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.”
Government to halts competition law and considers bringing in army to deliver fuel
THE UK GOVERNMENT is to suspend competition law to allow oil firms to target fuel deliveries at petrol stations following recent panic buying.
Petrol stations in Llanelli, and across the UK, have struggled to keep stocked over the last few days, with several running dry altogether. Other forecourts have run out of certain fuels, with diesel it seems, in particularly high demand.
Officials said the move would make it easier for companies to share information and prioritise parts of the country most at need.
It follows days of long queues at the pumps, after fears of disruption to the fuel supply sparked larger than usual demand at the petrol pumps.
The news comes after it emerged that hundreds of soldiers could be scrambled to deliver fuel to petrol stations running dry across the country. The plan expected to be considered by Boris Johnson on Monday (Sept 27).
The prime minister will gather senior members of the cabinet to scrutinise “Operation Escalin” after BP admitted that a third of its petrol stations had run out of the main two grades of fuel, while the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents almost 5,500 independent outlets, said 50% to 90% of its members had reported running out. It predicted that the rest would soon follow.
Conceived years ago during the planning for a no-deal Brexit, “Operation Escalin” would mean hundreds of soldiers being drafted in to drive a reserve fleet of 80 tankers. It is understood that it would take up to three weeks to fully implement, because some of those mobilised may already be on other deployments and others could be reservists. Escalin was touted as an option last week, but government sources downplayed the chance of its activation.
Announcing the measure to exempt the oil industry from the Competition Act 1998, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the government had “long-standing” contingency plans to maintain fuel supplies.
“While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains.
“This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised.
“We thank HGV drivers and all forecourt staff for their tireless work during this period.”
Transport secretary Grant Shappson on Sunday urged people to “be sensible” and blamed “one of the road haulage associations” for what he called a manufactured crisis, suggesting on Sky News that the group had leaked details from a meeting last week about driver shortages at fuel firms. However, the Road Haulage Association branded it a “disgraceful attack” concocted to “divert attention away” from the government’s handling of the issue.
BP, Esso, Texaco and Shell have introduced a £30 limit on fuel purchases after motorists were seen filling multiple jerry cans as the government warned the public not to panic buy fuel.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are experiencing temporary outages in a small number of areas. We have good availability of fuel, and we’re working really hard to ensure regular deliveries to our petrol filling stations across the UK every day.”
A BP spokesman said: “We are experiencing fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the UK. This is being caused by delays in our supply chain due to a shortage of qualified drivers – this issue is impacting industries across the UK.
“Most of the 1,200 sites we supply across the UK remain supplied and open. However, with the intense demand seen over the past two days, we estimate that around 30% of sites in this network do not currently have either of the main grades of fuel. We are working to resupply as rapidly as possible. Sites that have multiple grade-outs may have closed for fuel purchases – we do not have an estimate of this number.
“We continue to work hard with our haulier supplier, Hoyer, to optimise fuel distribution and to minimise the level of disruption, keeping key sites supplied and restocking as rapidly as possible. The sites affected are changing as we continue deliveries.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Shell added: “We are working hard to ensure supplies for customers. Since Friday we have been seeing a higher-than-normal demand across our network which is resulting in some sites running low on some grades.”
Global Litter Charity has announced the date of its next Welsh litter picking event
THE UOCEAN Project, part of the Vayyu Foundation, which has set itself the target of removing 1 billion kilos of waste from the world’s oceans by 2030, will be holding its next litter collection taskforce event at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire.
Everyone is invited to join The UOcean Project volunteers and to make a difference by collecting litter, especially plastics, which are polluting our environment and ending up in the world’s oceans. The UOcean Project has highlighted the dramatic increase in litter from plastic bags to face masks since lockdown restrictions were lifted, making it even more important to clean-up and reduce waste pollution.
Chris Desai, head of The UOcean Project commented. “Picking up one plastic bottle or single use face mask may not appear to be significant, but at each event we are collecting many kilos of plastic because more and more individuals are joining our litter picking teams.
The combined collections here and overseas are the only way to make a difference and start fighting back against pollution.”
The UOcean Project organises litter pick-up teams who work across the UK, especially around coastlines, as well as internationally. By organising volunteers into Chapters and providing them with the tools and equipment to pick up litter, they have already collected 53,000 kilos of waste which would have ended up in the seas.
All volunteers are provided with the equipment needed to safely pick up litter so that it can be disposed of in the right way. For more information about The UOcean Project please go to the website www.theuoceanproject.com
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in Llanelli
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in
POLICE are warning drug users in Llanelli to take extra care following information received that dangerous valium is circulating in the area.
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that the drugs being distributed and used in the Llanelli area at present could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.
“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.
“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”
To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/
Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.
In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.
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