02/12/2012 The Wales Report


02/12/2012

As homes are ravaged by floods and hundreds left homeless, we ask the Environment Minister why our safety and our homes are still at risk?


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This week on The Wales Report: After the damage and distress

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caused by the floods in North Wales, have the lessons really been

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learned? We'll be talking to the minister in charge.

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In the week of the Leveson Report, did the press get away with it once

:00:15.:00:19.

again? We'll be exploring the balance between free speech and

:00:19.:00:23.

freedom from press abuse. And amid new warnings that the rate

:00:23.:00:27.

of HIV infection in Wales in escalating, we have a report on one

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man's fight to keep an AIDS care centre open.

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:00:39.:00:45.

Good evening once again, it's time for The Wales Report. It's our

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chance to examine some of the important issues for Wales, to talk

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to some of those affected and to the decision-makers. The week has

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been dominated by the scenes of extensive damage in North Wales,

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with having to cope with floods and severe weather, hundreds of

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families forced from their homes as the Elwy and Clwyd burst their

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banks. One elderly woman lost her life. And questions are being asked

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already about the circumstances. How sensible is it to build new

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homes on flood plains? I'll be discussing this with the

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Environment Minister, but first Tim Rogers, who investigated the floods

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for the BBC's Week In Week Out, gives us his assessment of what

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Images of destruction and anguish are becoming all too painfully

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familiar across Wales. Homes destroyed and lives wrecked by a

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force of nature. Every where. It is in my tumble-drier, my washing

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machine. Everywhere. Visiting the scene of destruction this week,

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First Minister Carwyn Jones had a warning for us all. It does show

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what we have to do, or what we have to think about, in order to deal

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with the effects of climate change in the future.

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But there have been voices raised for some time that the Welsh

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government needs to radically reconsider the whole policy of

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flood defence. And there has been growing disquiet about the

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regulations concerning the policy of building on flood plains,

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brought into even starker contrast this week in Ruthin. The Whitley

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Bay was only built in 2009, more than 100 houses and the estate were

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flooded. Families rescuing their belongings from the devastation had

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many questions. We got the house and the promise

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that it was not a flood plain any more, things had been done to

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guarantee they should not happen. By something went wrong and

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questions are being asked about why planning permission was granted.

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asked the head of planning to look at the planning application way

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back in 2000 and 4/5, they are getting hold of that, looking at it.

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-- way back in 2004/5. They're trying to find out the reasons.

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councils and Environment Agency work to Welsh assembly guidelines.

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But since it was introduced more than five years ago, 700 new

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developments have been allowed on flood plains. All of this is

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happening at a time of an impending perfect storm. Global warming is,

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it is argued, producing extreme weather conditions across Wales,

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while government financial restrictions are making spending on

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flood defences ever more difficult. On top of this, the government

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agreement with the insurance industry to underwrite cover for

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properties in flood risk areas ends next spring, and talks to renew it

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have stalled. The Environment Minister visited families this week

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to see what the Government is doing and can do to help. In the next few

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months he will have to come up with some answers.

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With me is the Environment Minister, John Griffiths, who has kindly

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cumin. The system is not working? think it is in many respects, in

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terms of controls in place through the planning system, for example,

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the advice note is very restrictive in terms of new developments in

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flood risk areas. Despite the fact there are 700 or so developments we

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have seen since the note was given out? But developments were town 15

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are batting 2004 it was put in place in terms of its current form,

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but there is a bit of a time lag with developments because

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developers have five years to start developing from the granting of

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planning permission and often they would build the first phase and

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later phases will, over a period of years. There were evidence is that

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it has been quite restrictive in terms of its effect. I'll be

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looking to see far fewer developments in flood areas? -- are

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we are looking to? We have much more restricted development.

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that was the case when be badly hit estate was built, would it have

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been subject to different rules? is never wise to talk too much

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about a particular development in terms of planning matters as

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planning minister, I have to be very careful because of the legal

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considerations. But we can say there is a much more hands-on

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approach from Welsh government. This summer, after the flooding the

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experienced, we have a system in place now where housing is proposed

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in a flood risk area, it must be referred to Welsh government to

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consider whether it needs to be called in. We take a much more

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strong line as the Welsh government to make sure that only appropriate

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development takes place. OK, I understand the legal

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sensitivities. Let's talk hypothetically and say there was a

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case very similar to this estate in an area where you know there is a

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risk, which you expected to be referred to you? It would be under

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the new direction brought in this summer. Hypothetically, what kind

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of the would you take? A highly precautionary view. Flood risk is

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very serious to communities, as we saw last week and over the summer.

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It is a very robust precautionary code, that must be right. But there

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are wider issues. We know what an awful lot of Wales has already been

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built on a in terms of the coast and the rivers, that development is

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there. We are spending something like �150 million of flood defences.

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Is that enough? It is a lot, but we are trying to find extra money by

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bringing together the key partners, the Welsh government, Environment

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Agency, local authorities and those whose infrastructure is protected.

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We want to clearly prioritise when you defences need to be put in

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place and find a resource for that. Crucially, people will be watching

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him in future years will be presented with the opportunity of

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buying a home in area traditionally associated with risk. They will

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need to have confidence that the Welsh government has a really

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detailed overview of this and you have called in the schemes, can you

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assure people? I think so. Our planning system and our technical

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advice is robust and highly precautionary. But we will look at

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all these matters again and constantly keep them under review,

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because when we have serious incidents are flooding we need to

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look at the particular circumstances, any lessons and go

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through that exercise. There are lots of pressures - the

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local authority, developers, it is quite complex. Ultimately some

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people think that the wrong pressures have won and those people

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who wanted to be cautious have been overruled or outvoted. Will that

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happen in future or not? We have this highly precautionary and

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robust approach to recognising flood risk and guarding against it,

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but it is a balance. If I look at my own area of Newport, on the east

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banks of the river a new development has taken place

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recently. As part of that development flood precautions have

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been greatly increased and strengthened. The level of the land

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has been substantially raised. That has provided much better protection

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not just for the new development but thousands of existing homes. It

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is always a balance end-June need to have a new generation -- and

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Unita have regeneration. It was World Aids Day yesterday.

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The Prime Minister says there is still too much ignorance about HIV

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and AIDS. The latest figures suggest that 25,000 people in the

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UK are HIV positive but aren't aware of it. In Wales, there were

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169 new infections last year, and chief medical officer Ruth Hussey

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warns that the risk of HIV infection is very real. The only

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HIV/AIDS respite centre in Wales was opened in Penmaenmawr nine

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years ago by Phillip Kearton-Smith. But the charity's funding has dried

:09:15.:09:18.

up, and earlier this year it had to close its doors. As David Williams

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reports, it's now a final appeal to the Welsh government for urgent

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:09:32.:09:43.

This was once the only HIV/AIDS respite centre in Wales. It stands

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empty, stripped of its holistic furnishings. A shell of a place

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rather than the sanctuary it once was, and now in the hands of the

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liquidators. The former manager of the charity

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runs centre at Penmaenmawr in North Wales spent more than �100,000 of

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his own money to try and keep it open. But he is now destitute and

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forced to live in two rooms in the empty property.

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We tried every avenue. We tried to get help from the Welsh government,

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in a business sense, been possible funding, just somebody to come and

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talk about what we could and could not do.

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The Welsh government gave a grant of �130,000 to help buy the

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property nine years ago. But it now wants the money back, and a share

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of the sale price. So this was your room?

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When the centre closed its doors earlier this year, it closed them

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to people like Tommy. He came here from Manchester in need of rest and

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recuperation. I was in a wheelchair... Medication used to

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reduce the effect of the HIV disease left him unable to walk.

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You believe what you consultants say, that she will never walk again,

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that is what I believed. -- that you will never walk again. But it

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is no exaggeration to say that if you had not have come here...?

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:11:31.:11:31.

would have put me into care. I believe that. Surrey, are you OK?

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Yeah, I'll be all right. I wouldn't have been alive. You wouldn't have

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been alive? This was the only place of its kind

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in Wales, and many who came here were referred to the home by the

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Terrence Higgins Trust, a charity which aims to reduce the effects of

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HIV/AIDS and one which actively promoted the North Wales respite

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centre. It is a huge loss, and people are

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now wondering where my going to go to get that additional support? --

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where am I going to go? Organisations can provide day-to-

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day support, but have the capacity to go away somewhere and spend some

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complete time where you can be yourself is just lost.

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The closure of the centre coincides with a dramatic rise in the number

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of gay and bisexual men being diagnosed with HIV in the United

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Kingdom. It is at an all-time high, and the number of cases in Wales

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has reached 1400. Even more worrying is the

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calculation that one in four people with HIV are completely unaware of

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the infection. They may still be spreading the virus.

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Wales has the highest trajectory of new cases of all the four UK

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nations. This charity is unique, as I think we were quite clear. They

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provided a vital service, as the evidence shows. They should be

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supported. They cost the Welsh government virtually nothing. The

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implications of not supporting them would end up with far greater cost

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to the Welsh government than would otherwise be the case.

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Philip is not without his supporters. A number of trustees of

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the centre, including the Bishop of St Asaph, have written to the

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Health Minister Leslie Griffiths, reminding her of the Trust's failed

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attempts to interest the last government in helping assented to

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diversified and pleading with her to be considerate of its manager --

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in helping the centre to diversify. Philip has given outstanding

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service to the charity for nine years. Now it seems it is almost as

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if he can go on the rubbish heap. In response to the Bishop's pleas,

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the Health Minister said, was found sympathetic towards his situation,

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any claims being made must follow the appropriate legal procedure.

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A very careful, politically correct, this is in their hands of the

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lawyer's response. What do you make of that? I can understand you have

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to be careful and government, you can't upset people or be seen to be

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profligate with public money, but still we want our politicians to

:14:17.:14:27.
:14:27.:14:30.

show compassion and to care about The company's secretary isn't

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impressed by the decision that she regards lacking in compassion.

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is always the little man who suffers. I do not know how I would

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cope. When we contacted the Department for at their help

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Minister we were told that the Welsh Government is still

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considering reclaiming the original grant and a share of the sale price.

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In order that the money can be used to help a large number of people,

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BC. But that is exactly what this place was doing. And the man who

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did more than anyone to keep it open is now waiting to see if the

:15:17.:15:22.

health minister goes ahead and reclaims the grant money and a

:15:22.:15:27.

share of the prophet of the sale of the property. It is a decision that

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could deprive him of there �100,000 owing him and it could leave him

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homeless. It has affected me over the past will bought 18 months

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trying to keep this place going. We had little funds. I was trying to

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keep on supporting the people that I genuinely want to support, and

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then I found that I did not know what my future was going to be and

:15:59.:16:04.

it was very stressful. After months of anticipation, Lord

:16:04.:16:07.

Justice Leveson finally unveiled his findings this week on the

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British press, how it behaves, and how it should be regulated. David

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Cameron said he accepted all the principles, but not the central

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recommendation, which called for a new independent regulator backed by

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new legislation. Charlotte Church was a prominent Welsh voice among

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the victims of phone-hacking and press abuse, she said the Prime

:16:20.:16:30.
:16:30.:16:34.

Minister's response amounted to a betrayal. If you meet the statutory

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underpinning because after three or five years of self regulation or

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what ever it would be, when those standards slip which the inevitably

:16:44.:16:49.

well, it is the way of the world, then as a backstop there to let it

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not happen. With me is Professor Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff

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University who knows both sides of the media divide extremely well as

:16:57.:17:05.

a former editor of the Independent and a former director of BBC News.

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That the press get away with it? I do not think so. Lord Leveson has

:17:12.:17:17.

come up with a solution. The detail needs to be argued and thought

:17:17.:17:21.

through. I do not believe that the press will get away with this in

:17:21.:17:26.

the end but some of them will certainly try. They have done that

:17:26.:17:29.

were the last century. The Prime Minister is extremely cautious

:17:29.:17:35.

about this notion of the legislation. Is he right to be

:17:35.:17:39.

sensitive? He is right to be sensitive but he would be wrong to

:17:39.:17:45.

block it. The problem is, there has been a proposal for new forms of

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self regulation at decade after decade and none of them have worked.

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It is very important to get something that works whilst

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safeguarding the freedom of the press, it is possible to do both.

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There is that you in some close to the inquiry that what is being

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proposed is in breach of the Convention of Human Rights, is that

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right? I think that is a mistake in judgment. Human rights Terence in

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principle, the freedom of the press, and the areas in which governments

:18:24.:18:29.

have a legitimate reason for qualifying that, it is a

:18:29.:18:34.

conditional freedom not an absolute freedom. Where will the argument go

:18:34.:18:38.

now because the press thinks it can buy a bit of time or thin up to a

:18:38.:18:47.

new structure? Will that be -- will that be enough? It's the press is

:18:47.:18:52.

very smart about this and comes up with a set of proposals that looks

:18:52.:18:58.

right that they all agree to do and it is implemented within the next

:18:58.:19:02.

six months, I think that they have a strong chance of putting the

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politicians into a position we the legislation is not ready anyway,

:19:08.:19:12.

even amongst those who favour it, therefore there will be an

:19:12.:19:17.

opportunity to back away what the new system working and declared to

:19:17.:19:22.

be effective. That is the smart course for a bit press, that could

:19:22.:19:27.

work, but the history tells you that that will not be what happens.

:19:27.:19:31.

They were split before it Lord Leveson announced his report and

:19:31.:19:38.

they will no doubt split afterwards. The case for a moderate -- a

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moderate statutory underpinning will continue. What is the

:19:43.:19:48.

importance of that underpinning? what the reason that Charlotte

:19:48.:19:54.

Church expressed very well. If you do not have that then why would the

:19:54.:19:58.

new arrangements not fall apart like every previous generation of

:19:58.:20:03.

self regulation? Are we not in a position where the press might be

:20:03.:20:09.

more serious about regulating themselves? We might be, and I hope

:20:09.:20:15.

that we are. I regret that we need a High Court judge to tell us how

:20:15.:20:20.

we need to legally frame press regulation. The press should have

:20:20.:20:25.

done this for themselves previously. The public wants a disagreeable and

:20:25.:20:31.

vibrant press, but they do not want a press that her wrasses families

:20:31.:20:41.
:20:41.:20:41.

and children were no evident reason of public interest. -- wrasses.

:20:41.:20:46.

the process of regulating the press we look at political involvement,

:20:46.:20:50.

people at a sensitive about that, how do we get the insurance but it

:20:50.:20:56.

does not involve political meddling? You have to put a

:20:56.:21:01.

political dimension of this... There is always a political

:21:01.:21:06.

dimension, you have to put up one wall and then another wall between

:21:06.:21:10.

the politicians and the way that the system works. There are ways

:21:10.:21:14.

that that can be done. Lord let us and suggested a couple of writs and

:21:14.:21:20.

there are probably others. -- Lord Leveson. Now we need to focus on

:21:20.:21:24.

how we get it right so it is not a charter for politicians to

:21:25.:21:30.

interfere, nobody wants that. But it has to be something that insures

:21:31.:21:34.

that we have a robust way of regulating the press and we

:21:34.:21:43.

established that and in that it right.

:21:43.:21:46.

In a week of strong, striking headlines, one stood out for its

:21:46.:21:48.

unusual nature. Four members of the National Assembly bravely decided

:21:48.:21:51.

to go public about their personal experience of mental health issues,

:21:51.:21:55.

notably depression. It is a condition which some people

:21:55.:21:58.

consider a kind of hidden epidemic in Wales, some 4 million

:21:58.:22:00.

prescriptions for anti-depressants were dispensed in Wales last year,

:22:00.:22:06.

that is easily the highest rate in the UK. But drugs may not be the

:22:06.:22:09.

best answer according to the writer and actor Boyd Clack, the man

:22:09.:22:15.

behind television comedy hits Satellite City and High Hopes. He

:22:15.:22:18.

has suffered from depression for most of his adult life and he

:22:18.:22:28.
:22:28.:22:32.

agreed to give us this personal Happy to pull chill autumn day.

:22:32.:22:40.

What could possibly be bad about it? -- Abu to Pope. I supper for a

:22:40.:22:46.

clinic -- from clinical depression and for me it can all be seen

:22:46.:22:55.

through a green filter. It is a profound awareness, an illness that

:22:55.:23:00.

affects you to the very core. You get feelings of alienation, feeling

:23:00.:23:07.

terribly isolated, terrible feelings of fear, intense fear. You

:23:07.:23:12.

have fear of other people and the world around you, Ian of nature,

:23:12.:23:22.
:23:22.:23:24.

theme of yourself. -- view of nature. Society's attitude to is

:23:24.:23:29.

not always good. People used to think that they were possessed by

:23:29.:23:36.

demons or witches and were persecuted. The whisky courted by

:23:36.:23:45.

communities. Unfortunately, not much has changed. It is that little

:23:45.:23:54.

thing, -- it is a brutal thing to marginalise people were already at

:23:54.:24:00.

a very low ebb. Recent statistics have shown an increase in the

:24:00.:24:05.

amount of anti-depressants used in Wales. It is hardly surprising as

:24:05.:24:12.

we go through difficult times. The question that then arises, is

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whether medication is the right way to go about treating it. The answer

:24:18.:24:25.

is in the short term, yes, but not may be in the long term. I have

:24:25.:24:30.

taken them from a long period of time. But there are about

:24:30.:24:36.

treatments involved including a change of lifestyle and getting a

:24:36.:24:41.

decent repeat job, didn't you have your family, these are things that

:24:41.:24:46.

might not happen. Medication will be wet this for quite a long time

:24:46.:24:55.

to come, I think. There are things you can do. When you see someone in

:24:55.:24:59.

work have been holding their hit in the hands, or do not walk by, go

:24:59.:25:06.

and sit with them and buy him a cup of tea. Join in a conversation.

:25:06.:25:11.

Indeed to them as human beings. If the do not want to talk then just

:25:11.:25:18.

sit there in benevolent silence. Show them that we're on a civilised

:25:18.:25:23.

and good society. Don't because I am asking you to, do it because it

:25:23.:25:31.

is the right thing to do. A powerful message.

:25:31.:25:34.

Joining me now is Assembly Member Eluned Parrott, and from North

:25:34.:25:44.
:25:44.:25:44.

Wales, we are joined by mental heath expert Keith Fearns.

:25:44.:25:49.

Eluned Parrott, you went public today but your own health issues,

:25:49.:25:56.

why did you do that? I think it is important that all people see that

:25:56.:25:59.

anybody can have mental health problems and come back from the

:25:59.:26:04.

most Dark places and lead a perfectly the failing light. I

:26:04.:26:08.

wanted to show people that there were positive messages to be told

:26:08.:26:16.

about mental health. Tell us briefly what you experience was.

:26:16.:26:19.

suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of both of my

:26:19.:26:25.

children, most see easily after the second one. I found it

:26:25.:26:30.

disorientating, you lose your sense of self and lose contact with the

:26:30.:26:35.

person that you thought you were. I had to rebuild my life and rethink

:26:35.:26:43.

my priorities. I had to start again from scratch. Keith Fearns, what is

:26:43.:26:47.

your experience of people coming out of these sorts of mental health

:26:47.:26:53.

problems? Do people depend on therapy or can they do a

:26:53.:27:00.

combination of drugs and therapy? Medication alone is not as good as

:27:00.:27:09.

C D T alone but the mixture as the best outcome. What is cognitive

:27:09.:27:17.

behavioural therapy? It is concern about people's actions and how

:27:17.:27:24.

rework. Is it practical advice? Everybody has a way of thinking and

:27:24.:27:28.

a style of thinking, sometimes as time is used: once been of their

:27:28.:27:35.

life but not in others. We are able to help people think about that and

:27:35.:27:40.

act differently. It is a combination. There is a great

:27:40.:27:50.
:27:50.:27:53.

concern at the moment in Wales that we need are more therapists. We

:27:53.:27:58.

only have 55 in coal of Wales. We also have a problem in Wales with a

:27:58.:28:03.

dependency on drugs and anti- depressants. What is your spot on

:28:03.:28:08.

turning the situation around? concerned that people do not have

:28:08.:28:14.

access to talking therapies. In my own case it was a very positive

:28:14.:28:19.

process and helped me to be built. In terms of drug therapies, it is

:28:19.:28:24.

important not to be frightened to take them and certainly not to stop

:28:24.:28:29.

taking them because the drugs in and of themselves can help you find

:28:29.:28:36.

a stability. On that basis you were more able, I found, to tackle

:28:36.:28:40.

challenging thoughts through a period of therapy. When I first

:28:40.:28:44.

went to the doctor with my problem talking therapy would have been

:28:44.:28:51.

successful, but I was not strong enough to do it. Is it a matter of

:28:51.:28:59.

investment? How can we meet someone like you available to many people

:28:59.:29:03.

where they can access your kind of service more easily? Why is that

:29:03.:29:09.

not happening? But people not entering the profession in Wales?

:29:09.:29:12.

We need the guidance of the Government and the at National

:29:12.:29:18.

Assembly. There needs to be more than 55. There is not enough

:29:18.:29:25.

regular training in Wales. There at 28 training centres in England and

:29:25.:29:32.

none in Wales. England has spent �180 million want training new

:29:32.:29:37.

therapists and that isn't there in Wales. As the Welsh Government get

:29:37.:29:44.

it? I think they have made an effort to get it. I don't think it

:29:44.:29:48.

is fair to say they do not recognise the problem. We have just

:29:48.:29:52.

produced a new strategy. But all the strategy is all not help if

:29:52.:29:55.

there are not implemented with funding to make a change actually

:29:55.:30:03.

happen. It is good of you both to join us. I am sure we will return

:30:03.:30:07.

to this in the months to come. I am sure you have your views on

:30:07.:30:10.

that and a number of other of the issues raised tonight so please get

:30:10.:30:12.

As homes are ravaged by floods and hundreds left homeless, we ask the Environment Minister why our safety and our homes are still at risk? And pills over therapy, why are mental health services in Wales lagging behind?


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