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Row over tax rise

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C A R M A R T H E N S H I R E COUNTY COUNCIL’s decision to up its Council Tax by 4.85% was the subject of fierce debate at Friday’s (Mar 6) council meeting. Jeff Edmunds, who presented the Council Tax increase proposals claimed: “We have set a prudent budget and a prudent council tax. Taking £6m from our reserves, would mean a black hole in next year’s budget which we would have to fill.”

However, Cllr Edmunds claims were attacked by Plaid Cymru’s Alun Lenny, who pointed out that Rhondda Cynon Taff Council had used its reserves, of a similar level to Carmarthenshire’s, to reduce the impact of service cuts and to avoid an ‘inflation-busting’ rise in Council Tax. The Valleys council had used £4.3m of its reserves to balance its budget and, according to Cllr Lenny, it was inexplicable that Carmarthen could not use the same.

Cllr Lenny told councillors that Labour’s own Leighton Andrews, the Welsh Public Services Minister, had strongly implied that the Welsh Government felt the reserves of some Welsh councils were too high and that councils should use that money to bankroll services and avoid cuts. Alun attack was met with a furious response from council leader Kevin Madge, who claimed that Plaid’s proposals in relation to the use of reserves were irresponsible and smacked of last-minute opportunism than any deep thought on the issue.

Mr Madge did not address Cllr Lenny’s accusation that Plaid had asked for the reserve figures during the budget consultation process and had not been provided with them. Cllr Dai Jenkins for Plaid suggested that Mr Madge’s contribution to the debate had been long on rhetoric but short on actual content. He pointed out that the Labour leader had spent his entire peroration speaking of buildings and roads, without thinking of the services the council was supposed to supply. Describing himself as ‘a geek’, Cllr Jenkins revealed that he had calculated that per head of population, Carmarthenshire’s reserves were around £661, compared to a figure of £148 per head for Cardiff.

Carmarthenshire’s reserves were behind only Rhondda Cynon Taf’s and Swansea’s in size. Elwyn Hughes for Plaid proposed using £1.2m of the council’s £122m reserves to enable a lower tax of three per cent to be set. Instead the ruling Labour/ Independent coalition chose to vote for the series of cuts to services, including £18,000 off the grant to Myrddin Special and Autistic Unit, and waved through the 4.85% increase.

 

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Llanelli: Stop notice issued for school planning application

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A CONTROVERSIAL planning application for a new 480-spaced school in Llanelli has been issued a stop notice by the Welsh Government.
Carmarthenshire County Council is proposing to build a new £9.1m school on Llanerch Fields in Llanelli and were looking to determine the planning application in the coming weeks. Welsh Government will now decide whether to call in the application or not.
The new school would accommodate 420 primary and 60 nursery pupils, set over two floors with larger classrooms with integrated IT facilities, a multi-purpose hall and specialist provision for pupils with additional learning needs.
Over recent years there has been much debate in the area on the choice of site for the new school with campaigners arguing that they support a new school, but object against Llanerch fields being built upon. Last year an attempt to get the land designated as a village green was turned down.
In 2017, Ysgol Dewi Sant as the first Welsh medium primary school to be provided by a local authority celebrated its 70th birthday.
Councillor Rob James, local member for Lliedi, stated “From day one I have raised concerns that the Council’s site choice and planning process opened the Council up to the possibility of the Welsh Government calling in the planning application. It is clear that these concerns were not misplaced and there is now a really chance that it will be. 

“As a local Councillor, a school governor and a parent, I am passionate about the need for a new school for the pupils of Ysgol Dewi Sant and it is important that local pupils get the benefits of a 21st century school.
“I will now be working with Council Officers to ensure that contingency plans are prepared in case the Welsh Government state that the planning application does not comply with national planning policy.
“I will also work with parents, pupils, residents and interested parties are able to engage with the Welsh Government during this process.”

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Third annual Burry Port Raft Race is eagerly awaited

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THE THIRD ANNUAL BURRY PORT RAFT RACE, organised by Burry Port couple, Craig and Isabel Goodman, will be held on Saturday (July 27).

The event which is held in Burry Port Harbour, raises much needed funds for both Burry Port RNLI and a children’s football academy and primary school the couple support in The Gambia.

The day launches at 12pm with stands, food stalls and children’s inflatable games and rides and these will be available until 5pm. You’ll also have a chance to meet the crews, who’ll be busy putting the final touches to their rafts.

Rafts launch at 3pm, followed by a presentation ceremony, including prizes for first raft over the line, first raft to sink and best dressed raft.

Craig said: ” A huge thank you goes to all our sponsors, including overall sponsor Dawsons, along with continued sponsorship from Celtic Couriers, Parker Plant Hire, Burns Pet Nutrition, Burry Port Co-Op, Llanelli Star, LBS Builders Merchants, Burry Port Marina, First Choice Flooring and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council.

For any further information about the event, please contact 07825 842981.

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Compensation offered after FSCS declares Llanelli firm in default

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CONSUMERS could get back money they have lost as a result of their dealings with a failed regulated firm in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. The firm is Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited formerly Assura Protect, Room 1, 7 Meadows Bridge, Parc Menter, Cross Hands, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales SA14 6RA.

The firm was declared in default in June 2019 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

FSCS is the UK’s statutory compensation scheme that protects customers of authorised financial services firms that carry out certain regulated activities. A declaration of default means FSCS is satisfied a firm is unable to pay claims for compensation made against it. This paves the way for customers of that firm to make a claim for compensation with FSCS.

Alex Kuczynski, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at FSCS, said: “FSCS steps in to protect consumers around the UK when authorised financial services firms go bust. This vital service, which is free to consumers, protects deposits, insurance, investments, home finance and debt management. We want anyone who believes they may be owed money as a result of their dealings with this firm to get in touch, as we may be able to help you.”

Since it began in 2001, FSCS has helped more than 4.5m people, paying out more than £26bn in compensation.

If you wish to make a claim with FSCS against Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited, you may be able to do so using FSCS’s online claims service at https://claims.fscs.org.uk Or you can contact its Customer Services Team on 0800 678 1100 or 020 7741 4100

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