PENARTH residents will not just be alarmed – but angered – to hear of that suspected stroke patients in Wales are waiting almost 10 hours for ambulances.

Let’s be clear – this is an absolute scandal.

The Stroke Association are clear in their advice – there is a four hour “essential window” in which intervention is required to secure the best possible outcome for suspected stroke patients.

It is yet another sign of the appalling mismanagement of the NHS by the Welsh Labour Government.

Conditions such as strokes are regarded as “amber” by the Welsh Ambulance Service – and last year saw an increase of almost 50 per cent in the number of people waiting over an hour for such calls.

This year – it stood at 22,549 – having been 15,172 a year earlier. Clearly, this is a disgrace.

The Welsh Government must face up to its endemic failure to improve patient outcomes in Wales.

Ministers need to stop burying their heads in the sand – and focus on standards rather than changing targets.

I was disappointed to hear that in the last round of monies awarded by the Big Lottery Fund – not a single Vale-based organisation received a grant.

A pot of more than £400,000 will be shared by 65 community projects across Wales – so it is sad we are not getting our slice of the cake.

I can think of several local projects – both in Penarth and elsewhere – which would have benefitted from the opportunities this money could bring.

It’s not as if I am not regularly approached by community organisations looking for money to help deliver improvements in the local area.

I’ve therefore contacted the Big Lottery Fund asking how many Vale based organisations applied for funding.

If the answer was few – then we need to improve the advertising of the scheme so more people take advantage.

If the answer was many – then we need to shout louder to make sure we are not ignored next time.

Either way – it is a real shame that no money came the Vale’s way – and we must make sure we don’t allow this to happen next time.

As we enter the New Year – I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Penarth residents all the best for 2018.

In my New Year column last year – I made the point of saying how 2017 would need to “go some way” to being as eventful as 2016 – but that I was sure there would be “plenty to talk about” as the months go by.

I think it’s fair to say that prediction came true.

The way the days fell this year meant that my final column before Christmas came in November – which felt a little early to be sending festive wishes.

So it may be belated but I do hope everyone had a good Christmas – and had the chance to relax with friends and family.

In a similar vein – whatever 2018 has in store – and whatever you have got planned – I’d like to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.