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Four day fire strike called off in Wales

Firefighters have been campaigning against a retirement age increase Credit: FBU

A four day strike by firefighters that was due to affect all English and Welsh fire services won't go ahead in Wales. It will still take place in England, starting on Friday. The Fire Brigades Union says there has been "a significant change of direction" by the Welsh government in a long running pensions dispute.

While the Westminster government continue to ignore the concerns raised by firefighters, the Welsh government have now suggested an improved proposal that could significantly improve the position for a large number of firefighters in Wales. This would involve altering the way firefighters could choose to retire before the age of 60.

– Fire Brigades Union

The UK government wants to raise firefighters' retirement age from 55 to 60, which their union says would leave them facing dismissal if they are no longer physically able to do the job. The FBU expects the UK government to make the change without any further consultation before a vote at Westminster.

Extending the change to Wales would require a vote in the Assembly. The union says it's received a letter from the Welsh Government saying that the new Minister for Public Services, Leighton Andrews, will first consult "on pension scheme design that will differ from the one proposed in England".

This could be a significant improvement for a significant number of firefighters and cannot be ignored. The Welsh Government ... acted ... whilst the Westminster government continues to ignore all the evidence. It does support our view that strike action is avoidable if there is a willingness to do so but the Westminster government doesn’t seem to want that.

– FBU General Secretary Mick Wrack

The union says that suspending strike action in Wales is a temporary measure whilst it waits to see what its Welsh members are offered. Firefighters' terms and conditions are not at present devolved and there have not yet been any detailed discussions about the future position in Wales. The Welsh Government declined to comment.

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Support service launched for problem gamblers in Wales

There are as many as 1,500 fixed odd betting terminals in Wales Credit: PA

A new initiative has been launched to help tackle problem gambling in Wales.

Statistics show the Welsh population spends the equivalent of 3.4% of the nation's annual GDP, that's around £1.6 billion, at fixed odd betting terminals.

That's the equivalent of £675 for every adult in Wales.

Now, in an effort to tackle the problem, Beat The Odds has been launched in Cardiff, to help people tackle their gambling difficulties.

Gambling is not a new phenomenon, but problem gambling in Wales is on the increase.

Figures for England and Wales show that almost 2% of the adult male population can now be classified as Pathological Gamblers. Gambling problems can lead to incredibly tough emotional, financial and psychological issues which are not easy to spot until it gets too much for the individual in question.

Beat the Odds aims to offer a new service unlike any other available before in Wales. We want to tackle the stigma associated with problem gambling and encourage anybody who feels as if they are losing control of their lives through gambling to get in touch us and help shape a bespoke package to roll out across Wales.

– Wynford Ellis Owen, Beat The Odds
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