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Over half of council cameras out of action

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL could conduct a review of its CCTV cameras after it was announced that Dyfed-Powys Police would be introducing 46 new cameras across the county.

A report noted that due to a lack of ‘proactive maintenance’ around 60% of the council’s 87 cameras were not working.

Live monitoring of CCC’s cameras ceased in 2015, after the Executive Board at the time unanimously voted to save a projected £104,000.

The cameras were still recording, allowing police to view footage, and an ‘informal agreement’ with saw Dyfed-Powys agree to fund the upkeep on the camera equipment on a case-by-case basis. However, a reduction in funding and a ‘change of direction’ since Dafydd Llywelyn was elected as police and crime commissioner in 2016 meant that this had ceased.

A report put before the council’s Executive Board on Monday (Jul 2) explained that the Dyfed Powys Police CCTV Project would see 116 new cameras installed across the force’s operating area, with 46 of these in Carmarthenshire.

19 cameras are to be installed in Llanelli, 17 in Carmarthen and 19 in Ammanford. Almost all of the new cameras will be placed at existing CCTV locations, with one new location in Ammanford, following ‘crime pattern analysis which demonstrates an operational requirement for a camera at that site’. The council was asked to agree to pay around £7,000 for electricity fees and costs for the new system.

However, 42 locations across the county currently covered by CCC’s system would not be covered by the new CCTV system. The report noted that of these 42 cameras, currently only 15 were operational, and at 20-years-old were dated compared to the new police cameras.

Of these cameras, CCC’s Leisure Services expressed an interest in keeping CCTV at Llanelli Leisure Centre and on the Millennium Coastal Path, while Parking Services requested that the cameras in Llanelli Multi-storey car park be retained.

Two options were put before the Executive Board – either to decommission the remaining 42 cameras, and place the responsibility of maintaining and operating CCTV at the site in the hands of the town council or council department which requested it, or to conduct a review of the 42 cameras, which would ascertain the cost of maintaining provision where it was required.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Cllr Cefin Campbell said that the preferred option of the Executive Board was to conduct a review which would include consultation with councillors and town councils.

Labour councillor Deryk Cundy said it was ‘hugely important’ to get CCTV cameras back. He asked that groups including Shelter be included in the consultation so they can make sure that ‘if we do have any rough sleepers they can make sure what is going on’.

Cllr Campbell noted that ‘given enough money we would pay for more CCTV cameras.

“We have to show faith in the police, that they have taken this crime pattern analysis, and know where the hotspots are,” he added.

He noted that there would be concerns regarding invasion of privacy, if cameras were used, instead of as a deterrent, for monitoring rough sleepers.

“There may be a debate about using cameras for monitoring rough sleepers – some might argue that crosses that boundary,” he added.

It was unanimously agreed to review the cameras.

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Drink driver was twice the limit

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A 46-YEAR-OLD man appeared before magistrates at Llanelli Law Court on Thursday (Nov 8) to face a charge of drink driving.

Matthew Francis of Gelli Deg, Llanelli, pleaded guilty to driving his Ford Focus in Llanelli on October 19, whilst over the drink drive limit.

Prosecutor, Sharon Anderson, said: “At 10.20pm police received a call from a member of the public. They were directed to his home address and found the vehicle of the driveway with Francis in the driver seat, and the keys in the ignition.

“He had driven back from a wedding and said he had 3-4 cans. He was arrested and later said he had 6-8 cans of lager and had placed the cans in the garden. Police checked the garden but there was nothing there.

“At half past midnight, Francis completed the intoxiliser and was found to have 70mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. He was spoken to in an interview and said the van was his and nobody else was insured.”

Magistrates fined Francis £120 and ordered him to pay £30 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs. He was also disqualified from driving for 17 months.

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Police operation to get uninsured drivers off the road

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THIS week Dyfed-Powys Police along with other forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taking part in Operation Drive Insured, in a week of enhanced operations to remove uninsured drivers from UK roads and help protect road users.

Uninsured drivers are often involved in a wide range of criminal activities. Every year the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) Police Helpline records hundreds of incidents where an uninsured driver is found without a valid driving licence or using an untaxed or stolen vehicle. Records also show a number of offenders are caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Drivers without insurance are more dangerous than insured drivers and cause a high number of accidents. One contributing factor is because those driving with insurance are encouraged to display safer behaviour and meet road legal requirements to help keep policy costs down.

In 2017 MIB received 11,000 claims from victims of uninsured drivers, with hundreds of people who had suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries.

MIB supports victims of uninsured and hit and run drivers by providing a last resort for claims and compensation. The annual cost to compensate victims of uninsured drivers comes to over £100 million and is funded by the motor insurance premiums of all law-abiding motorists.

Neil Drane, Head of Enforcement at MIB, said: “A driver with no valid insurance has no legal right to be on the road and removing them undoubtedly makes roads safer. The increased activity during Operation Drive Insured should get more of these drivers off our roads.”

Using data from the Motor Insurance Database (MID) – a central record of all UK motor insurance policies – police are using ANPR cameras to easily identify and stop motorists that appear to be uninsured. MIB’s police helpline supports roadside officers by investigating further and liaising with insurers to confirm whether there is valid insurance in place or not.

Any driver found without insurance during Operation Drive Insured is likely to have their vehicle seized, get six points on their licence, a £300 fine and could face court prosecution. Police also plan to carry out checks for a range of additional road traffic offences.

Simon Hills, Inspector for roads policing operations at Thames Valley Police, said: “In my experience, drivers who willingly use vehicles without insurance are often committing secondary offences. These range in seriousness from minor road traffic offences, to driving whilst disqualified and other crimes such as drug dealing and burglary. The effective enforcement of uninsured vehicles allows us to deny criminals the use of the road and prevent further offending. Operation Drive Insured is a perfect opportunity for us to target our resources.”

If a member of the public suspects a person is driving without insurance, they can report it to their local police force or anonymously to CrimeStoppers.

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Llanelli’s Schaeffler plant in Bynea seems to have been decided says Labour

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THE FATE of Llanelli’s Schaeffler plant in Bynea seems to have been decided, Llanelli’s local Labour representatives concluded after meeting the management of the German manufacturing firm in an early morning meeting in the town on Friday (Nov 9).

Llanelli MP Nia Griffith, Assembly Member Lee Waters and Bynea Councillor Deryk Cundy met with Senior Vice President Dr Thomas Cebulla and Greig Littlefair, Schaeffler’s UK managing director, to discuss this week’s announcement that 220 jobs were under threat at the old INA Bearings plant.

“Very concerningly, in spite of our entreaties, it seems that their minds are made up,” Nia Griffith MP said.

Ms Griffith added: “They stressed to us that the demand for the tappets being made in Llanelli has fallen, and is expected to drop drastically as the product comes to the end of its life and as demand for diesel engines reduces, and the new turbo charged product has not enjoyed the take up that had been hoped for.”

Lee Waters AM said: “The managers told us that Schaeffler is a very big global organisation with 72 factories worldwide and that the Llanelli closure is part of a global consolidation. They said it was no reflection on Llanelli workforce but a reaction to the change in demand for the product made in Bynea”

Deryk Cundy, the Councillor for the Bynea ward of Llanelli where the plant is based, said: “We told them that we will do all we can to work with the Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire Council to offer help if that would make a difference, but we were not encouraged by their response. It seems that their minds are made up.”

The Schaeffler executives stressed that Brexit was a consideration but not the decisive factor in this decision, pointing out that “we are a global business and global businesses want open borders and open trade”. They said Schaeffler had brought forward plans to consolidate their sites because of the uncertainty of the Brexit process.

Llanelli’s MP and AM have both called for the UK Government to prioritise giving business certainty in the Brexit negotiations.

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