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Welsh tuition wrangle rolls on

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Aberystwyth University: Still to confirm its position

Aberystwyth University: Still to confirm its position

ARRANGEMENTS for the provision of Welsh language learners courses across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, and Powys remain uncertain, The Herald has confirmed. 

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David was selected by the Welsh Government to lead Canolfan Dysgu Cymraeg Genedlaethol – thew new National Centre for Learning Welsh.

That new Centre was supposed to be based in Carmarthen, but The Herald understands that many of its operational decisions will instead be taken in Cardiff.

The organisation of the Centre’s management structure and senior staff appointments have been criticised for being Cardiff-centric and not being representative of the Welsh language community in West a n d North Wales.

Aberystwyth University was successful in its application to the new national centre to run courses in West Wales.

It now appears as though Aberystwyth University is trying to get out of the terms of a contract for which it tendered successfully, or at least to vary that contract’s terms in its own favour. A dispute has since arisen between Aberystwyth University and local authorities regarding the transfer of staff to it as the tuition provider.

The situation has caused anger and dismay both to staff who do not know whether or not they will have a job, and amongst students who do not know whether and when courses will be delivered.

Speaking to The Herald, Adam Price, AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation: “The priority has to be the availability and continuity of Welsh for Adult courses for learners in Carmarthenshire so that residents can continue to study and learn in their local communities.

“The National Centre was hailed by the Welsh government as a means to improve the provision of Welsh for Adult courses in Wales, yet it seems in practice a lot is left to be desired.

“On the basis of the information with which I have been provided, I am not content with the situation that seems to be unfolding here in Carmarthenshire.

“As a consequence, I have made urgent representations to the Welsh Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language to ask that he intervenes in this matter and ensures that the long-term arrangements for courses in Carmarthenshire are secured.”

It appears, however, that the University is now engaged in an exercise to reduce its commitment to provide all Welsh language tuition in the area for which it tendered.

Having been alerted to a potential change, The Herald asked Carmarthenshire County Council to comment.

A spokesperson for the Council told us: ‘It is confirmed that Carmarthenshire County Council will continue to provide a range of Welsh for Adults courses within Carmarthenshire. Another provider will be responsible for the courses previously provided by Higher Education establishments.

“The National Centre for Learning Welsh will be overseeing these arrangements. Collectively, this will ensure a comprehensive range of courses for learners for the next academic year.”

We asked the National Centre to update us on the position, and apprised them of the information we had received.

A spokesperson for the National Centre for Learning Welsh said: “The National Centre for Learning Welsh has invited Aberystwyth University to take responsibility for Welsh for Adults courses in Ceredigion and Powys from September 2016 onwards.

“Furthermore, the University has been invited to deliver intensive courses and blended learning courses at all Levels, and Higher and Proficiency Level courses, in Carmarthenshire.

“Carmarthenshire County Council has been invited to deliver weekly courses at Entry, Foundation and Intermediate Levels in Carmarthenshire.”

That position not only confirms the rejigging of the Carmarthenshire contract, but opens questions about why it is at this stage that the University is being ‘invited to deliver courses’ for which it has already successfully tendered.

A suggestion has been by one source involved in the saga that the University had underestimated the resolve of Ceredigion County Council and the determination of the National Centre not to let it wriggle off the hook of its obligations to those staff who previously provided tuition in the Welsh language.

A spokesperson for Ceredigion Council told The Herald: “Officers from the Council have held constructive talks with Aberystwyth University and the National Centre for Learning Welsh in relation to Welsh for Adults. We are working through the details of these talks and are optimistic that a satisfactory solution can now emerge. Once the arrangements have been confirmed and details shared with staff, further information will be shared in due course.”

We asked Aberystwyth University to confirm its position and put Adam Price’s statement to them. In response we were told: “We hope to be in a position to confirm our decision in the coming days.”

We asked Adam Price’s office for a further statement in light of the developments. A spokesperson for Assembly Member Adam Price confirmed that Mr Price has made written representations to the Welsh Government’s Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language on the matter of the provision of Welsh for Adults courses, and was still awaiting a response.

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Llanelli Town Mayor hosted the Easter Family Fun Day

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Llanelli Town Mayor David Darkin and Mayoress Kim Darkin with Cllr Suzy Curry and Cllr John Prosser also Nia Nia Griffith MP

ON Saturday 20th April Llanelli Town Mayor hosted the Easter Family Fun Day in the Selwyn Samuel Centre Arena.

The day was a huge success and raised lots of money for the mayors chosen charities – the main charity bring CYCA which provides support to children and young people in Carmarthenshire.

Attendees were treated to taster sport sessions with Rugby Tots, a selection of songs from Shrek Jr from the Hive Theatre Company, magic and fun from Crazy Clayton and a very special visit from Belle who sung songs and played games with the children.

Emergency services information stalls

The event was supported by many local community groups and even had a fire engine pop in for a visit.

Asda llanelli donated some of the Easter eggs and a huge thank you to other raffle prize donors including Joe’s ice cream, hungry horse and berridge-Jones photography.

Cllr David Darkin would like to thank everyone who supported and gave their time to make the event the success it was.

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Wales’ Largest Ever Coastal Walking Festival Launches May

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THIS May a new walking festival celebrating seven years of the 870-mile coast path will take place. The festival’s aim is to encourage locals across Wales to get outdoors, meet new people and appreciate the beautiful Welsh landscapes.

Walks will cover seven coastal regions will be organised by the Wales Coast Path and Ramblers Cymru.

The festival not only aims to showcase Wales’ beautiful coastline and countless natural assets, the Wales Coast Path Walking Festival will also boost local tourism along the path whilst encouraging residents to come together to celebrate the country’s iconic coastline.

Taking place 4th -19th May 2019, the festival will feature over 40 new guided walks created by Ramblers Cymru. The festival programme has been specifically designed to suit all ages and abilities, with the majority of the walks free to join.

From fully accessible and short family walks tonature walks and more challenging hikes, the festival aims to encourage people to enjoy outdoor exercise while exploring Wales’ iconic coastline. All walks will be led by experienced guides offering insights into the unique wildlife, fascinating history and culture that can be found along the way.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “This festival is set to be an excellent addition to Wales’ Year of Discovery and a way for visitors and locals to discover more about our unique Wales Coast Path. I’m delighted that the guided walks will encourage people to find out more about the landscape, history and wildlife associated with the coastal path and will also be an excellent way to be active while discovering more of Wales.”

Local authorities for each of the seven coastal regions, which include South Wales, The Gower, Ceredigion, the Llŷn Peninsula, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen, and North Wales, will help support the event, along with partners National Resources Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and a number of charities including Keep Wales Tidy.

The festival, which coincides with Visit Wales’ Year of Discovery 2019, will follow a theme of discovery which will be prominent throughout. The Wales Coast Path is the world’s first uninterrupted route along a national coast and gives hikers access to undiscovered sections of the coast with stunning views, rugged landscapes and rare wildlife.

To learn more about the Wales Coast Path walking festival or book walks visit: www.walescoastpath.gov.uk

Register to attend the festival: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/wales-coast-path-walking-festival-2019-18812644097

Admission free (additional charges for linear walks where transport is required).

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Swansea Bay City Deal leaders are supporting Neath Port Talbot Council’s proposals for changes

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SWANSEA Bay City Deal leaders are supporting Neath Port Talbot Council’s proposal to amend some of their projects due to be part-funded by the £1.3 billion investment programme.

Any amended or enhanced projects, they say, will be progressed through City Deal governance and approval processes before submission to the Welsh Government and UK Government for consideration.

This follows on from the City Deal’s Joint Committee accepting all recommendations arising from two reviews into the City Deal, which included enabling flexibility in the investment programme to bring new projects in if they’re beneficial to the region.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee Chairman, says a Neath Port Talbot Council call for the City Deal to change approach is also being put in place.

Cllr Stewart said: “As a Joint Committee, we have accepted all recommendations from the City Deal reviews, and work is ongoing to implement them as soon as possible.

“These include the appointment of an independent programme director to manage the City Deal, as well as flexibility to amend or enhance projects forming part of the investment programme if they’re good for the region.

“The City Deal is still at an early stage of its development, but we’re doing all we can to make governance and project approval processes more efficient to speed up the investment programme’s delivery.

“It would be too great a risk for communities and businesses in Neath Port Talbot to miss out on City Deal investment, so we stand ready to help Neath Port Talbot Council move their projects forward.

“All City Deal partners remain committed to delivery. It’s widely recognised that the City Deal presents a once in a generation opportunity to create considerable economic growth and well-paid jobs across the region as a whole.”

The independent review into the City Deal commissioned by both governments recommended immediate approval for two City Deal projects – the ‘Yr Egin’ creative sector development in Carmarthen, and the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District.

Cllr Stewart said: “We expect funds to be released for these projects imminently.

“We also welcome Neath Port Talbot Council’s continued commitment to the regional Homes as Power Stations project, which will help people save money on their energy bills by introducing cutting-edge energy-efficient technology to both new houses and existing buildings throughout South West Wales.”

The Swansea Bay City Deal investment programme is due to be funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector. It’s being led by the four regional councils – Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea – in partnership with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea University, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.

The City Deal is projected to create over 9,000 high-quality jobs and give the regional economy a £1.8 billion boost in coming years.

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