02/12/2012 The Wales Report


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Images of destruction and anguish are becoming all too painfully


familiar across Wales. Homes destroyed and lives wrecked by a


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


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


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


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


with the effects of climate change in the future.


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


government needs to radically reconsider the whole policy of


flood defence. And there has been growing disquiet about the


regulations concerning the policy of building on flood plains,


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


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


flooded. Families rescuing their belongings from the devastation had


many questions. We got the house and the promise


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


guarantee they should not happen. By something went wrong and


questions are being asked about why planning permission was granted.


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


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


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


councils and Environment Agency work to Welsh assembly guidelines.


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


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


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


it is argued, producing extreme weather conditions across Wales,


while government financial restrictions are making spending on


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


agreement with the insurance industry to underwrite cover for


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


have stalled. The Environment Minister visited families this week


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


months he will have to come up with some answers.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


developers have five years to start developing from the granting of


planning permission and often they would build the first phase and


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


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


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


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


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


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


about a particular development in terms of planning matters as


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


development takes place. OK, I understand the legal


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


bringing together the key partners, the Welsh government, Environment


Agency, local authorities and those whose infrastructure is protected.


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


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


him in future years will be presented with the opportunity of


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


need to have confidence that the Welsh government has a really


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


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


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


all these matters again and constantly keep them under review,


because when we have serious incidents are flooding we need to


look at the particular circumstances, any lessons and go


through that exercise. There are lots of pressures - the


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


people think that the wrong pressures have won and those people


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


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


robust approach to recognising flood risk and guarding against it,


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


banks of the river a new development has taken place


recently. As part of that development flood precautions have


been greatly increased and strengthened. The level of the land


has been substantially raised. That has provided much better protection


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


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


Unita have regeneration. It was World Aids Day yesterday.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


liquidators. The former manager of the charity


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


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


forced to live in two rooms in the empty property.


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


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


talk about what we could and could not do.


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


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


of the sale price. So this was your room?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


been alive? This was the only place of its kind


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


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


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


centre. It is a huge loss, and people are


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


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


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


complete time where you can be yourself is just lost.


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


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


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


has reached 1400. Even more worrying is the


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


the infection. They may still be spreading the virus.


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


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


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


supported. They cost the Welsh government virtually nothing. The


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


to the Welsh government than would otherwise be the case.


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


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


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


attempts to interest the last government in helping assented to


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


in helping the centre to diversify. Philip has given outstanding


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


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


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


any claims being made must follow the appropriate legal procedure.


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


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


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


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


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


impressed by the decision that she regards lacking in compassion.


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


cope. When we contacted the Department for at their help


Minister we were told that the Welsh Government is still


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


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


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


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


health minister goes ahead and reclaims the grant money and a


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


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


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


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


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


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


it was very stressful. After months of anticipation, Lord


Justice Leveson finally unveiled his findings this week on the


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


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


recommendation, which called for a new independent regulator backed by


new legislation. Charlotte Church was a prominent Welsh voice among


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


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


underpinning because after three or five years of self regulation or


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


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


not happen. With me is Professor Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff


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


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


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


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


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


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


were the last century. The Prime Minister is extremely cautious


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


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


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


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


It is very important to get something that works whilst


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


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


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


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


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


have a legitimate reason for qualifying that, it is a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


They were split before it Lord Leveson announced his report and


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


moderate statutory underpinning will continue. What is the


importance of that underpinning? what the reason that Charlotte


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


new arrangements not fall apart like every previous generation of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


does not involve political meddling? You have to put a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


established that and in that it right.


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


unusual nature. Four members of the National Assembly bravely decided


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


notably depression. It is a condition which some people


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


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


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


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


behind television comedy hits Satellite City and High Hopes. He


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


demons or witches and were persecuted. The whisky courted by


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


treatments involved including a change of lifestyle and getting a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


is the right thing to do. A powerful message.


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


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


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


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


anybody can have mental health problems and come back from the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


turning the situation around? concerned that people do not have


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


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


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


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


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


challenging thoughts through a period of therapy. When I first


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


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


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


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


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


We need the guidance of the Government and the at National


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


there are not implemented with funding to make a change actually


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


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


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


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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