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Government announces St David’s Day Agreement

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THE UK GOVERNMENT announced what it sees as a ‘St David’s Day Agreement’, though opposition parties have suggested there was no agreement.

The UK Government stated the framework’s recommendations, as follows:

• Energy projects up to 350megawatts should be decided by Welsh Ministers.

• The National Assembly should have the power to lower the voting age to 16 for Assembly elections.

• All powers relating to Assembly and local government elections should be devolved. This includes deciding the electoral system, the number of constituencies, their boundaries, the timing of elections and the conduct of the elections themselves.

• Welsh Ministers should have the power to appoint one member of the Ofcom board to represent Welsh interests.

• A review should be carried out of Air Passenger Duty which could open the door for it to be devolved to Wales.

Speaking about the framework was Welsh Secretary, Stephen Crabb, who said: “These new powers create an important opportunity for Wales, they are powers with a purpose. We believe in rebalancing the economy to enable wealth to be created more fairly and evenly across the whole country. This St David’s Day package provides a toolkit to help the rebalancing of the economy here in Wales too. As a small nation, I believe we pack a much bigger punch by working together and this will need to be the way we do things if we are now to deliver this package through legislation.”

Responding to the St David’s Day announcement, First Minister, Carwyn Jones said: “I note what has been said by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister this morning, and there is some welcome progress on certain areas. However, Wales is still not being treated with the same respect as that being afforded to Scotland and this continuing imbalanced approach is damaging to the UK. The move towards a funding floor is an important step forward, but we cannot be confident that funding for Wales has been put on a fair and sustainable footing until the detail is agreed at the next Spending Review. This is disappointing and should also be seen in the context of an unprecedented £1.5bn cut to the Welsh budget in this term.”

Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood, said: “I thank the Secretary of State for facilitating this process and Plaid Cymru entered into it in the spirit of cooperation. For reasons that have not been satisfactorily explained, however, Westminster has insisted that the people of Wales settle for a powers package that falls far short of the normal going-rate of devolution in the United Kingdom. Whilst some inclusions, such as the devolution of powers over fracking, are to be welcomed, this command paper falls well short of the powers that can help us strengthen our communities. And it goes nowhere near getting the funding settlement that Wales is owed after decades of disadvantage.”

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New international travel rules for Wales confirmed by First Minister

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International travel will restart for people in Wales from Monday 17 May, the Welsh Government has confirmed today.

As part of changes to Wales’ coronavirus regulations, people living in Wales will be able to travel to some overseas destinations without the need to quarantine on their return.

But additional safeguards will be put in place to help prevent new cases of coronavirus being imported into Wales.

A traffic lights system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced. Countries will be classified as green, amber and red, depending on their rates of coronavirus.

Mandatory quarantine is in place for all people returning to the UK from countries on the amber and red lists. All people returning from overseas travel must have a PCR test.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

 “Wales, like other parts of the UK, will be restarting international travel. But protecting people’s health continues to be our top priority and we want to do everything we can to prevent coronavirus from being re-imported into Wales.

 “This will not be like travel in the past. Everyone travelling abroad will have to have a test when they come home and for many people, they will need to quarantine when they get home. There are significant fines in place for those who do not follow the legal requirements.

“Some countries are not yet opening up travel to people from the UK. It’s my strong advice that this is the year to stay at home and enjoy all that Wales has to offer.”

Under the international travel rules:

• People arriving from green-list countries are not required to quarantine on their return to Wales, but they must book and pay for a mandatory PCR test on or before day two of their return. All travellers and members of their household will also be reminded about the availability of additional lateral flow tests to continue to monitor their health.

• People arriving from amber-list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home on their return. This is a legal requirement. They are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and on day eight. Unlike in England, Wales does not operate a test-to-release scheme where an additional test can be taken on day five to reduce the period of quarantine. This is because some 30% of people who develop Covid-19 do so after day five.

• People arriving from countries on the red list are required to quarantine for a full 10 days on arrival in the UK at a designated UK port in a government-managed facility – a ‘covid hotel’ – at their own cost, starting from £1,750 per person. All UK entry points for arrivals from red-list countries are in England and Scotland, which means Welsh residents returning from those countries will need to quarantine outside Wales. Travellers are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and day eight.

All those who do not follow the rules for red-list countries face fixed notice penalties of £10,000.

Welsh residents must also consult the requirements for visitors for any country they plan to travel to. Restrictions may be in place, including proof of vaccination, tests, quarantine and reasons for entry.

Vaccination status certificates will be available for people in Wales who have had two doses of their vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires covid vaccination proof from Monday 24 May.

The First Minister added:

“We call on people to think about whether they need to travel overseas at this time. We should be cautious about going abroad in light of the ongoing risk of coronavirus and the presence of variants of concern in many countries.

“My clear message to everyone is make Wales your destination of choice this year.”

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Main contractor sought for Llanelli’s multi-million-pound Pentre Awel

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A MAIN contractor is being sought to start work on Llanelli’s multi-million-pound Pentre Awel.

Carmarthenshire County Council has gone out to tender to appoint a contractor for zone one of the landmark project which will bring together life science innovation, community healthcare and modern leisure facilities all at one location along the Llanelli coastline.

The scheme is the highest valued tendering opportunity the council has ever published and demonstrates its commitment to the project.

As a major capital project, the contractor will be appointed via the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework.  

Significant emphasis has been given to community benefits including recruitment and training, supporting the supply chain and wider community and educational initiatives.

Zone one of the ambitious scheme – anticipated for full completion by the beginning of 2024 – aims to bring together education, business, research, leisure and health in a single building which will be linked together in a ‘street’ layout and connected by a central atrium comprising a reception, café and other public amenities.

The new leisure centre will have state-of-the-art sports and fitness facilities including a 25-metre eight-lane swimming pool, new top-of-the-range gym, eight-court sports hall and an adventure play area.

The plans also include incubation and acceleration spaces for that will help research businesses develop innovative healthcare technology, and a clinical research and delivery centre focusing on community level clinical trials, and providing multi-disciplinary care closer to home for a wide range of community-facing services.

A proposed well-being skills centre will provide health and care training, with courses ranging from entry level through to postgraduate, placing students in a clinical setting and focusing on areas where there is a skill shortage.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole said: “This is the first step in an extensive procurement exercise for Pentre Awel and I am delighted that after years of planning we are now in a position to deliver this exciting development which will bring huge benefits to the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire.

“Both UK and Welsh Government have recently approved the business case which means we can now start to draw down the £40million Swansea Bay City Deal funding to help with its delivery.

“Pentre Awel is the first development of its scope and size in Wales, it will bring a wide range of employment and training opportunities for local people while considerably boosting the local economy.

“This could not have come at a better time as we begin our economic recovery from COVID-19.”

Set within an 83-acre site at Delta Lakes, Pentre Awel is being delivered by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board, Universities and Colleges including Coleg Sir Gar, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Cardiff University and Swansea University.

The plans for Pentre Awel also include assisted living accommodation to meet a wide range of care needs, a hotel, and elements of both open market and social and affordable housing which will be delivered in zones two, three and four. Landscaped outdoor public spaces for recreation with walking and cycling paths will benefit from spectacular views across the Loughor Estuary and Carmarthen Bay.

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Have your say in Sandy Road traffic flow consultation

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A PUBLIC consultation is being held to allow feedback on options for improving traffic flow along Llanelli’s Sandy Road.

Carmarthenshire County Council, working with transport engineers at Atkins, is opening a three-week consultation allowing anyone with an interest in the traffic along the A484 to have their say.

The consultation follows several investigations and topographical surveys which has led to some proposals being developed.

Residents in the immediate vicinity of proposed schemes have been invited to a presentation allowing them to speak to the project team before the public consultation opens online on Tuesday May 18.

The consultation seeks to find out how people travel through Sandy Road and how people feel about the improvement proposals.

Feedback will be reported to the council’s Executive Board before any decisions are made.

Cllr Hazel Evans, the council’s Executive Board Member for Environment, said: “We have been looking at options for traffic improvement in this area and I’m pleased we are bringing forward this consultation which will allow us to gather people’s views on the proposals put forward by our transport engineers. I’d encourage anyone who lives in the area or who uses the road to have their say.”

For further information, and to provide feedback, visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/consultations from Tuesday May 18.

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