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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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Further childcare hub opening in Llanelli

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AN additional childcare hub has opened in Llanelli this week (w/c Monday, May 25) due to increasing demand to provide care for children of critical workers and vulnerable children.

It will be located at Ysgol Ffwrnes in Llanelli and follows the opening of an extra three hubs at Bryn Primary School in Llanelli, Model Primary School in Carmarthen and Ysgol Tycroes.

It is important that numbers are kept low at the hubs to ensure the health and safety of both the children and staff.

Parents are being reminded to keep their children at home where possible to help contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). However, if you are a critical worker, and your child cannot stay at home, then your childcare will be prioritised.

Parents should only apply for childcare to cover their working hours; and are also being reminded to please cancel as soon as possible if they no longer need the provision.

Please note the timetable for applications to the childcare hubs has also changed, and that applications now close at 5pm on the Wednesday of the week before.

Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to consider any applications made after deadline. Due to the significant increase in demand for places at our hubs we must make sure they are staffed sufficiently. The health and safety of both staff and pupils is vital and has to be our main priority.

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How Wales created 19 new field hospitals in less than 8 weeks…

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Across Wales the Welsh Government is supporting the NHS to create new field hospitals and rapidly increase bed capacity.
Health boards have repurposed existing buildings, including the Principality Stadium, a holiday park and even a television studio to provide an additional 6,000 beds.Field hospitals are designed to support the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic by providing extra bed capacity but they will also help normal hospital services be restarted and support social care services.Last month, the first patients were admitted to Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig at the Principality Stadium, in Cardiff.

Four to six weeks

Here is how Wales almost doubled its bed capacity in less than eight weeks…The time it has taken to nearly double hospital bed capacity in Wales, creating field hospitals across the nation.

19 field hospitals in Wales
This includes the repurposing of Bluestone Holiday Park and Parc y Scarlets in west Wales and Venue Cymru in north Wales.

1,500 beds at the Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig
Making it one of the largest field hospitals in the UK.

Five days
The length of time it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig, which overlapped with the build phase.

3,000
The number of planning hours, involving more than 20 different disciplines, it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig.

£166m
Welsh Government funding for the set up, construction and equipment for field hospitals in Wales.

138,000
The number of pieces of equipment have been provided to help support field hospitals, including beds, imaging equipment, syringe drivers and medicines.

Three North Wales field hospitals have the name Enfys
Meaning rainbow – the symbol of hope and thank you to the NHS during the pandemic.
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7-year-old Mattie from Pembrey takes on home Pen y Fan-tastic challenge for Action for Children

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Plucky Mattie Denman will climb the equivalent of Pen y Fan in the drive at her family home in Pembrey on Friday 22nd May to raise funds for Action for Children.

Mattie (7), has always wanted to climb the highest mountain in South Wales and is unable to currently because of the coronavirus pandemic.  As the family exercise at home every day, she decided she wanted to do the 6-mile equivalent journey there while she waits for the chance to do it for real.  Mattie chose Action for Children as her mother, Sian, works for the charity in Carmarthenshire.

Mattie said: ‘My Mammy works for Action for Children and I want to help as well because lots of families need help.  My older brother and sister help Action for Children, so I asked Mammy if I could do something. We exercise everyday walking up and down the drive and I have always wanted to climb Pen y Fan, but we have never done it.

‘Mammy said I could pretend I am walking it and people will give money to the charity. I said brilliant, that is what I am going to do and I am super excited to do it. I will use mammy’s step counter and I hope I can help children that need support especially because it is so hard for some families because of coronavirus.’

Proud mum and family support practitioner for Action for Children, Sian, added: ‘Mattie has a lovely heart and really wanted to do something and I’m very proud she chose Pen y Fan as her home challenge.  Action for Children has been going the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic continuing to support vulnerable families through phone and video sessions as well as food and help with the basics from our Emergency Appeal Fund. 

‘It is a tremendously challenging time for our families and every bit of money will directly help those in our communities who need it most.  I hope as many people as possible will donate to Mattie’s brilliant fundraising effort, it’ll make it even more special when we finally get to climb Pen y Fan for real.’

If you want to support Mattie’s Pen y Fan challenge please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mattiesclimb

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