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Neighbourhood Food Collection launch

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L to R: Jordan Lucas, Amber Carpenter, Nia Griffith MP, Claire Childs, Miriam Evans, James Cannings, Jan Lang, Matthew Price, Keith Davies AM and Lee Waters

LLANELLI politicians lent their support to the seventh Neighbourhood Food Collection, which launched in Tesco stores across the country last weekend (Dec 5-6) . The Neighbourhood Food Collection, run by Tesco with partner charities, The Trussell Trust and FareShare, is aiming to provide at least five million meals to people in need this winter as both charities see increased use by families struggling to put food on the table, making it the biggest collection yet. Nia Griffith MP and Keith Davies AM visited the Llanelli Tesco Store to lend their support during the collection of food for one of Llanelli’s food banks.

Nia Griffith said: “It’s a crying shame that in 2015 we need food banks but they have become a lifeline to many people. I would like to thank the hard working volunteers who work tirelessly for the Trussell Trust. “We helped highlight the need for donations on this occasion in Tesco’s, but without the year-long dedication of people like Amber Carpenter, Claire Childs and Miriam Evans (to name but a few) who run the food bank at Myrtle House in Llanelli, organisations like the Trussell Trust would simply not be able to operate successfully and do the good work that they do.”

Keith Davies said: “I have supported the work of all local foodbanks in Llanelli as they support so many people in the Llanelli area who are struggling to make ends meet. I would like to encourage anyone who can afford to, to consider buying some extra items as part of the regular shop to donate to the cause this Christmas. We shouldn’t need to have foodbanks but as times continue to be tough for some , it is up to all of us to come together to support people in need” Since the Neighbourhood Food Collections were launched in 2012, over 27.5 million meals – including a 30% top-up from Tesco – have been donated to people in need by generous Tesco customers.

Tesco is hoping that the latest collection will take the total number of meals donated since the collection began beyond 30 million. As with previous collections, Tesco will add an extra 30% to all customer donations in the form of financial support to the two charities, helping them expand their network and reach more people in need. Examples of how the charities have previously used the Tesco top-up funding include paying for a foodbank warehouse manager, buying essential items in short supply or funding petrol and vehicle costs.

Since 2012 the topup has resulted in combined funding of over £3.6 million to FareShare and The Trussell Trust. Rebecca Shelley, Group Communications Director for Tesco said: “It’s wonderful to see the generosity of our customers every time we run the Neighbourhood Food Collection. “Every little help can make a big difference, and it’s even more important to donate during the winter because our charity partners often see increased demand for their services during the colder months. This is now our seventh collection and we want to keep up the momentum we’ve built throughout the Neighbourhood Food Collections so far.”

Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare, said: “It doesn’t need to take much, sadly, for an individual or a family to start struggling and experience hard times. The Neighbourhood Food Collection really helps us in our work to provide good food to 2,135 amazing frontline organisations which support people who are struggling to feed themselves. Part of that support comes in the way of good nutritious meals, often the first step in helping those vulnerable people back on their feet.” The Neighbourhood Food Collection relies on, and is bolstered by volunteers. During last winter’s collection in November 2014, approximately 20,000 volunteers across the UK were involved.”

David McAuley, CEO of The Trussell Trust said: “The Trussell Trust has seen huge rises in referrals to foodbanks in recent years, and it’s surprising how fast a crisis can strike. We’ve seen professionals like nurses and teachers referred to foodbanks – people who you might not expect to need help. Many households are managing their finances perfectly well on a day-to-day basis, but as soon as an unexpected bill or cost comes in, such as a broken boiler or funeral costs, the impact on finances can be devastating. Often, a referral to the foodbank helps people to bridge the gap when the unexpected hits and gives them the breathing room to break out of crisis. Winter is often the hardest time of year for people in poverty, with many having to choose between heating and eating. That’s why we’re so grateful for the food donations from Tesco shoppers which will help stop hunger this Christmas.”

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Llanelli High Street shortlisted for prize

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LLANELLI HIGH STREET has been shortlisted in the Government’s Great British High Street Awards, in proud partnership with Visa, putting them in the running for up to £15,000.

After a rigorous selection process led by a panel of independent judges, the high street has been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, which celebrates high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify.

The bid by Ymlaen Llanelli follows research commissioned by Visa in April 2019 demonstrating the positive impact that the local high street has on communities. The research found that nearly three quarters of consumers (71%) in Wales say that shopping locally makes them feel happy, with nearly half (45%) citing supporting local shops and knowing where their money is going as the main reason. Spending time with friends and family (25%) and offering a sense of community (18%) were other reasons cited for why high streets make people feel happier. The research also reveals that half of consumers (50%) feel that their high street gives them a sense of pride in their local community.

High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: “Congratulations to Llanelli for being shortlisted for the Rising Star Award for this year’s Great British High Street Awards.

“Llanelli high street is a hive of activity, with food festivals, childrens’ days and community get-togethers all part of the local calendar. A great example of how high streets can bring a renewed energy to communities.

“People are happier when they can see their hard-earned cash support local businesses. That is why we are celebrating those that go above and beyond to keep their high streets thriving for generations to come.”

Sundeep Kaur, Head of UK & Ireland Merchant Services at Visa, added: “We’ve seen some fantastic entries for this year’s Great British High Street Awards across both the Champion High Street and Rising Star categories. In particular, the desire to innovate stands out amongst this year’s entries, with high streets adapting to the challenges presented by a rapidly changing retail environment to find ways to thrive at a local level.

“As our research shows, high streets play a vital role at the heart of communities, so this is a great opportunity for those communities with shortlisted high streets to show their support by placing their votes on the Great British High Street website.”

Llanelli High Street is one of the 28 high streets that have been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, identifying high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify. 12 high streets have been shortlisted in the Champion High Street category, which recognises the UK’s best high streets. All 40 high streets are now in the running to win a prize of up to £15,000 to be dedicated to a local high street initiative.

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Head Teacher at Primary school in Llanelli suspended

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THE HEAD TEACHER of a Welsh primary school has been suspended, it has been confirmed.

Catherine Lloyd-Jenkins, who is head at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes in Llanelli, has been suspended from her duties at the school with immediate effect.

Governors at the school have been unavailable for comment, but Carmarthenshire Council confirmed the news this morning.

It is understood that the chair of the governing body is currently out of the country, and the council would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding the suspension.

The council’s director of education, Gareth Morgans, said: “School staffing is a matter for the Governing Body, however, we can confirm the headteacher of Ysgol Ffwrnes has been suspended.

“It is not appropriate to comment further.”

Mrs Lloyd-Jenkins has worked at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes for 23 years, taking up a post at the school in 1996.

She has been the headteacher there for almost 20 years, taking over the role in 2000. She has also worked as a peer inspector at Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales confirmed.

According to one local councillor, ‘serious concerns’ have been raised about the school in recent months.

“Local residents and parents have approached us raising serious concerns about the school in question,” said Carmarthenshire councillor Rob James.

“We are in dialogue with senior council officers to assert whether the allegations are credible and what action the council and governors have taken in response to these allegations.”

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Dyfed-Powys Police numbers at record low, say Labour

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POLICE officers based across the Dyfed-Powys area are now at their lowest levels in the last decade, with over 300 officers being lost across the region, claim Carmarthenshire Labour.

According to a freedom of information request by Carmarthenshire Labour, police officers based across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are down 42% and are at record lows in both Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The figures published by Dyfed-Powys Police show that Carmarthenshire has lost 160 officers in the last ten years, Pembrokeshire is down 107 officers and Ceredigion has lost 56 bobbies on the beat.

These figures come off the back of a poor report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that shows the force has gone backwards in the last year, with crime also on the increase.

HMIC’s recent PEEL (Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report noted concerns about Dyfed-Powys Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime and specifically warned of failures to assess all incidents of domestic abuse.

Carmarthenshire Labour Leader Cllr Rob James claims that the figures show that the current Police and Crime Commissioner is now performing worse than their predecessor.

Rob James stated: “These figures that show a dramatic decrease in police numbers are extremely worrying and reinforce what communities are saying across Dyfed Powys – there are simply not enough police officers in our areas.

“The fact that we now have lower police numbers in the three counties compared to the end of the last Police and Crime Commissioner’s term with crime now on the rise illustrates that the Plaid Cymru Commissioner is failing in his duty to protect our communities.

“We need urgent action to make our communities safe once more, as there is a clear link between the loss of youth provision and cuts to officer numbers, and the rise of crime in our communities.

“There is little evidence that our Commissioner has grasped the nettle over the last three years in tackling this important issue.”

These claims however, have been slapped down by Police and Crime Comissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn. He said that said that Cllr James had misunderstood or misrepresented the information provided to him.
The Carmarthen data have a significant rider attached to them.

The explanatory note reads: ‘It should be noted that the figures for Carmarthenshire police division between 2008 and 2018 are not comparable as the structure of Carmarthenshire division in 2018 has altered to that of 2008 which has impacted upon the figures provided’.

That explanation is expanded upon concerning the Ceredigion data. Regarding them, an explanatory note warns that: ‘[T]he structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded divisionally now come under the HQ remit, e.g. the Road Policing Unit, CID, etc.’.

Dafydd Llewelyn pointed out that note in his response to The Herald: “As outlined in the response to the Freedom of Information request, structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded as divisionally based are now recorded under the HQ remit, for example, Roads Policing Unit, CID.”

Dafydd Llewelyn continued: “Since taking up my role as the elected person to represent the many communities across the four counties served by the force, I have increased the overall resource available by 4%. I have ploughed funding into dedicated teams to support front line officers and have invested in resources to support the most vulnerable in our communities.

“I have commissioned services specific to their needs – be that as victims of domestic abuse or young people choosing to leave their homes for reasons unknown to authorities. I will continue to do this. I will not be held to account by numbers on paper alone, but by the difference I can make to individuals’ quality of life.

“I will also use the opportunity I have to campaign for services appropriate to the very specific needs an area the size of Dyfed-Powys Police has and will work with the force to adapt according to those needs.”

He concluded by pointing out: “Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys remain the safest counties nationally and I’m proud to be driving a service that is willing and able to flex and respond, despite the financial challenges faced day-in-day-out.”

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