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AM welcomes Schaeffler taskforce announcement

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LEE WATERS AM has welcomed the First Minister for Wales announcement that of a taskforce being set up to work with Schaeffler to find a future for the Llanelli plant.

The announcement comes after the local AM met with the Welsh Economy Secretary last week to urge him to intervene with Schaeffler to find a future for the old Ena Bearings factory and its workers. Since then Welsh Government officials have been working with the company to get an agreement on setting up a taskforce.

Carwyn Jones told the Senedd this afternoon that the company have now agreed to work with the Welsh Government on a taskforce to support the workforce and to explore finding a future for manufacturing on the site.

“What the support is aimed at doing is to help those who work there at the moment, and to see what beneficial uses for employment the site could be put to in the future” Carwyn Jones said in First Minister’s Questions.

“We have held discussions with Schaeffler and an offer of a two tier package to support the company has been accepted.”

The Government will hold a further meeting with the company in early December to explore all the possibilities for the future. Meanwhile, a package of support will be available to the workforce if they choose to look for new opportunities or are affected by redundancies.

Lee Waters AM said: “The management of Schaeffler has made it clear to me that the workforce in Llanelli is excellent and they have made the decision to close a result of other factors. With such long history in Llanelli, the company owes its workers more than simply abandoning the plant. So I’m pleased the company has agreed to work with Welsh Government to provide a future for manufacturing at the site and security for the workers affected by this announcement.

“Schaeffler’s management must now engage constructively in the consultation process as we all work together to secure future employment at the site.”

Nia Griffith MP said: “We are all extremely concerned about the planned closure of the Schaeffler plant in Llanelli and the 200 plus local jobs that could go with it.

“After meeting Unite rep Gareth Jones on Friday morning, I had a conference call with Schaeffler’s UK managing director Greig Littlefair and Richard Harrington MP, a business minister in the UK Government. We again made the case to keep the plant open and asked the Managing Director if there is anything UK government can do to make them reverse their decision. We also raised concerns about jobs in the supply chain.

“Whilst it does seem that Schaeffler have made up their minds, we will be exploring every avenue to see if anything can be done to keep the factory open and help the workers at the plant.”

Councillor Deryk Cundy added: “We are looking for a way forward during the consultation period. We have to prepare for a number of different scenarios and support from the First Minister and Lee Waters AM in the National Assembly for Wales is most welcome as we move through the negotiations and look to secure the well-being of the workforce at Schaeffler”.

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Rescuers attend to injured construction workers in New Dock Street

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A MULTI AGENCY rescue operation is underway in Llanelli involving all three emergency services after an incident at a construction site.

Workers have been at the New Dock Street site, working for around three years, The Herald understands.

The Herald has been told that a piece of plant malfunctioned causing the emergency, which happened earlier this evening (Mar 19).

Four fire engines and three ambulances are at the scene, our reporter said.

A specialist line rescue team is involved in the recovery operation.

An eye-witness told the press that three workers have been affected.

The source said: “Concrete had just been mixed and had been poured into a skip which was then lifted using a machine. The concrete was being lowered into the hole, it’s probably about 20ft and then the machine toppled over.”

He added: “Two men climbed out of the hole on their own and as a precaution the third man was told to stay down there. The workers were told to leave the site as a precaution.”

At least one person has been seen being taken away in an ambulance.

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Llanelli: Met Bar incident investigated

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AN INCIDENT which resulted in a 51-year old man having to go hospital is being investigated by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The man has been discharged from Glangwili Hospital but police are looking in to how the incident happened and how the man fell down some steps.

The incident happened outside the Met Bar in Llanelli on Saturday night (Mar 16).

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Herald: “At approximately 10.55pm on Saturday March 16, officers responded to reports of an injured man outside The Met Bar, Station Road, Llanelli, after he’d fallen down some steps at the location.

“Ambulance was at scene, and the 51 year old man was conveyed to Glangwili Hospital with what was thought to have been a serious head injury. He was then later discharged from hospital, and the head injury was no longer believed to be serious.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact police by calling 101 and quoting DPP/3011/16/03/2019/02/C. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908

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Reports damning for City Deal management

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THE PUBLICATION of two reports on Friday, March 15, has shone a light into corners of the Swansea Bay City Deal.

The first report released, prepared on behalf of the UK and Welsh governments, written by Actica Consulting, suggests a combination of concerns over funding and of the “much-publicised concerns on the wellness village (Delta Lakes, Llanelli, the single largest project) could cause a loss of confidence within the region”

In the meantime and, The Herald understands, over the anguished objections of the Regional

Office/Carmarthenshire County Council, the second report – an internal review – was circulated to county councillors in Pembrokeshire this morning.

The second report makes for grim reading.

The report lays bare the amount of distrust between the City Deal partners, particularly between Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire councils on the one side, and Carmarthenshire County Council on the other.

Each report highlights deficiencies in the management of the Deal, which Carmarthenshire County Council and its controversial CEO Mark James are meant to lead.

Familiar to those who have kept a close watch on the activities of Carmarthenshire County Council are complaints of a lack of transparency and openness in the way the City Deal has been managed to date.

Particular criticism is made of two key aspects of the project: that under Mr James’ leadership the Deal has failed to consider the City Deal as a truly regional opportunity and focussed on building individual, local projects of limited regional value; the second major criticism is the failure of leadership given to the project and an abject lack of clear financial processes and accountability.

In spite of an attempt to spin the ‘success’ of two elements of the deal, Swansea Waterfront and Yr Egin, it is worth noting that Yr Egin was only tacked on to the City Deal when already underway because UWTSD revealed it couldn’t afford to complete the project on its own as it had promised.

Cllr Rob James, the Leader of the Labour Group on Carmarthenshire County Council told The Herald late on Friday afternoon: “I am pleased that this review has highlighted many of the concerns that we have raised on governance.

“Frankly, the report validated our actions to date.

“Trust has broken down between partners and public confidence in one of the projects, in particular, has taken a big hit.

“There are clear lessons that need to be learnt and this report highlights several of them. I now hope that the administration in Carmarthenshire consider the review in full and ensure that radical changes on governance are delivered immediately.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee, said: “This review was carried out alongside the UK and Welsh Government’s independent review of the City Deal programme and sought to assure that it will deliver full economic benefits for the region.

“The findings and recommendations of the internal review will be formally considered by the SBCD Joint Committee at the next meeting.

“Looking to ensure governance is as robust as possible reflects that we’re still in the very early stages of a 15-year programme, but we’re ready to support any recommendations that would benefit the region’s economic prosperity in future by speeding up the City Deal’s delivery.”

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