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£50,000 from National Lottery and Welsh Government will grow green spaces

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Brand new community outdoor spaces in Burry Port are being created with the help of a new £50,000 nature grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Welsh Government.

The project is amongst the first to have been supported via the new grant programme, Local Places for Nature, which aims to encourage and support community based projects to restore and enhance the natural environment on our doorsteps.

Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council will use the funding towards four projects across the town, at an overall cost of £98,500.

Work will include planting a new community orchard to encourage healthy eating; creating a sensory garden to enable elderly people and those with learning disabilities to better connect with nature; and building a children’s eco park to help youngsters appreciate their natural environment.

The existing allotment at Pembrey Community Growing Space will also be extensively updated, creating new facilities so older and less able members of the community can learn how grow their own food.

All four sites (Pen y Bryn Avenue, Tan y Bryn Park, Burrows Terrace and the Community Growing Space) total 0.78 hectares, and will be linked by a new nature trail so residents can enjoy exploring the town on foot with a dedicated quiet and calm walking route.

Louise Robinson from Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council said: “With our communities recovering from the COVID-19 restrictions, this exciting new project for Pembrey and Burry Port has become a top priority for us.

“We are working extensively with local residents and an army of around 200 volunteers to develop and deliver a project that is for their community, making the most of some currently underused outside spaces to support people’s emotional, social and physical well-being by encouraging wildlife and biodiversity.

“For instance, the new eco park at Burrows Terrace will transform what is currently a locked ex-playground into a space that will enable children to learn and play in a natural setting with wooden play equipment made from local logs, helping them learn to value their natural environment as they grow up. Children from the local school will even help design the play equipment themselves, as well as where to place bird and bat boxes, bug and hedgehog hotels.”

The Local Places for Nature Capital Fund will run until March 2021, and is still accepting applications until October. Grants will range from between £3,000 and £100,000, with the total funding pot available worth £2.3 million. The Fund is made up of £2.1m from Welsh Government and £345k from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this fantastic project for Burry Port, which will help revitalise and improve existing outdoors spaces as well as create brand new ones.

“The natural environment is one of our greatest assets and our oldest form of heritage, but it is under serious threat. This money from the Welsh Government and National Lottery players will work hard to ensure our important natural heritage is cared for. It will help reconnect people with the natural world on their doorstep as well as protect that environment for years to come.

“The National Lottery Heritage Fund has identified nature and landscapes as a priority in our new Strategic Funding Framework, as we believe that looking after nature and helping people to understand its importance has never been more important.

“With COVID-19, people are more than ever realising the value of having pleasant outdoor spaces to relax, enjoy and exercise in, and many have had the opportunity to appreciate the importance of Wales’s natural environment to our wellbeing.

“I look forward to hearing from more applicants to the Local Places for Nature scheme through to the deadline in October, and to supporting many new projects in the fight against climate change.”

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “We have seen a greater appreciation of nature during the pandemic and the way in which it underpins our health, our economy and our wider wellbeing.

“The Welsh Government is committed to halting and reversing the decline in nature and making sure everyone in Wales can enjoy nature from their doorstep, and the Local places for Nature scheme reflects the determination of organisations and communities in Wales to do more for nature, even in these very difficult times.

“The creation of new spaces for nature through this scheme will provide opportunities for communities to come together, to be inspired and to accelerate the transformational changes needed in our economy and society to respond to the climate emergency and to halt and reverse the decline in biodiversity.”

For enquiries about the Local Places for Nature Capital Fund and details on how to apply, please contact natur@heritagefund.org.uk or visit www.heritagefund.org.uk/funding/local-places-nature-guidance.

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The latest increase in coronavirus in Wales is ‘sobering’ says First Minister

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THE FIRST MINISTER, Mark Drakeford has criticised the lack of communication with the UK government as he gave a briefing on what he described as the “sobering” increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalisation in Wales.

The infection rate in Wales has risen to 23.6 infections for every 100k people as cases have spiked in areas including Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly and Newport.

Hospitalisations remain low but are rising, with five people currently in intensive care with Covid-19 and and 53 Covid patients on all hospital wards, according to the latest data from Public Health Wales from Sunday, September 13.

Mr Drakeford said that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus had risen to 41 with four people in intensive care.

He also said that the R number in Wales was almost certainly now above one – meaning the virus is spreading exponentially again. The latest estimate, he said, was between 0.7 and 1.2.

Mr Drakeford said: “In this most difficult week, there has been no meeting offered to First Ministers of any sort. Since the 28 May, there has been just one brief telephone call from the Prime Minister.

“This is simply unacceptable to anyone who believes that we ought to be facing the coronavirus crisis together.

“We need a regular, reliable, rhythm of engagement: a reliable meeting even once a week would be a start. I make this argument not because we should all do the same things, but because being round the same table allows each of us to make the best decisions for the nations we represent.

“There is a vacancy at the heart of the United Kingdom, and it needs urgently to be filled, so we can talk to each other, share information, pool ideas and demonstrate a determination that the whole of the country can face these challenges together at this most difficult time.”

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Trade deal won’t benefit Wales

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EVERY week, the Herald carries political opinion pieces from across Wales’ principal political parties.

This week, Jonathan Edwards MP casts an eye over the trade deal between the UK and Japan announced this week and wonders ‘What’s in it for Wales?’

Jonathan Edwards writes: THE BUNTING was on full display in Westminster this week as the British Government announced that it had reached the holy grail of signing its first post-Brexit international trade deal.  

The agreement with Japan was described by Secretary of State Liz Truss as a ‘major moment in our national history’.  As major moments go, a casual look at the detail leaves a lot to be desired.  Effectively all the British Government has achieved is to replicate a deal UK business already benefited from as part of the EU-Japan trade deal signed in 2019.

The British Government admit that over a 15-year period the deal will only increase UK economic wealth by 0.07%.  However, under the rules of Brexit political discourse never let the facts get in the way for an excuse to sing Rule Britannia and wave the Union Jack.

During the debate in the Commons, I highlighted that the British Government’s own figures indicate in a best-case scenario it would take 71 deals of this nature to make up for the British Governments strategy for the second phase of Brexit of leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union.  If we no deal at the end of the year the situation would be considerably worse.

For Wales, the economic benefits are projected to be less than even the negligible UK figures with the deal only expected to benefit the Welsh economy by a measly 0.05%.  The same goes for other trade deals currently being negotiated by the British Government.

Capitulating on chlorinated chicken in the US Trade deal could only benefit the Welsh economy by 0.05% over 15 years according to an excellent Senedd Research paper.  

The New Zealand and Australia deals, according to the same paper, could have a 0% impact on the Welsh economy.  

Never again can the Tories claim to be the party of business: what we are witnessing is economic madness.

The agricultural provisions in the Japan deal further fuels my fears that our farmers will be the proverbial sacrificial lambs in these trade negotiations.  True there was progress on Geographical Indicators, but the British Government failed to secure any tariff rate quotas for food products.  Instead, our farmers will only be able to utilise unused quotas by the European Union.  

Let that sink in.  

In the real world, effectively. EU export policy will determine what can be exported from the UK.

The Secretary of State emphasised that the Japan deal paved the way for entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  A free trade area consisting of 11 countries (down from 12 after the US pulled out).  

What the British Government are reluctant to reveal is that the TPP contains strict rules on State Aid and also includes an investor-state dispute resolution mechanism which would supersede UK domestic law.  These are the same two areas, of course, that have led to the breakdown in the second phase Brexit negotiations currently ongoing.

At the end of the day, the two great Brexit era slogans of ‘take back control’ and ‘global Britain’ are completely incompatible and inherently contradictory.

As UK international trade policy develops these inconsistencies will become apparent to all.

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Plans for Llanelli’s first ever virtual Christmas carnival

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LLANELLI Christmas Carnival will not be held this year, for the first time in its 42-year history.

Partners have confirmed that the decision has been made in line with current Welsh Government guidance and increasing concerns about the spread of coronavirus linked to large gatherings.

However, plans are afoot to celebrate Christmases past and present in the town’s first ever virtual carnival.

On what would have been ‘carnival night’ the town’s illuminations will be switched on and an online celebration will be hosted on Carmarthenshire County Council’s social media channels featuring music, opportunity to reminisce over past carnivals and a challenge to businesses and organisations to create a carnival scene for the town’s first ever virtual parade.

The town’s Christmas tree is also being relocated to a more visible location for passers-by, at the busy Gelli-Onn junction near West End.

The largest Christmas carnival in Wales, Llanelli’s festive celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table.

Partners have expressed their disappointment at the decision but have vowed to keep Christmas spirit alive.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We have made this decision with a very heavy heart as we know how much the carnival means to the people of Llanelli. This is the first time since it started over 40 years ago that we have had to take a decision like this and we are as disappointed as I’m sure everyone else will be.

“We are determined to do something special to keep the tradition alive and planning is now underway to hold a virtual carnival on what would have been the night of the traditional festivities.”

Cllr Shahana Najmi, Leader of Llanelli Town Council said: “The Llanelli Christmas Carnival is the highlight in the calendar for thousands of people and whilst we’re sorry we can’t hold the traditional carnival this year, we are pleased to be working with partners on an online celebration which we hope people will get involved with and enjoy.”

Cllr Tegwen Devichand, Leader of Llanelli Rural Council, said: “Generations of families have enjoyed Llanelli’s Christmas carnival over the years and we’re disappointed that for this first time in its history we are unable to put on the parade. We hope people will understand the decision and support the plans we’re developing for the town’s first virtual carnival.”

Roger Bowen, of Llanelli Round Table, added: “Llanelli’s carnival night is an important night as it raises a great amount of money for local charities and brings many communities together with such tremendous work on the floats, which really makes the evening such a special event.  We hope that people will find other ways to give generously and support good causes in our communities.”

Further information will be released in the coming weeks about the virtual carnival and how people can get involved.

Keep an eye on Carmarthenshire County Council’s Facebook and Twitter feeds and visit newsroom.carmarthenshire.gov.wales

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