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Welsh tuition wrangle rolls on

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Aberystwyth University: Still to confirm its position

Aberystwyth University: Still to confirm its position

ARRANGEMENTS for the provision of Welsh language learners courses across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, and Powys remain uncertain, The Herald has confirmed. 

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David was selected by the Welsh Government to lead Canolfan Dysgu Cymraeg Genedlaethol – thew new National Centre for Learning Welsh.

That new Centre was supposed to be based in Carmarthen, but The Herald understands that many of its operational decisions will instead be taken in Cardiff.

The organisation of the Centre’s management structure and senior staff appointments have been criticised for being Cardiff-centric and not being representative of the Welsh language community in West a n d North Wales.

Aberystwyth University was successful in its application to the new national centre to run courses in West Wales.

It now appears as though Aberystwyth University is trying to get out of the terms of a contract for which it tendered successfully, or at least to vary that contract’s terms in its own favour. A dispute has since arisen between Aberystwyth University and local authorities regarding the transfer of staff to it as the tuition provider.

The situation has caused anger and dismay both to staff who do not know whether or not they will have a job, and amongst students who do not know whether and when courses will be delivered.

Speaking to The Herald, Adam Price, AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation: “The priority has to be the availability and continuity of Welsh for Adult courses for learners in Carmarthenshire so that residents can continue to study and learn in their local communities.

“The National Centre was hailed by the Welsh government as a means to improve the provision of Welsh for Adult courses in Wales, yet it seems in practice a lot is left to be desired.

“On the basis of the information with which I have been provided, I am not content with the situation that seems to be unfolding here in Carmarthenshire.

“As a consequence, I have made urgent representations to the Welsh Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language to ask that he intervenes in this matter and ensures that the long-term arrangements for courses in Carmarthenshire are secured.”

It appears, however, that the University is now engaged in an exercise to reduce its commitment to provide all Welsh language tuition in the area for which it tendered.

Having been alerted to a potential change, The Herald asked Carmarthenshire County Council to comment.

A spokesperson for the Council told us: ‘It is confirmed that Carmarthenshire County Council will continue to provide a range of Welsh for Adults courses within Carmarthenshire. Another provider will be responsible for the courses previously provided by Higher Education establishments.

“The National Centre for Learning Welsh will be overseeing these arrangements. Collectively, this will ensure a comprehensive range of courses for learners for the next academic year.”

We asked the National Centre to update us on the position, and apprised them of the information we had received.

A spokesperson for the National Centre for Learning Welsh said: “The National Centre for Learning Welsh has invited Aberystwyth University to take responsibility for Welsh for Adults courses in Ceredigion and Powys from September 2016 onwards.

“Furthermore, the University has been invited to deliver intensive courses and blended learning courses at all Levels, and Higher and Proficiency Level courses, in Carmarthenshire.

“Carmarthenshire County Council has been invited to deliver weekly courses at Entry, Foundation and Intermediate Levels in Carmarthenshire.”

That position not only confirms the rejigging of the Carmarthenshire contract, but opens questions about why it is at this stage that the University is being ‘invited to deliver courses’ for which it has already successfully tendered.

A suggestion has been by one source involved in the saga that the University had underestimated the resolve of Ceredigion County Council and the determination of the National Centre not to let it wriggle off the hook of its obligations to those staff who previously provided tuition in the Welsh language.

A spokesperson for Ceredigion Council told The Herald: “Officers from the Council have held constructive talks with Aberystwyth University and the National Centre for Learning Welsh in relation to Welsh for Adults. We are working through the details of these talks and are optimistic that a satisfactory solution can now emerge. Once the arrangements have been confirmed and details shared with staff, further information will be shared in due course.”

We asked Aberystwyth University to confirm its position and put Adam Price’s statement to them. In response we were told: “We hope to be in a position to confirm our decision in the coming days.”

We asked Adam Price’s office for a further statement in light of the developments. A spokesperson for Assembly Member Adam Price confirmed that Mr Price has made written representations to the Welsh Government’s Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language on the matter of the provision of Welsh for Adults courses, and was still awaiting a response.

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Antisocial behaviour falls as police operation continues

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POLICE said that they saw a reduction in antisocial behaviour involving young people in Carmarthenshire over the weekend, following weeks of increased activity.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers proactively patrolled areas which have recently become hot spots for teenagers to gather and drink alcohol as part of an ongoing operation.

A police presence was also maintained on trains between Llanelli and Carmarthen to identify how many youngsters were travelling in the area and where they were getting off.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “Over the weekend we continued our work to target, deter and deal with antisocial behaviour and underage drinking in hot spots identified primarily in Llanelli and Burry Port.

“Section 34 dispersal orders had been put in place ahead of the weekend, meaning we could move on anyone likely to cause antisocial behaviour, but thankfully they were not required. This is an improvement on previous weekends when we have had to exercise these powers.

“A significant number of young people were spoken to, with the vast majority being pleasant, not under the influence of alcohol, and not causing any trouble.

“Members of the public acknowledged the high police presence, as did the young people, and this might have deterred underage drinking.

“We are very pleased to have seen the change in attitudes and behaviour this weekend.”

The force received just one call reporting youngsters gathering at Burry Port harbour, with no offences or antisocial behaviour identified by attending officers.

Of the young people spoken two over the weekend, two were found with alcohol which was seized. Follow-up antisocial behaviour letters will be issued, and home visits will take place shortly.

Groups were also reminded of the dangers of swimming near the harbour and were encouraged to take their rubbish home.

Officers on the rail network removed one drunk adult from a train.

Sgt Davies said: “I would like to thank all officers involved in the operation over the weekend, as well as the young people who made sure they stayed within the law while enjoying the weather.

“We will be out and about again next weekend and throughout the summer, making sure the area is enjoyable for all who visit.”

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Lord Lieutenant visits Mass Vaccination Centre

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Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sarah Edwards, has paid tribute to all those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme during a visit to the Y Ffwrness Mass Vaccination Centre in Llanelli.

During the visit on Wednesday 9th June she was joined by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr.Jonathan Gravell. They met and spoke to the centre’s vaccinators, NHS staff, security staff and volunteers.

To date, the collective efforts of mass vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, have resulted in the Hywel Dda University Health Board delivering over 431,850 vaccinations. This means 266,785 of the eligible population have now received a first vaccine, and 165,056 have received both doses.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed said: “It was wonderful to see first-hand the incredible work being undertaken by the vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers. They have played a crucial role in the success of the vaccine rollout programme. I would also pay tribute to the public for their overwhelmingly positive response to getting vaccinated.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the health board, I was delighted to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr Jonathan Gravell. I am deeply proud of everyone involved in the vaccination programme and I’m glad they got to see for themselves the incredibly work being undertaken to help get us through this pandemic.”

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Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour

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POLICE seized large amounts of alcohol and arrested a teenager as they continued to deal with antisocial behaviour over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police had proactive plans in place to deal with ongoing issues of groups of youngsters gathering in Carmarthenshire following rising reports of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour over the past two months.

Dispersal orders were in place across Llanelli and Burry Port, giving police the powers to move anyone believed to be causing a nuisance, harassment or distress out of the area.

Officers patrolling the rail network in Carmarthenshire on Saturday noticed a large amount of young people getting off the train at Ferryside, where an additional dispersal order was put in place and alcohol was seized.

Officers were also required to deal with children trespassing on the railway tracks.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “We had received reports of children with alcohol running across the tracks, which posed a huge danger to themselves and others, and had to be stopped as a priority.

“One boy who was detained became abusive towards officers and could not be reasoned with. Officers had no choice but to arrest him for his own safety and to prevent further offences from being committed.

“This incident goes to show that the kind of behaviour we are dealing with goes beyond groups of young people meeting to have a good time, and is putting people in highly dangerous situations.”

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries by British Transport Police.

Early intervention was taken in the Trostre area of Llanelli, where officers noticed groups of children meeting on Saturday.

Sgt Davies said: “More than 60 young people were moved on from both locations and a large amount of alcohol was seized.

“Out of these groups, four notices were issued to those causing the most trouble in the Trostre area which prevented them from returning, and each of these youngsters were taken home.

“This swift action was a deterrent to other young people who were planning on joining the groups and were still travelling to the area.”

“We will continue to put plans in place each weekend and over the summer holidays to deal with antisocial behaviour, using all powers available to us to put a stop to it.”

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