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Free swimming reduced after WG cut

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CHANGES to the way free swimming is allocated across Carmarthenshire and Wales comes into force next month following a reduction in funding from the Welsh Government.

Cuts in the overall budget will affect the number of free sessions available at council-owned leisure centres across Wales including Llanelli, Ammanford, Carmarthen, Newcastle Emlyn and Llandovery Pool.

Carmarthenshire County Council is currently reviewing its timetables, along with Sport Wales which distribute the funding on behalf of the Welsh Government.

There still will be free sessions for young people every weekend with additional ones in the summer holidays. Pools will also be offering some free and possibly subsidised sessions for over 60s.

According to Sport Wales, young people and people over the age of 60 from areas of deprivation will be the priority under new national objectives.

Questioned about the cut in the Senedd by Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “When the scheme was first introduced in 2004-05, over 800,000 swims took place by young people under the scheme. Last year, it had fallen to 126,000. And yet the number of swims by young people has gone up in Wales over that period. So, the idea that, by removing the scheme as it currently stands, it automatically leads to the unintended, and, as I see it, not to be realised consequences, doesn’t stand up to examination. More people under the age of 16 are swimming in Wales than ever before, and yet fewer and fewer and fewer of them were taking advantage of the free-swimming initiative.

“The money that is not being devoted by the sports council of Wales to this scheme is being spent by them instead of a series of healthy and active fund projects.

The revised free swimming initiative aims to attract people who face the most barriers in accessing a pool the chance to learn a life skill and to swim more frequently.”

The changes follow an independent review, commissioned by the Welsh Government after findings showed the current scheme was no longer fit for purpose. The report concluded that the current approach was not cost-effective, nor did it make the biggest contribution to increasing levels of activity. It noted that the number of young people benefiting from the scheme had been in significant decline since 2013-14.

The report also mentioned that only 6% of the target population of over 60s age group currently access the programme.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s executive board member for leisure, tourism and culture, Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths said: “These nationwide changes are disappointing, however, we recognise the benefits that swimming can play as part of a healthy lifestyle and remain committed to providing free swim sessions. As a county, we are still delivering more swimming sessions than what is required nationally.”

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Zoe Evans, Llanelli painter and decorator, is British Apprentice of the Year

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Zoe Evans, a 21 year old painter and decorator from Llanelli, has been named the GB Apprentice of the Year and Welsh Apprentice of the Year at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)
Apprenticeship Awards.


The CITB Apprenticeship Awards celebrate the achievements of apprentices and employers across the UK for their commitment and dedication to construction.


The winners were presented with their awards at a ceremony hosted by broadcaster and property entrepreneur, Sarah Beeny. The ceremony took place at Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London (7 November).


Zoe completed a level 2 apprenticeship in painting and decorating, to go onto achieve her Advanced level 3. With her artistic flair, Zoe enjoys the creative aspects of her trade and plans to take a career route in interior design. Zoe’s amazing commitment to being the best she can, has attributed to her becoming an ambassador for women in construction and being the face of the posters across her college, Coleg Sir Gar.


Zoe said: “I’ve loved every single part of my apprentice journey, from the classroom learning to the practical application and the more creative aspects of the job. I want to thank my mentor, Ken MacKay and my employer Ian Williams Ltd. It’s a really good feeling to know that I’ve been
recognised in this way. I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone willing to work hard, have goals and go full out to achieve them.”

Jon Davies, CITB Apprenticeship Officer, said: “When Zoe started her apprenticeship we saw her potential so we fast tracked her from level 1 to level 2. It was important for me to make sure she had the right support to reach the heights she is capable of, and she is doing just that. Zoe makes work a brighter place for everyone around her. Her positive attitude and ability makes her a perfect ambassador for women in construction, and I am really pleased this has been recognised with her award.”

Kevin Mcloughlin, CITB board member and founder and Managing Director of Mcloughlin Decorating, said: “Congratulations to Zoe, a clearly dedicated apprentice – it’s great to recognise her hard work. Apprenticeships provide a fast track route into the construction industry. With so many rewarding careers opportunities in construction there is something out there for everyone. I wish Zoe all the best in her career in construction.”

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Police difuse hostage situation in Cae Glas

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AT APPROXIMATELY 10.10pm on Wednesday (Nov 6) police were requested to attend at a property in Cae Glas, Felinfoel, in respect of threats being made by a man within the property to harm himself and a woman inside with a knife.

Officers were deployed immediately, and to ensure the safety of everyone at the scene firearms officers were also deployed.

Chief Inspector Stuart Bell said: “A specialist negotiator worked with the man for a number of hours, bringing the incident to a close at about 1.45am this morning, when the man surrendered himself and was arrested for an outstanding warrant.

“A woman at the scene was also arrested for obstructing police officers. No injuries have been reported.

“There is no threat or danger to anyone outside of the property in the area, and we can reassure residents that there is no need to be concerned as this was an isolated incident.”

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Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns resigns over rape trial sabotage

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WELSH SECRETARY Alun Cairns has resigned over claims he knew about a former aide’s role in the “sabotage” of a rape trial. He had denied knowing Tory assembly candidate Ross England made claims about the victim’s sexual history in an April 2018 trial.

The Conservative Vale of Glamorgan MP said he only became aware of Mr England’s role in the trial’s collapse when the story broke last week.
BBC Wales discovered Mr Cairns was emailed about it in August 2018, which was four months before Mr England was chosen as Vale of Glamorgan candidate.

Paul Davies AM told The Herald: “I am sorry to see Alun resign today as the Secretary of State for Wales however, under the circumstances this was the right decision for him. Alun has rightly stated that he will cooperate fully with any investigations.

“I would like to thank Alun for his service to Wales as our Secretary of State where he brought an end to the Severn Bridge tolls which will leave a lasting legacy on the Welsh economy.”

Mr Cairns had been a cabinet member since being appointed in 2016. Mr Cairns intends to run as a candidate in the general election, the Herald understands.

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