19/01/2017 BBC Wales Today


19/01/2017

News and weather from BBC Wales.


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Welcome to Wales Today.

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Patients here are still waiting longer than those in England

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for key treatments.

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Tonight, we ask the Health Secretary if he takes responsibility.

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And Melanie Woodcock was sent to prison for not

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paying her council tax.

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The High Court rules she was unlawfully jailed.

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Good evening.

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Patients needing hip replacements in Wales wait, on average,

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three times longer than in England.

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Latest figures show that waiting times in the Welsh NHS still lag

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behind in most of the key categories for treatment and diagnosis.

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But, there has been a big reduction in the wait

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for heart by-pass surgery.

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The Health Secretary has admitted the length of some

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of the waits is unacceptable and reform is needed.

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More from our Political Editor Nick Servini.

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Ab with her dog at home in Newquay in Ceredigion.

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82-year-old Margaret Brazier can now enjoy a short walk

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thanks to a hip replacement operation last year at nearby wrong

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hospital.

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It was cancelled four times but she eventually had the

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surgery after waiting six months.

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You are on tenterhooks waiting for the phone

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to ring, waiting for a

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letter when you are going to be able to come in

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and you have got pain in

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your groin.

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It's difficult to walk.

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Just a very frustrating.

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Your life is virtually on hold.

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Official figures from last year show she

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wasn't alone.

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The main statistical bodies for the NHS have found that

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patients in Wales waited significantly longer than in England

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in seven out of the 11 categories.

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And the biggest gap was in hip operations, where the average Welsh

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wait was 226 days compared to 76 in England.

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Elsewhere, waits for a hernia operations in Wales were

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120 days compared with 43 in England.

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Cataract waits in Wales were 107 days compared with 58 in England.

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But it wasn't all bad.

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Cancer waits were broadly the same as in England

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and there was a dramatic fall in the length

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of time patients wait for

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heart bypass surgery in Wales.

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It is very frustrating to see that things

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aren't better but it is no surprise.

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Everyday we can see the pressure that the hospitals are under when we

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are working there.

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You can see the pressure that the emergency services

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and doctors and nurses are under in managing the demand

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for emergency care.

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The Welsh government has come under fire from opposition parties

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who say the figures are scandalous and in particular hit

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the elderly the hardest.

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The Health Secretary Vaughan Gething admits some of the

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waits are unacceptable but says there needs to be change because

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the current structure in the NHS is unlikely to deliver the waiting

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times people want.

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Do you take responsibility?

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These people are in pain for months longer than they

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would be if they lived the other side of the border.

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Not everyone who waits deals with pain and

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discomfort.

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Not everyone who waits and waits in pain but some people do

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and for lots of people there is anxiety that goes

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with the wait for treatment and I have got

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responsibility overall as a politician for the whole system

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and I don't try to hide from that.

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My job is to make the case for a public

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service that delivers high-quality care and the improvements that all

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of us would wish to see.

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There are no easy answers to figures like

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these but political pressure on ministers would be to throw even

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more money at hospitals like this one but that creates even more

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pressure from other public services that already feel starved of cash

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because of demands from the NHS, and then there is the growing

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realisation that simply throwing money

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at it is probably not the

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long-term answer anyway.

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All the recent attention has been on winter

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pressures but they rise in emergency admissions has a big knock on for

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the time it takes to treat patients elsewhere.

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And those preparing for planned operations are often the

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ones who suffer.

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Publication of a long-awaited report into the scandal-hit Tawel Fan ward

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at Glan Clwyd Hospital is to be delayed again.

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The mental health ward in Bodelwyddan was closed

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in December 2013, after an inquiry found some patients had been treated

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"like animals."

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This comes after the release of another

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document, suggesting the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board

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was at risk of failing to comply with laws

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designed to protect vulnerable people.

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The Board says it's working on measures to reduce risks.

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We have taken the opportunity to put things right.

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We are not waiting, obviously, for the historic report.

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I would say all the evidence we have got and everything I have seen and

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people I have spoken to say we are giving

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a good quality of care to

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people.

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We do not always get it right, and that is for sure, but

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people can feel when they come in here we give them the kind of care

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and attention and treatment anybody would want to have and I certainly

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want anybody to have.

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A woman from Porthcawl who was unlawfully jailed

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for failing to pay her council tax says she will never recover

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from her time spent behind bars.

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Melanie Woolcock is calling for a change in the law

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after being sentenced to 81 days in prison for failing

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to pay ?10 a week towards a debt of ?4700.

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She was released half-way through her jail term

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after a charity took up her case.

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Caroline Evans reports.

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Melanie Woolcock is currently juggling two jobs, running a shop

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and delivering takeaways.

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As single mother, she says trying to make ends meet

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pushed her into debt but she was paying it off.

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I fell behind roughly about ten weeks, realised that,

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and then paid ten weeks in one go but the day I paid the money,

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a warrant had been issued to arrest me for nonpayment

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so it was too late for me to do anything about it.

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I think it's wrong that if you are struggling with a bill,

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that you are sent into a prison full of criminals.

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When I have never committed a crime in my entire life,

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never even had a parking ticket.

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And yet they are able to take you into prison

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for nonpayment of a bill.

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Yesterday a High Court judge ruled she had been unlawfully jailed.

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The lawyer who represented her says most cases of this type which go

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before the High Court are quashed.

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We have won the case in front of the High Court

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because there was no adequate enquiry into means or investigation

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into alternate custody.

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It is approximately 90% or thereabouts of cases that

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are quashed by the High Court and it is very unusual in any system

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to see that number of decisions to be found subsequently

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unlawful or excessive.

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She only got help because while in prison she found a magazine article

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on council tax debt and wrote for help from a charity.

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The author of that article says the impact of such sentences

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on families already struggling financially is terrible and wants

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an end to imprisonment for all types of civil debt.

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Two people a week go to prison unlawfully so it is a small number

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compared with all the Magistrates' Courts dealing with all the council

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tax debt but in terms of the human cost, it is very serious.

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Prisons are not places for people who have financial difficulty,

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prisons are there for serious offenders who have committed crimes

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and caused great damage so it is two people a week and this,

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I believe, should be stopped.

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Bridgend Council, which was owed the money, says they have a legal

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responsibility to collect unpaid council tax but offer help to anyone

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experiencing difficulty and prosecution is always

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a last resort.

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"We understand that the resident in this case was jailed

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"after failing to meet the requirements of

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"the suspended sentence issued by the Magistrates' Court", they say.

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Melanie says she will never recover from her experience.

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I was in a prison with, you know, paedophiles,

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murderers, arsonists.

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Not my scene at all.

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She is now working with university law departments to try

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and change the law.

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Ministers in Wales need to be given confidence their views on Brexit

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are making a difference, according the Welsh

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Finance Secretary.

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Mark Drakeford was speaking after a joint committee on Brexit,

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set up by the UK Government, met for the first time

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since Theresa May said the UK should leave the European single market.

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This is meant to be a fundamental forum.

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It was referenced by the Prime Minister in her speech

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and I feel that we need to be given confidence by the UK Government

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that we are not simply here to express our views

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but that those views go on and make a difference.

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Even the Welsh Government accepted today that the language

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the Prime Minister used earlier this week about a free-trade

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agreement with the European Union is not inconsistent

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with the language they have talked about so this demonstrates

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there is a lot of common ground but I am not underestimating

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the challenges that are there.

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A billion pound investment plan for south-west Wales that

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would boost digital technology for energy and healthcare projects

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is close to being approved.

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The Swansea Bay city region deal aims to create thousands of jobs

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and attract a further ?2 billion of investment over 15 years.

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Swansea council says it hopes an agreement with UK ministers can

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be reached by the end of February.

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Two men and a woman have been arrested after an incident

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in the Cathays area of Cardiff.

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Armed officers were called to Miskin Street at lunchtime.

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Police said the road was closed to safeguard the public.

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After battling everything the ocean has thrown at him -

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sailor Alex Thomson is set to receive a hero's welcome tomorrow

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morning as he finishes second in the Vonday Globe,

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the solo round the world yacht race.

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The 42-year-old, who was born in Bangor,

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was bidding to become the first non-French winner.

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But his push for glory petered out after his auto-pilot failed.

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His family say they can't wait to be reunited.

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I can't wait!

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I'm so excited about seeing him.

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I have spoken to him and been in contact but actually seeing

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him is totally different and I cannot wait.

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Just so proud and every time I think of him crossing that

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line and coming down the canal I get very, very emotional.

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Now there's some sunshine on the way to look forward to.

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Here's Derek with the forecast.

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If you're fed up the grey and gloomy weather there is a change on the way

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and most of us should enjoy someone winter sunshine tomorrow.

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Tonight, cloud in the north, some drizzle, otherwise dry,

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clearer elsewhere and that means a colder night with some frost,

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one or two mist and fog patches too.

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Tomorrow starts with some cloud in the north but that tends to clear.

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Elsewhere, some frost and one or two fog patches.

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Otherwise many places bright and sunny.

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Across the rest of the UK, cloudy for most of Northern Ireland

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and the north of England and southern Scotland.

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Spots of drizzle.

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Elsewhere, dry and plenty of sunshine across the south

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and some sunshine also for the north and north-east of Scotland.

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Closer to home it should be a lovely afternoon.

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Fine, bright, lots of winter sunshine.

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Temperatures lower than today and feeling a bit chilly.

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A light to moderate breeze.

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Tomorrow night, dry, the sky is clear and that means

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a widespread frost and one or two freezing fog patches and some low

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cloud later in the night.

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Cold and generally dry on Saturday.

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Some low cloud, some mist and a few fog patches.

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The best of the sunshine likely in the north.

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Sunday, more dry weather, cloudy for some of us but a few

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places will see the sun.

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A little bit on the chilly side but at least the wind will be light.

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Monday, high pressure still over the UK which means a dry

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and settled start next week, but there is a change on the way

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and it becomes windy with rain by Thursday and turning milder.

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Good night.

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We're back with updates into Breakfast from around 6.25.

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But that is Wales Today.

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From all of us on the programme, good night.

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