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Carmarthenshire to benefit from ‘historic’ Swansea Bay deal

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THE BIGGEST ever investment for south west Wales has been secured following the approval of the ground-breaking Swansea Bay City Deal.

UK and Welsh Government Ministers will visit Swansea Bay today (Mar 20) to sign the deal together with members of the Swansea Bay City Region Board.

Leaders from Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire councils are celebrating having secured the £1.3billion deal that will transform the economic landscape of the area, boost the local economy by £1.8billion, and generate almost 10,000 new jobs over the next 15 years.

Eleven major projects will now get underway, delivering world-class facilities in the fields of energy, smart manufacturing, innovation and life science, with major investment in the region’s digital infrastructure and workforce skills and talent underpinning each.

The total investment package is made up of £241million of UK and Welsh Government funding, £396million of other public sector money and £637million from the private sector.

The Swansea Bay City Region Board – including the four local authorities together with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Hywel Dda University Health Boards, Swansea University and the University of Wales Trinity St David’s, and private sector companies – worked under the Chairmanship of Sir Terry Matthews for over a year to develop and submit the City Deal proposal to the Welsh and UK Governments.

It culminated in a pitch to Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, and other UK Ministers and their advisors, following months of rigorous challenge and negotiation.

There are three specific projects for Carmarthenshire – a Wellness and Life Science Village in Llanelli; a creative industry project at Yr Egin in Carmarthen; and a skills and talent initiative which will support skills development for all 11 projects.

The Wellness Village and Life Science Village at Delta Lakes, is being led by the council, under the ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) programme, which is a partnership between Hywel Dda and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Boards and Swansea University.

The £200million project aims to create 1853 high quality jobs and boost the economy by a staggering £467 million over 15 years.

The proposals include an Institute of Life Science with laboratory and clinic space and an incubation facility for business start-up, research and development; a wellness hub incorporating a new ‘state-of-the-art’ sports and leisure centre, a wellbeing centre, a wellness hotel and an assisted living village all interlinked and set within a ‘green’ eco-park.

Yr Egin involves the construction of a creative and digital hub and the development of a creative industry sector cluster. It will create around 203 jobs and help the local economy, along with boosting the Welsh language.

A skills and talent initiative will provide educational and training pathways to support the next generation workforce delivering specific sector skills required in order to meet the demand of the City Deal themes of Digital, Life Science and Wellbeing, Energy and Smart Manufacturing.

Carmarthenshire County Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “This is a unique opportunity for Carmarthenshire and the wider region to increase prosperity and opportunity. The City Deal will help the long-term sustainability of the economy in Carmarthenshire, creating jobs, growth and training opportunities.

“This is a truly exciting time for the region; the level of investment we are talking about is incomparable to anything we have seen before. The City Deal will allow us to deliver what we have worked so hard to achieve and local people and businesses will soon start to reap the benefits.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, lead Leader of the Swansea Bay City Region and Leader of Swansea City Council, said: “This is among the biggest investments Wales has ever seen, so it’s an historic day for the Swansea Bay City Region.

“The City Deal will improve people’s lives in Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire by generating up to 10,000 jobs and investing in world class technology that will revolutionise the way sectors like energy, social care, healthcare and entrepreneurship are delivered and supported here.

“This has always been about making sure South West Wales gets its fair share of investment for the benefit of our residents.

“The state-of-the-art projects the investment will deliver will turbo-charge the regional economy and help attract even more investment in future.

“The approved City Deal is also terrific news for our businesses because not only will the introduction of cutting-edge digital infrastructure help embrace and harness innovation, but the construction of new developments will boost the regional supply chain as well.

“Enormous credit should go to everyone involved in the City Deal bid. The ‘Team Swansea Bay’ approach between partners in the public and private sectors will considerably benefit many people in the near future, with our focus now on aggressive spending to ensure residents reap the rewards of the investment as soon as possible.”

Mark James CBE, lead Chief Executive of the Swansea Bay City Region and Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “This City Deal is a once in a generation opportunity to further consolidate the region’s role in technological innovation.

“The Swansea Bay City Region will now lead innovation in developing and commercialising solutions to some of the most pressing challenges in the fields of life sciences, energy, smart manufacturing and digital networks in both urban and rural areas.

“This is a unique opportunity to increase prosperity and opportunity for the region.”

 

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Llanelli becomes a Covid-19 ‘health protection zone’

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RESIDENTS in a large part of Llanelli are being put under new local restrictions in a ‘health protection zone’ following a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the area.

The town is seeing a concentrated spread of cases compared with other parts of Carmarthenshire – in the last seven days, 85 positive cases have been identified in Llanelli (151.6 per 100,000 of the population) compared to 24 cases in the rest of Carmarthenshire (18.1 per 100,000 of the population).*

Public Health Wales officials are expecting numbers to continue rising over the coming week.

Carmarthenshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board have worked with the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to agree the temporary restrictions at sub-county level to try and halt the spread of the virus.

As of 6pm on Saturday September 26, 2020, residents living in defined parts of Llanelli will not be able to visit anyone else’s home, or accept visitors into their home, unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ such as providing care for a vulnerable person.

They should not arrange to meet indoors with anyone who they don’t live with, and travel in and out of the ‘health protection zone’ will also be limited – people should not leave the area or travel into the area unless it is essential. Travelling in and out of the zone for a holiday is not considered a reasonable excuse.

People are being asked to wear face coverings anywhere where they cannot maintain a two-metre distance from other people, including collecting children from school, in addition to the rules which already require them to wear a face covering in indoor spaces like shops and on public transport.

All indoor and outdoor visits to residential care homes have also been suspended.

Students may still travel into and out of the ‘health protection zone’ to go to school or college.

People living in the defined area of Llanelli must work from home, and employers must take all reasonable steps to support staff to do so.

Indoor public spaces such as leisure centres should only be used by people living in the defined area.

Shops will remain open, but people living outside the defined area of Llanelli should avoid travelling to visit them and shop in their own locality wherever possible.

The specific wards covered in the defined area of Llanelli are:

  • Bigyn
  • Bynea
  • Dafen
  • Elli
  • Felinfoel
  • Glanymor
  • Hendy
  • Hengoed
  • Llangennech
  • Lliedi
  • Llwynhendy
  • Tyisha
  • Swiss Valley

Although the pattern of increased positive cases is overwhelmingly concentrated in the Llanelli area where the restrictions have been strengthened, the whole of Carmarthenshire has now been put on alert, with a warning that the tighter restrictions may be extended if cases continue to spread.

Everyone – including those in the defined areas of Llanelli – is being urged to follow the national guidance around social distancing, good hygiene, self-isolation, testing and face coverings.

Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “It is worrying to see how sharply the number of positive cases has risen in the Llanelli area, and action has had to be taken to help stop the spread and break the chain of infections concentrated in this area to prevent a whole county lockdown.

“We must all do the right thing, follow the advice and protect each other. In parts of Llanelli, we’re asking people and businesses to make even greater sacrifices – we fully appreciate the impact this will have, but there is no other way. We must stop the spread.”

A mobile testing unit has been set up in Llanelli to manage the increased demand by local residents who have any of the Covid-19 symptoms – either a high temperature, a change or loss to taste or smell or a new continuous cough.

Reporting of positive cases in the town is fully expected to rise during the next two weeks with the increase in more targeted testing. But this is a positive indicator that cases are being identified and control measures put in place.

Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board Maria Battle said: “Our local community has given us such tremendous support during the past few months. To protect the health of our people, including the most vulnerable, and to ensure our NHS resources are available to provide people with the care they need; we need the help of our Llanelli population and wider community now more than ever before. Whilst hospital admissions have not yet increased again for COVID cases, we have seen a sharp rise in positive cases in the community, and in time this is likely to have an impact on hospital admissions. The very best way we can support each other and those we love, is to follow local restrictions, minimise our contacts, practice good hygiene and self-isolate and book a test if we have any COVID-19 symptoms.”

Increased testing capacity for residents in Llanelli is available by appointment at the following locations:

  • Parc y Scarlets Car Park B, accessed via Trostre Retail Park, in Llanelli
  • The Ty’r Nant site (next to KFC), Trostre, Llanelli
  • The Carmarthen showground (signposted in both directions off the A40)

There should be no reason for Llanelli residents to travel excessive distances for a test, as there will be tests available in Llanelli and Carmarthen. Tests should be booked via the UK Portal. Any Llanelli residents experiencing difficulty booking a test locally via the UK portal can instead email covidenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk or by calling 0300 333 2222.

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Tir Coed build outdoor classroom for Cross Hands Primary

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The local charity Tir Coed teamed up with Cross Hands Primary School to design and install a locally grown woodland shelter to enable primary school pupils to benefit from outdoor lessons-even when
the rain pours!

Last year Cross Hands Primary School received funding from Carmarthenshire is Kind for their intergenerational project. The project brought the schoolchildren together with older people in the community. Through intergenerational activities, everyone involved increases social connectedness, reduces social isolation, learns from one another and has a great time!

Before the lockdown, Tir Coed was contracted to lead a group mainly made up of parents from the school on a shelter-building course. The attendees would gain knowledge and skills and the children and the older people would be able to use the shelter, a third generation now included in this
fantastic project. The plans, however, had to change due to restrictions and in an effort to have it ready for the children when they returned to school, three intrepid Activity Leaders braved the wet August weather to build the beautiful shelter .

Studies have shown that being in the outdoors significantly reduces the risk of spreading the Corona Virus. With this addition to their already impressive outdoor area, it is hoped that more learning can
take place outside the classroom. Deputy Head, Emma Walters said, “It looks amazing! I am very impressed with the shelter and I cannot thank Tir Coed enough for organising this. Additional covered space in the outdoors will mean that we can take more learning into our lovely nature
area.”

If you would like to find out more about the work of Tir Coed or have a project you would like our help with you can contact Nancy, the Carmarthenshire Coordinator: carms@tircoed.org.uk

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Local sailor taking on virtual London marathon

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A local sailor based in the Falkland Islands will be taking on the Virtual London Marathon this October to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.

Curtis Bowen, 24, from Llanelli, South Wales, was due to take on the London Marathon for SSAFA this April, but following the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, the race was cancelled. 

Fortunately, the London Marathon team created the Virtual London Marathon in its place, allowing runners to take on the challenge virtually alongside thousands of other runners on the 4th October.

Curtis said: “It was a shame that the London Marathon couldn’t go ahead as planned in April, but I think it is amazing that I am still able to partake whilst being in the Falkland Islands. I’m the first person to ever run the London Marathon in the Falkland Islands.”  

Curtis is currently serving in the Royal Navy, as a Leading Supply Chain Logistician, and has served for four years. His Father also served in the Royal Navy for twenty-three years.

The live virtual event on Sunday 4th October will invite runners to run the London Marathon in their own way, joining up to 45,000 runners up and down the country – and across the world – in the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, The 40th Race.

Curtis decided to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity after being an avid supporter of the charity and being inspired by his Father, Andrew, who raised over £6,000 for SSAFA. 

I chose to run the London Marathon for SSAFA to challenge myself and raise awareness for a great cause. My younger brother sadly took his own life a couple of years ago and I know that SSAFA are there to support those struggling with their Mental Health. I want to raise as much money as I can to support those struggling within the Armed Forces community.”

“My Father was also supposed to be running the London Marathon this year, but will now be completing the challenge virtually, alongside my brother, Luke, 12,000km away in South Wales.”

If you would like to support Curtis, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Andrew-Bowen-London-marathon2020

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