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Plenty of questions for Executive Board

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Carmarthenshire County Council: Executive board will discuss Llangennech school

Carmarthenshire County Council:
Executive board will discuss Llangennech school

THE MONDAY (Jun 20) meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board promises to be a lively affair, with an unprecedented number of questions from members of the public.

30 questions, including 11 referred to the Executive Board by the Education Scrutiny Committee, with 19 questions addressed directly to Executive Board Member for Education Councillor Gareth Jones.

The questions all concern plans to discontinue Llangennech Primary and Junior Schools, replace them with a Community Primary School, and change from dual stream to Welsh medium education – a topic The Herald has covered extensively in the past.

The questions themselves are fairly evenly split between those in favour of the change and those who oppose it. A number of points are raised, including the perceived difficulty children with special educational need have in learning more than one language, the safety issues involved in transporting children to an English medium school out of the village, and a lingering belief on the part of those opposed to Welsh medium education in Llangennech that the transition is ‘a done deal’.

There are also queries about what is regarded as a ‘surplus’ of Welsh medium school places in the area – something The Herald has also previously discussed in greater depth.

However, those who are more supportive of the change include one non-Welsh speaking parent who expresses her pride that her Welsh medium-educated children have grown up bilingual, while others express concern over declining Welsh usage in Llangennech over the past 20 years and point out that support is available for non-Welsh speaking parents whose children attend Welsh medium schools.

It is also pointed out that research has shown children who grow up speaking two languages have higher IQs than their monolingual counterparts, and that educational outcomes in the core subjects in schools, including Llangennech, are better in the Welsh medium stream at present.

The campaign against the change to Welsh medium education in Llangennech has received widespread media coverage, with the story being covered by national news outlets including BBC Wales.

One of the objectors, South African-born Anglican vicar John Plessis, memorably compared the proposals to apartheid, while leading protestor Michaela Beddows said that the village ‘would be divided’ as a result.

Llangennech is 39% Welsh-speaking.

It was also claimed by protestors that Carmarthenshire County Council had somehow been acting illegally in educating their children in Welsh – something that had been happening for five years before anyone brought it up.

This led to a response from Cllr Gareth Jones which described the allegation as ‘completely untrue’.

Cllr Jones also expressed concern that ‘some people have taken to naming individual members of school staff on social media and are making unfounded personal criticisms of them.’

“It is important that the debate is conducted objectively, fairly and with respect for others,” he added.

The Executive Board is due to make their recommendation on the proposal at Monday’s meeting.

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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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