A PLAN which could help thousands of residents reduce their fuel bills came one step closer to fruition after being approved by the executive committee of Carmarthen County Council on Monday (May 11).Under an ambitious new solar panel scheme, the 2700 tenants whose houses are suited to having panels fitted could save £2.25 per week on their bills for the next 20 years. If an option which includes a community fund is taken up tenants at properties where solar panels cannot be fitted will also benefit from the scheme.
Two funding models were brought before the Executive board. The first involved the council funding all works themselves, at a cost of around £18.8m for installation, with a further £9.1m of projected maintenance costs over the next 20 years. The benefits of this model were that all monies from feed-in tariffs and export tariffs would go to the council. However, the large initial start-up costs and the high maintenance bill are thought to have been factors against this system. Additionally, extra investment would be needed to provide a ‘community fund’ like the one outlined above. The option recommended, and one that has received the endorsement of the Executive Board, is for a ‘rent a roof’ model.
This has the advantage of incurring no start-up and maintenance costs, which will be covered by a third-party contractor in return for all the income from feed-in tariffs and export tariffs. However, a programme of roof-strengthening will have to be undertaken, at a cost of £1.8m. This scheme also allows for local investment and shared ownership, up to 20% of the initial start-up costs. It is thought that the council will take up this offer, possibly in conjunction with local businesses or members of the public. According to the council’s figures, an initial investment of £1.7m would yield returns of £4.3m over 20 years.
This model also incorporates a ‘community fund,’ which would help to combat fuel hardship among tenants of the 5723 properties which are not suited to solar panels. The fund is estimated as being worth £2.1m over 20 years, which equates to around £18.50 per year per house. It was suggested that this extra money could be used to “develop initiatives to help tenants whose homes are not suitable for the installation of solar pv save money on fuel bills… This scheme will help mitigate fuel poverty in our communities.” The solar scheme will now be discussed by the full council before being implemented.
NSPCC: Wales conference puts spotlight on domestic abuse
PROTECTING women and children from domestic abuse was the focus of a ground-breaking conference in Wales this week (Mar 28).
Organised by Cardiff University’s Exchange Network – with support from NSPCC Cymru / Wales and Welsh Women’s Aid – the event aimed to share information on the most effective approaches to tackle all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and support for victims – be they adults or children.
Preventing violence from happening and protecting those who fall victim to domestic abuse formed the focus of the conference, at Cardiff’s Novotel Hotel.
Representatives from Welsh Government, Relate Cymru, Barnardos and Rape and Sexual Abuse (RASA) Centre also attended.
Domestic abuse continues to be a significant reason for young people to contact Childline. In 2016/17 volunteers at the NSPCC-run helpline undertook 120 counselling sessions with children from Wales who had concerns about abuse by a partner in their own relationship.
And 241 children from Wales contacted Childline to discuss parental domestic abuse.
Some young people who witness this also experience physical abuse by their parents. This can sometimes happen when they try and intervene in the abuse taking place, with some children telling Childline they were hit by their mother or father when trying to stop a fight.
“Sometimes my dad gets in a bad mood and gets really aggressive. He says horrible things to me and my mum and it scares me. In the past he was threatening to hit my mum, when I tried to get him to calm down he slapped me instead. I feel like neither of them listen to me and they don’t understand how upset it’s all making me.” (Girl, 16-18, Wales)
Head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, Des Mannion, told The Llanelli Herald: “Domestic abuse can have a huge impact on a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing and it’s hugely important that we share information and discuss ways to both prevent violence and protect victims.
“We all have a part to play in tackling domestic abuse and it’s important to pick up the phone if you’re concerned so that our advisers can offer guidance and get help where it’s needed.
“Stepping in early helps to change behaviours and avoid abuse escalating, and putting the child at the heart of interventions is paramount in keeping children safe and limiting long-term damage.
“It is also vital that children and young people affected by domestic abuse have access to the right kind of support to overcome the trauma of witnessing and experiencing domestic abuse.”
Any child worried about domestic abuse can call Childline on 0800 11 11. Any adult who is concerned about a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
Pop-up craft stalls return to St Elli
LLANELLI’S St Elli Shopping Centre is once again playing host to a fantastic group of pop-up craft stalls today and tomorrow (Mar 1-2).
Following on from a highly successful outing just before Christmas, the ‘Pert A Blasus Pop-Up Emporium’ will see a variety of crafters take to the Atrium to sell their handmade crafts.
A group of friends who met whilst running stalls at craft markets around South Wales, Pert A Blasus brings together a host of skill sets and backgrounds – including a former kitchen fitter and scaffolder, a former clerical assistant, and a primary school teacher.
Primary school teacher Jill Davies has been crafting most of her life as a hobby; however, seven years ago decided to launch ‘Dzines by Jill’, which sees her hand-decorate plain pieces of ceramic and household items with her own unique designs.
Jill also organises her own ‘Made it Markets’ in Neath.
Also on board with Pert A Blasus is Steve Kennedy, who is the brainchild of ‘Cut n Scroll’, where he hand cuts items from wood and enlists the help of his wife Tanya for painting and gemming; Wendy Taylor, also a primary school teacher, who completed a precious metal course at Gower College and now makes her own items for her ‘Simplicity by Silver’ stall; and Jill James who runs her ‘Pretty Cute Fairies’ stall.
Bread and Jam for Christmas
A young woman with Spina bifida has been left alone in an empty home with nothing but bread and jam to eat and with no cooking facilities. Jackie lives a stone’s throw from Llanelli Town Hall and yet she claims she has been abandoned by the County Council, her AM, her MP and Social Services. She faces a wait until January 10 before service providers meet to discuss her case.
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