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Warning over fake banknotes this Christmas

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pounds-cash-mooney_142217IN THE lead up to Christmas, the independent crime-fighting charity, Crimestoppers, is appealing to the public for information on those making, buying or selling counterfeit banknotes.

Whilst less than 1% of notes in circulation are counterfeit, this is not a victimless crime. Many retailers, businesses, school, charities and the elderly have been conned out of money using fake notes.

In the first half of 2016, around 152,000 worthless counterfeit banknotes with a notional value of over £3million were removed from the UK’s streets, while the figure for the whole of 2015 was over £5 million.

Recent incidents reported include buyers turning up in person to use fake notes to pay for items sold on Gumtree, Friday Ad, Facebook and other buy-and-sell websites, leaving sellers out of pocket.

While the Bank of England works hard to counter the production of fraudulent currency, including the launch of the new polymer £5 note, people should remain vigilant. Signs of what to look out for include:

On paper banknotes:

  • Feeling for raised print across the words ‘Bank of England’
  • Holding the note up to the light to check the watermark
  • Looking for the metallic thread running through every genuine paper note

On the new polymer £5 note:

  • Checking the see-through window and the portrait of the Queen
  • Looking at the Elizabeth tower to check it is gold on the front of the note and silver on the back
  • Checking the foil patches

Crimestoppers’ Chief Executive, Mark Hallas, said: “The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness of counterfeit money, especially around Christmas when there are more transactions happening and money can be tight.

“Purchasing counterfeit notes can be tempting and many people do not realise that, not only are these notes completely worthless, but knowingly holding or passing them on is a crime.

“We urge anyone with information on those making, selling or buying counterfeit notes, or simply wanting to find out more about the impact of this crime, to visit fakenotes.co.uk. People can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously with information on 0800 555 111, safe in the knowledge that they will never have to give a statement to police or go to court.”

Ben Crosland, Senior Manager of the Banknote Education team at the Bank of England, said: “Christmas is a busy time for both retailers and the public, and unfortunately it provides an opportunity for criminals to pass on counterfeit notes as payment. While we work hard to stay one step ahead of fraudsters, it is important people check security features on the £5, £10, £20 and £50 banknotes when they are passed in transactions.”

If you have information on those making, selling or buying counterfeit notes then please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through our Anonymous Online Form at fakenotes.co.uk.

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Laugharne Luxury Lodge plan hits pothole

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THE OWNERS of a luxury lodge development in Laugharne face potential enforcement action from Carmarthenshire County Council. The company is alleged to have built a substantial roadway across fields near the development without planning permission.
Milkwood Spa, due to launch this autumn, is located on a site with a chequered planning history. It is located in a prominent position overlooking Carmarthen Bay and the village of Laugharne.
The current developers, UK Luxury Lodges, acquired the site from its previous owners after their attempts to get development going on the site stalled.
UK Luxury Lodges says the development will be the first resort of its kind in the region; welcoming guests after an investment upwards of £30 million.
Laugharne and nearby Pendine are popular tourist destinations, but with a track record of insecure, poorly paid employment. Speaking to us earlier this year Sharon Hurley, a director of the company behind the project, told us that she hoped the lodge and spa development would help create up to 110 new jobs in the area.
Past developments and proposals for developments have run into problems concerning their environmental impact and their effect on the local landscape.
A previous owner obstructed and extinguished a public footpath. The footpath was not relocated. No enforcement action took place over its loss.
Concerns also exist about the disturbance to a nearby scheduled monument and the area around the lodges and spa. Ironically for a project using the ‘Milkwood’ brand, developers have received local criticism for removing a significant number of mature trees to facilitate the development and damaging the landscape which is one of the locality’s chief selling points.
Issues of traffic, local parking solutions, heavy plant using residential roads, and blocked footpaths also exercise some residents.
Before we published our original article in August, we carried out an extensive search of the site’s planning history.
The County Council’s planning portal recorded no objections to the location’s development either when initial outline planning was granted for developing the location by its previous owner, or when it was acquired by the current owners in 2013 when reserved matters were dealt with under application number W/30157.
Concerning the wider conservation questions, one letter, about the linked application number W/33378, is blank on the Planning Portal.
We are assured, however, objections were raised.
A conservation area application had been submitted and approved and that the statutory consultees Cadw, Dyfed Archaeological Trust raised no objections to the development in so far as it affected the scheduled monument on the site.
When we questioned Ms Hurley about those prior concerns about development, she told us: “Creating a property that honours and celebrates the existing natural environment is so important to me and the team is working closely with local planning authorities to ensure the conservation of the surrounding historic environment.”
However, earlier this week, The Herald received a series of photos which show a permanent roadway being dug out across green fields. Machinery still being used on the works is plainly visible in some of the photos, as is the extent of the hardcore base and gravel laid over the top in some sections.
No planning permission exists for such development. Whether Carmarthenshire County Council, Cadw or the Dyfed Archaeological Trust would have been quite so supportive had they been aware of plans to dig a roadway across a green-field site in a prominent and sensitive landscape is open to question.
We asked Carmarthenshire County Council to comment on the roadway’s construction.
Head of Planning Llinos Quelch said: “We have been alerted to potentially unauthorised works on this site and we are dealing with it as an enforcement matter. Investigations will continue and appropriate action taken.”

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Zoe Evans, Llanelli painter and decorator, is British Apprentice of the Year

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Zoe Evans, a 21 year old painter and decorator from Llanelli, has been named the GB Apprentice of the Year and Welsh Apprentice of the Year at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)
Apprenticeship Awards.


The CITB Apprenticeship Awards celebrate the achievements of apprentices and employers across the UK for their commitment and dedication to construction.


The winners were presented with their awards at a ceremony hosted by broadcaster and property entrepreneur, Sarah Beeny. The ceremony took place at Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London (7 November).


Zoe completed a level 2 apprenticeship in painting and decorating, to go onto achieve her Advanced level 3. With her artistic flair, Zoe enjoys the creative aspects of her trade and plans to take a career route in interior design. Zoe’s amazing commitment to being the best she can, has attributed to her becoming an ambassador for women in construction and being the face of the posters across her college, Coleg Sir Gar.


Zoe said: “I’ve loved every single part of my apprentice journey, from the classroom learning to the practical application and the more creative aspects of the job. I want to thank my mentor, Ken MacKay and my employer Ian Williams Ltd. It’s a really good feeling to know that I’ve been
recognised in this way. I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone willing to work hard, have goals and go full out to achieve them.”

Jon Davies, CITB Apprenticeship Officer, said: “When Zoe started her apprenticeship we saw her potential so we fast tracked her from level 1 to level 2. It was important for me to make sure she had the right support to reach the heights she is capable of, and she is doing just that. Zoe makes work a brighter place for everyone around her. Her positive attitude and ability makes her a perfect ambassador for women in construction, and I am really pleased this has been recognised with her award.”

Kevin Mcloughlin, CITB board member and founder and Managing Director of Mcloughlin Decorating, said: “Congratulations to Zoe, a clearly dedicated apprentice – it’s great to recognise her hard work. Apprenticeships provide a fast track route into the construction industry. With so many rewarding careers opportunities in construction there is something out there for everyone. I wish Zoe all the best in her career in construction.”

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Police difuse hostage situation in Cae Glas

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AT APPROXIMATELY 10.10pm on Wednesday (Nov 6) police were requested to attend at a property in Cae Glas, Felinfoel, in respect of threats being made by a man within the property to harm himself and a woman inside with a knife.

Officers were deployed immediately, and to ensure the safety of everyone at the scene firearms officers were also deployed.

Chief Inspector Stuart Bell said: “A specialist negotiator worked with the man for a number of hours, bringing the incident to a close at about 1.45am this morning, when the man surrendered himself and was arrested for an outstanding warrant.

“A woman at the scene was also arrested for obstructing police officers. No injuries have been reported.

“There is no threat or danger to anyone outside of the property in the area, and we can reassure residents that there is no need to be concerned as this was an isolated incident.”

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