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Over half of council cameras out of action

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL could conduct a review of its CCTV cameras after it was announced that Dyfed-Powys Police would be introducing 46 new cameras across the county.

A report noted that due to a lack of ‘proactive maintenance’ around 60% of the council’s 87 cameras were not working.

Live monitoring of CCC’s cameras ceased in 2015, after the Executive Board at the time unanimously voted to save a projected £104,000.

The cameras were still recording, allowing police to view footage, and an ‘informal agreement’ with saw Dyfed-Powys agree to fund the upkeep on the camera equipment on a case-by-case basis. However, a reduction in funding and a ‘change of direction’ since Dafydd Llywelyn was elected as police and crime commissioner in 2016 meant that this had ceased.

A report put before the council’s Executive Board on Monday (Jul 2) explained that the Dyfed Powys Police CCTV Project would see 116 new cameras installed across the force’s operating area, with 46 of these in Carmarthenshire.

19 cameras are to be installed in Llanelli, 17 in Carmarthen and 19 in Ammanford. Almost all of the new cameras will be placed at existing CCTV locations, with one new location in Ammanford, following ‘crime pattern analysis which demonstrates an operational requirement for a camera at that site’. The council was asked to agree to pay around £7,000 for electricity fees and costs for the new system.

However, 42 locations across the county currently covered by CCC’s system would not be covered by the new CCTV system. The report noted that of these 42 cameras, currently only 15 were operational, and at 20-years-old were dated compared to the new police cameras.

Of these cameras, CCC’s Leisure Services expressed an interest in keeping CCTV at Llanelli Leisure Centre and on the Millennium Coastal Path, while Parking Services requested that the cameras in Llanelli Multi-storey car park be retained.

Two options were put before the Executive Board – either to decommission the remaining 42 cameras, and place the responsibility of maintaining and operating CCTV at the site in the hands of the town council or council department which requested it, or to conduct a review of the 42 cameras, which would ascertain the cost of maintaining provision where it was required.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Cllr Cefin Campbell said that the preferred option of the Executive Board was to conduct a review which would include consultation with councillors and town councils.

Labour councillor Deryk Cundy said it was ‘hugely important’ to get CCTV cameras back. He asked that groups including Shelter be included in the consultation so they can make sure that ‘if we do have any rough sleepers they can make sure what is going on’.

Cllr Campbell noted that ‘given enough money we would pay for more CCTV cameras.

“We have to show faith in the police, that they have taken this crime pattern analysis, and know where the hotspots are,” he added.

He noted that there would be concerns regarding invasion of privacy, if cameras were used, instead of as a deterrent, for monitoring rough sleepers.

“There may be a debate about using cameras for monitoring rough sleepers – some might argue that crosses that boundary,” he added.

It was unanimously agreed to review the cameras.

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Llanelli bus depot to close after 100 years

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THE LLANELLI HERALD understands that the Llanelli Bus Depot at Inkermans Street will be closing its gates for good. 

The Bus Depot has served the local community for approximately 100 years, Drivers will now be sent to work from depots in Carmarthen, Swansea and Tycroes. 

All services will remain in the the town, this newspaper can confirm, and our reporter was told that there will not be any redundancies. 

One bus driver told us that he and he co-workers were “not completely happy”, but the unnamed source added “At least we still have jobs to go to.” 

Further updates are expected on this developing story.

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Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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Drakeford to make decision on ‘fire-break’ lockdown in Wales by Monday

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WALES is facing a national lockdown lasting at least two weeks in plans described as a “fire-break” by the first minister.

He said a decision was likely to be made on Monday, while talks continue with health officials, scientific advisors and councils over the weekend.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

Responding to the speculation First Minister, Mark Drakeford, is set to announce a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Wales, Welsh Conservative health spokesperson, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “I implore the First Minister to think again before heading down this path.

“The decision to lockdown Wales once again will have devastating consequences – from an economic and public health perspective – and should be the last resort.

“Only yesterday, the former director of communicable diseases at Public Health Wales, Dr Roland Salmon, said a circuit-breaker is likely to fail and the Welsh Labour Government should listen carefully to his warning.

“Earlier this week, Welsh Conservatives called for the urgent resumption of shielding in Wales with a substantial package of support to ensure the financial, physical and mental well-being of those most at risk is protected.

“This should be the immediate action taken by ministers along with prioritising PPE and testing in the problem areas in Wales such as hospitals, care home, universities and meat factories.

“It’s not too late for the Labour Government to reconsider and choose a different approach in Wales.”

Mr Drakeford warned that 2,500 people were now being infected with coronavirus every day in Wales, with critical care units in hospitals full.

“A successful fire-break would re-set the virus at a lower level,” he added.

Together with a new national set of rules for the whole of Wales after the fire-break period we would have slowed the virus down enough to get us through to Christmas.”
Plaid Cymru has been calling on Mr Drakeford to introduce the circuit-breaker without delay, while Labour at Westminster says a similar approach should be adopted in England.

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