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Tributes pour in for Jeff Connell

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jeffconnellFRIENDS, colleagues and local politicians have been united in their praise for photographer Jeff Connell and sorrow at his sudden passing on Thursday (Dec 10). Jeff worked as photographer for the Llanelli Star and was well known around Carmarthenshire as the friendly face of photography. His work spanned many years in local newspapers where he covered just about any event, which had been taking place in his home community of Llanelli as well as covering news stories, which had national significance. Jeff went to work for Carmarthenshire County Coun c il’s press team late in his career where he was reunited with many of his former colleagues.In a very personal tribute to Jeff his colleagues at the press office said, “Jeff Connell was a legend.

It feels wrong to use the past tense, it’s unbelievable he isn’t with us any more. He will be remembered for being one of the best, if not the best, photographer in South Wales. But to us as friends and colleagues he was so much more. He was known and loved by so many people, everyone liked him, he was full of fun, had a wicked sense of humour and a huge heart. “His loss will be felt by so many, most of all his wife Desna whom he absolutely adored and of course his family. Our hearts go out to them and we pray they find the strength to cope with their tragic loss. “Jeff was artistic, enthusiastic, kind, generous, loyal, hardworking, committed, unique. But these are just words and there are no words adequate to describe the legend that was Jeff Connell or the massive gap he leaves in all our lives.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Nia Griffith MP was equally generous in her assessment of how much Jeff meant to the community of Llanelli. She said of Jeff : “Everyone warmed immediately to Jeff and he will be very sorely missed. Jeff had the most charming way of persuading even the most reluctant of subjects to have their photo taken, and he did an amazing job of getting great pictures in all sorts of challenging circumstances. We tend to associate him with journalistic style photos, but his range was much greater. On one occasion, I was very privileged to watch him deliver his adjudication of a competition celebrating Carmarthenshire in memory of the late Ifor Russell to the Llanelli Photographic Society: he had clearly put an enormous amount of work into judging the competition.

He did not just tell us about the winners, but he gave really helpful, constructive and good-humored feedback to every one of the entrants, explaining how they could have improved their portrayal of Carmarthenshire…. It was a pleasure to listen to, and we all learned a lot. We will all miss him, and I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his family.” Friend and fellow photographer Graham Harries of GPhotography said : “Jeff would always make time to say hello no matter how busy he was. He’d remember everyones name & trust me when you meet so many people on a daily basis that’s something special. Always the professional he’d get the job done with no fussing, always make those in front of his camera feel at ease & always considerate to those other photographers on the same shoot.”

Plaid Cymru’s Helen Mary Jones paid tribute to the much loved photographer saying : “I was very sad indeed to hear of Jeff’s passing. I had spoken to him just a few weeks ago when out canvassing with the Plaid Llanelli team. On that occasion he was, as always, full of warmth and humour, reminding me of some of the funnier photo’s he’s taken of me during my time as Llanelli’s AM, including making me pose on one leg and lean at a very odd angle when cutting a ribbon to open a new shop for Tenvous the cancer charity. “At the time I though he was crazy, but as always with Jeff, the photo came out very well. He really was a consummate professional, but more than that. He had a great knack for setting his subjects at ease, helping them relax, and getting the best out of them. Particularity with people who were a bit shy, or reluctant to be photographed – I’m thinking for example of a group of young people with learning disabilities in a community group I was visiting – Jeff was always very patient and kind, and the result was always a great picture that told a strong story. He taught me one important lesson for a person in public life – never argue with the photographer – they know what they are doing!

“He loved his community and cared a lot about Llanelli. He was a real character and will be much missed. My thoughts are with his family and friends.” Jeff’s friend and former editor of the Llanelli Star Robert Lloyd said he could not believe that he had gone. Robert said : “Jeff was one of those characters who was larger than life. He was a joy to work with and he was a consummate professional. His work was a strong feature of the newspaper and he could always be relied on to deliver that photo with impact. He always made people feel at ease and never failed to get a smile out of people. My thoughts are with his wife and family at this time.” Paying tribute to Jeff Connell, Keith Davies AM, said: “Jeff was a very wellknown man who I met on many occasions. He will be remembered for his excellent work and good sense of humour. “His sudden death is a loss not only to his family and colleagues but also to the wider Carmarthenshire community who will have met Jeff at the many events he photographed and supported.”

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Station Road: Off-licence refused alcohol licence

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AN OFF-LICENCE on Llanelli’s Station Road has been refused an alcohol licence by Carmarthenshire County Council after councillors decided it could add to the area’s crime and disorder problems.

The Licensing Committee’s decision has been upheld after the applicant, who runs the shop Kubus, appealed to the courts.

The applicant, Aram Mahmood, had asked the council for permission to sell alcohol at his shop between 9am and 9pm Monday to Sunday.

However councillors felt that granting the licence would contravene the authority’s Cumulative Impact Policy, which creates a presumption against the granting of premises licences in the Station Road area, due to anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled crime issues.

A Dyfed Powys Police representative said Station Road is still identified as a crime and disorder hot spot, and a Drinking in Public Places Order (DPPO) is in place.

During April 2017 and March 2018, 164 anti-social behaviour incidents were recorded in Station Road, over a quarter having occurred within licensed premises.

A fifth of all related crime and 13 per cent of all alcohol related anti-social behavior incidents recorded in Llanelli town occurred in Station Road.

Over 40 alcohol related violent crimes were also recorded there during the same period.

Although there are now fewer premises selling alcohol in Station Road, statistics show there is still a high level of alcohol related crime and disorder in the area.

The applicant told the committee that his main customers were families wishing to buy Polish and European foods and products.

He told councillors he had ordered a CCTV system and assured them that the management of alcohol would be well controlled by staff, though believed that his customers would not cause problems.

The licensing committee’s decision was upheld following the applicant’s appeal to Llanelli Magistrates Court.

Justices found that there was no evidence of exceptional reasons to justify departing from the Cumulative Impact Policy and were satisfied with the committee’s decision.

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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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