Welsh morning headlines: News, Ukraine, coronavirus and sport as snow forecast and Covid test centres to shut


We have put together a round-up of all the latest news, weather, and travel information for Tuesday, March 29, that will get you caught up and ready for the day.

The big Covid news in Wales overnight was that all testing centres set up two years ago as the pandemic ripped across the nation are to close. The centres in places like Cardiff City’s Leckwith Stadium will no longer be needed as people will not be allowed to book PCR tests if they have symptoms.

In other major changes, Lateral Flow Tests will no longer be provided for people with no symptoms to take a test before they go to work or visit family. Only people with symptoms are asked to order LFT tests, which will be available online or by calling 119. See more details on that story here.

There is also set to be a change in the weather, which will bring colder temperatures, and even snow. It might be the end of March, but northerly winds are set to sweep across the UK bringing a dramatic change just days after the warmest day of the year.

BBC forecaster Ben Rich says it is going to come as “a shock to the system” especially for area, like Wales, that saw 18°C on Monday.

READ MORE : Major changes to Covid testing in Wales start this week

All eyes today will be on the Royal Family, and whether the Queen will be well enough to attend a service of thanksgiving for the Duke of Edinburgh.

The memorial at Westminster Abbey for Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99, will celebrate his public service and a “long life lived fully”.

Representatives of his charities, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, will be in the congregation.

Buckingham Palace has indicated a last-minute decision will be taken as to whether the Queen will attend.

Wales news headlines

Teaching assistant had sex with 15-year-old pupil

A school teaching assistant had sex with a 15-year-old boy after telling him: “Age is just a number.” Rebecca Williams made contact with the teenager online and they exchanged flirtatious messages and told one another: “You’re fit,” a court heard.

Prosecutor Richard Edwards told Mold Crown Court the 21-year-old defendant had picked up the boy in her car one weekend and took him to her home. “They watched TV before the defendant took him to her bedroom,” he said. “He described the first time as a little awkward.”

Teaching assistant Rebecca Williams leaving Mold Crown Court after sentencing.
Teaching assistant Rebecca Williams leaving Mold Crown Court after sentencing.

The court heard the pair kissed and had sex and the boy stayed overnight. Mr Edwards said Williams had later messaged the boy asking to meet up again. They went straight upstairs to her bedroom and had sex. But the court heard Williams wanted more of a relationship and the victim ended up blocking her on messaging apps. Read more here.

Police chief wants unified Welsh force

Dyfed-Powys Police’s new chief constable believes Wales’ four police forces should be unified and work as a single nationwide force. Former Cleveland Police boss Dr Richard Lewis says this should be in place by 2030, with the four police forces becoming one by that time.

The BBC reports the police chief saying: “(If) the Americans can put a man on the moon in eight years, I think we can unify four police services. Doing away with those borders means we can provide a more effective service.”

The Home Office said the existing structure meant everyone had a direct say on policing in their area. However, Dr Lewis said merging forces into Heddlu Cymru, Welsh for Police Wales, would be more effective.

It would make the force the third largest in England and Wales, behind the Metropolitan Police and West Midlands Police. Carmarthenshire-born Dr Lewis said: “One chief constable rather than four, one deputy chief constable, dare I say one commissioner instead of four.”

Today’s forecast

Cloudier and cooler for most today as temperatures start to plummet. Here is the full forecast for Wales:

A cloudy start for most, but sunny spells in western and southern areas. Brightening up more widely through the afternoon, but a few showers developing. Feeling cooler than recent days. Maximum temperature 15 °C.

Clear spells for many this evening with isolated showers fading away. Cloud spilling southwards overnight with showery rain arriving from the north later in the night. Minimum temperature 2 °C.

Here is how the roads and rail are affected at 7am

National news headlines

Foreign Office ‘very concerned’ about Abramovich suspected poisoning

Claims that Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich suffered suspected poisoning during attempts to aid peace talks in Ukraine are “very concerning”, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has said.

It said the UK will “continue to assist” by implementing tough sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime as well as by providing defensive and humanitarian support to put Ukraine “in the strongest possible negotiating position”.

The suspected poisoning of the billionaire was not intended to kill him and the two Ukrainian representatives, the lead Russia investigator with investigative news outlet Bellingcat has said.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

Christo Grozev told Times Radio the “most plausible” explanation for the alleged poisoning was that it was a warning to Mr Abramovich.

“The dosage was not high enough to kill any of the three, the most likely target would have been Abramovich. And it kind of makes sense. I mean, he volunteered to play… this role of (an) honest broker, but other oligarchs had… declared certain independence from the Kremlin position and criticise(d) the war,” the journalist said.

“So it could well be seen as a warning sign to them to not join the ranks of those who dissent, and to not be too much of an honest broker.”

It comes as Boris Johnson pledged to “co-ordinate closely” with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in the days ahead, reiterating the UK’s commitment to strengthening economic pressure on Moscow.

Meanwhile, British defence intelligence analysts warned more than 1,000 Russian mercenaries are expected to deploy to eastern Ukraine to undertake combat operations.

In an intelligence update on Twitter, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Russia had “highly likely been forced to reprioritise” personnel from the paramilitary Wagner Group, at the expense of operations in Africa and Syria, “due to heavy losses and a largely stalled invasion”.

Will Smith issues apology to Chris Rock

Actor Will Smith has issued a public apology to Chris Rock after slapping the comedian at the Oscars.

The 53-year-old called his behaviour at the Academy Awards “unacceptable and inexcusable” and said he was embarrassed by his actions.

Smith added that the joke about his wife’s medical condition had caused him to react “emotionally” but “violence in all its forms is poisonous and destructive”.

Will Smith cries as he accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for "King Richard" at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Will Smith cries as he accepts his Oscar

In a statement posted to Instagram the actor said: “I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong.

“I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.

“I would also like to apologise to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologise to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family.

“I deeply regret that my behaviour has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.”

Smith concluded his apology by saying: “I am a work in progress.”

Smith has been condemned by the Academy as it launched a formal review into his altercation with Rock during the Oscars ceremony.

The 94th annual awards show was thrown into chaos when Smith went onstage and hit the comedian in front of a star-studded audience, after Rock made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and her hair loss.

Sport headlines

Welsh goalkeeper to earn 100th cap

Wayne Hennessey will captain Wales against Czech Republic on what will be the goalkeeper’s 100th cap for his country.

The Bangor-born shot stopper made his 99th appearance for Wales in the 2-1 World Cup play-off semi-final victory over Austria last week. And he will mark his century by wearing the armband at Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday night, Rob Page has confirmed.

“Yeah, I think rightly so, he deserves that,” said the head coach when asked if the 35-year-old will skipper the hosts in Cardiff. “He’s going to get his 100th cap. To lead the boys out is a great honour and I would love to give him the armband to do that.

Wayne Hennessey of Wales takes a goal kick

“He’s an absolute legend of this football team. For what he’s given to the country over the years, he deserves all of the plaudits he’s going to get.”

On the landmark occasion, the Burnley goalkeeper said: “It means a lot. I’m a North Walian and my hero growing up was Neville Southall, and Nev reached 92 caps. I absolutely adore Nev and I thought he was one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the time. But for myself, it’s a massive achievement for myself and my family. It’s going to be a huge occasion and I can’t wait.”

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