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Meeting times will remain unchanged

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Carmarthenshire_County_Hall_from_across_TowyTHE TIMES of Carmarthenshire County Council meetings will remain the same following a lengthy debate.

Wednesday’s Extraordinary General Meeting was called to discuss the recommendations made by the Cross Party Constitutional Review working group (CRWG).

The council was recommended to undertake a survey by the Welsh Local Government Association.

Following the survey, the CRWG recommended that the majority were in favour of the existing arrangements.

However, that survey only received 44 responses from the 74 councillors.

Many members questioned whether it would be a good idea to hold the meetings at different times to suit other people and allow more to attend.

Cllr Callum Higgins said: “The feedback I have had from people who may have previously stood for council have found it very difficult to commit time to serve in the public. Varying times of council would improve the situation for some people who might be interested in standing but they cannot do so because of work commitments. It’s been this way for a while but it is something that needs to be looked at.”

Cllr Gwyneth Thomas added: “I think we need to be more flexible in order to attract young people. As someone who works part time it is easy to change shifts in order to be here but we have to be more flexible. This is the way it’s always been but it is time that we look at this and review this to try and include people who aren’t in a position to attend meetings.”

Cllr Giles Morgan said: “We could be far more pro-active in the times of meetings, it’s fair to say that we haven’t really tried it and that’s probably because it suits the majority but nobody can tell me we’ve tried it because we haven’t. I’ll be voting against this today because there should have been a half-way house, there should be a handful of meetings at a better time for people who are working.”

Cllr Darren Price told the chamber that he had suggested having late afternoon meetings on the survey but added: “I hadn’t taken on board the suggestion that we could split it and have some meetings in the morning and some in the afternoon. That would certainly help those who work full time.”

Cllr Andrew James added: “We have had 44 replies out of the 74 so if that’s the way it is, we have to listen to democracy. We have to be flexible but we also have to consider that there are just 24 hours in the day, if we are going to give a contribution here and seek the people that we represent, I think we have to remember how can we be at an evening meeting here, when we have meetings within the community. So before we make too many changes be careful what you wish for.”

Cllr Jeff Edmunds said: “What strikes me is what motivates people to become councillors. Why do you sit here? We all knew before we became councillors what that commitment was and I’ve got no preference so evenings could suit me but it could certainly suit a bias of people who work to have it in the evenings. However, that would go against family life and there are people who have other commitments in the evenings as well as their family lives. We become councillors because there is a motivation that drives us to become councillors and that’s not what time we have the meetings, I’m sure that it goes far deeper than that.”

Cllr Emlyn Dole added: “This process is ongoing annually at this council and it can certainly be reviewed again. We are looking at figures here but the biggest disappointment in the figures is that 30 councillors had no preference because they didn’t bother to respond to the survey. I expected 74 responses and that’s when we have the accurate figure.”

Cllr Tom Theophilus said: “During the winter months the members that represent the rural areas could be snow bound and we must remember that the rural areas are not gritted and therefore the roads will be very dangerous to travel at night time so I don’t think it would be wise to have evening meetings during the winter months.”

The majority of members voted in favour of keeping the existing meeting times while three abstained from voting.

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Cllr Kevin Madge elected as new county council Chairman

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THE new chair of Carmarthenshire County Council said he will work tirelessly during his term of office.

Cllr Kevin Madge, member for Garnant, takes the chain of office whilst celebrating 40 years as a councillor.

Taking the chair, Cllr Madge paid tribute to outgoing chairman Cllr Mansel Charles, member for Llanegwad, saying he had fulfilled his duties with passion.

Cllr Madge will chair the council for the next 12 months, with Cllr Ieuan Davies, member for Llanybydder, as his vice chair, and his wife Catrin as his consort.

“I’m very much looking forward to the year ahead, I will do my best for everyone. I will work tirelessly,” he said.

Cllr Madge has chosen the Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks and emergency food provision for people in crisis, as his Chairman’s Charity of the Year.

The Chair is the first citizen of Carmarthenshire County Council, and is elected at the Annual General Meeting.

Duties include chairing full meetings of the council, representing the council at formal and ceremonial occasions, welcoming visitors to the county, and attending and supporting events organised by local people and organisations.

Cllr Madge has been a county councillor since 1996, and a member of Cwmaman Town Council since 1979.

He also serves as chairman of the Royal British Legion Garnant branch, Garnant Family Centre and Cwmaman Meals on Wheels, and is a member of Amman Valley League of Friends.

He represents the county council on the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, and the Mynydd y Betws Wind Farm Community Fund, and is on the governing body of Ysgol Y Bedol.

A former pupil of Amman Valley School, Cllr Madge has worked in the Amman Valley throughout his life, most recently as agent and researcher to Dr Alan Williams MP until 2001.

A keen football supporter, he has served as chair and president of Cwmaman Football Club and spent 25 years as a Welsh League and Neath and District football referee.

He is married with two children and three grandchildren.

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‘UK Government should work with the Welsh Labour Government on Tata’

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LOCAL Assembly Member Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.

Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.

During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.

Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”

“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”

Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.

Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”

Nia Griffith AM said ““This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.

“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”

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MP and AM call for Trostre certainty after merger fails

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LOCAL ASSEMBLY MEMBER Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.

Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.

During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.

Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”

“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”

Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.

Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”

Nia Griffith AM said “This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.

“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”

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