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Arriva Trains Wales pulls out of Welsh rail franchise bid

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THE COMPANY which runs most of Wales’ rail network has pulled out of the contest to continue running it from next year.
Arriva Trains Wales has told the transport authority in Wales it will withdraw from the bidding process and has said it is “no longer participating in the Wales and Borders competition”, adding it had “not been an easy decision”.
Transport for Wales said it was “not uncommon” for bidders for major projects to withdraw.
General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This decision by Arriva to abandon their operations in Wales exposes the whole flakey and opportunist nature of the rail franchising process. They appear to have pulled out because they can’t make enough money which is extraordinary.
“This news presents a golden opportunity for the Welsh to take back control of their railways through public ownership and that opportunity should be seized with both hands.”
Arriva Trains Wales’ parent company Arriva said it “had been proud” providing rail transport in Wales for almost 14 years.
A spokesman said: “We will continue to work constructively with TfW to help make the next franchise a success and build upon the legacy that Arriva has built with Arriva Trains Wales,” said an Arriva statement. We remain fully committed to delivering for our customers.”
Tom Joyner, managing director of Arriva Trains Wales said: “We have been notified that Arriva Group have withdrawn from the bidding process for the next Wales and Borders franchise.
A spokesman for Transport for Wales added: “We would like to thank the company for their support and positive attitude since the procurement started and we will continue to work closely with the company to ensure that existing staff and customers are central to our transition planning over the next 12 months.
“With final tenders due later this year, we have three companies with world-class credentials each putting their own, distinct cases for how they will deliver the ambitious objectives we set, with the goal of delivering a step change in rail services for passengers across Wales and the Borders.”
The remaining bidders are Keolis-Amey, Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation, and the Abellio Group, which operates bus and rail networks across Europe and is the international arm of the Dutch national rail operator.
The new franchise is due to start in late 2018.

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School travel passes issued

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SCHOOLCHILDREN in Carmarthenshire who travel to school by bus should now have received their Travel Passes ready for September.

Over 5,000 Travel Passes have been posted out, but anyone who has not received their pass is urged to contact the council immediately on 01267 228 326.

Some families may have changed address during the last year and have forgotten to tell us, which means their travel passes could have been sent to the old address.

It is also possible that some parents have forgotten to apply for transport. If this is the case, unfortunately it is now too late to be added to the arrangements for the start of the new term. However, if you think your child is eligible for free transport but haven’t yet applied we would urge you to submit your applications online at www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/schooltransport  as soon as possible so that if eligible we can try to accommodate you as soon as we can.

Parents are also urged to ensure that the stopping details shown on the Travel Passes are correct, as bus and taxi drivers will only be able to pick up and drop off pupils at the locations shown on their Travel Passes, and the vehicles will only stop at the points show on the timetables, which are available online at www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/schooltransport

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Police search home of former Carmarthenshire County Council boss Mark James

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POLICE OFFICERS have executed search warrants at properties in Carmarthenshire, Swansea, and Kent. Their actions are part of an investigation into allegations of corruption involving the
Wellness Village project at Delta Lakes, Llanelli.

On Thursday, Aug 8, The Herald received a tip-off which identified three properties in Carmarthenshire at which officers from Tarian, the Regional Organised Crime Unit, executed those warrants.

The tip-off was anonymous. As is usual with such tip-offs, we sought to verify it by reference to independent and reliable sources.

As a result of our further enquiries, we can confirm that Police executed a search warrant at the home of controversial former Carmarthenshire County Council CEO Mark James.

The use of a search warrant in such circumstances is not unusual. The use of one is not a sign of any criminality or dishonesty on Mr James’ part. It is possible the warrant was procured routinely to preserve material which might assist an ongoing investigation.

Police executed a further warrant at County Hall, Carmarthen.

Again, the use of a warrant is not a sign of any criminality. Police acted to obtain documentary evidence and computer material, including email trails, to help with their investigation.

It is entirely possible that Police learned a lesson from a separate probe of Pembrokeshire County Council. In that case, officers failed to secure evidence which was subsequently either lost or destroyed.

A separate Council press release states the local authority is ready and willing to help the Police in any way they can and is already offering any assistance it can to investigators.

That statement points out that a review by the WAO and an internal probe by a firm of solicitors found no administrative or compliance issues affecting the tender processes for the Wellness Village.

The Herald has been given a further address at which a search warrant was executed. That third address has not been confirmed by all of our sources and, accordingly, we do not report it here.

As we went to press, Carmarthenshire County Council exclusively confirmed to us that a search warrant was executed at County Hall last week.

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Llanelli: Police appeal following incident at Pemberton traffic lights

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POLICE in Llanelli have said that they are looking for witnesses to an incident at the traffic lights, Pemberton, Llanelli at around 8pm on August 11.

The incident is believed to have involved a number of people and caused traffic to come to a standstill.

A 53 year old man is currently in a serious condition at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff having sustained injuries at the scene.

Three men have this morning been arrested on suspicion of Section 18 assault.

It’s thought that there will be a significant number of witnesses to the incident, given the busyness of the road at the crossroads and, due to it still being daylight.

Officers are also asking for drivers in the area at the time to review any dash-cam footage they have and to make it available to the investigation team.

On social media police said: “It’s really important that anyone who saw the incident or has dash-cam available, comes forward and speaks to police either via email us on contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk or by calling us on 101, quoting ref. 374 of 10/08/19.”

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