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Coroner raises need for anti-bullying law following 14-year-old’s death

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A PRELIMINARY hearing into the death of St John Lloyd student Bradley John was adjourned last Friday (Nov 30) to allow further information to be gathered.

Carmarthenshire coroner Mark Layton said that while preliminary enquiries were making progress, he thought it would be a further four months before he had the information needed to proceed to a final inquest hearing.

“The police are doing an awful amount of work and really are on top of this,” Mr Layton said.

Bradley’s family attended the pre-inquest review hearing, during which the Court heard Police had recovered CCTV footage from the school’s cameras for the day of his death.

The Police will examine Bradley’s movements around the school and in class on the morning of September 12.

Mr Layton said: “We will be going through that evidence with a fine-toothed comb.”

Bradley John was found at St John Lloyd Roman Catholic Secondary School in Llanelli on September 12. He subsequently died at Morriston Hospital.

Bradley’s father, Byron, handed in a letter calling for members of staff to resign in the wake of Bradley’s death.

Byron John said that Bradley’s ADHD made him a victim of bullying at the school. He accused staff of doing little to address the alleged bullying in spite of previous assurances that it was on top of the issue.

Speaking to The Herald, Mr John said that his presence at the school to hand in the letter was not a protest, but ‘a show of feeling and show of support and strength for what has happened and events which need looking into concerning the death of my son’.

“It seems like the entire nation knew Bradley – I would like to thank the people who were there for him during his short life and have been there after his passing,” he added.

“Bradley was a very special individual to me, and I feel that failings have led to his death.”

Neither Carmarthenshire County Council nor Dyfed-Powys Police has commented on the allegations of bullying at this stage.

A Facebook group set up to support staff and pupils at St John Lloyd following the incident currently has over 700 members.

Speaking at the time, Inspector Chris Neve said: “We are following up all possible lines of enquiry to establish a picture of what happened in the lead-up to Bradley’s death.”

At Friday’s hearing, Coroner Mark Layton said he wondered whether a specific law should be introduced to tackle bullying behaviours.

Mr Layton said he had used the inquest as an opportunity to discuss with Dyfed Powys Police whether more action is needed over bullying and cyber-bullying.

“I have asked the police to look at existing legislation covering bullying,” he said.

“At the moment there is no statutory offence of bullying. Is there a need for any formal legislative procedures to cover bullying and cyber-bullying, which is very much in the public domain at the moment?”

Speaking on behalf of Carmarthenshire council, Edward Ramsay confirmed the option of a child death review had been put forward for consultation last week and would be considered at the next board meeting in December.

Mr Ramsay confirmed the local education authority would be represented separately at the inquest.

Following the claims that Bradley was bullied, Dafen County Councillor Rob Evans suggested that volunteer bullying protection officers be appointed by schools.

“In schools, we have child protection officers. Why can’t a bullying protection officer be officially appointed?” he asked.

“This person could be contacted by telephone and the help number extended for every child through Carmarthenshire. This way bullies will be unaware that the child affected has triggered a call for an emergency response.

“The authorities could then take immediate action to protect that child. This position doesn’t have to be a paid position. I would volunteer as would others. I know there are children’s helplines but this could be unique in Carmarthenshire.”

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Swansea Bay City Deal leaders are supporting Neath Port Talbot Council’s proposals for changes

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SWANSEA Bay City Deal leaders are supporting Neath Port Talbot Council’s proposal to amend some of their projects due to be part-funded by the £1.3 billion investment programme.

Any amended or enhanced projects, they say, will be progressed through City Deal governance and approval processes before submission to the Welsh Government and UK Government for consideration.

This follows on from the City Deal’s Joint Committee accepting all recommendations arising from two reviews into the City Deal, which included enabling flexibility in the investment programme to bring new projects in if they’re beneficial to the region.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee Chairman, says a Neath Port Talbot Council call for the City Deal to change approach is also being put in place.

Cllr Stewart said: “As a Joint Committee, we have accepted all recommendations from the City Deal reviews, and work is ongoing to implement them as soon as possible.

“These include the appointment of an independent programme director to manage the City Deal, as well as flexibility to amend or enhance projects forming part of the investment programme if they’re good for the region.

“The City Deal is still at an early stage of its development, but we’re doing all we can to make governance and project approval processes more efficient to speed up the investment programme’s delivery.

“It would be too great a risk for communities and businesses in Neath Port Talbot to miss out on City Deal investment, so we stand ready to help Neath Port Talbot Council move their projects forward.

“All City Deal partners remain committed to delivery. It’s widely recognised that the City Deal presents a once in a generation opportunity to create considerable economic growth and well-paid jobs across the region as a whole.”

The independent review into the City Deal commissioned by both governments recommended immediate approval for two City Deal projects – the ‘Yr Egin’ creative sector development in Carmarthen, and the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District.

Cllr Stewart said: “We expect funds to be released for these projects imminently.

“We also welcome Neath Port Talbot Council’s continued commitment to the regional Homes as Power Stations project, which will help people save money on their energy bills by introducing cutting-edge energy-efficient technology to both new houses and existing buildings throughout South West Wales.”

The Swansea Bay City Deal investment programme is due to be funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector. It’s being led by the four regional councils – Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea – in partnership with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea University, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.

The City Deal is projected to create over 9,000 high-quality jobs and give the regional economy a £1.8 billion boost in coming years.

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A476: Lorry fire closes LLannon to Tumble road

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Emergency services dealt with a lorry fire on the A476, Llannon to Tumble road, Carmarthenshire

The incident took place on Tuesday afternoon (Apr 16)

The road was closed for a short time whilst the fire was extinguished.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown.

No one was reported injured in the fire.

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Almost 100 jobs to go at Calsonic Llanelli

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A MAJOR Llanelli employer is to shed almost a quarter of its employees following what it describes as a ‘significant drop-off in sales’.

Calsonic Kansei, based says that continuing political and economic uncertainty have contributed to its decision to lay off 95 workers at its Lleithri Road factory on the outskirts of the town.

Calsonic were offered £4.4m from the Welsh Government to create 88 jobs at the plant late last year.

Llanelli’s local AM, Lee Waters, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for the Economy and Nia Griffith MP issued a joint statement about the jobs blow.

Lee Waters AM said “Nia Griffith and I will be doing what we can to work with the company, trade unions and other employers in the area to help the workers directly affected. And the Welsh Government will be extending the taskforce helping workers at Schaeffler to offer practical support.”

“Calsonic were offered significant Welsh Government help to develop new products at the end of last year, and we will continue to do what we can to help create a sustainable future for the site, through what is clearly a troubling period.”

Nia Griffith MP said “The next month will be a difficult period for the workers and their families at Calsonic, both Lee and I are ready to do whatever we can to help anyone affected. Alongside working directly with the factory staff and the trade unions, I’ll be using my voice in Parliament to ask the UK Government to match Welsh Government’s ongoing commitment to the plant and the workforce.”

Calsonic’s vice-president of HR for Europe, Neil O’ Brien, said: “The automotive industry is at a transitional stage, as well as being at a key point in several major vehicle ‘life cycles’, with car manufacturers developing their technologies to satisfy the ever demanding environmental legislation and moving towards autonomous and electric vehicles.

“During this period of transition, the added pressures of market instability caused by the political and economic conditions have affected our customers’ volumes and, consequently, Calsonic Kansei’s sales have seen a significant drop.

“The company intends to do everything reasonably possible to reduce the impact of this proposal on its employees.”

In January Schaeffler announced plans to close its plant in Leave-voting Llanelli with a loss of 200 skilled jobs.

Schaeffler also cited uncertainty about the UK’s economic and political future as being partially responsible for its decision.

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