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Ken Skates to Parc Howard’s rescue

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Around the grounds: Lee Waters and Ken Skates get the grand tour

Around the grounds: Lee Waters and Ken Skates get the grand tour

THE DEPUTY Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates AM visited Parc Howard on Monday (Mar 14) accompanied by Labour’s Llanelli AM candidate Lee Waters.

The Deputy Minister said that he wanted to see what a fantastic place Parc Howard was.

We asked the minister what his plans for the park were and he told us: “There are many opportunities to bring people together and decide what the common purpose is and then deliver. There are capital investment grants available for places like this. The role of community leaders is crucial in bringing people together. The key first step to take is to decide what it is that we want this park for.”

The Herald asked if private ventures would be considered in the future for the park. Lee Waters said: “It is important that this park remains the property of the people. It has been handed down for the people of the town. It is really important that whatever mechanism we come up with that people feel that this is their park.

“I wanted Ken Skates to come here and see for himself because we have discussed the potential many times and there is huge potential and that is the frustration. The council went behind people’s backs to talk to private developers. It is not the principle of thinking of new purposes for the house that is the problem. It is the transparency in doing it and bringing the people with you. There is a problem with Carmarthenshire County Council in that they are not good at bringing people with them.”

The Labour AM candidate for Llanelli was critical of the County Council’s chopping and changing regarding the fate of the park.

He continued: “I think it is important that the community is part of it. The council gave the impression that they wanted to wash their hands of it and leave it to volunteers to take it over. It is not for volunteers to do that. Volunteers add value.

“They cannot be the ones driving it. They may not have the time or professional skills. The town has paid for this place. The council need to come to the table and say what partnership we can launch and come up with a new model for keeping the park public and reaching its potential.

Ken Skates agreed that there was huge potential for the park saying: “Parc Howard is an ideal place for a whole number of activities. It is a great area for leisure activities. It is perfect for park runs, street games and other physical activity. It is a great place for reading, outdoor classrooms. It is a superb place potentially for acquiring new skills.”

The Herald asked Ken Skates if the Welsh Assembly Government would provide funding for Parc Howard. He replied: “Any request for support will be administered by us. This place has enormous potential. As Lee said, we need a council that is listening to people and a council that is responding to people’s calls for action. We need a council that is able to gather people together in a very constructive way and to be able to come to the table for any further requests for support.”

Given the nature of Carmarthenshire County Council cuts and the threat to local libraries and museums like the one at Parc Howard we asked the minister whether councils are breaching the Libraries Act by closing them:

“As of yet, no, “ he answered, “There is the final sanction available to us to take over library services but we have not had to use that final sanction. It has been an incredibly difficult time because of austerity.

“Austerity is something that no government or council in Wales would which to have to impose on the tax payer but sadly it is being determined by Westminster and we are living through a sustained periods of austerity. How we have responded in Wales is quite unique. We have those standards which protect those core services that libraries are able to deliver. We have backed it up with £14m of investment to transform 100 community libraries.

By transforming them they have become more sustainable. As far as we are aware not a single one of those libraries we have invested in has closed. There are ongoing challenges for libraries and that is why I have commissioned an expert panel review to look into the sustainability of local libraries and another panel to at the sustainability of local museums. The work is being completed.

We are implementing some of the recommendations. The future is challenging because of austerity but at least now we have those expert’s recommendations to be able to make sure that our libraries and our museums that people value so much are able to survive into the future.”

The Herald asked if there was a risk of looking at Welsh heritage, history, and preservation only as part of a tourism strategy, as commodities, instead of valuing them for their own sake. Ken Skates told us: “At the moment tourism is part of the portfolio that I have. I don’t think you should separate them out because libraries and museums are so important to the visitor economy. A lot of people will visit Wales to access a museum, not just a big museum either. A lot of people are searching for the records of their families so they will come to local museums, likewise libraries are important.”

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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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