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EU vote could cost county dearly

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carmscouncil1CARMARTHENSHIRE could lose out financially as a consequence of leaving the EU, senior staff and members of the Executive Board have warned.

In a meeting on Monday (Jul 3) Councillor Meryl Gravell said she was ‘very disappointed’ with the referendum result: “Carmarthen has gained very much from being a part of the European team,” she added.

Cllr Gravell added that she would be speaking to the head of WEFO on Thursday (Jul 6) before stressing that the Council needed to maximise its use of the remaining EU funding available.

” We have to ensure that we get as much funding into Carmarthenshire as we possibly can,” she told fellow members of the Executive Board.

“I think that it is more than ever important that we work with the private sector and get as much private sector funding in as possible.

“We do have some of our own capital funding that we have prepared to ensure that we continue regenerating Carmarthenshire and creating new jobs but it is imperative that we have got projects build-ready, so that for the next two years, no doubt there will still be funding coming from Europe, we need to ensure that we spend and that nothing is returned at the end of two years – that Carmarthenshire will get its fair share of what European funding there is coming in.”

Mark James warned that Brexit would cause big money problems for Carmarthenshire.

The Chief Executive highlighted the financial dangers for the county of leaving the European Union and urged the Welsh Government to pass money to local authorities much faster.

“We find it very difficult to pull money in. We do get European money eventually but it does seem to take an awful long time,” he told board members. “The first couple of years, not much seems to come out of Cardiff – it takes them a hell of a long time to get everything together. They tend to take programmes to themselves and then give [money] out in dribs and drabs over the last few years of the programme. We haven’t got that luxury this time.”

“The message needs to be very loud and clear to the Welsh Government,” Mr James stressed. “They have taken about 60% to 70% of the total programme”.

He added: “They’ve got it in large programmes on paper in Cardiff. They must let go quicker , because if we don’t spend the money in the next couple of years , we won’t maybe have the luxury of doing it in the final couple of years because we may well be out of the EU. That could cost this part of Wales millions and millions of pounds that we could have invested.

“Cardiff really do need to let go.”

This approach appears similar to one which was espoused by the leader of Rhonda Cynon Taf council earlier this week, when he called for an ‘all guns b l a z i n g ’ approach t o spending t h e remaining EU funding. A total of £1.1bn of EU funding in Wales has yet to be allocated, and there are fears that a withdrawal from the EU prior to 2020 could see the spending cut.

There has been widespread scepticism from Labour and Plaid Cymru over claims made by the Welsh Conservatives and UKIP that Westminster will make up the funding shortfall.

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, and Vote Leave campaigner, Andrew RT Davies responded to the news from Rhonda Cynon Taf with ‘derision’. In a media statement from Vote Leave, which , like UKIP , has apparently survived a referendum which should have made it redundant, he said: “This arrogant attitude to public money is part of the reason why so many of the communities in receipt of structural funds voted to leave the EU last month.

“The focus should be on outcomes and finding the right projects, not accelerating the rate of spending. That’s why so much EU money is wasted by this Welsh Labour Government.

“Having campaigned for a Vote to Leave I will fight tooth and nail to deliver Wales’ share of the Brexit dividend, but the short term priority should be ensuring that this money is put to good use and finding the right schemes – not splashing the cash for the sake of it.

“Qualification for structural funding is not a badge of honour, it’s a reflection of the relative poverty of those in areas who meet the criteria, and after three successive rounds of funding that money has clearly not been put to good use.”

This neatly sidesteps the central reason why Councils in Wales’ less wealthy areas – which include Carmarthenshire – should be so keen to claim the final pounds the EU will provide. It appears that, for all the encouraging noises being made by the Welsh Government, including cross-party (apart from the Welsh Conservatives) efforts to ensure Wales does not lose out financially from leaving the EU, people at a local authority level have no faith that this will actually materialise.

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Community checks out new Carmarthenshire Policing Hub and Custody Suite

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn today (24.06.22) hosted an open doors event for local stakeholders at Dyfed-Powys’ new Custody Suite and Policing Hub, that is currently under construction at Dafen, Llanelli Carmarthenshire.

Planning permission was granted to the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner by Carmarthenshire County Council back in April 2021 for the proposed development, which is to be an ambitious sustainable construction, with a BREEAM excellence rating.

Wilmott Dixon, who are the Construction Contractor have been on site since autumn preparing for the first construction phases, with specific progress now beginning made on the development, that aims to be completed by May 2023.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said; “This is a major investment for us which will see an ambitious, modern, sustainable fit for purpose policing hub and custody suite that will meet the needs and expectations of modern policing. 

“During the planning application process between 2020 and 2021, we engaged widely with the local community,  and It was a pleasure to open the door, and welcome local community representatives to the construction site today, to show the progress that has been made to date.

“I’ve worked extremely hard with partners over recent years to ensure that we get to this position and I now look forward to seeing the construction work continue to develop at pace over the year”.

In being a BREEAM related development, the new build will offer a more sustainable environment, that aims to enhance the well-being of the people who work within it, and help protect natural resources.

Amongst some of the sustainable credentials of the new build will be a photovoltaic solar power installation to minimise the carbon footprint of the building; a rainwater harvesting facility for toilets and non-potable water, and electric car charging facilities.

Chief Inspector Richard Hopkin, Dyfed-Powys Police’s operational lead on the new build, said: “We feel very fortunate to be having a new build custody suite and hub coming to Llanelli.

“Our current Llanelli estate is old, so to see a new build that is being designed with such consideration for the environment and the wellbeing of our staff and the community within which it sits is really positive.

“The development will provide a fit for purpose, future proof solution which will complement the town centre Neighbourhood Police Team base.”

Ian Jones, Director at Willmott Dixon commented, “This is the first project that we have worked on with Dyfed Powys Police, and as part of what has being a collaborative partnership, we are delighted to have the opportunity to deliver this development. 

“This is a purpose‐built, new custody suite to replace and supplement provision of custody within Carmarthenshire which will provide excellent facilities to meet the needs of modern law enforcement and detainee wellbeing for Dyfed Powys Police. 

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to welcome guests to the site to show them first-hand how construction is progressing.”

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Ryan Giggs quits as Wales manager with ‘immediate effect’

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EX Man-Utd winger has left his position as the manager of the national football team with ‘immediate effect’.

Giggs stepped back from his role in November 2020 following after being arrested.

49-year-old Giggs has been charged with assault and using controlling behaviour towards an ex-partner. A claim that Giggs has denied.

In a heartfelt statement on his decision, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.

“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.

“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.

“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date.”

Following Giggs arrest in 2020, former Wales captain Robert Page took over as interim manager.

Under Page Wales beat Ukraine to earn themselves a place at Qatar World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Giggs faces one charge of using controlling and coercive behaviour August 2017 and November 2020, one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm of his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville on November 1, 2020.

He also faces a charge of common assault on the victim’s sister.

Giggs denies all charges against him and will stand trial on August 8.

The trial is expected to last five days.

Following the announcement, a FAW spokesperson said: “The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football,

“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru men’s national team is on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar later this year.”

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M&S opticians opens its doors in Llanelli Parc Trostre

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MARKS & SPENCER has opened the newest branch of its M&S Opticians service, located in the retailer’s popular Llanelli store.

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre will offer customers an expert opticians service, which includes a full eye health examination (OCT scan) for every eye test booked at no additional fee.

Free eye tests are available as an opening offer, as well as 15% off glasses and sunglasses for Sparks customers. There’s a wide range of designer brands to choose from including Mulberry, Prada, Joules, Kate Spade, Oakley, Police, Maui Jim along with leading lens manufacturers – Zeiss and Nikon.

Expert advice on contact lens fitting and wearing is also on hand, alongside a contact lens home delivery option. The store will also be home to a hearing aid audiologist who will be offering free hearing health checks along with latest hearing aid technology, including rechargeable models and mobile connectivity.

In addition to the physical experience in-store, customers can book appointments online here, as well as view, purchase and try on glasses via the innovative ‘virtual try on’ tool here

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre is the second optician service to open in Wales following a successful trial across ten UK cities, during which the service received a customer satisfaction rate of 96% and a customer recommendation rate of 96%.

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre Store Manager, Aled Bonnell, said: “We’re always looking for ways to make shopping at M&S even more rewarding and feedback from our trial showed that customers loved the convenience of having an Opticians service in our store. We’re really excited to be opening our M&S Opticians in Llanelli and hearing what our customers think. The choice of different brands we’re offering is second to none and we have brilliant opening offers to suit all budgets.”

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