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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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Further childcare hub opening in Llanelli

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AN additional childcare hub has opened in Llanelli this week (w/c Monday, May 25) due to increasing demand to provide care for children of critical workers and vulnerable children.

It will be located at Ysgol Ffwrnes in Llanelli and follows the opening of an extra three hubs at Bryn Primary School in Llanelli, Model Primary School in Carmarthen and Ysgol Tycroes.

It is important that numbers are kept low at the hubs to ensure the health and safety of both the children and staff.

Parents are being reminded to keep their children at home where possible to help contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). However, if you are a critical worker, and your child cannot stay at home, then your childcare will be prioritised.

Parents should only apply for childcare to cover their working hours; and are also being reminded to please cancel as soon as possible if they no longer need the provision.

Please note the timetable for applications to the childcare hubs has also changed, and that applications now close at 5pm on the Wednesday of the week before.

Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to consider any applications made after deadline. Due to the significant increase in demand for places at our hubs we must make sure they are staffed sufficiently. The health and safety of both staff and pupils is vital and has to be our main priority.

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How Wales created 19 new field hospitals in less than 8 weeks…

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Across Wales the Welsh Government is supporting the NHS to create new field hospitals and rapidly increase bed capacity.
Health boards have repurposed existing buildings, including the Principality Stadium, a holiday park and even a television studio to provide an additional 6,000 beds.Field hospitals are designed to support the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic by providing extra bed capacity but they will also help normal hospital services be restarted and support social care services.Last month, the first patients were admitted to Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig at the Principality Stadium, in Cardiff.

Four to six weeks

Here is how Wales almost doubled its bed capacity in less than eight weeks…The time it has taken to nearly double hospital bed capacity in Wales, creating field hospitals across the nation.

19 field hospitals in Wales
This includes the repurposing of Bluestone Holiday Park and Parc y Scarlets in west Wales and Venue Cymru in north Wales.

1,500 beds at the Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig
Making it one of the largest field hospitals in the UK.

Five days
The length of time it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig, which overlapped with the build phase.

3,000
The number of planning hours, involving more than 20 different disciplines, it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig.

£166m
Welsh Government funding for the set up, construction and equipment for field hospitals in Wales.

138,000
The number of pieces of equipment have been provided to help support field hospitals, including beds, imaging equipment, syringe drivers and medicines.

Three North Wales field hospitals have the name Enfys
Meaning rainbow – the symbol of hope and thank you to the NHS during the pandemic.
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7-year-old Mattie from Pembrey takes on home Pen y Fan-tastic challenge for Action for Children

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Plucky Mattie Denman will climb the equivalent of Pen y Fan in the drive at her family home in Pembrey on Friday 22nd May to raise funds for Action for Children.

Mattie (7), has always wanted to climb the highest mountain in South Wales and is unable to currently because of the coronavirus pandemic.  As the family exercise at home every day, she decided she wanted to do the 6-mile equivalent journey there while she waits for the chance to do it for real.  Mattie chose Action for Children as her mother, Sian, works for the charity in Carmarthenshire.

Mattie said: ‘My Mammy works for Action for Children and I want to help as well because lots of families need help.  My older brother and sister help Action for Children, so I asked Mammy if I could do something. We exercise everyday walking up and down the drive and I have always wanted to climb Pen y Fan, but we have never done it.

‘Mammy said I could pretend I am walking it and people will give money to the charity. I said brilliant, that is what I am going to do and I am super excited to do it. I will use mammy’s step counter and I hope I can help children that need support especially because it is so hard for some families because of coronavirus.’

Proud mum and family support practitioner for Action for Children, Sian, added: ‘Mattie has a lovely heart and really wanted to do something and I’m very proud she chose Pen y Fan as her home challenge.  Action for Children has been going the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic continuing to support vulnerable families through phone and video sessions as well as food and help with the basics from our Emergency Appeal Fund. 

‘It is a tremendously challenging time for our families and every bit of money will directly help those in our communities who need it most.  I hope as many people as possible will donate to Mattie’s brilliant fundraising effort, it’ll make it even more special when we finally get to climb Pen y Fan for real.’

If you want to support Mattie’s Pen y Fan challenge please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mattiesclimb

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