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MP voices concern about free-to-use cash points

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LLANELLI’S MP has expressed concerns about the future of the UK’s network of free-to-use cash points, following a recent announcement by LINK, the ATM network, that the fees paid to operators of free cash points will reduce by 20% over four years.

Although LINK has promised to exempt ATMs one kilometre or more from the next free one and increase the subsidy available for them, there are fears that LINK’s promise to maintain ATMs in rural and deprived areas may be undeliverable.

The 1km cut-off may also mean that bigger villages and urban communities with very few cash points could see the number of ATMs reduced.

Nia Griffith MP explained: “The reality is that not everyone can rely on card payments. Although the use of cash for payments has been in decline in recent years, some 2.7 million people still depend on it. These people are often older or have low incomes, with many living in the rural communities where there is a dearth of free-to-use cash points.

“Research by Which? found that there are still over a hundred postcode districts that do not contain a single ATM. This comes after years of bank closures right across the UK, but particularly in rural areas like ours here in west Wales. Over 1,500 bank branches have closed in the last three years and banks were three times more likely to shut a branch in Wales than in the southeast or London.

“The community of Cross Hands is a good example of this downward trend in financial accessibility. In 2016, the last remaining bank branch in the village shut its doors, leaving nearly 5,000 people without access to a local bank. ATMs that charge a fee now outnumber free ones here by two to one, and because there are two within a 1km range here, either of them could be under threat.

“Under the last Labour Government, a programme of investment in free ATMs delivered hundreds of new cash points where they were most in need, including some parts of Carmarthenshire. A ‘financial inclusion premium’ was introduced to encourage people to install and keep ATMs in less well-off areas. This helped millions of people in lower-income areas access cash more conveniently.

“I very much hope that LINK can be trusted to deliver its promises on financial inclusion and that the threat to our cash point network from their changes is not as severe as many think it will be. I will be keeping a very close eye on this situation, and pressing LINK to live up to its promise of support for ATMs in our deprived and rural communities that rely on cash.”

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Recycling plant closed after collision

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LLANELLI RECYCLING CENTRE is currently closed following a road traffic collision outside.

Police and collision investigation teams are at the scene, but no further details have been made available at this stage.

Carmarthenshire Roads Policing Unit said that the location would be closed ‘until further notice’. ‏


A spokesperson for Dyfed Powys Police said: “Dyfed-Powys Police was called to Trostre Industrial Park at 2.12pm following a report of a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle.

“The ambulance service is also in attendance, and the road leading to the recycling centre is currently closed.”

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Modern and traditional methods used by Neighbourhood Watch groups

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TRADITIONAL monthly meetings and Facebook groups might seem worlds apart, but these are the methods two Carmarthenshire communities are using to keep their neighbours safe.

As part of Neighbourhood Watch Week, the long-standing Glanmor group and the newer Llwynhendy and Pemberton group have shared the secrets to their success – be it through old-school meetings or the reach of social media.

Jason Hart helped to set up the Llwynhendy and Pemberton Neighbourhood Watch group last summer following a spate of burglaries in the area. Although he admits it was slow to get off the ground using traditional means, the launch of a Facebook group saw the scheme take off.

“We still hold monthly meetings, but we found we have more of an impact on social media,” he said. “We set the Facebook group up and had over 400 members in a couple of weeks.

“A lot of people who work or who have children can’t make it to our meetings, so for them a Facebook group is ideal.”

Members are approved before joining, and can then post on the group’s timeline. Mr Hart explained that it gives people the opportunity to raise issues or concerns if they are unable to attend the evening meetings.

“They post about things like suspicious vehicles in the area, or if they have seen someone trying car doors, and we will then report it to the police,” he said. “We also feed in information from the police if something has happened, and people let us know if they have seen or heard anything.”

The success of the group is such that people living in the neighbouring community of Bryn have asked for it to expand.

Mr Hart said: “We will invite them to come along to our meetings to see how it works, and if there is enough interest they can break off and form their own group. It’s great that people think it’s working and want to see it covering their area too.”

Meetings are held from 5pm at the Bryn and Trallwm Social Club on the third Tuesday of the month, and the Facebook group can be found by searching Llwynhendy and Pemberton Neighbourhood Watch.

Over on the other side of Llanelli is the longstanding Glanmor Neighbourhood Watch group, which has been running for the past 17 years. The watch covers Nelson Terrace, Richmond Terrace, Llys yr Orsaf, Llys y Gof and part of Bryn Road, does not use social media and stands by the routine of monthly meetings.

Group coordinator John Jones said: “We had a lot of trouble in the area at that time, and everyone was complaining to me as I was a magistrate. We decided that the best way forward was to set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme so people could meet regularly and discuss any problems in the community.

“It went from there, and we are still going 17 years later.

“The number of people who attend depends on what problems there are each month, but there is a core membership who always comes along. We aim to deal with issues straight away.”

Meetings are held at The Cambrian, in Marine Street, at 6.30pm on the first Monday of the month – unless it is a bank holiday, when it will be held the following Monday.

Sergeant Dawn Fencot-Price, of the Dyfed-Powys Police Crime and Harm Reduction Team, said: “We would like to thank both Neighbourhood Watch groups for their support in keeping our communities safe.

“It is great to see people working together in this way, sharing crime prevention messages and looking out for each other.

“We are always looking for innovative ways of keeping our communities safe. If you’re interested in setting up a Neighbourhood Watch group, or have an idea you think might work in your area, contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.”

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3,000 Welsh landlords still unregistered

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JANET FINCH-SAUNDERS AM has called on the Welsh Government to urgently work to improve landlord registration under Rent Smart Wales, as estimates released indicate around 3,000 remain unregistered.

Ms Finch-Saunders said: “Rent Smart Wales estimates that still 3,000 landlords are unregistered here in Wales.

“Whilst that makes up a small percentage of our total landlords, it is most concerning for those living in properties leased to them by those who have not yet registered.

“The Welsh Government has confirmed that a landlord who is not registered with Rent Smart Wales is unable to serve a valid Section 21 eviction notice – so where unregistered landlords do indicate that they want tenants to vacate a property, this is not recognised by local housing associations, which can cause stress to tenants who may not be aware of their full rights under the law.

“By focusing on ensuring that all landlords are properly registered, the Welsh Government can alleviate such concerns, and I will be urging the Cabinet Secretary to act to ensure all landlords are abiding by this legislation in full.”

The Minister for Housing and Regeneration told Ms Finch-Saunders that the latest figures released by Rent Smart Wales show that 90,812 landlords are now registered. Rent Smart Wales’ latest estimate for the number of unregistered landlords is approximately 3,000.

This is based on the dwelling stock estimates recently published by StatsWales, and an estimation of the average number of properties owned by each landlord.

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