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‘U-Turn’ over school meals rise

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IT WAS confirmed this week that a 10p daily rise in the price of school meals will not be implemented this financial year, following what opposition councillors have described as a ‘U-turn’.
At Monday’s meeting of the Executive Board (Mar 26) Cllr Glynog Davies the executive member for education said that following pledges made at previous Full Council meetings he had met with officers to see if there were other alternative savings which could be identified.
“There is a concern that another increase would be detrimental to the service, leading to less children having school meals,” he explained.
The price hike – which would have been the fourth in as many years – would have seen CCC’s school meals become among the most expensive in Wales.
Cllr Davies explained that officers had identified other areas to compensate for the £190,000 that the 10p increase would have brought in. These were: £50k from a reduction in the responsive maintenance budget within the Catering Service; £50k from allocated funding for budget ‘growth’ areas, and £90k from a number of smaller savings including a reduction in senior management & back office costs.
Cllr Davies told the Executive Board that he was ‘proud’ of the school meals service offered by CCC. “I am assured that the standard of food is excellent, healthy and nutritious which our young people in the schools need,” he added, explaining that the next step would be an advertising campaign to inform parents of the benefits of school meals.
The original rise was criticised by several councillors on the Labour benches, and Shadow Executive Member for Education and

Cllr Glynog Davies (Pic: Herald)

Children Cllr Bill Thomas said that the group were ‘pleased with the decision:
Pupils and parents in Carmarthenshire will be relieved that the Plaid/Independent Coalition’s latest U-turn will mean that there will not be an increase in the cost of school meals when they return from their Easter break,” he told The Herald.
“Last year’s price increase has already led to fewer children taking school meals.
“Labour Councillors have been speaking against the increase since it was first announced as part of the draft budget. Therefore we are pleased that good sense has prevailed and the planned above inflation increase has been stopped.
“After the U-turn on using Welsh Government funding to buy new car parking machines instead of making parking free, this is the second U-turn by the Plaid/Independent Coalition in a few weeks. Labour Councillors are calling for a “hat-trick of U-turns “ to be completed by giving schools fair funding and not expect them to make £2.3 million of cuts. The £500,000 fund for schools to apply for is of course welcomed, but that is not going to go far between the 122 schools in the county.
“By funding schools fairly, Labour Councillors think this would go towards giving children in our county the best foundation.”

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Lifeline for cockle-gathers could be on the way after Llangennech rail crash

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Plaid Cymru MS Helen Mary Jones has raised the impact on cockle-gathers of the Llangennech derailment last year.

She received an assurance from the First Minister that the Welsh Government was looking at way to help the cockle industry.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy, Transport and Tackling Poverty Minister, Helen Mary Jones MS said:

“In the Senedd I congratulated the public services for the way they co-operated around the clean-up after the Llangennech derailment, which, so far, has been very successful. I demanded a life-line scheme to help the cockle gathers.

“I raised with the First Minister issues for two groups of businesses particularly badly affected in the short-term by the derailment. 

“One of those was the very important cockle-gathering industry, the other, of course, were farmers who graze animals on those low-lying banks by the river. 

“There has been a request for the Welsh Government to consider whether some interim financial support might be made available to the cockle gatherers and the grazers while responsibility for the derailment and long-term compensation becomes a possibility. Many of these are small businesses; they operate on quite low margins and currently in difficult circumstances.

“The First Minister emphasised he was aware of the impact on cockle gatherers and particularly that they were unable to carry out their normal activities while the level of environmental contaminants in the estuary were being surveyed.

“Plaid Cymru believes it must be the polluter in the end that must pay for the damage that has been caused, but the rail accident investigation branch work is not coming to a conclusion quickly.

“The Welsh Government is expecting to receive advice in the next few days whether or not it is possible to devise a scheme through the Welsh Government in which some interim assistance to those industries could be supplied.

“The Welsh Government is keen to obtain that advice from officials in case it is possible, before the rail accident investigation is completed, so they can offer some assistance to those who have been most directly affected.”

The environmental impact of the Llangennech derailment last year was amongst the most significant in Wales since the Sea Empress disaster of 25 years ago. 

Monitoring of the site and surrounding area, which includes four sites of special scientific interest and a special area of conservation will continue for many years to come.

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UK Budget must take crucial steps to help recovery

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LLANELLI Labour representatives are urging the UK Government to take the necessary steps to begin recovery and secure prosperity across all parts of the UK.

Llanelli’s MP Nia Griffith and MS Lee Waters set out Wales’ priorities ahead of the UK Budget on Wednesday March 3 2021.

They are urging the UK Government to make a series of commitments to Wales, including:

• sustaining UK-wide business support
• delivering welfare and taxation measures to support the most vulnerable
• redressing the historical under investment in Wales on research and development and rail infrastructure
• providing an injection of funding to support the transition to Net Zero carbon emissions
• providing guarantees for Wales’ specific funding pressures

Speaking ahead of the UK Budget announcement, Nia Griffith MP reiterated her calls for continued business support for those on the lowest of incomes. She said:  

“It is vital that the Job Retention Scheme and Self Employed Income Support Scheme are retained – not threatened with being removed at the eleventh hour and putting livelihoods at risk. A delay to repayments should also be introduced for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme with recognition given to the self-employed who are facing deferred bills.”

“It is also vital that the £20 per week increase to Universal Credit is maintained and put on a permanent basis, making it available to people in receipt of legacy means-tested benefits. More than 300,000 families in Wales have benefitted from an extra £1,000 a year as a result of the uplift and removing this now would have a detrimental and long-lasting effect on thousands of households across Wales.”

Lee Waters MS said:

“The UK Government should continue to take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest in Wales’ infrastructure and public services. Particularly on rail, where we have been underfunded to the tune of billions since the start of devolution, this is the moment where Rishi Sunak can demonstrate his commitment to ‘levelling up’ all four nations of the UK.”

“This budget is a chance to hardwire a greener, fairer way of doing things into our recovery from Coronavirus. We are ambitious about our target of being Net Zero carbon by 2050, and averting the climate crisis which is increasingly affecting Wales through flooding. But to make that transition, we need a step change from the UK Government’s budget that allows us to invest in renewable energy and green jobs.”

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Search for Susan Smith continues

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THE search for missing Susan Smith is now in it’s third day. She was last seen on Saturday (Feb 27), walking in the Kidwelly area.

Speaking to The Herald, a police spokesperson said: “We are continuing to search for Susan Smith who has been reported missing.”

“The search is continuing today with specialist police officers making house to house enquiries in the Kidwelly, St Ishamels, Ferryside and surrounding areas.

Sergeant Fiona Phillips said: “It is important that we build a picture of Susan’s movements after she was last seen on Saturday and I would appeal to anyone who believes they may have seen her to contact police.”

Susan was last seen 1.30pm Saturday, February 27 2021, walking in the Carmarthen Bay Holiday Village, Kidwelly area. She is known to walk along the beach to St Ishmaels and Ferryside.

She is described as approximately 5ft2 inches tall, petite with shoulder length blonde hair and believed to be wearing black jeans, a black fleece type jacket and navy and grey walking boots.

Any who has seen Susan or anyone who may have information that could help the search is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police, quoting reference 285 of Saturday 27th February.

Police can be contacted either online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908

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