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Granby Close fire started deliberately

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A FIRE In a block of flats which left one man in hospital and a further four families homeless was started deliberately, it was revealed this week.

In response to a question about fire safety in council-owned blocks of flats, Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans confirmed that the fire in Granby Close on November 23 of last year was ‘intentionally’ started in a stairwell.

Cllr Evans also explained that, while all council properties were compliant with regional and national safety schemes, risk assessments were being carried out on all council-owned communal blocks.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Full Council in County Hall, Glanymor county councillor Louvain Roberts said that since the fire, she had been made aware that there were no ‘tilt and turn’ windows fitted to the flats.

“I feel that this ​t​ype of ​w​indow is essential for the health and Safety of Residents,” she added, also pointing out that there were no sprinkler systems or communal fire extinguishers at these or similar blocks.

“Some residents are very frail and I realise that some have refused to move to the ground floor, but Carmarthenshire County Council is bound by a Duty of Care to ensure residents’ safety within their place of abode at all times.

“Can you please give assurances that the points I have brought to your, as well as this Council’s, attention will be rectified immediately?” she added.

Cllr Evans replied that since the fire, CCC had been carrying out deterrent work to ensure that communal stairwells were kept clean, taking enforcement action where necessary.

“There will be zero tolerance from now on,” she stressed.

Regarding the ‘tilt and turn’ windows, she explained that these were not required by housing standards for ‘very practical reasons’. Flats were designed so that people would not need to gain entrance from the window in such circumstances, and these windows could also pose ‘a major risk’ to children in upstairs flats.

Cllr Evans pointed out that sprinklers were not required by either Welsh housing standards or Carmarthenshire’s own CHS+ system. However, she added that risk assessments were currently being carried out in all communal blocks, and sprinklers were being retrofitted in sheltered housing complexes.

Fire extinguishers in communal areas could ‘cause problems’, she stated, and tenants were advised that rather than tackling fires themselves they should stay in their homes.

However, in sheltered schemes there were fire extinguishers in communal areas because these were recognised as workplaces.

Cllr Evans added that CCC’s work had been commended by the fire and rescue service.

“We have spent £800,000 of improving fire alarms and emergency lighting,” she added. Members also heard that the fire service had records of tenants registered as disabled who could be unable to leave their home unaided.

Replying, Cllr Roberts claimed that the fire had been ‘exacerbated’ by internal plastic doors which had shrivelled in the heat.

She also pointed out that one person was injured as a result of a window having to be broken, and that the fire service on the scene ‘told me that tilt and turn windows would have helped’.

Cllr Evans reiterated that an assessment of all communal buildings was currently under way.

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Llanelli bus depot to close after 100 years

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THE LLANELLI HERALD understands that the Llanelli Bus Depot at Inkermans Street will be closing its gates for good. 

The Bus Depot has served the local community for approximately 100 years, Drivers will now be sent to work from depots in Carmarthen, Swansea and Tycroes. 

All services will remain in the the town, this newspaper can confirm, and our reporter was told that there will not be any redundancies. 

One bus driver told us that he and he co-workers were “not completely happy”, but the unnamed source added “At least we still have jobs to go to.” 

Further updates are expected on this developing story.

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Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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Drakeford to make decision on ‘fire-break’ lockdown in Wales by Monday

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WALES is facing a national lockdown lasting at least two weeks in plans described as a “fire-break” by the first minister.

He said a decision was likely to be made on Monday, while talks continue with health officials, scientific advisors and councils over the weekend.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

Responding to the speculation First Minister, Mark Drakeford, is set to announce a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Wales, Welsh Conservative health spokesperson, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “I implore the First Minister to think again before heading down this path.

“The decision to lockdown Wales once again will have devastating consequences – from an economic and public health perspective – and should be the last resort.

“Only yesterday, the former director of communicable diseases at Public Health Wales, Dr Roland Salmon, said a circuit-breaker is likely to fail and the Welsh Labour Government should listen carefully to his warning.

“Earlier this week, Welsh Conservatives called for the urgent resumption of shielding in Wales with a substantial package of support to ensure the financial, physical and mental well-being of those most at risk is protected.

“This should be the immediate action taken by ministers along with prioritising PPE and testing in the problem areas in Wales such as hospitals, care home, universities and meat factories.

“It’s not too late for the Labour Government to reconsider and choose a different approach in Wales.”

Mr Drakeford warned that 2,500 people were now being infected with coronavirus every day in Wales, with critical care units in hospitals full.

“A successful fire-break would re-set the virus at a lower level,” he added.

Together with a new national set of rules for the whole of Wales after the fire-break period we would have slowed the virus down enough to get us through to Christmas.”
Plaid Cymru has been calling on Mr Drakeford to introduce the circuit-breaker without delay, while Labour at Westminster says a similar approach should be adopted in England.

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