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.
UK’s top skaters and riders drop in on Llanelli youngsters to celebrate a special birthday
THE WORLD’S and the UK’s finest skateboarders, BMX and Wheelchair Motocross stars will drop in on young people at a Carmarthenshire Ramps skatepark on Saturday 19 October 2019 from 11 am till 2 pm.
The event was arranged to celebrate the £3 billion National Lottery players have raised for projects which have specifically helped children and young people develop and thrive in the UK over the last 25 years.
£2 million of National Lottery funding has specifically been awarded to support and develop over 47 BMX projects in local communities for young people in Wales to enjoy.
Wales and Pembrokeshire’s own wheelchair sports superstar, Lily Rice; the Olympic BMX freestyler from Swansea, James Jones; Britain’s leading street skateboarder and 2020 Olympic hopeful, Alex Decunha; and YouTube influencer, Jake O’Neill (aka Jake100), visite hundreds of youngsters at Ramps indoor and outdoor skatepark in Llanelli as part of the National Lottery’s celebrations.
More than £340,000 was awarded by the National Lottery in 2013 to develop and build Ramps Skatepark which now provides activities for over 15,000 young people a year.
At 15 years old, Lily Rice from Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, is a World Champion wheelchair motocross (WCMX) star. She was propelled to fame two years ago when she became the first female in Europe to achieve a wheelchair backflip, and only the second girl in the world to pull off the stunt. Since then, Lily has emerged as one of the global leaders of WCMX – wheelchair motocross.
She says: “By contributing towards building amazing facilities such as this indoor and outdoor skate park, National Lottery funding is helping thousands of young people of all abilities to reach their goals and discover new opportunities.
I have trained and practised at numerous National Lottery funded skate parks and there is no doubt that the funding has helped wheeled sports, enthusiasts, to become healthier and more active.”
The National Lottery has inspired millions of people to get active in their local community, as well as supporting individuals and teams from grassroots to elite.
James Jones is a 25-year-old professional BMX rider from Swansea. James, who also celebrated his 25th Birthday this year, is one of six world-class athletes who make up the Freestyle BMX Team GB for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. James honed his skills and practised his tricks at the Ramps skate park in Llanelli when he was growing up and highlights the importance of young people having access to facilities like this on their doorstep.
James Jones said: “I practised a lot here growing up and this facility has played a big part in my development as a professional rider and a person. I probably wouldn’t be where I am now without the support I got here. It’s not just about learning to ride or skate, there’s a real family vibe here, a great social aspect and it’s well supported by the community.
The National Lottery must fund parks such as this one so that young people can have a safe space to pursue their hobbies and meet friends.”
First year anniversary for Transport for Wales
TODAY, Transport for Wales reaches its first- year anniversary since taking responsibility for rail services across Wales and the Borders, which marked the beginning of their £5 billion investment programme.
Over the past twelve months, TfW have put the customer at the heart of their decisions and as a thank you to them, they’re offering 20% off advance tickets bought between 14 and 20 October for travel up until 26 November.
Some of the key highlights over the year include the creation of the advanced fare initiative, making it cheaper for journeys over 50 miles; delay repay 15 was launched so that customers can claim for delays of 15 minutes or more and the implementation of new performance measures designed to provide a more reliable and punctual service.
TfW also began their £194 million plan to improve every railway station across their network and committed to spend more than £600,000 a year on Community Rail Partnerships, creating community ambassador roles, that will be responsible for promoting regional tourism and local economic growth.
Embedded video on YouTube
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said;
“It has been an exciting and challenging first year and we are proud to have started transforming the rail service for the people of Wales through delivering on our promises.
“We are implementing some ambitious programmes that will help us to improve the customer experience. Work has started on our railway stations; modernising them, making them safer and more accessible for local businesses and communities. We successfully reintroduced regular passenger services along the Halton Curve, providing 215 new services per week and connecting Wrexham with Liverpool by rail for the first time in 40 years.
“We have introduced additional trains to our network and our December timetable change will bring further increases in capacity across our busiest routes.
“Behind the scenes, there has been detailed planning and preparation work going on for the delivery of Metro services across Wales, the introduction of brand-new trains and the vision to create a fully integrated transport network.
“As well as our customers, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff for their dedication over the year and also thank the partners and businesses that we’ve worked with.”
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy and Transport, said:
“One year into our ambitious journey of rail improvement I believe it is important to recognise the progress that has been made. There have been the start of new services and new advanced fares and we will soon see extra capacity being added to some of our busiest lines. We’ve also outlined an ambitious £194m package of investment to improve every station in Wales.
“It’s clear that there are significant challenges and this journey will take time, but we have ambitious plans to transform transport across Wales to deliver a fully integrated network, with customers at the heart of everything. We have outlined a vision for a transformed railway across Wales – including the development of Metro systems – and Transport for Wales will continue to have an essential role to play in helping to deliver this.”
Eluned Morgan visits Llanelli for Mental Health
TO mark World Mental Health Day, Labour Assembly Member Eluned Morgan has visited Llanelli’s LINKS mental health charity to raise awareness of her #IPledge2Talk campaign.
LINKS is a unique to Llanelli support service providing assistance and learning opportunities to those within our community who have or are experiencing mental ill-health.
Earlier this year, the AM for Mid and West Wales launched in the Senedd her “I Pledge 2 Talk” campaign. In response to the growing concern over male suicide, the Eluned Morgan has turned her focus to encouraging people who feel down to seek help, and providing confidence to others to be a mental health ally.
Speaking after her visit, Eluned said: “I was really pleased to be able to meet the team at LINKS on Queen Victoria Road. They have and continue to provide a range of services to help people manage their mental health. They understand the importance of talking to improve mental health and helping others to open up.
“We all have our part to play in reaching out and offering support to those in need by providing an opportunity to talk. We know that if someone is having suicidal thoughts, receiving support from someone else can make a big difference.
“Many people feel unable to talk about mental health due to the stigma that surrounds admitting there’s a problem – we need to overcome this – we can all play a part in helping others feel comfortable enough to seek help without fear of being judged.
“I have launched a website to support the #IPledge2Talk campaign – find out more and how to get involved at www.ipledge2talk.wales.”
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