christmas with this scent.

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Lucy Sherliker, Head of Customer at Zuto, says: “Christmas is an exciting time, and we’re delighted that we can help spread some festive cheer whenever people set foot in their car.

“Whether you’re out delivering Christmas presents, or behind the wheel every day for work, these car fresheners are set to help get you and any passengers into the festive spirit!”

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