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Plaid wins battle of the budgets

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THE REVENUE budget for 2016-17 was the subject of an at-times heated debate in this week’s Full Council meeting. After some considerable discussion, the budget put forward by executive member for resources Cllr Dai Jenkins was accepted over an alternative Labour budget which reversed cuts and increased investment in public services at the cost of an extra 2% council tax increase.

Introducing his budget, Cllr Jenkins acknowledged that ‘for a number of years the Local Authority had recognised the problems faced, and seen the need to do things differently’.

He added that, while this was a ‘more supportive and favourable’ settlement than had been predicted, it was forecast that future settlements would be negative.

However, this year’s settlement had allowed the Executive Board ‘to revisit some areas’.

As The Herald previously reported, the report recommended reversing proposed cuts to the education budget.

Cllr Jenkins pointed out that significant feedback had been provided during the budget consultation. “We hope that this demonstrates we are willing to listen,” he added.

Responding, Cllr Deryk Cundy (Lab, Bynea) remarked that for the second year running the Welsh Government had ‘taken the sting’ out of cuts imposed by the Westminster Government.

However, there were still many people in the county living in poverty.

Cllr Cundy also criticised the National Procurement Service and the Apprenticeship Levy ‘which we collect and never see again’.

Referring to the proposed reversal of cuts to the schools budget, he remarked that this still involved a real-terms funding reduction equivalent to the salaries of 30 teachers or 60 support staff.

“These are not surplus to requirements,” he added.

Cllr Cundy proposed adding £400,000 to the staffing budget, reversing a cut of £70,000 to support services for disabled pupils, and giving teachers faced with Early Voluntary Redundancy the option of moving to a different post within the local authority.

Describing Cllr Jenkins’ budget as ‘a curate’s egg – good in parts’ he claimed that it made ‘further cuts on those struggling to make ends meet’.

Other proposals included expanding the Beacon Bursary Scheme, putting £100,000 towards resolving the parking problems and improving the Park and Ride service at Glangwili Hospital, reversing a cut to the street scene budget, and investing an extra £55,000 towards employing multi-skilled grounds and maintenance staff and apprentices.

These changes would be funded through an increase in council tax of 4.5% – 2% more than that proposed by Cllr Jenkins.

“This does mean a slight increase in the council tax, but it will have benefits to those in need – the poorest in the community,” he added.

Labour Leader Cllr Jeff Edmunds pointed out that in opposition, Plaid Cymru had recommended taking £6m from reserves to put in the revenue budget, and added that this budget proposal was a fully costed alternative.

Responding, Cllr Jenkins somewhat pointedly remarked that he was aware that there was a Labour shadow member for the role he had held for the last two years, and it would have perhaps been helpful had someone talked with him during that time, rather than ‘showboating in the chamber’.

Addressing Cllr Cundy’s proposal for education funding, Executive Member Cllr Gareth Jones suggested that there was ‘too much duplication’ happening within schools, which needed to be addressed.

Veering off topic slightly, Council Leader Emlyn Dole suggested that ‘the Labour Party in Llanelli is in enough trouble already without straying into the land of make-believe’.

He added that, during the consultation, JAM (just about managing) families had said ‘something totally different’ regarding any increase in council tax.

Cllr Jenkins, while agreeing with Cllr Cundy’s sentiments regarding the National Procurement Service, pointed out that all Wales’ local authorities would have to agree to opt out – which has not happened.

He was less complimentary regarding the proposals to spend money on the hospital parking problems: “That is Hywel Dda’s problem,” he added, suggesting that it was ‘irresponsible’ to claim otherwise, and that local county councillors and the executive member for transport were working with the Health Board to resolve the issue.

Cllr Anthony Jones, referring to the money found for capital projects, remarked that he ‘could think of 20 million ways of dealing with budget pressures’.

He also pointed out that while the ‘burden on the council tax payer’ had been reduced, from a 3.8% increase even further to a 2.5% increase, it was predicted that council taxes would rise by 4% next year.

He added that not many opposition parties before had come into the chamber with a balanced alternative budget and explained how it could be achieved ‘not taking £6m out of the reserves’.

Cllr Cundy explained that the idea behind improving access to Glangwili was to reduce the pressure on the social services department by ensuring people attended necessary appointments.

“This is a linked budget – I’m not taking away from what you have done, but adding to it,” he concluded.

The Labour amendments were defeated by 19 to 41, and Cllr Jenkins’ original budget was carried.

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Llanelli and Germany meet again for Oktoberfest 2019

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Fans of beer, music and dancing are in for a treat as Oktoberfest comes to Llanelli this October.

Bringing the German beer festival closer to home, Oktoberfest celebrates its first year in Llanelli this 5th and 6th of October. With a Bavarian Oompah band, German beer, food and an Oktoberfest themed venue, it is sure to be a fantastic event.

Popularly known as the world’s largest beer festival, the traditional Oktoberfest is held annually in Munich, Germany. With more than six million people travelling from all over the world to attend the Munich event, Iceqbe Events are now hosting the festival in Llanelli.

Iceqbe plan to bring the Bavarian atmosphere to the same venue that the town was once twinned with Germany in 1989. Taking place in the Selwyn Samuel Centre, the event is hopeful to attract both Llanelli locals as well as those who live further afield, supporting the Welsh town.

In preparation for the crowd, the biggest German beer festival to hit Llanelli will take place in a 220 people capacity venue, with the two-day festival spread into three separate beer-drinking sessions. 

Recently nominated for the Great British High Street award, this up and coming town is overflowing with welsh culture and international events, including Pride which took place in Llanelli earlier this year.

Iceqbe’s Co-Founder and Operations manager, Stefan Diamond, explains why they chose the town to host their event.

“We are thrilled to be hosting our very first Oktoberfest event in Llanelli,” said Stefan.

“I’ve lived here for seven years now and know first-hand what a great atmosphere this town brings to events like this. 

“With the town’s connection to Germany, it felt like the obvious choice for our event location. We can’t wait for beer-lovers across the UK to come together for a weekend of dancing, food and fantastic Bavarian beer!”

Co-founder of Iceqbe events, Luke James, explains what they’re hoping to achieve from the event.

“As the majority of event companies continue to outsource their staff, customer service levels have dropped whilst food and drink prices have skyrocketed,” he said. 

“We want to change that. We manage everything in-house which allows us to have full control over everything, from the venue to staffing. Our priority is to provide an amazing, safe and great value experience.”

Oktoberfest is sure to have people flocking in, with the opportunity to win tickets for you and five friends via their social media channel. To find out more about Oktoberfest, visit https://www.iceqbe.com/.

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PH Balance help arrest alleged sex offender

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A 51-YEAR-OLD male was arrested in Llanelli last Sunday (Sept 08) in connection to an alleged sexual offence.

Paedophile Hunting group PH Balance South Wales admitted to being involved with trapping the suspect through the use of a decoy. According to PH Balance’s recent Facebook post, the man had arranged a meeting with PH member Dobby who was acting as as a 14-year-old boy online. The man had shown up to the Llanelli town centre to allegedly take the young boy shopping. 

Dyfed-Powys Police arrived swiftly on scene and placed the alleged offender in handcuffs before taking him to the station in the back of a police vehicle.

A spokesman for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Llanelli Herald: “On Sunday, September 8, we received allegations from a group in respect of a man in the Swansea area, which related to offences involving children. Officers arrested a 51-year-old man on suspicion of meeting a child following grooming, at Eastgate Llanelli, the same day.”

The spokesman added: “The man has been bailed from police custody with conditions.”

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Becoming Deputy Chief Constable ‘a huge privilege’

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CLAIRE PARMENTER has been announced as the new Dyfed-Powys Police Deputy Chief Constable, describing it as a ‘huge privilege’.

DCC Parmenter, who grew up in Llanelli but now lives in Carmarthen, has worked her way through the ranks since joining the force as a PC 26 years ago.

She said: “Becoming the Deputy Chief Constable within my home force is a huge privilege for me, I hope this will inspire other officers and staff to achieve whatever they want across the service.”

Her policing career began in Ammanford in 1993, having just completed a BA (HONS) degree in Education at Cardiff.

“I was thinking of a career in teaching or policing, and decided to do my degree before making the choice,” DCC Parmenter said. “Policing was always in my heart, so when it came to it, it was an easy decision.”

As well as serving in a variety of uniform roles, DCC Parmenter has undertaken a number of secondments across UK Policing and beyond.

These include a role as national field officer with the National Policing Improvement Agency, becoming operational Chief Inspector in Avon and Somerset Police, and contributing to the national implementation of neighbourhood policing, for which she received a chief constable’s commendation.

She was promoted to Superintendent in 2010 and became lead for the Joint Emergency Services Group in Wales, leading and developing a number of blue light collaboration and resilience programmes, working closely with Fire and Rescue, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and Welsh Government.

“I’ve always tried to look at the wider landscape of policing and how we work with partners to improve services to our communities,” she said. “These secondments have given me exposure to different ways of working and has broadened my outlook.”

DCC Parmenter returned to uniformed policing in 2012 and took up the role of Superintendent of specialist operations.

She later took over as BCU Commander for Carmarthenshire and Powys, and later took up the post of Chief Superintendent Head of Uniformed Policing for the force.

She is an accredited Strategic Firearms and Gold Public order commander and has won a Stonewall National award for her support of LGBT staff.

A mother of two, DCC Parmenter’s drive and dedication has not only led her to become a chief officer, but has also had a positive influence on her teenage daughters.

DCC Parmenter said: “My youngest daughter is 14 and she’s also keen to join the police. It’s nice to know that she looks at my career positively and can see how policing can make a real difference.

“I’m very proud to be a chief officer in the force I am from. Being able to effect the delivery of services in my home area, and to serve people in the area I live ensuring the best possible service, is a huge privilege.”

Looking ahead, DCC Parmenter’s aims are to keep delivering across Dyfed-Powys Police, and to ensure the force continues to improve and innovate.

She added: “I know Dyfed-Powys communities and staff very well, and I think we have got all the ingredients to be an absolutely outstanding force. I look forward to being a part of the chief officer team to deliver that.

“I’m really grateful to our staff and colleagues across the force, who have supported me throughout my career.”

Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “Claire has shown outstanding commitment to our communities over many years and I am delighted to have her as my Deputy Chief Constable.”

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