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First Cymru to look at Llanelli improvements

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LOCAL Assembly Member Lee Waters has secured a commitment from First Cymru to look at new and improved bus routes for Llanelli.

The AM, who has campaigned for better public transport for the area, has welcomed a commitment from First Cymru and it’s new Chief Executive, Andrew Sherrington, to look at service improvements following feedback from residents.

The Llanelli AM said: “I’ve been impressed with the willingness First Cymru have shown to look at new routes and service improvements, based on what people in Llanelli have been telling me they would like to see from their bus operator.

“First Cymru have agreed to look at extending Sunday services across the area, based on demand, and examine the possibility of extending the X11 service from Swansea later into the evening. The bus company have also agreed to consider the potential of increasing service frequency on some routes, and exploring the possibility of introducing new routes to better serve customers.”

Mr Waters, now the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport in the Welsh Government, recently met with the bus company to pass on the views of his constituents and was pleased to hear First Cymru’s commitment to service improvements in Llanelli. The AM has campaigned for better public transport across the Llanelli constituency, as well as championing the development of Swansea Bay Metro since he was elected.

He added: “Ultimately the bus companies are private firms and will only run services if they think there’s a commercial case for them. If they don’t think a route can run at a profit they rely on subsidies to keep it going. Many routes have been withdrawn or scaled back as Councils have suffered cutbacks because of the UK Government’s Austerity project.

“The Welsh Labour Government are considering changing the way we regulate the private industry to make sure we get the best value for the £250 million we invest every year. As the Deputy Minister in the Welsh Government, I’m consulting on plans to improve buses across Wales.

“The Chief Executive of First Cymru and I want the same thing – more people using buses instead of cars. But people can only use buses more often if the services are available. I’m pleased that Andrew Sherrington is looking to see what he can do to extend services locally. It’s now really important that we continue to press the case for better services, and that residents continue to keep me and the bus company informed about what they want.”

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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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