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Welsh tuition wrangle rolls on

Jon Coles

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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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Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs

Carli Newell

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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New children’s play area in Bryn as part of new council housing development

Carli Newell

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A NEW children’s play area has opened in time for the summer holidays in Bryn, Llanelli as part of a new £5.9million council housing development.

Carmarthenshire County Council is building 32 new homes on land close to the Dylan housing estate in Bryn.

The scheme will be made up of 22 two-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom bungalows and six four-bedroom homes and is part of the council’s ongoing drive to deliver more affordable homes across the county. It has been part funded through the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Grant.

The development also includes a new children’s play area, funded by the council in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, which will take over the running and maintenance of the play area on completion.

Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “I am delighted the park has been completed in time for the summer holidays for the local children to enjoy.

“We are committed to delivering more affordable housing across Carmarthenshire and this development will benefit dozens of families in Llanelli, as well as proving much needed facilities for the local community.

“I would like to thank the rural council for collaborating with this us on this and I hope the children are thrilled with it.”

Before designing the play area, the rural council liaised with local schoolchildren to find out what play equipment they wanted at their new park.

Llanelli Rural Council Chairman Cllr Tegwen Devichand said: “The council is delighted to be working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council to provide this wonderful new play area for the community.

“The opening of the play area couldn’t have been better timed to coincide with the school holidays. I hope the local children will enjoy the range of challenging play equipment on offer and that they have lots of fun using it over the summer.”

The housing development is due to be completed by the beginning of 2022.

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Burry Port Harbour lighthouse overhaul tops council’s £2million investment

Carli Newell

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A £2MILLION investment in Burry Port Harbour is nearing completion, topped off with the iconic lighthouse getting a fresh lick of paint.

Carmarthenshire County Council is behind a range of improvements to maintain and restore the historic harbour which is one of the county’s most loved and well visited beauty spots.

Restoration of the Grade II listed harbour walls, undertaken under the guidance of CADW, will conclude within the next few weeks.

The council has also been working alongside The Marine Group, which operates the harbour, to improve mooring facilities. They are working closely with fishermen to bid for funding for new commercial pontoon infrastructure.

It will add to investment made over previous years which saw the council spend almost £1.5million on new pontoons, and over £300,000 in maintaining the harbour railings and bridge.

A local operator has agreed a lease for a cafe and public toilets on east side of Harbour, and the refurbishment of the old RNLI harbour office has recently started by The Marine Group (TMG) to create a harbour-side coffee house.

TMG has also invested in a state-of-the-art dredger which arrived at the harbour last autumn. Dredging is well underway and will continue until targeted depths are reached.

Boat lifting equipment and new fuelling points are also planned.

The council has introduced community safety officers to patrol the harbour assisting tourists and local people during the summer months, especially to advise around Covid regulations, as part of a tourism hotspot plan to take care of issues such as parking, litter, street cleansing, enforcement and signage.

Temporary car parking surfacing has also been laid on the east side along with new pay and display facilities ahead of a wider multi-million regeneration plan that will transform the harbour with a mix of housing, commercial and leisure space covering around 13 acres of prime development site.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We are proud of our continued investment in Burry Port Harbour. We are spending millions restoring and maintaining historic features that are much-loved by local people and visitors who come from far and wide to enjoy what the harbour has to offer.

“We continue to work closely alongside The Marine Group and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council to plan and prioritise works and ongoing maintenance. We are as keen as everyone else to ensure it is well-maintained and continues to be a place people can enjoy.

“We appreciate that there has been some upheaval during these improvement works but we ask people to understand that our investment will make Burry Port Harbour an even better place for the future.”

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