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Council launches investigation after Baglan trees deliberately poisoned

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Neath Port Talbot Council have launched an investigation after a number of trees were destroyed after being injected with poison in the Baglan area of Port Talbot.

The council say they are responding to concerns raised by a member of the public about dead trees on land between Crofton Drive and Willow Grove, Baglan.

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A council officer visited the site and after inspection found holes drilled into the bases of these semi mature trees – eight in total.

Soil and bark samples were taken at a later date and sent for analysis to Bartlett Tree Experts. Testing confirmed the presence of an undiluted herbicide which in large doses, can kill trees.

South Wales Police has been informed of the deliberate damage.

A council spokesman said: “This chemical was used to deliberately poison these trees by pouring it into the drilled holes.

“Once injected the chemical was taken into the vascular system of the trees and their rapid decline was then inevitable. We appear to be seeing an increase of malicious intent towards trees throughout the county and will be monitoring the situation and if required will take further action.

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“We would ask members of the public in this area who may have seen any suspicious activity around these trees to contact the council or South Wales Police.”

Cllr Jeremy Hurley, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Wellbeing said: “This is vandalism and constitutes a criminal offence. Trees are vital to fighting climate change and are also crucial for our wellbeing.

“If anyone knows anything about these appalling acts please let either the police or the council know.”

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Baglan

Baglan energy park power cut threat resolved

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Businesses and other organisations at an energy park in Neath Port Talbot who faced having their electricity supply cut off after a private power network was placed into liquidation are being successfully connected to a newly installed power grid following Welsh Government intervention.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething visited Baglan Energy Park to meet businesses who have faced more than a year of uncertainty around their energy supply.

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Businesses on Baglan Energy Park previously received their electricity supply via a private wire network from an on-site gas-fired power station. In March 2021, the company that owned the private wire network was placed into compulsory liquidation.

This resulted in the company’s operations, including the private wire network, becoming the responsibility of the UK Government’s Insolvency Service, who were tasked with winding down operations.

The Welsh Government say they have worked closely with partners and affected organisations over more than a year to prevent and minimise the impact and disruption to the power supply for organisations that rely on the private wire network.

This has included close working with Neath Port Talbot Council, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, the UK Government, OFGEM, the Insolvency Service, the Official Receiver, Natural Resources Wales, and Western Power Distribution to seek to find a solution to this challenging issue.

The Welsh Government say they’ve invested over £4m to support Western Power Distribution, as the local licensed distribution network operator, to rapidly design and build replacement networks. This investment has allowed Western Power to accelerate the process of building a new network – which would have initially taken between 18 months to two years to build. The investment has also minimised the significant costs affected businesses would have had to meet to connect to the new network.

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As well as financial support, the Welsh Government say they’ve provided practical support to businesses, including helping them to map and identify their maximum demand requirements, informing the design of the new electrical network.

At the end of 2021, the UK Government’s Official Receiver announced it would be shutting down the private wire network in mid-January 2022 – months ahead of the date when organisations were scheduled to be connected to the new network.

This action would have meant businesses, services and critical infrastructure on the park having to bridge the gap in energy supply with diesel or gas fired generators, which are more expensive, less resilient and have the potential to significantly impact air quality in the local area. There was a real risk of diesel power failing in a storm event with potentially catastrophic consequences.

In a statement, the Welsh Government say they led action to prevent this. “Together with Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, Dŵr Cymru and Sofidel we issued legal proceedings to seek to prevent the UK Government’s Official Receiver from discontinuing the private wire network until a new long-term electrical network was constructed.

“The new electricity connections – which are directly powered through the National Grid – are now complete, with most customers now connected to the new network.

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“This means potential disruption to customers of the Baglan Energy Park has been successfully minimised.

“This intervention has helped protect businesses that would have been affected by the loss of power, potentially jeopardising up to 1,200 local jobs and has prevented floods by maintaining power to flood water pumping stations.”

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “I am pleased to have had the opportunity to visit Baglan Energy Park to meet some of the businesses impacted by more than a year of uncertainty around their energy supply. There is no doubt this has been a very stressful and uncertain time for them.

“When the UK Government refused to act, the Welsh Government intervened. If we had not acted then, serious long term harm could have been caused.

“The action we have taken came at significant cost to the Welsh Government. However, I am confident that it was time and money well spent. We have been able to successfully avoid the risk of major job losses, flood incidents and potential environmental pollution.

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“This has been an incredibly frustrating time. It is staggering that the UK Government actively opposed our action in the courts to protect jobs, the environment, and the health of tens of thousands of people. In taking this action, the Welsh Government stood up for the people of Wales. This is yet another great example of devolution in action.”

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Baglan

New Baglan blood test clinic to open as Bay Field Hospital decommissioned

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A new blood test clinic is set to open its doors as the service at the Bay Field Hospital comes to an end.

Swansea Bay University Health Board have said the hub at the Port Talbot Resource Centre in Baglan is due to open in early August, with appointments available via the health board’s online or telephone booking system.

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It will be in addition to the current outpatient blood test clinics at Morriston, Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals, which will also increase the number of appointments they offer when the Bay blood test clinic closes.

The last day blood testing will be done at the Bay Field Hospital is Friday, July 22nd.

The Bay Field Hospital is being decommissioned and returned to its landlord after two years of service to the health board during the pandemic.

The health board previously announced that hundreds of unused field hospital beds were to be offered to Swansea Bay communities and Ukrainian refugees.

The Port Talbot Resource Centre clinic is also the first stage of a long-term health board plan to provide routine blood tests, such as those requested by GPs, at community hubs across the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot areas.

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A temporary blood testing service will also run at Central Clinic in Swansea city centre in the coming months, whilst the health board seeks a permanent venue for blood testing within the city centre and in Neath town centre.

A second community blood test hub is due to open at Gorseinon Hospital in the autumn.
Senior blood test service manager Rhodri Davies said the goal is to move the blood test service nearer to the people it serves, but at venues that can handle the huge demand.

The health board have said that the health services watchdog, Swansea Bay Community Health Council, and blood test staff have been consulted on the plans.

There are more than one million episodes where a patient has a blood test in the health board every year.

Blood is taken by a range of professionals including phlebotomists, medical staff, nursing staff and healthcare support workers, in hospitals and in the community.

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Rhodri said the figure is very high because some patients require multiple tests to manage their condition.

The most frequently requested blood test in the last 12 months has been an electrolyte profile, with over 12,000 requested every week. Electrolytes are salts and minerals, such as sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate, which are found in the blood.

Blood tests are also a vital monitoring tool for those patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes. More than 14,000 HbA1c blood tests are processed every month. These tests can tell how well diabetes is being controlled.

And almost 600 INR (International Normalised Ratio) blood tests are carried out each week for patients prescribed the blood thinner warfarin to prevent clots.

“The pandemic caused huge disruption to services across the health board, including our blood test service,” said Rhodri.

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“But this also presented us with opportunities, such as bringing in an online booking system to address the queues at drop-in sessions and a chance to look at the way we deliver the service overall and how we want to deliver it in the future.”

Rhodri added: “We are now seeing a massive influx of demand for blood tests as some of our health board services, which were reduced during the pandemic, begin to open back up.

“This has caused some delays and frustration for patients and we are listening carefully to the concerns which have been raised.

“However we ask for people to bear with us as we progress our community hub plan.

“Change takes time. But our goal is to provide a service closer to people’s homes while also driving down waiting times.”

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(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Police want to speak with this man after staff verbally abused on Briton Ferry train

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British Transport Police have released a CCTV image of a man they want to speak with in relation to an incident on board a train travelling between Neath and Baglan.

A man boarded a train at Neath station and attempted to alight at Briton Ferry station. The train doors would not open due to a malfunction and the train began to leave with the man still on-board.

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The man then activated the emergency alarm and stopped the train. The train guard went to investigate, and the man proceeded to verbally abuse them.

The train driver intervened and was also subjected to verbal abuse.

The train continued to Baglan station and the verbal abuse towards the train crew continued until the train departed.

Officers believe the man in the CCTV image may have information which could help their investigation.

If you recognise him, or have any information, British Transport Police would like you to contact them by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 458 of 18/01/22.

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Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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