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More than 7 out of 10 babies in Blaenau Gwent 'born outside marriage or civil partnership'

Credit: Arno Burgi/DPA/PA Images

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says 73.2% of babies in Blaenau Gwent are born to unmarried parents.

The average for the whole of the UK is 48%.

In Merthyr Tydfil it's 70%.

Here are the full figures for the areas with the 10 highest and lowest percentages of live births outside marriage or civil partnership:

  • 1. Knowsley: 74.8%
  • 2. Blaenau Gwent: 73.2%
  • 3. Blackpool: 72.2%
  • 4. Hartlepool: 70.4%
  • 5. Merthyr Tydfil: 70%
  • = Redcar and Cleveland: 70%
  • 7. North East Lincolnshire: 69.1%
  • 8. Hull: 69%
  • 9. Halton: 67.4%
  • 10. Barnsley: 67.2%

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Bid to cut premature deaths

Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/PA Images

A new programme is being launched today to reduce the number of people in some of Wales’ most deprived communities from dying prematurely from heart disease and cancer.

Average life expectancy for men in Wales is 78.2 (2010-12) but life expectancy for men living in Blaenau Gwent is just 75.7 years – one of the five lowest in England and Wales.

Heart disease and cancer share many factors, like poor diet, little exercise, smoking and excess alcohol intake.

The Welsh Government says, in the first phase of the Living Well Living Longer programme, targeted support will be provided to people with the need by identifying those at the greatest risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The health check will include simple questions about lifestyle and family history. People will be offered a blood pressure, pulse and cholesterol check to assess their risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years.

Advice about diet and exercise, including, where appropriate, referral to exercise schemes or support from local smoking cessation services, will be offered.

Despite overall improvements in life expectancy, more needs to be done to address the unacceptable inequalities in health outcomes between Wales’ most and least deprived communities.

Much can be done through actions to tackle health inequalities at source – such as improving diet, doing more exercise, stop smoking and drinking alcohol responsibly.

– Vaughan Gethin AM, Deputy Health Minister.

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Public inquiry into Circuit of Wales plans

A public inquiry will be held in June, to consider plans for a £280m racing track in Blaenau Gwent.

The Planning Inspectorate says the planning inquiry will start on 24 June, with its inspector writing a recommendation over whether the development should go ahead.

Developers hope to bring top-level motor racing to Ebbw Vale. Credit: Heads of the Valleys Development Company

Developers say the track will create thousands of jobs, and bring 750,000 visitors to the area each year - but there has been controversy over environmental concerns.

Says Kate Ashbrook, from the Open Spaces Society, said: ‘We objected most strongly to this ugly and intrusive development on a substantial area of common land. We are pleased that, in the light of the objections, the Planning Inspectorate has resolved that there should be a public inquiry."

Operation Jasmine families made review possible - MP

Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith has campaigned on behalf of the families of those alleged to have suffered abuse and neglect. He's welcomed the announcement of an independent review.

When I met the families affected by the collapse of Operation Jasmine in March, two things were clear. They wanted answers and they wanted justice.

Without the bold decision by the First Minister today, these families would have been let down by the system.

Their pain and guilt over what happened to their loved ones deserved a response, and I cannot welcome this response enough.

From the first time I saw the disturbing images of wickedness at these care homes, I knew it was a story that needed to be told and for real lessons to be learned from it.

In the months since, I have been campaigning hard in Parliament to change care home laws, while working with the Deputy Minister for Social Services and Older People’s Commissioner to secure an inquiry - always with their story at the forefront of my mind.

But it is the tireless work by these families that has made this possible today. We will no longer have to talk about 12,000 tonnes of evidence lying locked in a warehouse, or a criminal case lying on file.

Instead we will have a review that will tell the public the full story, and hopefully spare generations to come from tragic stories such as this.

– Nick Smith MP, Blaenau Gwent

Race-track boss: 'We are confident in the plans'

The company behind the plans for the 'Circuit of Wales' race-track say they will work with the Welsh Government to overcome any concerns about the development.

We are very confident in the outline planning application we have submitted and are delighted that we received the unanimous backing of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council in today’s vote. The Welsh Government has asked for more time to look at the project and we’re happy to continue engaging with them and all stakeholders to ensure we address, as much as possible, the specific concerns they have.

– Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of Heads of the Valleys Development Company.
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