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Humanist minister denied role at remembrance ceremony

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Sian Caiach

LLANELLI TOWN COUNCIL have found themselves in a row over the upcoming remembrance service at the town war memorial.

Humanists UK member and Chair of Llanelli Rural Council Sian Caiach has spoken with The Herald newspaper to express her disappointment at having her request for her Humanist Pastor to participate in a remembrance ceremony denied.

The Town Council together with The Royal British Legion organise the Llanelli Remembrance Service. A request by Cllr Caiach was made for her humanist pastor to say a few words and lay a wreath have been rejected. The denial could force the council and Royal British Legion to update their policy for future events under the Equality Act 2010. The act states you must not be discriminated against because of your religion or lack of faith.

The Town Council has defended their decision.

Speaking to our reporter on the telephone, Gary Jones, the town clerk, said: ‘’A template has been utilised by the Royal British Legion for over 20 years and has worked very well.

“The parade contains veterans of an aging generation which must be taken into consideration. The request was made too late for adaptions to be made. However, we are looking at options for adjusting the timetable for next year’s ceremony.’’

Cllr Caiach an atheist, says she has previously been able to have her pastor join her in an official Rural Council capacity including her own civic ceremony. Accommodations have also previously been made, she argues, for fellow chairs who are without faith.

In an attempt to find a solution Pastor Androw Bennett, who is an experienced and well known humanist pastor has offered to restrict the bilingual remarks to just only one minute. Again this request has been denied, the Herald understands.

The Town Council has, we are told, offered Cllr Caiach and Pastor Bennett a private once the formal ceremony has concluded.

According to the councillor, this is not the first time Llanelli Town Council has appeared to have adopted a ‘Christianity only’ policy.

This is evident in their approach, she says, to their councillors civic ceremonies. She told The Herald: “All Town Mayors are only offered to select a Chaplain of Christian faith.

“Councillor David Darkin who is agnostic, was only offered a Christian chaplain for his Civic Ceremony which was run by the Town Council.

“With the town having its first Muslim Mayor, Councillor Shahana Najmi who is currently the Llanelli Council Leader, the policy is proving outdated.”

She added ‘’I really don’t accept  that in modern times this is appropriate behaviour where we strive to have a liberal and inclusive society which celebrates diversity.’’

The councillor says that she is determined to ensure there is no discrimination will be placing an official request with The Royal British Legion in preparation of next years service for equal recognition of a Humanist Celebrant to be included within the ceremony.

This November will be a celebratory milestone for Welsh humanists, as it marks the first time a leading officiate humanist celebrant Lorraine Barrett has been invited to speak at the official Welsh National Service of Remembrance, on behalf of the non-religious in Wales – with the same status as the Church of Wales and other religious groups.

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Rescuers attend to injured construction workers in New Dock Street

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A MULTI AGENCY rescue operation is underway in Llanelli involving all three emergency services after an incident at a construction site.

Workers have been at the New Dock Street site, working for around three years, The Herald understands.

The Herald has been told that a piece of plant malfunctioned causing the emergency, which happened earlier this evening (Mar 19).

Four fire engines and three ambulances are at the scene, our reporter said.

A specialist line rescue team is involved in the recovery operation.

An eye-witness told the press that three workers have been affected.

The source said: “Concrete had just been mixed and had been poured into a skip which was then lifted using a machine. The concrete was being lowered into the hole, it’s probably about 20ft and then the machine toppled over.”

He added: “Two men climbed out of the hole on their own and as a precaution the third man was told to stay down there. The workers were told to leave the site as a precaution.”

At least one person has been seen being taken away in an ambulance.

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Llanelli: Met Bar incident investigated

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AN INCIDENT which resulted in a 51-year old man having to go hospital is being investigated by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The man has been discharged from Glangwili Hospital but police are looking in to how the incident happened and how the man fell down some steps.

The incident happened outside the Met Bar in Llanelli on Saturday night (Mar 16).

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Herald: “At approximately 10.55pm on Saturday March 16, officers responded to reports of an injured man outside The Met Bar, Station Road, Llanelli, after he’d fallen down some steps at the location.

“Ambulance was at scene, and the 51 year old man was conveyed to Glangwili Hospital with what was thought to have been a serious head injury. He was then later discharged from hospital, and the head injury was no longer believed to be serious.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact police by calling 101 and quoting DPP/3011/16/03/2019/02/C. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908

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Reports damning for City Deal management

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THE PUBLICATION of two reports on Friday, March 15, has shone a light into corners of the Swansea Bay City Deal.

The first report released, prepared on behalf of the UK and Welsh governments, written by Actica Consulting, suggests a combination of concerns over funding and of the “much-publicised concerns on the wellness village (Delta Lakes, Llanelli, the single largest project) could cause a loss of confidence within the region”

In the meantime and, The Herald understands, over the anguished objections of the Regional

Office/Carmarthenshire County Council, the second report – an internal review – was circulated to county councillors in Pembrokeshire this morning.

The second report makes for grim reading.

The report lays bare the amount of distrust between the City Deal partners, particularly between Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire councils on the one side, and Carmarthenshire County Council on the other.

Each report highlights deficiencies in the management of the Deal, which Carmarthenshire County Council and its controversial CEO Mark James are meant to lead.

Familiar to those who have kept a close watch on the activities of Carmarthenshire County Council are complaints of a lack of transparency and openness in the way the City Deal has been managed to date.

Particular criticism is made of two key aspects of the project: that under Mr James’ leadership the Deal has failed to consider the City Deal as a truly regional opportunity and focussed on building individual, local projects of limited regional value; the second major criticism is the failure of leadership given to the project and an abject lack of clear financial processes and accountability.

In spite of an attempt to spin the ‘success’ of two elements of the deal, Swansea Waterfront and Yr Egin, it is worth noting that Yr Egin was only tacked on to the City Deal when already underway because UWTSD revealed it couldn’t afford to complete the project on its own as it had promised.

Cllr Rob James, the Leader of the Labour Group on Carmarthenshire County Council told The Herald late on Friday afternoon: “I am pleased that this review has highlighted many of the concerns that we have raised on governance.

“Frankly, the report validated our actions to date.

“Trust has broken down between partners and public confidence in one of the projects, in particular, has taken a big hit.

“There are clear lessons that need to be learnt and this report highlights several of them. I now hope that the administration in Carmarthenshire consider the review in full and ensure that radical changes on governance are delivered immediately.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee, said: “This review was carried out alongside the UK and Welsh Government’s independent review of the City Deal programme and sought to assure that it will deliver full economic benefits for the region.

“The findings and recommendations of the internal review will be formally considered by the SBCD Joint Committee at the next meeting.

“Looking to ensure governance is as robust as possible reflects that we’re still in the very early stages of a 15-year programme, but we’re ready to support any recommendations that would benefit the region’s economic prosperity in future by speeding up the City Deal’s delivery.”

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