ON MONDAY (Mar 7) The Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant visited Llanelli to look at the work being carried out on a groundbreaking ‘Arbed’ fuel poverty programme. The Welsh Government-backed Arbed 2 project is run by Melin Homes.
Welsh Labour’s Warm Homes Arbed and Nest programmes have continued to provide energy improvements and advice. During 2013/14 alone improvements were made to over 9,000 homes through the Welsh Labour Government schemes, giving each household estimated savings of up to £500 a year on their energy bills.
In addition they are creating jobs, apprenticeships and partnerships across Wales, resulting in an impressive return for the Welsh economy. Despite the huge contribution home insulation makes to curbing climate change and improving people’s well-being, the Tories now spend only £3.52 per household in England compared to £31.31 per household invested by the Welsh Labour government.
We asked the Minister what the purpose of his visit to Llanelli was.
He explained: “What we are doing here is seeing great opportunities not just for local people but for the broader community and local economy. Employing local people, supply chains helping to support this initiative. I am actually speaking to residents who will benefit from this work in the long term.
We are tackling issues around climate change. It isn’t just about insulation it is about the whole green growth economy for Wales. We have to make clever investments. We have to do things differently. It isn’t just about insulating homes, this will boost the economy. Green Growth Wales is a very important opportunity.”
During his visit the minister called in on Bigyn resident Dianne Rudall to chat about what affect the work being carried out on her home was having on her life. Mrs Ruddall told the Minister that she suffered from a heart condition and always found the house to be cold and had to have the heating on for most of the time.
She said: “It helps me with my bills and it is good for the area. As soon as the chance to have the work done came available I went for it.”
Carl Sargeant told us, “Mrs Ruddall was very happy and she was telling us how the guys were operating locally on the work on the homes and she is looking to it being finished so that she can stay warm in her own home.”
We asked the Natural Resources Minister what the future of the project would be if Labour did not get into power at the elections.
His response was uncompromising: “I don’t recognise the issue should Labour not get in because we are very positive that we are out to win all the seats and we are fighting very hard with Lee Waters in this area. All schemes are at risk if Labour does not get back in because we know that the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru have different views on what we should be investing in.”
The Herald asked the Minister about the issue of importing materials into Wales to burn rather than looking at home grown alternatives. He replied: “What we are doing here is that we have a really great environmental credential. We have just introduced an environment bill and groundbreaking legislation alongside the Wellbeing and Future Generations Act for making sure we are protecting the environment.
“I was part of the COP21 discussions in Paris in December where we made our commitment in changing the way we deal with issues around the environment. It is up to everybody to make their own little piece of Wales better.”
We reminded the Minister of Plaid Cymru’s claim that the Labour Government were not doing enough to help British Steel in reducing their energy costs and asked what could be done to help.
The Minister told us: “The U.K. Government have to come to the table with answers for TATA Steel and particularly in Port Talbot. The issue there about energy pricing is something they should address. Edwina Hart, with Carwyn Jones, is taking the fight to the U.K. Government.
Asked about what Labour’s plans were for future renewable energy and whether Wales needed its own biomass plants, Mr Sargeant declined to give a direct answer. Instead he re-affirmed Labour’s commitment to ostensibly green power: “We are already pro renewable energy in Wales. Whereas the UK Government are promoting fracking. We have introduced a moratorium here in Wales.”
Mr Sargeant concluded: “We know where we want to be with our energy opportunities. There is something about micro generation and community generation as something that we should be exploring for the future.”
Llanelli MP & AM call for school transport solutions
Llanelli’s MP and AM joined Tumble residents on Friday (15.01.20) to walk along the unlit path that children have been forced to take since a bus service to Maes y Gwendraeth school was scrapped.
A number of school bus routes in Carmarthenshire have been cancelled in response to UK Government legislation which has restricted the types of vehicles that bus companies can use. This has left many children who relied on these services with no safe way to get to school.
Nia Griffith MP and Lee Waters AM are working with local residents and councillors, like Dot Jones in Tumble, to find solutions that can be implemented by the County Council or UK Government.
Lee Waters AM said, “After carrying the bags and instruments of a Tumble pupil three miles to school on Friday morning it’s clear we need to get these services running again. I’ve been working with the Council and Welsh Government to try and find a common sense resolution to the problem of cancelled school buses right across Llanelli.
“It’s a complicated situation, and unfortunately the Welsh Government’s powers are limited, but we may have found a way forward if the UK Government are willing to be flexible. The Welsh Government has written to ask them to exempt school transport in Carmarthenshire from the new regulations which would allow the local services to resume.”
In addition to commercial school bus routes, there is also a scheme for pupils to access spare places on the coaches that pick up children who live further away from school for a small fare. However, local parents have raised concerns about the availability of this scheme and the process by which places are allocated.
Nia Griffith MP said, “We must work together to find ways to restore bus transport as soon as possible, even if the situation is complex.
“I understand the County Council will now review the scheme which lets pupils use spare places on existing school buses, but this needs to be done as quickly and effectively as possible to ensure the maximum number of pupils benefit.
“It is crazy to have buses with spare capacity passing the bus stop and leaving pupils to walk. But we need transport back for all pupils who have lost it.”
Cllr Rob James, who joined the walk to Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth on Friday, said: “The bus services that have been withdrawn are vital services to many of our communities and must be retained.
“The local ward Councillors and I are thrilled with the support we are getting from the local MP and AM to solve these issues and we hope that there can be a resolution shortly.”
‘Seaside Kicks’ off to great start in Glanymor Ward!
A new project has been launched which is completely free for young people from across the Llanelli area.
‘Premier League Kicks’ run by Swansea City Community Trust started last Tuesday (14th January) and is already proving to be a success with both children and their parents.
Boys and Girls of all abilities are welcome to take part with sessions taking place on the brand new 3G pitch at Ysgol PenRhos.
Ages 8-12 take place on every Tuesday evening between 5.00pm and 6.00pm with ages 13-16 on every Wednesday between 8.00 and 9.00pm.
As well as the football sessions, activities will also include informative, educational workshops covering a wide range of issues including knife crime, county lines and online safety.
Craig Richards from the Swans Community Trust said:
“Nationally, ‘Premier League Kicks’ is one of the Premier League’s flagship community programmes. It has a long history of using the power of football and the value of sports participation to help youngsters in some of the most-high need areas.
“By engaging young people in constructive activities including football, coaching, educational and personal development sessions, communities up and down the country have been transformed with impressive football and sports participation rates, and authorities reporting significant reductions in anti-social behaviour in the areas in which it is delivered.”
Sean Rees, Llanelli Town Councillor for the Glanymor Ward added:
“It is a pleasure to link up with the Swans Community Trust, Police and Crime Commissioner, our PCSO’s, Llanelli Town Council and the Community Safety Partnership in bringing forward such an exciting project.
“Engagement has taken place with both local schools at Ysgol PenRhos and Ysgol Maes Y Morfa as well as strong partnership work with our existing sports clubs in the area at Seaside AFC and Bwlch Rangers too all of whom have been very supportive.
“It is fantastic to see so many youngsters turning out in great numbers with more expected next week. It gives them somewhere to go in the area and have fun with others within a safe environment.
“I now look forward to seeing this project go from strength to strength.”
Body of a man found in camper van near lifeboat station
THE BODY of a male has been found in a camper van parked near Loughor lifeboat station, according to the police.
Officers said they were called at 1.41pm on Sunday afternoon (Jan 12).
Locals said that the van had been parked there since December 22.
Police said they were called to the scene after concern was raised about an abandoned vehicle.
A statement from a police spokesperson said: “The body of a man was located inside.”
It added that his death was not being treated as suspicious and the coroner had been informed.
Hayden Jones, who walks in the area regularly, said he spotted police and the ambulance service were in the area at 3.20pm yesterday.
He said: “We came from the direction of the bridge and police were stopping cars coming in. There was an ambulance there too.
“We didn’t see what was going on. We turned around.”
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